DIE 13 is out. I woke up and tweeted “Good morning DIE 13 day. It's one of the Kieron Read Some Books one, but also the Shit This Is A Lot Of Plot ones and, as always, Stephanie, Oh God, Stephanie, You're Amazing ones” which seems about right.
About once an arc, we do the deep historical dive one, and DIE 13 is this arc’s. Compared to the poetry of issue 3 and the horror story of 9, this is something more conspiratorial, and very much is showing a whole bunch of cards. I don’t think there’s an issue which reveals more about the mythology of the world than this – well, except as we head towards the end, obv. Answers and questions. Your move.
Lots of fun stuff in here, and I was pleased that folks have googled HG Wells wargaming tables, as the images are just adorable.
This sets up the last two issues of this arc, which are just full on emotional dominoes falling. Hope you like it.
This year’s Golden Cobra LARP challenge has launched which looks excellent. I’ve been asked to be a guest judge this year, which is a huge honour and I’m excited to read a whole bunch of LARP games. Bar my category, the awards this year are Best Game that Transcends Distance / Brings Us Closer, Best Mechanic / Rules, Best Roles, Best first weird LARP for people who have only played D&D so far and Best use of Physical Mail. It’s very much one you can jump aboard, and also look at previous years’ entrants, so go nose here. Fun.
I did an interview with Comic Book Club about Once & Future, which was also a lot of fun. I talked about the rest of this arc, and started having some hints about the third arc. There’s also a little Eternals chat. Go listen.
Some excellent anthologies worth your support. Tales From The Quarantine has a contribution from me in, and is a huge bulging object. Insider Art is also kickstarting for a physical edition – C edited a section of this, and I’ve been absorbed in the PDF, and it’s well worth your support too.
I’ve finally managed to get my prose brain in gear. I now need to do that while also keeping my comics brain in gear. I appear to be able to read one or the other right now, or nothing.
YEAH, YEAH, YEAH by Bob Stanley has been my slow-read for several months as I wandered through the fog. Despite the fact it took so long, I never stopped loving it. It’s a huge one-volume over-view of popular music, as defined by as the starting at the UK charts and ending at the debut of Itunes. It was brought to my attention when a reader asked me for a recommendation for such a book, and I had nothing. As in his other life in Saint Etienne Stanley is part of one of my favourite bands, I’m surprised I hadn’t read it already – except it came out in 2013/2014, which basically explains everything. It is, broadly speaking, a history which comes from my aesthetic corner – as in, it assumes that Pop is Good and Rockist attitudes are Bad. As such, the stuff I loved is the stuff I knew less about – the earlier, pre-60s sections, and the side of the sixties I didn’t care about. There’s a playlist of all the tracks in it here, which was a great accompaniment. I’m sure that one reason why I spent so long to get through it that every second paragraph I was stopping to go and look up a record. It opened a lot of doors for me, and reminded me of doors I loved and hadn’t been through for a while. Not the actual Doors. You won’t trick me that easily. Basically, whoever recommended it to me on twitter was right – if I was to lob a single book at someone to tell them about what Pop was all about, it’d be this – not least that it is entirely upfront about the implicit Argue With Me. History is a conversation.
Then I hit the prose, with a couple of excellent novels, both enchanting the modern world with different tactics. Seanan McGuire’s Middlegame was on the Hugo shortlist this year, and she managed to create another fantasy mythology. Her prose remains dazzling, simple ink transmuting into gold like the alchemists the story circles around, and some of the most compelling monsters (as in, ethical monsters) I’ve read recently. Just released last week, Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Doors of Eden takes the long-view sci-fi evolutionary ideas which provided the intellectual punch of Children Of Time (or as I like to call it It Made Me Cry Over Spiders) and drops it into a present day multidimensional story, which moves like a thriller and thinks like that gif of the guy with the board covered in string, waving his hands. And while I read it much earlier, to provide a blurb, XX by Rian Hughes came out recently too, where Rian brings his powers as a designer to create a novel which only he could have done. That it manages to be so clearly experimental while also having a big, rock solid story engine is a hell of a thing to see.
I’m now back onto Non-fiction, with John Keay’s China: A History, where I will try my hardest to finally memorise the order of the main Chinese dynasties.
There’s also smaller things I approach. I also finished Board Games In 100 Moves by Ian Livingstone and James Wallis, which is a brief but characterful look at the entire history of boardgames. Clearly, this is all great stuff for DIE – lots of anecdote, detail, wit. I’m trying to read a short story from Yoshi Yoshitani’s Beneath The Moon. She’s one of my favourite fantasy illustrators, and she’s done 78 illustrations for 78 of her own short retellings of stories from all around the world. I love this approach – a short, determined injection of ideas, efficiently opening up worlds. It’s just come out, and there’s a sister-tarot deck along side it. Coo.
The main thrust of work this week has been twofold – firstly getting books out the door and secondly, working on Project Millionaire Sweeper, in various formats. The books out the door are Ludocrats and DIE 14, with the first issue of Marneus inching towards that door, and O&F and Eternals having lettering drafts too. Project Millionaire Sweeper remains secret, but is basically a re-examination of what we’ve done so far, and a reconsideration of purpose. What draws this all together is that it’s basically editing and micro-rewriting.
C, Jim and I are talking about tweaks to the penultimate line of Ludocrats, weighing up comedy and momentum, the effect of context and all that. With Project Millionaire Sweeper – and similar to what I was doing in the DIE essay mentioned upthread – it’s a question of reduction, without removing of flavour. You can trim a lot from the piece from losing sentences, but you lose too much flavour, and it’s semi-skimmed prose. It’s functionally the same, but no-one liked it. Alternatively, you can cut a whole section, and leave the rest with full-fat writing. Or anywhere between the two poles. That’s why it’s a job, and that’s why it’s fascinating.
In other notes, it appears that Wednesday is a deeply mixed metaphor day.