AFK: the novel

I don’t know if this has been All Over the Blogs yet or not (I’m so out of touch), but it certainly should have been. AFK, a novel by Huckleberry Hax, is a wonderful combination of noir PI novel, spot-on picture of at least some aspects of Second Life, and impressively insightful musings about virtual worlds and what we do in them and why. It’s also apparently a NaNoWriMo novel, which just goes to show how well some people’s creativity responds to pressure and/or the lack thereof! (It also means it’s nice an’ short.)

I could go on, but I won’t; you should just read it. It’s a free PDF download, and also available on atoms for RL money via print-on-demand (I’m gonna try to figure out if the author makes an actual profit from sales, and buy one if so). I don’t know anything at all (I don’t think) about Huckleberry Hax or his or her history, or this novel, or anything, so this weblog posting may be years late or embarassingly inappropriate or something, but I don’t care. I just had a great reading experience, and I wanna share… :)

Edit: yeah, “years late” is appropriate; turns out it appeared in 2007, but hey! The author has a post your comments post, where you can post your comments. So (assuming you read it and have comments), do that!

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I’m in a podcast!

Random cute podcasting iconSo… I’ve mentioned that I don’t really listen to podcasts. And then more recently I dove into a Kanomi comment thread in which she was noting the rather obnoxious tone of some other SL podcast, and which sort of reinforced my negative impression of podcasts in general, in that:

(A) I found the podcast (like every other podcast over two minutes I’ve tried to listen to) ‘way too slow-moving and content-sparse to be worth the time, and

(B) While I am assured by a mutual friend :) that the people in the podcast are really a bunch of perfectly nice people just sort of fooling around, they actually come off as sort of obnoxious jerks; my theory is that this is because people often feel free in a podcast to say whatever the heck pops into their head (and it seems to be against the cultural tradition to do multiple takes or editing or anything), whereas in text weblogs people do proofread and edit and have second thoughts and stuff.

(I really shouldn’t have said, in the Kanomi thread, that podcasts are a waste of time simpliciter; that apparently insulted at least one podcaster, and I didn’t mean to insult anyone. I just meant, of course, that they are in my judgement not a good use of my time. To each eir own an’ all.)

But so anyway. One of the discussors (discutants? is that a word?) in the debate was ol’ Crap Mariner, who I’d been vaguely aware had a podcast thing of some sort, an’ Crap mentioned that he has a short attention span too :) and that his podcasts are like under two minutes long and that sounded good, so (after a surprising amount of searching about) I came upon Crap’s 100 word stories, which is pretty fun.

I love microfiction!

I admit I still prefer reading the tiny stories to listening to them, for whatever reason. But the general idea is neat, and they do fit inside my tiny podcast patience, so I can listen to them and feel myself somewhat less podcast-ignorant.

And!

And Crap also has this fun weekly thing were there’s a theme / topic / prompt, and people are invited to compose and record their own 100 word stories on the theme and send them in, and one of them gets chosen as the winner (through I process I don’t really understand) and the winner gets to choose the topic for next week, and all of the submitted stories get put together with Crap commentary and posted as a podcast itself.

The theme for #169 was “That’s not thunder, it’s…”, which was sort of intriguing, and like I said I love microfiction, and anyway…

I wrote a 100 word story, and recorded myself reading it. and sent the file to Crap, with the result that my actual voice appears in it. And not too long in, since I think I was like the 3rd story, and Crap didn’t start seriously wandering off on tangents in his commentary and talking to his cats and stuff until about story 5 hahaha.

(Most of the stories are funny and/or involve farting and/or have music tracks and intros and stuff, and mine being just a semi-serious (and too quiet) a cappella reading of a semi-serious story, it doesn’t really fit in all that well. But hey is fun anyway!)

So if you want a rare opportunity to hear at least one of the voices of Dale Innis, check out Weekly Challenge #169 and listen to the podcast. Or just read the story; the text is up there too. :)

Meaties

When the negotiations were over for the day, Vystar and his team spread their wings and spiraled down out of the tree, landing on the enormous lily pad at the base as protocol demanded. With nods and whispers to each other, they each blinked out to their separate evenings. Vystar went a few thousand meters up and several regions west, floating in an undulating purple mist as he changed from avian form to something more relaxed, a curvy young woman with feathers for hair and long purple fingernails, dressed in cotton lounging pajamas.

She whispered to Patrice and Gentle Logan, to AnyFred and WhaTilde, and eventually was summoned to the latest version of the Sound Crystal Amphitheatre, suspended above an orange desert, where five or ten of her friends sat or sprawled on cushions in the crowd listening to a young dragon playing a citern and singing imaginary folk songs. Patrice had a new collection of semi-autonomous follower objects swarming around her head, and Vystar amused herself sending them little rushes of force and meaningless commands, just to see what they would do. Patrice stuck out her tongue, but was too absorbed in the music and some quasi-sexual exchange with a winged warrior to do anything about it.

The dragon finished his set to general applause and the launching of numerous color-rockets, Vystar fended off a pair of whispers from annoyingly persistent ex-lovers, and people had just begun discussing where to go next when she frowned and lay back in her ornate golden seat.

“Excuse me a moment, folks. Something happening Outside.”

Patrice crinkled her face at her, and Gentle Logan said, “Be careful”; Vystar’s eyes glazed over and her body relaxed.

He put down the controller and stood up from his lounge, blinking as he pulled his gaze away from the screen that covered half the wall. He flexed his arms and shoulders, opened and closed his hands, out of the healthy habit that everyone tried to cultivate when going Outside. The noise that had disturbed him continued, and he crossed the room to the window, a slightly pudgy pale man in undyed cotton pants and a thin shirt.

The room was small and spare, clean, subtly lit by indirect lighting. It contained only the lounge, the screen, the terahertz box, a selection of controllers and goggles, a small refrigerator in one corner, a door leading to the shared bathroom in the other. Vystar stepped to the single window, and looked down.

Down below, the usually empty street was half filled by a mongrel band of ordinary Outside humans, who walked or slowly drove battered-looking autos between the plain faces of the apartment blocks on each side, blowing the horns and whistles that had disturbed him, and waving signs.

“Come out and play!”, the signs said, “The Real World Needs You!”, and “Remember What Matters”. One of the leaders of the ragged march was a tall unnaturally fit-looking man that Vystar remembered vaguely having seen on an Outside feature on some news program; the former owner of a defunct automobile company, or newspaper, or something.

Slow and noisy as it was, the disturbance moved out of sound and sight soon enough, into what looked like an Outside evening. Vystar shook his head and went back to the lounge, rejoining the world to find that most of his friends were still there in the Amphitheatre, looking at the night’s list of public performances, debating the merits of the artists, remembering old adventures, making ridiculous hats.

“Back,” she said, stretching her legs and putting on a tall conical headpiece with a slowly-turning propeller.

“What was it?” Patrice asked, from under what appeared to be a squid.

“Bunch of noisy Meaties out in the Outside street. Having a protest or something.”

This was met with much laughter and rude noises.

“Walking right down the street?” asked Scarflame, a friend or associate or alt or something of Patrice’s.

“Walking, and even driving. Old automobiles! Can you imagine the carbon footprint?”

More rude noises.

“Meaties,” said Gentle Logan, the swirls around his horns expressing exasperation.

“Yeah,” said Vystar, shrugging her shoulders, “what can you do?”

Thanks to someone, maybe Ahuva, for pointing me at an article that I can’t find right now that suggested that, far short of brain-uploading, people might simply start leading sparse and spartan RL lives, because their virtual lives would be so much more interesting and rich. So here we are. This story is not intended to express any particular opinion, positive or negative, of the possibility…