Writing Per Aspera

Spoilers for Observation, Per Aspera and The Stanley Parable (computer games). Red Planet, Green Planet.(Per Aspera, promotional material) As our computers have become more sophisticated, one of the questions which has loomed over philosophers like the sword of Damocles has been At what point can we say that an artificial intelligence is, for lack of…

Writing Bioshock

Spoilers for BioShock (computer game franchise, including BioShock 2 and BioShock Infinite, henceforth BS, BS2 and BSI respectively). But purer and higher and deeper shall bethat wonder, that Rapture, in cloud and in sea.(Promotional material from Nintendo) The core concept of the Bioshock franchise is that some ideas are bad, a sentiment perhaps at odds…

Fantastic Folks 5: Bug People

Invertebrates generally, and insect-like creatures specifically, do not feature in global mythology to the same extent as their vertebrate and humanoid cousins. Likewise, although vertebrates have inspired various fantastic peoples (generally in the form of shapeshifting monsters such as the Japanese kitsune or European werewolf), invertebrate equivalents are rare in the extreme, and most with…

Fantastic Folks 4: Trolls

Long before the term was being used to describe ethically deficient netizens, the trolls were vaguely defined mythological creatures of Scandinavian folklore. Nowadays, trolls of all kinds are rife in fantasy, taking up space on the page, being pointlessly mean, and generally bringing down the rarefied tone which Rothfuss and Martin have spent so long…

‘Disco Elysium’ and Framing Devices

Spoilers for Disco Elysium (computer game) and The Sexy Brutale (computer game). Disco Elysium, promotional material. Let me prefix everything that I am about to write with this: I really enjoyed Disco Elysium (henceforth DE) and was glued to it for a week over Christmas, thanks to the generosity of a friend who gave it…

Fantastic Folks 3: Orcs

Last time, we looked at elves, because before then we had looked at dwarves. The eternal hate-triangle must therefore be completed, and so we shall have a look at the third party in this unceasing conflict: orcs, who are officially no longer always chaotic evil. Except, are they really? Were they ever? What even is…

Fantastic Folks 2: Elves

Last time we had a look at the tropes associated with dwarves in fantasy writing. We could not, therefore, go any further without looking at their counterparts and occasional rivals, elves. Tree Huggers Although the depiction of dwarves in modern media has been greatly influenced by Tolkien, he practically re-invented elves. Before Tolkien, the elf…

Fantastic Folks 1: Dwarves

The tropes associated with fantasy races/cultures are, it must needs be remarked, somewhat tired. Despite the occasional kick up the backside that they receive, the general trend in fantasy seems to be repackaging of the same old ideas, rather than the creation of new ideas. Some of this repackaging is good, and some of it…

World-Building Recommendations

Between blogging, my various jobs, and the general grind of the season, I am afraid that I have no world-building thoughts to share this week. Rather than scrape together something underwhelming, though, I thought I might try something a little different and recommend a few sources which show a variety of forms of world-building which…