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Messages - RobertS

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Writers' Corner / Re: Swords!
« on: November 13, 2017, 09:20:19 PM »
Swords are overrated anyway. What common and elite soldiers have been preferring for thousands of years are spears. But spears aren't what you have at hand when you're in a tavern or throne rooms, or at the side of your bed. Which is where all the most exiting exploits are happening.
In Medieval  Japan, the spear was rated higher the the sword so they agreed with you. In George Silver's Paradoxes of Defense,http://www.umass.edu/renaissance/lord/pdfs/Silver_1599.pdf, pages 29 to 31, Silver, a master of the sword about the time of Shakespeare, describes what he thinks are the best weapons. He agreed with the exception that he considered the forest bill or Welsh hooke to be even better. Good luck with finding out a definitive answer on what the forest bill or Welsh hooke looked like. If you get good evidence, please share it.

General Discussion / Re: Reading a book series out of sequence
« on: November 13, 2017, 07:52:39 PM »
I was having a discussion with my partner about book series and the importance (or lack of importance) of reading books in a sequence.
So my question to you is this: can you name a book series where it isn't essential to have either read the first book or read the books sequentially?
The only series I can think of (and I've only read a few!) are the Discworld books, which I know are organised into miniseries.
I look forward to hearing your thoughts!
The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander work pretty well on their own. The Oz books are mostly functional although there is a lot of reference that you will miss. C. S. Lewis wrote books that stand on their own quite well. Some authors have written books in a universe that is consistent throughout though the stories stand alone. Anne McCaffrey and Marion Zimmer Bradley both can be read in the order you find them. Lawrence Watt-Evans' "Ethshar"  books stand on their own wonderfully. Lois McMaster Bujold has written great science fiction and fantasy stories that stand on their own. In science fiction, writing to a universe is reasonably common. A lot of Heinlein's books compliment each other without being dependent.  Larry Niven and Vernor Vinge both have books that support their universes strongly while being independent. Both of these authors have written convoluted stories that have stood on their own despite the depth built into them.

I prefer a book that stands on it's own feet while contributing to the whole. That can be really hard to do without having a good spoiler at the front. In the case of an author who conveys complex relations and alternate physics, this can be nearly impossible. Sherry S. Tepper wrote wonderfully convoluted and deep stories while having books that mostly stand up on their own. Personally I think a Sherry S. Tepper series should be read from beginning to end with out life intruding on the world she takes you to.

Writers' Corner / Is your reality fantasy?
« on: November 13, 2017, 05:01:32 PM »
If you set your story in the world you really believe exists, how many people would consider your work fantasy? If you explored the edge of your own belief system and presented the raw edges of what you believe, what are the chances that someone might take it as urban fantasy?

Lloyd Alexander has written books that felt like fantasy but had no real fantasy elements in them. Personally though, I think that if you leave out talking rats you are making a big mistake.

Oh yeah? What did he do to get that fantasy feeling? Why would leaving talking rats out is a big mistake?Because I'm cutting out potential and interesting dynamics?

Westmark https://www.amazon.com/Westmark-Trilogy-Lloyd-Alexander/dp/0141310685/ref=la_B000AQ1QXY_1_12?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1510577811&sr=1-12 is the trilogy by Lloyd Alexander that I am referring to. I can't say exactly where the Fantasy feel comes in. I think his books are worth a read in any case. The movie "Chicken Run" doesn't come across as being fantasy even though it clearly is.

As far as not leaving out the talking rats, it is because the rats are the stars. Small rodents are a keynote in quite a few fantasy books. Snark, evil or another perspective doesn't hurt. Trying to help Cinderella or being a brave but tiny warrior has held up over time. The small coming back to rescue someone kind is a classic theme in Fairy Tales. It can pay off to echo elements and themes that have resounded in ancient tales. These are the memes that have been tested by time.

It is worth looking at the roots of the genre. Fantasy has an origin in the tales told by hearths and fires since the dawn of time. Aesop told his tales of wisdom in a fantastic manner and Disney steals from the best. 

Lloyd Alexander has written books that felt like fantasy but had no real fantasy elements in them. Personally though, I think that if you leave out talking rats you are making a big mistake.

General Discussion / Re: Politics and other ailments of the real world
« on: November 09, 2017, 01:15:37 PM »
The difference between Republicans and Democrats is pretty clear in this video where Representative DelBene is asking questions about the new tax plan. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AZwlNcnkFwY

The difference between him and her is not the difference I mean, but it is a clear one. The difference I mean is that no one on the Republican side would ask a single one of those questions or care.

General Discussion / Re: Politics and other ailments of the real world
« on: November 09, 2017, 06:31:45 AM »
Is America aiming to be Mussolini's Italy?
I think the qualifications to meet what Mussolini and Eisenhower called fascism are currently present in the United States and will continue to be until we have a Supreme Court that is not predictably extremist conservative. Sadly we can make any amendments to the constitution that we want and a skewed and activist Supreme Court can twist and negate anything we do. We have a Supreme Court that has stolen two elections and made money into protected speech.

For creation of a story, after I have the leap of an entertaining thought, it is possible that the concept is still without setting, plot or character. An entertaining "what if?" can lead to a character, setting or plot but just as easily the next part is a mood or style of writing. With mood also comes the emotions I want and that will lead to character. The mood could easily go to setting or plot though.

Often a "What if?" comes first.

General Discussion / Re: Politics and other ailments of the real world
« on: November 08, 2017, 03:15:06 PM »
I'm supporting the wolfpak (sp?) movement to get money out of politics. Everything we're seeing, from Trump to HRC's shenanigans are just symptoms of an obvious problem - we've legalized corruption.

My own dream is that we impeach the supreme court justices who made corporate personhood up out of thin air. There was no valid precedent and making things up is not the purview of the Supreme Court. corporate personhood creates a rather interesting problem when you consider the thirteenth amendment.

"Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation."

Humorously, Citizens United gives support to almost instantaneous communism. No corporation can be owned or ordered about by owners. The moment a corporation does wrong, it can be convicted and then controlled by congress.

Character - you cannot have a story without one, although you can have a story with no plot and next-to-no setting, like that film that is essentially one long conversation between two friends in a café.

I agree that character is the most important. I also agree with your arguments. I still place setting as first.

You can be a good author without world building but without the ability to bring a character to life you are severely challenged. Yokohama Shopping Log is an amazing anime that is pretty close to not having a plot, so I have solid evidence that plot is not as essential as character.  Even Asimov's robot's had personality and Asimov, genius that he was, was not famous for his character development.

That said, setting comes first. The first thing you see when the curtains draw open are the props and the clothing.
In a movie blurb the first thing said could be, "Joe is a plumber with a problem..." but the first thing you usually hear is "In a world where ..." Even when I just tell you that Joe is a plumber, without a serious twist, a certain amount of setting has been revealed. As much if not more than you know about Joe.

A story can begin with voices heard, but more often, the scene is well drawn before you know the character. Characters and plots can slowly be shown and elaborated. The setting however is the ground you start on. Even if the setting is just a  café, it sets a tone and gives us expectations that can be met and broken. Setting can change and so can plots and characters, but the setting reveals position and relationships. A barber shop, a park or a psychologist's office can communicate the basics of how characters relate with just a few words. There are rules and expectation to the relationships that are informed by setting.

If I tell you that the boss just walked by, it means little without a setting. It almost means almost the same thing with a huge range of possible settings, but without context it has no impact.

Describing a character by the use of setting is tremendously effective.

When the mean laughter of children causes me to wake up suddenly and lift my head off of my desk, the setting has given you solid clues about me. A few more clues and you know who I am and what my challenges are. When I sit by the slide, holding an empty cone and look at a scoop of ice cream in the sand, setting has spoken clearly and the story is waiting for my reaction. This in turn reveals part of my character. If I ignore the blood on my knee and run with the ice cream to the fountain to wash it off, suddenly I have escaped preconception and revealed things in a way that make me more interesting than if I simply tell you that I am a practical child.


General Discussion / Re: Politics and other ailments of the real world
« on: November 06, 2017, 08:02:18 PM »
Couldn't you potentially have the same problem if a Democrat wins the seat? Democratic redistricting? It seems to come down to which party you would rather abuse the system more.
I does happen. The Democratic party is generally not as obvious about it though as they try to be subtle. The Republican party has a habit of initially scoffing at the crazy end of the pool until it looks safe to join them.

If a Democrat goes to crazy, their own kind will turn on them, maul them and eat them. The Democratic Party, at least since WWII, has been generally loyal to the nation and in turn the world in preference to party loyalty. On the Republican side, since Nixon, actual patriotism has reared it's head in the Republican party several times, but it has been soundly squashed shortly afterwards. Republican respect for world peace and prosperity is only measurable with very sensitive equipment and is probably a false reading. IMHO, Kemp was the last honest Republican. I can even list honest Democrats from Texas so the field is not even.  (Barbara Jordan and Jim Hightower for example.)

The Alamo?

I'm looking forward to go back to work tomorrow because I am EXHAUSTED!!!! Cleaning walls, sandpapering skirting boards, filling holes, assembling a sofa, cutting big cardboard boxes to fit in the green bin...
My gloves were soaking wet after the walls thing, so now my hands are full of little cuts and bruises from the assembly ::)

But it's looking fab ;D

That's it the Alamo, so hard to remember that fine tradition where Bowie, a Mexican Noble, died fighting Mexico in an attempt to free Texas from not having people free. :)

Happy Guy Fawkes day, a day late. Sorry I forgot. Now if I can just recall the name of that mission in Texas where they fought just a little bit before Texas became a nation.

[NOV 2017] Water / Re: [Nov 2017] - Water - Discussion Thread
« on: November 05, 2017, 04:11:54 PM »
Bradley, thou hast indeed inspired me.

So I present a sonnet with love and water throughout.

In pools I have swum, while lakes I have crossed,
Thin ice I have shattered as I swam through.
In springs I have bathed and oceans have tossed.
My greatest love, my Water, it is you.

But now like ice I canst not melt thy frown,
My humor and jest do leave thee colder.
My waves of entreaty are all now turned down.
Where surf crashed now moss grows and love molders.

All wet, no sparks light, no joy bursts to life,
Like a cold bog in the night I'm lonely,
Yet my love like a spring ignores all strife,
I drink, Water, and wine to thee only.

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