Going dark.

Well, this is it, ladies and gentlemen – t-minus one week to The Big Move.  In order to save my sanity and maximize the time we need to pack and/or drink heavily, I’ll be taking a short break from blogging until we’re settled back in and I’ll be able to give you all a full report.

Don’t let your meat loaf!

And here we go.


These cute little drones will likely someday kill us all.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Distributed Flight Array, a group of robots programmed to seek each other out, link up, and then take to the skies all without any human interaction.  I don’t know if I see “Skynet” emblazoned on the side, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it was there in really fine print:

These little buggers are quite ingenious. They use accelerometers and tilt sensors like you’ve got in your run-of-the-mill smartphone to keep themselves level and linked up, communicate through IR, and stick together with the use of magnets.  Right now they’re simply programmed to reach a certain altitude, shut off and tumble to the ground and then reassemble in a random pattern, but I’m sure it will only be a matter of time before they’re weaponized and given enough autonomy to decide that humanity is a threat and needs to be wiped out.

Hexagonal faces of death.

Self-assembling swarm robot. We’re fucked.

Heat abatement management techniques.

It’s been only a few degrees short of the surface Mercury here over the weekend, and my wife, our daughter, our six cats and I have all been patently miserable.

We’ve sequestered ourselves downstairs and closed the door leading up to the bedroom in a futile attempt to preserve the precious, sweet coolness our air conditioner is attempting to spew forth, but with our high ceilings and poorly weather-stripped cottage it’s a losing battle; there’s not enough silicone caulk in the world to plug all the holes in a drafty, 200-year-old stone house with single-glazed windows.  Needless to say everyone has been incredibly cranky.

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You write like old people screw: slow and sloppy.



This may sound like a niggling point to most people, but it really grinds my gears when I see what could otherwise be a stunning work of art fall flat because of poor editing.

I don’t mean bad proofreading . Yes, it’s true that my inner OCD sufferer may twitch whenever I see your and you’re mixed up, but it doesn’t actually hurt me on some deep level as does seeing a product that could have been turned from something mediocre in to something that could have truly shone.

Proofread your shit, people!

Editor porn.

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The meta-discourse of Alan Wake.

Alan Wake was something like $4.00 on Steam this week, so I picked it up.  It’s really weird to be a fiction writer playing a game about a fictional writer.  That’s what we call meta-discourse, folks!

Feed it tuna and it goes away.

Block this, asshole.

The whole idea behind the Alan Wake game can be summed up as an author dealing with the nightmare of writer’s block.  I don’t mean the “oh I haven’t been able to write anything for hours or weeks” type either – that’s a minor block and really isn’t anything to write home about (pun intended).  Instead, we’re talking the kind of major block that can last years and wreck careers, and it’s the one thing that any author fears more than death itself.  Genuine capital-letters Writer’s Block is as serious as a heart attack and, when you’re suffering from it, feels like a living, breathing malevolent force dogging you in the small hours of the night when the darkness is thickest and the mind races.  It’s this kind of fear and helplessness that Alan Wake‘s gameplay evokes.

Stock up on batteries now!

I’m gonna blind the shit out of you.

Borrowing heavily (and quite gleefully) from the sort of supernatural horror mythos of writers such as Stephen King, the world of Alan Wake is that of a constant struggle between light and darkness in the most effective manner since the early days of the Silent Hill franchise.  Once night falls and the shadows gather, that’s when the eponymous hero’s personal demons come crawling out from the crawlspace – and it’s only a judicious application of light that can weaken them enough to be destroyed.  This makes running out of batteries for your flashlight almost certain death, as without it you’re completely and totally helpless – especially since it doesn’t matter how many bullets you sink into a darkness-possessed redneck otherwise.  At this point, your only hope is to run to the closest oasis of safety: a ring of light cast by a streetlamp or something similar.  There, you can rest and recover briefly before braving the darkness once more.


The horror.

As an author I do indeed fear the darkness of a prolonged bout of writer’s block, which adds layers of enjoyment and visceral fear to playing this game.  I’m not saying that you have to know the particular agonies of a writer in order to appreciate Alan Wake – not in the least – but it hits home a bit harder when your character can’t come across his typewriter and a stack of blank paper without having a nervous breakdown.

Then again, it might just be the fact that the game is set in a forested mountain region, complete with lakes and parkland, and I’m moving to the Adirondacks in two weeks.