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      Orphan Attachments   07/31/2018

      I have been doing some housekeeping lately and I've noticed that I had a lot of orphaned attachments. Attachments get orphaned when the PM or post is deleted without removing the attachment first. Deleting a PM or post does not delete the attachment and the file or image remain on the server. I'd like to ask all members to go through their attachments and delete any attachments you don't need anymore or those that have been orphaned. Where can I get a list of my attachments? Click on your display name in the upper right corner of the forums and pick "My Attachments" from the drop-down list. How can I tell an attachment is orphaned? If the PM has been deleted, you'll see a message like this in your attachment list: Unfortunately there is no message if the post has been deleted, so please check your old posts. We do purge old birthday threads every once in a while. Also some hosted projects have been shut down, so you may have orphaned attachments on one of those locations. Thanks!

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MJ Harrison (of Tegeus Cromis note) wrote this:

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Every moment of a science fiction story must represent the triumph of writing over worldbuilding.

Worldbuilding is dull. Worldbuilding literalises the urge to invent. Worldbuilding gives an unnecessary permission for acts of writing (indeed, for acts of reading). Worldbuilding numbs the reader’s ability to fulfil their part of the bargain, because it believes that it has to do everything around here if anything is going to get done.

Above all, worldbuilding is not technically necessary. It is the great clomping foot of nerdism. It is the attempt to exhaustively survey a place that isn’t there. A good writer would never try to do that, even with a place that is there. It isn’t possible, & if it was the results wouldn’t be readable: they would constitute not a book but the biggest library ever built, a hallowed place of dedication & lifelong study. This gives us a clue to the psychological type of the worldbuilder & the worldbuilder’s victim, & makes us very afraid.
 

 

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3 hours ago, Schtearn said:

MJ Harrison (of Tegeus Cromis note) wrote this:

[...]

I think he has a strong case (and not just because of my screen name). But I'm not sure he needs to drive the point home with a quite such a heavy sledgehammer. Inane exposition ('as you know, Bob') and obsessive worldbuilding - especially when that becomes an end in itself - are among the betes noires of SFF, I think. But in moderation, they do often fulfil a real need. However, it is always better, I reckon, to allow the world to emerge organically from the writing if that's possible. Like, don't draw a map before you start, you'll only mistake it for the territory. (Oh, now I'm doing Borges, funny because MJH is making an oblique reference to two of his stories [Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius] [The Library of Babel] in the last paragraph.)

Can be applied to some degree to games, both development and modding. There isn't enough good writing but, on the other hand, there is a difference in that one is literally (well, virtually, that is) building a world. Different constraints, and writing is only one part of the discipline.

Edited by tegeusCromis

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I mostly agree with you tC. I was frankly a little offended by his quote, especially the part about nerdism. Perhaps I don't fully understand what he's getting at, as creative writing is most certainly not my strong suit. I think worldbuilding has to go hand in hand with plot & character development. Some of the books I've read in the SFF genre, (that's Sci-Fi/Fantasy right?), have been too light on world building and are left feeling hollow. Of course, when the pendulum swings the other direction I'm left wondering why I bothered to read it. Some of the best SFF novels/series I've read are heavy on the world building (as well as plot/development), and I'm left feeling richly immersed. Thinking Raymond Feist, Terry Goodkind, Jim Butcher, and Robert Jordan (though Jordan does tend to overdo it in places, and underdo it in others). So I think they're both important, and the key, like with pretty much everything, is balance.

"..literalises the urge to invent"  I see nothing wrong with that. Without world building, where would Star Trek be?

".. it believes that it has to do everything around here if anything is going to get done."  Again, balance! It has to do some of the work, otherwise the reader would have no context in which to relate to the characters situations.

"..Above all, worldbuilding is not technically necessary."  ??? What? Without it how could the fantasy genre even exist? Or am I misunderstanding his definition of worldbuilding?

"..A good writer would never try to do that"  I guess he doesn't consider J.R.R. Tolkien a "good" writer then? And what IS "good" when it comes to art? I consider fiction to be art, and like a painting or music, it's interpreted differently and evokes emotions and insights differently by each individual. What 'speaks' to one, speaks differently, or not at all to another.

"..gives us a clue to the psychological type of the worldbuilder" Sure. Every work gives us a view into the psychology of the author. Why that's a bad thing, or makes him afraid is beyond me. The whole quote gave me an insight into HIS psychological type...and it seems quite arrogant. That doesn't make me think his works aren't worth reading though. And when I find the time, I believe I will read them.

51 minutes ago, tegeusCromis said:

..better, I reckon, to allow the world to emerge organically from the writing if that's possible. Like, don't draw a map before you start, you'll only mistake it for the territory.

Couldn't agree more! :)

Edited by RavenMind

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Stirred up a little nest right there. :P Might have to go back for wider context for the quote.

There's a beautiful dissertation at Reddit: although there's some points to be expanded upon:

  • Tolkein's world was there at the start- without a guiding map at the beginning of the story he made references to places and climes and historical figures that you just had to commit to passive retention- unless there was a good map- and at the time of issue there wasn't. 
  • World building is a dynamic thing- the physical world is the skeleton- the inhabitants are the soul- his point that world-building as an end rather than a means can fail. Well anything can fail if it ain't done right. :P
  • Chicken and the egg thing- What comes first? The world or the inhabitants- or do they evolve together? All great stories encapsulate the elements of dramatic structure: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and dénouement. The world the story-teller presents to us always starts out "small" and ends up "big" thus world-building in that sense is unavoidable.
  • Is he actually talking about a race of beings building a grand civilization against a backdrop of a myriad of interplaying themes & events as a narrative. Something distasteful there?
  • He's also having a little nag as to what constitutes a bulwark of SF- a different world to the one around us. All SF is based on what we know- but those worlds can also be based on an underlying thread or riff throughout that we can easily relate to- think of the futuristic one in PK Dick's BladeRunner. But the same storyline would work just as well in a more out-of this world setting.  Works well when the details of such a world are crafted to interleave with the plot, chargen & dev that matches the world archetype.

 

Edited by Schtearn

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Don't have time for a proper response right now as I have to get to bed, but you bring up some interesting points. I think you're right, in that I need a better context for the quote; maybe I've misunderstood his meaning. Basically the quote itself is all I went by in my initial response. I'll read up on it tomorrow. Have a good night! :)

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Sorry, rushed response, I see a bit of sunlight out there. Free Vitamin D, mustn't waste it. [In fact, came back and edited it.]

10 hours ago, RavenMind said:

I was frankly a little offended by his quote, especially the part about nerdism.

[...]

Sure. Every work gives us a view into the psychology of the author. Why that's a bad thing, or makes him afraid is beyond me.

Yeah, I agree, that nerdism bit just reeks of patrician literary contempt, which doesn't do his argument any favours. It also sets up a kind of tribal divide that is quite unnecessary.

There's been a bit of a kerfuffle in SFF (SF & Fantasy, yes) recently with regard to certain people who dislike: 1. literary values;  2. characters who are not straight white males; 3. writers who are not straight white males; and I don't think an extra layer of divisiveness helps at all. Fear? Yeah, a bit excessive, odd thing to say. But remember that MJH was part of the British New Wave along with Moorcock, Aldiss, Ballard et al. Among the things they were standing out against in the 1960s, on both sides of the Atlantic, was SF as adolescent (usually but not always white male) wish-fulfillment fantasy. Yes - fanfic might have come up with the term, but it didn't invent the Mary Sue (or Marty Stu, in this case, mostly) - there were plenty of them around back then. So he's still fighting that good fight.

Schtearn, with all due respect (which I actually mean, I'm a moderate on this, because I think SFF should be a 'broad church'), you are cherry-picking examples of 'wide-screen' SFF that benefit from the worldbuilding approach. It should also be possible to write a fine SFF story with just two people having a conversation in a broken-down rover on some Martian plateau, say, without going into a vast swathe of details about the history of solar system colonisation. (In fact, Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars Trilogy, of which I'm very fond, is a good example here, the world emerges to a large degree by the interaction between the characters. I think it very likely that that is what drove the story along in Robinson's head. Yeah, OK, he does have A Whole Lot Of Characters. Slight cheat.)

Gotta go, but I have to leave a mild niggle. Dick did not write Blade Runner (His friend K W Jeter actually did, long after the film came out, so there is a book by that name). PKD's original novel, Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep, is almost entirely devoid of worldbuilding. The background details are often merely hinted at (we have no clear reason for the mass extinction of domestic animals, for example) and I think it's all the better for that. At his best, Dick didn't really do worldbuilding, just a quick charcoal sketch, then he left his characters, (and the immediate situation, which was often rather claustrophobic) to run with it.

Oh, this stuck out too...

8 hours ago, Schtearn said:
  • Is he actually talking about a race of beings building a grand civilization against a backdrop of a myriad of interplaying themes & events as a narrative. Something distasteful there?

Yes, because it can't be anything but a narrative when in literary form. (Otherwise it's what? A textbook?) I should have thought him trivially right, can't see what you find distasteful. (But remember, where there's a narrative, there's a narrator and one should always question their reliability...)

Perhaps you're thinking of postmodernism and their idea of everything as narrative - including science. Bit distasteful that. Didn't go too well for them though, ended with an apology. Of sorts.

Edited by tegeusCromis

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11 hours ago, tegeusCromis said:

Schtearn, with all due respect (which I actually mean, I'm a moderate on this, because I think SFF should be a 'broad church'), you are cherry-picking examples of 'wide-screen' SFF that benefit from the worldbuilding approach. It should also be possible to write a fine SFF story with just two people having a conversation in a broken-down rover on some Martian plateau, say, without going into a vast swathe of details about the history of solar system colonisation. (In fact, Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars Trilogy, of which I'm very fond, is a good example here, the world emerges to a large degree by the interaction between the characters. I think it very likely that that is what drove the story along in Robinson's head. Yeah, OK, he does have A Whole Lot Of Characters. Slight cheat.)

 

Ye...yeah- does SF necessarily require location as a pre-requisite? Would establishing the location of Mars in Waiting for Godot make it SciFi? Or even genre? Many consider Gulliver's Travels as science fiction. And world-building? Let's for argument take world as the Heideggerian one. :P

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Something distasteful there?

should have read:

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[Might he have thought there was] something distasteful there?

That linked article- O Gawd- don't go there- but he did have this cool quote:

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Enter here, you poor folks. After arduous years of reading turgid prose, you will be always right, you will never be taken in any more; no one, no matter how powerful, will be able to accuse you of naivete´, that supreme sin, any longer? Better equipped than Zeus himself you rule alone, striking from above with the salvo of antifetishism in one hand and the solid causality of objectivity in the other.

 

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10 hours ago, Schtearn said:

Ye...yeah- does SF necessarily require location as a pre-requisite?

It certainly does not! I was merely offering a random (and rather dull and crummy) example off the top of my head.

10 hours ago, Schtearn said:

Would establishing the location of Mars in Waiting for Godot make it SciFi? Or even genre? Many consider Gulliver's Travels as science fiction. And world-building? Let's for argument take world as the Heideggerian one.

Oh no. Oh no. The number of words and electrons that have have been expended on defining what and what isn't SF have probably made a significant contribution to global warming. I just don't want to go there, except to note that 1) If Godot were set on Mars, a credible argument could be made for it being SF - but it isn't set on Mars; 2) I quite like Brian Aldiss's idea that Mary Shelley's Frankenstein was the first SF novel - if only because it provides a backstop that prevents SF co-opting everything fanciful it can lay its hands on, right back to the Odyssey and the Epic of Gilgamesh as SF. Well, I just think it's important to make certain distinctions.... Stop. (Ah damn, I went there...)

As for Heidegger, I think you are going to have to make some clarification. He's not easy to gloss (though not as bad as Hegel) and that ain't just me, see The Existential Office. (For extra commentary by the photocopier.)

Re: the linked piece, I didn't go there at first because it was Reddit, but I mustered up some strength. Actually, RM, it's my eyes that hurt, something about that font - not solid enough for the material? I think he's being more conciliatory than that quote makes it sound, but it is a provocation. (OMFG, he invokes Baudrillard argh.) Will scrape it off and reformat to read properly.

EDIT: Because we all need more angst, a bit more Heidegger, though he only gets one line: Dungeons and Dragons and Philosophers VI: The Angsty Dragon of Angst

EDIT #2: Right, I need more coffee. Now I'm never ever the sort of person who types ^This. But, his last paragraph:

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As we emerge from the trailing edge of postmodernism we begin to see how many of its by-now-naturalised assumptions need challenging if it isn’t to become as much of a dead hand as the modernism it revised into existence to be its opposite. The originally vertiginous and politically exciting notion of relativism that underlies the idea of “worlds” is now only one of the day-to-day huckstering mechanisms of neoliberalism. My argument isn’t really with writers, readers or gamers, (or even with franchisers in either the new or old media); it is a political argument, made even more urgent as a heavily-mediatised world moves from the prosthetic to the virtual, allowing the massively managed and flattered contemporary self to ignore the steady destruction of the actual world on which it depends. This situation needs to change, and it will. At the moment, the fossilised remains of the postmodern paradigm (which encourages us to believe three stupid things before breakfast: firstly that we can change the real world into a fully prosthetic environment without loss or effort; secondly that there are no facts, only competing stories about the world; & thirdly that it’s possible to meaningfully write the words “a world” outside the domains of imagination or metaphor, a solecism which allows us to feel safely distant from the consequences of our actions) are in the way of that.

^This. (Gosh, that felt kind of liberating...)

Edited by tegeusCromis

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Will pay that- but since that article there has emerged that holy of all holy of words. Fake.

Conceptualization of a world other than the physical is always fake. Not because of any impetus to conceive another, but because the construct of conception of the actual is flawed. 

Quote

a solecism which allows us to feel safely distant from the consequences of our actions

Or escape.

Escapism = Nerdism

An escape from what we know as "present-at-hand and ready-to-hand" of not a world, but a Clayton's world. A world when we are not having one.

Perhaps the current party be urged to request board and lodgings at the Kafka's Fun House?

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Tsk. You're quoting him out of context, viz:

Quote

& thirdly that it’s possible to meaningfully write the words “a world” outside the domains of imagination or metaphor, a solecism which allows us to feel safely distant from the consequences of our actions

Use of the indefinite article is significant here too.

(Physicists, however, might have a valid grievance...)

Edited by tegeusCromis

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4 minutes ago, Visceral Moonlight said:

The Fun House is currently busted due to changes in 4.x. :(

I'm hoping I can fix it when we switch to a new forum package.

Could you rename it 'The Abode of Existential Dread Wherein The Long Dark Night Of The Soul Continues Unto Eternity Or Until The Heat Death Of The Universe, Whichever Comes First.'?

I'm just not sure about this 'Fun' idea. Though I know young people these days sometimes have it, whatever it is...

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I like that idea.

And Shelley’s Frankenstein was definitely sci-fi. The only English course I ever did well in was a university course in which we studied sci-fi and fantasy literature. Guess which books it included?

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

Gulliver’s Travels (Jonathan Swift)

King Lear (Shakespeare)

Book about Knights of the Round Table (can’t remember title or author)

Bram Stoker’s Dracula? I think we did this one too.

The point of the course was to discuss the tragedy involved in all the main characters in each story. We were talking about how tortured they all were in the choices they made or how  obsessed they were.

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Yes, I think it's really important to look at the field in terms of iis antecedents and influences. Gulliver's Travels, just for example, may not be SF, but it's a definite influence. Robert Sheckley, who I hope will not be forgotten, I think often took Gulliver's Travels as a basis and ran with it. I recently reread his Mindswap - which actually made me LOL in places, and I rarely do that when reading. (And in one chepter it actually satirises at length the sort of overcooked exposition that often results when people put worldbuilding first.)

Edited by tegeusCromis

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Snagged from Sheckley's Dimension of Miracles:

Quote

Once upon a time men resisted the implications of actuality. That day is gone. We know now that art is the thing itself together with its extensions into superfluity. Not pop art, I hasten to say, which sneers and exaggerates. This is popular art, which simply exists. This is the age in which we unconditionally accept the unacceptable, and thus proclaim the naturalness of our artificiality.

I often accept my conditioning and thus unconditionally proclaim the artificiality of my nature.

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Lovely quote, although the pop art reference might date it a bit.

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This is the age in which we unconditionally accept the unacceptable, and thus proclaim the naturalness of our artificiality.

-"I wish I'd said that."

-"But you will, Oscar, you will..."

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Quote

 

The sky surprised me. It was a deep blue, the blue of a sorcerer's hat, of night skies in old Technicolor movies, of deep mountain lakes in Swiss countrysides pictured on old puzzle boxes. 

 

-Steven Millhauser, The Knife Thrower and Other Stories

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