December 10, 2013

Efficient city designs, as long as gravity/mass isn’t an issue.

Vavatch, anyone?


10:00am  |   URL:
Filed under: inspiration city sf 
December 9, 2013
Real-time Buzzfeed success stats for the writers to obsess over. A data-based sword of Damocles.

(sword of Datacles)

Real-time Buzzfeed success stats for the writers to obsess over. A data-based sword of Damocles.

(sword of Datacles)

9:11am  |   URL:
Filed under: data life 
December 8, 2013
Ear 1001

Ear 1001

Tickertape splurts out the dash onto my lap and Peterson, who is now such a showoff at doing this it’s no longer funny, runs his hands along the perfs to read our orders directly before punching a hole in the space marked ‘ACKNOWLEGE’, and feeding the tape back into the slot.

"You’re not going to tell me where it is, I assume."

“Relax,” he says. “990 ears we’ve got to, and you still don’t trust me?”

He flicks the car into drive.

“Home straight, right partner?” he says.

“Home straight.” 

This district is actually in good shape; the mayor’s office and the PD sit within two blocks, as though the city’s powerful decided to make their stand at this beachhead. The few middle class families left cluster in the buildings between those two icons. Patronage will save us all. When Chuck E. Cheese put a school down next to our house, and that was a new idea back then, my mom couldn’t have been happier. I could learn good enough grammar for a job, and mom could spend my tokens I got for learning times tables on bicarb toothpaste and detergent. Georgie won’t have it so lucky, not unless Peterson and I make a thousand and one ears and I get promoted, off of Cleanup, into Administration and a comfortable life of paperwork: a model motherhood. A flyer for the Felton Eradication Partnership catches on the windscreen and we turn down an alley.

I check my Cleaner for jams and gas levels. Eleven more to go. For Georgie I can do eleven more. Hopefully they’re quick ones, injured ones where the tail’s been caught under a car and they’re both easy to corner, and sort of waiting to die. One of those proper Feral Felo’s was my first: a real wheezer, found tearing holes in a tenement basement by a bulbous landlady who was more interested in her land values than Public Health. The poor thing’s fur was hanging off, dripping like caustic tar, mottled with welts from where vigilante Felo hunters had beaten it. In that state, the holes in the basement looked more like the beginnings of an escape tunnel, like it was trying to escape with the lives it still had. That first day, I would have let it if the landlady weren’t standing in the doorway behind me, spraying spittle and anger down my neck.

Rogers had handed me the factory-new Cleaner, said, “just point and pull,” and a jet of orange gas had shot out, enveloping the room and the creature in a second. By the time we’d sucked the gas back in, it was dead. Rogers cut the ear off and bagged it for the lab, and we burnt the body in the street outside. In the flames, it didn’t look so monstrous. That was the first time Georgie welcomed me home, unbolting the doors to my special knock, and her little face said “how was your day?” like she’d seen people do on the TV. All I could do was run past her to the sink and scrub at the ash under my long nails, telling Georgie all about the funny characters in the precinct and the free Koffee machine so I wouldn’t have to think too hard.

I’m the one who cuts the ears now. Rogers works in Purchasing, got a pension plan. Well deserved: he keeps us all in scalpels and gas masks.

We pull up to an abandoned car dealership. A great inflatable green creature lies limp like it’s been slain. Sprawled across the dealership’s cars, the nylon figure died as it lived, in the name of CRAZY VALUES. UltraSave offers a 5% discount to members of the PD, so I’ve been trying to teach Georgie fractions. 990 down makes one percent to go. She’d beamed at me when she worked it out, like she’d woken up to snowfall.

Masked up, we creep to the glass doors. They were transparent at one time, now they’re scratched to an opaque haze by the creature.

“Full adult, according to the tape,” says Peterson. “A real spitter.”

Howarthy at the lab said they’re only truly dangerous when they’re in the breeding cycle; when they’ve got something to protect is when the acid glands start up, the claws extend and serrate, and the Felo brain becomes - weaponised, he calls it. I say they’re all weaponised. An unloaded gun is still a gun, and you wouldn’t find me putting it in my mouth for anyone. I keep my Cleaner trained on the entrance as Peterson slips a crowbar between the doors, and wrenches the dead mechanism open. Inside, it’s textbook nesting behaviour; all the shelves and plasterwork have been melted and manipulated to create a cocoon. They say it’s plastic that helped the creatures nest so well, and the compounds in the plastic that turned a domestic animal into a plague - but looking at those yellow eyes in the dark, hearing the guttural hiss, it’s hard to believe it was ever safe. It doesn’t leap up, it just curls tighter around its brood and waits.

“Gas it,” Peterson says, and I do.

Afterwards we torch what it, what she, was curled around. It’s too bad you don’t get any ears for taking care of their young, but they say prevention is better than cure. If only they didn’t look at you with those big eyes before they breathe in. Howarthy went private in the spring. He says the Felton Partnership pay better, and they do this thing called a “pension.”

Peterson agrees to drop me off at the corner, a routine in place since ear two hundred when I decided that walking the streets covered in ash wasn’t an image I could bear. We’ve called it a day early, which is against code, but we’re at nine-nine-one: nearly there. Nearly.

As I root through my jumpsuit for the apartment’s keycard, I wonder what kind of pen I shall have at my desk. I wonder what size pencil case I’ll get for Georgie. She won’t expect me back now. It’ll be nice.

There’s a flurry of activity as I push the door open; what sounds like Georgie hiding a diary, some love letters from a boy on the corner maybe. I peep around the door frame, ready to mock-catch her in the act. It’ll be a real mother-daughter bonding moment. We’ll look back on it and laugh.

And I see two pairs of eyes. The wide eyed fear of a little girl, and the yellow slits of- 

“Georgie…” A mewling.

The Egyptians saw something in them. But you only build statues for two things; what you love, and what you fear. It laps at a dish of milk, as tiny as itself, and I don’t know which to feel.

“Can we keep it?”

8:49pm  |   URL:
Filed under: story sf backonit 
December 5, 2013

October 12, 2013
"The question authors get asked more than any other is “Where do you get your ideas from?” And we all find a way of answering which we hope isn’t arrogant or discouraging. What I usually say is “I don’t know where they come from, but I know where they come to: they come to my desk, and if I’m not there, they go away again.”"

Philip Pullman. NaNo Pep Talk, 2009. Nineteen days to go, guys.

9:57am  |   URL:
Filed under: nanowrimo 
September 30, 2013


6:36pm  |   URL:
Filed under: 3 
September 30, 2013


2:32pm  |   URL:
Filed under: 2 
September 30, 2013


11:55am  |   URL:
Filed under: 1 
September 28, 2013
In my eye, a universe

In my eye, a universe

September 27, 2013
NaNo Prep: Using Setting to Reinforce Your Characters



Want more preparation exercises? Check out National Novel Writing Month’s Young Writers Program’s Novelist Workbooks, which our nonprofit provides free-of-charge to more than 2,000 educators and 8,000 young writers around the world! 

It’s time to really nail down some of your novel’s settings. The setting is where and when your novel takes place. Of course, many novels have more than one setting, ranging from the general (a city, country, or world 100 years ago) to the specific (a character’s house or room during the Super Bowl). What’s great about setting is that you can use it to mirror or reinforce your characters.

For example, if you are writing about a mysterious person, you might place him or her in a dark, creepy mansion on a hill outside of town. Or, if one of your characters is feeling trapped in his or her life, he or she might live in a small town in the middle of nowhere.

Read More

Nice. I shall reflect on this from my overneat bedroom, where graphic novels fight for space with ‘proper novels’ before eventually forming a coalition of the desperate to combat the onslaught of bills, gig flyers and Consumer Segmentation Printouts.

(Source: lettersandlight)

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