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Posted by Fred Clark

Item One: “Dangerous Games”

At The Revealer, Don Jolly reviews Dangerous Games: What the Moral Panic over Role-Playing Games Says About Play, Religion and Imagined Worlds, by Joseph P. Laycock. Here’s a description of the book from its publisher, University of California Press:

The 1980s saw the peak of a moral panic over fantasy role-playing games such as Dungeons and Dragons.

LaycockA coalition of moral entrepreneurs that included representatives from the Christian Right, the field of psychology, and law enforcement claimed that these games were not only psychologically dangerous but an occult religion masquerading as a game. Dangerous Games explores both the history and the sociological significance of this panic.

Fantasy role-playing games do share several functions in common with religion. However, religion — as a socially constructed world of shared meaning — can also be compared to a fantasy role-playing game. In fact, the claims of the moral entrepreneurs, in which they presented themselves as heroes battling a dark conspiracy, often resembled the very games of imagination they condemned as evil. By attacking the imagination, they preserved the taken-for-granted status of their own socially constructed reality. Interpreted in this way, the panic over fantasy-role playing games yields new insights about how humans play and together construct and maintain meaningful worlds.

Ding. Yes. That. After a long and amusingly weird introduction, Jolly’s review focuses on this part of Laycock’s argument:

In D&D and similar role-playing games, the fun lies in giving some measure of “belief” to a fantasy contrived by the imagination of your friends: “For a few hours, everyone agrees to accept that world, to accept the pretense that you are a magician who can throw exploding balls of fire from one hand,” said the game designer John Eric Holmes in an article on the subject for Psychology Today. “The fantasy has become a reality, a sort of folie á deux, or shared insanity.”

Ironically, outsider perceptions of this “shared insanity” have spawned insanities of their own.

In the context of the game, this “shared insanity” is contained, proportional, and kept in perspective. It’s people at play for the purpose of fun, amusement and entertainment. In the context of the “moral entrepreneurs” and their moral panic in backlash against such games, the “shared insanity” was not kept in perspective or contained — it was unleashed in an attempt to reshape the culture and politics of the real world.

The same elements of play, seeking the same emotional rewards — the fun of pretending to be valiant heroes battling fantastical monsters — were at work in that moral panic. But, unlike the gamers, these folks were less conscious of the fact that they were just pretending, just enjoying a role-playing game.

The D&D backlash of the 1980s wasn’t sustainable because the unreality of the imagined threat eventually became impossible to deny. But while this particular form of symptom spiked and dissipated, the disease remains — with the moral entrepreneurs continuing their role-playing fantasy by concocting and warring against ever-new sets of imaginary monsters.

 

 

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"Most surprised by, 'This is uncomfortable reading and has no place in a TF comic.' I was with you up to 'and'. And if you're not sure what's happening and therefore not sure how to read it? Good. Who wants a world of cold certainties? We watch, wait, think. Our take on something may change. Isn't it nice when it does? Being discomfited is good from time to time." -- James Roberts

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"I just greatly admire that confidence of his writing. I just feel no matter if he’s writing about World War II or superheroes, he’s the kind of author that as you’re reading, you know that he knew no one was looking over his shoulder as he was doing this. He’s writing only for himself and for his collaborators. And just a real economy of language, and letting pictures do a lot of the heavy lifting. I think few people are better craftsmen, just pound for pound, I think there are few better writers than Garth Ennis in our business." - Brian K. Vaughan

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Posted by M Harold Page

My name is M Harold Page and I recently sold a short story with a dragon in it.

As I wrote the story, I could hear the voices of snarky snobbery in the back of my head:

"Oh look, LOL, you could reduce all Fantasy maps to a blotchy version of Europe but swap in Orks for Mongols.... OMG another book about E'lves and D'warves... (chortle) Historical fiction for authors too lazy to do research."

And:

"Sigh. Isn't it time to explore other cultures?"

Yes it's pretty easy to snark at -- call it - Traditional Fantasy, and also to give it a political kicking critique. It is, after all, a genre in which everything is possible, and yet where it usually delivers European-style secondary worlds and archetypes.

I think the snarks and critiques rather miss the point. However that's for a different blog post. Instead let's consider the short defence of Traditional Fantasy, which is the starkly simple:

"Go [redacted] a [redacted]! My reading time is my own."

To me that's a pretty unassailable position.

Clever people with loud views on genre often forget that most of us consume books in the ragged gaps in our lives - on a train or bus to work, while watching over a sleepless baby, or just before keeling over exhausted at night. Nobody is entitled to our reading time.

They also forget that it's not a zero sum game with other literature, writers, or sources of information. Having Traditional Fantasy as a go-to precludes neither reading other kinds of books by other kinds of people, nor engaging with the political world through other means; Sometimes I put down my Conan to read the Guardian. Nor does a love of Traditional Fantasy necessarily imply any sense of entitlement that might, just for hypothetical example, manifest in wanting to hijack a popular speculative fiction award. (Blackgate Magazine, for whom I blog, likes its Traditional Fantasy, but spurned its puppy-soiled Hugo nomination just as soon as the editor could find a big enough poop-a-scoop.)

However, as I said, the clever people forget, and in forgetting feed a casual snobbery against Traditional Fantasy.

This matters because snobbery against a genre really means snobbery against actual people; those who create and consume the genre in question.

Sure, who cares if you tease my wife for binge-reading almost the entire Wheel of Time while on maternity leave?

But stop and think about the result when a High School English teacher slaps down a teenager who writes a book report on the latest Joe Abercrombie. And, consider the practical professional implications when those in charge of the various literary pork barrels - festivals, grants, residencies, teaching gigs - exclude Fantasy writers because what we write doesn't really count as literature

The snobbery against Traditional Fantasy also matters because it feeds a more general snobbery against Speculative Fiction, that snobbery really being part of a nasty little power struggle between the old and the new middle class tribes.

The old tribe gets its culture from the private ("independent" as in "posh") school system, from certain sorts of degrees from certain kinds of institutions. Its members often come from established middle class families, passing privilege down the generations via contacts and inside knowledge as much as actual resources.

Members of the old tribe like smart clothes and typically get their spirituality from expensive yoga retreats. They are suspicious of intellectuals, but aspire to refined tastes and defer to a tribal intelligentsia that likes post modernism, "serious" literature, and opera, that dabbles with champagne socialism, and claims to enjoy "crucial" plays about the underprivileged in which nothing much happens.

The new tribe are the Geeks. Us.

At our best we're as meritocratic as we are inclusive. We come from all backgrounds. Our sense of style veers wildly between practical and playful, and is always more semiotic than fashionable. We get our spirituality from fire festivals and Yoda memes. We aspire to being an intelligentsia. Many of us are hands on activists. We prefer screen to stage, and insist on stories where things happen (like that bit in Firefly where Mal...). We like all sorts of books, but, historically at least, have a soft spot for those with rockets and elves on the covers.

And we are the new technocrats. Not a lot goes on in business or academia without a card-carrying geek making the computer side of things work, or handling the bewildering maths or abstract concepts. We may not have taken over the world yet, and we're certainly not overrepresented in the 1%, but our rise is as inevitable as that of the 19th century factory owners and industrialists.

Normally, the old tribe would just absorb or overawe us - hand out knighthoods and teach us to eat with a knife and fork. However, we see mainstream culture as just another set of options, and we play very different games of social dominance:

"You do improv theatre? That's cool! Did you know I'm a GM?"

It's like watching Sparta and Athens come to grips... infantry versus navy.

A good way to win a war is to move it onto a battleground of your choosing and then define the interaction so yours is the most powerful side - our King Robert did that to the English back in 1314. And that's how I see what's happening: By a sort of collective unconscious reflex, the old tribe pushes back, dismissing geek culture, ignoring it in their arts columns and literary festivals, writing grant rules to exclude it, putting down the things that give us pleasure: "You may be clever, but your tastes are childish. Get back to work, techno-peasant!"

And we often buy into it enough to say;

"Oh no, not MY tastes. I read [Your Genres Here]. But those tastes over there? Those are childish."

Oh that was the other good way to win a war; Divide and Rule.

This is why Traditional Fantasy deserves a more systematic defence than just that of mere personal preference, which is what I'll get to in my next blog entry.

Oh, and that dragon story?

I told those voices to go to hell, and for good measure put in skeletons, elves and dwarves. When I settled to my next gig - a franchise short story about battling wizards in a ruined city - the snarking snobbish voices in my head had stilled forever.

Or.. (shameless plug)... perhaps I just can't hear them over the remembered sound of Jutes and Ostrogoths clashing in the breach at Orleans while Attila's archers storm the parapet and bring down an arrowstorm on the mercenary shieldwall...

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"No one talks about these event comics years down the road unless they are a disaster, cost jobs, and crash the market. Just finished SW 8." - Jonathan Hickman

9 pages out of 37 )
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Posted by eden riley


Last weekend I went to the Sydney Writers Festival with Megan. I didn't really want to go - I just wanted to be with her because she lives in Brisbane and I really miss her. We were debating getting a taxi and then thought, why get a simple taxi when you can hire a WATER TAXI.


For ten bucks each, we chartered a magical water carriage to whisk us off to the land of books and authors. It actually felt magical, like a land at the top of the Faraway Tree.

She made me steal about seventeen Secret Seven badges

We were pretty much the only people there without kids ... it was awesome. So we soothed our guilt by buying our kids lots of books.

Megan just falls at the feet of children author Belinda Murrell and they chat like old friends for about ten minutes

My guys are loving the new ones from Will Kostakis

You know what's happened around our house now?

BOOKMANIA. So good. Watching Rocco dive headfirst into the Big Book of Tashi that I bought for Max years ago? Just beautiful. I read voraciously as a kid. Too much? Can you read too much? I've often felt bad because my boys don't read as much as I did when I was their age but now some kind of light has been switched on we're all reading together because Megan bought ME a book so I've joined in on the action too.

I had to text her this pic as proof I was reading last night because I haven't been able to read a book properly for years. Still cannot understand why - babies? The internet? Soul damage?

The highlight of the weekend was taking Megan and her husband Dan out for dinner ... in NEWTOWN. To Mary's - because the Daleys love their food and I had to take them for the best burgers in Sydney. It was like the time I took BabyMac and Mrs Woog to the Burger Joint in New York a few years ago ... there is NOTHING better than watching people who love good food eat good food. 

I almost had to leave before we'd even ordered due to an imminent full-body panic attack but man, I just really wanted a Mary's burger. And I wanted to watch Dan and Megan eat a Mary's burger. But the music was so heavy heavy thrashy and LOUD that we could hardly hear each other when we shouted and I felt old and as I went to the bar for cokes I tripped on the step and this cool guy laughed at me like Nelson from the Simpsons and I almost cried.

And then, when our fried chicken and burgers arrived, I almost cried again OH MY GOD.


See Megan about to lovingly cradle up her cheeseburger and take her first bite? I didn't make it obvious but I was watching her like a hawk and the look on her face when she bit into that brioche bun made everything worthwhile because sister appreciates the HELL out of a good burger.

She just squealed "Pickles!" because she loves pickles #weirdo and we thought we'd take some chicken back to the hotel for breakfast but there was none left. We ate it all :( It took three cokes each but we did it.

Thank you Megan, for bookifying up our lives. You really are the very best influenza on us. This morning Rocco was reading his beloved Tashi as I sat on the couch next to him, listening. He is the BEST reader. I stared at one of the illustrations for a while and to be honest .. I was a bit surprised. I'm no prude but this lady's boob was just POKING out, you know what I mean?


Rocco asked me what I was looking at.

"Umm ... her boob? It's like, pointing the exact same way her finger is pointing."

Rocco was confused until I pointed at the pointing boob with the erect nipple (tell me you see it too? It's enormous .. almost as long as her nose?) .. and he dropped the book and laughed so long and loud.

"MUM THAT IS HER CHIN NOT HER BOOB."

Wow. It's her chin! I need stronger glasses. Rocco laughed all the way to the car. He was late for school. We didn't care.



Megan is a very cool librarian with either a blue or pink streak through her blonde hair. She's heavily involved in the Children's Book Council of Australia and writes over at Children's Books Daily. Megan and I both fail miserably at apostrophes. She had six chickens all called Mavis but a fox gobbled them all up so her husband put the dead chicken bodies in their FREEZER until bin night. 

Mary's is located down a dingy hip cool alleyway in Mary Street, Newtown. There is no signage, just a red light so you feel like you're going to a brothel but you're not ... it's just way, way cool you guys. Helen from Grab Your Fork wrote a great review of Mary's HERE. Order the fried chicken as well as a burger but don't tell them Eden sent you because I tripped down the stairs, almost had a panic attack, and complained about the music. 



HAPPY INTERNATIONAL BURGER DAY EVERYONE! Where's the best burger you ever ate at? I can't answer that honestly until I try an In-N-Out burger.

(Beth you can go to Mr Crackles by yourself that's fine but *I* am taking you to Mary's. Just bring some earmuffs for Maggie. And us.)

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0. (because trawling through a comm looking for a link is annoying), instructions on how to nominate - please read them! - are here; nominations are here.

1. For anyone who might have been looking at the schedule, you might have seen it was changed; I forgot to include a few vital dates (such as, er, signups) and so I've amended it. The time for writing and such are unchanged, you still have the same amount of time, but if you know that you will be really busy around June and July you may want to look at the revised schedule. The schedule shouldn't have to be changed after this.

Schedule: )

2. It's really exciting to see so many nominations! If there are any problems, feel free to comment on a post or again email me, silverflight8@livejournal.com. I'll do my best to reply promptly.

3. Feel free to use this post to talk about what you're nominating, to drum up excitement for your lost fic ideas, or to swap/coordinate nominations.

Being more than a Simulacrum (Part 9)

May. 27th, 2015 05:19 pm
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Posted by chris the cynic


Wade was restless.

Wade was pacing.

It was unusual.  Wade was accustomed to sitting at his computer for hours at a time; he never got restless.  Clearly something was bothering him, but he wasn't sure what it was.

It obviously had something to do with the clone sleeping in his guestroom --she was the only changed variable-- but he didn't think it was about Leela directly.

Something about her creation?  Something she did?  Something she said?

He found himself at his gadget workbench, she'd looked at it and picked out the unfinished grappling hook launcher in a lightsaber toy housing to ask about.  Still turning toys into tech? she had asked.

No.  It had been his last project where he gutted a toy, or other everyday object, and made it incredible.  He never even finished it.  It had been sitting there untouched since he made the new Kimmunicator.

And it was when Team Possible was trying to grow up. Ron decided to stop being a goofy mascot and be a football player. They both got jobs, Ron was suddenly an older brother. Kim updated her look for the first time in forever. Things started to seem more serious. Shiny new tech like the wrist communicator and grapple was in. Reused toy casings were out.

She was right: Team Possible had been trying to grow up.  But what had been wrong with the way things were before?

They'd defeated the Little Diablo scheme with an electromagnetic scrambler that had been a cheap science fiction ray gun toy before he modified it.  That scheme had been the closest any human being had come to taking over the world.  Why grow up?

Moreover, why should he grow up?  Kim and Ron were adults now, but he was still thirteen.  He didn't grow up when he got his first doctorate; he didn't grow up when he got his first consulting job.  Why did he let himself start growing up just because Kim and Ron were?  It wasn't as if he couldn't have helped them without putting childhood behind him; none of the places he'd consulted had minded that he was a child, they just cared that he got the job done.

“It used to be more fun,” Wade said to himself.  Then he sat down started working on the grappler.

* * *

Normally Felix was always happy to talk with Zita about any subject, and video chat was definitely better than a phone call, but at the moment he was exhausted and needed to sleep.  They had played with Wade and Leela well into the night --the girl had an infectious enthusiasm-- and he'd been low on sleep anyway.

He was barely even processing what they were saying to each other.

“It's not like it's weird,” Felix stopped at the look on Zita's face.  “You know, considering who we're talking about.”

“That's not why I gave you that look,” Zita said.

Felix was at a loss for a moment, but then managed, “Ok, why did you give me that look?”

“I gave you that look,” Zita said, “because you said that about fifteen minutes ago and I agreed with you then.  We don't need to go over this again.”

“Ok, ok,” Felix said.  “I guess I'm just tired.”

“I am too,” Zita said.  “It's just that, now that I've had time to think about it, I think we should check things out.”

Felix nodded.  It did make sense.  After going to high school with Kim it was easy to accept things like the idea that Kim had a clone called Leela who they happened to bump into in Everlot and who wanted to keep her existence a secret from Kim for non-nefarious reasons, but Zita was right that they should still verify things before keeping secrets from Kim.

He opened up a chat window sent a message to Wade.

“It's possible that he's not even,” Felix was cut off by a beep.  Wade was always online.

* * *

FlyingZombieKiller: U up?
DaedalusAI: Yeah.
DaedalusAI: What's on your mind?
FlyingZombieKiller: Z wants to verify re:Everlot
DaedalusAI: It was really me.
DaedalusAI: What was said was true.
FlyingZombieKiller: So we should keep secret?
DaedalusAI: I will.
FlyingZombieKiller: Thanks
FlyingZombieKiller: L8r
DaedalusAI: Later.

* * *

Zita watched Felix type for a bit, then he said, “Wade says it was all true, and he plans to keep her secret.”

“He should be able to tell whether Kim needs to know better than we can,” Zita said, “and I'd rather not betray a friend I just made.”

“I agree,” Felix said.  “Besides, it's not like we have to lie; we just don't mention her to Kim.”

“So everything's exactly how we thought it was,” Zita sighed.  Felix looked like one of the zombies in his games.  “And I kept you up for nothing.”

“No,” Felix said.  “You were right.  It's good to check.”

“Get some sleep,” Zita ordered.

“Yes, master,” Felix said.

“I love you,” Zita told him.

“I love you too.”

The connection shut down.  Zita closed her laptop and started moving in a bedward direction herself.  After a few moments she wasn't thinking about Leela anymore.  Two more weeks till she and Felix would be in the same place again.

Two more weeks.

Video chat, phone calls, and multiplayer games helped make a long distance relationship work, but there was no substitute for seeing her boyfriend face to face.

Two more weeks.

* * *

Wade hadn't even slowed down, much less looked up, when Felix contacted him.  Text to voice and voice to text were a trivial matters for him, so whenever he was away from his keyboard he simply turned both functions on.  He'd even set things up so that text messages from friends played in their own voices.

He wasn't tired, he was energized.

Ten minutes after Felix had logged of,  Wade put the finishing touches on the grappler and grabbed something at random.  That something turned out to be sunglasses.  Simple metal frames around oval “steampunk green” lenses.  Wade gave a small chuckle when he remembered that description.  The lenses had probably been made from recycled wine bottles, but that didn't concern him at the moment.  He could work with these.

Sensors for various non-visible spectra were easy enough to install, the bulk of the microprocessors could be housed in the temples, a transparent OLED film attached to the inside of the lenses would convert the light picked up by the sensors into visible light, and the control interface would be as simple as two wheels and a button on the right temple just behind the hinge.

Button for on and off; wheels to determine what range was converted to visual light.  One wheel would choose the center wavelength of the range, the other would chose the radius of the range.

* * *

“Everything checks out normally,” Wade said.  “No evidence of the attitudinator --standard or reverse polarizer version-- no evidence of neural compliance technology, no moodulator based emotional disruptions, no cupid ray,” Wade yawned.

“Sorry if describing my brain bores you,” Place said.  She'd said it without thinking and it came out with more of an edge than she intended.  If she wanted to get along with people, she needed to start taking the edge off.  She wasn't even sure when it showed up in the first place.

“No, it's not that,” Wade said. “I pulled an all-nighter.”

“Kim call after I went to bed?” Place asked.  When Wade had shown her to the guest room Wade had been, so far as she knew, preparing for bed himself.  He'd explained that his parents were out of town, thus the empty house.

“No, Leela,” Wade said.  “I just had a good run of building and inventing and didn't want to stop.”

Place registered the words, but wasn't really listening to anything after her name.  Leela.  Leela was her name now.  She needed to get used to thinking of herself as that.  Why was it that she'd been able to shed Kim's name in a day, in spite of a lifetime worth of memories with it, yet she was still thinking of herself as “Place”?

Wade stepped away for a moment, which Place used to repeat to herself, “My name is Leela now,” several times in her head.

When Wade returned he was carrying the grappler she'd noticed yesterday, the housing was closed and it looked like a generic light sword toy from when the curved hilts were popular a couple years back.

“I finally finished this,” he said.

“Ok, I actually had a question about that,” Place said.  Wade didn't make any indication he didn't want to answer one, so she asked: “A grapling hook launcher is usually in the shape of a gun --or a hairdryer-- because then it's easy to point, by making it in the shape of a sword hilt wouldn't it--”

Wade held out his arm, aimed, and fired it off.

“It has basically no kick because--” he started, but Place could take it from there.

“You've compensated for it by having air jets fire in the reverse direction at the moment of release,” she said standing to take a closer look at the grappler in his hand.

“Yes,” Wade said. “How did you know?”

Place leaned over Wade's arm to look down at the device.

“The back blast tousled your hair,” she said.  She crouched under Wade's arm to look up at the device.

“'Back blast' is actually a well defined term that means--”

“I know,” Place said, her eyes inches from the underside of the the device.  “But it's a blast of air that points back, so it seemed to fit.”

“You have a way of looking at things that's … odd,” Wade said.

Place stood up normally, looked Wade in the eyes, and said, “Not unnerving, I hope.”

Wade didn't respond immediately.  Ok, so that's a, 'Yes, unnerving,' Place thought.

The silence went on for a bit too long, Place was about to break it herself when Wade said, “Anyway, the lack of kick means that it's not a problem for your wrist to be in the unorthodox position needed to fire it, aiming and firing it shouldn't be a problem.  The fact that it's in line with the rope means that any swinging done on it will use the same muscles as swinging on a bare rope.”

“Always fun,” Place said.  Then she looked at where the cable attached to the room's wall.  “Did you put a hole in your wall just to prove it fires nicely?”

Wade held it up to her, showing her buttons on the side, “There are three fire modes,” Place resisted the urge to point out that she'd noticed that yesterday, “prongs back like a standard grappling hook, prongs forward for when it needs to dig in to something, and electromagnet for ferromagnetic surfaces,” he said indicating three buttons in turn.  “I used the magnet, so no hole.”

Wade pushed another button and the cable fell off the wall.  Another and it retracted.

“You're too good for that to have taken you all night,” Place said.  It wasn't a question, but she waited for an answer anyway.

“After I finished with it I just grabbed the next thing and went to work, then another,” Wade said.  He seemed to think something over, and then smiled. “I put knock out gas in a lip gloss case for the first time in what seems like forever last night.”

Place wasn't exactly sure why, but she felt like encouraging him, so she said, “You rock, Wade.”

“Thanks, Leela,” he said.  “So, when did you start looking at things the way you do?”

“The leaning?” Place asked.

“The leaning,” Wade confirmed.

She wasn't entirely sure.  She definitely hadn't done it when she was first created, but she didn't really remember starting doing it.  “It just kind of happened, you know?  Product of evil science, lots of stuff around the lab to see.  No one trying to fight me, no time pressure, nothing stopping me from stopping and smelling the metaphorical roses.  By which I mean taking close looks at things.”

Another pause.  Place decided to get back to her reason for being there.  “So, product of evil science, but apparently not under any form of mind control?”

“Nothing,” Wade said.  “Anything operating on you currently would have showed up in the scan, and if you'd undergone any kind of conditioning you'd either remember it or the erasure of the memory would have left marks I'd be able to detect.

“You've got a clear brain.”

It was a relief.  It was what she'd already believed anyway, but it was still a relief to hear it.  “Thanks, Wade.  It's good to know that I can trust myself.”

Wade didn't seem to be sure what to do now, and Place certainly didn't know.  Her reason for coming was over.  Did she just leave?  Where did she go now?  She still had questions, but they were ones that science couldn't answer which left her with ... “I already owe you a favor-- two favors.  One for doing this for me and another for agreeing not to tell Kim.  I already owe you but, who do we know that knows about magic?”

Wade closed his eyes.  He was silent a moment and Place assumed he was thinking.  She was mildly surprised that he wasn't going to a computer to find the answer.

Wade opened his eyes and said, “We never really had someone to go to for that, Kim's magical opponents tended to be one time deals or Monkey Fist.”

Place thought that over.  “Ok, you wouldn't happen to be able to get me to Tokyo, would you?”

* * *

It was interesting for Place to watch Wade look into landing her a ride.  Since Wade took over Kim's website, Kim hadn't had to keep track of her extensive favor network and, as a result, never really saw how complicated the system had become.  Sometimes she knew just who to call for a ride, but most of the time she asked Wade to find her a ride.  When Wade had gone on a tech-free vacation Kim and Ron had been --metaphorically-- lost.  They'd almost immediately needed to take three commercial flights --and didn't even get in first class on them-- because they couldn't figure out who they knew in the area for even one of the trips.

Now Wade was preforming a far more complex task because he had to find someone who was not just going in the right direction, but who would likely give a ride without cashing in one of Kim's favors or telling Kim that she had a clone.

The result was much, much slower than usual, but it was fascinating to watch him go though the possibilities.

Eventually it looked like her best opportunity would be on a plane out of Seattle in three days.  Then she just had to get there.  Probably over land.  Two days worth of driving, leaving one free day.

Place didn't want a free day.  She had promised Shego she'd come back, and wanted to do it as quickly as possible.  Still, it was the most likely option for getting her where she needed to go while keeping her existence secret from Kim.  It wasn't like she had the necessary ID to take a legitimate flight.

So, if she had to spend the extra day, she wanted to spend it usefully somehow.  She tried to think of a way to do that.  There was nothing that she particularly wanted to do in Seattle.  Maybe something en route?

“You wouldn't, by any chance, be able to find a route that goes by way of Montana, would you?” Place asked.

“Montana?” Wade asked.

“I was thinking that I could stop in to meet my uncle Slim and cousin Joss on the way,” Place said.

“Is Kim literally the only person you want to keep your existence a secret from?” Wade asked.

Place thought that over for a bit.  She hadn't made a list of people to tell and not tell or anything.  Was Kim the only one?

Eventually she reached a conclusion, “I guess so.  If I had my way I'd personally introduce myself to everyone before they heard that there was a Kim-clone out there so they could make their own judgments based on meeting me instead of any preconceived notions about evil clones or whatnot.

“And Kim likely would be the last to know because I'm very much not ready for that, but the problems with Kim don't apply to anyone else.  It's not as if I'm a chimera like Drakken's first attempt at cloning, I'm a clone of Kim and Kim alone.  I have her genetics, I have her memories, and that makes the prospect of dealing with her a lot more difficult than dealing with anyone else.

“So, I guess, yeah: Kim is the only one I want to keep in the dark right now.”

Wade visibly thought that over, then looked back at his computer.  “I can get you a ride to the ranch, but once you're there you might be stuck there.”

Place only considered the proposition for a moment before saying, “Do it; I'll take my chances.”

* * *

At first Place thought the reason Wade was showing her equipment was to pass time until the ride arrived and show off a bit.  She came to realize that the reason he was showing it to her was that he was equipping her, the same way he might for Kim, though that he generally did via video.

“Uh, Wade, I'm not sure you want to give me this stuff,” Place said.

“I think I know what I want better than you do,” Wade said.  It wasn't said with any emotion except, perhaps, a hint of amusement.  “Now these sunglasses...”

Place sighed and Wade stopped talking.  “You didn't ask and I didn't tell you,” she said, “but the way I made it out of the lair I where I was created was that Drakken and Shego let me walk out the front door.  I promised Shego I was coming back and I intend to keep that promise, I'm even more sure of it now that I know for certain they didn't use any mind control on me.”  She hesitated.  “I don't know where that's going to lead, but there's a chance that if you give me something you'll have to face it in the field.”

“I don't do field work,” Wade said.  “I was never enthusiastic about the idea to begin with, and the times I actually tried it have convinced me to never do it again.”

“You know what I mean,” Place said.  Now that it had come up she felt bad for not telling him her association with Team Possible's enemies before.  At the time she'd been more concerned about getting her brain scanned, was distracted by his tech, then was playing Everlot, then was ready for sleep.  It just hadn't come up.

“I do,” Wade said.

And Place was lost.  Where had they been?  Right, he was saying he knew what she meant about possibly having to face off against anything he gave her.

Place had barely figured out where they were in the conversation when Wade started talking again:

“Now these sunglasses are operated by--”

“You're seriously ok with equipping someone who's planning on going back to Drakken and Shego?”

“You seem nice enough to me,” Wade said, then shrugged, “and we know you're not being mind controlled.”

“Ok,” Place said, still feeling off about the situation, but accepting it as Wade's decision. “So the sunglasses ... infrared-specs?”

“They can pick up more than just infrared,” Wade said proudly.  Place just went along for the ride as he explained the sunglasses.

-

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[community profile] seasonofkink is a bingo-type challenge for the kink-minded, where the objective is to make fanworks (fic or art) for kinky prompts from a bingo card, forming lines and other patterns.

Sign-up begins June 1st, and the challenge ends September 30th.

We accept all types of pairings - slash, yaoi, yuri or het. Any and all fandoms are welcome, whether anime or comics, sci-fi or fantasy, J-rock or K-pop, television, videogames, or books. Avengers, Attack on Titan, Doctor Who, Supernatural, Game of Thrones, The GazettE, EXO, Sherlock, Hunger Games, Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit... Whatever fandom that tickles your fancy! You can find our rules here, and if you have any questions, check out the FAQ.

We hope to see you there at June 1st!

DC Sneak Peek: Batgirl

May. 27th, 2015 03:21 pm
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Brenden Fletcher: I think Batgirl as a character had been in such a dark place, it was an obvious journey for us. Cameron [Stewart] and I wanted for her to be the Batgirl that we grew up with — not exactly in her characterization, but in the way that she felt like the iconic version of Barbara Gordon as Batgirl: Yvonne Craig from the 1966 Batman TV show, Barbara Gordon from Batman: The Animated Series, from the old comics in the 1960s and 70s. We wanted to feel that from the character.

Writers: Brenden Fletcher & Cameron Stewart
Artist: Babs Tarr

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New guest blogger: M. Harold Page

May. 27th, 2015 06:59 pm
[syndicated profile] stross_feed

Posted by Charlie Stross

Hi! I'm about to head off to France for a weekend at Imaginales, a French SF/F convention. While I'm gone, you can expect the usual guest blogging to take place.

To start things off, I'd like to introduce M Harold Page, Scottish author and amateur swordsman. He blogs regularly at the Hugo-puppyinated heroic fiction site Black Gate Magazine, and this weekend he's here to shamelessly plug "Shieldwall: Barbarians!", his Dark Age adventure yarn which you can buy from Amazon. He's also going to be talking about some other topics, including self-publishing and (I hope) German mediaeval martial arts.

DC Sneak Peek: Black Canary

May. 27th, 2015 02:43 pm
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blackcanarypreview00

Comic Book Resources: How much does the music aspect play a role -- is it a major component, or more in the background?

Fletcher: It informs the situation, but the situation, of course, involves a woman who is ex-military, and potentially the best martial artist on the planet. Trouble kind of follows her around. While they're trying to go on this tour, while they're trying to make the most of this unique opportunity that they've been given to have a record deal, and play all these shows, really they just end up in fights all the time, and people end up hurt. That's maybe a problem. It fuels the story.

Wu: What I have in mind, stylistically, music plays a big part in that. I look at a lot of gig posters and music videos; the theatrical aspect of being on stage, all that fun stuff. Hopefully our final product will have that feeling of a rock tour. Halftones and bold colors. That, plus, al the kung fu action and all that kind of stuff. Hopefully it'll be a really fun, vibrant, energetic final product.

Writer: Brenden Fletcher
Artist: Annie Wu

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