Johannes Punkt’s Flaskpost

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Tag: ideas

they will be wrong of course

you wake up in the absence of moonlight to a shocking realization related to the way you’re going to die soon, any day any year now. you know perfectly well that you’re going to die but there’s a bitter taste on your fat tongue and a six-legged chill crawling its way up your spine: there are people out there with ideas about who you are, who you really really are deep down underneath the personality and the skin and the bone. that and nothing else will be what is left of you: strangers’ hastily formed impressions of an insignificant person.

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Methods and Morphology of Conlanging

This is a post on conlanging.

It details 3 methods of constructing a language more or less from scratch – that is, not basing it off already existing languages. There are surely other ways to do conlangs but these are the ones that have occured to me/the people I conlang with. Let’s give the methods the arbitrary names clusterfuck, evolutionary, and interpretive.

Clusterfuck

…is the approach taken with the Cekno’s language; all ideas and jumbledness, like a brainstorming session that doesn’t really end. It goes a bit unwieldy after a few months of working like that, apparently. This involves a lot of jumping back and forth between different topics. You can do it more or less structurally but it is the most chaotic method nonetheless.

In trying to create the Cekno Idiosyncrasy, we tried to think like the star and figure out what kind of stuff it would think up, and it got confusing. Rather alien, but … yeah.

Evolutionary

…is when you try to create a language by making up the culture that goes along with it, maybe following its route from some imaginary savannah period to living in tents and placing religious importance on testicles. The way I considered doing this was to take a tribal society and mark out the concepts important to them, define some semantic clusters, and then add more stuff in hundred-year-leaps. This’d include some sound shift and imaginary politics.

Interpretive
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Plots You Can Have #5, Ambiguous Monsters Edition

[Content Warning: suicide, human sacrifice]

Previous part here: /2012/10/31/for-the-undecided-plots-you-can-have-nanowrimo-edition/

First part here: /2012/08/20/a-few-plots-you-can-have/

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The Dalmour Parasite

a parasite that only infects suicidal people and turns them into psychopaths to make their lives better

Neil Ruthsmoke is a man who makes his friends suicidal. He cannot help it; it is not to do with his personality per se, it is just that his particular body odour trips bad wires in people’s brains; he is a freak of nature undiscovered by science. He is also quite depressed on account of this. Story is about how his psychologist both tracks the spread of the parasite and how it starts to take over hir. There is research into Ruthsmoke’s life, and the point where his friends stopped killing themselves and started becoming sociopaths is found. Good scenes might include: when the psychologist puts forth the idea that maybe, possibly, it’s all Ruthsmoke’s fault; when a friend breaks the pattern by topping hirself; when the psychologist realizes ze has probably been infected hirself.

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For the Undecided: Plots You Can Have, NaNoWriMo Edition

Don’t know what to write for Nano? Are you a planner caught by November with your breeches down? FEAR NOT. I am here to offer some last-minute, utterly stupid excellent ideas for you. You are free to use them however you like. I will be basing the things on quotes from various things.

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Sufficiently advanced organized crime is indistinguishable from government. Okay, this quote is from me, I admit it. Imagine a novel which is about a mafia in some mediterranean country, and how the mafia family – as it grows larger and more influential – takes up more and more of the responsibilities of government, eventually even holding press conferences and being worried about public opinion. It would be a slow shift, and the main plot would be about, well, making money and smuggling.

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A religion that doesn’t change is just as dead as a river that doesn’t move. Quoth Buddha or someone like that. This story would be about two elderly clerics tasked with modernizing their fringe religion, whose memberships have dwindled over the last centuries. Funny scenes include the time when their entire server gets hacked and their website made to display a rival religion’s stuff instead. The thing devolves into a battle between these two rival religions.

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СЧАСТЬЕ ДЛЯ ВСЕХ, ДАРОМ, И ПУСТЬ НИКТО НЕ УЙДЕТ ОБИЖЕННЫЙ! (The end of Roadside Picnic, by the Strugatskies. In Russian here for reasons of ambiguity, spoiler-prevention, and also my pretentiousness.) What would happen if, right now, the world became a utopia? The utopia is not static, but say there is a superposition of an ultra-advanced society on top of ours. Follow small groups of protagonists as they pursue intellectual goals, try to uncover what the heck just happened, and go a bit nuts from conspiracy theorizing about it.

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The fork was never found. From the Wikipedia article on Tarrare. You could write a fictionalized version of the life events of Tarrare or Charles Domery, who were men who could not stop eating. That Wikipedia article is one of the best wiki articles I’ve ever read, and a fictionalized version could be amazing. Suggested ideas: write it from the viewpoints of three or four different people interacting with him: the surgeon, the military interrogator, etc. It will be awesome. Do it.

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If anyone decides to write these plots I would love to read them.

Cheers.

Something Goes Wrong in Space (Idea) Part II

Last report on Something Goes Wrong in Space:

https://zombiesintelligently.com/2012/08/16/something-goes-wrong-in-space-idea-part-i/

Here follows a non-chronological account of what goes wrong in space. And how.

Developed by me and Drakekin.

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The Point of No Return (Incident T0)

This is the first scene. We start with a slow scene where the ISV Alhambra releases all the pods layer by layer, expertly navigating them through the fine mesh of the honeycomb framework. Our surviving characters are rather solemn, trained not to panic (as the ones who didn’t catch this training have all, ah, panicked and died).

Something humanoid but toadlike floats toward the giant dish, at the centre of which our characters are sitting, watching through thick crystal. Someone squeezes someone else’s shoulder as the thing bumps into the dish with a creaking, clanging sound that is heard through the metal. It climbs down a railing a long way, into the air chamber and closes the door, pressurises the chamber, and goes inside. This is Danetage. Ze deflates into a more human shape, with machinelike sounds, and quickly is presented with hir non-spacesuit and then hugged.

[number of crew awake: 41; sleeping: 220; dead: 419]

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Incident T1

Danetage gets hugged, and then scooted off to an ‘interview’ with Solvieg. They’re in the climate controlled area to let Danetage feel as safe as possible; it is unpleasant for Sol, but she does not let that show. Not all of the conversation is shown: some of the time the camera is more focused on the despair of the crew and how they stare at the ‘fish skeleton’ their ship has become. (People shudder at that phrase.) Sometimes the dialogue of the Sol/Danetage conversation is muffled or muted to show the disorientation of the crew and machines. The gist of the conversation is that something went wrong, and if you people at the bridge hadn’t sodded up this wouldn’t be happening.

(Crewmembers who are still in space, die. All the ejections of pods crush them, some flung out into space, others crushed by two different pods, etc.)

The android ambassador ask how they can be of assistance. They are ignored. Kiloyield talks to them about nothingness, which gets grim.

Someone still thinks they can save most of the pods by radio-controlling them to steer toward the planet, and land in the sea (if the planet has a sea, which it might).

[number of crew awake: 37; sleeping: 220; dead: 423]

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Incident T-negative-1

Wvera goes back to listening to the ansible and becomes worried it might be infected by That-Which-Speaks. She tries to discuss this with Irving, who is distraught by the fact that they have no radio with Antruth or Danetage, and also the report that the sunsail covering the hole in the deflector isn’t holding still – it’s doing what sunsails do, which is to move. He’s telling some engineers to put the deflector dish to spin to minimise the damage to the superstructure by having sunlight only pass every now and then. It is revealed, however, that he pseudo-remembers That-Which-Speaks’ voice.

Antruth and Danetage arrive at the level of the ship where the cargo spire main control node is. Danetage, while ze still has usable vocal cords and isn’t all blowfished up, asks if Antruth shouldn’t turn the radio on. But it’s a simple thing we’re doing and we don’t need more of that douchetrucks’ ‘jokes’, says Antruth. Danetage puffs up.

They start manually ejecting and restructuring pods to get into the ship. Eventually they are inside and have a double airtight seal and Antruth turns on an atmosphere pod and leaves the spacesuit. They have to keep tetrising the pods in order to move toward the shutting-off-node, which they are aware might have turned into something else once they get there, given the reshuffling of the computer.

As they’re walking through the honeycombs and finding the computer, Danetage – half deflated to speak and manoeuvre – freaks out about it being a brain. Antruth just wants to get this over with. But they’re people! Not more than, say, a fish is. Fish don’t feel pain, ‘Tage. Shuts it down slowly. The ship is still under the impression that they have arrived and it should unload, because Antruth’s radio was off since the joke that was in poor taste, and the bridge can’t control anything blindly. Antruth gets sucked out into vacuum and dies. Danetage finds the airtank and sucks some air from it, inflating hirself, thinking fuckfuckfuck.

[number of crew awake: 43; sleeping: 220; dead: 417]

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Worldbuilding 3: When to Let Go, & New Stuff

Last entry in this series: https://zombiesintelligently.com/2012/07/20/worldbuilding-2-the-points-of-departure/

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If you don’t put your heart into something it can never have the pulse you’ve taken all your life to protect. Similarly, I’ve grown disillusioned with the poisonbeasts and shall instead talk a bit about the deaths of things.

For me, most projects do not simply die, but poison the water and then appear as ghosts in the lucid dreams of my other projects. Which is a fancy way of saying I reuse things, at times, and ideas gnaw on the back of my skull often and hard.

It’s good to let things die, though. I can’t tie that into the other metaphors I’ve used here, so I’ll just say it plainly: deciding that a project is not worth your attention means you’re doing quality control and also that you won’t have to decide that /later/. Saying goodbye at 500 words in is better than 500 pages in, etc.

Letting things die isn’t the same as giving up. Giving up is all defeatlike. Someone once told me, or said in my vicinity, that creativity is the creation of many ideas and then pruning them until you find the ones that are salvageable. In light of that, whenever I let something die I write down another idea, or gravestone the thing into a drabble at the very least. Even if it’s bloody stupid. So, related to that last post about things you can have, here’s a bunch of things I might use, which are of course up for taking (do show me the work when you’re done with it if you pick one of these plots):

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A Few Plots You Can Have

Hi. Here are a few plots with accompanying titles you can have free of charge. Content warning: it is entirely possible these are all stupid, or at least pulp.

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Hidden Profile

genre: thriller

Social media and serial killers – what’s FBI to do when their top criminal profiler, Adam Brundsbury, starts murdering people left right and centre, posting about it on microblogs and otherwise being invisible? Douglas Minth, the man who killed Brundsbury’s daughter, takes on the case at a price the bureau might soon regret paying.

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The Scenic Route

genre: sci-fi

Aliens land on Earth, there’s a big party about them not killing us, and then both of the alien ambassadors are shot at point blank range. Still, it seems impossible to find out who actually shot them. Individuals stop existing; they all represent things to the aliens now, as the aliens launch an investigation of their own. Read this cultist conspiracy theory-inducing pageturner and feel the need for more, immediately.

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If I Woke up on Earth

genre: historical/religious fiction

Two giants, Hilde and Ann, are awoken at each pole, unaware of each other, in the early middle ages. News travel slowly of their arrival but they eventually hear of each other and realize that they need to meet. However, an old prophecy foresees the end of the word if ever the twain shall meet, and there is kind of a plague breaking out in Europe. Tragic and entirely made up, this story takes us to a magical place that is, like most things magical, a bit uncomfortable.

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A Mouth with Three Teeth

genre: spy fiction

Title comes from a powerful metaphor employed in the story. Lyndon Hannover is mistaken for a spy in Soviet Russia, but quickly grasps the Moscow Rules. His old life disappears before his eyes and before he knows it, he’s sitting in a radio tower, freezing to death, trying to decipher the codes with the help of a dead man’s diary. Turns out there’s a third player in the cold war …

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Wentelwiek

genre: dark fantasy

An evil religion is channelling what they call the Imagination of the Watchers, and it seems the Watchers have only destruction on their minds. Gasparde and Viola, two senior priests in the nice religion  Skreeism (which deals in age and is the reason people die), are rejuvenated to infiltrate the Wentelwiekans in apprentix roles. However, when one has been old for 200 years, one savours the fruits of youth. Their love affair threatens the mission and they don’t care, even though the Wentelwiekans are getting closer and closer to summoning the Wentelwiek. They see portals created, whence evil comes, but are having problems caring. Et cetera.

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Tuscany

genre: new weird

A world-renown mage challenges another world-renown mage on a duel and then realizes she is going to die in this duel, in what magelore calls a flash. She flees but the other mage is relentless: we follow both the magicians in a cat-and-mouse game all over the fossilized world of old earth, as magic is explained in more detail, and hope and time seem to run out.

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Patient Zero

genre: zombie fiction

Trenton is turning into a zombie, despite the antiretrovirals he’s taking. His boyfriend leaves him, his family are concerned. Politicians are thinking of gassing him, to set an example. And eventually he just shoots himself to get it over with. He rises with a groan.

Hunger (Idea)

Everybody loves vampires. But they’re sort of the old thing now. Zombies have and will always be a big thing because zombies keep … uhm, you know where this sentence is going. I could do zombies – intelligently, mind – but I’m already doing that and that project is kinda secret. Superheroes are on the rise. So, no-one will see this one coming. Ghouls.

Wait, no, don’t leave yet, hear me out, okay? The elevator pitch goes like this: Vultures disappear*, corpse-eating ghouls take their place in the ecosystem, let us monitor them really close to prevent panic and actual zombie invasion and stuff.

Okay so it’s still zombies. But it’s … ghouls. You could make an argument for vampires being zombies and no I’m not getting defensive at all. The main difference between my ghouls and the various kinds of zombies is that the ghouls don’t want living humans. Sometimes they attack each other and it’s kind of sad to watch.

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