American Shock: Ships

Shockmerican Flag

OK! Getting caught up on shipments! US shipments of Shock: Social Science Fiction went out yesterday. With the Christmas fracas, it’ll probably take a few days, like until the 28th.

If you live outside of the States, I missed my shipping deadline on Saturday but they’re packed and ready to go out on Tuesday when the post office opens up.

Enjoy the Future!

Happy Chanukah for all my patient Shock: customers!

Shocking speedo


Finally, I have copies of Shock: to ship. Thank you all for your extraordinary patience while I dealt with stupid, horrible printer issues. I’m writing up the full story, but suffice to say, I won’t be using RPI or Alphagraphics any more. I’ve gotten some very encouraging quotes from other printers who I’ll start with as soon as I recover a bit from the hit Alphagraphics dealt me.

I’ll be shipping out copies this weekend.

Truly, this is worth some gay disco.

(Unfortunately, I’m enjoying Arular by M.I.A. to really gay disco it up. But maybe I’ll listen to some Blondie later.)

This Will End Badly for Us All


You know what was great about Firefly? The characters’ interactions were subtle and their motivations, while hidden to themselves, were often clear to everyone else on the ship. Fundamentally, it was a character drama that used a smuggling mcguffin every week to show something about the characters and their relationships.

Now, consider this article over at Wired Magazine that foretells of a Firefly MMORPG. Ignore the fact that he calls Firefly hard science fiction for a moment (Sorry, I can’t ignore it. It’s just… like, neither the author or his editor know what it is? It’s about as hard sci fi as Star Wars, which is about as hard sci fi as Hello Kitty. It’s a literary genre. You’d think an editor would know what it is.) and consider what MMORPGs are good at:

In World of Warcraft, you team up with other players to accomplish quests. Even on designated “role playing” servers, I’m told that the character stuff is pretty thin; it’s a strategy and tactical game (which can still be an RPG, of course). People have fun playing it when they play it as such. The rules don’t support playing a character with motivations and relationships.

Now consider this:

What made the show special was the wry, often self-deprecating humor of its characters, from the captain with the checkered past to the unwittingly sexy engineer, the dull hunk of a mercenary with a girl’s name, and the mysterious young woman passenger with special gifts.

Sounding pretty good, right? (I mean, aside from the fact that Kaylee is wittingly sexy.)

The online version will move away from those central characters — after all, there’s only one Mal Reynolds. In an MMORPG, “everybody has to have their own story,” says Multiverse co-founder and executive producer Corey Bridges.

Now, moving away from those characters, that’s great. Making it so everyone has their own story — their own checkered past, embarrassing name, secret love, death wish, quest for forgiveness or whatever, that’s great. But a shadow falls:

“Television series can be really good properties to turn into MMOs, because when you make a TV series, not only do you need great characters, but you need to create a full, rich, compelling place,” Bridges says. “If you’re doing science fiction, you have to really think it out and create an incredibly rich environment that is compelling in its own right, and worth exploring and going back to week after week. That’s what Joss Whedon did with Firefly.”

See, cuz, no, he didn’t. He didn’t care about how fast the ship could fly, what planets existed, or how ranks work in the Alliance forces. What mattered was that the ship broke to put the characters in conflict with each other, the Confeds were bureaucratic and cold, and that the planets they landed on were stuffed full of characters who wanted something from the protagonists. Shit, he didn’t even know what was on the left side of the bridge until Serenity. He certainly didn’t have a list of planets, ships for sale, and damage values for different weapons.

“We want to find someone who wants to do something unique and fun and interesting, not just a re-skin of World of Warcraft or Star Wars Galaxies,” Bridges says.

Because the underlying technology is already in place, “I feel confident that we’ll see something the public can play sometime in 2008,” he adds.

That underlying technology had better make some leaps and bounds if this is to be anything but a pale shadow of something really fun and engaging.

PS: What’s up with the baggy drawers on the dude at the head of this post? He’s a superhero from 1940. He seems to be hiding not only an enormous schlong, but love handles, as well.

Illustrious Company

The Ogre Cave

Over at the Ogre Cave, they’ve put Shock: on a 12-item Christmas shopping list with some really fine company. I can’t imagine a greater honor than to be placed alongside Burning Empires, Spirit of the Century, and Kill Doctor Lucky. Thanks, guys!

Spione to Music

Swedish Rhapsody

The Conet Project is a really creepy collection of number stations, which they’ll be happy to explain to you. I was sufficiently charmed by their sinister strangeness — enhanced by the use of music boxes and toy pianos — that I made a piece of music to go with one of them, Swedish Rhapsody. Give it a listen. It’s part of a larger music project I’m doing in my noisy basement studio. Some of it’s noise, some of it’s trancy music.

Here’s the first track good enough to show around the neighborhood, Mädchen, Endut.

The Least Fun Part of Publishing

Alphagraphics Fucks Up

A couple of months ago, Alphagraphics purchased RPI, my printer for Shock: Social Science Fiction. I’ve been hoping that the takeover would mean little to me.

Instead, it’s meant a lot. My rep retired at the same time, leaving my ass in the breeze. They’d lost my previous order, so I had to send them the very receipt they’d sent me so they could know what to reprint.

My shipment of Shock: just showed up with multiple screweups on their part. It’s a week later than the week they told me it would be late. The text block stock is all wrong: thin and translucent, it makes the spine too thin and the illustrations show through to the opposite page. The cover laminate is high gloss. It’s a mess.

If they make this right fast then I’ll keep using them. Mistakes happen. But I’m out of stock and was expecting to be able to do shipping two weeks ago.

All of this is sort of passing the buck to soften this apology: if you’ve ordered a copy of Shock: from me in the last month, I haven’t sent it. I know Brennan’s almost out, too. This would normally be very good news; it means that I’ve sold 200 copies of Shock: to my fellow enthusiasts of science fiction creation.

But it also means that the people who want to get a copy, can’t, at least from me. You can probably get a copy at IPR for a little while, at least.

So, I’m sorry. I’ll let you know as soon as this is sorted. Right now, this is making for a supercrappy week (what with my cat getting hit by a car and lots of money not coming through for work I’ve done on top of this. “Dear Livejournal…”).

So, lessons to learn:

1: Alphagraphics has so far been a pure poochscrewer. We’ll see if they make good.

2: Cats are expensive to put back together again. Not like Legos at all.

3: Be clear with your clients about what they’re paying for.

Voice of the Mukunli


Last night, Paktali freedom fighters struck a blow for righteousness as they hit deep inside the heart of Tarkut. Rasil’s puppet dictator Mukhawat Nuttun was leaving his court of effete whores in his expensive bribe of a limousine when five of our brave Paktali, armed only with construction tools and the steel will typical of our people, leapt from the truck in which they had been hiding and grabbed his vehicle. Unprepared for such an attack, the Rasili guard there was weak, underestimating as they did the preparedness, ferocity, and resolve of our brave Paktaliya.

While even our greenest recruit fought hand-to-hand with one of the Rasili death machines, treacherous Tarkutli boys stumbled into battle in their ill-kept machines, throwing their own soft, milk-fed city boys at the Paktali engine of righteousness that challenged their ill-gotten might. Many of their boys died needlessly and we hope that others will see their pointless sacrifice and will convert to the Paktali cause that is their only route to freedom from this foreign empire with its iniquitous ways.

As a gesture of goodwill, we have allowed the Tarkutli the honor of executing Mr. Nuttun. They now see that we are without fear and that we can strike anywhere. If their forces join ours, becoming Paktali themselves, the Rasili will run home, their noses bleeding again, like little girls who shouldn’t have tried to fight in the first place.

Today, the Rasili whores were struck a blow that will no doubt make them reconsider the wisdom of their stumbling into this nest of swords. To date, they have not even admitted this defeat. No doubt, they are trying to figure out how to tell the uncommitted, sisterfucking backstabbers that make up the population of their “mighty” empire.

Naturally, the Tarkutli city boys wish to make this sound like a victory. Allow them their boyish shouts of joy. We have shown that we can strike anywhere and without warning. Of their boys who survive to manhood, they will join our cause!

Let’s get Vin Diesel Down Below the Fold, Shall We?


We’re just about ready to get rockin’ on the first ever Mechaton campaign. It takes place in the Republic of Tarkut, just after the Democratically Elected Peoples’ Government That Was Totally Democratic has collapsed. Into the power vacuum come three factions. I’m playing the Paktaliya, a group of guerrillas of an ethnic minority called the Mukun. We’re tired of being pushed around by everybody and we have some nonsense legend about how “we” pushed out the iniquitous Red Circle a thousand years ago, who we think Emily’s faction, the Rasili Empire, resemble. Vincent’s sort of taken the Battle for Algiers route; his people are the people of Tarkut who have a network more than a capital. They’re the real government of the people of this country.

Here’s my army as it now stands. Continue reading “Let’s get Vin Diesel Down Below the Fold, Shall We?”

Shock: a Hit with both Albino Emperors and Intergalactic Beefcake

Vin Diesel

A fellow I don’t know (who is probably Paul Alexander Williams, whom I still don’t know) has written an excellent review of Shock: over on his Livejournal. He uses The Chronicles of Riddick as a running example, which is great. I thought I was the only person who liked it.