davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)

Despite my predictions of disaster, my long-distance controlled drug prescription renewal all went through without an issue and I had the filled prescription in my hand by 11AM the next morning. Which means I'm currently comfortable, rather than shivering my way through opioid withdrawal (last patch of the old prescription ran out overnight).

I strongly suspect both GP's surgeries were confused about the system (mine that it was possible at all, my mother's that it had changed in the past week), and that that's probably true of a lot of them across the country. Which isn't exactly reassuring.

davidgillon: Text: I really don't think you should put your hand inside the manticore, you don't know where it's been. (Don't put your hand inside the manticore)
I'm still in Durham.

My Mother's GP Surgery: No, you can't have an appointment  to  get a repeat  prescription for a controlled drug, because the whole system just changed  and your own surgery can do it electronically.

Me: They were pretty adamant they can't do that for controlled drugs when I talked to them a couple of months ago.

Mother's GP: It all changed just 2 weeks ago. Byee!

Me to My Own GP's Surgery: They said it all just changed and you can do it.

My Own GP's Surgery: I'm pretty sure they're wrong, I'll bet they're confused about the gabapentin thing*. Best we can do is give it a try and see if it works.

So I'm stuck in limbo, needing the repeat by Friday, and may end up sitting in Urgent Care/A&E just to get a repeat prescription (as opioid withdrawal is narrowly worse than sitting in A&E). And I just had  to  email my GP saying 'whoops, didn't think about your normal 48 hour turnaround, can you put a rush on that, pretty please.'

I said it would be a pain in the arse....

* I'll bet My GP's Surgery is right. Gabapentin and pregabalin were just made controlled drugs, effective this week, but because the pharmacists whinged, they don't have the same restrictions as normal controlled drugs, like my buprenorphine..

davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)

Dad was released from hospital tonight and is happily ensconced back in his room at the care home. They've actually been talking about releasing him since weekend before last, but the microbiology department kept arguing for more tests to be really, absolutely, totally sure he was rid of the infections - we're talking belt, braces, piece of string and half-a-dozen safety pins. Monday his doctors finally told them no, he wasn't having an MRI because it just isn't practical to try and give him one (he won't stay still) and they were going to release him, but then found his potassium was low, so it's taken two days to get that back to normal. On the one hand it means he had an extra week of IV antibiotics to be really sure the bugs are gone, on the other it's been exhausting for the family. Fingers crossed for things getting back to normal.

Writing progress on Disruptive Technology ground to a halt while this was going on. I picked it up again in the last couple of days and hit 25kwords last night. The break was sort of useful as it let me come at the opening chapters again after a slight break, and I decided to somewhat rejig how my protagonist handles things. I think either way works, but this one is slightly better paced for easing the reader into her life. It was quite a small change, but ended up needing a lot of rewriting. This is an example of how my writing process works, I do too much planning to be a pure pantser, but I loop back on myself to rewrite stuff time after time as the writing process reveals deeper character motivations or plot points that need addressing. I don't think it would be too different if I was plotting it out in detail, though I'm currently trying to decide whether I've written myself into a corner where the only sensible options require my protagonist to brief the attorney general, and possibly the president, which is much higher up the tree of government than I'd planned, but with the degree of disruption I just imposed, it's looking awfully like it's necessary and realistic. I'd planned that disruption, but when you delve into the details of how it would play out, the reality starts to dictate where your story can go.

Seriously, WTF is My Government Doing?

A Brexit no deal scenario was voted down last night, which almost certainly means Parliament voting to request an extension to Article 50 later today. But meantime, three senior Tories, including IDS, who is a one time leader of the party, apparently flew to Poland to lobby the Polish government to oppose extending Article 50. So that's lobbying a foreign power to oppose the expressed will of Parliament. I'm going to need someone to explain to me how that isn't treason. And while IDS was in Poland, Farage was telling the EU parliament to do the same, and the seriously shady Arron Banks was apparently lobbying the Italian fascists of the Northern League to do the same. The story.

Recent Reading:

Thunderbird Falls, C E Murphy (Walker Papers Book 2, or 3)

Newbie shaman and beat cop Joanne Walker (aka Siobhan Walkingstick) has been slacking off on learning the metaphysical side of her new powers, but then she discovers a body in the University of Washington showers after a fencing lesson, and the case turns out to involve her more intimately than she could ever have imagined. The dead woman was the Mother of a coven, and they want Jo to take her place, which given no one knows Jo was a teenage mother pretty much confirms they're the real deal. The weather is still badly out of whack after Jo's defeat of Cernunnos in book one and the coven claim to have a way to fix that, by teaming up with an ancient spirit warrior. Jo wants advice on how to proceed, but Coyote is MIA, and then her partner/father figure Gary the seventy-something taxi driver has a heart attack that puts him in the hospital, so it's just as well someone had answered her 'please teach me' on the metaphysical version of craigslist. Well, probably.

I was quite impressed by this, it's rare for someone to have their protagonist screw up quite so emphatically, but Jo pulls through in the end, though Lake Washington may never be the same again. What's irritating, and hinted at by the 'Book 2, or 3' above, is that the narrative keeps referencing a story that happens between book 1 and this one, and apparently it's not published in the main series, but in a multi-author collection of novellas, which isn't linked from Murphy's author page on Amazon as far as I can see. I only found out about it by going and looking in her Wikipedia entry.

Coyote Dreams, C E Murphy (Walker Papers Book 3, or 4)

It's a fortnight on from the events of Thunderbird Falls, the day after the Fourth of July, and large chunks of Seattle PD appear to be having a duvet day. Jo would be happier having a duvet day, having gotten thoroughly blitzed at the North Precinct picnic, but she just woke up to find a strange man in her bed, and neither of them quite remember what happened last night. To make matters worse, she's rapidly joined for breakfast by Gary, and then by a six-year-old and her mother she promised a tour of the precinct, and forgot, plus her fencing coach Phoebe (on the phone), who is so pissed that Jo forgot her lesson that she is insisting on taking her clubbing later. To make the morning perfect, she then finds her boss at the door. Captain Michael Morrison's mission is more serious, Jo's friend Detective Billy Holliday is comatose in the hospital for unknown reasons, and never mind his strict adherence to logic, if one of his people is down then he wants the only healer in the department to see what she can do. To make things worse, Morrison's appearance completes the circle on why Jo ended up in bed with a strange man, because she saw Morrison hanging out with a strange woman at the picnic, which drove her UST for him into overdrive and led to her drinking most of a quart of whiskey. And it turns out that her one night stand, Mark Bragg, is Morrison's new girlfriend's brother (twin brother, it eventually turns out). So hey, double date from hell.

Things escalate as more and more of the department falls under the influence of the sleeping sickness, and worse, when Jo tries to contact Coyote, she finds him trapped by the same power, and maybe dead. With her Coyote unavailable casting about for help drags ger into what is almost a retconning of her teenage years. Apparently Coyote isn't a new factor in her life, he first appeared to her when she had her first period, but kept that memory for her sleeping mind, because waking-Jo was a little shit who couldn't be trusted with that kind of power. As if that wasn't enough extra pressure, junior-Jo was a little shit because she's a newly created soul, and hasn't had aeons of reincarnation to learn how to handle that kind of power. And she needs that kind of power because the Great Spirit has a job for her at some point in the future. So no pressure then, negotiate the rapids of your UST with your boss wanting to rip the face off his new girlfriend, figure out where the relationship with hellbitch's brother is going, save all your friends from the sleeping sickness, and prep for it by facing off with your teenage self in a way you're fairly certain is going to ruin her life.

I'm not sure whether this is a retconning so much as a uniquely unreliable narrator, but it's pretty well handled and it does make Jo's backstory make more sense. And the ultimate stakes bigger. On the downside there are still multiple references to the missing story.

Other Reading

Amazon is having a sale of Kindle military history stuff, and the chance to pick up books that normally go for c£30 for £1:20 was too much to resist. I ended up buying 8 books (so far), I'm not certain how much I saved, but probably comfortably over a hundred, possibly two. A couple are duplicates of books I already have in hardback, but they're books I reference a lot, so £1:20 for searchable text and access when I'm up in Durham is well worth it. Of the others, five were on my 'buy when you get a chance' list, and only one was an impulse purchase. I think that was quite restrained of me ;)


davidgillon: Text: I really don't think you should put your hand inside the manticore, you don't know where it's been. (Don't put your hand inside the manticore)
There's currently a twitter spat between on the one hand, William Shatner, and on the other, a load of autism self-advocates complaining over his support for Autism Speaks. Shatner is ablesplaining how they're all wrong, but doesn't seem to be aware that even though they're technically wrong in some of their points, they are points that have historically been correct until recently, such as Autism Speaks not having anyone autistic on their board, which was absolutely true from the last autistic board remember resigning in disgust in 2013, until they changed their tune over a lot of stuff and managed to get a couple of new ones. But what really turned my stomach was Shatner claiming it was all about money:

I'm just imagining Spock and Bones watching him and both thinking, "Seriously, Jim?"

(And if he was up to speed on autism he'd know the high and low functioning labels are now disparaged)

davidgillon: Dina Meyer as Oracle, sitting a manual chair in front of a clock face (Wheelchair)

My submission to Disabled People Destroy Fantasy was meant to go in at the weekend, but I was sidetracked due to this plagiarism thing. Anyway, it's gone in tonight, because something's come up and I may need to dash north, and I noticed something when I was going through the process that isn't obvious from their webpage for it.

Submissions are open until the 28th, but that's 5AM London Time on the 28th, not end of day, or even end of the US working day.

If you're planning a last minute submission, that last minute is bearing down on you 19 hours earlier than you might potentially expect.

*rolls eyes*

davidgillon: Text: You can take a heroic last stand against the forces of darkness. Or you can not die. It's entirely up to you" (Heroic Last Stand)

Facebook just took down the post in which I mentioned being plagiarized. Apparently it violates their standards on bullying and harassment. Seriously?!?

I think it's only the one in the RPG group, I posted it in two other places, which makes me heavily suspicious that the plagiarizer has reported me. Did I upset the big bad soldier's feelings?

davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)
So last night the plagiarizer agreed to publish a specific form of wording (thanks to [personal profile] legionseagle

 for advice) acknowledging he'd copied my work. Today I needed some time away from it, so I've spent my day buried in DWP stats. At 5:30 I spotted a message from a friend that implied he had posted something that wasn't what was expected. On checking I found he'd used the older form he'd proposed, but it still acknowledges that he used my article and presented it as his. Which he'd wrapped in about a page of text protesting that this wasn't actually plagiarism.

So I noted that this wasn't the agreed wording, pointing out what that was.

And he's been whinging constantly ever since. Apparently it was completely unreasonable of me not to be on Facebook all day, even though everything was agreed last night. (He sent a message at 04:57 saying he'd changed his mind) And it wasn't his fault. And it wasn't plagiarization. And noting what he'd agreed to say was unfair.

At this point I trust his behaviour so little I've screenshotted his statement in case he changes it later.

You would think I was dealing with a whining teenager who won't admit he was caught. He's actually a serving soldier.

davidgillon: Text: True Love always shoots to kill (True Love Always Shoots to Kill)
The current situation is the editor of the fanzine pulled it from DriveThruRPG as soon as they became aware, so no need to invoke DMCA. The plagiarizer, who unsurprisingly turns out not to have the first clue about copyright law, is willing, after being prodded vigorously, to publicly acknowledge me as the author in the FB group where it had been circulated additionally to being published online. We're negotiating wording. He's trying to hurry me, claiming he might be sent out on exercise in the morning, which is potentially true, but I'll agree when I'm happy with it and not before.
davidgillon: Me, in a glider cockpit in France (Gliding)

Currently Writing

Things have been a bit complicated, with trying to both rewrite the first chapter of Graveyard Shift in different PoV for submission to Disabled People Destroy Fantasy as a short story, while keeping up my momentum on Disruptive Technology. In practise I stalled out on both, but then managed to restart myself. Graveyard Shift came together in two sessions, with a week in between them, and progress got much faster when I realized that switching PoV means switching a lot of things the story focuses on, because even if the characters are friends and partners, what they're immediately concerned with differs. That's currently in final editing, having been cut from 6800 words to 5750.

Disruptive Technology I set aside until I had a complete draft of Graveyard Shift, but I'm now back at it, with the manuscript standing at 23700 words. I had a breakthrough yesterday and realised what my mid-point of the novel has to be, which helps a lot with balance and structure. I was worried earlier in the week that it was getting too talky, so I took a look at what was going on and managed to shift some scenes around, which has helped. I may need to look at some police procedurals to see how they balance this kind of thing, where the investigation is just getting started and people are feeling their way without strong leads to follow. Unfortunately it's not the kind of investigation where you can wander quaint villages encountering interesting witnesses.

Things researched since last time: Washington State Patrol Crime Lab, C-RAM systems - that's Counter Rockets, Artillery and Mortars, who has them post Iraq/Afghanistan, how many major airports there are in the US, layout of LAX, flight times to LAX from both SeaTac and DC, where my characters could fly into if LAX is shut.

Currently Reading

I stalled on the Bujold novella, wanted something light and readable, so went back to C E Murphy's Urban Shaman/Walker Papers series, which I've previously read the first two of.

Urban Shaman, C E Murphy.

Joanne Walker is flying back into Seattle after spending the past three months with her dying, estranged mother. Looking out of the window on final approach, she sees a woman on the point of being attacked, so hares out of the airport, grabbing the first taxi she finds, and Gary, its driver, who's 73, bored, and built like a linebacker. They find the woman, Marie, hiding from her attacker, and take her to a diner to hear her story, at which point the Wild Hunt turn up outside, and Marie reveals 1) she's a banshee, and 2) Jo's about to die. This does in fact happen, though not without Jo managing to walk up the sword that's impaling her and stick a knife in Cernunnos, head of the Hunt. This is when things turn really strange, with Jo, who has been denying her half-Cherokee heritage since she was 18, meeting Coyote, and being talked through healing herself, using the metaphor that she's a car, as she's a mechanic.

And she's not just a mechanic, she's a mechanic for Seattle PD. Or at least she was until she went AWOL for three months. And as Precinct Captain Michael Morrison delights in pointing out, he hired her replacement 10 weeks ago. But that doesn't mean she's out of a job, because a blatantly contrived set of circumstances mean she was sent through Police Academy when she took the mechanic's job, so Morrison is busting her from being a mechanic to being a police officer. HQ won't let him sack her directly, because she's good for their diversity stats, but he's convinced she'll quit.

Unfortunately for his plans (and their mutual sexual tension), Jo doesn't have much quit in her, so the first thing she does is hook up with Gary and head over to Marie's. Only to find her dead, latest victim of a serial killer stalking Seattle. The last thing the thoroughly rational Morrison wants to accept is that there's a supernatural serial killer on the loose, but Jo's death and revival was caught on CCTV, and his best hope of stopping an escalating murder spree may be his least qualified patrol officer, who's equally unqualified as the shaman people now keep insisting she obviously is.

It's thoroughly enjoyable, Jo's a strong, flawed character and Gary's a delight, but there are a few areas where the author seems to be pressing a little heavily on the scales of probability, particularly the whoops, now you're a cop, here's your badge thing. The feel of Seattle is also a bit iffy, strong at the end, but absent a lot in the middle.

(Incidentally the first time I read this I ended up having to rename a character in Graveyard Shift because Jo's birth name was actually Siobhan, and I had a character called Siobhan Murphy, based out of SPD's North Precinct, just like Jo is in the Walker Papers, which was taking annoying coincidence a bit far).

Next Up: Thunderbird Falls (Walker Papers Book 2), C E Murphy
davidgillon: Text: True Love always shoots to kill (True Love Always Shoots to Kill)
I've been mostly out of 2300AD gaming for a good while, concentrating on writing, so I've only just realised a roleplaying article I wrote years ago for the Etranger 2300AD site turned up in issue 7 of the Colonial Times fanzine on Drivethrurpg under some else's name (Krijn Mout - never heard of him). The arrogant sod does credit me for 'support', but it's overwhelmingly my text. (Actually crediting me helps establish the copyright violation, so is an act of stupidity).

It's a freebie fanzine, so they haven't made anything from it, but I'm not having my work out there under someone else's name and it's doubly a problem as the bookending fiction text is a character I've always meant to return to and I need to establish that I'm not plagiarizing them if I do so.

DrivethruRPG can expect a rocket from me shortly in the form of a DMCA takedown notice.

(And it's doubly annoying as I was looking forward to reading the article!! Hang on, this sounds familiar...)
davidgillon: Text: You can take a heroic last stand against the forces of darkness. Or you can not die. It's entirely up to you" (Heroic Last Stand)
Today's word is 'refoulement'. From this Guardian article on the release of Hakeem al-Araibi.

It's rare enough that I come across a word I don't know the meaning of, so I looked it up:

noun Law
The forcible return of refugees or asylum seekers to a country where they are liable to be subjected to persecution.

I really hate that that is something we need to have a word for.

davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)

I took in a parcel for Les next door on Friday, and when he picked it up he mentioned that he'd had to hop over the fence on Thursday to save Arthur (other side next door)'s fence, which was in the process of blowing down and destroying itself (it was a wee bit windy). I had actually looked out onto the garden that morning, but this time I went and put my glasses on before doing it. Welp, three panels gone out of  10 or 11, and by 'gone' I mean 3x3" fence poles snapped off, not just panels popped. Hey, new open plan garden! (Fortunately for my wallet Arthur's fence, mine is the one on Les's side).


Helping, sort of... )


Lunch in Town

So, as I said, I went into town to have lunch, for only the second time this year, I think - this blasted cold has been really limiting. So I had a nice plate of fish and chips in my usual place, and when I'd finished, went to get my wallet out of my bag to pay for my meal.

Look into bag, notice there's no sign of my house keys.
Check pockets, not there.
Empty bag onto table, not there.
Check pockets again, still not there.
Check bag again, still not there.
Crap, they're probably either still in the front door, or dropped onto the ground beside the car when I got the chair out.
So I hurry back to the car, open my bag to get the car keys out, first thing I see is the house keys.
I emptied the blasted bag onto the table, how could I miss them!

Currently Reading

Planetside, Michael Mammay

Like me, Mike's one of the Pitchwars 2015 alumni, though unlike me his novel got picked up and has been out for a few months (IIRC Locus said it was the best selling SF paperback of the month back in September). I've been meaning to read it for ages, but never got around to it until he mentioned the sequel in the PW2015 group the other day. I was wanting something new to read, so I popped over to Amazon to order it, and it's really good.

Carl Butler is a colonel in SpaceCommand (and self-professed asshole), and on the edge of retirement, so close that he's been attached to Student Command because by the time he's been shipped in cryo to any operational deployment he'd have passed retirement age.  But then he gets a call from General Serata, second in command of SpaceCom and a long time friend. A politician's son and SpaceCom Lieutenant has gone MIA out on a planet Carl has history with, and it's not a straightforward MIA - he was put on a medevac flight up to the orbiting base after a firefight, but wasn't on it when it arrived. In return for a few favours (relocating Carl's family home to his wife's home planet) he wants Carl to head out and investigate.

So a rather grumpily put-upon Carl (like he says, he's an asshole), picks up an aide (Serata's, who needs some front-line time), and a personal protection officer, and heads off (stuffed in cryo) to Cappa. Problems start even before they arrive, because they drop into the system four days out, not the normal two, almost like someone wanted extra time to be ready for them. Arriving on the orbiting base, Carl finds a less than friendly welcome. Colonel Stirling, the SpaceCom commander, sees him as a rival/in a position to damage his career, Colonel Elliot, the MedCom commander, won't even let him into the hospital wing, and Colonel Karikov, the Special Forces commander (who missing politician's son had been seconded to), is down on the planet and hasn't been up to the station in institutional memory. Things deteriorate from there.

The deeper Carl digs, the more disturbing things become, because there's something more than just a missing Lt going on, and it's clear Serata's sent Carl to fix it, whatever it may be, and whatever it may take. Worse, Carl doesn't know who to trust, including the usefully competent major who may be reporting to Stirling,and the journalist who clearly knows something's amiss. Things soon escalate, witnesses disappear, Carl's attacked (which at least gets him into the hospital), and a trip down to try and see the SF commander turns into a Cappan ambush which leaves his aide hospitalised (which again is a useful way into the hospital). Ultimately Carl digs deep enough to realised just what an utter disaster is unfolding, and then he's faced with the question of how far he's prepared to go to fix it.

It's not a book that takes a deep look at the opposition, the Cappans are very much hostile ciphers, nor is it really conventional SF milfic, because there's actually very little combat, one short sequence, and then a somewhat larger one that acts as an Oh Shit! ex machina. Thematically it has much more in common with thrillers set against a military background, such as The General's Daughter, or even A Few Good Men, and with works about being in the military, such as Heartbreak Ridge. If there's a more combat-oriented story that does get a nod, then it's Apocalypse Now/Heart of Darkness. But it is a story that clearly resonates with Iraq and Afghanistan, and it's a book that absolutely nails the life in the military side, which perhaps has something to do with with Mike Mammay being ex-Colonel Mammay, US Army, with a resume going all the way back to Somalia and Desert Storm.

Up next: Knife Children, Lois McMaster Bujold - a stand-alone novella in the Sharing Knife world.

Currently Playing

I'm not saying Wednesday's Ark session was an utter disaster, or even the same utter disaster repeated three times, but there's a reason I rolled back to Tuesday's back-up.

davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)

Details here.

I think I'll probably submit the first chapter of Graveyard Shift, which was always intended to work as a standalone short story, but rewritten to be from Laura, my wheelchair using forensic sorceress's perspective, rather than that of Aleks, my neurodivergent werewolf cop. Aleks would be technically legit, but it's really not obvious in the first chapter that she's disabled. Submissions are up to 6000 words, chapter one is currently 6800 words, switching to Laura's perspective may well get me down to an acceptable word count on its own, and I definitely think it's doable.

davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)

I haven't written every day over the last week, there've been a couple of days when I was too tired to really think straight, but even those had notes or the odd sentence scribbled down. The Disruptive Technologies manuscript now sits at 16,000 words, up 5000 words from six days ago. I'm having to do a lot of thinking about locations and background and general plot stuff, because that's something that I really need to get right now, otherwise it'll mean a lot of rework later. I'm slightly concerned that the last two chapters have come in at about 1200 words each,  that's definitely on the low side for a 100k target with around a 20 chapter target - realistically the chapter target is likely to vary a little, there's an amorphous lump of investigation in the middle that I'll need to resolve as I get closer to it, but not so much as to drop the words per chapter target down to under 2k.

A couple of things that have taken ridiculous amounts of time to research: working out which agency leads anti-terrorism investigations in the US (answer FBI, despite DHS, and a whole bunch of other agencies, having anti-terrorism responsibilities), and where Seattle PD's Criminal Investigation Bureau works out of (still not answered that one, may have to read a Seattle cop's memoirs to work it out - SPD, your website is worse than it was three years ago!).

Other things googled: Whatcom county's SWAT team, Sedro-Woolley's police station. Ford Explorer, Chevrolet Suburban. Almost every precinct house in Seattle. Houseboat prices in Seattle (my protagonist has to live somewhere), Cantonese restaurants in Seattle, courses at the Army War College, and I still have to do the vast majority of the research on drones I need, and I'll need that soon.  Some stuff I'm getting by on because I already know the details - for instance a (brief!) discussion on riskflotte strategy and how it relates to asymmetric warfare that I wrote earlier - but writing in the real world setting, at least as I'm doing it, seems to have a significantly increased research load.
davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)
I've come to the conclusion I don't so much have a cold as a boomerang.
It's gone!
Back again...
It's gone!
Back again...
Repeat until bored now
davidgillon: Icon of Hanna Barbera's Muttley sniggering (Muttley Snigger)
Playing Ark Wednesday night, on the new Extinction map for the first time since before Christmas, and I've still got the Christmas event with Raptor Claus enabled.

Raptor Claus, from Ark, Survival Evolved

So every in-game 12PM Raptor Claus flies over the map dropping presents, and I hop on Pterry, my trusty, but rather weight-limited pteranadon to try and get to one before it despawns. First time, out in the hideously dangerous Wastelands, I succeed, second time, in the theoretically far safer city ... does not go well.

I did actually find the present, but it was stuck on a ledge of a building, with no room for me to hop off to to pick it up. So I landed nearby to consider what to do, and hopped off the pteranodon. And off the edge of the roadway I'd landed on - I looked, there was room! So now I'm plummeting several hundred feet to my death. At the last minute I realise I'm wearing a parachute and use it. But now I'm stuck in the canyon, which splits the city, and which only has a couple of ways out. I set off towards the one that comes out near my base, and I somehow miss it, or turn the wrong direction. What I do find is a pack of raptors, which kill me - "Clever Girl!" So I'm now lying dead in the canyon, with all my gear. and I haven't had time to accumulate a lot of gear on that map.

So I respawn back at base, grab the minimal amount of gear available, and my trusty iguanadon steed Igzelda ,and hurry over to where I can see my death marker from the edge of the canyon. I freeze Igzelda in a cryopod so I can carry her, and I'm about to leap off the edge of the canyon when I realise I don't actually have a parachute on me. That's down there on my body. So short delay while I gather the resources for a parachute. I parachute into the canyon, grab my gear, and unfreeze Igzelda. Yay, triumph!

Unfortunately, I decide that the shortest way out of the canyon will be to carry on to its end. This takes me into the wastelands, where I loop around to find the next way into the city. 20 metres in I realise that's teeming with raptors and pull a u-turn, unfortunately something spots me, and it's an Alpha Raptor, for those times when a plain "Clever Girl" isn't enough. So new death marker.

At this point, I give up. I respawn and go into cheat mode. This is a pain as you're basically stuck at walking pace, but you can walk in the air, so nothing can get you. I finally get to my death marker to find the Alpha Raptor is still trying to kill Igzelda* As I'm getting closer she breaks free and makes a run for it. Yay! She runs straight into a pair of brontosauri, which object to the rude interruption, one of them tail-swats her, and she dies. Bugger. But at least it's sufficient distraction for me to grab my gear, again.

Finally I make it back to base, to find all of my tame creatures are outside, rather than inside, and a titanoboa is killing them. I rush in to kill the titanoboa, still in cheat mode, and somehow get swatted through the map. I die. My gear is unretrievable.

At this point I really do give up, and start spawning in replacement gear and creatures.
I guess I must have been on Santa's naughty list.

* Different map sections only process when you're actually in them.
davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)

1500 words on Sunday that turned out to be deep character background/potential YA* rather than actually the book I'm supposed to be writing. About 1500 words yesterday, actually in the Disruptive Technology narrative - expanding the opening scenes in which my innocent protagonist gets pulled into a Homeland Security investigation because of her specialist knowledge - which with today's couple of hundred takes us up to 11,000 words. But today seems to be mostly turning into a research day. 

Googled so far:

King County Sheriff's Office Air Support Unit, and then an image search for cabin pictures of Guardian 2, the actual helicopter they're in. I didn't really get a lot of success with that last, but it's a Huey, and seating plans are easily googleable.

King County Child Protective Services - character background. Need to go back to that as I didn't get what I wanted.

Cis-platin related Ototoxicity - character background again.

Airfields in Seattle - I know the big ones, via work initially, but I'll need a private field at a couple of points.

And then I had to dig into Google Earth and look for a road suitable for the ambush site they're flying out to examine. Which turned out to be a real pain. I need several things out of the site - somewhere the ambush will work, which requires an open area, and who knew Washington state was so full of trees, somewhere the ambushees can evade the ambush, and all of it on terrain my protagonist will find difficult (because that lets me get a bunch of yes, I'm an amputee, get over it exposition in the first chapter). I found three places along US-12 east of Mount Rainier that would almost work, and for each of them I had to go down into Streetview to look at actual images of the terrain (amongst other things, you need Streetview to tell if the road is totally walled in with guardrails, which nixes going cross-country to escape). I did find one place they could probably evade across a weir, but getting my protagonist across that when she turns up to look around would be a pain in the ass. Then I went literally around the corner from that one, and realised that while my first draft has the access problem being the slope going downhill, the slope going uphill is just as much an issue, and if the road is sticking to the valley bottom, I really should look at that. And not only is there a handy-dandy ridge for the ambushed folks to get out of sight behind, and far enough from the road for my purposes, but there's a bluff overlooking everything that is a perfect spot to launch the ambush from. Mission accomplished, rewrite tomorrow.

* It's an idea I had at Christmas, but which didn't get written down, as opposed to the ones that did and spawned this whole project.
davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)

I seem to have finally, after 12 days, kicked the cold I've been labouring under*. I don't have a lot of energy as yet, but I did at least manage to avert cabin fever and get out of the house on Saturday, for longer than just taking something to the bin. That was just a trip to Asda, but considering I haven't shopped since about the 10th of December (admittedly I was away for four weeks of that) it was desperately needed. Deciding just to go to Asda, rather than doing it after my normal Saturday lunch in town was very well judged. By the time I pulled the car back onto the drive I was a bear of such little brain I couldn't actually figure out how to unload it until I made myself stop and do it one bag at a time.

But it's nice to have a choice of food in the house again! Though I really need to make another trip to cover the things I forgot, catastrophically that includes the tonic water! I'm down to my last 1l bottle.

Unfortunately I' ve done this just in time for Tuesday's forecast of snow across the country....

* Or maybe not, just had a sneezing fit.
davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)

New novel project officially started, by which I mean I took the short story I wrote over the holidays and shoved a chapter break in at all the scene breaks, plus added about a half dozen additional chapter titles that are clearly needed in order to make the story play out over a longer period.

It is the barest bones of a novel, but it has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Now I just need to string those bones with the sinews of story.

davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)
Definition of a First World problem:
Me: I'd like a mocha, please.
Barista: I'm sorry, we're out of chocolate syrup


Worst time to discover you have a cold and get out of breath if you try to do anything faster than a slow waddle:- half a mile from the car, at the bottom of a hill, it's cold and drizzling miserably, and you suspect you may have left the car's lights on.

I don't have the strength to wheel more than half way up the hill at the best of times, and not having done any significant wheeling in a month I wasn't even going to try pushing up, so I got behind the chair and waddled, slowly. Fortunately the lights were off.

I genuinely didn't realise I had a cold until that point. I'd gone into town to post a parcel (my sister's Christmas present to her husband, which I'd ordered for her from Amazon as I have Prime and she'd left it until the last minute - the 23rd, but which I'd managed to get sent to Kent instead of Durham. I wasn't popular) and stopped off to have lunch. 10 minutes after putting in my order, I noticed a car pull up outside and turn its lights off, at which point my brain started panicking as to whether mine were still on. It wasn't the most restful meal I've ever had, though the fish and chips were tasty.

And the worst time for the blocked breathing to turn into sneezing was in the car, half way around a busy corner. I sneezed so hard I almost had my head between my knees and the only thing I could do was brake and hope I could keep it under control when I sneezed again. Fortunately I was one corner from home, but anywhere else I'd have had to pull over. I sneezed so hard turning into my road I swear I got an echo from the other end, and I then had a string of about 20 sneezes that were so hard I couldn't actually get out of the car. I could feel everything between nostrils and eardrums complaining for hours!

So today I'm living on Lemsip Max. If I can work up the energy I may make myself a hot toddy, and there's chicken soup in the fridge. (ETA hot toddy and soup successfully achieved).

Recent Reading:

First Flight,
Chris Claremont

Re-read of Claremont's late-80s hard SF novel. 2nd Lt Nichole Shea is taking the final test before officially qualifying as an astronaut, having already qualified as an Air Force test pilot (her rank's a bit junior for her actual experience), when everything goes wrong and she and her co-pilot end up ramming their shuttle into the space station they were supposed to dock with. Fortunately it's a simulation. The deputy head of the astronaut programme wants to kick her out of the programme, but is overruled by NASA's head of manned spaceflight, General Judith Canfield, and throughout the book there are veiled references to Canfield's relationship to Nichole, which no one will ever explain to her.

Now qualified, Nichole, her co-pilot Paulo and newbie mission specialist Hanako 'Hana' Murai are paired with Cat Garcia, an experienced Mission Commander, the deadly US Marshal Ben Ciari, and a couple of experienced engineer/scientists, one Russian, one Israeli, for a year long mission out to Pluto. Mankind has stardrive, and extra-solar colonies, but starships are huge, expensive, and rare, so most spaceflight is pootling about the system on reaction drives.

Things settle into a pattern, with Hana pairing up with Paulo, and Nichole with Ciari, much to the annoyance of Cat Garcia, who perceives it as more favouritism, especially when Ciari starts training Nichole in martial arts, with the explicitly avowed intent of turning her into a killer, because, he says, she has the aptitude for it, and may need it. And then, passing through the Belt, they happen on a wrecked miner ship, with a dead belter aboard, a friend of Cat's. Things don't add up, so they head for his home rock, and walk into an ambush. Half the crew die, and the survivors are left with a wrecked ship, AUs from home, and where a mayday may bring the pirates back down on them. Then Hana spots the alien ship....

It's not perfect, it could do with being about 50 pages longer for a start, but I like it a lot, and it has an extraordinary cover, which I think was probably painted over an actual picture of someone in pilot's gear, the three-dimensionality of the equipment is striking, Nichole's face and limbs are okay, but not quite as good (and for someone whose nickname is Red, her hair is awfully black).

Spanish Mission,
K B Spangler

The second Hope Blackwell novel. Hope's friend Mary 'Mare' Murphy is having a bit of a crisis, because the ghost of Tom Paine just manifested in her kitchen to check in on his great to the Nth niece, and if you're an organisational genius, and one of OACET's cyborg agents, then the sudden dissonance in your worldview caused by talking ghosts can be jarring. And it doesn't help that Mare has a fairly major anxiety disorder. Hope is mostly pissed because she sat the ghosts of the founding fathers down and got them to swear blind, over good whiskey, that they wouldn't manifest around the OACET agents who don't know about them. But done is done and Hope decides the only thing to do is to pack herself, Mare and Speedy the super-intelligent talking koala off to Las Vegas for a girls' (and koala's) week of fun.
But we start in media res with Hope being chased across the desert by chupacabras. Monsters don't exist, but ghosts can manifest in any form they like, and the undead cryptid brigade, Sonoran Desert division, like chupacabras. Las Vegas didn't last long, Mare and Speedy creamed the tables, then they ran into the crew of a low-rent ghost hunting TV show, whose front man happens to be son of the ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and therefore in a position to put an unfortunate crimp in OACET's funding. The ghost hunters are off to the desert to host Spanish treasure galleons and ghostly pirates (which isn't quite as bizarre as it sounds, think Salton Sea, plus once in a century storms).

As an aside, I really liked it that Hope, as a newly qualified doctor, immediately reacts to the description of Hawley, the pirate captain, as tall, elongated, with clawed fingers and toes by saying "Marfan's Syndrome", on the negative side, disabled villain again.

So Mare decides they're going to have to go with the ghost hunters and keep them alive. They're helped in this by front-man's mother having placed a pair of competent bodyguards (female twins) in the crew without his knowledge (and somewhat hindered by a complete dick of a cameraman), and by Mare arranging the loan of a bunch of military off-road vehicles, a pair of drones, and their operator. Unfortunately their operator, 'Fish' Fleishman, immediately pings Hope's radar as another psychic. And then they get into the desert, and meet Maria de Borromeo, who wears Keds and likes watching daytime TV on her cellphone, which wouldn't be remarkable but for being the four centuries dead ghost of a Spanish Jesuit nun, killed binding Hawley's ghost the last time he got loose. And the big problem is ghosts are powered by reputation/attention, and a team of ghost hunters are live-streaming the hunt for Hawley's ghost, with international media magnets Hope and Speedy along for the ride.

Things get complicated.

On the surface it sounds pulpish, but Spangler really knows how to use her characters, she's been writing Hope and Speedy in A Girl and Her Fed for over a decade, and while the Hope novels are written much more for laughs than her Rachel Peng technothrillers, she still has a habit of throwing in lines that stop you dead with how insightful they are. And on top of everything, it's one of the cleverest Coyote tales I've ever read.

The cover is by Ursula Vernon/T. Kingfisher, and features Hope, Mare and Speedy, threatened by Hawley and his crew in a style that seems inspired by AGAHF.

The Mortal Word (Invisible Library Book 5), Genevieve Cogman

Irene Winters, agent of the Invisible Library, is just back from acquiring a book from the library of a witch-hunting German Graf on a world stuck in the 16th Century, and hoping for a quiet evening bonking the brains out of now ex-apprentice Kai, when she receives an urgent summons from the Library. There is a secret peace conference between the forces of the Dragons and the Fae (aka Order and Chaos), being brokered by the Library as the only neutral force that understands how the universe actually works, and someone just killed one of the dragons. The Library needs Irene and her friend Vale, the great investigator of his steampunk world's London, to hurry to the alternate world where the conference is taking place, investigate the crime and bring a suitable suspect to justice (them being the actual perpetrator would be a bonus, but isn't actually required).

So Irene, Vale, and Kai (arriving by total coincidence) find themselves in a 19th Century Paris, locked in the grip of a sudden cold snap - Kai's uncle Ao Ji, King of the Western Ocean, has an affinity with ice, has just lost his trusted spy-master, and is having a temper tantrum. Things rapidly get complicated. Not only is the Library blaming the crime on anarchists to keep the French police out of their hair, but there are actual anarchists at work, and more suspects than you can shake a stick at, including Irene's operational superior, who wants to turn the Library into an organisation that holds power by playing the Dragons and Fae off against each other.

The Fae Powers at the conference are the Cardinal and the Princess (think Richelieu and Snow White), archetypes so powerful that they bend everyone they interact with into their expected roles, while Ao Ji may be dedicated to human welfare in a way the Fae are not, but also in such a way that demonstrates why absolute order is as dangerous as absolute chaos.

Irene's position as the Library's member of the investigatory team is matched by Dragon and Fae representatives, the dragon is Mu Dan, a competent judge-magistrate, but the Fae is Lord Silver, Vale and Irene's regular semi-antagonist, who is slightly perplexed by his new role, though the perfect man for investigating the seamier underside of Parisian Nightlife.

Things escalate when an even scarier Fae archetype, Countess Elizabeth Bathory, appears, but is the legendary Blood Countess the perpetrator, or a convenient scapegoat, pre-empted in her attempt to stop the conference by someone much closer to home?

Recent Gaming:

I was mostly playing XCOM2 over Christmas as I was offline, but I've been playing Ark again since I've been back. I missed their Christmas 'Winter Wonderland' event, where Raptor Claus flies over the map in his sleigh delivering presents, but as I play solo rather than on one of their servers I've simply added it to my start up, Christmas will continue until I'm sick of presents ;) They also have Gacha Claus who'll exchange the mistletoe and coal Raptor Claus delivers for more presents. The mistletoe isn't too bad, but the coal weighs a ton, so it was very convenient that Gacha Claus spawned just outside my base on the Scorched Earth desert map.

One of Raptor Claus's presents was a 500% damage crossbow, which has made taming things with tranq arrows much simpler, except when it does so much damage it kills them outright with a single shot. I managed to tame my first Rex with it, using only three tranqs, though admittedly she was a very low level Rex. Unfortunately I'm not at a high enough level on that map to actually build a saddle for her yet, but Regina is handling internal security for me at my base until that happens.

I took my small raptor pack out for a training run with the new crossbow and came back with not just the pack, but three direwolves, a pair of sabretooths, an australovenator (big raptor type from a mod), an extra raptor, and a terror bird (bad tempered carnivorous ostrich). Unfortunately I promptly lost the sabres and the new raptor when I took the newbies out for a run and ran into a tougher pack. And I finally have a flying mount on that map, which means my rate of exploration has just shot up, and generally makes things far simpler.

The makers of Ark have just launched Atlas, which takes a next generation version of the Ark engine and turns it into a MMO pirate game, with an absolutely ridiculous playing area hundreds of times that of Ark. It's in pre-release, but already looking very accomplished. I'm tempted, but I've got a lot of playing on Ark yet to do.

I'm experimenting with Dreamwidth's image hosting, not sure I quite understand incorporating images into posts yet (this may get edited a few times to try and work it out).

Bringing Regina Home
My Ark character, her raptor pack, and my new T-Rex

Gacha Claus Visits
Gacha Claus visits my base on the Ark Scorched Earth Map


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David Gillon

April 2019

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