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Messages - J.R. Darewood

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I'm bad a knowing what genres mean but when I hear "Urban Fantasy" I *don't* think PnR (paranormal romance love triangles between werewolves and vampires).

I think of the Dresden Files.

But that could just be me.

General Discussion / Re: Politics and other ailments of the real world
« on: March 13, 2019, 02:16:34 AM »
It might have been a bit simplistic, but the truth is that without a deal, all existing trade deals will disappear in 2 weeks: if you don't think that will cause problems, you're not looking in the right places.

You don't fix the EU from the outside, you need to be part of the team to get your voice heard.

And people are elected: they're called MEP ("Members of European Parliament") and should act just like any other national parliament. If they don't do that, or if elections for MEPs have a super low attendance, that's not the EU's problem, but a problem of the people who are now complaining.

And you don't even address the benefits of freedom of movement for the economy in general.

But I will stop now, because I know I'm not that knowledgeable about the details, and I'm upset enough about the whole brexit thing as it is.

@ScarletBea you sound pretty knowledgeable to me! And @Saraband I'm with you on the point you made about constraints on Britian's trade deals with third world (or developing if you buy into that ideology) countries.  I also mentioned that the EU really benefited the UK and Germany (just at the expense of everyone else) so I'm with you both on the part where Brexit, especially this kind of Brexit, is not good for Britain.

As for labor rights in the context of trade regionalization and the EU (but not Brexit specifically), these articles on EU union-busting are more-or-less where I was coming from:
I have friends in France and Spain who are super incensed about a lot of things the EU has undone in their countries, and the EU's treatment of Greece is a well-documented tragedy in activisty circles.

So my beef isn't with Brexit per se, so much as this image of the EU as some sort of great improvement on domestic environmental and labor rights. They said the same thing about NAFTA and basically every other trade deal. They weren't, it isn't, and it won't be so long as it is structured in such a way so as to take democratic control over trade, labor, safety, and environment away from people.

Spoiler for Hiden:
haha... unless perhaps it's British conservatives they're taking control away from... which seems to be what you're saying the case in Britain.

The part of the video that threw me into a rage was that association with trade and peace. Especially the Ireland part. That was what made me absolutely furious. The rest of it was pretty funny.  But that Ireland thing still has me seething.

General Discussion / Re: Politics and other ailments of the real world
« on: March 12, 2019, 01:27:21 PM »
Full Frontal did an excellent summary of the whole Brexit mess.

I am able to laugh a bit because I'm outside the blast zone, but still. What a mess.


This is brilliant. Sad, because it captures the stupidity of it all so well, but very accurate, without getting into the really nasty stuff around immigration and whatnot. Still, I'm always proud to see that entirely blue bob up there, that reminds me that Scotland saw the lies for what they were, and rejected it all so overwhelmingly. And so did Northern Ireland, whose people could face the worst consequences of it all.

Sorry @Saraband but here's where we disagree. Parts of this video actually made me spit my tea out.

"You may remember us for WW2.  After that shitshow we created the EU and everyone traded freely!" ... "Ireland and Northern Ireland had an open border so they finally stopped kneecaping each other"

You've got to be f**ing kidding me. Ireland and N. Ireland were kneecapping each other? because of their border? There's so much wrong with that I just can't even.
Spoiler for Hiden:
But I will. How about centuries of brutal English colonialism? Police violence? Human rights abuses? Sure there were conflicts between protestants and Catholics inside N. Ireland, but that was very much a legacy of colonial occupation. Seriously how are you gonna have a parade go through your neighborhood celebrating the day your people got colonized? Try that shit in S. Africa. The IRA's targets were often in London how on earth could anyone even say out loud they believed it was a North Ireland vs. South Ireland conflict?? And it wasn't EU membership that ameliorated the conflict, it was the withdrawl of the UK's police state that was terrorizing its own people in N Ireland.  Once N. Ireland was demilitarized, people stopped turning to the IRA as their only recourse for the abuses they endured, and the IRA lost the manpower and financial support it needed to go sell drugs to London schoolchildren and blow up busses. That had absolutely nothing to do with the EU ending borders. WTAF. This pisses me off so much I can't even.

If May misses her deadline it could cripple industry and imports of food and medicine and reignite violence in Ireland... and strand brits living abroad and spark a global recession.

Seriously on what planet did the magic of trade solve the violence of WW2 and end the conflict in Northern Ireland? 

So sure this idea is built on Kant, but as convenient as it is to get rich off of Kantian peace (aka neocolonialism) trade foments class violence and can be directly related to civil wars, not the least of which being the dissolution of the Balkans.

First off, the EU might have grown out of the ECC, but the Maastricht Treaty turned it into a totally different animal. The EU was founded in 1992, not just after WW2.

While the EU was getting founded, there was a high profile civil war in southern Mexico.  The Zapatistas were upset that instruments of our happy post-WW2 Kantian peace-- the WTO, World Bank, IMF-- as well as new treaties like NAFTA were driving trade into indigenous territory.  Subsistence farmers were kicked off their land so the Lancandon jungle could be be turned into toilet paper by International Paper, then a cattle ranch for McDonald's beef by the governor's cousin. Treasured communal land, over which the second Mexican Revolution was fought, were invalidated, and bodies like the WTO ensured that local environmental and labor laws would be invalidated or the country as a whole would be punished.  So the Zapatistas worked with human rights groups and social justice movements from all over the world, organizing "consultas" in which the anti-globalization movement was born.

By 1999 labor unions, environmentalists, teachers, human rights activists and idk like everyone descended on a WTO meeting in Seattle, shutting it down, even though they were tear gassed, shot in the face with rubber bullets, grandmothers were beaten with batons, countless people went to jail.


All over the world, at any WTO, World Bank or G7 meeting, hoards of protesters were there to try shut it down.

Meanwhile, European pro-democracy activists were increasingly disturbed by the EU.  They were of course going on about ending nationalism and whatnot but if you look at the actual structure of the thing, it was essentially Europe's WTO on steroids.  Economic decision-making was now in the hands of a small number of people who were not democratically elected, and who were completely unaccountable. 

Economic regionalization and the reduction of free trade barriers essentially enables the expansion of large-scale patronage networks. Mega corporations of the wealthier countries can now displace your local supplier of food, medicine, toilet paper, whatever.  Small businesses suffer, especially in relatively poorer parts of the region, the cost of living goes up, and protections for the environment, laborers and consumers are eroded (this happened in France) and no one can do anything about it. The economy is restructured from a middle class making a living wage to starving laborers and an increasingly small class of executives profiting off of the management of the poor and their natural resources. Worse, the EU completely eliminates the ability of member countries to address this deepening inequality (Which is why you had riots in Greece over people desperately wanting to leave the EU, and why Spain will not be ever be able to get itself out of the shitter.)

You see the same thing in West Africa. The French essentially forced it all into a common economic zone with a common currency and France benefited. Rich people in Senegal benefited. And guess who suffered? The poorest people in the poorest countries in the world like Niger who were essentially forced into starvation by economic regionalization. These conditions are very much linked to the Tuareg uprising in Mali, Al-Quaeda's activity in Niger, Mali and Algeria and all sorts of subsequent violence that accompany mass starvation.

So yay. Trade.

That said, I'm not sure how Britain would have been negatively affected by the EU, since the UK and Germany seemed to have the most to gain in mass-exploitation and subversion of democracy in the rest of Europe.

For poor people living in the wealthier countries, concern with trade is either a human rights concern, or related to jobs leaving the country. In the US, the manufacturing sector is all but gone, and the unions along with it.  Meanwhile centuries of hard-fought labor rights are easily subverted when a company can just shut down it's local operations and open up in Indonesia using imported Chinese prison-labor. In the 90s, you had a critical mass of poor people who were concerned about this.

I don't know where those people went, now all we've got is "foreigners are stealing our jobs" as the ethos of Brexit (it's a poor conservative battle cry in the US as well. The xenophobes were always there, but in the 90s they weren't equated with the trade conversation) Which liberals identify as obviously racist.  But instead of, idk, pointing out that economic localization could be a good thing and done in a non-racist way, somehow anyone against free trade is now racist, and liberals are the standardbearers of trade.

Between Brexit and the Clinton campaign, since 2016 we have somehow landed in Opposite Land where it's the *liberals* peddling this pro-trade bullshit instead of conservatives! It's like I've just witnessed Orwell's Ministry of Truth establish some doublethink in Newspeak, where idk the whole of the 90s just got erased from the history books and replaced with something else. I feel like I've arrived in one of those comic-book superhero TV shows where they go into the alternate universe where all the good guys have all become super-villains. (Except unlike those shows, the bad guys didn't turn good, they just became even stupider.) It's like a nightmare I can't wake up from.

[JAN 2019] Air / Re: [JAN 2019] AIR - Critique Thread
« on: March 11, 2019, 09:49:15 AM »

The strength of this story is in the description. You painted a vivid picture of an incredibly beautiful Olympian society, and an equally vivid picture of horrific, revolting decay.

Luminous threads, artificial clouds, sparkling falls, golden obelisks, "canvassed beneath an iridescent vault of rainbows" made me want to be there and see it live so badly!!!

Great word choice, great imagery, great similes, excellent rhythm, excellent use of language all around.

So yes, the setting, at least what I've seen of it, is excellent.  The beauty of the floating city and the technology (or magic?) that supports it is great, and makes for an excellent juxtaposition with the disgusting magic of your Harbinger, which is conveyed excellently as well. So in answer to your question: setting: +++ magic: +++

In terms of where it could use improvement, you mentioned POV.  If I were you, I'd make a series of choices in the following order: 1) emotion/tone 2) structure then finally 3) POV.

1. I wasn't sure what I was supposed to feel.  I'd start by posing that question to you (or perhaps you posing it to yourself): What did you want the reader to feel in this piece? And from there I would let that guide your revisions. You hint that they are wasteful. Did they have this coming? Was this a complete tragedy? None of these questions need to be answered, per se, but having at least one question asked could build a larger sense of investment.

2. Structrually, you begin with the swarm, and the entire piece is a process of decay. Despite the rather intense content, the flat structure of the piece leaves it feeling a bit more like a scene study or a slice of life. There's nothing wrong with that, but it feels more like admiring a Goya in a museum as opposed to actually being inside the painting and feeling the horror (hope? desperation? satisfaction?) of a full narrative. There's nothing wrong with a slice of life scene painting as a narrative choice, but for a longer piece you probably want to structure things differently.

If you wanted to convey a sense of dread, I'd probably make the beginning about the society itself and bring the creature in at the last half or even the last third. That would give the decay a bit more meaning and context, and the first two thirds could be about building anticipation for the decay. On the other hand maybe you want to stick with the monster, and you want the reader to question whether it will be successful or not. For that to work we need more information as well-- we'd need to seed that possiblity that it might not succeed. Motivations could also be either dropped all at once or teased, making them reveals that drive the story. They don't have to be human-- is there a logic to it's actions no matter how foreign?  Is there a reason why it's there? Even if you wanted to stay close to the monster from the beginning to the end, you could still establish Aerox more in the beginning, with the monster observing it but not acting or revealing itself yet (maybe observing from afar?).

3. Once you've got the feeling you're going for, the structure you want to use to convey that feeling, the final thing I'd reconsider would be POV.  You've gone with omni here-- which can work very well-- but you've wedded yourself to the monster. That can be great if you're going for lurid fascination with evil or even a "they had it coming" angle, but we need more revealed to get invested. If you want the reader to sympathize more with the civilization (Aerox?), you might need a central Aerox character either as your POV character, or someone you follow a bit more closely in omni.

Again, it's perfectly fine as it is, but these were just some thoughts on other choices you might make in converting it to a longer piece and obviously it's all just my opinion.

[JAN 2019] Air / Re: [JAN 2019] AIR - Critique Thread
« on: March 11, 2019, 09:01:38 AM »
@JMack --

I was a huge Poe fan growing up and your tale of gentlemanly disagreement turned murderous was very evocative of Casque of Amontillado, The Black Cat and of course the infmaous Tell-tale Heart, with a death in an enclosed spot in a mansion.  Unlike Poe you had no bricks, and you chose the victim, not the killer, as your POV character. Also, you had a lighter boyancy to the piece that Poe lacks.


In the opening, we immediately get a satisfying characterization of Maurice, between the dialogue and the description you've captured him perfectly in just 2 lines.

I love the sense of suspense wondering what Antione is up to (the hole between the eyes of the wallpaper angel was an excellent touch)

The backstory-backflash was well-placed.

When Maurice signed, you had me yelling at the screen for him not to!

The ending, of course, was disconcerting.  It felt out of left field.  In the spirit of D_bates, I'll just express a few ways to fix this that crossed my mind.

1. By far the easiest way to fix it, now that the contest is over, is to not make it a fantasy piece. Cut off the the last couple of paragraphs, and instead add a couple of witty lines to seal the piece with Maurice's death.

2. If you want to keep the haunting in, you need to set it up as a possiblity earlier in the piece.  Maybe the room is important because Maurice's line is said to be bound to it in life and in death. Can he feel his father watching over him there?  Maybe some object like a painting could seal the deal.  Then when Maurice dies, the after-death bit won't seem as out of whack.

3. If it were my piece, I'd put a POV shift after Maurice's death (in text with no break). I'd have Antoine come into the room to check on his handiwork, and notice something different about the painting. Maybe there's a new one of Maurice he never noticed? Maybe he feels like it's glowering at him. Then the door would get blown shut and he'd be locked in, and suffocate in the same gas as his brother. That would maintain a bit of mystery: was that afterlife stuff really true?  which I think is more unsettling than making it definitive.

[JAN 2019] Air / Re: [JAN 2019] AIR - Critique Thread
« on: March 06, 2019, 12:57:05 AM »
From every story I read I can very easily picture your characters on a theatre stage, larger than life with their dramatic flailing and facial reactions for the benefit of an audience to be able to read and understand from a distance. Where you and JMack differ is that he often crafts his tales around a scenario that's equally insane--like a guy cementing himself inside a room to protect his claim on the air--whereby the exaggerations compliment one another in a story designed to make people laugh. You, however, seem to veer more toward serious events with emotional impact, something far more difficult to pull off because there's the risk of the contrasting emotional undertones clashing to the point that the character exaggerations can feel like they're diminishing the serious aspect, while the serious elements suck out the entertainment of the exaggerations and shine a light on the characters appearing silly and stupid. Thinking back on what I read of your novel--and blimey, that was years ago now!--I think that issue may have affected me back then but I didn't have enough experience to see it at the time.

Oh wow, that's something to reflect on for my WIP.  When Harper Collins reviewed it ages ago, they also said the comedy didn't quite land in places, and this really clarifies why.  Thanks, I'll have to wrestle with that some more!

Thanks guys, I'm trying to get this application out that's due tomorrow, and then my dad is visiting from outta town but I'll get back at you with some reviews as soon as I can!

General Discussion / Re: Politics and other ailments of the real world
« on: March 05, 2019, 06:17:04 AM »

Hey thanks for all the nice words on the anarchism stuff!

Here's an odd one. I was drawn to this because it breaks the stereotypical image foreigners have of Americans  only being motivated by money. My thought was will he will be branded a socialist (the most terrible word in American) for actually trying to make a small difference.


Or you could be this poor guy in LA.  While rezoning in favor of big developers and pushing us all into a housing crisis, they've devoted millions to "fight homelessness" with all that money going to.... well not homeless people. And then they do this:


@xiagan did you ever find out if @Eclipse is okay?

I think fundamental misogyny is an indelible part of the medieval Europe trope, but I see that we may not agree on that.

My concern is that the trope has so long been the go-to blueprint for western fantasy that would-be authors use it, misogyny and all, without considering possible alternatives. And because those writers haven't thought about why the misogyny is in their world as well, when someone questions their choice they end up with the lacklustre defence of: "but that's how it was".

I actually think we're in 95% agreement on this, honestly. All I'm saying is that I've heard new authors essentially say, when asked why their works have gender inequality (or other social ill) that it's because "that's the way it's been historically". And what I'm saying is that's the wrong explanation.

As worldbuilders, we have complete freedom to make our world any way we want, real world history be damned. So adding misogyny to a fictional world is a *choice*, not a "history made me do it". But again, I think we're essentially saying the same thing.

I'm sort of the opposite-- I find it obnoxious when take our millennial happy brush and paint over social ills like they don't exist/never existed. It's sort of the fabric of our reality and of we make changes those changes need to be well thought out, their implications and histories understood and explored. What little equality we have (and its less than modernists like to pat themselves on the back for) was earned through great struggle and and sacrifice, not instantly  accomplished through an Orwellian rewriting of the past and present. That's why I love Ursula le Guinn so much-- she imagines alternatives but she doesn't take her changes for granted

I agree with you, and "not painting over social ills" is a wonderful reason for an author to add them to their fictional fantasy world. It's important for people to understand why misogyny, homophobia, racism, and other social ills are wrong and how they harm people, and fiction (including fantasy) is a great way to call that out.

I just want authors to make it clear *why* they are choosing to do this. I want them to say "My fantasy world has misogyny because misogyny is shitty, and I wanted to write a story that calls attention to that" rather than "My fantasy world has misogyny because our real world has it, so it wouldn't be realistic otherwise".

Unless you are literally writing historical fiction, your world need only be as "realistic" as necessary to engage your reader. Saying *our* history gives you no choice but to add negative aspects to *your* fictional world is a cop out (IMO).

I never mind seeing a, for example, "this society doesn't have gender conformist politics JUST BECAUSE" world, because there are so many invented worlds that DO have gender conformist politics just because (for whatever default reason).

It's GREAT to see a work where the author has really thought about what made our Western/European civilisations so misogynist/racists/homophobic/whatever and has dissected that through making well-demonstrated alternative worldbuilding choices. Love that stuff.

But female/queer/trans/black/whatever people get to have unthinking escapist fantasy too.

This. This is what I wanted to say but couldn't think of words for.

And I'd argue its more than just unthinking escapist fare* too - utopian ideals give us something to aim for.

*Not that there's ought wrong with that if that's tha fancy.

Ok @Peat @tebakutis and @cupiscent I had really been meaning to respond to this for forever and just life hit or whatever and only now, in a desperate attempt to procrastinate, am I writing :)

So let me start with saying I think it's great when people remove misogyny racism etc from their world and I'm sympathetic to why middle class liberal types really enjoy that kind of thing. But as a reader, watcher, consumer of media or whatever I have two emotions at once, I'm simultaneously happy (yay! color-blind casting) and disturbed (warning: anthropological discomfort ahead!)

Probably the perfect example of this is the Dragon Prince on Netflix. (Yes its for five-year-olds and yes I devoured two seasons of it. There's magic! Don't judge!). It's all European castles and dragons and elves and stuff type fantasy but the kingdom was ruled by a couple that are both black and white (yay!) remarried with a stepchild (yay!) and the neighboring kingdom actually has two queens of different ethnic backgrounds who are madly in love and raised a daughter together (yay!).

So the mythological creatures and architecture are distinctly European. The elves are Scottish-sounding (didn't they see LoTR? *dwarves* are Scottish!  Elves are english!), but the humans are all American sounding. The King is essentially a middle class African-American and the queen a middle class white woman. (they don't sound or act like rich people, personality-wise they're more like model parents who who own an SUV to take their kids to soccer practice and just happen to inhabit a castle and rule the realm or whatever).

Anachronisms aside (and oh god there's so many), cultural hegemony is reinforced here in the guise of diversity (you could also say this about like a million examples of the corporate-influenced, middle class liberal approach to diversity in general, but I digress). Racial variation has meaning *because* it's socially produced and culturally indexed-- you need a concept of what it is to be African to have a concept of African-American four generations later. Cosmopolitanism, be it a confluence of peoples in Ancient Rome or millennial New York-- isn't just a confluence of skin colors, it's a confluence of cultures (be they first generation cultural experiences of people from Asia, or the cultural experiences of 3rd generation migrants who have maintained a class and cultural identity in ethnic enclaves-- in fact the fact that there is variation in skin color at all is a result of those cultural markers and social self-segregation).  When you strip culture away in modern liberal assimilationist fantasy, you strip away meaning and identity.

So white middle class liberal Americans can have their dream of sitting politely in Starbucks with other middle class POC who do not outnumber them and everyone speaks thinks and acts exactly like each other in a way that does not threaten the harmony of the wider system of haves and havenots in any way but yay we're all not-racist.  They then realize this in their fantasy. Which is actually not a bad thing. It confronts one kind of inequality in it's own way, and I think it's very meaningful to some middle class POC from specific backgrounds.

Where it disturbs me is when this middle class assimilationist dream is viewed as the only valid approach to diversity (I'm not saying anyone here is saying that, but I have heard that perspective voiced quite a bit out in the internets). The aforementioned Starbucks utopia might not be a meaningful form of diversity for someone from Compton or Oakland viewing this scene. Or a first generation person from Guatemala.

That's why I preferred, for example, the way they brought Morgan Freedman into Robin Hood as a Moor in the 90s Kevin Costner film. It's not just that it felt more "authentic", but the act of bridging cultural differences to form a friendship added meaning.  In contrast, SciFi's Merlin had a black Guinevere.  (again, I like that they did this!)  So while there was actually diversity in Europe at that time, she's very much stripped of any cultural character.

That's not to say that in fantasy there should be some sort of ethnic purism either, where white people stay white and black people stay black (it would be super interesting to watch a fantasy where racial casting was just entirely switched around), but for me I really like to see *some* sort of cultural component, even if it's invented. And assimilation, if it happens is never complete and at least has some sort of a history.  It doesn't have to be our history, per se, but at least it could have *a* history.  And I don't think I'm alone in that.  Which is to say erasing racism in an assimilationist fantasy might only be "escapist" for certain people and not others.

For me, perhaps one of the best was the way Robert Jordan wrote culture. Naming conventions, beliefs (Whitecloaks in Amadicia, the hierarchies of the Seanchan, dueling Ebou Daris, the Aiel)  it was so well done.  And cities the Seanchan had captured, influxes of refugees from wherever or whatever, changed demographics, diversity, and the power relations that surrounded that diversity. It felt so fully realized! That to me is the most powerful writing of diversity.

So again, I'm not saying that the Dragon Prince's approach to race was somehow bad or not worth it (it's good! and I enjoyed watching it!), but I am saying that it's one direction to go of many, and it's not really the most progressive option for everyone, if we were to measure such a thing, and I get uneasy when people say that assimiliationist representation is the only way media *should* be (and I'm taking this not from here per se but from other conversations I've seen esp on tumblr and facebook) and all other approaches are therefore somehow racist or sexist or homophobic etc.

[JAN 2019] Air / Re: [JAN 2019] AIR - Critique Thread
« on: March 02, 2019, 06:32:44 PM »

I'd love any feedback you guys have on how I could make this story better!

I was playing with repetition in this piece as sort of an intellectual exercise (red, the daughter, the automated voice), so it was totally different than my usual process, and it left me feeling like the emotional arc and pacing of my piece was just really weirdly structured.

So in the first version of my piece this month, I was really heavy handed with italics thoughts.  Like every paragraph was  Rick thinking There's not enough air we're gonna die but I can't tell you!.  Then i read it and I was like-- this totally kills the power of the ending-- and I took almost all of them out, leaving just "I did the math" near the point where he offs himself.

The downside of that was that I think it left this weird sort of hole in the tension. The beginning is all action but once the fire's out the revelation of his daughter is interesting... but not really the same.  I felt like things kind of stalled when he first finds his daughter.  The emotions didn't really build on each other, it was sort of like "feel this! pause. feel this! the end."  So I was thinking maybe I needed some unresolved danger to carry through that in-between part before I reveal that he's gonna die.  Like maybe even something as simple as the ship shuddering to give a sense of insecurity... idk. Maybe that would give the story a more continuous feeling. I kept wanting to change it after the time was up! (and @xiagan would I even be allowed to make changes on the version going on the main site at this point?) But anyway, that's a thought I wouldn't mind getting feedback on.

It's sort of an issue I'm having with my WIP too-- when you start out with a high tension moment, how do you get to those low-tension moments where you get to know the character better without messing up your emotional arc and pacing?  I'm struggling with that. (and related to that-- how do you get the reader to get to know and care about your character when you start in high tension?-- it makes the character more of a reaction than a person).

Anyway this is way more than I meant to write but those are some thoughts I was having.

[JAN 2019] Air / [JAN 2019] AIR - Critique Thread
« on: March 02, 2019, 06:17:04 PM »
I hope you all don't mind me starting this. Here's the critique stuff to kick off if anyone wants critiques:

Here is the possibility to get critiques for your stories entered in the writing contest - and to give critique as well.

So what we're doing is this:
1. Everybody who wants critique for his story posts in here.*
2. Everybody who wants to do a critique for a specific story (whose writer has asked for critique) posts it in here.

If this thread is overrun fast, I'm splitting it so that every story has its own one to avoid confusion.

* I know that critique isn't always easy to handle, especially if you are not used to it. So if you feel more comfortable receiving it in private, people can send it via pm. They can post here that they sent a critique via pm so that others know about it.

At the moment I don't think it necessary that we create a system balancing given/received critiques. However, if it turns out to be unfair and some people are giving critiques without receiving some (or the other way round) we have to add one.

Basic rules for critiquing:

This is just a small guideline for those that haven't done critiques before, stolen from this forum's writing section.
Critiquing Other’s Work

            1. Please read what the poster is asking for before you post your critique.
            2. Critique the writing, not the writer.  Never, “You are...” or “You should...” but rather, “The writing is...” or “The story should...”
            3. We all have different levels of writing ability here, keep that in mind when critiquing.
            4. Find what is right in each piece as well as what is wrong.
            5. Remember that subject matter is personal. You don't have to like a story to give it a fair critique.
            6. Remember what your biases are and critique around them.
            7. Remember that real people wrote this stuff, and real people have real feelings. Things you may not say while critiquing: “That’s awful.” “That’s stupid.” “You couldn’t write your way out of a paper bag.”

[JAN 2019] Air / Re: [Jan 2019] - AIR - Voting Thread
« on: March 02, 2019, 06:05:41 PM »
Wow this is such a nice surprise!!!! I'm working on some project proposals all weekend and while short stories are totally unrelated to what I'm doing, all your nice words really lifted my ailing self-esteem and self-doubt. Thanks for the kindness!
Spoiler for Hiden:
especially Jake, that was very sweet. My muse does not like to follow rules, so I end up posting my stories that do not qualify in the discussion sections about 50% of the time!

I had a 4-way tie for who I liked, and in all honesty I debated changing my vote almost every time I logged in.

@Jake Baelish I loved yours because a story about farts is just beyond perfect and right up my toilet-humored alley

@Cell18 you did a really phenomenal job of hitting the theme on the head with a parable-esque story; I enjoyed the feel of it all

@JMack is the master of voice (as usual) and I loved your gentlemanly rivals letting the claws out

@OnlyOneHighlander you really deserved my vote as well, but I only had 3.  Honestly yours was probably the best put together and you had a very clean arc... though I guess I edged it out because it didn't nail the theme quite as solidly as the other three.  Give me 30 seconds and I woulda put it back in tho.

Another one I didn't vote for but really enjoyed was @Carter 's story.  I really frequently like your writing, Carter, and I loved the worldbuilding you did this time around! I wish you had 10,000 more words to develop that idea further!

General Discussion / Re: Politics and other ailments of the real world
« on: February 21, 2019, 02:37:10 PM »
Ok I really planned to keep my mouth shut on all this religion crap, but I just can't anymore.  So here comes a 20 page essay no one asked for and probably no one is going to read but whatever.

Anarchism probably isn't what you think it is.

The way most people think about human nature today is influenced by Freud, Malthus and Hobbes: People are violent animals at the core (the id), and social control from government and religion and whatnot (the superego) is what keeps us from tearing eachother apart.  Freud psychologized it, Malthus biologized it, but this statist bullshit has been spouted since Hobbes in his "man against man" to rationalize the monopoly of violence held by the state.

Real biologists have found extensive evidence for the value of mutualism and cooperation (ideas pioneered over a century ago by the anarchist Kropotkin but independently arrived at by modern biologists like Frans de Waal) and Freud's statism was largely reversed by Marcuse, but these severely dysfunctional Freudian ideas have political agency and keep everyone acting like Sheeple so they are here to stay.

Anyway, anarchists have a lot of opinions about human nature (some think it's good, some think it's neutral), but they think evil actually comes from the state.  It's states that drive war, facilitate gross inequality (via the monarchy, it's invention the corporation, and of course colonialism and imperialism).  Anarchists are different from libertarians because they are critical of both the state and capitalism. In fact they see the two as being inseparable and call it state-capitalism.  They usually support alternative social organizations (indigenous self-governments, cooperatives, syndicalism, you name it). Some of them even like the church. Some of them have run for political office. (as did Proudhon, the first Anarchist). It's about fighting *hierarchy* and *inequality*, usually with consensus-based (as opposed to representative) democracy. The circle-A is actually an A within an O and the O stands for Order. In the late 1800s and early 1900s most social movements were anarchistic.  People saw the state AND capitalist exploitation as neo-colonial forces to fend off.  The reason you have a 40 hour work week today is because ANARCHISTS died to bring it to you.  Look up the Haymarket Affair. Go. Right now.  Google it.  And come back and publicly thank anarchists that you're not working 20 hour shift in a factory since the age of 7. (Some hack historians will tell you it was b/c businesses "found people worked more effectively" when they weren't deprived of sleep and starving but that's a load of shit. It was anarchists, and if you don't believe me sod off.)

(FYI I emailed FF about writing a post about anarchism in fantasy but, as with all my emails they never replied.)

Okay so that's settled.  What about religion? What Rostum was saying was that all institutions are inherently political and therefore corrupt. But unlike the state, which owes it's existence to authoritarianism, violence and capitalist exploitation, religion has the flexibility to be many different things. Religion is just a form of "social thickness"-- a way that people relate to form independent networks with their own sorts of norms. You've got Quakers and Unitarians (I'm sorry you sour atheists, but there is nothing bad you can say about Quakers) on one hand, then you've got Evangelicals on the other (I seriously can't think of anything good about Evangelicals no matter how hard I try).

In my opinion. Religion, when it's good, is anarchistic. It is a control on the inevitable repressive trajectory of the state.

For all its corruption, and priests banging nuns and kids and murdering people and who knows what else over the centuries.... the catholic church was the ONLY effective control on the monarchy which would have driven serfs to even more unsavory levels of exploitation. Alms for the poor isn't a solution, but without them we might not have the space for social movements today. Philanthropy might not even be valued.

In the colonial period, it was largely Jesuit priests that organized indigenous resistance to colonial powers and slave traders.

Today, the catholic church is the largest social service agency in Latin America. Liberation theology is responsible for anti-poverty and indigenous rights movements across the continent. It is the most effective way for people to organize en masse.  In El Salvador, priests and nuns died defending people from a violent, repressive state owned by a few families.

In Spain, interestingly, things played out differently. During Franco's rule, the Catholic church sided with the state, supporting fascism and essentially attempting to re-establish the monarchy.  Anarchist were Franco's biggest thorn, suicide bombers and armed resistance keeping him at bay in southern Spain.  Any way long story short, Spain is now incredibly atheist, b/c Franco lost and they never recovered.

As a dominant ideology, religion plays a much more unleasant role in the US. Religious leaders are responsible for the xenophobia, racism and fervent mobilization of much of the Republican base.  But you still have those crazy catholic nun activists that tried the shut down the School of Americas (a center training torturers in Latin America) in protests year after year, and all kinds of anti-nuke protests.  You also have the Baptist church in the African American community, both politically mobilizing people for the democrats and providing an anti-gang influence.

So which of these is doing "what it actually teaches"? Most of the bible is poorly translated, third hand accounts, invented in a congress of elites. If God is real, he didn't say any of those words and he's probably royally pissed that people would dare to pretend to speak for him for their own personal gain. So by that logic, joining a church is probably the fastest way to go downstairs.

If God isn't real, or if he's just really chill and forgiving about that whole hubris thing, then maybe "what it teaches" doesn't really matter and religion is just a social technology: the compassion or lack thereof in the hearts of those that use that social technology is that makes it good or evil.

Religious people who believe without thinking do so at the peril of their very souls, and atheists who dismiss it sourly are equally lost. In my opinion.  Obviously this is all just my most very humble opinion. Except the anarchism stuff. That's fact.

General Discussion / Re: Politics and other ailments of the real world
« on: February 21, 2019, 01:38:19 PM »
I think there's a difference between what corrupt people and groups within the Church have done and what it actually teaches.

Take any social or political system and show me where that is not the case. It's like an iron law time corrupts. There are also the absolutist teachings that get quietly ignored largely because they were ridiculous when written and utterly irrelevant now.

So are we supposed to destroy these systems completely and live in a state of anarchy?

Hey don't knock anarchy!!

Found a good B-movie with vampires and Alchemy on Amazon Prime. It's called Old Blood.

Checked it out. It had one review and it was 1 star

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