Saturday, December 14, 2013

Spanner R5 Update: Leila Shelley on a Road Not Necessarily Made of Yellow Bricks

As I begin the final edit on Spanner 2.1, I'll be dealing with the most important character besides Shira herself in her only Chapter 2 appearance, one of the chapter's oldest scenes.

Leila Shelley, the series' primary love interest character, may possibly be its secret hero. I already have Shira as a catalyst hero whose roles alternate between trickster and herald. The first named character she appears as herald to is Leila, the girl she's in love with. What's Leila's "hero's journey"? I found the clue in my absolute favorite David Lynch movie, Mulholland Drive. That film uses Sunset Boulevard to turn the plot of The Wizard of Oz into a tragedy. My favorite Lynch character happens to be Audrey Horne from Twin Peaks; Leila is, among other things, Audrey with a bob cut, except at the same time younger (sixteen) and far less innocent, with a past as dark as Mulholland Drive's Diane Selwyn.

Now let's put Leila on the Yellow Brick Road, so to speak. At once several elements of her character arc fall into place:
  1. Drusilla Becket is, as her enemies (including who knows how many ex-husbands) nickname her, the Wicked Witch of the West.
  2. The corresponding Good Witch is Leila's aunt Ariel Shield, who is (except of course for the white stripe) black-haired like herself. (In The Wizard of Oz, the movie, both Dorothy and Glinda are redheads; the corresponding character in Mulholland Drive happens to be Diane's aunt.) As the Grail Bearer, she brings in a completely different myth system, particularly the version found in the books of Margaret Starbird, a real-life mentor she invokes by name.
  3. Shira, of course, corresponds to Dorothy's inseparable companion Princess Ozma in the Oz novels.
  4. Seattle has many nicknames, but the most famous of them is "Emerald City", named after not the architecture but the forested surroundings. The name of the city AI, OZMA, is a blatant pun.
  5. Once in the Emerald City, what "great and powerful" Wizard does she meet? Zardoz, of course, in the form of King Patriot. (The song in Interlude 11 samples Zardoz's speech in the notorious 1970s cult movie.) And she kills him — because there is in fact no man behind the curtain. That sequence is the origin of a major Spanner theme, the mystery of the Ego.
  6. Leila's counterpart to the tornado that swept Dorothy to Oz is the "tornado" of scandal that destroyed her modelling career and which she barely managed to escape with her life. Another version is the Spanner Incident, in which the series' title character appears and disappears in a whirlwind.
  7. Her version of the poppy-field crisis that Glinda has to rescue Dorothy and her travelling companions from may be the name crisis of Chapter 12 (R5 version), in which she fights for her life against her very name itself (which, due to Corporate customs, has trapped her in an arranged marriage to one of the story's nastiest villains). Another character plays the Glinda role here: Angela Coyne, Shira's cousin, lawyer, and fellow redhead. There's another poppy-related connection: it's in Chapter 12 that Leila leaves behind her old heroin habit forever.
  8. The Spanner versions of those travelling companions are already experienced heroes unlike the originals, so they don't need to earn their brain, heart, or courage. In fact, there's two versions: three bishounen at Bangor High (Team Bremelo's Connor, Cory, and Kio) and three nameless women from the revolutionary underground (now introduced in Chapter 2).
  9. The name of one gang, "Flyen Monkeez", reveals the Klownz to be a version of the Wicked Witch's flying monkey minions.
  10. Who corresponds to the Munchkins? Why, the "little people" as the Corporates call them, the mass of ordinary working people against whom the Conservative Revolution is crusading in the name of "the best" (hoi aristoi, as in aristocracy). Thus do I make explicit the Populist themes that are only implicit in L. Frank Baum's original novels, though I drop the old Populists' silver-against-gold (or greenbacks) crusade and ask why, if money turned out to be ichor (the blood of gods) as the Social Darwinists' occult secret doctrine states (so theorizes Bram Dijkstra), there is any need for it at all. The Corporate robber barons and Patriot terrorists with their giant-monster Egos are in fact Nephilim, invoked under their alternate name "Anakim", Hebrew for "giants". Starbird's name for those the Anakim oppose and oppress, those whom Jesus (and the Grail Bearers after him) vowed to defend? Anawim: "little ones".
  11. If Leila is a darker take on Dorothy who is in fact a witch, then her counterpart to Toto needs to be that classic witch's familiar, a black cat, a stray who charmed her way into Leila's life back when she was a young girl in her native Ireland.
  12. The Spanner version of the "yellow brick road" (the golden road of heroes) will lead Leila not toward "home" (wherever that is) but into legend. She chooses this path by choosing the human version of the red pill from another cinematic mythology.
Of course, the Wizard of Oz plot doesn't sum up all of Leila's character arc. For one thing, Dorothy has nothing resembling Leila's signet ring (the sign of her enslavement to her aristocratic clan that she throws away in Chapter 16) or power crystal (which Shira returns to her). Also, I haven't figured out any counterparts to the ruby slippers (that mentor's gift which gives Dorothy the power to return home) or the Emerald City's famous Horse of a Different Color (that obvious dream symbol of radical change to come). But it definitely serves as a good ready-made template I can model Leila's character arc on (at least in Book 1). David Lynch followed the template in Mulholland Drive, even adding a Princess Ozma figure in Camilla Rhodes; but this Hollywood Ozma proves as totally corrupt as Zardoz (an evil Wizard of Oz), so Diane murders her and ends her journey in tragedy. I'll make my own variations, of course. And it all becomes obvious when you remember that Seattle's nickname is "Emerald City".

Friday, December 13, 2013

Spanner R5 Update: Putting the Axe to Chapter 2 (with 2.2 now complete)

At last, I've begun editing Spanner Chapter 2! 2.2 turned out to be surprisingly easy to edit, so I finished it first, complete with new scenes. The next order of business is 2.1, which follows directly on the events of Chapter 1 and continues its threads, including scenes starring Leila (dating back as far as Revision 2) and Ariel (a new opening for the final version). Like I said, I finished 2.2 first because I found it easy, even to cut down the original scene ("Ghost Hunting" from Revision 1) so I could add the new ones — and "What Shira Knows", the interrogation scene I originally wrote for 2.3 and then moved to 2.1 for R4; and even that scene I made major changes to, echoing the similar scene in 16.1.

I'm editing 2.1 next because the scenes I keep in and the order I put them in will determine the order of scenes from 2.3 to the end of the chapter. These are the new scenes I'm adding:
  1. "Ariel's Vision": Leila's aunt, the hot witch with the white-striped black hair, induces a vision that puts Chapter 1's Spanner Incident in its wider context, subtly foreshadows future events, introduces the theme of fate vs. freedom, and reveals the true reason why she's become archenemy to the Beckets and especially Drusilla — and that just happens to involve the Holy Grail.
  2. "Message from the Evil One": the ghost of Osama bin Laden wimp-shames America. Only his smirking face will be visible.
  3. "Introducing the Beckets": a little three-paragraph exposition that does exactly what the title says: introduce the ruling clan.
  4. "Tender Enemies": the videophone call in which Willa taunts her ex-husband Henry Becket, which I mentioned last post.
  5. "Get Ready for the Bad Endings": a scene removed from Chapter 1 (1.2 in R2, 1.4 in R3 and R4) to become the heroes' own retrospective on the Spanner Incident. It still introduces the "Bad Endings" described in detail in Interlude 10. To fit it in its final place, I'll have to cut it down pretty severely.
  6. "Great Nike Is Not Pleased": the corporation that owns the monopoly on all sports and their arenas (Madison Square Garden during the Spanner Incident) reveals itself as the incarnation of its namesake goddess (the Greek goddess of victory) and tries to attack Shira in her own dreamspace only to discover that in dreamspace, Shira's power is equal to hers. The myth behind this scene, one of the series' two core myths (the Theomachy, or the War of the Gods, with the Olympian generation of gods now under siege from an upstart new generation: humanity itself), will be made explicit in 2.3, by none other than Ariel.
  7. "The Call" and "The Arrival": Shira gets a call on the flight home from her mother's nemesis, Teachers Guild president Dr. Jenna Hunter, and accepts her offer to be a college-student tutor at Metropolitan Seattle's toughest school, Bangor High. Once in Seattle, she and her cousins (and niece and sister) meet Willa and Angela outside the airport terminal only to be interrupted by police agents Sparks and Kowalczyk, leading into "What Shira Knows". In fact, these two scenes are the original reason I decided to move "What Shira Knows" from 2.1 R4 into 2.2.
The appearances of Spanner and Rebel, which I originally built 2.1 around in R2, will remain, along with the villains' post-Incident follow-up meeting, which in their current (post-R4) state consist of three different scenes I need to combine into one. Other than that, just as I mentioned last post, 2.1 will be vastly different from even the R4 version.

Once I've straightened out 2.1, I'll bring back Ariel in 2.3 to give Shira a Tarot card reading (of the story itself, actually, and her role in it) and introduce the first of the nameless women (the beautiful tall barista who used to be an Olympic swimmer and claims to be a psychologist). 2.3, 2.4, and 2.5 should also be easier to edit once I've finalized the scene order of 2.1. The remaining big challenge then will be 2.6: instead of just following the Shira-Sparks sequence with the "Henry Becket and his psychic-seer mother" scene the way I did in R4, I'm going to cinematically intercut them into a single climactic sequence consisting of as many as five threads, one of them introducing major villain Byron Scofield.

The work has begun at last. And I'm beginning to believe I can finish this chapter before Christmas...

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Post-NaNoWriMo Spanner R5 Update: The Many, Many Changes of Chapter 2

Now that NaNoWriMo 2013 is over and won, it's time to return to the really, really Herculean task: editing the final publication draft of Spanner. Now that I'm done with Chapter 1, it's time for me to move on to Chapter 2.

Chapter 2 has been more or less the same through three drafts. I didn't do more than add scenes and do continuity corrections to the Revision 4 version. Not so in the final version. It's already vastly different. Since in its current state it's nearly twice its proper size, I'll be throwing out scenes I thought would be permanent. A lot of the scenes are entirely new. Here's the changes I have planned so far:
  • Willa Taunts Becket: in a videophone call. Ex-spouses Henry Becket and Willa Richter-Thomas have been bitter enemies since their one-month marriage in 1992. She has a special fondness for taunting the humorless old bully. Major themes invoked: fate/destiny and the death of capitalism. New.
  • Women with No Name: three new scenes introducing three characters whose first R4 appearance was in Chapter 12 with one retconned into 10.1 just because I was short of my desired word count. Sure enough, they demanded I put their real debuts in Chapter 2. Over the next 2-3 chapters they'll explain (and not in a single chunk of exposition) just how they manage to have no names at all yet be some of the most vivid and individual characters in the whole series. And they have relevant new backstory too. And this is partly because of what I found happening to major character Leila in R4: the moment in Chapter 12 she went permanently nameless, she became a stronger character than she was when she had a name. In fact, she became her own person; because of this, after that moment, "the girl with the violet eyes" will never go by a name again — and for R5 she insists on taking away her sister's and twin brother's names too, because she loves them so much, especially because she doesn't want Brinkman to forcibly marry Fiona to the evil Oliver in her place. (Actually, one of the nameless women, the blond rockergirl, does that in the R5 plan for Chapter 7. But that's later...) New.
  • Shira vs. Sparks: The final Shira/Sparks sequence "The Dangerous Type" (formerly the title of just 2.6, now the name of the entire chapter) is now a full-blown confrontation between two people on opposite sides of the Law, one trying to catch the other, who are highly attracted to each other. Sparks is still a villain until Shira lowers the WHAM! that destroys his world, as carefully reconstructed as his face. Even their flashbacks are now weapons. Shira makes his head spin just from the sheer number of names she's got, surrounding her like an obscuring cloud or nimbus (I swiped the metaphor from Henry James, incidentally, though he was describing rumors rather than aliases). Intercut with the "Becket's mother" sequence I added to the end of Chapter 2 for R4, it now makes for a strong conclusion complete with triple cliffhanger. Revised.
  • Rebel Styles and the Dying Patriarchs: Now the child-succubus videogirl kills one of them at the end of every section except the last, which will be the new introduction to major villain Byron Scofield. To the mystically minded villains, Rebel's the "Babalon" to Spanner's "Choronzon", and they know Shira's somehow connected to both. Revised.
  • Norma Jean Presley: the alleged daughter of Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley and the cult object of a schismatic Church of Elvis sect in Japan. I created this character while the two celebrities were a married couple for a short time back in the 1990s. Now I've brought her back, and she starts seriously haunting Shira here, this ghost of a celebrity who never was. Added.
  • The Cults of Mammon and America: Wasn't America supposed to be the nation of the Enlightenment? Not according to the Corporate aristocrats and the Patriot warrior caste of the Conservative Revolution. They turned America into as fanatically religious a nation as the Caliphate itself. This, of course, will ultimately backfire. Theme now foregrounded in R5.
Several of the major scenes, some of which go back all the way to the first draft, will still remain more or less intact, intercut or not. In fact, the core and title scene of 2.2 ("Ghost Hunting") will probably stay the same as ever, with a few tweaks here and there. But the old scenes won't dominate the new chapter, or at least they won't make it in untransformed. The final continuity requires many changes, enough that Chapter 2 will come out a completely different beast.

And so the great work resumes...

Saturday, November 30, 2013

NaNoWriMo 2013: The Heroic Effort to Victory #8

It took a heroic effort to get me to victory in NaNoWriMo 2013, my eighth consecutive victory. I only managed to squeeze out a few thousand words in the first week and a half. After editing Spanner Chapter 1 for so long (fortunately it's finished and formatted so I don't have to do anything more to it), it took me that long to convince my muse to switch from editing Spanner to writing this year's NaNo novel.

On the 18th, I succeeded at last.

Then came what you might consider the early equivalent of Panic Time. Starting that Monday, I had, in order, 6K, 6K, 4K, 10K, 4K, and 6K days before resting that Sunday, leaving me with a word count of 41,000. I slowed down the following week; the 50,000th word came on Thanksgiving, when my family (fortunately, it turns out) did not go to the nearest tribal casino for Thanksgiving dinner.

So what's the next thing I'm going to do to Freefall? After converting the Markdown format original to RTF so I can import it into yWriter5 for editing, I'll let it set for at least a week. Once I return to it, I'll begin the edit process. As I learned from two years editing Spanner, editing is where the real art of writing exists because it's the sculpting of the raw mass of first-draft words into the finished novel.

Speaking of editing, I have two other non-Spanner NaNo novels ready to edit (2007's Bad Company: A Corporate Terror Story and 2009's Dirty Pop) that I can also import into yWriter5. However, my big challenge for the "SpaNoEdMo" in December is Spanner Chapter 2, which right now has bloated to twice its Fourth Revision size and from which I'll have to cull story elements, some of which may have been present from the original draft.

There are some NaNo contestants who now feel (as I read in one post) "a novel-shaped hole in [their] heart". Not me. When I look at all the work I still need to do, especially all the editing, I have to take a deep breath. The sheer amount of editing to be done is daunting. But still I must do it.

The work continues.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

NaNoWriMo 2013 Update 1: The Slow, Slow Start

Hey, muse! Yeah, you! Won't you get away from Spanner for a moment and help me write my NaNoWriMo novel? You're getting like Willa's gossip about trendy architect Zaha Hadid in Chapter 4 R5, about how she turned Holy City Arcology's brand new Hall of Heroes into Mount Rushmore-cum-With the Beatles for tyrant superheroes:
Shira: (takes deep breath) Oh my god what the hell is that?
Jennifer: (mouth gaping) That's supposed to be the Hall of Heroes?
Willa: (smiling ironically) Yes, I'm afraid that is indeed Zaha Hadid's temple of hero worship. That blob behind the wall of faces is her grand effusion of love. Drusilla was complaining about how Dick was flirting with Hadid right in front of her, and I'm sure the architect had great fun putting the blush in Dru's pale face. Reliable sources tell me he says she made him feel like a Rock Star, and she felt like she fucked a god. She's gone on to hero-worshipping lesser would-be Napoleons, while he's gone back to hitting on me.
Please, muse, will you at least help me write a first draft for Freefall that sucks, except of course for the clever dialogue that seems to flow from me spontaneously like, well, Zaha Hadid's architectural effusion of fangirlism in Spanner Chapter 4 R5?

Yeah, I'm starting slow again this NaNo. Yes, I'm afraid there will be a Panic Time. I'm having such a hard time just starting that I can't even do my "rapid badwriting" technique because the muse remains monomaniacally obsessed with editing Spanner and throwing me new scenarios faster than I can even write. Looks like I won't have a NaNoFiMo either, since next month's going to be another SpaNoEdMo.

It's way past time to kick the muse into gear. Looks like I'm going to have to use force. (takes out paddle, prepares to tie muse to bed)

Thursday, October 31, 2013

NaNoWriMo 2013: In Which I Shoot for Consecutive Victory #8

It's that time of the year. NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow. Since I've been offline most of the last month or two, one would figure I haven't bothered to come up with a novel to win with. Not true! Unlike last year, I've got a very strong idea of what to do.

It's called Freefall. It starts and ends with the first-person villain protagonist falling to his death off a skyscraper. The all-important Dramatic Question: how did Eddie van O get himself thrown off the top of a skyscraper? The answer involves ex-wife Kelly with whom he has a passionate love-hate relationship, a would-be restorer of the tyranny destroyed at the end of Spanner Book 5 name of Martin Becket, various Spanner special guest stars, Eddie's long career as a hitman turned secret policeman turned hitman, and a city population that refuses to act like idiots just because villains Martin Becket and Eddie van O assume they are by definition.

Freefall is a far more straightforward thriller than I've attempted so far, though it's plenty convoluted. I was getting bored by all the moralistic conventional thrillers featuring government connected heroes who are cops or something similar and battling evil terrorists and serial killers and other stock supervillains on that order. Well, I decided to go noir on the ANSI Standard Thriller establishment and pit the serial killer against the terrorist. And they both lose because their Author has vowed to avoid David Brin's definition of the Idiot Plot. Roger Ebert coined the term to mean the all-too-common Hollywood plot that cannot progress unless the protagonists act like idiots. Brin's version is the one where all the bystanders act like idiots so the heroes can be heroic, also a standard Hollywood bad habit and one of the central conventions of the ANSI Standard Thriller, replicating the professional class's typically technocratic contempt for the working masses. And so we have our two stuck-up professionals, the professional killer and the professional mercenary, trying to bring back the good old days of Spanner's Conservative Revolution when the common people were required by law to be idiots, a requirement backed by brute force inflicted by professional thugs such as Eddie van O and Martin Becket. And the people have not forgotten. Specifically the people of Seattle, the city trashed by the Conservative Revolutionary terrorist Rev. Byron Scofield in Spanner Book 2, who takes over at the end of Chapter 23 (and Book 1) when Rev. Luke Everson of the infamous Fearsome Foursome and ultimately gets killed by — Eddie van O.

I'm taking a different approach to writing this time. Instead of using trusty old MS Word, I'm writing it in the heavy-duty text editor Vim in a wiki-derived text format called Markdown. Vim makes writing Markdown documents easy by allowing you to collapse and expand all the text contained under a heading. And to edit it I won't be using yWriter5; I'll stick with Vim and endure its considerable learning curve so I can tap its awesome power; and I suspect this will be the fastest edit job I've ever done.

Simultaneously, I'm doing the first preliminary work on an interactive fiction (text adventure) game called Dead City Radio, which is a prequel to Freefall containing many of the same characters and incorporating a "wide open sandbox" structure and multiple endings only one of which (called the "canon ending") leads into Freefall. And you can be sure I'll throw any ideas for Spanner I get this NaNo into their yWriter5 projects, the last three of which (for Books 3, 4, and 5) I'll have to create.

*takes deep breath* NaNo victory number eight, coming up! Here goes...

Monday, October 28, 2013

Spanner R5 Update: Chapter 1 Complete; or, The Author beheld his creation, and lo! it was Insanely Great.

It pays to edit. The fifth and final version of Spanner Chapter 1 took me months to edit, but it was very much worth it. Maybe throwing in the ghost of Steve Jobs in the first draft worked like a lucky charm (he was still alive then, but still)? He was renowned for his combination of perfectionism and impeccable design sense. Sure enough, I find myself playing Steve Jobs on my own work, fine-tuning here and radically revising there, reading it over and over to find anything that was even remotely not-right, making multiple passes to find all the errors and inconsistencies and any opportunities to strengthen the plot and reinforce the themes until it was as close to perfect in my mind as I could possibly get it. I am now convinced he would agree that the result is, in his immortal phrase, Insanely Great.

Oh, and what you think is Steve Jobs (the character in the story) isn't really the ghost of Steve Jobs at all, but my own monumental "Ego" speaking my own words and getting poetically clobbered in the third eye with my own monkeywrench. In my plan for the "Pilot Episode" ebook cover, it will be not Jobs' face but mine digitally altered behind the hand holding the wrench. Even my "Marius" (the Victor Hugo self-insert character in Les Misérables), Keenan Sasser (basically me as the grown-up "real Tommy Westphall" from the last five minutes of St. Elsewhere), is less "me" in Chapter 1 than the giant face of Steve Jobs is, complete with a symbolic warning from (and to) the Author about the dangers of letting success and power go to your head. Or, as the soap-opera announcer would put it, "The ghost of Steve Jobs will be played by Dennis Jernberg's ego."

In contrast to the climax, I added a new opening, a "Propaganda Reel" which retells the story of the Conservative Revolution from the revolutionaries' perspective in the form of the opening credits to a jingoistic superhero cartoon. I organized the requisite tropes in rigid conformity to the fifteen obligatory beats in Blake Snyder's Save the Cat! beat sheet as imposed by Hollywood studio executives in the form of a rigid template screenwriters and directors must conform to Or Else; then I associated images accordingly and translated it into movie script and song lyrics. I forced myself to let the thing suck at least somewhat, to symbolize the limits of the antagonists' worldview. The resulting script, I believe, reflects quite well the worldview Shira and her friends and allies must fight against when the story actually begins.

And now to go deeper into the details...

On the Editing Process
At first I thought it would be simple. Take out Karen and Hope, insert Elle and new "decoy hero" Rico X, all would be fine and dandy, right? I never thought I'd take several months editing it, and I never thought the final version would be so vastly improved over the fourth draft I thought all but perfect. But there you have it.

Karen: I realized she's already so heavily involved in what becomes the School Arc that she's got no time for Spanner incidents. Besides, she's too idealistic to take money from a group of corporations just to throw a monkeywrench with a plasma disruptor in its jaws. Edited out.

Hope: Shira's mother makes fewer appearances than she did in Revision 4. She pretty much comes with Willa and is not quite as needed. Presence reduced.

Elle: I fell hard in love with this character while I was writing Chapters 22 and 23 for Revision 4. As she embodied so well everything so deliciously wrong about Rockerdom, she made a superior replacement for Karen. Edited in.

Desiree: She not only replaces Hope in most of her flashback appearances from R4, she ended up playing a role in the episode finale. Edited in.

The new guy: Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age starts from the perspective of the Standard Cyberpunk Hero — and kills him off at the end of the first chapter. So I figured I'd do the same thing to the Standard Shounen Anime Action Hero (like, say, Ikki in Oh!Great's Air Gear) in Chapter 1 of Spanner. So I threw him in. At first he was just a handle: Blackflag. Then I made him a Brazilian hoverboard racer and the real name Oscar Ribeiro. Then I ditched both names and just called him Rico X, which Shira latched onto, calling him "X-boy" and "X-baby". Putting him in and killing him off also had the effect of making J.T. Sparks a villain for the first 2 chapters, which will allow me to greatly increase the WHAM! at the end of Chapter 2. Rico stays; edited in.

The Achievements: Since the original unnamed "Team Spanner" are hoverboard racers and because of the series motif of "Tournament", I decided to throw in some gamification, complete with achievement badges. You want to make your cyberpunk contemporary? Gotta throw in gamification and achievement badges along with your augmented reality.

Dreams into poems: In Chapter 1 R4, one vision scene and the climax are written in blank verse as "Bester moments", narrative distortions in the text of the kind used by science fiction grandmaster Alfred Bester, particularly how he depicts synaesthesia in Tiger, Tiger a.k.a. The Stars My Destination. That kind of text manipulation is all but impossible in CSS2 (used by EPUB2 ebooks), so I settled on free-verse poems in the Surrealist and Beat style. Then when I was doing the final edits on Chapter 1, I realized: they make italicized dream scenes in the dream-journal format look boring to me. I'm a poet and a CSS hacker too. Solution: convert the remaining dream and vision scenes into poems. Not only do they look better on the page, they allow me to write them more easily because I can capture the weirdness of dreams and visions better. Except for a very few selected dream sequences and the lucid-dream scenes, this will be my approach from now on.

Plus I made some changes to certain formats. For example, Shira's videoblog entries are now prefaced by one single italicized "Posted to LocaFantoma99's Profile..." line without the "Technosphere" location tag, and the whole entry is double-indented. I hacked up a new batch of styles for new R5-specific elements such as the achievement badges and the script-formatted new opening scene. I threw in some little nuggets of foreshadowing throughout the text and changed some of the wording to make many major themes stand out more.

And that does it for Spanner Chapter 1. It's done, it's finished, it's perfect at last. Like the Intro and most of the Interludes so far, it needs no more editing. It is now ready to blow minds. Only one thing is needed before I unleash the Pilot Episode (Intro + Chapter 1 + Interlude 1) onto the online bookstores, and that's the cover.

I'm breaking out the champagne. I'm taking a short but well deserved break. And then I'm throwing myself into Chapter 2...

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Our Cyberpunk World: Introducing James the Robot Bartender

The article: James The Robot Bartender Knows When You Want A Drink (TechBeat)
[project homepage]

In a previous entry of this series I posted about robot wait staff in Japan and China. Now in England there's a new robot bartender who doesn't just mix drinks efficiently, it has the social processing power that allows it to tell when a patron wants a drink. Its name is James, and it's part of a research project that aims at greatly improving robot-human interaction. Still, I'm sure some human bartenders are worrying for the future of humans in their line of work...

Friday, September 20, 2013

Spanner R5 Update: Chapter 1 Almost Perfect, Just One Brand New Scene to Go

I thought it would take just one pass. I found myself going back and forth through Chapter 1 making major changes to a lot of scenes and then making tweak after tweak after little tweak until now it's all but perfect. All the typos and continuity errors are fixed, all the foreshadowing and revealing character moments inserted, all the words made right. I even converted all the dream and vision sequences into embedded poems, simply because I got bored with just italicized and double-indented narrative prose that looks like I copypasted it out of a nonfiction book on dreams, and because I found I can write dreams and visions better when they're in formatted free verse.

All this means: I'm finally finished editing Chapter 1! The final edit on it's almost done! Except for one scene: the new opening.

This new opening is formatted like a movie or TV script. I call it the "Propaganda Reel". Filmed, it's the bombastic opening to a patriotic superhero cartoon, with America itself the ultimate superhero, far greater than even the series' (antagonist) superhero team the Liberators. It's full of Hollywood Blockbuster bombast and the utter lack of originality caused by studio-enforced rigid conformity to Blake Snyder's Save the Cat! beat sheet. I realized I could map Christopher Vogler's hero's journey beat sheet to the Snyder template so that the Reel spins out an entire hero's journey for main antagonist Henry Becket (costumed as the superhero American Crusader in the Reel) telling of his 9/11/01-12/21/12 rise as he would have us see it in just 7-800 words of script, with the series itself being in part the tragedy of his fall, his fatal flaws being self-righteousness (an ever present danger for superheroes) and paranoia (a flaw that reaches deep into his backstory). The Reel's soundtrack is a pounding and bombastic military-metal theme song inspired by such songs as the G.I. Joe cartoon theme "A Great American Hero" and "America, Fuck Yeah!" from Team America: World Police. The Reel's plot? The deeply fascistic "Annihilation Plot" of Fort Apache and the movie version of World War Z.

The whole Propaganda Reel serves as an ironic counterpart to Chaos Angel Spanner itself, whose main plot commences with the first scene, Shira's defiant trash-talking videoblog post (and the plasma disruptor her brand new unlicensed 3D printer is building up). What better to show just what Shira and her friends and allies are up against? And Becket's actual appearances in the story reveal that he just might not be the hero he thinks he is; he might even be what his ex-wife and nemesis Willa (Shira's Rocker psychologist aunt) calls him, a mad-scientist villain who thinks he's the only sane man left alive.

One more scene left. I'll take a break to give the muse a rest (unless of course she has no intention of resting), and then I'll attack. One more scene...

Monday, September 9, 2013

Spanner R5 Update: Chapter 1 Progress on Our Heroine's 14th Birthday, Plus Newest Stuff I Threw In

Shira is fourteen today. That's the age she is when Spanner begins just over 11 months from now. Among other things, this is a reminder for her author to hurry up and edit Book 1, Chapter 1 especially.

Those two long scenes that resisted editing so long are now complete and vastly improved. 5 of Chapter 1's 8 sections are finished as well, except for the new opening I haven't yet written (it's still in outline, a 15-part outline based on the plot points declared obligatory for Hollywood movie scripts by the late Blake Snyder in Save the Cat!). I finally got it into my story-crammed head that yWriter5 has a global search function I could use to change the name of R5 new character Oscar Ribeiro and his handle Blackflag to "Rico X" (real name unknown). I even reread Shira's opening videoblog post and found new improvements I could make in a scene I thought was already done. I do still have challenging scenes to edit later, especially in 1.7; but except for the new opening I've now conquered all the hardest parts. It should be easier from here on out.

The Name Game
Turns out the deliberate namelessness of certain female characters is only half the story. The other half, sure enough, involves names. When the first nameless woman to appear in R5 (in 2.3, to be exact) claims (in a new scene in 3.1) that names are masks and traps, she's referring to the oppressive social constructions built around naming conventions. On the Conservative Revolutionary side, you have these:
  1. the long names and multiple titles of High Corporate aristocrats, in imitation of royalty and feudal nobility;
  2. the Patriot, Syndicate, and terrorist practice of warrior men using their names as their war cry;
  3. in conservative traditional societies, the traditional patriarchal power of naming and renaming, so beloved of cult gurus;
  4. the technocratic tradition of identifying people by numbers, used as a marker of lower caste by the Party, formalizing the class divide between Corporates and "mundanes" into rigid castes called Names and Numbers; and
  5. name magic, or the ability to control any human or spirit by controlling their names, for which Byron Scofield has the talent and main antagonist Henry Becket has the skill.
I decided to research name magic further and discovered that the ancient Egyptians put special emphasis on the magic power of one's name, or ren. They believed that if one's ren was erased, one's ka (basically, soul) would be destroyed and one would cease to exist. This is what the enemies of Pharaoh Ikhnaton tried to do to his name, and it was the dire punishment reserved for tomb robbers. Gods and pharaohs bore many names as a matter of policy, as a security measure to prevent the memory of them from being erased. Likewise, the city of Rome in ancient times kept its occult name a state secret as jealously guarded as the US nuclear launch codes lest enemy cities and kingdoms use it to curse the city.

Originally I had in mind the ceremonial magicians who summon spirits by name in order to force them to do their will, a staple of spellbooks from ancient times. In Japan, the onmyouji call this kind of name magic kotodama, in which one can gain complete control over any entity using its true name.

Leila in particular brings these two together. In 13.6 Scofield discovers he has no power over her because by then she has erased her name and therefore no longer has a name for him to control her by. In the following scene, she announces to her hated grandfather Governor Brinkman that by erasing her name she has freed herself from his power. His reaction? In R4 he freaks out, uncontrollably shifts into werewolf mode, and howls at God. In the R5 version he tells her why: by erasing her own name — her ren — she has committed soul suicide. She replies, yes, she has slain her Ego and is now a free woman, and now she will follow her True Will into ecstatic self-annihilation in the arms of her true love. And remember that in Spanner mysticism always has political consequences. Brinkman's reaction, in both Revisions 4 and 5, is to declare martial law, evacuate Metropolitan Seattle, and bring the Party elite to perform a massive spiritual-warfare ritual — this is Chapter 15, the Party's first major setback on the home front.

From Egyptian mythology I went forward in time to do that research on Aleister Crowley's magical philosophy which I intended to do for mystical king of bankers Dick Becket but procrastinated, which lead to...

Edits Outside Chapter 1
If you've studied enough Crowley or Enochian magic, you'll know who/what Babalon and Choronzon are. If you haven't, I can sum them up as respectively the Great Whore and the entity of absolute entropy. Dick Becket has become convinced that Shira is the "Daughter of Babalon" and Spanner is the "earthly manifestation of Choronzon". Since he's not fond of either entity, his mystical assumptions will drive his adversarial actions. Shira, unbeliever that she is, takes full advantage. (Note: I'm starting to think this series will end up gaining a hardcore following among chaos magicians...)

Elsewhere, I'm culling scenes in 2.1 and editing 2.6 to fit the final continuity. I've changed the character who has Shira tracking Talia's latest terror attempt in 4.1 from rocker Simon to the nameless woman who is now building manager in R4 the Asian woman from Chapter 12; elsewhere in Chapter 4, I'm turning long scenes into sequences and planning a conclusion as intercut as 4.1. Chapter 4 has a new ending; Chapter 5 has a new opening. I'm mapping more plot threads. And I've given Shira a bullet pendant and making it a prominent prop, plus I'm giving her back the flight jacket I gave her in the Project Notebooks but failed to give her so far in the script and novelization.

And that's what I've been doing on Shira's 14th birthday. Come to think of it, I ought to celebrate her birthday with a slice of carrot cake and a glass of wine...

Friday, September 6, 2013

Spanner R5 Update: Chipping Away at Chapter 1, plus Those Women with No Name

One by one I've been chipping away at the remaining unedited scenes in Spanner Chapter 1. Most of them need only a few edits to put them in line with the final continuity, or bring out something more in a character, or just to fix up the language. I even changed the name of the new character in the flashback sequence (from Oscar Ribeiro a.k.a. Blackflag to the cooler-sounding Rico X). I still haven't taken on those difficult large scenes at the beginning and end, but I'm getting ever closer.

Also, I'm skipping back and forth among the chapters to edit here and there. Some scenes need just a little tweak to bring them fully into continuity. Others I'm putting into other chapters entirely, including nearly everything featuring Revision 4 newcomer Dr. Mina Tatsumi. I'm even inserting scenes I left out of previous versions, including one or two I intended to put in the incomplete Revision 1 but never got far enough to write.

One major revision surprised me. I came up with the thread about women with no name while I was in the middle of rewriting Chapter 12 for the Fourth Revision. Three major characters (love interest Leila, reporter Amanda, and Desiree's long-lost daughter Lucie) abandoned their names (in Chapters 12-13, 16, and 19 respectively) after that. Turns out my muse had bigger plans for R5. Now the nameless Asian woman who first appears in Chapter 12 of R4 makes her R5 debut in Chapter 2 as the new manager of the apartment building Shira lives in, the FEMEN scenes I threw into Chapters 22 and 23 now feature the master nudefighters who emerged out of the suppression of the topless-feminist group by Eastern European governments during the Conservative Revolution (and their first local recruit when they get to Seattle is none other than the now nameless Amanda), and the tall brown-haired woman I retconned into the Chapter 10 opening introduce the nameless women is the direct connection between them. The nameless-women thread has become a major thread in the series, precisely because Leila decided to erase her name — the original idea the whole thread grew from.

One thing I never really got around to in my haste to finish R4 was create full profiles for the nameless women. The "contextual list of descriptive tags" they replace their names with are in fact a significant subset of their character profiles, the part that conforms to rules now explained by the nameless Asian woman in Chapter 3. So, thesaurus in hand, I set out to compile the "name" lists for several characters: the aforementioned nameless woman (whose former name is now completely unknown, something she took great pains to ensure), her brown-haired and blond roommates, Shira (who never truly loses her name(s) but has a complex and fascinating profile), Leila, her twin brother Rob and younger sister Fiona, Lucie, and others. In fact, I'm going to do the same for major characters who keep their names throughout the entire series, precisely because I'll be developing their profiles to make them better characters.

One character I threw in late in Revision 4 I decided to throw back out of Revision 5: Shira's long-lost twin sister Kira, who's now back to the R3 plan in which I was going to save her for a major plot point of the Pretty City Arc in the middle of Book 2.

And so the editing continues. Now back to editing those two tough scenes in Chapter 1...

Friday, August 23, 2013

Spanner R5 Update: Close to the Edit, or Chapter 1 Almost Complete

It's been a long time since I posted an entry or even used Twitter and Google+, so it's like I'm coming back into the world again. My severe case of Editor's Block is over, and I'm ready to return to the world. Fortunately, I've made progress on Chapter 1 and elsewhere in the final draft of Spanner Book 1. So here's my progress so far:

Chapter 1:
  • Leila's introduction scene now contains forward references to 1.7, Interlude 5, and her decision to go nameless in Chapters 12 and 13.
  • Shira's introduction scene (her videoblog post) is completely revised. I realized I had her ever so slightly out of character in all previous versions, so I corrected that. And now she issues an even more provocative challenge.
  • The later villain Admiral Currie who enters the story in Chapter 20? His name now opens his reporter daughter Amanda's intro scene, since after all he destroyed her life and now rules it (see: Interlude 12).
  • Most of the flashbacks and several scenes in present continuity now fit in Revision 5 continuity.
  • Remember Rebel Styles from Chapter 2? She's now in the "Newark ghetto" scene in Chapter 1, scaring right-wing militia types to death and making the survivors panic right into the waiting SRO squad.
  • I added a new intro screen for Richard Becket, Chapter 1's main antagonist. He now represents the fusion of high finance and dark wizardry. His failure in Chapter 1 is what begins his brother Henry's rise to supreme power.
  • I added one new character, a "shounen hero" who I kill off the same way Neal Stephenson kills off his "typical cyberpunk hero" in the first chapter of The Diamond Age. This new character is a Brazilian hoverboard champion named Oscar Ribeiro who goes by the handle Blackflag.
  • A "propaganda reel" serves as the new second scene, to reveal the official Party line in the style of the opening credits to a superhero cartoon.
  • I rearranged the order of the early scenes completely, and I'm probably going to reorder them again, possibly even more than once.
  • Last but not least, I finally found a way to edit together the two versions of Jennifer's and Henry Becket's long intro scenes, the task that's been stymieing me for so long.
It's not complete yet, but I'm closer than ever and ready to take on those two big scenes.

Later Chapters:
  • Chapter 2: I decided I'll completely rework this one. I've added new scenes and plan to shorten some older scenes and throw others out.
  • Chapter 4: 4.4 is now much better than the original. Up to Revision 4, I left it largely unchanged. I condensed the opening 3-paragraph exposition to just one shorter paragraph, gave Desiree an aura of superstitious terror among the Russian gangsters befitting her "electrifying" superpowers, gave the Italian mobsters a priest who's after the Gnostic gospel Desiree's trying to deliver to Ariel, and added a new tension between Desiree and Ariel. Desiree now gives Ariel an ultimatum: bring Lucie back to me, or you won't get your gospel and Uncle Richard might even kill me to steal it.
  • Chapter 12: when Leila renounces her name at the end, she gets a new dream scene signifying a major change in her character.
  • Chapter 15: I'm restoring the Jennifer videoblog post I originally planned for Revision 4. I've already moved the "precogs go mad" prelude back to the beginning of Chapter 14, where it was in Revision 2 and the R3 plan. I have new plans for major revisions to 15.6.
  • Chapter 23: In retrospect, there were certain important scenes in the R4 plan that I ended up not writing. I'm adding those scenes to R5. Meanwhile, I intend to make the super battle in the sky much clearer.
  • I'm tracing several threads, not just new ones but ones I was still neglecting in Revision 4, so that I don't drop them in the final version. Since I put so much new stuff in Revision 4, I'm moving scenes around, adding new ones to develop the final continuity, and throwing away any scenes that don't fit.
So that's what I've been up to while I was in hiding. I've set for myself a hard deadline for Chapter 1: the end of this month. I want to get at least up to Chapter 8 fully edited before NaNoWriMo. And I'll continue to update right here. My plan is to whet your appetite by publishing Chapter 1 online first.

Stay tuned...

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Spanner R5 Update: Putting Omitted Scenes Back In, Plus Even Crazier Ideas

It's been a while since I last posted. Hell, it's been a while since I last did any editing. Well, now the editor's block is over, the crazy ideas are returning, and I'm finally putting back into the final version of Spanner Book 1 the long-planned scenes I left out of Revision 4.

This session's first edit involves a radical change in the story thread revolving around the mad bioroboticist, Dr. Mina Tatsumi. I've been doing a lot of brooding about transhumanism and the ultra-rich lately; it's a major theme in Spanner, but one I don't really go into in Book 1, at least among the High Corporates. So now the "Oliver springs Mina out of the madhouse" scene I planned for Chapter 13 and put in Chapter 19 is now in Chapter 4 as the first scene in the thread, and its "Oliver brings Mina back to Biotron Labs" sequel is now in Chapter 6. Mina has all those green-haired Sonoda-twin clones for a reason: she dies at the end of the "Raid on Biotron Labs" sequence in Chapter 13 and comes back in Chapter 16 as all the Sonoda-twin clones at once, a collective entity and the story's first genuine transhuman. All the "transhumans" up to that point are merely superhuman. This will have major consequences, mainly from Chapter 25 onward.

The first of the omitted scenes I'm returning to the story is one I plotted out long before I started writing the novelization and originally planned to put in Chapter 18: the scene with the murderous bikers (vat-grown ninja in the final version) who emerge from a tunnel only to all get their heads cut off by a monowire stretched out at the portal. I'm also restoring that Revision 4 scene I left out of Chapter 23 in which Radica's hoverboard gets shot by one of the superhero antagonists and Liz makes a desperate flight to save her.

And so the editing resumes. And it's about damn time.

Friday, June 28, 2013

#amprocrastinating #amediting: I Took a Break from Spanner R5, But The Procrastinating's Over Now

For the last couple of weeks, I've found myself blocked in my editing for Spanner Revision 5. For a week there, I was completely offline altogether.

I think my muse had enough and collapsed in exhaustion.

The most I got done was printing the two Chapter 1 scenes that currently have two versions. My challenge is to combine the two versions of each scene into a single version that's both shorter and consistent with the new Fifth Revision continuity. I'd already completely rearranged the entire first half of Chapter 1, completely rewritten several of the flashbacks, and composed new scenes introducing major characters and themes. But after about of month of this my muse keeled over and spent the last two weeks in a coma. The ideas didn't start really coming until today.

What broke the icelock? As I put it in my first blog post in weeks, I pretty much said "Screw this" and went online. I got back on Twitter and Google+, did a lot of housekeeping on Chrome and my blogs, and got back into the mindset. Now I'm going to take those two scenes, read them (both versions, of course), and finish editing them. At least I'm able to do it.

And so it resumes...

Friday, May 10, 2013

#amediting Spanner R5: Distractions, Slow Going, and At Last, Clarity

Things are starting to get clear in Spanner Revision 5. For one thing, Shira finally has her big provocation in 1.1: she sets money on fire, right in front of the camera while predicting the death of not just the American Empire and its Conservative Revolution but capitalism, period. She's wearing nothing but a ripped Doc Savage type shirt in a different color. She just threw her Challenge: prove me wrong, or I'll laugh at your wails when your Empire burns. I facepalmed: how come this never came to me in four entire drafts? Now I finally have an explosive start to the main story equal to the future destruction of Earth in the Intro.

Otherwise, it's been slow going. Mostly, I've written notes, suggestions on how to revise that may or may not become obsolete as I finish chapter after chapter. I'm mostly done with the Peter Ross of SPEC scenes, though that inspired new idea for 1.1 may get me changing the Ross scenes in 5.6, 6.2, 6.6, and 21.6 yet again. I hacked the stylesheet so that I have the High Corporate characters speaking as if they were gods on Olympus, with Chapters 1, 2, 5, and 6 edited accordingly.

And distractions. Not from books, videogames, or TV shows, but entirely new stories. Three short stories plus ideas for one more story and two books. So of course I wrote them down. Here's the opening sentences:
  1. He was about to scream the Shahada and attack when the guitar hit his face with the force of a hundred fists.
  2. These days only headless nude waitresses served the tony restaurants where Chinese Communist Party (Holdings) Limited executives power lunched.
  3. Anastasia Blaise was born with the anonymous beauty of the surgically Resculpted and the aristocratic gift of no conscience.
And one cover idea for one of the novels: instead of the standard "running man" motif found on the covers of way too many standard thrillers, a man flailing in mid-air as he falls to his death off a skyscraper (the setting of the novel's framing scene), with Shira herself apparently mirrored in all the motion-blurred windows.

Meanwhile, for Spanner R5 I'm working the two main villain-related themes more into the story: the death of capitalism (the Corporates) and "pride goeth before a fall" (the revolutionary hubris of both Corporates and Patriots). One more new R5 theme I'm kicking myself for not coming up with during the first four drafts: the class divide between "freemen" and "workers" in which "freedom" is defined in Platonic and therefore aristocratic terms as freedom from work. Right now I'm editing a scene in 1.2 where I plan to introduce the new theme. It continues...

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

#amediting Spanner R5: The Nonlinear Edit, or Back and Forth and Back and Forth

During the first week of the final ebook edit for Spanner book 1, I find myself settling into a pattern: going back and forth across the book, following story threads and character arcs, making little tweaks and major transformations here and there.

Remember the eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg over the valley of ashes in The Great Gatsby? I had that image in mind when I decided to put a huge Big Brother-like image of the fat angry face of SPEC chairman Peter Ross over the principals in their office. And I'm putting that image in every single scene set in the principal's office. Likewise, I made major changes to Ross' own early appearances in Chapters 5 and 6: I made his first appearances in effect epiphanies of a god, a Revision 5 theme I'm working on involving all the High Corporates and not just the Beckets, then revised the confrontation in 6.2 so that Shira, Leila, and Jennifer sent him reeling. He ends the scene "shocked at the inscrutable female mind" when his problem is that he, like most High Corporates, can't even conceive of a Populist hero's mentality grounded in reality. His final scene in 21.6 seemed to be perfect in Revision 4, but now I'm going to revise all his Chapter 21 appearances in light of the Chapter 4-5 revisions and add Elle to his 21.6 scene, with her replacement of the injured Karen in that scene (she's in the first confrontation in 6.2) being a major plot point.

Most of the major edits so far have of course been to Chapter 1. As I mentioned last post, I removed Karen and reduced Jim Sparks to a minor villain who gets a lucky break, then replaced them with Elle and a new "shounen hero" character specific to the chapter. I've also been slipping in references to later threads and themes to establish them at the beginning and prepare the readers for the later events. There's still a prop and a character I've neglected in later chapters, the Gospel of the New Genesis (which by Chapter 23 becomes the center of the Dick Becket-Ariel Shield feud) and the seventh Scarab. I could always find somewhere to fit them in.

I also added a new CSS format. Basically it's for lines of dialogue spoken by High Corporate oligarchs on large video screens that reinforces the impression that they are (as their spin implies) living gods. The ones I've applied it to are Steve Jobs (or rather, his ka) in 1.7, Henry Becket in 2.1 (with Rebel Styles' lines getting formatted in another new format), and Peter Ross in 5.6 and 6.1. In 5.4 (IIRC) I've reformatted the stadium announcers' bombastic announcing in the script-type format (based on play scripts adapted to comics, not movie scripts).

In 10.1 I'm changing the identity of the first nameless woman, from the tall brown-haired one to the short slender Asian one, because the latter is Ayla's mother; the reunion is in 13.4 in Revision 4, and I'm moving that to 10.1. I plan to set up her appearance with a few cameo appearances in Chapters 7-9, after Ayla arrives at Shira's apartment. I'll introduce her roommates in minor roles in 10.5-6 (the song war and its aftermath), and after that build up this thread around Leila until she finally goes nameless in 13.2.

Not used from the Revision 3 plan: the love scene on the beach in 14.6. Now I have a study in contrasts and the perfect character for it. I'm looking for a place to put the Shira vs. Charmian tennis match. Not used from the Revision 4 plan: the scene in 23.4 where Radica gets shot down and only Liz can rescue her, and the one planned for 23.6 in which Willa applies violin torture (sound-cannon amplified this time) to the one who deserves it most, her ex-husband the Party Chairman, still in his superhero uniform.

I haven't started this yet, but another plan I have is to relentlessly brand everything to an annoying degree in order to represent the total marketization of society, with Corporatism playing exactly the same role in the American Empire that Islamism does in its symbiotic enemy the Caliphate (which itself is "Jihad vs. McWorld" gone berserk). And I've reverted the name of the giant corporation that own China to Chinese Communist Party (Holdings) Limited.

The muse is happy to get back to work now that I no longer have to work on a schedule. Back and forth is just fine with her. And so the nonlinear edit continues.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

#amediting Spanner R5: Aw, To Heck With the Week's Break, I'll Edit Chapter 1

And so the one week's break I planned to take was broken, and I did not take it, so now I'm editing Spanner Chapter 1 instead. This time I'm taking my time, since I no longer have a regular posting schedule to worry about and the muse threw at me some great ideas I dare not ignore.

First of all, there's Elle, the background character I fell in love with while editing Chapters 22 and 23 for Revision 4. I realized she's a much better fit than Karen for Chapter 1, so now she's replacing Karen altogether. Where Karen's handle in the flashback sequence was "Genki Girl" (which I settled on while in one of my "closet raver" phases when spinning out scenarios for the Project Notebooks between 1998 and 2001), Elle "takes a handle only a Rocker could understand: Whatsername." You probably already know where it comes from, but I'm setting up a running joke. She now has a full name: Eleanor Kayla Shears: Eleanor after her great-grandmother Eleanor (Nelly) Richter (who for some reason never even made it into Book 1), Shears as in Billy (yes, the guy who was Paul when Paul was dead is her great-grandfather, and he appears in Interlude 8).

Second, I changed the character of Jim Sparks the rogue cop to make him a villain in the first two chapters so I could give him a stronger character arc. Among the Team Spanner heroes, I replaced him with a gung-ho anarchist hoverboarder who races under the handle "Blackflag" and dates the precocious Elle. I'll spoil his fate: just as Neal Stephenson killed off the Cyberpunk Hero in the first chapter of The Diamond Age, this guy's the Shounen Hero I kill off at the end of Spanner Chapter 1. Elle will cry for him (in Chapter 2 and later), but Shira will regain sole possession of the protagonist role. Sparks is my Cyberpunk Hero (named after Akira's Kaneda, even), but he never becomes the protagonist and in fact is pretty much a pinball in Shira's game.

Third, I'm finding a whole lot of places to put references to later themes and plot threads that didn't even exist in my mind at the time. For example, Elle's decision to take the handle Whatsername foreshadows the women with no name at all who first appear in Chapter 12 and whom Leila joins in Chapter 13. For that matter, Elle herself may decide to go nameless eventually, but in Book 2. I also found more places to fit mentions of Kira, and so on.

In the "kill your darlings" department, I decided to remove Jennifer's rant about Ayn Rand and serial-killer fandom from the airplane scene. Sure, it sets up her later stint with the Slasher Hunters, but it stands out a bit too much from that scene. Instead, I had Jennifer and Elle react more emotionally when Shira informed them about her battle with Oliver, possessor of the Travelling Shovel of Death from whom she stole Leila's power crystal. I'll fit that now orphaned snippet of dialogue somewhere into Chapter 2, 3, or 4, since it's still important.

I even found both dialogue and narrative passages to condense. I thought I'd gotten them all by the last of who knows how many Chapter 1 edits in February and March of last year, but no. Turns out Chapter 1 wasn't as perfect as I thought. But doesn't it always turn out that way?

And so the final edit begins...

Friday, April 26, 2013

On Spanner Book 1: Thoughts on the Fourth Revision, Plans for the Fifth

I began the Herculean labor that was the Fourth Revision of Spanner Book 1 back in February 2012, jumping the gun on NaNoEdMo that year. It's now April 2013, almost a full month after this year's EdMo ended, and it still seems hard for me to believe I just finished. It proved to be the toughest part of the job, much more difficult than merely writing it. It got even tougher once I got past Chapter 10, where the third draft ended; in places, the fourth draft became a whole lot different from the second, especially when I got toward the end (which was admittedly quite weak in the second draft).

Well, it's done now, and it's much closer to what I want despite all the crazy new ideas my delirious and overworked muse threw in (pretty girls without names, anyone?). Where previous versions were the equivalent of alpha software, this is the beta. The Fifth Revision will be the equivalent of bugfixes.

Before I finally unleash the ebook edition, there's a few more changes I want to make in one final one-pass edit. First, there's the central love arc, which revolves around Shira and Leila but isn't limited to just them. Still, I need to strengthen it so you can feel the full sublime and destructive force of their love from the moment each first appears separately in Chapter 1 until the final poetic stanza, for it's the story's driving force, the irresistible force flinging itself at the immovable object that is the Conservative Revolution. Second, I'll need to strengthen the forces of resistance: Jennifer (a relatively minor opponent, and only in the relationship line), who tries in vain to keep Shira with her and away from Leila and then throws herself into relationships with two other girls only to return to Shira in the end and make the core couple a threesome; Governor Brinkman, her grandfather and clan patriarch, who insists on marrying her off in order to form a political alliance between clans that eventually fails; Oliver, the one she's being married off to, who finds his "Intended" in the arms of another woman, who proves too dangerous an opponent; and the entire school establishment at Bangor High, to whom their love is as dangerous a political threat as the Student Union.

Beyond the relationship arc, there's the School Arc of Chapters 5-21. In Chapter 4, when the Teachers Guild dissidents and Student Union organizers first meet, I need to set up the two sides of the conflict more strongly. We need to get a sense of the kind of threat Peter T. Ross is even before he first shows up in Chapter 6. I have him described as a hedge fund manager who raises horses for the rich on the side. However, financiers have a heroic and magical aura in this series, one I'm playing up for Ross in particular in Chapter 25 (in Book 2), and they find the source of their heroism in Ayn Rand (though Rand herself would have scorned them as unproductive parasites leeching off actually productive companies, a lower form of business type than even her politically connected but still productive villain Orren Boyle). His appearances in the office behind the principal's at Bangor High in Chapters 6 and 21 are the epiphanies of a god descending to earth. Another major player who needs played up more is Henry Becket, particularly after Chapter 15 when his superhero team take over the Party.

There's a few other characters I want to give a more prominent role. Chief among them is Elle, who didn't fully emerge as a character until Chapter 22, after which I fell in love with her. I realized she makes a better player in Chapter 1's Spanner Incident than Karen does. As for Karen, I need to make her more prominent in the Student Union plot thread so as to justify her near-martyrdom in Chapter 19 and the ensuing Team Challenge in Chapter 20.

There's some other things I need to change. Some of the characters need to talk more British, including the Canadian, Australian, and Irish characters; and the Rockers should use a lot more British street language than they currently do. Some of the narration should be less journalistic and more poetic, or vice versa. There's still a bit of filler. And there's the formatting and stylesheet experiments I "pulled my punches" on in Chapter 23 R4 that I'm going to "supercharge" in R5, in not just Chapter 23 but 15 and 22 as well.

This edit will take nowhere near as long as Revision 4 did. After all, I was still throwing in all kinds of new stuff, up to and including the kitchen sink (or, more perversely, the bathroom one). I'm done with the big edit. The rest is just fixing and fine-tuning. And just like last February, I'm impatient to start.

Spanner Chapter 23: Black Panic in the Suites (Final Revision)

Chapter 22

Chaos Angel Spanner — Book 1: Rock City Blues
Chapter 23: Black Panic in the Suites (Final Revision)

Election day, 2014. It was not supposed to happen. The Conservative Revolution was supposed to have liberated America from politics. Governor J. Walter Brinkman, Chairman of the Cascadia Public Management Corporation that owns the government of the state of Cascadia, said so himself.

It’s happening despite his most desperate efforts. Furthermore, what was originally intended to be a high-school anti-bullying rally has exploded into a statewide general strike that threatens to spread throughout the American Empire and beyond.

His solution: destroy Cascadia. Some of the Empire’s strongest supers will do whatever it takes to stop him — especially his granddaughter who erased her name and her lesbian lover Shira Thomas, who came into their powers one month ago and killed King Patriot...

The end begins here.

Table of Contents:
  1. Welcome to My Revolution (October 20, 2011, Final Revision 4/15/13)
  2. Warriors of Rock (October 21, 2011, Final Revision 4/19/13)
  3. The Television Will Be Revolutionized (October 22, 2011, Final Revision 4/21/13)
  4. Burn the Polls, Ye Sons of Freedom (October 23, 2011, Final Revision 4/22/13)
  5. The Fuses Have Been Lit (October 24, 2011, Final Revision 4/23/13)
  6. I Am the Future (October 25, 2011, Final Revision 4/24/13)
Book 2 Previews: (for the ebook edition)
  • Interlude 14: The Crisis (May 2, 2013)
  • 24.1: School’s Out Forever (The School Invasions Part V) (May 9, 2013)

For the Fourth Revision, I have made massive changes from the Revision 2 version and even the Revision 3 plan. Many scenes have been not only massively revised for the new continuity, but severely condensed. All song lyrics and some entire plot threads have been entirely removed, while new threads have been added, including a massive multi-character super-battle that acts as a direct sequel to Chapter 23. The entire chapter now takes place on a single day: November 4, 2014.

Original R2 section titles: “Settle for Nothing” (23.1), “Spanner Q&A” (23.2), “No Time This Time” (23.3), “Vote Early, Vote Often” (23.4), “The Fuses Have Been Lit” (23.5), and “I Am the Future” (23.6). The Revision 1 version was never completed; there is no Revision 3 version.

As there are no revision notes for previous versions, here’s the Second Revision introduction:
At last! After ten months’ delay, Chapter 23 is finally being posted, and Spanner Book 1 is finished at last! And so we come full circle, with the Conservative Revolution facing its first real Populist threat since it saved the American Empire from democracy. Spanner throws himself into the works and even holds a press conference, while the Wrecking Krewe and the rest of Team Spanner pit their souped-up boom trucks to cancel out the Fearsome Foursome’s helicopter-mounted giant sound cannons as the crowds battling the authorities below attempt to turn Brinkman’s sham plebiscite into a real election. And of course the Man declares war against the People and tries to force them back into slavery. For the threat of equality promises the end of sovereign freedom, the divine right of oligarchs. And when the victims withdraw their sanction, the predators perish...

The balance of power in Cascadia is shifting. Nothing will be the same after this. As for Byron Scofield, fanatical Prophet of the Church of America: he has decided that the time for tolerance has ended, and the time for war is now...

And so the stage is set for Book 2, Rage of the Prophets [final title: Love Terrorists], which contains some of my strangest and most interesting plots and characters (particularly villains). Book 1 was just the intro. Now it’s time for the Author to bring his A game. Now we get serious.

to be continued...

Back to Chaos Angel Spanner table of contents...

Copyright © 2013 Dennis Jernberg. Some rights reserved.
Creative Commons License

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Spanner 23.6: I Am the Future

...from previous

Chaos Angel Spanner — Chapter 23: Black Panic in the Suites
Part 6: I Am the Future (Final Revision)

Nameless Reporter: Almost all the votes have been phoned, texted, emailed, and web-polled in, and now it’s official: 28% in favor of CPMC, 82% voting no-confidence. Better yet, CPMC stock’s falling through the floor!
Brinkman: There was no vote! It never happened! There’s only one vote in this state, and it’s mine! I’m the chairman, CEO, and sole owner of this corporation, and... and...
Hope Reston: I thank you from the bottom of my heart for the sacrifices you've made, giving up careers and families and sometimes even your lives, to take back our rights and freedom. All credit belongs to you alone. Democracy is our freedom. Democracy is our strength. Long live the people of Cascadia! As long as all of us work together to fight for our freedom and help those who are most in need, the System cannot prevail.
Spanner: Do you see the cracks in the castle walls, in the foundation? Corporatism built the citadel of American Empire out of bigotry, power lust, greed, and corruption, on a foundation made from the pure quicksand of evasion and lies. But never let yourselves get complacent. Give them an inch, and they’ll take a mile. They have already begun rebuilding. Not only is the fight not over, it’s hardly even begun.
debBot: Look at all those state flags down there, daveBot! Where’s the American flags? Do they have it in for America?
downtown bremerton. Sitting with her family in her wheelchair at a table at the edge of Harborside Plaza overlooking the boardwalk, Karen is shocked to find herself hailed as a hometown hero. Saffron pulls her younger sister to her feet and holds her tight, screaming and sobbing in joy; brothers Shin and Sage make it a dancing group hug. Back in her wheelchair, a stunned Polly puts her arms around her. “I had no idea it would get this big...”

Karen kisses her cheek. “I knew all along.”


“We have a lot of enemies, and a lot of friends. I almost gave up, but Shira said, let’s bet on the people.”

“Sounds like her!” Mimi, Trishie, and Ruthie join them, and the four girls group-hug their bravest friend.

Six dreamers in a psychedelic borderworld more vivid than normal dreamspace find themselves surrounded by enraged spirits taller than the sky. Jennifer says, “These are the Egos of the Party leadership.”

“We’re gods too,” says the girl with the violet eyes. “They cannot hurt us here.”

“If they try,” says Shira, “they’ll only hurt themselves.”

Kira directs them toward the portal out. “We can’t stay here. People need us.” They redirect their flight toward the portal and through it back into the real world.

westlake plaza. Ariel, Taylor, and Melody carefully carry down six exhausted young women on their Repulse fields, naked and sweat-drenched and caught on the border between waking and dreams, into a main city square packed with dancing cheering strikers celebrating their unexpected victory over CPMC. Melody directs the others toward their friends from Bangor High: Student Union leaders Colette, Kio, Courtney, Lorelei, Lorine, and Doug; teachers Sylvia Plame, Yasmin Khoury, Eugene Fletcher, and Ada Paulette; and librarians Sally Hatfield, Kitty Carlisle, and Chrissy Jordan. They scream and sigh, relieved their friends didn’t die in the battle against the superheroes above; they welcome them with arms raised high to receive them. Even before she reaches the ground, even in her half-conscious delirium, Jennifer thinks aloud: “I need to invent some way to beat those guys together... wait, I can’t just do it myself, we need to open-source it so everybody can put their minds to it... yeah, just like science...”

But then the cheering and dancing stop. Everyone looks up and falls silent. Hovering above them, battle-ravaged cape fluttering in the wind, is the Scarab, looking down upon his enemy the people with a terrifying murderous stare that eventually settles on Shira. He tells her telepathically, I hope you’re pleased with yourself, angel of chaos.

I’m not the kind of Player in it for personal glory, god man. You can’t win, but we can still lose.

I told your sister you can only win against them, but she would not listen to me either. Their time is past. They have no future. Neither do you if you choose to go down with them.

Why do you keep prematurely proclaiming victory? Is that an Ego thing? She gives him a beautiful smile. He does not answer.

Ariel, smiling sweetly, seemingly no worse for wear, clutching the briefcase containing the Gospel of the New Genesis, rises up to meet the battle-weary World Patriarch. She tells him, No, you can’t have it, and I won’t leave until you do. The two powerful enemies stare each other down for an endless uncomfortable moment.

He does not respond even telepathically. Reluctantly he flies away to rejoin his Liberator comrades heading across the mountains. Satisfied that he will not return, Ariel lets the people celebrate their victory while they still can and flies off into the west.
Nameless Reporter: CPMC stock has collapsed! The New York Stock Exchange has just announced its intention to delist it along with COPCO...
Brinkman: (trembling, growling) You fucking parasites, we’ll take back our rightful wealth and dominion God promised to us and you stole from us. We shall not forgive.
cpmc headquarters. The boardroom doors open. He is there in his dress blues, tall handsome and intimidating: Commander Will Becket. The beautiful companion sporting long curly brown hair and an elegant sky-blue coatdress is his wife and conscience, Dr. Trista McLendon. Brinkman gasps, “Will! What the hell are you doing here?”

“Shutting down your company,” he calmly replies. “Clearly it’s failed.”

The Investors stand up, stare sadly at Brinkman, and turn to leave for their helicopters. “Wait a minute! What are you guys doing?”

The assembled High Corporates stare him down without blinking. Mr. Bhawal says, “We put our trust in you, Mr. Brinkman.” Mr. Xi says, “We trusted you to suppress the rabble so as to create a stable market for high-end investment, Mr. Brinkman.” Mr. Antonov says, “However, Mr. Brinkman, instead of disowning a certain rebellious teenager, you created another Spanner Incident.” Mr. Galvez says, “Now you, Mr. Brinkman, have proved you cannot keep the rabble sufficiently in line to keep your property stable.” Mr. Zhi says, “We cannot hedge against instability when you cannot prevent instability on your own property, Mr. Brinkman.” Mr. Seon says, “We are confident Mr. Bloomberg has reversed Mr. Trump’s failure, whereas you have not, Mr. Brinkman.” Mr. Vronsky says, “Goodbye, Mr. Brinkman.” And the High Corporates who once kept CPMC stock high leave; on their way to their helicopters, they call their brokers to short-sell.

Martin Becket glares at his cousin. “Walter, you damned fool. You should have disowned the emo little whore and let her ditch her name. Now look what you’ve done. Enjoy being eaten alive... Wally.” On his way out, he takes a moment to glare at Will, who stares back calmly.

Will and Trista enter at last. Brinkman looks at Trista and says to Will, “You lucky piece of shit.”
Will’s ice-blue eyes twinkle. “The word is...” He leans into his cousin and smiles. “...deserving.”

On the monitor behind them, the news channels breathlessly report the collapse of Cascadian real estate prices.

shira’s apartment. They find themselves assaulted by overjoyed hackers at the door. Their favorite Pizza Mafia pizzas await them on the coffee table behind. After pizza, cola, and cake, they take turns in the shower. They’re in no condition to talk after their first real superpower battle, so they call it a night and cuddle together: Shira, Kira, Jennifer, Elle, and the girl with the violet eyes in Shira’s bed; Charlie, Desiree, and their two daughters in the guest room.

“Leave ’em alone for now,” says Hope. “They need the rest. Right now, let’s get ourselves ready for round two.”

actions have consequences:

yet another heavily hedged and leveraged Owner bank snatches CPMC out of the greedy clutches of Chinese Corporatist Party (Holdings) Limited and announces plans to resurrect them through the usual austerity nostrums using the same CEO
COPCO fires “One-Eye Jack” Becket as Seattle section chief and replaces him with not the compromised genius detective Locke Holmes (no administrator) but the overzealous South African, Michael Corson
Admiral Reynard S. Currie, not impressed, announces his intention to use the United States Police Force, Bringing Home The War On Terror™, to restore the Revolutionary hierarchy to power
the brought-back Lady Penner who lost a life over an iPod is released from Naval Hospital Bremerton only to find to her horror that not only is there no more Student Council but no Bangor High either
Oliver Thorwald leaves the resurrection facility alarmed to find his chosen princess Christian Becket Fleer, pop-idol hitwoman Bunny Strakeljahn, and pet mad scientist Mina Tatsumi engaging in pitched battle royal over who possesses him
Raylene Forster and Saxon Mobley wake up in new bodies of their own in Holy City, surrounded by their Liberator comrades in High Corporate dress
Dr. Jenna Hunter dissolves the Teachers Guild’s Seattle Local and declares her intention to reorganize the bankrupt SPEC around a series of commercially oriented “Cool Schools”
Nolan Robson flees Cascadia for Arizona in the Kingdom of Texas as soon as he takes a new body (cursing Falconer even as he emerges) in order to take an executive position in the Prison-Industrial Complex
Hope Maureen Reston finds herself named interim governor and will be greeted by a sea of green-white-and-blue state flags as soon as she moves to the governor’s mansion to carry out her plan to reorganize the government around the Worker Guilds’ successful rank-and-file strategy
Byron Scofield shoots Luke Everson between the eyes in the door of the Shepherd-Mayor’s Enumclaw mansion
and in a bankruptcy sale the Wilder Foundation acquires a Capitol Hill loft building at shockingly low cost and a bright-eyed reporter with no name takes a brightly sunlit loft which she prepares for the arrival of her new companions:
a nameless teenage nude model with violet eyes and silky black hair now shoulder-length and the one with the highest-level superpowers;
a fallen princess new to this freedom thing who exercises her family right to erase her family names and becomes comfortable wearing only a tiara;
an eight-year-old girl so precocious she already erased her name (given by a gangster), child lover by force of will;
her sweet cousin, the precocious twelve-year-old redheaded beauty;
long-lost twin sister Kira Amanda Thomas;
the shared love of their life, Shira Miranda Thomas, Governor Reston’s point woman and youngest daughter
and her adoring K-9, Catalina
plus the five-year-old girl who came with the loft, name of Flower, the daughter of a Corporate couple who used to have some difficult-to-pronounce Eastern European surname the Conservative Revolution changed to Omni-Consumer, not that she is old enough to recognize; and four cats relieved to be fed after a month of neglect by disdainful Corporate neighbours. Though Flower likes that her beautiful new adult friend likes to go naked in the house, she is shocked to find out she doesn’t have a name at all; the bright-eyed girl happily takes the opportunity to begin Flower’s education in the way of the anonymous beauties. Jennifer’s new lab waits for her to set it up to her liking. The building’s remaining Corporates either leave in a huff or get evicted. Hotel Bremelo waits for its Team to move in, inside the wounded heart of the city from which they draw their strength.

And the heart of the city continues to beat. And its urban intelligence, the one known as Em, smiles upon the city and the people who are its life.

technosphere. They are the only ones present, standing on the checkerboard floor in a dark and empty virtual arena, superhero and nudefighter facing each other in superpowered Mexican standoff, mighty arms folded on his mighty chest, gloved hands planted on the smooth curve of her hips, war in his masked eyes, mischief on her unpainted lips. “You’ll never get away with such villainy, angel of chaos,“ the superhero proclaims, cape fluttering like a flag in the silent virtual wind. ”I, the American Crusader, shall make justice prevail.”

“Yet your superhero name is the ancient byword for villainy,” Aya Shibata replies. “The Proletarian called you the villain all the while you were killing him. Why do you keep fighting for his ideal?”

“The world needs a hero. I am the only one standing between the world and those who would destroy it.”

“You are the way, the truth, and the life? You are the dead hand of the past burying the world alive. I am the future.”

“You cannot win, Spanner.”

“You have already lost, hero. Checkmate.” And with a wink and a flash of light, Shira Thomas is gone, leaving Henry Becket alone in an empty world.

The vision begins in chaos: a burning city, large crowds battling Imperial forces, flying drones committing mass murder, the screams of the Chosen — but the longer it runs, the clearer it gets, and all the combined visions focus increasingly on one man: from the moment he seized power after the death of his father, Henry Becket fails to save an empire that was dying long before he became its superheroic savior, and he collapses into madness, and into silence — and the darkness he dedicated his life to banishing forever, draws itself around him like a blanket of blackest night and consumes him.

And then the darkness dissipates, and the sun reappears — but the world has browned out, and only one forested oasis is left...

Braving the flickering shadows of her own darkness that bear away her name into oblivion, the girl with the violet eyes stands in the center of a grove of ancient cherry trees in full bloom, beautiful pale body bare, strong wind caught in her long black hair, shining sun caressing her with its warmth. The girl with cinnamon skin (which twin? both combined) flies down to her from the blue sky above, beautiful and nude, a demon descending on long bat wings matching her wild red hair. She lands before her and gives the command: “Suicide angel, stretch out your wings.” Slowly, sensuously, the black-haired girl stretches out her beautiful black angel wings. The wind caresses the soft feathers.

They pull each other into a lover’s embrace. They share a long, sensuous, increasingly violent kiss. Then they turn their faces to look into you, subtle smile on their faces, a twinkle in their eyes, speaking without need for words: if you do not understand, you have already lost.

They turn around and leave the ground, into the blue sky above; hearts entwined and powers combined, ready for one final job. Together they fly, willing to die, angel and devil in love; together they fly, into the sky, to heaven, where they will slay God.

end series one.

to be continued...

Back to Chapter 23 index...
Back to Chaos Angel Spanner table of contents...

Copyright © 2013 Dennis Jernberg. Some rights reserved.
Creative Commons License

[Revision 4 Final, 4/20/13: R2 scenes heavily edited to fit Final Revision continuity; some scenes condensed, others expanded. New scenes added to complete some plot threads and continue others into Book 2. Revision 4.0.1: corrected one character error.]

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Spanner 23.5: The Fuses Have Been Lit

...from previous

Chaos Angel Spanner — Chapter 23: Black Panic in the Suites
Part 5: The Fuses Have Been Lit (Final Revision)

The voice of the Chairman comes down from heaven, amplified by multiple military-industrial satellites. His feral growl reveals him to be closer to full werewolf transformation than he has ever allowed himself to be in front of a public his now intends to destroy.
Brinkman: Traitorous Commonist rabble of Cascadia! You have murdered your King instead of obeying him, and you have chosen to betray us in league with the Antichrist instead of fighting against his evil under our command! We fought our Revolution to save America’s sacred Manhood from you! Surrender unconditionally and prepare for punishment and penitence, or we will sentence you to eternal torment! You have five minutes!
They stand together on the streets of the cities and towns below, arms linked together in solidarity, forced by the immortals who control the instrument of heavenly wrath to face their mortality and acknowledge their common humanity: Christians, Muslims, Jews, Pagans, Buddhists, unbelievers alike; student and worker, white and black, young and old, American and non-American, insufficiently rich to desperately poor, common mortals faced with sudden death and the realization that they are the enemy the Revolution means to destroy, they are the true target of World War IV. They thought they could force the Owners to give them an actual education or decent pay and working conditions; all they did was enrage a race of paranoid and implacable gods into genocide. For the first time since the death of socialism at the hands of Stalin, it dawns on a critical mass of unspecial ordinary people that the American Dream was always a lie, that to the small élite of Real Americans they have always been the Sons of Satan, and this is only the beginning of the rain of drones the Americans will be raining upon them from one end of the Empire to the other.

The Party wants them to surrender and submit. They choose to join together peacefully. Together, some without consciously realizing it, they reject the authority of the all-powerful Conservative Revolutionary Party and all that it stands for.

Yet the Revolutionaries comprehend nothing. They perceive only the Threat From Below that threatens to destroy their carefully planned utopia. They think only of the profit rate falling ever faster toward zero, the System of Free Enterprise speeding toward the singularity. They feel the American Exceptionalism embodied in their Party slipping away. But Brinkman has taken their vengeance out of their hands. They slip to their knees and chant prayers to Jesus America, to Echelon and NORAD, and to the Great White Father who leads their Party. From the sky above Seattle, the Liberators look down appalled.

A million cameras continue to shoot video. Not wanting the professional hacks of the MSM to interpret their own experience for them, they narrate it as if they can pour out their hearts and souls onto the Darknet in the last five minutes of their lives. If they pray to a supernatural power, they pray to a Supreme Being beyond the comprehension of even the Nine-Principled God and his son Jesus America.

But Admiral Currie is not fazed. Enthusiastic as ever, he declares, “We’ve got it in the bag! The Revolution is saved!”

“Don’t get your hopes up,” Brinkman grumbles. “I’ve got two daughters in the right position to ruin everything.”

He pats Brinkman’s back. “Nobody can stand up to Nuclear Power, comrade! Once our heavenly sword of justice cuts through your treasonous spawn like butter, we’ll crowd the sky with ’em and end the Communist threat for certain! Just have faith.”

Flying above the Seattle skyscrapers, Shira and Kira spin a double reality distortion field around themselves, their sisters, and their lovers, not so much as to hide them as to distort the images Echelon’s spysats are sending to the NORAD killsat’s aiming system. Jennifer asks, Do you really think we’ve got the power to pull this off?

The girl with the violet eyes flies into Shira’s arms. Shira replies, We killed King Patriot, didn’t we? Kira embraces Jennifer from behind, caresses her breasts, nibbles her ear; with so little time remaining, the three couples begin making furious love in mid-air. Down below, the Rockers aim their sound cannons at the mass distortion in the sky.

The Party censors allow the Great Firewall to keep the MSM channels blue. They don’t want any information to leak through.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Introduction to a Dead Blog, or The Only Post on SpannerVision

Now that Twitter's shutting down Posterous, I'll never be able to post a second entry to the "SpannerVision" blog I had there, which I neglected because I was too busy actually writing and editing Spanner to draw anything. SpannerVision was to be my series-related image blog. It was the companion blog to my alternate main blog, where I put some of the entries linked on the Inside Spanner page. All those, and maybe some more, will be reposted here once I'm done posting Spanner Book 1.

Oh well, maybe I'll have to get that Tumblr account after all...

Introducing SpannerVision
(originally posted on June 21, 2011)

Welcome to my new blog where I'll be posting images (and eventually music and video) for my (currently a) webnovel Chaos Angel Spanner and its universe. I'll be posting character designs and other Spanner-related graphics here. Some of the images will be not safe for, well, Facebook, where all my relatives are...

At least this gives me an excuse to start drawing stuff for the manga idea I turned into a webnovel...

Spanner R4 Update: More #amediting Needed on 23.5

Turns out Spanner 23.5 is the most incomplete section of Chapter 23, with the least number of Revision 2 or previous-chapter scenes that merely need editing. 23.6 is the most complete (or was when I started editing Chapter 23), so it's going to post the day after 23.5 regardless.

What's stymieing me this time? (Darling muse, I love you to pieces, but you don't get to take a break until the chapter's over.) By plan, this is the most abstract section in all of Book 1. I'm not so much editing it or even writing it from scratch; rather, I'm constructing it, and construction takes time.

Probably the first thing I'm going to do with the Revision 5 one-pass edit is rework the formatting of Echelon's lines. I kludged the CSS so I could get 23.2-4 posted quickly. 23.5 involves a lot of CSS hacking.

I'm working on 23.5 now, and I hope to get it posted tomorrow. If not, I'll let you know. But I'm finishing Chapter 23 and Book 1 no matter what. 23.5 will post.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Spanner 23.4: Burn the Polls, Ye Sons of Freedom

...from previous

Chaos Angel Spanner — Chapter 23: Black Panic in the Suites
Part 4: Burn the Polls, Ye Sons of Freedom (Final Revision)

Brinkman: To our rebellious subjects: There is no election. You are not the government. The government is CPMC. The government is me! I alone am the Law! My word is the word of God! Obedience alone is of God. All rebellion is inspired by Satan. You will cease your Devil-inspired rebellion against God, or we shall be forced to destroy you all, to the man, root and branch.
Suddenly a piratecast interrupts the official announcement: an eight-bit representation of the head of the Statue of Liberty replaces the blue screen, opening and closing her mouth in clockwork fashion; descending red, white, and blue gradients replace Spanner’s rainbow background, speaking in a cheery female computer voice.
Lady Liberty: Good morning, America! I’m Lady Liberty, and I’m here to remind y’all that if you don’t vote, you can’t be free.
The computer image of Lady Liberty is replaced by a series of portraits of great American founders and leaders, mouths animated ventriloquist-dummy style.
Thomas Jefferson: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. —That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, —That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government...
Thomas Paine: These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.
Abraham Lincoln: Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up, and shake off the existing government, and form a new one that suits them better. This is a most valuable — a most sacred right — a right, which we hope and believe, is to liberate the world.
Lady Liberty: So y’all better cast your votes and make ’em count! Let’s show ’em People Power! Let’s show ’em that America is We the People! Get off your duffs and make your votes count!
Litton and the MSM corporate techs finally interrupt the real piratecast, but not before the damage has already been done. Governor Brinkman returns to the screen, angrier than ever, looking less human by the second, venting his sovereign wrath in an escalating rage that distorts his face. (Sparks: “He’s starting to look less human.” Shira: “Good. Then people will see what their owners really are.”)
Brinkman: Y’all are traitors! Goddamn liberal commonist Muslim faggot nigger-lovers! I’ll kill you all! I’ll eat y’all alive! I’ve got nukes and y’all don’t! I’ll rip your—
Brinkman’s face is replaced with a comic book image of the Wolf Man and the sound of a howling movie werewolf.
Lady Liberty: Not so fast, Fido!
The eight-bit image of Spanner appears. This time the famous graffiti tag of badge-shield, crossed wrenches, and Old English “S” is superimposed on his faceplate.
Spanner: People of Cascadia: You are being faced with a choice. The Synarchy are throwing you a Challenge they think you can’t possibly win. Accept it and throw it in their faces. Is America truly the land of freedom and democracy, or a caliphate of corporations subjugating humanity to the cult of Mammon? The choice is yours alone. This is Tournament, and you are the fighters under Challenge. Go forth and win.
Brinkman attempts to retake the airwaves as soon as the piratecast ends, but his cousin Martin Becket shoves him aside.
Martin Becket: The masked terrorist wants you to forget the evil in the heart of man. Democracy is not only impossible, it leads only to anarchy and chaos. America was founded to prevent democracy, by reserving power for an enlightened oligarchy. We have restored the proper order of things. The men whose virtue God has blessed with infinite wealth support our company’s virtue.
Nameless Reporter: (looks at her phone, then at you) Major investors are showing their confidence in CPMC by driving its stock price to four times its previous high!
Martin Becket: The Revolution does not need approval from the profane. God himself has already cast the only vote that counts.
Nameless Reporter: (points at you) Remember, people, (raises her thumb) a vote for CPMC is (turns her thumb down) a vote against you.
Brinkman: The bitch is full of shit!
Martin Becket: No, she’s right. A vote against us is a vote against America. God doesn’t like that. (glares at you) Obey God!
As the smoke and debris from destroyed battle copters dissipates, the strikers make another attempt to take the streets, only to be foiled by smoke and noise bombs thrown by young black-masked vigilantes, mostly male and driven by testosterone. One of them, presumably a leader, uses his phone as a microphone to speak through a hijacked city PA system:
Anarcho-terrorist: You pacifist wimps! You think you can destroy the System by marching? You’ve already committed mass suicide! You already surrendered to the Enemy! The only way to freedom is through blood, fire, and revolutionary violence! Burn the polls, ye sons of freedom!
Jennifer leaps up and punches him out; the strikers cheer. She steals his phone.
Jennifer: Fine act of government those hotheads just pulled. Didn’t we just have your kind of revolution? They’re not anarchists at all!
Listen, people: terrorism is government! The Man’s bullying you to prevent mass self-determination. What is anarchy? No leaders! Democracy without leaders. These terrorists only wanna replace those other terrorists. Don’t follow! Vote against CPMC, and these clowns too. Back to the strike!