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I nominated for Yuletide. After lots of "how could I possibly choose", I decided that I might as well pick three works I liked and thought would make good fic, and not feel like I had to pick the BEST three. I can probably dredge up more obscure things I loved, and would really love to see fic from, but I find it hard to bring to mind things I've not thought of for ages.

There's lots of things I love, things like webcomics and webfiction which might deserve attention. I eventually chose three I thought would make good stories.

Elements (experiments in character design), the tarot-like cards showing a character for each chemical element. They're just so pretty, each looks like it tells a story. I was sad the physical cards seemed to be sold out and never for sale. They were nominated two years ago, and I was sad to see not last year.

And two webcomics, Leftover Soup (from Tailsteak, the author of the awesome 1/0, ooh, maybe I should submit that instead), and YAFGC (Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic, like Oglaf, very not safe for work, but sort of in a surprisingly wholesome way).

Did other people manage to nominate things?

I am also basking in the disconcertingly competent assumption that, I expect to be able to, just get a story done, without a whole lot of putting it off. I'm not at all used to signing up to something with a deadline and not assuming I'll panic but it's worth it!

I looked at my notes from last year for "what might I be interested in nominating next year". It was mostly the same sorts of things. Although one was, "Steven Universe, if it doesn't exceed the limit of number of works", I guess that must have happened now :) Although I find it really hard to predict. I went to look up Vorkosigan, the universe I was surprised was still eligible when I wrote for it two years ago, and it looks like there's more than a 1000 fics on ao3 from before that, am I misremembering how eligibility/search works?
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I have decided I do not have more time to spend revising my novel. I really enjoyed it, although it is still pre even a first draft. But thank you ever so much to everyone who was excited to see it, if you're ok reading the rough version, please do, thank you so much.

This is a novel about Hashara, an angel who helped make the world but screwed up, and is trying to do better, and her girlfriend Lizzie. Hashara looks like a tall woman with curling horns and matted goat hair. Sometimes she's up, sometimes she's very persecuted.

Expect lots of musing about the relationship between angels and God. An angel asking, "What DOES God want me to do? Do the humans know any better than I do?" Angel magic and human magic. Angels-as-demons. Angels as genius locii. The fell children of misguided angels, the nephilim, prominently including such supernatural creatures as vampires and maybe leviathan. A flamingo-breeder. Lesbian lovers. Old church ladies. Awkward conversations with bishops. Lots of me-ish dialogue.

The link is in the immediately prior post. If you do not have an LJ or DW account, you can ask me to email you a link (yes please, you're very welcome!) or to log in with openid (or maybe facebook) and comment on this post.
jack: (Default)
As I passed Aunt Vera's, I wandered up to the open garage to see how she was doing. A week ago, she had borrowed mum's bar billiard's table. Mum had said it would be good for her to give the mad science a rest occasionally and try a different hobby. I was excited to see what she'd turned it into.

As I peered into the garage, she was indeed tinkering madly with the billiard table. Four steam funnels rose from the corners, and a dense web of different wires wended between them almost creating a wall round the table a meter above it. At the head of the table, dozens of different dials had been wedged onto a narrow wooden board, several resting at awkward angles suspended by the wires and pipes plugged into them.

I must have made a noise, as she suddenly spun around, labcoat and goggles swirling about her. "Ah, Sarah! What perfect timing. I have a lot to show you."

"Uh. My parents are going to be cross if I'm late for dinner agian. And I was going to call Carol later."

"Pish!" she exclaimed. "Pish-tosh! "This is Educational, and they will appreciated you being educated,"

"But I am being educated," I protested. "I have homework and everything. Homework I need to get done, if I'm going to call Carol before 10."

"Pish!" she said again. "Is Carol going to show you how quantum mechanics works?"

"Well, I don't expect so-" I began.

"Well then!" she announced with finality. "You need me to do it. No niece of mine is going to go to university with a piddling A-level knowledge of quantum mechanics."

"But, Aunt Vera, they don't teach quantum mechanics at A-Level. Not even in physics. And I'm studying Biology, and Economics and Japanese, and..."

"PRECISELY MY POINT", she yelled, a foot from my ear. "You would swan off to university with no knowledge of physics, the very forces which stop you falling through the ground. Did I tell you about my adventure of the intangibility harness and the Earth's crust?"

"Aunt Vera", I shouted, and winced as I realised how loud I was screaming. But she stopped, a bit put out, and I continued. "I'm not a physicist." She looked heartbroken, and I tried to school myself not to fall for it. "But I'd love to see what you've--"

"Excellent," she crowed, and dragged me up to the table. Wires festooned the edges, and at the top where the score used to be, a bank of complicated dials and levels waited.
I toyed with the idea of a comic fantasy style explanation of what I'd learned about relativity. Unfortunately, I really loved how the byplay turned out, but the actual explanation didn't work well. There's a lot more, but it's mixed "fun arguing" and "didactic bad explanations".
jack: (Default)
The fic I received was all the words that ever were or ever will be , a telling of some of the events in Bujold's Curse of Chalion from the Daughter's perspective. It didn't tell anything new, but I loved how it empathised with the Daughter's frustration, and told some of the story of her Father's curse from her point of view.

And I wrote Escape from the Orc Lair of Unnecessarily Revealing Armour, a Rat Queens and Oglaf crossover. It is told in a script-for-cartoon-panels format (although, as a literary device, it might not translate that well to an actual comic). It is quite smutty with bdsm and dubcon, in the general vein of both original works. If you like the sound of that, awesome, if you don't, you probably don't want to read it, although I include a break to read the set-up and ending if you'd like (see author's note).

ETA: Fixed link to my story.
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So, I was too busy to actually spod about it, other than a constant stream of oblique hints (thank you, cheering section on twitter!) but I did nanowrimo.

I was confident I had MORE time, and ability to schedule a large chunk of time without dropping everything else. But I didn't know if I had enough, or if it was a sensible decision.

But I was excited to try a large personal project and see if I could do it. I've toyed with the idea before, but never felt like it was a serious possibility -- I was always too likely to push myself too hard and flare out, without any ability to pace myself.

I think it was about the most I could possibly manage in a month, without a really significant impairment of work or of all other social things. Not parkinson's law, but that was about as much writing as I could manage in a day, even under good circumstances.

As it happened, the first week didn't really get started, so I ended up writing 2k words a day for the rest of the time, but I stuck to that almost all the way through. And that was usually about right -- I had about that much ideas in my head, and I could mostly go ahead and write them, and after that, I had to *think* about what would happen next.

I really enjoyed the setting and characters, they did often come alive for me (waiting on reports if that actually made it into the fic or not).

When I did pause, it was one of a couple of things. Once or twice, because what came next needed a bunch of stuff to build a story out of (a bunch of characters for the protagonist to meet, or a problem for them to encounter). More often, but less fatally, because what I wanted to happen wasn't clicking, and I had to review what I intended, what was actually needed for the novel, and what I was attached to but could be compromised if it didn't fit.

Many thanks to everyone who expressed an interest in seeing the finished work. I noted everyone down just in case. I am really, really excited to share the novel, and am very serious about getting it to anyone who would like to see. But on balance, it really is better if I fix a lot of minor problems first (things like characters having names Placeholder1 etc :)). That should be fairly easy, but I officially took December as a break where I didn't have to write any more on it :)

Yuletide was comparatively easy afterwards :) I'd already come up with a basic idea, and it took a few evenings rather than just 2 hours to complete 2k words, so a lot slower than one day's nano writing, but still, finished without any last minute panic (go me!)
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For a plot bunny (yes, really :)):

You have a multivalued function from a sphere onto "some surface", continuous everywhere except two points. (Or, equivalently, a function from "some surface" to the sphere, I guess?)

If you look at points on the surface which map onto the same point on the sphere, and connections between them of "paths" on the sphere (up to continuous deformation), I feel like they end up acting like the integers, where "+1" and "-1" correspond to a clockwise of anticlockwise circumnavigation. Or possibly some subset, a cyclic group of some finite order, if there are repeats. Is that right?

If you have *three* points, what can the relationship between the points look like? What about more?

I remember doing something like that but not what it's called.

I'm trying to put something like the shadows of amber onto a more concrete mathematical footing :)
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To give context to my previous tweets, in my novel, something like a creation narrative literally happens: God, angels, adam and eve, the war in heaven, six thousand years later, the present day. It's not exactly the same as any accepted belief system, but something along those lines.

I have not decided if that's *instead* of the geological history we have evidence of in this world. If so, I need to, um, explain biodiversity, and dinosaur bones, and geology, etc, etc, etc. And coming up with a plausible present day derived from that history is more world-building than I want, I'm basing it on "like the present day, but with fallen angels occasionally wandering about".

Alternatively, the two histories are sort of parallel, God "smoothing out" the older history somehow. Which makes sense, but is a bit of a cop-out.

So far, I've just not mentioned it, but it feels like a question hard not to have any idea of.

In terms of certainty, there are still characters, like the main character, who personally remember the war in heaven and the creation of the world, and interacting directly with God. Not remember *very* well, because time passes, but have a reasonable certainty that things happened like that. And some knowledge of magic etc supporting their assertion of knowing how the universe works.

(What happens *outside* this world *since* the creation is left uncertain, because that really would overload my worldbuilding.)

But I haven't really addressed what non-religious philosophies exist. People who don't find the evidence for God convincing? Presumably those people do exist, and for people who think the evidence is convincing in *this* world, they will seem exactly the same as atheists in this world. But for me, they're more like flat-earthers. People who think God created that universe much as described, but hasn't intervened since and/or has no special moral place? They presumably exist. I think I have those characters, though they haven't had conversations about it yet.

That's what I meant by "can I have dinosaurs" and "can I have atheists" :)

ETA: And as London Crawling points out on twitter, it would be plausible to have people who believe in dinosaurs and angels, but find the account of a prime mover who personally created angels unconvincing. In fact, that might even be accurate in this world -- my account of creation is all given second hand.
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I've always loved Three Musketeers. Yes, it's absolutely ridiculous, but it's so me. Oh, no, you can't say "he was ambushed". You have to say "he saw a musket barrel protruding from a hedge, and being a perspicacious young man, realised it was unlikely it had come there by itself; more likely it had been carried there as part of an ambuscade upon his person. On which realisation, he threw himself flat."

Latest writing idea

A hybrid three-musketeers/wild west. The idea is, to capture the *feel* of a setting where people take fatal risks. And also, have non-fatal duels because it establishes you as someone to take seriously (in terms of, not accosting, not in terms of, respecting your good sense).

So, secondary world discovered. Similar to this one, but unpopulated, with magic. At the right locations, with the right preparations, you can transport a human through, but not much else.

The magic works in a very ritualistic way: imagining repeating patterns, colours, concepts, in various combinations, triggers various powerful-but-simple effects, including plain force, emotional manipulation, and a few others. Anyone can do that in theory, but it takes a lot of preparation and dedication to learn the combinations that are actually most effective.

Magicians are in demand because they can hunt energy creatures which roam the world, which are useful for ££££. And because anyone with magic is like a musketeer or a quick-draw in the fictional west, people respect them because they have to, whether or not they like them.

Communities are a mess of whoever ended up there scrabbling to survive and bring a profit back to our world, people working for corporations on this side, arrestees serving a prison sentence in exile rather than in prison, etc, etc.

I think I can handle the magic duels and magician-magician interactions. But what are the communities clustered around the portal-areas like? How often can portals be used? Which of those political ideas make sense? What would the communities look like? I'm going for something like, a new mining town. What economic activities are going on here, what are the most plausible to ship back (given the constraints that you can't mass-ship goods)? Does temporary-transportation make sense? What other questions should I try to answer?


I was also thinking, there is almost no chance I will ever try and submit any of my (rough) old stories for publication, ever, so I should probably arrange for them to be online somewhere easy to read. Probably on AO3 linked from my LJ/DW, but would anything else be better?
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Orrie Gamal Poster: I want to froblicate my woozle. I've tried flimbling it, and that doesn't work. And I've tried wimbling, wombling and wumbling and I don't think those do what I want. And I can't do theminraining because I don't have a froog. What am I doing wrong? Do I need to frogwockle it?
Quickdraw Mactrawl: Have you tried flimbling it?
Oblivious Ollie: Have you tried flimbling it?
Ditto Ditta: I don't know if anyone's asked this already, but have you tried flimbling it?
Eager Edsel: FIRST POST! I don't really know, but have you tried flimbling it?
Expert Edgar: Lots of people have this problem. I've worked on something related, so let me spend several thousand words pontificating about related matters. But none of that may directly help you. So you have you tried flimbling it? What happened when you did?
Orrie Gamal Poster: As I've said several times already, I tried flimbling it. Here's a detailed description.
Quickdraw Mactrawl: You shouldn't have tried flimbling it! That won't work in your situation.
Oblivious Ollie: Have you tried flimbling it?
Ditto Ditta: I see several people have suggested flimbling it, but that won't work.
Eager Edsel: I know I said this already but I don't know if you saw my comment. Have you tried flimbling it? How about now? Have you tried it yet? If not, have you tried wimbling or wombling it?
Expert Edgar: Ah, I see your mistake. Let me rephrase it with more technical jargon. I know you might not have realised this, but flimbling it won't work.
Eager Edsel: Or how about wumbling it?
Oblivious Ollie: I don't know if anyone's asked this already, but have you tried flimbling it?
Eager Edsel: Have you tried flimbling it?
Orrie Gamal Poster: NOT wimbling or wombling.
Orrie Gamal Poster: And NOT wumbling either for that matter!
Expert Edgar: Ok, I see my mistake. I've taken the time to read your post. I think you might need to theminrain it even though you don't have a froog. Alternatively, you could try frogwockling it, but I'm not sure that will really do what you want.
Ditto Ditta: All of that Expert Edgar just said but more vague and waffly without really knowing what I'm talking about.
Oblivious Ollie: I don't know if anyone's asked this already, but have you tried flimbling it?
Orrie Gamal Poster: As I said, I can't theminrain it because I don't have a froog.
Orrie Gamal Poster: I tried frogwockling it, and my woozle seems even less froblicated than before. In fact, it's smoking a bit round the edges.
Orrie Gamal Poster: YEOUCH! It's smoking quite a lot round the edges.
Orrie Gamal Poster: ...
Orrie Gamal Poster: I unfrogwockled it with some difficulty, and now it's slightly woozled, but I'm not sure where to go from here.
Expert Edgar: Did you try to frogwockle your woozle without flimbling or themraining it? Because that might ruin it entirely.
Orrie Gamal Poster: Aaaaah!
Oblivious Ollie: I don't know if anyone's asked this already, but have you tried flimbling it?
Oblivious Ollie: Or, if you don't want to flimble it, can you theminrain it?
Expert Edgar: I think theminraining it is the only way to go even if you don't have a froog.
Orrie Gamal Poster: I've said this again and again, I want to froblicate my woozle, but WITHOUT a froog. Does anyone know how to do that? Please stop telling me not to do that.
Eager Edsel: I didn't really read your last comment, but maybe if you told us more about your problem we could suggest another way to help?
Expert Edgar: I think Edsel is right.
Orrie Gamal Poster: OK, here's an extremely long account of lots of things I tried mostly related to frooting my whombaht that show I don't know anything about woozles in the first place. But in order to do that, I need to froblicate its woozle, but I can't theminraining its froog because whombaht woozles are undefrooglicious (and any rate, aren't wumble).
Drive By Miss Daisy: If that's the case, you don't want to froblicate your woozle at all. If you themrain your whombaht's wumble directly, you can womble it itself without any woozles or froogs at all. Did you try that?
Oblivious Ollie: I forgot what we were talking about, but have you tried flimbling it?
Orrie Gamal Poster: Yes! Thank you miss daisy. That solved my problem. I don't know why no-one else could just say that even though it directly contradicted my original post and relied on a lot of information I didn't think was relevant once I went down a blind alley.
[5 year later]
Quickdraw Mactrawl: I just found an old notification for this thread and I realised I may have posted too quickly. Whatever you do, don't themrain your whombaht's wumble directly because I'm not going to explain why just in case it's useful to anyone who finds this forum thread later and doesn't know if I know what I'm talking about or not or if it applies in their situation.
[5 years, 1 day later]
Oblivious Ollie: I just saw this. I don't really know about woozles, but I think I read something similar once and someone suggested flimbling it. Have you tried that?
[10 years later]
Dame Spam-a-lot: That's a really interesting post! Do you mind if I quote a few of your articles as long as I provide credit and sources back to your website? My website is in the exact same niche as yours and my visitors would certainly benefit from a lot of the information you provide here.
[15 years later]
This thread was locked by Orrie Gamal Poster.
jack: (Default)
12 hours until I have to decide if I dare do nanowrimo. My head is filling with worldbuilding ideas, but no plot. Are fictional encyclopedias a thing yet?

More seriously, I'm less rushed off my feet than most years, but I'm busy with lots of stuff, I'm not sure I can devote enough time this month to writing a whole novel. But I do want to devote more time to blitzing on a hobby for a little bit, especially ones where I have something to show for it afterwards.

Who ended up doing yuletide this year?

Is anyone trying NaNoWriMo?

(Usual disclaimer: Every year when people talk about nanowrimo someone gets really defensive and says "everyone who does NaNoWriMo thinks a 50k word unedited novel is a path to instant published success". I don't know anyone who thinks that, if you want to debunk that idea, please go find someone who believes it and don't try to persuade me :))
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Abstract representation of society: So, there's actually two genders, and everyone is one or the other, and romantically compatible with the opposite gender, and everyone wears the clothes "appropriate" to their gender and acts in a manner stereotypical of their gender and there's no exceptions.
Abstract representation of society locutor: No, wait! Apparently some people don't fit into those two boxes.
Abstract representation of society: Hm. That doesn't fit. Let's represses it! I'm absolutely sure that won't be a pile of civil-liberty-violating repression and life-ruining clusterfuck.
Abstract representation of society: Doh :( I suck :(
Abstract representation of society locutor: OK, let's update the definition. OK, so there's exactly two genders, and everyone is always attracted to EITHER the other one, or, sometimes, the same one. And, um, I'm sure we can make this other stuff fit.
Abstract representation of society: ... OK, sounds good, I guess.

Database Architect Peep!: Hold it, good society! Let me save you fifty years of heartache.
Database Architect Peep!: Wouldn't it be just as easy to say that anyone might be attracted to anyone, and then it all works, whether people's romantic preferences fall into neat biologically determined categories or not?
Abstract representation of society: But what if they don't?
Database Architect Peep!: I say again, whether they do, or not?
Database Architect Peep!: You don't get a prize for being as repressive as possible but no more. Just go ahead and accept that using broad categories of people can help you think about things, but you shouldn't legislate them unless you actually need to.
Abstract representation of society: But, won't there be other edge cases that don't even fit into this system?
Database Architect Peep!: Yes, probably.
Abstract representation of society: But I can't fix it all at once.
Database Architect Peep!: Look, it's ok. At a minimum, you've shown the boxes don't work. Don't just move to a different set of boxes, be flexible. That's a good start.
Abstract representation of society: But I have to have SOME boxes? Don't I?
Database Architect Peep!: Well, it's ok for now, but be prepared to be flexible when you need.
Abstract representation of society: And what about the edge cases that need more boxes?
Database Architect Peep!: What do you think?
Abstract representation of society: Don't violently repress them..?
Database Architect Peep!: Atta girl! Atta boy!
jack: (Default)
One day Achilles came running up excitedly to the Tortoise. "What blood type are you?" he asked.

"Um," said the Tortoise. "I'm not sure. How can I tell?"

Achilles paused in his enthusiasm for a moment. "Well, are you more workmanlike, or more passionate?"

"Um. Well, on balance I think I'm more workmanlike. I think you're passionate. But I don't like where this is going..."

"Oh, don't worry. My new guru told me all about it. If you're more workmanlike, you're probably type A. And you're right, I'm type B: impulsive and original!"

Read more... )

You should also read http://lesswrong.com/lw/nm/disguised_queries/ even if you don't like Elizier Yudkowsky in general. You may think "duh", but even when I know in theory that just because having a word for something doesn't make it a well-defined or important concept, I find it very helpful to have it helpfully spelled out for me until I stop making that fallacy!
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This was also the time when the demon Kharadoth came to be known. He was the second eldest of the demons in the world, although there were others older than he who had not come into the world. And he was mighty both in understanding and malice. Like the eldest demon he envied the gods' creation of the world, but where she envied their creation, he envied the substance of the world itself. He looked around at the forms taken by the new lesser demons, and saw that they embodied something that he lacked.

Read more... )
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And again, Nara was glad, and danced with Materre and with Los, and spoke with hope and hapiness of the image she'd long cherished. And Materre and Los saw that even lacking substance and lacking light and lacking joy, it had been a wonderful vision, and they joined with it, and with Nara, and brought forth the world.

And the world was more magnificent than anything else the gods had yet produced, for it contained all of their attributes multifold, and aspects of many they had not yet even considered themselves as possessing.

Read more... )
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And at the same time, Nara saw her cry of gladness contained the essence of joy she had lacked, and came together with it and produced the second of the other gods, who burned with fire and joy, and was known only as Los.

And then she rejoiced anew, for immediately Materre and Los were able to bring forth all manner of things which had nothing to do with darkness at all, and Materre's things were most often solid, and Los' were most often joyful. And also, Nara with Materre, or Nara with Los, or Materre and Los together, or all three of the eldest at once, could come together to produce an infinte variety.

And for a long time, they entertained each other, and revelled in the joy of having company and bright things about them. But after this, they saw some of Nara's first children gathered about them, watching the things hungrily. For they had been made of Nara's first darkness, and knew nothing of the richness of Materre or the light and joy of Los, and yet now they saw them, they coveted them.

And with the stregth of the three buoying each of the three, Materre and Los went where Nara had gone before, making bright things and offering them freely to the demons. And the demons rejoiced, enlivened by the joy the two gods brought, and Nara dared hope they would be brought back into the new happy fold of the new gods.

But alas, such rejoicing was not in their nature, and passed fleetingly from them, and they fell to squabbling over the bright things, trying to recapture the first flush of joy. Quickly the bright things were smashed and rent asunder by the grasping hands, and the demons fell to blaming each other, and blaming the new gods who had intruded on their previously untantalised existence.

And Nara despaired anew, but Materre comforted her, reminding her of the vision of hope she'd long carried within her. And Los looked on the demons, and said that though they lacked joy, they still showed passion, and as the authority from which all joy in the emptiness had sprung (excepting only the faint echos of that first cry), he did not think they were lost for good.

And Nara and Materre marvelled, for normally Los was absorbed in his craftmanship, rather than speaking of nature of things with such authority. But they looked on his words, and saw them to be true, and knew then that even if it took twenty ages, many of the demons would have learned the spark of love, and by the end of time, perhaps they all would. For though Nara had despaired of them, they had sprung from her, as had the first cry of joy, and all along she had contained the seed of it. And even if had been hidden, and though in her despair she had passed along to the demons more darkness and less joy than even she had had herself, yet, she had not prevented it entirely, and each did contain such a spark, however small.
jack: (Default)
This is a story that begins before the world began, and before all of the gods except one, who was already old. Nara was the godess of the empty space between the stars, of darkness and loneliness. She was the first to come to be, and for long ages there was nothing but Nara all across the empty universe.

But as time went on, she regarded herself alone in her splendid isolation, and felt sad and alone. So she came together with the darkness that underlied her, and produced a daughter. But her first daughter was a demon, born of loss and frustration and darkness, and fell on her mother, not with love, but with nasty bitings and scratchings.

Read more... )
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The ratfolk led me to the central temple of the godess Yathenan, by a small but hotly defended margin the most preeminent of the High Five. It was an ediface of interlocking stone buildings, painstakingly raised around the central courtyards high above the surrounding town, and riddled with shining halls filled with reverence, and twisting passages filled with bickering priests.

There were a couple of guards in front of the big archway, and I eyed them nervously. Petitioners, students and devotees were trickling in and out, but demon hunters and gods didn't always get on well. Everyone agreed there was a very very clear line between a demon and god, but no-one agreed exactly where it actually was, and there had been unfortunate clashes in the past. But Yathenan welcomed everyone into her temple -- or so the Jotunheimic inscription above the arch said.

Read more... )
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The board room in heaven was made of golden light and mahogony, with half a dozen angels seated around a large meeting table with God at the head, and a chair conspicuously empty at the other end. Or so Gabe saw it. The others might see something entirely different, and no doubt God saw all of the things at once.

"So, Mike," God began. "How's the cleanup of the, uh, previous tenants going?"

"Good, sir!" growled Mike, throwing his shoulders back, and adjusting the hanging of his never-quite-incorporeal flaming sword across his back, to achieve that indescribable combination of standing-to-attention and sprawling-back-in-his-char. "With the exception of a few minor set-backs, which Gabe is going to cover later, they're controlled, and intercourse with the new creations has been curtailed."

God had made the world out of the formless void of chaos, but some of the choas was still wandering around in the form of giants and ifrits and such, and generally getting in the way.

Read more... )
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"When I was married, I gave her a square ring, and she gave me this pocket watch." I waved it vaguely and was brought up short by the chain. "Three years later, we moved to different countries and I never saw her again. But this watch, this watch. This watch has saved my life more times than I can count."

I flipped it open. "It doesn't tell the time so good, though," a woman helpfully pointed out. I blinked and looked round. I'd been telling this story in bars all over Eurasia, and they'd all blurred to together, but I would have sworn I'd been in the middle of a hotel lounge in South London, surrounded by a group of women and men from an advertising firm. Now I appeared to be somewhere... African, or possibly Asian, judging from the baked ground, the primitive equipment, and the vaguely foreign-looking people.

Read more... )