Site-Wide Activity

  • “Let there be no Genesis, for beginnings are false and I am a consummate liar.”

    So, have you ever wondered what a story set entirely in Malfeas would look like? Wonder no more!

    KSBD is a neat web […]

  • Stuff I’ve consumed recently. Horror-adjacent.

    Fran Bow (game)

    A fun little quest about a girl in a mental clinic taking a new drug and starting seeing weird shit that may or may not be real. Then it […]

  • Long ago, when I was very young and the syfy channel was spelled based on what a shortening of “science fiction” could be expected to produce, I watched some Twilight Zone episodes that horrified me and left me […]

    • I lovelovelove the Twilight Zone; I watch the marathons every year on the Fourth and New Year’s. Serling just had such an incredible grasp of the good and bad parts of human nature, and was a master of psychological horror.
      On of my favorite episodes on the ‘touching’ side of the spectrum is the one about the man and his dog who drown fishing. “You see, Mr. Simpson, a man, well, he’ll walk right into Hell with both eyes open. But even the Devil can’t fool a dog.”

    • The worst episode was the famous “Time Enough At Last” one. It just seemed mean-spirited.


  • So remember that pokemon whisperer story?

    “[Elves and dwarves] are humanlike. They look like people. Pokemon don’t. They are considered monsters (i.e., “Pocket Monsters”) and typically act more like animals, […]

    • Yikes. That really happened in the anime?

      Pokemon talking to each other? Yeah, that’s actually one of the episodes I vaguelly recall catching on TV a decade or so ago.

      • Yes! Island of the Giant Pokemon. It’s a first season episode (i.e. it’s interesting.)
        4:45-8:00 contains most of the interesting pokemon dialogue  — a discussion of masters and the morality of pokemon in their natural state.

        • Yeah, it’s particularly interesting because it’s not Koffing and Ekans explaining this directly to Pikachu and friends – it’s to Meowth, who clearly demonstrates pokemon are mentally capable of moral reasoning. Also, it’s the pokemon who are ordered to do the worst things that seem most childish (Ash’s pokemon, while not quite as proactive as Meowth, have just told one member to stop being a dick about this rather than rejecting all concept of good and evil) as if there’s a corrolation to how much a pokemon avoids the idea of personal responsibility and how functional they are in general.
          Overall, it seems pokemon under trainers get infantilized because nothing is their responsibility. That Ash’s group is acting pretty normal is one of those suggestions Ash really is a good trainer, but you can still see they have less agency than a fully independent pokemon like Meowth.
          (Oh, it’s also interesting that the moral everyone else takes from it is “Meowth is fucked in the head”.)

          • Meowth is really one of the most fascinating characters in the anime, since he embodies the problem of “people vs pokemon”. He walks, he talks, he dreams, he falls in love, and he chooses to be bad. And yet he is nevertheless a pokemon, which makes these actions freakish, since they aspire at personhood. 
            Go West, Young Meowth is an interesting episode to consider. In it, Meowth works hard to become like a human so the meowth he loves will love him like she loves her master, but in the end she rejects him as a freak of nature. Meowth ends up with Team Rocket in part, it seems, because they are somehow the only ones open to accepting him as an independent person. (Training Daze is another great episode.)

            • Meowth’s employment at Team Rocket was always really weird and only makes any sense with the meta setup where the evil group always has the most pro-diversity hiring policies, even if they’re officially racist/sexist/xenophobic.

            • Whenever I see discussion of Meowth, I think of that interview where the anime creator said his original intent was a Pokemon rebellion where Meowth served as the mediator. He was proof to the humans that pokemon are people, and proof to the pokemon that humans are capable of treating them as people, even if they don’t always. He doesn’t quite fit in anywhere, yeah, but in the end that’s what saves everyone. We need people who understand both sides, who can bridge cultural and social gaps and create understanding, but it’s so hard to be that person when you’re alone in it.

              • And now we’ve got talking Rotomdex who everyone just ignores even though it’s talking…

                I guess what happens if you’re trying to do subtlety and nuance and then it blows up into an immortal cash cow is that all the stuff meant to be temporary/raise questions how long this could last turns into status quo.

              • No, I mean, even ignoring any implications for other pokemon, or whether or not Rotomdex is a rotom talking through a pokedex or a fused entity, people in the game just don’t care about what Rotomdex says and they still treat it exactly the same as non-talking regular pokemon: “Ahahaha! What was that for, Rotom? Go and put that little trickster back in your Bag, <player>, and follow me! Enough feasting for the eyes… It’s time we take care of our stomachs!”

                It can talk, but people address only address it in the same way you’d address a cat, then start talking to you about it like it can’t understand a word they say. And that’s a quote from Hau, Mr. I-love-my-poke-friends. He has several lines where he talks to you about Rotomdex, exactly the same as his several lines where he compliments the starter pokemon to you rather than giving them the compliment directly.

              • “Hi, Rotomdex!”
                “I’ve been thinking about the meaning of life”

                To be fair, I think I’d get about the same response if that’s how I responded to a greeting.

          • Another thing I’ve noted about the independence of pokemon in the anime is that intelligence and independence correlate with evolutionary stage. Fully evolved pokemon seem more capable of making decisions without their humans.
            Ekans and Koffing actually make an interesting contrast – in Island of the Giant Pokemon they disavow morality beyond their masters’, but as evolved Arbok and Weezing in A Poached Ego their attitudes are markedly different. Arbok is reluctant to follow an order that he thinks might harm ekans, and at the end of the episode Arbok and Weezing take on the responsibility of leading away the poached ekans and koffing on their own, leaving their masters behind. 
            All this suggests that evolution in the anime is more than a power upgrade, it’s also growth in a mental and moral sense. First stage pokemon may be closer in mental state to children or teenagers, making them more dependent on their trainers. In light of that, it’s suggestive that the anime tries to keep Ash’s pokemon first stage for the most part. 
            The Charizard arc also demonstrates the increased independence that comes with evolution (for the non-anime watchers, Charizard begins to ignore Ash’s commands after he evolves). Charizard only begins to listen to Ash after Ash demonstrates how much he cares for Charizard as a person (Charizard Chills).
            The anime also frequently shows structures among wild pokemon wherein the first-stage pokemon defer to a final-stage pokemon as leader. Again, this seems to be out of not so much a respect for power, but a recognition of that pokemon’s  ability to lead, as in the attitude of the bulbasaur to the venosaur in Bulbasaur’s Mysterious Garden. In that episode, Bulbasaur refuses to evolve. Interestingly, the other bulbasaur and the venosaur treat him like a willful child for that refusal, suggesting a refusal to evolve is tantamount to a refusal to grow up. Arguably, Bulbasaur earns  their respect not simply because he displays his power by taking down Team Rocket, but because he displays his ability to act independently and functionally even as a bulbasaur. This does suggest a possibility of increased growth of independent thought under a trainer, rather than increased infantilization.
            Pikachu, who is the most exposed to Ash, often acts as a leader in pokemon-only situations, even when the pokemon are not from Ash’s group, again suggesting that despite only being a first-stage pokemon, Pikachu has developed increased independence from contact with humans. But of course, as the anime often points out, Ash is the exception, not the rule.

            • but as evolved Arbok and Weezing in A Poached Ego their attitudes are markedly different. Arbok is reluctant to follow an order that he thinks might harm ekans, and at the end of the episode Arbok and Weezing take on the responsibility of leading away the poached ekans and koffing on their own, leaving their masters behind. 

              Hm. While you’re right that overall, evolved pokemon seem to corrolate with more mature/independent pokemon, it seems like it being their own species made them less able to rationalize as well, which suggests they might’ve still been bothered as Ekans and Koffing (it’s a shame we don’t see that, because it’d be really interesting to see how unevolved pokemon behave in such a situation – do they obey but act weird, do they disobey but feel wracked with doubt over if it was right?). They’re still quite willing to attack Pikachu and obey lots of other Team Rocket plans that’ll harm pokemon, so I’d guess their official stance is still that they’re only obeying orders so what those orders are doesn’t have any reflection on their own character.

              I find their denials too pointed – they don’t seem baffled by the idea of good and evil, they don’t take issue with Meowth characterizing their masters’ orders as bad, and they don’t seem to care when Meowth says he’s bad. So evolution probably isn’t exactly a moral sense, but a confidence in yourself vs a willingness to go with the flow. I only know maybe a tenth of anime canon at this point, but aren’t the pokemon who get mad at/stop obeying/need to be convinced to stay generally or always evolved ones?

            • All this suggests that evolution in the anime is more than a power upgrade, it’s also growth in a mental and moral sense

              As someone who watched the bulk of the XY anime, I can definitely say this seems to be the case. Ash’s quilava, goomy, and noibat are particularly good examples of this. In fact, I was intentionally going to use this when I was planning out that Pokemon fic, and having my own trainer’s cyndaquil slowly lose its more unsure nature as it evolved.

    • Yep, always wondered that. Some pokemon are just aliens, some are literally ghosts. I did always think that cannonically it was whatever could be jammed inside a ball, but as you said, so can items. So god knows, basically.

      • I still disagree with the idea that we should take item balls as anything more than a gameplay abstraction.

        And, please don’t mention the rice ball/jelly doughnut. Y’all know that was just a joke.

    • Given regular pokeballs can catch non-pokemon, so there isn’t any real distinction between pokeballs and itemballs, the answer appears to be pokeballs were deliberately made to exclude humans as a capturable object.
      Which is to say: yeah, it’s humans and everything else in the world. Digimon go in, Vulcans go in…

      • Wow, that’s… really creepy actually. If the humans of that world stumbled across another intelligent, sapient species, either from another planet or hidden somewhere on their own, would they just jam them in balls and call them pokemon too? Because that’s fucked up.

        • If the ultra beasts are anything to go off of, yes!

          • Well, to be precise, we don’t know exactly what the classification is, since it may be something they found about the ultra beasts that tipped them into “pokemon” territory. Regular plants that do nothing interesting are non-pokemon, ones that can be ordered to blow paralyzing dust are pokemon. Assuming the definition is not straight up “anything sapient that is not a human is a pokemon”, it may be that while digimon go right in, Vulcans are safe unless they have telepathic abilities/nerve pinch training, in which case they know “attacks” and are “monsters”, making stuffing them in your pocket okay.
            Which actually suggests some really weird possibilities for alien contact – if the aliens don’t demonstrate “attacks”, they might be met as “people”. If so, the existence of the psychic trainer class and about 50% of the fighters means that it’s acceptable for humans to have things that are like pokemon attacks, so you aren’t guaranteed to lose personhood over that, but then, the ones making the rules her are humans, so we don’t know if anybody else is allowed exceptions.
            Possibly if they’re met first as people, the abilities are exceptions. Any alien that keeps its abilities secret during initial contact is a person.
            Possibly it comes down to if it’s a universal trait. If all Vulcans have the same power set, they’re pokemon, if it’s a trait only a portion have and they can’t be told apart from the regular Vulcans at a glance, they’re not pokemon. (Bonus implication – if psychic abilities are easily identified and the lines breed true , people could end up branding psychics enough to easily tell them apart from other humans and then declaring them pokemon.)
            Or finally, perhaps the most entertaining possibility, you get a massive split in opinion because they’ve never been in extended contact with a species prior to finding out it has “attacks” and you get some people running around catching Vulcans and others horrified at the idea that it’s suddenly okay to treat people like, like they’re just pokemon or something!

            • Oh wait, no, I missed an obvious factor.

              Like I said originally, the pokeballs must use a blacklist system. Anything met initially goes in, but if they’re capable of seeing nonhumans as “people”, they could add Vulcans to the same blacklist. It’s not about visual identification at all! It’s about the fact no one knows how to tune the pokeballs to only catch human psychics and not all other psychics, therefore humans accidentally created a group of attack-using uncatchable people in the process of trainers not accidentally catching themselves left and right.

              So, even if it’s easy to tell psychic Vulcans from non-psychic Vulcans, you probably can’t set pokeballs to only catch one. That means it’s pokeball refinement advances that’ll threaten “people” who have useful attack-like skills.

            • Well, you can catch things in dark caves without flash, so it doesn’t care what you look like.

              Impersonating a person will make it less likely you get pokeballs thrown at you, but the lati movie makes it clear that you’re still completely fair game if anyone finds out. If a “person” starts using “attacks”, I think the pokeballs come out. If it doesn’t work, you apologize profusely to the psychic trainer for being an idiot. If it does, cool, new addition to your pokemon team!

              (This also makes me realize that any pokemon pretending to be a trainer will have to be really careful around unused pokeballs.)

            • Wait, is there actual canon confirmation that pokeballs can’t catch humans?

            • There’s been scenes where humans have been hit by pokeballs and nothing happened. And they can press the button to open an empty pokeball and look inside at the mechanism, while Psyduck showed that a pokemon repeatedly pressing the button on an empty pokeball is sucked inside.

    • The summary is meant to feed just enough information to pique a reader’s interest without spilling important details right from the start.

      I mean, he’s right in theory, but… his summary doesn’t do that. How do you tell someone that they’re right and wrong at the same time?

      From what I’ve only heard recently, the capitalization of Pokemon and the individual species is a gray area that fanfic authors can choose to go with or not

      It’s amazing how many people respond to you telling them this is wrong with “other people told me it’s right” as if that settles the matter.

      Given that the average Trainer keeps six Pokemon in balls on hand, having six Pokemon constantly hovering around each person would be very confusing in every aspect.

      Again, he’s right in theory here, but… most trainers don’t have six pokemon, either in the games or anime, and the full pokemon compliment are regularly out of their pokeballs in the anime without too much mess. It’s weird how he can identify this as a problem, but the solution of reducing the amount of pokemon on hand doesn’t occur to him. I’d ask if he’s that shackled to the canon but… pokemon whisperer story.

      Originally my summary was even more vague

      … How?

       That implies that he’s going to discover he possesses powers *beyond* the talking to Pokemon thing.

      Yeah, I mean, obviously. He’s already discovered that extraordinary power, and it’s not as if he can just discover it again. Pay attention, man. It’s clearly spelled out right in front of your face.

      That’s why I said Pokemon intelligence is up to you and what you make of it.

      … Again again… yes, this is true… and that’s the problem.

      In my opinion that’s because those types of characters are humanlike.

      Yep. That’s exactly it. It’s like this guy is hitting everything directly on the head… but he’s putting his story together with screws rather than nails so it’s still wrong.

      typically act more like animals, with the same kind of instincts to go along with it — particularly their fighting instincts

      Yep, which is why if I wrote Pokemon fanfic, I’d portray them as being far more animalistic than personlike, and not including things like the ability to carry on sapient conversations with them.

      the difference here with this new argument you’re making is that Africans are, in fact, people

      Duh. Only people are people. Obviously.

      As I’ve stated multiple times in my previous replies, people are people. Pokemon are not people.

      Oh my god he actually said it. I was just making a joke. Goddamn it, Pokemon fanfic.

      In my view, at their core, Pokemon are animals — like real-world animals and not ‘animals’ as in a disparaging remark — that happen to have incredible, magical powers

      I totally agree with this! … Which is, again, why I wouldn’t portray most Pokemon as having human-level intelligence.

      could potentially be an enjoyable experience for them

      Just like those Africans in chains who loved being civilized by their white masters, right? You’d think that, by this point, he would’ve started thinking “hm, could he twist this into being about African slaves?” before saying things.

  • The Magnus Archives are the audio recordings of various testimonies given to a paranormal research institute, featuring all sorts of random spookiness that slowly weaves together into an overarching narrative. T […]

    • I see there truly is an SMBC strip for everything.

      On the Black Tapes: to be fair, I think the format of “real podcast” does demand things being in the ballpark of plausible for it to work. To be unfair, what you describe sounds incredibly lame. I think there should be a sweet spot in the middle where the spooky events are plausible enough to allow for a possibility that they may truly happen and scare yourself with it, while being exciting enough that you won’t just shrug and go to sleep from boredom.

      And on related note, what are your thoughts on creepypasta as a format?

      • Part of the problem is that their idea of plausible is really nichely aimed at what people who believe in ghost hunter programs find plausible, even if it’s stuff that’s honestly pretty ridiculous – and then we have this supposed outsider journalist just happening to be on exactly the same wavelength.

        It wouldn’t be that hard for them to have more stuff that was super creepy but couldn’t be replicated, or stuff that doesn’t show up on tape but was directly experienced. Instead it’s obsessed with piddling proofs just like the boring real life ghost hunters, where they’re more interested in a tape hiccup because it’s physically there over a really awesome ghost story by someone who swears it happened and has no reason to lie.  There’s an evil crazy guy who says he can teleport, there’s some extremely circumstancial evidence he used this power to teleport to the other end of the mental asylum to talk to one other person instead of going on a killing spree or anything interesting, and the tape didn’t record during a time he maybe could’ve teleported so they can’t prove he didn’t, oooooooo.

        I really like the found footage aspect of creepypasta, where it’s taking advantage of how stories can get passed around without proper sourcing so that it ends up sounding indistinguishable from a real thing. And I like the very concept of horror stories surviving by being pasted back and forth with only the best persisting. It’s a really good way to make modern ghost stories. But I don’t like most creepypasta, especially as the pasta part disappeared thanks to wiki repositories and now it’s basically horror fanfic by people with even less understanding of how writing works.

  • Last time, Harry decided that he’d so thoroughly fucked up everything about investigating the A-plot that he might as well work the vampire party B-plot.

    Michael parked his truck on the street outside Bianca’s […]

    • Surely if anyone was going to view guest right as more of a suggestion it’d be vampires.

      In many myths about vampires, they are supposed to be the subversion of guest right – the monster that must be invited into your home. The stories involving them take advantage of people’s fear of strangers. There would be room, in my opinion, to make going to a vampire party a seriously freaking Big Deal for the characters. But wait, I guess that’s just movie vampires.

      We’re supposed to be impressed by what a SICK BURN it is that Harry’s a shitty version of them, but I’m pretty sure a human looking shitty compared to actual vampires is not really that cutting.

      If anything, this legitimately should be amusing to them if they intend to kill him. Instead, it’s crossing into Nice Socks territory because it has no reason to be effective whatsoever. Like, it’s this kind of bad writing that kneecaps immersion. For the sake of the intended reader reaction, the vampires get to be props. Why does a writer reduce the villains to props?

      Now, this is Thomas, who I’ve osmosed is a big part of the argument for bi Harry, to which I reply, eh. 

      It looks like Harry’s into older men. He wants men with some ponderous dignity. And that sword is clearly not up to snuff. His winning smile isn’t anything near fatherly, and he hasn’t offered Harry any money or threats. Gonna pass on this ship.

      Her cheeks were flushed in a delicate pink blush, vibrant and alive, her lips parted, and she had a look to her eyes that told me she was on something.

      It’s a good thing Harry has already decided he won’t do anything about the victims, or he might have to feel guilty about this normal human girl on the arm of a vampire. Also this is the second teenage girl connected to drugs after her immediate obligatory ogling. This is clearly a “Shoot first, ask questions never” kind of thing.

      Most theological arguments are about why there is suffering and if God can be said to be good if he is all powerful yet allows evil

      Hahahaha. Not the comic, the arguments. Though the comic is also delightful. It expresses both the dilemma and the reactions to it very well.

      because it’s a very boring choice – odd that Harry’s disagreement with God apparently contains no real issue.

      I think you discussed at some point that Butcher (or maybe it was another author) is incapable of writing non-religious good guys, and Harry’s attitude seems to be as close as Butcher gets. God is clearly good and there’s no need to question that, but people still suck.

      • Gonna pass on this ship.

        I mean, Harry’s still gonna (soul)fuck him, but it would be, like, a casual thing, you know? I mean, they’re both here, it’s a party, so, may as well. Doesn’t have to mean anything.

        • Hey, slow down there. Are you implying that Harry may not be a high-fidelity piece of equipment? That he’ll soulfuck multiple people on both sides of the fence? Get out of here with that.

          • Oh, come on, don’t be a prude. It seems Harry had broken up with Marcone, and Michael has problems with his… equioment. A man has needs.

            • And that long-distance relationship with Morgan really hasn’t worked out. Morgan must have moved on to other, more proactive warlocks who really put their necks on his blade.

              • Well, for Morgan it really was all about stabbing. Which was fine at the beginning, sure, I mean, have you seen his sword? But it’s obviously not a good foundation for a long-term relationship.

              • Roarke replied 5 days ago

                I still think he ruined Harry for all future relationships.

          • I don’t think Harry cares what side of the fence people he soulfucks are on, so long as he’s the one on the top side of the fence.

            No wonder Harry uses gibberish Latin spells, he’s actually a Roman.

            • Not at all. Harry’s a bottom deep down. Morgan was his best ship of all, and Harry spent all of their interactions until the last terrified of him. Then Harry tried to replace him with Marcone, until he realized that Marcone used too much carrot and not enough stick in their interactions.

              • I don’t know. Given the progression of his love interests (Morgan -> Marcone -> Michael), I think a case can be made that Harry’s experimenting with power dynamics a bit (and also has a thing for names starting with “M,” apparently). He still likes his men swordy and authoritative, but not necessary in a “let’s stab. Right here, right now” way.

              • Ah, but Michael isn’t authoritative with Harry. He is, at best, nagging. He’s good for Harry in other ways and useful to have around, but he only fits The Type on the surface.
                Marcone got the dynamic a little better – highly dangerous but ultimately wanted Harry under him rather than dead, which made him safe enough to push back against. That relationship there broke down when Marcone got too invested in recruiting Harry to credibly threaten or coerce him. That made Harry lose interest.
                See, I don’t follow the progression of love interests as something that is getting better or developing as Harry’s experimenting, because the first two clearly ended when the man in question was no longer a threat to Harry’s life. So as soon as Harry is in a strong position, he leaves. Maybe Harry is flirting with Michael to try to get him in a ‘burn the witch’ kind of mood, but there needs to be more antagonism.

              • Hm, I see your point, and that does explain Harry’s behavior here: he hopes that Michael would get mad at him for leaving innocent people in the hands of monsters.

                Too bad that Michael is a nominal paladin who doesn’t break his code as long as he looks away in time.

              • Yeah, that is another flaw. You would expect more from a paladin. Heck, I think Harry wants from Michael what he gets from Murphy, that is, an asskicking every time he withholds information that could lead to justice.

              • He still likes his men swordy and authoritative, but not necessary in a “let’s stab. Right here, right now” way.

                I completely disagree. Morgan left him, while Harry got bored of Marcone quick and is just platonically jealous of Michael and his glorious harpy of a wife.

                I was pondering if Harry’s bisexually into the patriarchy, since he seems to want his men MEN WITH HUGE SWORDS and his women brokenly submissive waifs, but then, I think this bit here is the final key.

                Harry is physically attracted to women – he sees some female legs poke out of the car and he’s totally into it, but he’s also really into getting dominated. Unfortunately for him and everyone else, he’s a misogynist, so when a woman is dominant in any way, he tries to put her in her place. He then acts pleased but never initiates anything sexual with those women. His one functional relationship is with a woman who’s assertive but within patriarchy-approved areas – female reporters are allowed to badger men with their sexuality in return for dinner and info, and the only other woman he displays consistent interest in is the one who who bosses him around.

                He’s definitely into Morgan – his descriptions are so lavish – and he finds Frigid Tiger’s soul super fuckable before the guy melted on him, but he doesn’t single out physical features as attractive the way he does every woman he meets, so I’d say he’s not actually into guys, he just doesn’t care what someone looks like if they’ll be so kind as to put a sword to his throat and tell him he’s been bad.

                This is also why he’s so weird around both Terra and Sexy Godmom. His misogyny is fighting his libido.

              • I think you’ve nailed it. Man, the description you’ve given could make for a seriously interesting character, in my opinion. If you could take all of Harry’s ALPHA MALE power plays and contrast them with an extremely meek private life, you might show he’s actually confusedly trying to express what he wants in a partner. It would make for a great story in another book if you toned down the horrible misogyny. 

      •  Instead, it’s crossing into Nice Socks territory because it has no reason to be effective whatsoever. Like, it’s this kind of bad writing that kneecaps immersion.

        Remember when vampires didn’t always hiss like cats the moment they got the slightest bit upset? Those were the days. The days before movies.

         Harry’s attitude seems to be as close as Butcher gets

        Except Harry is a devout follower of the Church of Vague Faith in Things. His pentacle is literally powered by his faith in the goodness of man or some lameass Care Bear shit like that, remember?

        • No, it’s worse than that. Harry’s pentacle is the symbol of White Magic, and he has faith that his magic is purer and stronger than any other kind. He literally just has faith in the idea that he’s better than everyone else.

          • “Strong rule the weak is the only law that cannot be broken.”

            Obviously, Harry’s only course of action now is to dress in black latex and learn earth magic.

        • Remember when vampires didn’t always hiss like cats the moment they got the slightest bit upset?

          In all honestly, this would be interesting to work out. Cats don’t really hiss because they’re “mad”, they hiss as a threat – in fact specifically they hiss pretending to be a snake. You generally don’t make warning sounds as a prelude to certain murder but to make the other person back off/stop doing that.

          So their response to seeing Harry in a dumb costume is…fear? And trying to threaten/bluff Harry into not being in a dumb cosstume. Maybe bad fashion is physically painful to vampires.

          • Can always go with obsessive behavior (like the compulsion to count stuff before thm): vampires are almost physically compelled to go, “Well, actually…” every time they see an improper representation. For this reason, the law of the Red Court forbids them from engaging with pop culture, lest they shall spend all their time correcting Wrong Opinions about various fandoms on the internet.

      • The stories involving them take advantage of people’s fear of strangers. There would be room, in my opinion, to make going to a vampire party a seriously freaking Big Deal for the characters. 

        Hm. Or conversely, the reversal of the vampire inviting you into their home means you’re empowered to do whatever the fuck you like and they can’t do much about it. But that’d mean vampires would almost never do so, which means they’re not going to be particularly social or have any of the complex class structures and courts.

        Honestly, that kind of makes more sense – vampires are a weird combination of an apex apex predator on a highly inefficient diet, and should need huge territories to function, plus they’re crazy powerful in this so they should be individual boss monsters rather than working together to keep the protagonist’s power level down to just regular suedom.

        • Well, going back to famous vampire literature, you have Stoker’s Dracula being an extreme recluse who had all of one houseguest in a century. I think a lot of modern works have tried to give vampires societies when it doesn’t actually fit with our most popular conception of them. That might be where the disconnect is – by making vampires social creatures who band together, we’ve weakened them in our own eyes and made them more like us. 


          • Part of it is an attempt to reconcile their folklore roots with the more modern depictions, I think. Vampires used to stand for plague and were closer to zombies, hence their ability to easily turn other people into vampires. In that framework, a vampire society does make a degree of sense on logical level since it’s easy to get the number for it, even if it doesn’t fit thematic level anymore.

            (Or we can just blame Anne Rice and her love for rock star vampires.)

    • Several multi-paragraph quotes have no italics.

    • made for doing things that had nothing to do with locomotion.

      Because as we know, women are made to be fucktoys and anything else is incidental.

      • Reminds me of that Xanth quote that went something like “she was made for r- love.” Reminding me of Xanth is really not a good thing.

    • On old laws: later (much later) it’s clarified that they’re designed and in part enforced by fae because allowing fae to design your laws for inter-organization interaction sure sounds like a good idea.

      Most theological arguments are about why there is suffering and if God can be said to be good if he is all powerful yet allows evil

      And it would be so easy to have Harry be wary of God from the noir perspective. He constantly deals with supernatural malevolent beings that only care about their own agendas. I think DF does the usual “gods need worship” thing, so it would be trivial for him to suspect that capital-G God is in the same category, interacting with humans for our prayers and souls and inflating his own importance.

      I mean, you can even say that Harry wants to believe that there is someone powerful, all-knowing and all-loving who has humanity’s best interests at heart but simply can’t bring himself to do so because he’s seen way too much dark shit and things that pretended to be benevolent only to turn into face-eating abominations the moment they had you alone.

      I think Butcher here just reached for something edgy and noir-y for Harry to think rather than actually thinking about what issues people may have with God.

      • There’s also this feeling I have where God faces the same issue as magic: in a world where God actually exists and worshiping him noticeably improves your life, people’s behavior and society’s makeup would look totally different.
        In a world where magic actually exists and can bring great harm, Harry wouldn’t have this bizzare respect for people’s skepticism. Similarly, we wouldn’t be where we are as a society if God could legitimately improve the lives of his followers or protect them from malign forces. We’d be far more religious than we are now. Though, hell, maybe that’s my own bias creeping in.

        • To be fair, from what we’ve seen it appears to be a zero-sum game: God grants you fortune by taking it from someone else. So it’s more like buying a lottery ticket “where there are no losers! Only winners!” but actually you’re totally going to go home with a cheap keychain that costs way less than the ticket while someone else gets jackpot. Also, your car is going to break. Turning your back on such a god is more understandable.

          (But in general, yes, that’s the issue with masquerade-type settings. You can get away with it by introducing secret history and saying that the current society is the result of shady machinations of supernatural forces, but making those forces resemble our myths as well is a rather difficult task.)

          • Roarke replied 5 days ago

            I mean, it’s definitely true that Michael hit the Catholic Megamillion Jackpot and Forthill didn’t. Hot housewife, no birth control, holy sword, Bible T-shirts, etc. But major characters aside, Christianity is still providing items and locations of faith that can repel ghosts and vampires to anyone who believes. Heck, even assumed heathens like Lydia (let’s face it, despairing atheism would just be the cherry on top for that poor girl, right, Harry?) can seek and receive sanctuary at no cost.
            And yeah, this whole thing flies in the face of the masquerade given that the church would be rewarded for getting people afraid of the dangers that absolutely exist. Fear is already used as a recruiting tool when there’s nothing to fear. I don’t think you can get away with making current society the product of supernatural forces. I think you have to go the human-potential route, where our population and technology exploded so quickly that all non-humans, natural or supernatural, were pushed to the fringes..

            • Well, yeah, faith in general is more useful there than in the real world, just not necessary Christian faith.

              I don’t think you can get away with making current society the product of supernatural forces.

              Nah, you totally can, you just need to actually design those forces in a way that the current society would fit their goals. Like, in PMMM, the progress of humanity depends on wishes girls make when selling their souls to a fluffy eldritch abomination. It actually works well enough and ties into the themes of the show.

              Mage: the Ascension is more iffy since it does like to use historical magical practices as a basis for its occult societies, but the core idea of the current secular paradigm being the result of a deliberate manipulation by reality-warping wizard scientists is sound.

              There are other examples that work along the same lines.

          • You really don’t like surprise car failure! I’d rather have regular car failure always five minutes walk from a friend’s house. So far, it doesn’t seem to be zero sum – that is, God doesn’t actually use his priest as a misfortune sink every time Michael needs to pull a lucky break out of his ass. He just doesn’t care about his priest wanting to do things other than babysit and bless holy water.

        • There’s also this feeling I have where God faces the same issue as magic: in a world where God actually exists and worshiping him noticeably improves your life, people’s behavior and society’s makeup would look totally different.

          Here’s what I was thinking – Michael is holding a limited-edition holy artifact. We’ve seen no sign of the rest of the congregation, as if they can’t be tapped for additional resources. This should perfectly fit the prosperity gospel group, where followers of the true god are wildly more successful…but they seem to be normal. Hell, the poor priest seems to be the only one at the church instead of there being a whole host of ordained guys helping out.

          So what if there’s scaling problems? A small god has small power, but few to divide it among, and because gaining a single new follower gives a huge boost, it’s motivated to provide miracles to all of them. The more followers, the less a god gets from the individual ones, and it can only serve to empower a chosen few. Most religions either stick to being a tribal affair with no interest in spreading the faith. A few, though, keep trying to reach for maximum power and end up going through lemming-like boom/bust cycles as the religion expands beyond its capacity to provide, its followers abandon it, and then it provides to the loyal few again. When this happens, the priesthood is going to try to keep power by providing an explanation for why the miracles aren’t coming.

          Modern Christianity is the religion that hit the right combination of rationalizations over the centuries that faith no longer requires miracles.  They were big on having a few empowered people traveling around to prove God was real, while focusing most of the pitch on the afterlife, so ordinary people didn’t expect to get the power personally. And at some point, it hit a critical mass where it had absorbed so many faithful and persecuted so many other religions into the ground that it very nearly did any with miracles – other gods can’t get enough followers together to do much of anything, but Christianity’s power is spread so thin that car failure is about the most it does for even its most devout and important.

          • It could work, but there is still issue of holy ground providing protection from dark forces. I suppose if it’s only marginally better than the normal threshold and the main benefit is communal: that everyone can request a sanctuary, including travelers and homeless, then maybe it could fall into relative obscurity since those who would most benefit and care about it are people without power.


      • I mean, you can even say that Harry wants to believe that there is someone powerful, all-knowing and all-loving who has humanity’s best interests at heart but simply can’t bring himself to do so because he’s seen way too much dark shit and things that pretended to be benevolent only to turn into face-eating abominations the moment they had you alone.

        Of course Harry believes such a thing exists. He is such a thing.

    • Last time, Harry decided that he’d so thoroughly fucked up everything about investigating the A-plot that he might as well work the vampire party B-plot.

      The first book had a pretty good pretense of being a detective story (if you’ve never read a detective story before), and the second book tried its best to remain a detective story, but the third book has just seemed to have given up on that premise. I don’t think it’d surprise you to learn that, as the books go on, they get more and more blatantly action-adventure with each installment.

      Then he straightened the collar of his doublet, which showed through the neck of the mail, and reached behind the seat for the steel helmet that slipped on over his head.

      Considering that I seem to recall him having the Cross of St. George  on his cloak and his paladin motif, a gambeson would be more appropriate here than an arming doublet, considering his only metal armour is chainmail (which is itself a pretty weird choice). They’re far more padded, providing cushioning against impact blows and stabbing (the weak point of chainmail) a negligible amount of cutting/slashing protection, and are actually what crusaders wore under their chainmail armour. Arming doublets are about two and a half centuries after the Third Crusade (the one people think of when they hear “crusade”).

      Oh, and his helmet is likely to be a flat topped great helm, probably the worst design in European helmet history. [The site seems to be bitching at me for putting in a link, so you’ll have to search youtube for user Lindybeige’s video on medieval great helms to see it. It’s the second helmet he talks about in the video, at about 2:38)

      Since Michael lives in the modern day and has access to all of history’s armours up to that point in time, I would suggest he wear a kettle helm (good protection, no real visibility impediment to speak of, and decent hearing) with a bevor (a sort of metal collar which protects your neck and lower half of the face) with a good steel cuirass and articulated arm harness over an arming doublet (with chainmail sewn onto it where there are gaps in the armour). Sure, he’d look like a well armoured fifteenth century man-at-arms instead of a late twelfth century knight, but that’s stupid anyway so who cares?

       this is written in first person

      Remember when you described Storm Front as having a great conversational style? Remember the last book Butcher actually wrote in that style? Storm Front really does seem to be shaping up to be the best book of the series… somehow.

      the idea Michael didn’t ask at all

      Or, if he really had to ask on-camera, why not just have the conversation happen on the drive over there?

      Harry always knew this but didn’t care.

      Considering “Even if Bianca isn’t behind it, and I’m not saying she isn’t, chances are that anyone who could be is going to be at the party tonight”, it seems like it’s that Harry knew this but is trying his hardest into finding any explanation that lets him weasel out of facing retribution for burning her tits off in book one.

      Harry knew the vampires were up to something with a big body count but […] he didn’t want to poke a hornet’s nest

      This might actually work if Harry was actually a noir protagonist who wasn’t constantly reminding us what a big damn hero he is.

      It will be like walking into a roomful of wolves.

      I’m pretty sure that this is even downplaying the deadliness of vampires. Harry could probably kill a pack of wolves with magic with zero problem. An equal number of vampires? Eeeeeh. He’d probably have to at least dip into his “I did it but trust me it was super duper hard on me you guys” points pool.

      If Bianca doesn’t respect that, it’s going to kill her reputation in front of her guests and the Vampire Court.

      Since it doesn’t seem like these are magical laws but just plain ole regular societal laws, why would literally anyone there care if Harry was killed? Are they just using it as an excuse to laugh at her because they want to damage her reputation for other reasons? Because, if so, that’s not what that is implying.

      Worse, the only thing that does seem to be nailed down is that this isn’t magically enforced, because Harry just says it’ll make Bianca look bad, not curse her or something.

      Don’t forget that he didn’t even tack on a “vampirism does weird things to your psyche and compels you to act more in a certain way” or anything like that. Even if it wasn’t magical rules but the vampires were magically compelled to follow those societal rules, that’d still explain things a hell of a lot better than Butcher actually did.

      Harry can, has, and will, Michael.

      Oh, c’mon, you’re totally selling him short. Harry has actively avoided doing things that, if left undone, will result in his (usually gruesome) death. Not even threat of imminent murder is enough to get this asshole off his chair.

       It is super easy to react to every situation with, “Oh, that looks risky, I’ll hold back to do more good later!” which is why such an impulse can never, ever be trusted.

      As an RPG player, I think it helps to think of it in terms of “if I do this specific good action right now, I will lose the ability to do this even better specific good action I plan on doing at a specific time in the near future that can only be done if I hold off on immediately doing good right now”.

       and the fact that Harry clearly prioritizes the survival of people he knows over random missing persons

      And the survival of himself over the survival of people he knows, don’t forget about that.

      Hell’s bells, I noticed how good he looked.

      Ignoring the fact that Harry expressed surprise that even he, Greek God/Skinny Nerd Who Is Just Like The Reader that he is, found him good looking (not even attractive to him specifically, just objectively good looking) as a nail in the coffin (haaaaaaaaaah) against this being proof he’s bisexual… does anyone else get the feeling that this is Butcher’s way of responding to people who complained about all the descriptions of naked chick flesh in the last book?

      This doesn’t even read like a straight man trying to describe a naked man without sounding too much of the gay about it. I’ve read old pulp adventure novels before, and this is just reading  “The man had muscles. He wore no clothes. He looked good. Women must love it.” off a flash card in a dull monotone in comparison.

      “Three vampire Courts,” Michael supplied. “Black, Red, and White.”

      “I knew that.”

      Shouldn’t Harry, magic geek that he is, be the one explaining this to Michael?

      made for doing things that had nothing to do with locomotion

      If I put myself into Butcher’s mindset, I instantly know what this means, but what in the world is this sentence construction supposed to actually mean?

       have no concern for the fact the girl herself is drugged and a vampire’s supper

      Actually, has Harry even pointed out that she’s a vampire’s supper yet?

       his outfit is the shittiest movie vampire costume Harry could make. I mean, he put real effort into it. […] These are Harry’s priorities.

      To be entirely fair, he probably already had this on hand just in case he ever had to taunt some vampires, so it’s not like he had to take time out of his incredibly tight deadline to make it or anything.


      • I’m pretty sure that this is even downplaying the deadliness of vampires. Harry could probably kill a pack of wolves with magic with zero problem.

        Come to think of it, Harry did walk into a roomful of wolves at least three times last book.

        Actually, has Harry even pointed out that she’s a vampire’s supper yet?

        He hasn’t, but I think the book has made it clear if something’s obvious and Harry doesn’t bring it up at all, it means he knows and doesn’t care.

    • I’m not sure that works as a comparison. White supremacists who say “pretending to be white” are talking about people who are living their lives in a way where it’s hard for the white supremacists to know to target them. It has nothing to do with an actual costume but saying the way people are living their daily life is something to be offended by, because those people are hardest to harass and doing the least to them so you need a reason to put extra effort into tracking them down anyway. It’s not that they flip out over obviously black people putting on clown paint and a shitty blond wig. And Harry isn’t even an actual vampire parody here – he’s dressed up like the way his culture views vampires. So it’s if a KKK gathering got upset that a black person was dressed as a stock idiot white character from black films – how many shitty vampire movies are the vampires even watching that they can tell precisely what’s going on here? Isn’t most of the problem just that a black guy is there?

      And that’s without getting into that the vampires are a minority who live their lives on the outskirts of another culture while being easily able to mangle anyone anytime they feel offended, while white supremacists are about fragile-ego terrorism where they enforce social norms by going after anyone they can because they feel powerless. Vampires can’t be as emotionally delicate as white supremacists are because if they were, they’d already have gone after people making stupid vampire movies and, because they’re vampires, actually accomplished something. Meanwhile, I don’t think any wolves get offended by rabbits putting on heavy wolf tails and skipping into the den – if you’re an actual predator, your prey not taking you seriously is awesome. More of that, please. (How well can Harry cast his spoken magic spells with plastic in his mouth?)

      Then there’s the part where wizards aren’t actually valid prey but a power block of their own that the vampires are on fragile terms. The diplomat from one country showing up at your party as a racist stock character from the movies of a third, occupied country is tasteless, yeah – but that reflects badly on him more than anything. It’d be like a black guy showing up at a party as a freaky white person out of a manga – yeah, it’s not exactly flattering, but also, who cares? He just looks dumb. They never oppressed us, they never made it so that was the only version of ourselves we ever saw in broader culture, people never shouted those caricatures at us on the street. At most, the vampires might feel quietly hurt if the wizards are supposed to be allies, but I’m pretty sure they hate each other and they’re about to taunt Harry right back by killing people in front of him for supper.

      • Plus, in-universe, vampire stereotypes are propagated by vampires themselves because they match Black Court powers, so it’s a way to give people information how to fuck up rivals without destroying the masquerade. Whether or not it makes sense aside, people buying into vampire stereotypes is exactly what vampires want, canonically.

  • Farla wrote a new post, Eat Me 6 days, 18 hours ago

    A scrumptious text adventure, made easier by the fact you can only look and eat.

    • A difficult game, but the ending is worth it!
      I don’t recommend playing it if you’ve skipped a meal, though.

    • Well, that was fun.

      “Eat self” is a cool command. More games need that option.

    • A fen is a wild area, so you must leave the castle. To leave the castle, you must lower the drawbridge. I was stuck on that for a bit but examining things helped me figure it out.

  • BoJack Horseman is a very depressing show about depression. It’s a cutting and poignant drama about life, mental illness, insufficiency, and the flawed nature of humanity. But I’m on the fence on if that’s […]

    • Not the example cited in the article, though. A soldier being so pyschologically broken he commits suicide while everyone in the audience nods solemnly at what a widespread problem this is is not a solution.

      I mean, at least the show doesn’t go as far as I Miss the Sunrise and say that suicide is the answer, but it can’t seem to provide any reasons to keep living (“deal with it”, as you say) either. It’s like it knows intellectually that suicide is wrong but can’t logically justify that position. The creator himself seems to have depression, which may contribute to the problem.

      • Keleri replied 1 week ago

        What is the solution? Robin Williams still killed himself despite all his money and being internationally beloved. We can’t solve the problem of the military-industrial complex orgiastically consuming poor people’s children in order to enrich the richest few in 10 episodes. But we can say that your moral injury has not left you tainted irrevocably, and that there is still hope, and that you’re not alone.

        • But we can say that your moral injury has not left you tainted irrevocably, and that there is still hope, and that you’re not alone.

          That’s the thing, though — that’s not the message I took away from the show. The message throughout the first three seasons is that there is no hope. Diane keeps searching for hope and keeps failing; Bojack sort of does but keeps refusing to learn from his mistakes; everyone else actively refuses to even try. To me, it felt like the moral was to give up. Season four shows it’s not, but it’s still 39 episodes before we see the faintest glimmer of hope.

          That’s the point. You can’t know you can’t solve the problem. We have to at least try, and these characters do not. I don’t think it’s good to normalize that.

        • But we can say that your moral injury has not left you tainted irrevocably, and that there is still hope, and that you’re not alone.

          The distinction, to me, is between saying “You are not a bad person for this, and things can possibly get better, and maybe it won’t work but trying and failing doesn’t prove you were bad all along.” vs “You are not a bad person for this, because things could never be different and it’s okay not to try.” Both messages will make people feel better.

          Mind you, human brains are weird and there’s stages of depression where agreeing everything is shit forever can be the only thing that holds a person together.  I just find the pure carthasis argument for it unconvincing because if the only thing keeping a good chunk of our population functional is “yes, everything is shit forever (and perhaps enduring this has a nobility to it)” then something external is wrong enough that trying to numb it seems a bad idea, even if it’s less painful at the moment. If you’re sad because brain goblins tell you nobody cares about you, then working out whatever shuts the goblins up is healthy, but if you’re sad because society has decided you don’t deserve to live, then the core problem isn’t that you’re sad about this.

    • Farla replied 1 week ago

      accepting a situation which one is powerless to change is often a necessary step

      This problem was, it wasn’t really a situation with no other options. We don’t treat soldiers today like we treated soldiers then. Other cultures of the time didn’t all treat their soldiers the same way. Maybe they didn’t know there was any better way of doing things, but they were wrong.

      A play showing our soldiers coming home with chronic pain and brain damage and how they eventually kill themselves will make the soldiers feel better when they see themselves and their friends on the screen…but it also normalizes that this is the way things are instead of calling for anything to change.

      • Uh, actually, I hadn’t read the linked article yet, I was responding to what seemed like a general comment. Sorry!
        EDIT: Hey, why is “contentment” disappearing from my first comment?
        EDIT 2: So, finally read the article. For what it’s worth, I disagree with it on a few points regarding the author’s understanding of Greek tragedy and Kylo Ren as a tragic character.

    • Greek theater may have had incredible insight into the human condition, but it had no solution.
       On the contrary, it often did! Most of it can be summarised as “don’t be arrogant and / or a putz”.
      EDIT: Ok, I was a bit too glib. Yes, many tragedies were basically “life isn’t fair, deal with it”, but the “deal with it” part is a solution – maybe not to everyone’s tastes, but it is one (after all, accepting a situation which one is powerless to change is often a necessary step in finding some sort of c).

    • Act replied 1 week ago

      I love this show, thought it was excellently written and insightful, and had to stop watching after the second season because it was so upsetting I literally would spend the rest of the night crying. It is not for people dealing with emotional shit. But it’s a great show.

      • I do think it’s very well-written, but by the end of the third season (which is the darkest, you were probably right to stop before it) I felt it was just too cynical and draining. I dunno. I feel like it’s more pessimistic and hopeless than life really is. For me it fell into a kind of darkness-induced audience apathy, where I had no reason to get my hopes up so I saw everything in a state of predictable, numb sadness.

        It’s weird. I was just thinking that for all the show’s tragedy, I only actually cried during one scene, despite tearing up at a lot of other, less sad stories, and it was at probably the most positive scene in the series. It’s in season 3 so you won’t have seen it, but I can link it here. (Spoilers for a big thing that happens in season 3, if anyone cares.) Somehow, hearing proof that Bojack did do good and can be good is sadder than all the horrible mistakes he makes. I wonder if that’s sort of like… a necessary component of tragedy? There has to be something good, some proof that things aren’t always and inevitably horrible, before you can let your guard down and be fully emotionally attached, or something. (I dunno, you’re an English major, you probably know this better.) But I just didn’t feel able to let my guard down like that for most of the show.

      • Oh also, what did you think of the episode about Not Bill Cosby? (2×07, I think.) I felt like it was Nirvana Fallacying and concern trolling feminism.

        • Wow, I didn’t read it that way at all. I thought it was a great look at how we treat accusers as the real enemy and truth as a lie when it comes to sexual assault. It was obviously simplified for a 22-minute episode, but I thought it was completely sincere.

          • Oh, okay. The way they kept the actual argument in the background while focusing on how Diane should go to Cordovia instead just rubbed me the wrong way — it felt too reminiscient of those “your first-world feminism is invalid because worse things are happening elsewhere!” arguments you see sometimes. I was also annoyed by Mr. Peanutbutter making it all about himself.

            • I find Mr. Peanutbutter frustrating not because of him per se, but because he and Diane are so obviously unhappy and wrong for each other and I’m not quite sure why the show keeps dragging it out. There’s something to be said for portraying a failed relationship without glamour or over-the-top anger, just young people who made a mistake, but I don’t really get why that plotline has come to a standstill with Diane repeatedly reiterating how unhappy she is and them both saying it’s not working but refusing to move any further than that. I kind of wonder if they just haven’t had time with other plotlines they’d rather do.

              • Well, good news: the season 4 finale strongly implies they’re getting divorced in season 5, finally!

                What I find most grating about him is that after this long, I just can’t see his ignorance of Diane’s needs as anything but willful. He never really changes his behavior even after Diane says exactly why she dislikes it, and he refuses to communicate openly with Diane or include her in his decisions despite both Diane and his marriage counselor telling him to do so. It is at a standstill, and it seems to be mostly his fault. Diane keeps trying to make it work, but he just won’t give her anything back.

              • Act replied 6 days ago

                I think the best there is to say is that this seems to be an intentional character flaw — he’s a fun-loving happy guy until you have needs, and then he doesn’t notice. He’s done it to Todd and BoJack over and over as well, so it’s not like he’s only this way with Diane, which makes it less icky to me.

                I do think the right way to go would be to have all his relationships fall apart for this reason during the divorce and have him actually learn that being the party guy 24/7 isn’t sustainable.

    • Keleri replied 1 week ago

      It’s just endlessly miserable, and, frustratingly, involves characters refusing to take the few solutions that are obvious in favor of making obvious mistakes and continuing to be miserable.

      I think I would say that that’s the point of the series, to show the characters struggling and falling back into old patterns. It’s not a manual about how to get over your mental illness smoothly. If those obvious solutions were easy then they wouldn’t be struggling. The characters make the wrong choices because it’s not the purpose of the series to show them making the right choices. ‘“It’s the truth,” he replied— subsumed in a sea of green uniforms—“ and we’re all here watching it together.”’ You fucked up. You fucked up big time. But we’re all here watching it, and we’re not alone.

      Season 4 especially is about the terrible inertia of your upbringing and how it’s shaped the characters. Even Bojack’s mom, one of the most evil characters I’ve ever seen on screen, is made sympathetic. “Time’s arrow marches on”, the Sugarman clan keeps saying, maddeningly jumbling two idioms. They were fired from a bow and they can’t control their landing. It’s Beatrice’s fate to die alone, lobotomized after all, rich but not enriched by her fortune, consuming drugs miserably and valuing herself and others only for their physical appearance. She could have had anything, she could have gotten a divorce and traveled, but instead she was a wife, lonely and miserable. Misogyny and despair, the bowstring; the arrow, fired, unsteerable.

      But she does one thing right, and that’s to force Henrietta to give up Hollyhock for adoption, and send her to school to get the knowledge and independence that she was never allowed. And Hollyhock grows up away from the Horseman/Sugarman well of despair and substance abuse. Time’s arrow, pchoo. They’re free. is the last scene of season 2 and one of my favorites.


        If those obvious solutions were easy then they wouldn’t be struggling.

        Yes, but they’ve had years to work themselves up to it at this point. I guess it’s just frustrating because there’s so little diversity in the problems/solutions; it feels like everything always comes down to lack of communication, and it’s maddening how none of the characters ever seem to figure that out.

        They were fired from a bow and they can’t control their landing.

        I… really do not agree with this. The theme of season 4 is leaving the past behind and accepting that we don’t have to be controlled by it. It was not inevitable for Beatrice to end up the way she did. She chose to have a tryst with Butterscotch, she chose to keep the baby, she chose to blame Bojack for everything and ruin his life. All of these decisions were influenced by her upbringing, but her upbringing did not make them inevitable.

        That’s the point: It’s wrong to give into fatalism. That is the ultimate message of hope the season provides: Bojack has spent his life convinced he’s rotten to the core and nothing can ever make him better, but Hollyhock, who is him in nature but not in nurture, proves otherwise. We are more than the circumstances of our birth and environment.

  • Back in my lab, it felt a little creepy to be working by candlelight. Intellectually, I knew that it was still full daylight outside, but last night had brought out the instinctive fear of the dark that is a part […]

    • I’m going to guess that everything will work better if we just accept that Current Orgy-Powered Demon Summoner and Previous Orgy-Powered Demon Summoner are the same guy.

      Maybe the current guy is Victor’s shadow that has survived his death because he separated it from himself to do his projection. An actual shadowman.

      I forget if Harry specifically said telling his name to people would eventually wear off or if I’m just remembering the soulgaze immunity wears off

      The soulgaze immunity doesn’t wear off, as far as I can remember, just the name. I do recall it coming up before, though possibly it was in the comments.

      And it interacts badly with the fae thing introduced this book – fairy contracts are almost always verbal, so if name magic says you’re no longer Paul, the guy who made the contract, but Paul, the guy who has significantly reevaluated the wisdom of fairy deals, it seems that should automatically void it.

      A cool thing here would be for fae to give you a new nickname that can’t wear off and forever ties you to the fae as a way to seal the deal. Something that affects you psychologically from then on, makes you forever marked in the soul.

      In conclusion, we have no fucking clue what souls are or how they work.

      I would also add to this that vampires definitely have fuckable souls, going by the first book.

      Because as a paladin, he’ll lose his fancy spells and saves if he actually sees his party member do things he’s supposed to object to, but being in the room above because he knows Harry’s doing that is kosher.

      I think Michael just assumes that Harry must do the ritual naked (he needs every +1 bonus, right? Butcher isn’t going to say now that Kim’s behavior was completely pointless creepy fanservice, right?) and doesn’t want to be tempted.

      • Maybe the current guy is Victor’s shadow that has survived his death because he separated it from himself to do his projection. An actual shadowman.

        The dude had a spine staff. Didn’t See The Body Return From The Dead Rules should clearly be effect with this guy.

      • I think Michael just assumes that Harry must do the ritual naked (he needs every +1 bonus, right? Butcher isn’t going to say now that Kim’s behavior was completely pointless creepy fanservice, right?) and doesn’t want to be tempted.

        …I don’t recall if Harry said anything to indicate he was wearing clothing. HM.

        • I think it’s well-established by now that being naked is beneficial for binding magic. There is Kim, of course, and there is Morgan’s conclusion that Harry must have summoned that demon in the first book based on Harry being naked.

          So, yes, it makes perfect internal sense.

    • Intellectually, working by candlelight makes you go blind.

      As going blind would interfere with Harry’s ability to describe the bangability of female characters, I’d have little fear of this actually happening if I was him.

      And I don’t think we can just write this off as Harry having seen it once before and acting like he’s a pro now

      Why not? Harry’s acted like a pro about things despite having seen them less times than that before.

      They don’t have the problem of having a soul

      And keep in mind, this doesn’t stop them from leaving ghosts in the slightest. In this book much more than the last, it’s starting to become very apparent that Butcher is just making the magic up as he goes, and when he has a “cool” idea he adds it, without thinking much about how it connects with related systems. See: Magic affecting the human form being super hard, but all wizards having naturally amazing healing, that will fix basically anything that doesn’t kill them if given enough time (up to and including shit like broken spines).

      Butcher doesn’t see anything contradictory about things that are amoral and unconcerned about being evil also being the incarnation of pure evil.

      This actually makes a certain degree of sense to me, actually. As moral people, what do we think is more evil than someone who has a complete non-understanding and disregard for morality?

      In conclusion, we have no fucking clue what souls are or how they work. 

      So, no changes there.

      I had Azorthragal’s Name. Even though it was a ghost now, instead of a demon, it ought to respond to the memory of its Name, if nothing else.

      See what I mean? Immediately after describing how names stop working if a big enough change happens, Butcher has Harry use the name of a demon to force its ghost (which, remember, isn’t even technically the demon in a different existence but a completely separate thing created by its death) to respond to him.

      This feels like an incomplete thought

      It’s amazing how much difference changing one word can make. I’m pretty sure that what he was trying to say was the former of your two options, yeah. She used her own nameplate until the department got her own, at which point she hung onto the hand-lettered one as a memento of her victory.

      Right before he gets going Michael has the GALL to ask what he’s doing and point out they’re less than an hour to sundown.

      Wasn’t there a homeless teenage prostitute who was going to be attacked by a horrible demon-ghost entity come sundown?

      And if so, why have Michael hang out in the deathtrap of a hospital instead of insisting Charity goes home for the night?

      No matter what the cause of Charity’s situation, abuse or demon or what have you, I don’t think she’s in any condition to be leaving the hospital when there’s still a chance her uterus might fall out or whatever form Jim Butcher thinks pregnancy complications might take.

      Feeling rather meh about the spell, gotta say.

      At least it fully justifies why Michael couldn’t be in the room. He’s a paladin, and that spell comes right out of a Chick Tract on D&D.

       I guess part of it is that it feels like the elements aren’t quite working with what we’ve had before

      See what I mean? Butcher had a “cool” idea about cutting reality, so he did it.

      Victor, blessed be his industrious soul, had to use storm magic to get enough oomph to summon his demon

      Actually, I’m pretty sure he only needed the storm magic to fuel his rules-breaking heartsplosion spell, and could summon demons perfectly fine on his own.

      Before the sun can finish setting, Harry binds it (with yet more power) to kill him before it hurts anyone else.

      But hey, at least this is an example of Harry putting himself in harm’s way to keep other, less equipped to deal with it people out of harms way! Sure, he won’t actually come to harm because of this and it’s kind of his fault they’re in harm’s way in the first place, but it’s a start.

      Harry goes up to tell the paladin that the code-violating stuff is no longer presently happening so they can go back to hanging out.

      Wait, so the phone call was totally unimportant? It’s not like Murphy was calling to tell him Satan was eating the police station or there was a cougarmilf licking her lips at her at that very moment or something? Jesus Christ, Michael, do you have absolutely no ability to read a scene?

      • This actually makes a certain degree of sense to me, actually. As moral people, what do we think is more evil than someone who has a complete non-understanding and disregard for morality?

        Eh, that’s a tiger. 

        If you tell someone with no morals that there is a list of things they can’t do or else they’ll be punished, they’re willing to go along with it, because they don’t especially want to do bad things more than good things. That’s why so many sociopaths avoid jail. They’re still dangerous, and society might have to weigh whether or not it’s worth it to let a tiger keep living around them, but  it can be done.

        If “good” is someone who is happy when others are okay and sad when they’re hurt, then “bad” would be someone who’s happy when others are hurt and sad when they’re not. We can work around people with no tendencies either way. They’re more dangerous, but they’re not going to hurt you for no reason. Someone who has to be committing evil to be happy, though, there’s no peaceful accord you can make with them. It’s like the problem of pedophiles – many really don’t want to be evil, but pedophilia is a desire to commit a harmful act, leaving them unhappy when not committing harm to others and terrifyingly motivated to commit evil.

        If demons are amoral summonable monsters, you could order a demon to dig irrigation for fields or cart around medicine for the sick and it would obey the same as it did an order to murder people, because it has no natural tendencies toward evil actions.

        This actually is a big issue with necromancy, where D&D considers raising the dead as evil, literally tags the spells involved as “evil”, and says there’s a malicious spirit in each body that wants to destroy life, but also has tons of mindless undead that only do what they’re told by the wizard who made them, as if they’re just gross-looking robots. There’s been many debates about what happens if they’re left unattended with no orders, or if they’re given orders that involve waiting around for something to happen where they can do other things while still obeying it.

        Wasn’t there a homeless teenage prostitute who was going to be attacked by a horrible demon-ghost entity come sundown?

        Well, speaking of evil, I’m pretty sure Harry assumes she’s either been eaten by vampires or will be eaten by vampires, so he doesn’t need to bother further with her.

    • I’m surprised that the implication that animals have souls, since Butcher strikes me as the kind of person who thinks animals don’t feel pain more than the kind that thinks they merit afterlife participance.

      • I think it’s mostly incidental. He had a “cool” idea for a type of werewolves that require animals to have souls, so animals now have souls. I doubt his thought process went beyond that.

        Wouldn’t surprise me if only doggos have souls, too, since we don’t hear about people with, I don’t know, hedgehog souls or something.

      • Well, they could have souls but reusable ones, or else ones that fall apart on death – non-immortal souls seems really redundant, but what else about this has made sense?

        • The answer is more souls. Exalted model of high and low souls would actually work pretty well: animals only have the low soul, and lycanthropes get the wrong low soul.

          Egyptian model with six souls carrying different functions can also be used.

  • “I know from reading a bit of the thread that you look down on this and believe that SYOCs should be handled in a way where the author specifically tells his/her readers what he/she wants but then what’s the point […]

  • Little Nightmares is a gorgeously done game. You play as a barefoot, starving scrap of a child in a world that’s warped and wrong, and malevolent and crushingly empty by turns. But despite the meathooks and […]

  • All hospital emergency rooms have the same feel to them. They’re all decorated in the same dull, muted tones and softened edges, which are meant to be comforting and aren’t. They all have the same smell too: one […]

    •  the fainting thing that happens when I get hand injuries

      … The what?

      It felt very tender, and when I accidentally touched it with the rag, it hurt so much that I almost shouted. 

      Out of all the wounds Harry has sustained, this is the one that (almost) makes him reveal the fact he has weakness? Maybe this head wound is for the better.

       it also covers why Harry can’t work at the hospital

      You mean besides the “breaking tech” thing, right? That, on its own, should be enough of a reason.

      Speaking of which, wasn’t Charity in premature labour right about now? And Harry’s bitching about a little cut on his forehead?

      (and also, after he just explained that magic affecting the body is extra doubleplus hard)

      My guess is that either this counts as mind magic, the body-affecting difficulty is difficulty in affecting the body’s form specifically (which would explain the date rape potion), or that Jim Butcher is a hack who just thought up this part right then and there.

      If you touch this, if you open it up, you’re going to be leaving your prints on it. 

      Even if his prints were found on it, why would it even matter? He was involved in the acquisition of it as evidence. It’s totally possible he might’ve picked it up before it was processed as evidence or something. But even if that explanation didn’t fly, because it was undoubtedly already processed and they found new prints on a reprocessing, so what? Is Kravos going to get out of jail on a technicality (not likely, considering I’m almost certain he’s dead) or is it going to implicate Harry as some kinda cultish serial killer or whatever the cops were going after Kravos for?

      Then it’s time for another trope that’s about as awful:

      Is “pregnant woman ends up injured due to some supernatural event they can’t explain to the doctor so he assumes that the husband beat her so hard it induced premature labour” really that common a trope?

      It might as well have been me, Harry.

      Aww, don’t be so hard on yourself, Mike. It’s not your fault. It’s Harry’s.

      I know what it’s like to care about someone other than myself.

      Has Harry shown the slightest care for the wellbeing of literally any other character, purely for the sake of that character, other than whatever drives him to feed Mister?

      I wonder how what’s-her-name who got kidnapped by vampires is doing right now.

      “Perhaps it was a sign. Perhaps that I am no longer worthy to serve Him in this way.

      Well, he has been hanging out and tolerating Harry a lot recently, so this isn’t so far-fetched…

      • Is “pregnant woman ends up injured due to some supernatural event they can’t explain to the doctor so he assumes that the husband beat her so hard it induced premature labour” really that common a trope?

        Not this specifically, but “my wife/child/loved one was injured in accident/attacked by someone else and people think I did it, which causes me (man)pain” is actually a pretty common thing.

        Urban fantasy in particular loves it due to the masquerade preventing characters from simply saying, “it was actually werewolves,” so it’s easier to construct a situation where injuries would be mistaken for abuse.

        More generally, framing everything from the position of how it affects male characters is really common.

        • In the urban fantasy story I’m writing, there’s no masquerade, just the supernatural threat of the story being a complete unknown, so when the protagonist gets put in the hospital with crippling injuries including loss of eye and arm, “a monster did it” is actually pretty believable.

      • You mean besides the “breaking tech” thing, right? That, on its own, should be enough of a reason.

        Given he lives on the ground floor of a multi-family building without, presumably, wrecking everyone else’s wiring, they could keep him in a basement corner safely. He also doesn’t destroy computers until he actually walks into the room. Best would probably be to have some sort of dumbwaiter pulley setup to lower patients in, since anyone really sick might be attached to various machines to live. So, wheel them in over Harry’s head, yank everything out and drop them down before they finish dying.

        He’d go well next to the morgue, I think – could also be helpful for every murder victim who managed to get a scrap of hair.

        Is “pregnant woman ends up injured due to some supernatural event they can’t explain to the doctor so he assumes that the husband beat her so hard it induced premature labour” really that common a trope?

        It actually is! Seriously, any time a woman’s pregnant it’s so her pregnancy can be threatened by whatever the story’s about. It’s like a bonus multiplier. Natural disaster? By the way, pregnancy complications!!! Werewolves? By the way, pregnancy complications!!! Angered the mafia and now they’re gunning for you? By the way, pregnancy complications!!! And they’re never just straight up miscarrying, no. If they go that route, nothing goes wrong with the pregnancy, it’s just a pregnant woman gets killed killing the fetus in the process. Pregnancy complications are always early labor leading to a distressed infant that might die, because the pregnancy threat isn’t even about the woman. She’s playing the role of “failing incubator” in a scifi plot. She may or may not die in the process, but the point is that the baby, the most property sort of property you can get, has been compromised. Now…it’s PERSONAL. (It’s usually a boy, because losing a boy is more tragic. The exception is if it’ll be sticking around to be threatened again, in which case girl, because they’re more threatenable.)

        Come to think of it, I suspect you’d see less of this coming out of countries that were less into parents as unquestioned god-kings of their children’s existence.

    • That’s also why this current baby dying and him not being able to get other babies out of his wife are similarly completely equivalent – from the point of view of possessing an object, losing a new one and losing the ability to get another are pretty much the same.

      Well, children are a fungible commodity.

      • I’m glad to live in the day when there is an SMBC strip for absolutely everything.

        • But is there an SMBC about being glad to live in the day when there is an SMBC strip for absolutely everything?

    • Her water did break, back at the graveyard. I guess it makes it a lot harder on the baby.

      Mr. Act and I were trying to figure out some explanation for this that wasn’t, “Butcher doesn’t realize this is supposed to happen,” and the most generous thing we could come up with was that maybe he thinks that if they wait to long after the water breaks to get to a hospital it’s hard on the baby, but even that is a huge stretch.

      Butcher is obviously an ALPHA MALE fucking idiot, but I can’t believe an editor didn’t catch this.

      “The doctor thinks I beat her. That’s how she got the bruises. He never said anything, but …”

      This is stupid because making sure an injured women wasn’t a victim of abuse is standard procedure. Asking several times how the injuries happened, if she feels safe at home, talking to her alone, etc., are all just protocol. Michael is being a self-involved whiny baby here. They did it to me and Mr. Act when I went to the ER for a bad IBS attack for christssakes. And it’s a damn good thing it’s procedure, because it likely catches abusers.

      • I’d say the most likely thing is people did ask, Charity gave whatever explanation she could, and Michael’s too self-absorbed to realize any of this is going on. It’s not clear how much, if any, time he’s actually spent with Charity at this point.

        And yeah, and it’s doubly important with pregnant women, because abuse rates spike for that. Pregnant woman, already has young kids, Catholic husband who likely doesn’t believe in birth control, suddenly gets brutalized right before she was supposed to give birth? Michael has plenty of room to be actually worried about losing his kids here. Especially if there’s any witnesses saying she was last seen with a guy matching the description of his tall burly friend, you know, the one who came in bloody from a fight with…someone.

    • This actually sounds like it’s not really healed and there’s just some sort of super glamour holding him together.

      Now, see, that would be an interesting take on fae magic similar to Raksha fantasies in nature: the healing spell is perfectly real for as long as nobody examines it too much and doesn’t call bullshit on it. The more attention you pay to it, the more fragile it becomes, until eventually it would collapse, reopening the injury.

      Of course, we can’t have cool things here.

      Kravos why are you such a disappointment. Shadowpants in the first book had a spine staff! You just know that guy’s black leather spellblook was embossed in red gold with, like, a skull in each corner. Why can’t you be more like Shadowpants, Kravos?

      I don’t know, I generally like the idea of seemingly mundane things holding great importance and power. I’d even go farther and say the leather-bound journal is not mundane enough. Make it a worn-out notebook with, like, a pleasant neutral image on the cover (forest or a butterfly), spiral spine and lined paper. Add random doodles in the margins and such.

      “Remember what I said, about how I knew the worst way to get to you would be through your family?”…”I know that because I’m human. I know what it’s like to care about someone other than myself.

      Going by emotionally fucked Harry theory, I think he’s mostly projecting here. He has convinced himself that being upset about other people dying is something special, something meaningful, something that proves he’s not a monster but a human being because he still has it, and as long as he has it, he’s fine. Therefore, true monsters can’t have the same feelings or even be aware of them.

      • Make it a worn-out notebook with, like, a pleasant neutral image on the cover (forest or a butterfly), spiral spine and lined paper. Add random doodles in the margins and such.

        Well, we’ve seen what happens when Butcher tries this. Harry purchases an antique lunchbox for a TV show he never watched to carry around his magic shit. Butcher really can’t decide if he wants Harry to be some arcane throwback in the modern world, or a modern twist on the arcane world. So he can’t watch TV and has to use candles, but he knows about Scooby Doo and keeps his potions in Gatorade bottles.

      • I don’t know, I generally like the idea of seemingly mundane things holding great importance and power.
        So do I, but what I really like is when magic and other forms of power start off flashy at low levels, and slowly lose those trappings as one goes up the ladder.
        Good examples of such are frustratingly rare, and, weirdly, Harry Potter is one of the only examples I can think of off-hand. You still had some flashiness at the end, but nearly all of Voldemort’s souljars looked mundane, Apparition was no-nonsense compared to brooms, and the strongest wizards used non-verbal spells most of the time.

      • I’d even go farther and say the leather-bound journal is not mundane enough. Make it a worn-out notebook 

        This would be valid in an interesting book but this one is boring and I have to get my entertainment somewhere.

        Also, it should totally be Harry-Hi-I’m-In-The-Phonebook’s thing, and contrast with the more flamboyant wizards who are running demon-summoning sex cults.

        Going by emotionally fucked Harry theory, I think he’s mostly projecting here.

        That’s actually really sad. Harry clawing for the few scraps of positiveish thoughts he has and telling himself that as long as he can still clear THIS bar, he’s normal. You can imagine how when he started off he’d have some sort of rule that actual human beings would think was reasonable, and then over time they just slipped from “killing people is horrible and a last resort, and that means I’m still me” to “killing people is horrible, but it needs to get done sometimes, I still think it’s bad though so I’m okay, I’m still me” to “killing people is bad, I still think that, I’m still me,” to “well I don’t WANT to kill people, I’m still normal and ethical and not all dark magic evil, I’m still me”. Then last book it became, “well, I don’t want to kill PEOPLE, these guys aren’t people, I’m right to want to hurt them…”

        • And then Bob tricked Harry to go from “killing people is wrong” to “killing people when its a tactically unsound decision is wrong”.

    • What’s really silly about that whole thing is that it’s such a cliche for evil people not to understand good motivations like – gasp – caring for others, yet… villains are constantly threatening families and loved ones because it’s also a cliche for them to hurt the hero emotionally like that, as shown here. It figures Butcher would get his wires crossed here.

      • It’s some weird binary thinking.

        Like, let’s assume evil people can’t understand just how much good people care about others. There’s still the fact that you usually can’t kill dead people twice, so if you’re mad enough at somebody that just killing them won’t cut it, you might as well kill other people first. Worst case scenario, they don’t actually care about any of them but they stew in the knowledge you’ll come for them next and make themselves a bit more miserable that way, plus hey, fun bonus murders! You’re evil, why would you care about if this was the most effective way of causing suffering?

        • I mean I get that some evil characters are like that. Tarquin from OOTS comes to mind as a great example – he was a total sociopath who never actually loved anyone, but he knew how villains and heroes were ‘supposed’ to think due to his understanding of narrative structure.
          It just doesn’t fit for Harry to throw a blanket statement over the issue when, as you said, we have definite proof  that demons understand why humans care about family and loved ones.

      • I think the crux is that, usually, the villains can logically understand that good people care about other people, even if they can’t empathically understand why.

        • The Einst from Super Robot Wars are a REALLY good example of a villian type that is said to not understand emotions and the like, and actually follow that.  They show up without any real indications why and always leave just as mysteriously, and they never actually do understand humans, being Lovecraftian horrors.

    • Harry and the book at large don’t seem aware this is actually makes it all more boring – normally, stories where you get attacked if you fall asleep end up with people having to keep going until they solve the problem or drop, but here naptime is totally an option.
      More video game pacing. Murphy is going to sleep until Harry finishes the next part of the story, at which point she’ll trigger a cutscene.
      They aren’t usually this methodical or organized.  So the things that live and die by excruciatingly complex legal bullshit can’t handle “be active two nights in a row attacking any one of a big set of people”
      I don’t know a whole lot about the original myths surrounding fae, but they are basically trickster types, right? They’re super impulsive and those laws are the only things holding them in check. Butcher doesn’t seem to recognize how conflicting urges work. Things can only be one-dimensional in his mind. If there’s no immediate law holding Godmom back, obviously she’s going to go on impulse. There’s no paradox or contradiction there.
      A real scary message would be if holding people together by magic was a thing, because then that’d suggest that Lea didn’t actually heal him but has an ongoing spell holding him together that she’s powerful enough to keep running indefinitely. That would further suggest she’s expending major energy keeping him alive, which means both that she’s very sure this will work out in her favor AND that if he does anything to convince her otherwise, he may die on the spot. And yet, so long as she keeps it going, he can’t even get medical treatment for it!
      Dang, you’re good at being evil.

      • Dang, you’re good at being evil.

        In a previous post in this very series, Farla describes what it’s like to eat a heart just because you happened to have one on hand. This is not a remotely surprising fact at all.

        • Eh. Heart-eating is morally neutral, or at least morally equivalent to eating any other part of a living thing.

          • Here, the heart-eating is more an indicator of villainy than actual villainy, like wearing spiked armour or a cape or living in a voclano doom fort.

            • Sounds like prejudice to me. I’d love me some spicy spiked armor, or a cape, or a volcano doom fort, or all of those things at once.

              • Prejudice against evil people, maybe. It should come as no surprise that Farla’s horde of evil minions is as evil as she is.

          • It’s actually morally good. Waste is a sin.

            • Well, there are other valid ways to not waste it aside from eating it, like pulping it for fertilizer or preserving it for educational purposes. That’s why I think it’s morally neutral.

              • It’d already been educationally hacked apart, and as a composter, I assure you it’s wasteful to throw still-edible food into the pile to rot.

        • Who’s the real evil, me or the monster who just throws away a perfectly good heart?

          • Who’d have a perfectly good heart just lying around in the first place but someone perfectly evil?

            Checkmate, Farla.

      • I don’t know a whole lot about the original myths surrounding fae, but they are basically trickster types, right? They’re super impulsive and those laws are the only things holding them in check. 

        Not exactly. They can be pranksters when bored, but mostly they’re unpredictable because they’re alien.

        A story my mother told me, to get across the underlying issue:

        A fairy comes across a hunter out in the middle of winter. He’s blowing on his hands. “Why are you doing that?” asks the fairy, and the man explains it’s to warm them up. The fairy invites the man to his home for some nice hot soup. When the man takes the soup, he blows on it. The fairy asks him why. “To cool it off.”

        The fairy murders him. Because there’s nothing fairies hate like being lied to.

        Fairies follow rules scrupulously but we don’t know their rules, and they have no other sense of right or wrong to slow them down when you accidentally break one. That’s also why the pranking isn’t really as chaotic as it seems – lacking our morality, there isn’t any implied “you shouldn’t fuck up people’s cows, they need milk to live” rule they need to follow in the first place.

        That’s why there’s all these rules for avoiding fairies or weaseling out of further interactions with them as soon as possible. If you don’t interact, you won’t inevitably screw up a different rule, and if you memorize the correct refuse-further-interaction scripts, they won’t bug you further.

        Also, I think the idea about magic and medical help came in a roundabout way from the Miracleman comics, where there’s a point where the main character’s normal body is horribly injured, then he shifts to his superhero form, then a while later he turns back…

        • Tangentially related: everyone on the planet should read Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.

          • I did. It’s probably the most British thing in existence.

            • It’s like if you crossed Oscar Wilde with Roald Dahl and I loved every second of it.

              • Yeah, I liked how it paid homages to classics while creating its own mythology and scientific/folkloric tradition. A lot of work clearly went into making the world and giving it a certain feel.

          • Eh, I found it to be a bit lacklustre, to be honest.

            • Mr. Act did as well — he found it dry and quite slow. I love comedies of manners and British people being sarcastic at each other in my fiction so I was smitten from the get-go and maintain that the writing itself was some of the best I’ve ever encountered.

              • Dry and slow, yes, that’s a very apt description. But indeed, credit where it’s due, the writing in itself was good.

                Oh, if you love British sarcasm, I strongly recommend the “Blackadder” TV series. Rowan Atkinson’s finest work, of that I have no doubt.

        • I’d say dealing with fae is roughly comparable to extreme version of how it feels to be stuck in another country where you don’t know any local customs and barely speak the language. So you say something you think is perfectly reasonable and polite, and everyone looks at you cross because actually, what you say is a grave insult in the context, except you don’t know context.

          The rules of fae is less the Grand Book of Law and more like perfectly intuitive and consistent rules they not so much learn as absorb growing up, it’s just that you utterly lack the same frame of reference as them and have to deliberately memorize them and stick with the lettter over spirit because you don’t have a chance to learn the spirit.

          It’s like, in Russia, you should never give anyone an even number of flowers because you only bring an even number to funerals, except the rule ceases to apply if you give over two dozens or so flowers. I was told a few times it’s a weird rule, but to me it’s of the same order as to not spit on people and is something that’s done for much the same reasons.

    • Also, speaking of Victor von Onewizardindustrialrevolution, I do think he would be a better antagonist than the current one because he’s actually established. The book’s theme is about the past catching up with Harry, with ghosts and his godmother being directly tied to it symbolism-wise… except the main antagonist, the embodiment of that theme is just some random warlock who appeared and was defeated entirely off-screen and didn’t leave any lasting impact on Harry.

      By contrast, Victor actually had screen time, we’ve seen Harry fighting him, he was the first villain in the series, which gives him more narrative weight. Plus, you just know he has developed a spell to turn into a demonic ghost in-between animating perpetual motion scorpions and learning what music is the best for orgy magic (the answer is The Doors).

      An alternative to that is Harry’s old mentor coming back to live. Their relationship was defining to Harry’s character and consistently referenced throughout the books, affecting his life both psychologically and by making the Council hate him. Him haunting Harry would be narratively satisfying.

      It would also tie into the femdom cougar plot. Just modify it a bit so the first time Harry has escaped her on technicality rather than outright breaking his oath. Now she came back to lend her help once again against Harry’s mentor, as per their agreement, with the old oath hanging over Harry’s head once again.

      But no, instead we’ve got that random guy whose greatest evil to date was introducing Michael to Harry, so we have to endure Butcher’s take on paladins and God.

      • except the main antagonist, the embodiment of that theme is just some random warlock who appeared and was defeated entirely off-screen and didn’t leave any lasting impact on Harry.

        It really feels like he heard about it being important to have off-screen events and them completely fucked up on everything about how that’s supposed to work.

        It would also tie into the femdom cougar plot. Just modify it a bit so the first time Harry has escaped her on technicality rather than outright breaking his oath. Now she came back to lend her help once again against Harry’s mentor, as per their agreement, with the old oath hanging over Harry’s head once again.

        Or actually, maybe not even a technicality! Harry made a point that she’s supposed to be pretty much powerless and stuck on the other side except in service of a deal. If his deal suddenly flipped to active again, maybe that could also let her get across the barrier easily too. That’d also give fairies motivation to solve problems in the slow, piecemeal ways that fairy tales often use – if you can set it up so that the deal’s “finished” but still “ongoing”, you have a short window to drag the mortal to the other side. Lea figures even that won’t be enough so she needs to keep the deal active as long as possible, but without actually letting Harry die either.

        • So, her goal is to keep Harry alive but allow him to be damaged as much as possible so he won’t be able to escape the second time?

    • “ring”? “necklace”? Look, Harry only even wears his shield bracelet when he will absolutely definitely die otherwise He’s not going to be wearing any other filthy womanly jewelry just because he might die if he doesn’t.

  • Since I spent last October rambling about this, hey look, the movie’s actually happening and it looks like it’s sticking to the good stuff of the book!

    • I find it funny that the trailer felt the need to tell us twice that the movie is from the director of Ex Machina.

      Anyway, I’m not sure how good the movie would be. The book was very introspective, which often doesn’t translate well across different mediums. Still, would be interesting to check out.

      • Act replied 2 weeks ago

        I can’t imagine how it could work except that Ghost Bird’s narration is laid over the movie. She spend so much of the book completely alone.

        I also would hope they resist the impulse for jump scares and over-the-top effects, since the books horror was so subtle and in not seeing anything.

        • Seems they’re using interrogation after the fact as a framing device.

        • Farla replied 2 weeks ago

          While I’m suspicious Hollywood could ever not do jump scares, the fact the trailor is just cut to be all like “hey, look at this freaky place!!! oh hey, and this one!!!” actually makes me feel hopeful!

      • Farla replied 2 weeks ago

        That was my first thought, but then I figured, the book has so much horror that not only doesn’t work well in movie format but can’t be done at all (just…ALL of the unreliable narrator, the question of if what she says she sees she sees) that they’ll have to redo it to be a movie-screen set of horror equivalents. In that case, we get additional content that may or may not live up to the original, but at least won’t be redundant. And the book offers some few examples that are nice cimematic moments, like the description of the first expedition’s video, so I’m hoping they’ll use that as a springboard for the rest – the fact they didn’t redo it so she’s the lone woman in a group of men makes me think they’re trying to work with the book.

        • the fact they didn’t redo it so she’s the lone woman in a group of men 

          I wonder if the group will still be all women.

          • Going by the trailer, seems that way. They added men in the framing story, though, so depending on the script, it’s possible male characters would become more prominent than female ones other than Ghost Bird.

        • Hm, so your hope is for transformative adaptation that would take the themes of the book and build a semi-original movie around them? That’s rather optimistic.

  • Today we have a wild Enos! The story is actually decently written otherwise, but still so awkward.

    You should separate your author notes with a horizontal line; otherwise, they look like part of the […]

  • Before the great Octobering, a set of requested reviews.

    [Morning was in full motion around her, although the sparsely-populated town offered little more than idly chatting townsfolk and bubbling bikers, none of […]

    • This sentence seems really weird to me- “in full motion” but actually that’s little motion and no rush.

      It seems like they meant it as something like “in full swing”, which when you think about it is an equally nonsensical way to describe morning, and the town had fully woken up and started going about its business.

      [A mixture of stubborn adoration and almost idiotic adamance kept Adrielle with her new Magikarp, carrying him around in her arms from battle to battle until finally the glow of evolution took the floppy fish away, leaving her with a magnificent Gyarados named Lache.]

      I really wish people could come up with another way of leveling up a magikarp in a way not based on gameplay convention other than “hitting things with it”.

      This is really seeming very poor-me.

      I guessed this would be one of those kinds of fics around the time basic social niceties created a confusing rush of emotions for her. Pokemon fic really is as formulaic as Mini-Farla says, isn’t it?

       At least in a battle against a known enemy of society, the crowd was always on your side.

      It sounds like they meant it in a “public opinion is still on your side even if you’re doing a bad thing because you’re doing it to a member of a disagreeable social group” kinda way, but even if they did… it’s not like you’re considered a bad guy for going “our eyes have locked, we must do battle!” (which is really a gamist convention you should leave out of fiction to begin with) anyway.

       So, she was definitely not prepared when her Mawile darted forwards, her larger set of jaws open in preparation for her signature move: Bite.

      Of all the moves she wasn’t prepared for, it was… her signature move?

      • It sounds like they meant it in a “public opinion is still on your side even if you’re doing a bad thing because you’re doing it to a member of a disagreeable social group” kinda way

        Even still, one of the things about the pokeworld setting is it’s a place with minimal society and a ton of power concentrated in individuals. Trainers spend vast amounts of time alone or interacting in very small groups, and those interactions are almost entirely antagonistic – it doesn’t matter if someone challenges you to a pokemon battle because they think you’re cool or because they hate you, either way you and your pokemon get more battling experience. And because those interactions are about personal strength, if you’re the stronger party, there is nothing at all the other person can do about it.

        Even a society where trainers have a ton of regulation simply won’t be able to react particularly fast to any individual trainer. If I decide to punch someone in a crowded street, society can do something about it immediately. If she decided that hey, fuck it, let’s beat them up, no one else is there to stop her. Moment to moment, trainers have tons of freedom, and day to day/week to week/month to month, it’s a lot of work to keep track of them – so, you can do pretty much anything that’s just under the amount of effort it’d take to find you for whatever the punishment is.

    • Ed replied 2 weeks ago

      Before the great Octobering, a set of requested reviews.

      Also, I forgot to ask in my previous comment, but as this is my first great Octobering… dare I ask what a “great Octobering” is? I’m not going to enjoy what it has in store, am I? It does not sound remotely pleasant.

      • Farla replied 2 weeks ago

        I’ve been reviewing Homestuck fic during past Octobers. When I went through there wasn’t much, though, so I think I’ll roll that into the end-of-month pokefic batch.

        • Ed replied 2 weeks ago

          I’ve been reviewing Homestuck fic during past Octobers.

          Welp, see you in November.

  • Socordya changed their profile picture 2 weeks, 3 days ago

  • Socordya changed their profile picture 2 weeks, 6 days ago

  • The dyslexic author from before informs me I’m terrible and tells me to do the exact same things people have told us a hundred times before that don’t work. They helpfully demonstrate why they don’t work by […]

    •  It uses information (maybe not in the first chapter) that is from the anime AND manga worlds. So, since I can’t pick two worlds, I left it in the ANY category.

      Is tagging and categorizing a story based on what you expect it to become instead of what it is as common FFN as AO3? I always wonder what is going through someone’s mind when they add a tag like “more tags as characters appear” to the tag list. Like… yeah, that’s kind of the default assumption, isn’t it? If, in Chapter 15, Chester A. Fuckface makes his first appearance, I’d expect you to add Chester. A Fuckface to the tags list when you post chapter 15.

      Does FFN not allow you to edit tags after you post a work or something?

      In the past, you have already stated that you don’t like the way I write, so I would rather you NOT read my works

      I wonder if anyone who says this realizes that, if what they write is so hard to read that literally only they can read it, it’s pointless to post their work to the internet because they’re not going to want anyone else besides themselves to read their works.

      Its called Temperance #3 for a reason, it usually means that there are other stories before it (and usually, I would go and check out the other stories, if I could easily find them. Because they might be important to the story I was going to try and read).

      This is an interesting point, and I’d love to agree with it, but… of the three story works in the series I am currently working on, the first one basically gives a vague framework of the conceit of the alternate history and the other two are completely standalone stories that only require a vague knowledge of the conceits from the first (if that; I actually think I do a decent job of explaining the context in the works themselves). And I even have an appendix that implies some more differences that I didn’t manage to get to in the first story, that I plan on filling with more supplemental information on how the setting differs from the canon setting as needed.

       “please go to my A3O account to read the lemon, if you would like to do so.”

      As an aside, can someone with a higher Lore: Fanfiction stat please explain to me the etymology of the term “lemon”?

      Because of my learning disability, I don’t have that right. I am not a good judge on that. I have to rely on spellchecker and grammar and punctuation checkers

      Fair’s fair, this is probably the best reason you could get when you ask someone the “why don’t you try it and see how hard it is” question. I’m surprised you didn’t think of that when you were writing this.

      It’s on the author to filter the information they receive and decide for themselves whether or not to use it.

      Every time I post something to AO3, I spend the rest of the day going “argh, someone give me an actual critical review”, but it hasn’t come yet. :(

      It’s a real shame I don’t write (legitimate) Pokemon fanfiction. You’d probably love reviewing it.

      Even if none of the authors I review accept my arguments, new authors become aware of them by reading the reviews.

      I, for one, can attest to this. I actually used Farla’s grammar guide on punctuating dialogue as a guideline for formatting a tricky line (I forget which one) in my last story. Ultimately, I don’t think she had the specific answer I was looking for, but I made a judgement call based on a few of the other examples listed and was moderately happy with it.

      Besides, all I could do is try and look for reviews that I have made over the years (haven’t been reading much lately)

      Is there really no convenient way to find your reviews on FFN? That sucks.

      Their dyslexia also seems to be introducing communication problems; I’m having more trouble understanding them as time goes on, at least.

      It felt like it was getting harder to read for me too. If I had to guess, perhaps they’re writing their responses more quickly due to negative emotion, and aren’t giving them the same level of proofreading they gave the earlier ones? It’s not uncommon for spelling and grammatical errors to work their way into text for that exact same reason, when conversations get heated, even without dyslexia being added into the mix.

    • [You are not the first person to make arguments like these. You are not even the hundredth. I am sick of having to make the exact same rebuttal every single time. ]

      I’ve always found the most compelling argument for copypasta reviews (besides the obvious one about sanity) to be that copypasta ensures that no author will receive a harsher review just because they’re the hundredth person to make that stupid mistake.

      I think you’re running into that problem in your PM exchanges. Yes, these are arguments you’ve heard hundreds of times. You know that, readers of this blog know that, but random authors don’t. It’s a lot of work to type out personlized responses in a consistant tone each time this happens, and it sounds like you’re out of the energy for it at the moment.

      It might be wise to take a break from responding to PMs, as lately the conversations don’t seem to be going anywhere productive, and are leading to a lot of frustration on both sides. 

      • You know that, readers of this blog know that, but random authors don’t. 

        Normally this would be true, but this person knows about the blog. They have no excuse.

        I have considered making copypasta for some arguments; since they’re in PM, fewer people will even know they’re recylced! Haven’t narrowed down any yet, though. Peoples’ specific arguments tend to be varied enough that I can’t use canned responses at this stage. (I think I’m going to start linking people to the FAQ thread if they complain about my reviewing style, though.)

    • Writing and reading in a language not your own is…like a good way to learn that language?

      He never said “stick to the French speaking parts of the fandom” or anything like that. He was specifically talking about the extremely difficult task of writing fiction in a language you are not fully proficient in which, for the record, is actually an absolutely terrible idea if you want to learn a language.

      Writing fiction in English is not the way to get better at English, or any other language for that matter. Communicating to people in English is. Thinking on your feet in English is. The hardest part of teaching yourself a language is the lack of having a practice partner (who, preferably, is a native speaker of the language) to help you. And that’s basically what writing is.

      With writing, you’re just throwing your words into the wind, and any mistakes you make are just reinforced. There’s no point in practicing something incorrectly. Practice only makes perfect if it’s perfect practice. Doing something one thousand times, incorrectly, only makes it harder to learn the correct way to do something. They’re really not helping themselves by doing this.

      Don’t say “I’m not picking on them” because you are. You continue the conversation, you keeeeep replying, you’re picking on them

      How is that even picking on them in the first place?

      You’re gonna start linking people to the FAQ thread if they complain about your reviewing style. Ok. And?

      And he has had the exact same conversation with probably dozens of people at this point, and it’s really tiring for him to keep having it while keeping a neutral tone, so he’s going to write a neutral response to it and link it when appropriate. Exactly the same way he does the reviews themselves.

      I don’t know what you’re trying to accomplish with these reviews.

      The short version is “to hopefully increase the average level of quality of FFN’s Pokemon fanfiction”, but we’re actually talking about just this very thing in more depth over here.

      Maybe “Don’t like / Don’t read” is not such a bad policy when it comes to fanfiction.

      Speaking from personal experience, this doesn’t sound like such a bad idea, until the overall level of quality is so abysmally low that you literally haven’t found a single decent fic to read in months of concerted looking.

    • You did not have to reply to me at all. The entire review consisted of one minor thing that wasn’t even correct. As you can see from the dozens of other conversations where this exact thing happens, I probably wouldn’t have even replied if you had left it at that.

      You didn’t. You chose to attack me. You chose to “end it” with an incredibly condescending parting shot that ignored everything I was saying. You take responsibility for this.

      I’m writing online, in order to deal with PTSD- all because of my dyslexia. I’m trying to get over that and improve my writing abilities by writing online, therapy hasn’t helped. PTSD is hard to get rid of and deal with, and I’ve had for around 24 years now.

      I’m sorry that you’re dealing with that, truly. But the internet is not your therapist, and an open forum such as FFN cannot be a safe space. You’re an adult, and that means it’s on you to exercise self-care. Don’t stay in dangerous spaces you can’t control, and don’t start arguments if you don’t have the emotional capacity to fight them.

    • Maybe “Don’t like / Don’t read” is not such a bad policy when it comes to fanfiction.

      Yes, and that’s a two-way street. No one has to read or respond to my reviews, and no one has to use a review as a springboard to talk about my strategy in general. If you don’t want me to talk to you, don’t talk to me.

      • I also never understand how you’re supposed to know you won’t like it if you don’t read it. It’s just post hoc fallacy.

        • Ha! Yeah, “don’t like don’t read” is a valid response to “omg this story tagged ‘slash’ had slash in it!” not “hey your grammar could be improved in these ways”. Elmo already employs DLDR principles by avoiding the anime-world fics (or would, if anyone used that dang tag).

          • I’ve actually spent a lot of time on this one! I think we fell into a hole when we picked “read” as the verb, probably because fic tags were done so inconsistently we didn’t have a reliable word for “subject matter you damn well knew was there in advance”, or maybe because we accepted that people who read about two dudes kissing by accident would be completely in the right to throw a fit about it existing because something something religious freedom so “don’t like, shut up no one writing slash cares you don’t like it” never took off.

            It goes with “it’s on you to think about what interactions will be rewarding”, I think. If an author writes something centered on (genre/topic), and you don’t like (genre/topic), what does telling them, “Hey, I hate (genre/topic)!” accomplish? (And maybe there are (genre/topic) situations where you might feel that will accomplish something, like the steady stream of complaints about how rapey mainstream romance novels are. But have some clue what the point of talking is.) Don’t like, want to give it a shot and read anyway? Sure whatever. Don’t like, want to read and get mad? Sure whatever. Don’t like, think authors need to be informed that their (genre/topic) contained (genre/topic)? Waste of everyone’s time.

        • I think the general idea is more along the lines of “Don’t Like, Stop Reading” rather than not starting to read it in the first place.

    • It was not meant condescendingly.

      Okay, then I will explain. What we were discussing was not a matter of “opinion”. You were making a claim that I was wrong and needed to change. In that situation, opinions can be wrong, and people will expect you to provide hard evidence.

      In this context, responding to that with “well we all have opinions!” sounds like “Both our arguments are equally valid and also meaningless,” which is wrong and, yes, condescending. Regardless of your intent, that is what it’s going to look like to someone trying to argue facts, like I was. You chose the wrong disengagement tactic. I am sorry about the misunderstanding, but I cannot take people on good faith when they talk like that.

      I responded to your review in the first place to tell you that you were incorrect in your assumptions.

      Yes — and then you also proceeded to attack me on my reviewing style. How did you not expect that to aggravate me? If you don’t want to argue, don’t start arguments. You are an adult. Other people are not responsible for your bad decisions.

    • Some of you here say that I wasn’t understandable, well.

      Actually, at least as far as this PM chain was concerned, it was all understandable. It just seemed like, as the chain went on, your accounting for dyslexia started slipping a little. But, like I said above, it wasn’t really that much more noticable than the level of typos and less coherent thought trains we see from people without dyslexia who are making quicker replies due to some negative emotion.

       It was meant to end things in a somewhat peaceful manner!

      “Agree to disagree” is probably the least satisfactory end for the person who raises the dissent. Think about it this way: If the dissenter would agree to disagree in the end, why did they attempt to convince you of their position in the first place? They could have just agreed to disagree and never raised the disagreement to begin with.

      Do you give others the *honor* of a *spotlight*?

      He does, actually. You can find them by clicking on the “Pokemon author responses” tag of this post and scrolling down a little.

      As of writing, there’s “On Nuzlockes” and the two part “The Journey of ‘The Journey of Aura: Kalos Saga'” (by Farla) on page one; “Armchair Therapy 2”, “The Uberteam”, “A Challenger Approaches”, “On Not-Fanfiction, Take Two”,  “On Servitude”, “In Which I Play Armchair Therapist” on page 2; and “Move Those Goalposts”, “A New Low”, “On Fanon”, and “Concern Troll” on page 3. There are more if you go further in, I promise you.

      Of those, “On Nuzlockes”, “On Servitude”, and “On Fanon” are the most like this one. He’s not specifically trying to call you out, it’s just that what you had to say is an extremely common thing he encounters, and he just so happened to decide to use you as a sample case for it. It’s not a personal attack.

      “The Journey of ‘The Journey of Aura: Kalos Saga'” and “A New Low” are specifically about the people they’re directly focused at.

      I’m trying to gain some confidence by writing where others can see. You could try to be a bit kinder and not assume that I know about every blasted thing you do or say on this site.

      This is probably going to sound more harsh than I mean it to, but confidence that evaporates the moment it’s tested isn’t really confidence. If what you want is to build confidence, I suggest you go back to his original review of your story, and look at each individual suggestion. While you do, keep in mind that they are suggestions, and that he has no power to force you to do anything other than that which you give him.

      Read them again, and decide “does he have a valid point?” If you decide the answer is “yes”, you have two options: Either edit the story to take those suggestions into consideration or keep them in mind when you start writing the next one. If the answer is “no”, then just ignore it, and keep doing what you’re doing the way you want to do it.

      True confidence is being able to hold firm to your beliefs even when they’re challenged, for as long as you continue to believe in them, and having the courage to accept when you were wrong when presented with beliefs that ring more true to you.

    • It was not meant condescendingly. It was meant to end things in a somewhat peaceful manner! I had a headache- Which was caused by you. 

      Alright, so in the future, please keep in mind:

      1) You are not on a time limit. You can come back later if you can’t handle a response now.

      2) You can stop arguing with someone by stopping.

      3) If you really don’t want to end the argument by just stopping and need to say something, you can say, “This is stressing me out, so I’m going to stop arguing now.” Not “we’re both equally right/wrong!” or “you’re a dick so I quit!” or “you’re so wrong you’re harming my physical and mental health!” or anything else where you keep arguing while telling the other person they can’t reply.

      • I too am bad about keeping track of PMs. One option would be, if you’re on a computer, to leave that tab open so you know to go back to it. Another is to just accept that maybe you’ll forget about it but that your sanity is worth more than never dropping out of a conversation. Personally, I don’t mind people dropping out suddenly and if I really wanted a reply, I’d send a reminder PM after a week or something. Most people will be able to fill in the blank – you were angry, then you stopped talking, you must’ve been upset and not wanted to talk further.

        Why do you hate blocking people? I don’t hate being blocked. “Huh, this person has already encountered my reviews and does not want me to write another one for their particular fic. Now we can save time by not interacting!” It’s very, very rare I’d want to PM someone out of the blue, and if I ever needed to, I could just make a new account. Not blocking, on the other hand, can be frustrating/stressful – it’s putting responsibility for someone else’s mental health on me, someone who will review hundreds of stories at a time and rarely pays attention to pennames.

        “Then block me!” isn’t meant to be a threat of “or else I’ll harass you forever hahahaha!” It’s just the simplest way to accomplish the request of “no more reviews” for everyone.

        I waited 15-20 minutes after my last message, to give it enough time to get through the system, then I blocked. 

        As a frequent blockee, I can also tell you this sounds way more stressful than it needs to be. The PMs are near instantaneous, you can send them even after you’ve blocked someone, and also, usually the blocking is pretty eloquent all in itself and doesn’t even need an accompanying message.

        If leaving someone blocked indefinitely is bugging you, perhaps consider unblocking people periodically? If an interaction with someone is unpleasant, block them, then unblock them a day/week later in case one year they come back and want to talk. (Not us – definitely keep us blocked.) The person won’t be notified they were unblocked, so they won’t come right back to keep badgering you about the current issue, but if you ever cross paths again they’ll be able to talk.

      •  It does sound like: “block me or I’ll keep harassing you- etc…”

        If you manage to take one review out of hundreds upon hundreds as a personal attack, there’s not anything anyone could say you wouldn’t take as some kind of personal threat.

        Further, there is nothing he could say that will make that person happy because they’re not actually upset about how very Wronged they are, they’re pissed at getting a bad review on their precious work and grasping at reasons to justify it. The onus isn’t on Elmo to dance around the feelings of this person, it’s on that person to not use their feelings as an excuse to lash out at others.

      • I like being able to talk things out and come to understandings.

        I also enjoy this…but I don’t find myself getting upset when I do so. If you regularly get stressed out when you talk to people and find yourself yelling that they’re making you miserable by talking to you, then you need to think about how you can avoid that situation where you’re miserable.

        Giving someone a chance to explain themselves is fine – I agree, I think it’s a silly when people say just U SUXXOR and then immediately block. But it means you have to want to hear whatever the explanation is. “Explanation” isn’t always going to be “apology”. “Understanding” isn’t going to always be “agreeing with you”. If you say, “Why are you being a dick to me?” and the other person says, “I wasn’t trying to be a dick to you! I was doing something else.” then you’ve got your explanation. If you disagree (you could well be right and they were just being a dick!) then we’ve moved into the arguing stage, which is okay so long as you’re also okay with arguing. If you want an explanation, but you’ll only accept certain explanations and will argue with others until you get it, if you want understanding but only other people understanding that you’re the one who’s right, and also you hate arguing…then it’s not the other person that’s causing the problem, it’s that your expectations are setting up a situation that’ll end with you unhappy.

        If you’ve given someone a chance to explain themselves and they’ve done so, and your real issue is not wanting a review from them, then it’s time to block. You can even say, “I do not want a review like this, and I will block you if you can’t promise to never review me like this again.” if you’re worried that the other person will find you rude or not realize they’ve set up this situation. But you need to be able to set limits on your own interactions, rather than needing everyone else on the site limit themselves in every interaction with everyone there to the particular way you prefer just in case you encounter it. 

    • Clearly “don’t like don’t read” involves retroactively altering your timeline so that you did not read the fic that you now know you do not like.

      • I have in fact been told to keep reading because future chapters will address my complaint AND don’t like don’t read by the same people, so yeah, some assholes have time machines they’re keeping from the rest of us.

  • Another PhD devalues their degree, but in a twist, it’s an engineer this time! Also, some discussion about the evolution of hate groups and bigotry.

    re: Your review to Fire & Ash
    Sep 16Montenya of the […]

    • Ed replied 3 weeks ago

      In the books and mini novelizations that are officially published by the Pokémon Company International

      Dude, you really need to add something like “it’s wrong when the Pokemon Company and Nintendo do it too, and the only reason they do is because trademark and copyright law” or something like this to that copypasta. Just throw it right there in their faces so they can’t even ignore it by not reading the thread. It is by far the most common response to get, and let’s be honest, 90% of the people you’re linking the capitalization thread to aren’t going to click it.

      my loose philosophy is to mostly adhere to game mechanics and come up with story/in-universe reasons why I can hand wave it

      And maybe some kind of “you’re writing a story, not a game, so make it follow narrative rules, not game rules” copypasta.

      I would have included an AU to direct people who haven’t read my other story to my other story. But I realized that if you need a totally separate piece of work to understand what’s going on, you’ve basically failed at general sequel writing.

      This is one of the things I really love about AOOOOOOOO. When I write something set in my AU, if I want to indicate that, I just make it part of the series that begins with the story that establishes the AU.

      Wolves, more specifically a hardened, powerful, and much bigger version of an average wolf

      A person skilled with a knife can kill one on their own.

      Wow, people in this world are hard-fucking-core.

      You’ve got the swear filter on, might want to switch that off.

      Wait, so the swear filter prevents people from seeing your swears, rather than preventing you from seeing other people’s? That’s… what?

      But Pokémon Red is sort of an interactive video game where the player gets to make many choices.

      See what I mean?

      Goshdarnit people step up to the plate.

      I don’t want to sound unnecessarily cruel or mean or anything, but… why? Even if people listen to your advice, what do we actually gain from it? Even though I published my first fanfiction on AO3 solely because of how frustrated I was with the ASOIAF fic on that site, I’m… honestly not sure why you subject yourself to this.

      the stories are written in a fantasy world, which may have different grammatical rules

      Well, that sure is a new one. Thankfully. Though I’m starting to worry about how often I’ve been saying that recently.

      • More people reviewing may convince more people to write better, which is the ultimate goal of all of this.

        • But why pick the Pokemon community on FFN as your population of people to convince to be better writers?

          • Maybe because they’re fans of pokemon and would like to see more better-written pokemon fics?

            • Hm, I suppose, but it’s really starting to seem like it’d be more efficient to find good authors and convince them to write Pokemon rather than to find Pokemon authors and convince them to write well at this point.

              Though perhaps my own mentality is colouring my view on this one (as far as wondering why he bothers is concerned). I’m definitely a “if you want something done right, do it yourself” kinda guy, and I could never do reviews like what Mini-Farla does. I have a hard enough time reading huge fanfictions I’m interested in, let alone ones I’m reading just to critique. You’d have to pay me to be an editor to do that.

              And on top of that, well… if you’ve ever read my comments here, you know that I can be pretty harsh and completely unable to sugar-coat things, so I fear that it’d be a waste of time from the get-go.

              • Mainly, I think it comes down to practice. Pokemon fandom has a number of very specific problems that Farla hashed out the answers to ages ago. That makes the copypasta style a lot quicker and easier. If we moved to another fandom, we’d have to spend a long time seeing what problems are endemic and coming up with good responses to them. (I can confirm that her Homestuck reviews take much longer to write, for instance.)

                For me at least, I also feel like I don’t want to read fanfiction of stories I actually like, because then the chances of getting something as good or better than the original are slimmer. With Pokemon I don’t really mind since it’s light on canon details so I don’t care if everyone writes Ash wrong or whatever. But like, you saw my Gravity Falls reviews, right? It was just endless ranting that everyone was out of character. I feel like all that can do is warp my understanding and enjoyment of the original. Pokemon is a nice sweet spot of “I don’t care about the bad writers ruining canon, but it could be interesting in the hands of a good writer.”

                I have considered dipping into Adventure Time at some point since it’s a similarly freeform setting, but we’d still have the problem that everyone writes my favorite character wrong, which would just make me froth at the mouth after prolonged exposure. (And judging by AOOO at least, it has the same original fiction problem as Gravity Falls.)

              • (I can confirm that her Homestuck reviews take much longer to write, for instance.)

                … She used to review Homestuck fanfiction? That’s… If you gaze into the mouth of Oblivion, the mouth gazes back.

                 But like, you saw my Gravity Falls reviews, right?

                Nope! That was before my time.

                It was just endless ranting that everyone was out of character.

                But this, I can easily imagine. This is the reason I wrote fanfiction in the first place. It’s a large chunk of why I don’t do the same thing for ASOIAF on AO3.

                I have considered dipping into Adventure Time

                I shudder at the thought. You’re a far braver man than I am.

              • Oh no, does AT fandom have some reputation I’m not aware of?

              • Not that I know of. I’m just guessing based on the combination of “adventure time”, “fandom”, and “fanfiction authors”. It probably isn’t as bad as Gravity Falls, but still.

              • The nature of fanfic means it’s not particularly easy to get people in one fandom to jump ship to another.

                People who habitually jump generally do it to chase the biggest crowds for attention. Infamous for writing the same story (with the same characters) over and over in every fandom and for promptly jumping back out of the fandom to chase the next big thing. So, pretty much impossible to hook one, and wouldn’t produce anything of interest if we did.

                Good writers of other fandoms who occasionally dip into ours produce, going by the recs of outsiders for good pokefic, decently written fic that doesn’t really engage with anything new because they’ve only just started thinking about the fandom. So trying to collect one-off fics from random good outsiders wouldn’t be all that interesting either.

                You simply don’t get interesting fanfic except by someone who’s really fannish about the subject and has thought a lot about it, and it’s pretty much impossible to convince a random author in another fandom to feel that way about your own fandom.

              • The nature of fanfic means it’s not particularly easy to get people in one fandom to jump ship to another.

                I’m not quite clear what you mean by this. Is there some unique thing about fanfiction in specific that makes this harder than usual or are you talking about fanfic as part of the generally obsessive fandom trend in general?

                it’s pretty much impossible to convince a random author in another fandom to feel that way about your own fandom.

                I think this is part of my general lack of understanding of fandom culture and mentality. I don’t really consider myself part of any fandom; not even the things I’m insanely passionate about. I used to be part of the Exalted subcommunity (about 30 – 50 regulars) in a larger RPG community, but it felt substantially different from what people describe “fandoms” as being like.

                So while there are people obsessing over this one thing and having to cram literally everything into this one thing (like all those totally unrelated to the source material modern day AUs of ASOIAF I keep complaining about here), or hopping from Thing to Thing to Thing to Thing and acting in the It fandom exactly like they did in the Homestuck fandom (and creating fandoms for things that aren’t even out yet, like how the Wreck-it Ralph fandom massively proceeded the release of the movie), I’m here wracking my brain and perusing AO3 for ideas on a new category to contribute to because I want to do something other than ASOIAF for a bit. I’ve only written 11,851 words in that category, and already, I feel like I want to do something else for at least three or four thousand words. You know, just to get a little bit of variety in my bibliography.

                And I know what you’re going to say: Why not try Pokemon? And to that, it’s just like… I dunno, I just can’t seem to see it as enough of a setting or something. And I definitely prefer using settings to using characters. I just never feel like I’m portraying them correctly. I think Pokemon just feels like too much of a thing that exists to facilitate a video game for me to use it in a narrative context and I don’t know enough about the fandom and gamer culture to write something that uses pokemon as a franchise (like what I did in that “pokemon” fic I wrote for you).

                I recently got my hands back on my old RPG book collection, which I haven’t been able to read for like three years now, so I’m thinking of doing something with that. Revisit some of my old ideas that never materialized into games. Most of my best Shadowrun characters weren’t actually shadowrunners. Could do something with one of them, or something.

              • And I know what you’re going to say: Why not try Pokemon? And to that, it’s just like… I dunno, I just can’t seem to see it as enough of a setting or something. 

                Well, no, I wouldn’t, because that’s precisely why I’m saying I don’t try to lure in good authors rather than improve bad authors already here. Authors are writing what they write because they’re already engaged with that canon, and people can’t choose to be personally invested in something else when they’re asked to.

                Which actually applies for reviewing as well – I enjoy reading crappy fic if it’s about a subject matter that can make me think about other, less crappy possibilities. Reviewing someone’s fanfic in a canon I don’t care about? That is work, and I do demand some form of payment for it, and also, I likely don’t do as good a job of those reviews as someone who loved that type of story, just as authors given some sort of payment to produce fanfic in a given fandom (usually attention, sometimes now literally money) tend to produce crappier and less canon-focused stuff.

              • Authors are writing what they write because they’re already engaged with that canon, and people can’t choose to be personally invested in something else when they’re asked to.

                See, I think I’m emotionally invested enough in Pokemon to write for it. That shit was my childhood and all. But… I just don’t think I could do it from a writing perspective.

                When I’ve gone through my own personal list of interests, specifically looking for a new category to branch out into and write fiction for, most of the ones that have been crossed off the list of possibilities weren’t crossed off because I wasn’t interested enough, but because I didn’t think they would translate well into my style of fanfiction.

      • Swear filter censors other people’s swears, which is why it looks like StElmo typed K** instead of KKK.

    • I admit to skipping these posts, so I may not know the whole thing, but as far as I know these reviews are unsolicited. Like, you found the story, read it, pasted your thing, waited for reactions?

      Wow, it’s almost like I… used the comment feature on a public website or something. Wow. I’m such a monster.

      Nobody gets to say “You have to be THIS good at writing to participate in fandom”

      You do realize it’s literally impossible for me to do this, right? I have no power to control authors or even force them to talk, and the site has a built-in feature to give them ultimate veto power over me. This conception of Farla and me as controlling tyrants is pure fantasy.

      The purpose of PM reposts has been discussed here. I really do wish they weren’t necessary (I don’t do it for AOOO reviews), but they are.

    • But I could think of so many reasons for a kid to read your reviews/ see the followup posted here and…panic, or feel super defensive, or get sad.

      Most authors, at least in the subcommunity of Pokemon authors, appear to be in the 18 to 22 range. But regardless, leaning to take (or, as Mini-Farla is quick to mention, ignoring) criticism is an important part of growing as an author.

      I’m not saying you bullied them, but I say they seemed to feel bullied/trolled, and I can see why your chosen method would make them think so.

      If they feel bullied by an explanation of proper dialogue formatting, they’re probably going to feel bullied by literally any critique, and nothing can be done for that. If someone is so thin-skinned that the only two options are “lavishing praise” and “bullying”, that is itself a problem.

    • Okay, let’s learn from my last mishap and establish some things first.

      What exactly are you trying to argue here? Do you have a moral objection to my actions, a practical objection (i.e. I could accomplish my goals more effectively through a different method), or something else? We’re going to be arguing at cross-purposes unless we can choose one sphere to focus on.

    • If someone is so thin-skinned that the only two options are “lavishing praise” and “bullying”, that is itself a problem.

      The crux of this — of all of it — is really that everyone think they’re great. No one posts stuff they think is shit, they post it thinking it will be lavished with praise, and when that doesn’t happen their pride is offended, but they have enough shame not to admit that, and come up with whatever the nearest justification is to not listen, where it’s making themselves a victim or debating capitalization or whatever. This is the explanation for 99% of the responses, possibly more. People absolutely 100% post expecting only praise and blame the messenger when they don’t get it.

    • @Lud, the heart removal thing is indeed a flaw off the new like system. Don’t worry about it. I continue to search for a better one.

    • No one posts stuff they think is shit, they post it thinking it will be lavished with praise, and when that doesn’t happen their pride is offended

      I’m curious what that means for me. As much as I liked when people posted comments saying “hey, this was really good”, I am extremely disappointed by my lack of “hey, you can do better” comments.

      It’s probably a result of posting on AO3 and the review culture and all that stuff blah, blah, blah, but c’mon people engage with the story and tell me all the parts that don’t make sense! Or at least tell me what you liked! If all you’re going to do is leave a “hey, I liked this” comment, that’s what kudos are for!

      (Alternatively, I just need to write slightly worse stories, because when I’ve linked them on far less forgiving communication mediums to people far more willing to criticize me when I deserve it, I’ve received nothing but positive response as well… even on the fics I intentionally wrote to be terrible things that should never have existed. But to be fair, I’m only friends with the sort of people who are precisely that sort of terrible themselves.)

    • If all you’re going to do is leave a “hey, I liked this” comment, that’s what kudos are for!

      Haha oh Farla’s gonna be mad at you now. She hates kudosing.

    • I don’t really like it either, but I like it better than a comment that just says something like “hey, I like this!” without explaining why or anything more substantial than that for me to actually engage with. That’s not really any more useful or meaningful to me than a kudos.

      I basically treat the little heart-shaped like button on this blog identically to how I treat kudos on AO3.

    • Do you feel like you have to engage with every comment? I think that’s where the kudos/comment opinion divide comes from. “Hey I liked it!” means more than a kudos because it takes more effort and is impossible to do by accident, but I feel no more obligation to respond to it than I would a kudos.

    • Do you feel like you have to engage with every comment?

      No, but at this point, I get so few comments that I want to, and every comment I have no ability or desire to engage with is a letdown.

    • Farla replied 2 weeks ago

      Yeah, but someone who regularly types “lol cool” has much less of a barrier to adding “my favorite part was…” and so on, while for someone who just clicks a button, even if they do have something more to say, there’s a good chance they won’t say it.

    • Ed replied 2 weeks ago

      I dunno, that seems like an infinitesimally small difference in energy expenditure.

    • The issue is that starting anything at all is the hardest part. Facebook and other places have found that putting in sample text makes people far more likely to say something, either a modified version of the text or something completely different. “I liked this!” as a default is similar. It gives people somewhere to start.

  • A weird story where pokemon lose their powers and are despised by the human populace for no conceivable reason; a well-written story from a pokemon’s perspective about how poaching is very wrong and totally […]

    • This is improper semicolon usage.

      It’s also improper colon usage, no?

      Writing both gibberish and translation just looks incredibly awkward. If it’s absolutely necessary, just write the translation with a different marker to show it’s in a different language.

      I would also go and suggest that, if you actually want to have pokemon make vocalizations, you should do it how you’d do it for animals. “The charmander made a grumpy sounding noise” or something to that effect.

      As someone who has often been in this position, I can confidently tell you that letting go hurts even more.

      … You often have your ears bitten?

    • Pedant time!


      [“I told you, the entire Magnemite line is weak to ground type.”]

      …Except that they all have Levitate, so no, not unless you use Gravity. If you’re going to write a story based on a highly literal interpretation of the game mechanics, you can’t ignore half of them.

      They have never had Levitate in terms of actual game mechanics, and they’d probably be overpowered if they did. I know players/fans have complained about this because it contradicts how they’re depicted most of the time and doesn’t make a lot of sense, but they’ve never had it. (I wasn’t sure what the actual possibilities were off the top of my head so I checked bulbapedia: their abilities are Magnet Pull, Sturdy, and Analytic (hidden)). They can learn Magnet Rise, which is vaguely similar to Levitate in function but requires using a move.

      (You see the same problem with other pokemon in the games too, e.g. beedrill and dustox are usually shown airborne but can be hit with ground-type moves anyway.)

      Unless this fanfic author has specifically depicted them levitating in a way that would imply they had the ability, making this criticism in error is probably just going to make them ignore the rest of what you have to say (finding something “objectively wrong” is often all it takes for someone to dismiss everything a critic has to say even if everything else they’ve said is on point).

  • Load More
Skip to toolbar