Friday, December 31, 2010

Spanner Chapter 17: Power, Corruption, and Lies

The Neo-Confederate reaction against the upcoming election in Cascadia is getting increasingly violent and hysterical. It’ll only get more so once people start learning what’s behind the Confederate dictatorship in the first place. Cynics like to call it the “Golden Rule” — no, not that one. The one that states: “He that hath the gold, maketh the rules.” I’ll get deeper into this subject in later chapters. But always keep in mind that in Spanner, nothing is what it seems.

Scenarios from the Project Notebooks of the early ’00s: the school assembly and the Big Baddd incident.

I’m running out of “liner notes” right now, so I’m putting part of the story onto the main page this time.

The third act of this play has begun. Now it’s time for Shira to start dropping bombs.

...from previous

Chaos Angel Spanner — Book 1: Rock City Blues
Chapter 17: Power, Corruption, and Lies

Knowledge itself is power.
Sir Francis Bacon

Fool me once, shame on you.
Fool me twice, I won’t get fooled again.

George W. Bush

7 October 2014
The world hasn’t been the same since the Infowar brought down the Internet and made the Neo-Confederate coup possible. Hackers didn’t bring it down. Governments did.

In 2012, America declared war on Iran. The Chinese and Russians entered the war on the Iranian side. The U.S. government, in conjunction with Israeli intelligence, used NORAD and Echelon to take over every computer system in America in an attempt to bring down the entire electronic infrastructure of China, Russia, and Iran. Predictably, they struck back in equal force. The Internet was designed to withstand a nuclear war. But it could not survive the transformation of entire nations into gigantic botnets. The last remaining freedom in most of the world was obliterated by the rising alliances of extremist factions and criminal gangs. The one big winner was not the Church of America, nor the newly founded Cartel, but Echelon.

Today, computer and telephone ownership is a luxury. Only the privileged are allowed to have online communications access, and they are strictly controlled by Echelon.

That’s the law, anyway. Most people who can afford it are back online. But their access is illegal. Their computers and phones must remain in stealth mode. Their only means of access is the Darknet. As long as the Darknet stays up, at least a thin sliver of freedom will remain. But it gives the Mafias a citadel from which to attack the nations.

For the low-tech, there’s the Sneaker Net. To share information and pirated media content, they walk on their sneakers whose friction powers their personal area networks. They meet secretly like adulterers. They set up secret mail drops, or use the ones the Mafias created for the illicit trade in drugs, weapons, pornography, slaves, and exotic animals.

For the truly dedicated, there’s the Pony Express. Thrill-seekers eager to risk their lives work as couriers who deliver the mail personally. They deliver it by car, bus, bicycle, gypsy-cab taxi, and hoverboard.

Shira rides the storm’s air currents southward high above the parallel corridors of Interstate 5, State Highway 99, and the railroad and light rail tracks, her cargo secured behind her feet on her hoverboard. Her intuition informs her that this particular cargo may be very important indeed. But all she cares about right now is getting it to the man who is paying her to send it. He seems rich and connected enough to buy an order to keep the sky-darkening flocks of black TSA drone aircraft from interfering with her flight. Right now he drinks a spiked milk drink at Loco Moloko and waits.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

NaNoFiMo 2010 For The Win!

I have now just won my first NaNoFiMo ever! I've been doing it for four years, but never won till now. All I had to write to win FiMo in earlier years was 30,000 words. This year, I decided to up my word count goal to 50,000, same as NaNoWriMo. And yet I won.

I think the change of novel did the trick.

Earlier, I focused on trying to finish my hard-to-finish '07 NaNo novel, Bad Company: A Corporate Terror Story. I failed to finish it every time, I won several WriMos after that, especially JulNoWriMo, but still I couldn't finish BadCo. So this year — two weeks into JulNo '10, to be exact — I gave up on BadCo and started novelizing my long-neglected manga project, Chaos Angel Spanner. That did the trick. I won JulNo with it, then lost yet another AugNoWriMo, resumed it during NaNo and won with it, and then won my first FiMo with it.

One thing that's been driving me to write it is the deadlines I set for myself. I'm posting Spanner here every Monday and Friday, something I started on November 1 (to coincide with the start of NaNoWriMo) and intend to continue till Book 5 ends sometime this next year. Another thing that's driving me is the years of frustration at not being able to teach myself how to draw comics, and the desire to finish a major project for perhaps the first time in my life. I'll get back to the drawing self-instruction later, since I'll be posting at least links to it here. But first, I want to finish Spanner once and for all.

Next: JanNoWriMo! My word count goal: 65,000. My real goal: finish Spanner Book 1, and then as much of Book 2 as possible.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Spanner Chapter 16: Media Wars

“Media Wars” is the third of the proposed chapter titles I took from my Project Notebooks of the Nineties and early ’00s (after “Spanner in the Works” and “Better Living Through Chemistry”). This title encapsulates one of the major cyberpunk themes contained in such CP-SF novels from the classic era as William Gibson’s Mona Lisa Overdrive, Norman Spinrad’s Little Heroes, and Bradley Denton’s Wrack & Roll. Above all, there was Max Headroom. A title like “Media Wars” was a complete no-brainer back when I was trying to write Spanner as science fiction. Now that the Media Wars are actually happening, what was science fiction then is reality today. I’ve updated the concept to include the Internet and social media — or what little is left of it after a little dust-up called World Infowar I...

One more obscure influence on this chapter in particular is a book from the mid-Seventies called Decadence, a post-mortem of the Sixties counterculture by a certain expatriate named Jim Hougan (who was then living on Ibiza a decade before the rave culture of the Nineties started developing there and ended its backwater obscurity). Its one major point, besides identifying America as something of a giant robot doomed to move in one direction until (in our near future) it crashes, is his antithesis within pop culture of alpha culture and omega culture. Alpha culture is the decentralized culture of the people; omega culture is the hypercentralized culture of the Man. Omega culture is a parasite that continually struggles to assimilate all potentially threatening alpha culture and lock it into unthreatening stasis. More than ever, the Man has a huge edge. But now we have the means to subvert the Man’s omega-cultural tyranny: the Internet, social media, and file sharing. After the Neo-Confederate coup and the Infowar, the Man seems to have total control. But in its hubris it has spawned the cancer that will kill it: the Darknet. (Here’s the book on it, an article on it, and the reply by Freenet’s creator.).

Scenarios from the Project Notebooks of the early ’00s: the Doctor's visit and the terror group that calls itself the Socialist Revolutionary Organization. From the early Notebooks of the Nineties: the Rat Bastard (mostly on index cards, actually), the Pirate Television Network and its local station KCUF, and the cult known popularly as the TV Heads. The original cover concept for the proposed manga episode: a line of cartoon fish, escalating in size, all about to eat each other.

Special Mentions: Go-Man and Mister X!
Special Guest Star: Rupert Murdoch is News Corporation — literally!
Original soundtrack by Emergency Broadcast Network.

Now press play, and listen...

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Our Cyberpunk World: Robot Waiters

It's not just in Star Wars or cyberpunk anime anymore. There's an actual restaurant in China with a mechanical wait staff. Just think of it: no wages to pay, no need for tips, no surly human employees. Sure, the restaurant in question may be robot-themed. But knowing American business types, it won't be long till it catches on big time...

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Spanner Side Story: The Assassination of Satan Claus

Boy Satan is one of the most absurd Spanner villains that I haven't yet put into a script. Every year he goes a-grinchin' as "Satan Claus", trying to ruin everybody's holiday, at least online. And every year he becomes an irresistible target for Spanner, the mischievous Angel of Chaos, who uses everything from BFGs to tactical nukes in her quest to assassinate him.

Shira Thomas, the heroine of Spanner, tells the tale. One of her taller ones, to be sure. But in virtual reality, anything is possible...

The Assassination of Satan Claus:
A Yule-Wrecking Supervillain Story

The spy looks, talks, and acts like any other spy. If he didn't, he'd lose his job. The United Corporations don't like puny humans putting their grubby hands on their holy holy holy patents. And they patent everything. Normally they send the usual Keystone Gestapo to hunt down any and all violators. But this guy isn't EuroSec. He's from the Ministry of Intelligence. These guys hunt down suspected foreign agents. If he's one of their cyberenhanced elite superspies, I've got a special trick just for him.

He rattles off my name, rank, serial number, all that command and control crap. The Synarchy have a hierarchy fetish that drives us civilians up the wall. He takes his sweet old time before he starts trying to grill me, just to unnerve me. He fails: I keep my calm.

He intones in the typical spyboy monotone, "It seems you have come into possession of something very important that just happens to be ours."

"What, did I steal your boss's mistress? I hear she's got a thing for jailbait supersluts."

"Enough with the stupid jokes, Miss Clayton-Wilder." The Cartel lords may play nasty pranks on mere humans, but their agents are uniformly humorless. "This is a matter of National Security. The penalty for selling our secrets to the enemy is much worse than death."

"Yeah, yeah, I know all your penalties by heart, right down to the legalese detail. Thing is, they won't work. You can fine me, but your funny money's worthless. You can try putting me in one of your quote-unquote 'inescapable' superprisons, but there's no way you can hold an angel of chaos."

"Our prison technology is advanced enough to hold even Satan. But if you have stolen our most classified secrets as we strongly suspect, our revenge against you shall make it look like Satan got off easy."

"Au contraire, mon frère. I stole your precious thingie from Triad couriers your agents whacked. Your secrets? You swiped 'em all from the Chinks. Once again you're claiming something that's not yours. Just Corporatism acting like the troll on the bridge yet again. If you punish anybody, just try to punish the Chinese government you stole it from in the first place. Me, I got deniability, and you people know it."

"We can revoke your—" I interrupt him with a big kiss. He stands there stupidly. Prude.

"Sorry, massa, but I'm losing points right now, so I'm outta here yesterday." I throw a self-destructing one-way portal between us and slip through it. And I'm gone.

Stupid agent. Robots are more effective. Someday I'll use some of their own bots against them. Little do I know he's slipped a HyperTracer™ on me.

But I'm not concerned with that right now. Satan Claus is out grinching again. He's on a search and destroy mission to find any holiday party online and wreck it, leaving a lot of people out mucho moolah. He's hunting down and terminating every Santabot, elfbot, and angelbot he can find. One of my avatars just happens to be a Super Sexy Santabot. I switch to it.

Our Cyberpunk World: Now You See Me, Now You Don't

The article: Invisibility cloaks: Now you see me, but for how much longer?

Invisibility cloaks. Science fiction, right? Even better, fantasy! (see: The Arabian Nights or Harry Potter, etc., etc., etc....)

Think again.

Like the jetpack, aircar, and hoverboard, the invisibility cloak is now a reality. You can't buy them now, of course; the technology's still in the research stage, and the military and police demand first dibs Or Else. However, the cloaking device is more cyberpunk than those other sci-fi cliché technologies. Like teleportation as used in Alfred Bester's 1950s proto-cyberpunk classic Tiger, Tiger a.k.a. The Stars My Destination, cloaking is the wet dream of assassins and terrorists. Just look, for instance, at Spanner Chapter One...

Here's how it works. You're a terrorist, secret police agent, black ops super soldier, or serial killer. You put on an invisibility cloak (or your uniform is a cloak) and switch invisibility on. Now you can kill without anybody knowing you're there; your victim will look like Abu Alhazred being eaten alive in the middle of the souq by the demon Yog Sothoth.

There's three problems. One, no cloaking device will ever be able to hide your fingerprints or footprints. Observant Trackers and CSIs will still be able to see what you left behind and follow the clues all the way back to you. Two, cloaking involves materials that bend light rays, so it will never be perfect; you'll still be visible to the trained eye or special goggles. Third and worst of all, you never know if you yourself are being tracked...

Soon the cyberpunks and other science fiction writers will lose control of this technology. Very soon, it'll be all over the spy, terror, and police thrillers...

Friday, December 24, 2010

Spanner Chapter 15: Start the Violence

Faithful readers, school is now out. Sure, there’ll still be scenes set at school, but that’s not where the main action is anymore. It’s out in the streets. All the high school kids are about to find that out for themselves once class resumes next chapter. This weekend belongs to the emperor of the world, his would-be assassins shooting for eternal glory, and the Angel of Chaos out to pwn them both. The final act of Spanner Book 1 begins here.

The original canon of cyberpunk science fiction coincides with the end of the political thriller’s heyday, the Eighties. The Left died with the Soviet Union as Stalin’s last and biggest victim. But still there is a political strain within cyberpunk, even if a minor one; naturally, it tends anarchist, just like punk rock itself. (Fortunately there’s still no fascist strain corresponding to Nazi street punk.) Even The Matrix skirts the edge of political cyberpunk, even if the sequels lose themselves in tech-gnostic obscurity. Now, I’m not yet avoiding the problems with political thrillers; the masses have even left the city to avoid getting hurt or killed when the assembled “Cons” (Neo-Confederates) start trashing it. But the Cons and “Corps” (Corporates) are the American Imperial élite. The masses will make their début soon, and then they will make their presence known.

Scenarios taken from my Project Notebooks of the early ’00s: the first visit to Ariel’s New Age shop (which occurred earlier in the 2008 Script Frenzy script) and the police riot (in Seattle, no less); from the early Notebooks of the Nineties come the names of the three networks ABCNN, QVCBS, and ESPNBC.

Now we start rockin’...

Monday, December 20, 2010

Spanner Chapter 14: When the Cat's Away

So far, most of the action following Chapter 1 has been a series of fight scenes that I've had a hard time translating from comics script fragments into unvisual prose. From now on, it's no longer going to be just a series of Challenges in the never-ending "Tournament" that invaded the schools from the streets. Now we leave the high school corridors and go back to the mean streets where the gangsters, terrorists, and cops rule. And the cops have just gotten their bloody hands on the very latest in bleeding-edge law enforcement technology. Expect the crooks to steal it from the cops soon, just like they always do.

So far, the yuri fans have gotten all the fun. Now at last it’s time for them to take a back seat for once and make way for the yaoi fangirls. The girls have gotten to throw themselves at each other since Chapter 2; now the boys get to go at it. Face it: the boys want beautiful Robert Shelley just as badly as the girls do. But to balance this out, I’m going to introduce another of the great clichés of manga and anime, the Evil Bishounen. Arvid Shield is starting to get too ambiguous, so I need a beautiful boy who can incarnate pure hideous evil. So, from the pages of my unfinished prequel Bad Company, I bring you one of its major villains.

Scenarios taken from my Project Notebooks of the early ’00s: the Law of Plausible Deniability, the coed shower scene, the band called Gang and their frontman Eddie Evil, the interrupted sacrifice, and the police raid on the pit bull fights.

Fasten your seatbelts, faithful readers! The pirate ship Spanner is about to shift into warp drive, and the real chaos is about to begin...

Friday, December 17, 2010

Spanner Chapter 13: The Battle of Evergreen Park

Halfway into a story, you expect something important to happen that will power the story to the shocking conclusion. Well, we’re now well into the second half of Spanner, which means the Author had better pick up the pace. And how better to do that than by having one villain draw a higher-ranking villain into his fight? Charmian Fleer has done this already. Now it’s Stan Green’s turn. Next — who knows?

From the Project Notebooks: the homeroom teacher’s question, “Ilsa, She-Wolf of Hollywood,” the mock fainting spells, Mimi in the locker room, the battle in the park, the loaded yo-yo, and the policebots (and what Shira does to them). All are from the early ’00s except for the robot idea that has remained essentially the same since the ’90s.

So far, I’ve neglected some major players and elements in the story. I left them behind when I took the story to high school. But now the strife is beginning to spread outside the school. Particularly from Chapter 5 onward, I downplayed some of the story’s more political aspects so I could introduce important plotlines and focus on the interplay of specific characters. That’s done. Now it’s time for me to start kicking the story into high gear.

Since Team Bremelo are holding a big gathering with family and friends invited to come, I’m taking the opportunity to bring some of the back. I’m also debuting another major villain, one I originally created for a very early version of Chapter 1 I plotted out in the later Project Notebooks. He’s a major player in my still unfinished prequel, Bad Company. But he never appeared in the Script Frenzy 2008 comics script. So he hasn’t yet had an opportunity to start making trouble — till now.

Beware: the Travelling Shovel of Death craves blood...

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Spanner: When Cyberpunk Is Not Science Fiction

Remember steampunk? You've probably heard of it by now, since it's been getting trendy lately. It started out as a retro application of cyberpunk, but it has long since outgrown science fiction and now seems to be spanning the gap between SF and fantasy. Today, steampunk is no longer necessarily science fiction anymore.

The same goes for cyberpunk itself. It used to be the exclusive preserve of science fiction writers who applied the new-wave SF approach pioneered by the likes of Philip K. Dick and Harlan Ellison the '60s and '70s to the hard-boiled crime fiction of Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, and Jim Thompson — or the other way around, depending. When the first-generation cyberpunks didn't write about hacker antiheroes (William Gibson's Case, Neal Stephenson's Hiro Protagonist), they focused on cyborg assassins and the like.

Today, we're actually living in cyberpunk SF's time frame. The cyberpunk writers, including the first generation, know it. Gibson's recent "Blue Ant" trilogy and Stephenson's Cryptonomicon are set in the present day. To me, it's become clear that, like steampunk, cyberpunk is no longer merely a subgenre of science fiction. Like steampunk, it's outgrown the genre that spawned it. It's an approach that lends itself well to a certain subset of thriller subgenres, including the technothriller and the political thriller. Popular movies such as The Matrix and Minority Report prove that you can build action adventures on the cyberpunk template.

In 1992, the year Snow Crash came out, when I came up with the initial idea for the proposed manga I would later call Chaos Angel Spanner, I set it in 2014 because I intended it to be clearly cyberpunk, and cyberpunk in those distant days before the Web and social media was clearly science fiction. Now it's 2010. Much of what the futurists and SF writers predicted last century has already come to pass, or will in the next few years. 2014 is barely "twenty minutes into the future" these days. Spanner is a contemporary action thriller now. But it remains every bit as cyberpunk as when I came up with the original idea almost two decades ago.

Sure, most of what we call cyberpunk today is still science fiction. But now it's possible to write something that's cyberpunk through and through and yet doesn't belong to the science fiction genre. Something like Gibson's Pattern Recognition. Or Spanner. Since we live in the cyberpunk universe today, it's increasingly absurd to classify cyberpunk as merely a SF subgenre. Today, genre and style no longer coincide. Instead, they overlap. Just like steampunk.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Spanner Chapter 12: Medium Cruel

If the title of this chapter sounds punny, that is entirely deliberate. It’s also no coincidence that Shira starts to look even more amoral than in previous episodes, particularly considering which major villain is making his début here. After all, morality is not really the point. In the school scenes, this time the mean girls get their day in the fighting spotlight that the bullyboys have hogged till now; believe it or not, they’re actually better fighters than the Tournament-obsessed boys. Willa, Aira, and Nenene also get major roles this chapter, and the Yakuza ex makes his first appearance in second person.

Once again, this chapter contains mostly new material written during NaNoFiMo. Even so, it still contains some material originating in my early ’00s Project Notebooks: the girl-on-boy rape scenario, the dance-off during which Shira wins the Japanese national championship (though the character of Nenene didn’t exist then), and the Aya Shibata arcade battle. The character of Byron Scofield is, along with Henry Becket and Diana Shockley, one of the original three villains I created back in 1992, but the only one of the three I forgot. Now he takes his rightful place in the story I created him for.

And the seemingly science-fictiony high tech returns as the savior of the video arcades. The first two versions of the fighting-game scene involved motion capture (which I first saw used to control a fighting game at Seattle’s GameWorks) and immersive virtual reality; one is now becoming standard home console equipment and the other is better suited to MMORPGs and related environments such as Second Life (the original Metaverse in Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash can be described as Second Life plus immersive VR). I asked myself, What would be the cutting edge of Japanese arcade technology in 2014? The answer I guessed below is related to hoverboard technology.

Now featuring mid-air drunken monkey kung fu!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Spanner: My Plans for the eBook Version

Sometime next year, there will be an ebook version of Spanner Book 1. I'm going to finish it during NaNoFiMo, but chapter 23 isn't scheduled for posting here till January 2011. After that, I'll edit it once more, possibly during NaNoEdMo, to make it much more coherent than the serial novel is even in its edited state. EdMo may be the perfect time to learn how to make an ebook out of a blog novel.

After I edit Spanner Book 1 into its final form, I'm going to convert the original HTML and/or Microsoft Word source into all the major ebook formats and then sell it online in all the big online bookstores. But I'll probably charge only $3 or so for it, and I'll go no higher than $5. Most publishers sell the electronic versions of their printed books at the same price printed on the paper books' cover. I don't believe in that. It strikes me as absurd because there's no paper, ink, type, and labor to pay for. It's the same kind of corporate absurdity that drives the record companies to price CDs higher than DVDs.

The work I'll have to put into the final edition will be more than just thinking things up, writing them down, and editing the resulting work, more than just the work of a couple WriMos and an EdMo. I'll need to choose the right fonts, design the page, and draw the illustrations. I'll have to turn the Book 1 cover I see in my mind (the Spanner tag on the front, a color illustration of Shira on the back) into something printable and eyecatching. And then I'll have to promote it relentlessly. I'll have to find some way to cause enough of an uproar that the novel will sell its way into print.

It won't be easy, to be sure. But nothing about Spanner has ever been easy. After all, I've been ripping my hair out over this thing for almost two decades; it's a miracle that any still remains on my head...

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Sexbots 3: Sexbots of the Human Kind

To sum up the previous two posts, real sexbots are nearing mass production, and somebody will hack some into rapebots. There's already speculation about an even more dystopian scenario: in the future, there will be people implanted with some mind-control device that will turn them into human robots, or "meat puppets". I'll eventually post something about specifically that. But right now there's one particular use I'm concerned with. If people can be physically hacked into robots, some of them are bound to become human sexbots.

You know the Man will spin robotization of humans as the ideal way to dispense with criminals without killing them. To the corporations, they'll sell it as the ideal workforce; certainly the prison-industrial complex will try to profit huge from this. But some Corporates and political types will see through the spin...

What is the feminine ideal for the male power luster? Beautiful, insatiable, naked, and utterly obedient to his commands. Stereotypes are always misleading. Most women have at least some sense of dignity. But what the man of power wants is a harem of pliant beauties who worship his every sexual craving and bear his children unquestioningly. Since humans are as unreliable as they are sexy, the way to make them perfectly reliable (not to mention pliable) is to hardwire their brains so that they become soft-fleshed sexbots. Then they'll have no will but his own. He won't have to worry about them leaving him, much less turning feminist, ever again. If he's especially ruthless, he could do the same to his own wife, or even his daughters. Being Corporate, you know he'll get away with it. Turning your wife and daughters into your own personal sexbots could even become all the rage among the overclass, just like in Ira Levin's Stepford...

And of course you'll see rich women doing that to men. Human sexbots made out of dangerous criminals could become a hot commodity among Corporate women.

Sure enough, science fiction has dealt with this, even before The Stepford Wives. But now we're already living in the cyberpunk universe; so much of what we take for granted today was science fiction then. And most of science fiction has dealt with the dark side of technological advance. What makes the dark side so dark is that there are people the dark side strongly appeals to. Nuclear war? Generals masturbate over it. Panoptical surveillance? The voyeur's wet dream. Rapebots and human sexbots? Hentai manga's already running away with this kind of stuff.

You know I'll throw it into Spanner sometime...

Friday, December 10, 2010

Spanner Chapter 11: Bad Girls Can't Win

This is the first full chapter I’ve written during the 2010 edition of NaNoFiMo (National Novel Finishing Month), the writing month that follows NaNoWriMo. There are two scenarios here from earlier: the sleepover scene, heavily modified from the original scenario I recorded in the early-’00s Project Notebooks; and the serial killer scene that came to me after Steve Irwin’s death, now the climax to a complete sequence combined with another post-notebook scenario involving a school clique of outcasts latching onto a serial killer, and featuring not only the plucking of the knife and the ensuing quip from Shira, but also NaNoWriMo’s infamous Travelling Shovel of Death. Everything else is new material I wrote to fill in the plot.

This chapter introduces a new Slasher Hunter character I didn’t introduce in Chapter 8. It also introduces Marina Reyes, another of the original Team Spanner members I came up with back in 1992-5 while I still belonged to my college’s anime club; this leaves only one more Team Spanner original left before the original team is complete at last. Rap producer Jayzus dates back to 2000 or so, as do his rivals in the Wu-Tang-like rap group called the Chi-Sah Gang whom I’ll introduce later.

What’ with all the sexual incorrectness? Why do some characters don’t care about what gender one’s lover is or bother to wear their clothes at home when both are illegal and viciously punished? There’s a point to this that will be revealed later. Ever since I started plotting Spanner in 1992, the Culture War has been one of its major themes. Time to sit back and watch the war play out...

Monday, December 6, 2010

Spanner Chapter 10: Fashion Meltdown

Here’s the first major episode in the “Fashion War” plotline that will be running throughout Spanner. Once again, I’ve cobbled together several fragmentary scenarios and pulled them into a coherent whole. The music video (narrated, of course) and the “fashion war” itself are new; but the “school shooting,” “serial killer clique,” and “Pie Kill” scenarios, the “Wild Style” idea, and the characters of Arvid Shield, Minty Fresh and Lala Sun-Microsoft come from the early-’00s Project Notebooks (numbers 11-14) from before I started doing NaNoWriMo.

This is the last chapter of Spanner Book 1 that I wrote during the 2010 editions of JulNoWriMo and AugNoWriMo. Starting next chapter, I’m using NaNoFiMo (National Novel Finishing Month) as my excuse to finish the rest of Book 1. This is, in fact, the first new chapter to use material written during FiMo. (The expanded Chapter 2 contains the first material I wrote for FiMo ’10.)

This time, I’m not just throwing in the usual wild plot pyrotechnics here. Now we’re getting into Wild Style!

Oh yeah: this time there’s songs, too...

Friday, December 3, 2010

Spanner Chapter 9: Checkered Pasts

Back during JulNoWriMo, I wrote this under a different name. The final title — modified from a band, not a song — fit much, much better, even if it eliminated a chapter title drop (which also happened to Chapter 3), though I made up for it in the final section. The lesson for one ex-Interpol agent and one would-be Navy ship captain is: be careful what you ask for, you might get... something completely different...

This is the last chapter I actually began writing during JulNoWriMo and AugNoWriMo. Everything that comes after this will be new — except, of course, unless I take it out of the Project Notebooks from the last decade and a half. (The beauty pageant scene is excerpted from a longer script in the Notebooks; the love scene and the morning after reappear here nearly intact.) And this is the first scheduled to be published during December 2010 — that is, during NaNoFiMo, when of course I’ll write 30,000 words for the win finish Spanner Book 1.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

NaNoFiMo: And The Writing Resumes...

After winning NaNoWriMo for the fifth straight time, I still don't have a finished novel. Even after winning JulNoWriMo this year, I still haven't even finished Spanner book 1. And so I'm doing NaNoFiMo — National Novel Finishing Month. For the first time in my four years attempting FiMo, I intend to finish a novel. And I'm going to win it for the first time, even though my goal this year is 50,000 words, 20,000 more than FiMo's original standard 30,000-word target.

Right now, as of tomorrow morning (next post, in fact), I'll be ten chapters into book 1 (counting the Intro, or "chapter zero"). I've got two chapters ready to post. That means I'm only halfway through book 1. I'm going to edit a couple chapters, especially 2, 7, and 10, to add a few things: one short scene in chapter 7, the song lyrics in chapter 10, and . I need to get all the way to Chapter 23. The only way I can do that is by writing. Thus, FiMo: my goal this month is to finish the whole thing and get it ready to post. When I'm done with that, I'll finish book 2 during JanNoWriMo.

There's one other Spanner-related goal I've set for December, and that's to draw at least one thing each day. I know I can do that; it's just that I haven't bothered. I'll be returning to the Spanner script that won Script Frenzy '08 (after I rewrite it up to chapter 5), so I'll need to get my drawing skills back up to a tolerable level. I'll start my drawing self-instruction again, needless to say, since there's still a lot of things I haven't learned how to draw.

I'll post updates here. And I'll make sure to keep the Spanner novel's page updated regularly.

Gratuitous Trademark Symbols: Corrected

William Gibson has always loved to drop brand names. Ever since he set the example in the early 1980s, cyberpunk writers have no doubt been faced with the temptation to throw in a whole bunch of gratuitous trademark symbols, just like some of those pretentious postmodernist professors like to do in those essays and theses they publish way too much of in order to not perish.

Me, I gave in to the temptation a few days ago. I suspect I contracted the disease from the old Toren Smith/Adam Warren Dirty Pair comics. I put a lot of ™s and ®s into most of the posted chapters of Spanner. It struck me as pretentiously pomo, something a professor would do. So I removed them.

It's ridiculously easy to make mistakes, even when you think you know what you're doing. What sounds great at first blush turns out to be stupid in retrospect. The problem with going directly into print is that it's extremely difficult to correct your mistakes, requiring changes from printing to printing. That's why editors are so important in publishing; if the editor sucks, or the author has protection from editors, the mistakes can ruin the book. The virtue of self-publishing online, at least at first, is that you can edit your posted chapters at any time (though it's a good idea to let your readers know there's been revisions).

Sometimes I like to try out new things. Sometimes they don't work out. This idea didn't. It probably won't be the last...