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Re: Bridgeburner at 500... sign of OCD?
To paraphrase The Big Bang Theory: posting is a kind of writing.
Wasn't it spam AND pineapple?
@ScarletBea insists the cake for Sara was pineapple only. I suspect otherwise.......

(if you can't beat them, join them, so...)
I only sneak in spam inside the slices for people I don't like ;) It's up to you to decide if you have it or not ;D

Funnily enough, yesterday my mum made me pineapple and cream cake :D

March 17, 2015, 03:21:32 PM
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Re: Bum nutjob joining Thanks a lot Xiagan!

Hey @Eclipse thanks!
Your question is pretty tough. I don't have a favorite author. Even if I'm a bit more consistent in reading than in music, as I tend to read a lot of the author's work if I like one of their book, at the end of the day I still evaluate them mainly by my best favorite book by them.
So I don't have favorite authors as much as I have favorite books… Do I make any sense?
However, if I list my favorite works, that makes me a fan of the following :

Jane Austen, Franz Kafka, Stephan Zweig, Michael Crichton, Philippe Aries (french historian, considered first and foremost in the new field of "history of behavior and attitudes", wrote superbly about the evolution of our relation to death, childhood, or private life. I'll make a post about his work some time soon), G.R.R Martin (been reading him for over 10 years now!), Anne Rice, I'm also a HUGE fan of Bierce "Devil's dictionary", Bill Bryson, Tolkien… Recently discovered Sanderson with Mistborn and though the first book put him high up the list, the second (and somewhat the third too) make me reserve my judgement till I read more of his work.

ect.

I also read a lot of manga and comics and stay a huge fan of Mike Mignola with the BPRD and Hellboy series.

But most of my reading time is taken by scientific books (complex only in fields I manage like biology, and otherwise broken down a bit for a more general public when it comes to physics, with Katherine Freese, Munroe's excellent "What if?", Kip Thorne (brilliant), Greene or Hawking) and philosophy books and essays.
"Defense of moderate autonomism" ought to be read by any artist imo.
Jeff MacMahan is an ethic author I dote on, with "Ethics of killing in war" and "Torture in principle and in practice".

March 17, 2015, 10:17:06 PM
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Re: Miscellaneous Musings
Nice! It must be so strange to meet your favourite authors as real live people instead of the forces of nature that create books  :P
Oh yeah, it's kind of trips. Scott Lynch told the funniest story. A girl encountered him at a recent con, and she was very nervous, so he tried to put her at ease by telling her that he was just like any normal person, puts his pants on one leg at a time, and then she started gushing at him about the Dresden Files! She thought he was Jim Butcher!

March 18, 2015, 03:55:34 AM
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Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding Hello all!

I'm starting this thread hoping it could evolve in a sort of experience and source sharing. I hope this isn't a thing already...

My idea here is that Fantasy, and fiction in most its genres, is a type of story that strongly benefits from solid and realistic world building (as we all know and thrive to achieve) and the best example for us all is our real world.
While we all benefit from reading other fantasy writers and see how they managed to hook us with their worlds or with the underlying themes they chose, I personally think that my own world and ideas benefit from a lot of my non-fiction reading.
After all, good sourcing and research is how we avoid cliche and weak themes. But maybe by sharing more personal discoveries we could help each other out?
After all some of the greatest stories and movies out there were picked out of philosophy problems for example.

Well, i guess I'll make more sense if I just give my own examples. Worse come to worse it'll just be me throwing out a bunch of links and yaking my face off! :D

I apologize for the length of this post, but believe passion about reading or writing ought to be taken seriously and I shall fart in your general direction.

In the personal experience area :

Spoiler for Hiden:
I'm too lazy to make any researches concerning english speaking countries laws, but let me share mine.
In France, for centuries every citizen has benefited from a right, which is called "Glanage". It is still valid today, and allows anyone to walk on a farmer's land after the harvest and pick up whatever was left behind. It is also legal in orchads, where you can pick up fruits off the ground.
A famous painting is dedicated solely to that concept, called "Les glaneuses", by Jean Francois Millet :


Contrarily to what first comes to mind these women are not harvesting, this is probably not their field, and it won't go to the farmer. They are picking left over for themselves.
If you search around you'll find more paintings showing how popular a thing that was :


The laws surrounding the propriety of goods is a very useful knowledge. We have two types of "goods without owners". All "immobile" goods (buildings) without owners pertain to the state (which would lead to fascinating discussions about squats), so only "mobile" goods are detailed:

> Res Derelictae : objects voluntarily abandoned by former proprietors, the first person to put their hands on it becomes the new owner. This applies from objects left on the street to the content of bins (and is why I've got such a hard time with aussie and nz laws regarding bags left at charity's doorsteps. To me those are anyone's stuff until the shop takes them in).
The only nuance is that it does not include lost objects. So you're not technically the legal owner of a watch you found on the street!

> Res Nullius : Fish, game, and wild animals.

In France a "glaneuse" is what I called myself, while you would call me a dumpster diver or a freegan.
I was forced to learn more about the law, as you can be yelled at by people thinking themselves righteous in annoying you (this can apply to policemen who can be fairly pushy until you show that you explicitly know your rights).

I think anyone wishing to write about medieval times, or characters evolving in rural areas should know about this. More modern settings are worse. While older times had very organized recycling systems where little was wasted, we've got the stark opposite nowadays.

Take my word as a real-life bum for it : you need to try REALLY hard to go hungry in a city.
I'm attaching here a handful of pictures I've taken while dumpster-diving in Australia or France:
https://www.dropbox.com/sh/rj7qaq9107f8pwn/AAACcm9fFlDN26SY4zZ6GECha?dl=0

(note the mental haul in the last picture? It's one trip, all I could carry by myself in a cardboard, off a Melbourne's Coles back alley)
I've spent months of my life buying no food but the rare essential I would miss.
I've also never, ever been sick due to eating food taken off the bins. Bakeries dump fresh food every night. Markets are insane, with the smallest defect on a produce leading to it been binned.
The gold mines are in large supermarket bins.
A can with a scratched paper? Bin. Boxes of goon cracked open but perfectly fine inner bag? Bin. 12 pack of glass bottled beer, one broken? 11 in the bin. Products didn't sell on the last discount but is still perfectly fine? Bin. This includes new clothing, candles, beach chairs, but also consoles, watches, shoes, good bike parts and house keeping products.
In Adelaide I lived several weeks with only 20$ in my pocket.

End of the line, any type of character struggling through a city to find food will earn my immediate disbelief. A great depiction of the "underworld" of a large city would also widely benefit from research on that. Most people who shop for their food every day don't really realize how wasteful most systems are.
Every french speaker will have a funny time reading "Le guide du zonard" on the internet, where people filled a wiki with tips on "traveling by train for free", "fixing the soles of your shoes", "getting the coins out of a parking machine", "get free toilet paper off Mac Donalds", "having 87 postal addresses", "screwing a punk chick without getting a hepatitis" or "Still passing for an artist".
I wish there was an english equivalent!
Check out trash wiki for a peak in the freeman life. Some places have google maps with bins located and notes about staff attitude and common hauls.


Non-fiction reading I found very helpful and why :

Spoiler for Hiden:
For people who want to write extensively about war and its consequences, even if the subject is very often mentioned in fantasy and sci-fi, I owe a lot to these :

Guns, germs, and steel : the fates of human societies by Jared M. Diamond
This is proper history focused on war, epic read. Quite the thick book but worth the effort. His style is very easy to follow.

In philosophy, the following texts are short essays you'll find online (your philosophy Ethic classes could have asked you to find and read them) :

Cecile Fabre, Guns, food and liability to attack in war.
Jeff MacMahan, Ethics of Killing in War - where the author works his way toward the concept of "Just war" and "Just war" being the only time where a soldier ought to participate. Such concept is still open to debate, like everything else in philosophy.
But also Torture in Principle and in Practice
Samuel Scheffler, Is Terrorism Morally Distinctive -
Coady, terrorism, Morality, and Supreme Emergency
(a lot are public publications and if you struggle finding them you can PM me, I'll send them to you)

All those are short essays, and though the style is more dense because it's directed at people who enjoy a good mindf***, there is a lot of benefits you can take out of listening to these people.
For one, characters who questions themselves or the general situation in their story in terms other than "good and evil and where do I stand in this" are too rare to my taste.
Reading MacMahan could flesh out dialogs between warriors, reading Coady could add dimension to hostage situations or dialogs in terrorist attacks, whatever the side of the acts your POV follows.


Personally I find my work extremely influenced by a french historian called Philippe Aries who wrote mainly on "daily life" through history, and the evolution of behaviors in societies.

People who want to write about feudal systems, or other historical settings would benefit from reading him.
I found his writings fascinating. The bold is deserved. As you go through his books you realize how incredibly deformed our vision of history is.
While we all go and learn about facts and dates and events, classes never really paint the way life was back then. How ALIEN it could be to us.
Did you know for example that in christian medieval France, when all the family slept in one big bed, it was a rather banal practice to smother an infant to death, because you couldn't well afford this new mouth? Or that romans barely had a concept of "private life" and the entire depended fully on slavery, and how complex it was?
My favorite work of his remains the one he did on the change of attitude of the western world towards death. It's so well written and a topic that is still so strong for us all and since the dawn of times!

The hour of our death or Western attitudes towards death: from the middle ages to the present depending on edition.
Centuries of childhood: a social history of family life
A history of private life - covers in 5 books from the roman times to the modern times. Pick the time you're setting in and read the associated book. Well worth the time, fascinating discoveries.

He wrote more on the history of sexuality in occident and the history of french populations but not sure those got translated.
His works on death I use fully in my own works, as I have a futuristic setting but the mentalities towards death made a big leap backward.

Special mention for people who'd be interested in survival/makeshift medicine. There are two books fully free online you can read called

Where there is no doctor and Where there is no dentist

Besides personal benefits, I learnt some very vivid tricks in there that go beyond the tooth pulled with pliers and the gangrene limb sawed off and cauterized in fire! :D


Alright, I hope I got some of you interested in some stuff… Was well worth trying anyway.
If that makes your bells ring and you do have sources or ideas to share, because you've got a solution for things you find often wanting in fantasy, or just a specific quirky story that could benefit us…
Or just questions and topics you'd like to dig and would like to know if anyone can recommend you anything!

Cheers!

March 18, 2015, 04:05:33 AM
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Re: Scene & Chapter Length Contrary to what some have said here, I do think chapter length matters. I'm less sure about scene length, so I'll ignore that one.

If chapters 1, 2, 3 and on up to 10 are all about the same length, then I'm expecting 11 to follow suit. It can, of course, be dramatically shorter or longer, but that's the expectation. Sometimes using a shorter chapter can be done deliberately for effect, and I'm fine with that.

But if chapter 1 is a thousand words and chapter 2 is five thousand and chapter 3 is two thousand and chapter 4 is eleven thousand and chapter 5 is eight hundred, and so on, then the book becomes jerky. I'll almost guarantee the pacing within chapters will likewise not be smooth.

So, chapter length *does* matter. It's not something the author can get away with not caring about. (hey, two phrases ending in prepositions in the same sentence; achievement!)

March 18, 2015, 05:15:31 AM
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Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding A-bombs are not forgotten. Otherwise they would throw them again. I think we are just not talking about it, aware of things they can do.

My granddad got through ww2 and some big fights. Later in time of peace, working in the factory few miles outside a town, he had to walk home through a forest. Not very big one. I remember people talking how they would get scared walking in the woods back home cause of the witches and ghosts. Which don't exists of course. Think about that for a moment.

March 18, 2015, 05:15:03 PM
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Re: Real life experiences and non-fiction sources for better worldbuilding
I was reading a blog post written by someone who travels for a living, staying in places for three months to a year and immersing himself in their culture - he mentioned that one of the cultural quirks of Germany is that everyone is very honest to each other, which could be a part of why as a country you've faced up to the past while others like to pretend it didn't happen. It's one of the things that makes Germany appeal to us should we ever want to move country again (which is quite likely) :P
I think that's a much older thing and (mostly) independent from any post-war developments. A lot of cultures throughout the world practice "politeness judo", where there are lots of customs and social norms that govern how you present oppinions in a socially acceptable way. Germany, and I think that extends to Scandinavia as well, does not really have that. If you can say something in four words, it's usually socially acceptible to say it in four words, and when you want to be extra polite you say it with six. Germans generally see no reason to say it in 16 or 24 words. Not for any real reason, but simply because that's what we're used to. In other cultures all the native speakers know exactly what the other person means as well, because everyone knows the conventions of the language with which you insult someone with only nice words.
Problems happen when you have two people talking to each other who are not used to the same conventions, and it's often something that is not a big part of language classes. Germans easily get annoyed by people from other countries who always change their oppinions and don't do the things they said they would do. Because we Germans don't get the idea that someone is refusing your request without using the word "no". The other way round, Germans often seem pretty rude, since we always skip the pleasantries and don't show any concern for the other persons feelings or dignity.
These things about language tend to be very subtle and even if you know about them it doesn't mean you know how to do them right. It's not uncommon for people from cultures that use a lot of politeness in their native language to turn down the politeness from 80% all the way down to 0%, even though actually Germans are comfortable with 20%. And 0% is still regarded as unacceptibly rude.  :D

March 18, 2015, 06:31:20 PM
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Re: [Mar 2015] - Rogues - Discussion Thread "Meat's back on the menu boys!"
March 19, 2015, 05:49:43 PM
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Re: Delayed Reading: joys and disappointments I have one memorable one that is pretty embarrasing really.

I was always given loads of books by my family for birthdays and christmas, because I was always reading. There's one particular book, given a book on my birthday by an aunt when I was 9 or 10, which I took one look at and dismissed as crap because the cover was so horrendous. I distinctly remember thinking my aunt was clearly an idiot for thinking I'd be interested in reading it, because I disliked the cover that much. It then sat on my shelf for a long time - at the very least half a year, but I'm pretty sure it was a couple of years. I usually read any new book I was given within a couple of weeks, this was literally the only book I had never bothered to open.

One holiday I was bored as hell. I tried re-reading some of my books but couldn't get interested, and couldn't really be bothered doing anything more active than reading. I sighed and picked up the book I had pointedly ignored for all that time, and started reading.

This was the cover:
Spoiler for Hiden:

Naturally, I was then really pissed off with myself for a long time for judging the book by its cover...  :-[

March 19, 2015, 07:27:26 PM
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Stephen R. Donaldson's Thoughts on Fantasy Here's an interesting article by Stephen R. Donaldson (hat tip r/fantasy) about fantasy. It's a nice synopsis and cogent defense of fantasy fiction. It might lean to the literary for some and come across as self-justification for others with no room for authors who simply wish to entertain and not tackle 'life issues'. But it does explain how fantasy-the oldest genre (not the oldest profession)-shouldn't be pigeonholed or dismissed. Oddly, the content reminds me of something I once read by Scott Bakker. I wonder if Donaldson has read The Darkness that Comes Before or if Donaldson was an influence on Bakker?

http://www.nyrsf.com/2015/03/fantasy-is-the-most-intelligent-precise-and-accurate-means-of-arriving-at-the-truth-s-p.html

Reason for edit: I screwed up the link. I think I got it fixed now.

March 19, 2015, 09:22:55 PM
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