"Though I lost the original notebooks, I still have the journal. It stood in a complex relationship with, and served as a feeder for, the actual writing of Climbers, which went on concurrently elsewhere; also as a record of one of happiest and most productive times of my life. The pages were carefully numbered. The photographs, especially polaroids, have become faint and dark-looking at the same time, tinged with purples and greens not present in the lived scene." Beautiful documentation of work in progress.
"Truth be told, I’m a bit tired of pixel art, but work like this aspired to transcend mere pixels. And I think that’s why it still packs a punch for me today. It’s evidently not content with the paltry colour depth and resolution it’s forced to use. It’s not about celebrating its form, unlike today’s pixel art, which is all about the form and evoking aesthetics of the past without quite nailing their fundamental nature. Instead, these backgrounds are all about what they depict – little scenes, ripe with little stories and humour, and inflected with travel pornography." Great writing from Alex, and a lovely cherrypicking of the selection. I am not a huge SNK fan, systemswise, but I adore their background art – and have a particular fondness for the whole package of Garou: Mark of the Wolves. This post does a lovely job of explaining why.
This looks lovely: the right balance of editor-as-environment (ie: multiplayer level-building, which people recognise from Minecraft) with scripting, full control, and a learning curve. Really need to poke this.
"That is how the internet first appeared to me: as shared experience of make believe and dreams. And while much has changed in the decade since: that slipperiness, those mutable boundaries, the capacity for experimentation and imagination still is here. The internet is made of dreams."
More short stories I've been enjoying recently.
"It’s not always about writing more words or drinking more coffee. Sometimes getting to the end of a novel simply takes remembering that the world is more complicated than we know, and then sticking some of those complications into the story." Applies to lots of things.
"This post is a look at the biggest downfalls of distributed startups – specifically the rise of monoculture, siloing of the workforce, isolation of management, expense of communication and loss of group context." Lots of great points, and well-observed counters; useful reading if you only ever work from home occasionally, let alone all the time.
"…no book exists that cannot be improved with elephants." This is true.
"The Lulzbot is being driven specifically to produce a certain frequency of sound with its stepper motors. The results of a few different songs are what’s hanging on the wall to the right. You can hear it printing Bizet’s Carmen in the clip after the break." I'd been thinking about this; glad someone's already implemented it.
Nostalgia for the MUD
21 April 2013
In a Belgrade bar, over a dark lager, Joanne interviewed me for Nostalgia for the Net – the oral history of people’s first encounters with the Internet that she and Melissa Gira Grant maintain.
My interview is now online. In it, I talk about my first online encounters before the Internet proper – over Wireplay, BT’s dial-up gaming service that simulated IPX networking for DOS games of the mid-nineties. And, more specifically, my time in MUD2, their recreation of the Essex MUD.
It’s a story I’ve told before, but I don’t think in public, so I don’t feel bad about repeating myself. You might enjoy it.
I have fond memories of the time I spent in the MUD. Reading old transcripts, I see player names I haven’t seen for years but have vivid memories of – as vivid as you can get, when you only have text to go on. The graphics were years ahead of their time, so to speak. It was a small community, but a tight one, and very friendly. It didn’t have the feature of MOOs, but still rewarded creativity in your interactions and encounters. And there was something about it – in the Land, in the writing, in the world, in the interactions – that felt very… British. Our own little corner of the net.
A small community still exists, playing in a Land I can map almost from memory (though I’ve forgotten the route through the mines to the Dwarven realm now).
Happy memories. Nice to share them over a beer.
Lots of exercises for bad backs.
"It's the music which has surrounded us our whole lives, but which most of us have never quite heard let alone listened to… and nearly all of it made in the UK." Two years old now, but this is a lovely little documentary about library music, with lots of interviews with composers and collectors alike; so nice to contextualise this stuff. (And: a reminder why secretly I always wanted to be a session player).
"A blog featuring stills from films and their corresponding color palettes." Lovely.
Within those terms, able
14 April 2013
Harrison is often called a “writer’s writer”, a compliment that can cut both ways. How does he feel about this? In reply he describes the “practice crag” found in almost every Peak District town or village. “It may not be much higher than this room,” he says, “but every single way of getting to the top of it will have been worked out over 50 or 60 years.” At the same time, there will always be “some last great problem that nobody’s solved. The guy who will solve it may not be the best climber in Britain, but the best climber in Britain will turn up one day in the summer to watch the local guy who can do it. And I always wanted to be that local guy, as a writer. To be that technical, that familiar with a certain locality, and within those terms, able.”
From M John Harrison, a life in writing, by Richard Lea.
I’m reading a lot of Harrison at the moment – and anticipating Climbers a great deal. This struck me firmly, especially as I think about my own creative process.