dance, characters, dance

When running a roleplaying game with a group of players, they will often want their characters to specialise in different areas. It’s a bit like a caper movie – you have the one who’s in charge, the one who’s the tech specialist, the one who does the fast-talking con job, the one who handles the physical stuff or who’s a gun expert, etcetera. (A classic form of this would be the A-Team: planner, face man, vehicle driver, physical/tech expert.) In this case, it’s the GM’s job to make sure that all the characters have a chance to show off their skills and get a few neat moments in the limelight. (Well, the GM can’t always make sure that it happens, but she can at least try to make sure that there will be opportunities for doing so in the story/game.)

If one character chooses to declare that she’s a linguist and a specialist in translation, then the GM will no doubt give her a few moments in the limelight where she has to talk to someone whose language nobody else in the group speaks, or translate a vitally important document, or whatever. Which is fair and good. However, the GM can’t make every point in the game hang off her linguistic skills. It would be unfair to all the other players. It would also be unrealistic to force every scenario/campaign to have a vital linguistic component – well, possibly if you’re playing Call of Cthulhu or Bookhounds of London, but otherwise it can feel a bit forced.

The nice thing about being an author rather than a GM is that you don’t have to comply with such a principle.

(rubs hands together)

stories that can be told

I was watching original series Star Trek earlier this evening (the Horror Channel is showing reruns – don’t ask me why they consider Star Trek to be appropriate to the Horror Channel, I have no idea, I simply take what I can get). It was the episode The Devil In The Dark. For those not quite as enthusiastic as I am, that’s the episode with the Horta (not Horla – that’s a different story, and an entirely different crossover if they ever wrote it), the rock-creature who is apparently committing wholesale murder on a mining planet, but who is only trying to drive the miners away because they’re smashing her eggs. As the story progresses, Kirk and Spock establish communication with the creature, find out that she is a mother and that her eggs are at risk and that she is intelligent, and end the story by convincing the mob-minded miners of this, and establishing a relationship of mutual toleration, where the miners don’t smash any more eggs and stay out of the Horta’s way, and she and her offspring dig tunnels which the miners can then use for their mining.

Quite a standard episode, you might say.

I’m just trying to think of the last time I saw a plot along those lines in more recent science fiction.

I suppose part of the problem is that these days, it is assumed that your nice kind good Federation-type exploring spaceships are going to have automatic guidelines/protocols along the lines of “assume other forms of life can exist”, “don’t wipe out the native race”, “check to see if there is a native race before you send in the miners”, “examine the mysterious egglike nodules that are turning up all over the place”, and so on. Plus, Star Trek did the story first. All reasons not to see the story elsewhere, or for it to have a lot more camouflage/additional material if it does show up.

Or perhaps we’re just all too cynical these days.

chronicler desired, current writer concerned about her brains or lack of same

All right, I am now slightly over the first manic rush of “I got my book/s accepted!” and the first manic fear of “how can I possibly live up to what people are expecting from me?” and can get back down to work.

A lot of work.

Write write write.

Where’s a Watson when you need one?

good news, better news, best news!

And this is the news.

Pan Macmillan’s Tor imprint is delighted to report  the acquisition of The Invisible Library by debut UK novelist Genevieve Cogman. Senior Commissioning editor Bella Pagan bought World rights in this novel and two others by Cogman from Lucienne Diver at The Knight Agency. These were acquired in an enthusiastic pre-empt.

The concept behind these hugely entertaining books has inspired comparisons such as ‘Doctor Who with librarian spies’. The redoubtable Irene is a secret agent for the ultimate inter-dimensional library, a covert organization that gathers knowledge from parallel worlds. Irene’s latest assignment posts her, and her enigmatic assistant, to an alternative Victorian London. Their goal being to retrieve an extremely dangerous book. But  when she arrives, it’s already been stolen – and soon she’s up to her eyebrows in thieves, murderers and secret societies – with a dash of the supernatural in store.   

I still can’t believe it. But yes. Winter Irene is coming!

more about bags than books

I really shouldn’t buy that whisky sea salt fudge from that shop in town. I go through a single bag in a couple of days and then wonder why I’m feeling as if I’ve been overeating.

I’ve been tidying my bedroom/study. A number of large piles of RPG supplements and beading/patchwork magazines are now carefully organised stacks of RPG supplements and beading/patchwork magazines. So much better.

Now that I’ve got a bit further with “making up a bag using cotton scraps via foundation piecing”, I need to move on to trying the next step, which is “making up a bag using silk scraps via foundation piecing”. On the negative side, this will produce a much more fragile bag. On the positive side, some people may want a more-fragile-but-made-of-silks bag. It’s hard to satisfy a taste when you don’t really share it. I know I’d always go for the more solid bag.