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Interview Again

As pointless wastes of time Livejournal memes go, I quite like the interview one. Mostly because it's got an intelligent means of propagation which doesn't demand attention from people who don't want to participate, but also because it involves writing about, well, me. And since I last did it several years ago, what the hell.

I caught the bug this time from weaver42

1: What's one alcoholic drink you'd slash your own throat before putting in your mouth?

I'm not sure. Let me waffle for a minute. Beers of all kinds are fine and noble; even the gassy tinned tripe sold to young males over here (including such horrors as "Bud", "Miller", and "Carling Black Label") has its uses. I've never met a spirit I could stay mad at, though I certainly have preferences in the Core Six of gin, vodka, brandy, whisky, rum, and whiskey. Odder spirits, including tequila, mescal, and absinthe, are all great fun. Advocaat's not exactly nice, but it's only made me want to gag when mixed with something that causes it ti curdle. Wine? Possibly. After spending a year drinking about one bottle a night, some of the cheap red Argentinian antifreeze could probably get me to swear off if I was presented with it again. Then again, I've said repeatedly that I'd be willing to try Buckfast (preferred Scottish wino-juice) provided it was under lab conditions. Cider's something I've only ever consumed unwillingly, but I've still consumed it.

However, I've changed a lot over the past couple of years. No longer the booze-soaked lush, I stick to wine, ale, and whisky on the occasions when I do partake. But for the question of cutting my own throat in favour of drinking... ouzo. I once helped a friend finish a bottle (it was an ornate bottle). After that experience, I can safely say that if ouzo never again passed my lips I would be a happy man, for its taste is that of the Seed of Satan Himself.

2: What made you actually want to... y'know, write for a living?

I can't imagine a world in which I didn't want to write. That goes right the way back to being so small I don't recognise myself. Always had the desire to create, to communicate ideas, through various means. I wrote a bunch of Quake mods back in the day, trying to use a FPS engine to tell a structured story. I sucked at 3D modelling, but the ideas were all there. My file of cast-offs includes a whole bunch of unfinished programs in addition to shelved story ideas. In the end, I realized that the best way to convey those ideas was a form in which I had complete control, hence writing.

I wanted to write RPG books, and get paid for doing so, when I saw a whole bunch of people I knew progressing from "fan" to "freelancer". In many ways, I prefer the form to trying to hold the disparate threads of a novel, and when I worked that out I realized that I could, one day, sell words for money. I'm not being paid to say what does happen, I'm creating a framework for what could happen. At a guess, I'd say that's why a certain kind of RPG writer goes on to write videogames. It's all about creating possibilities. Warren Spector is more my role model when it comes to writing.

3: If you were forced, at gunpoint, to name each of your testicles, what would you name them?

I've never understood this whole "naming body parts" thing. It implies some kind of alienation from the part named, which is perhaps a function of most named organs being primary or secondary sexual characteristics. Some kind of low-level psychological puritanism, where one can avoid having any of the joy of sex because it's all attributed to the named organs?

If someone held a gun to my head, then my left bollock would be Steve-Dave and my right bollock would be Trigger. If the gunman were particularly weird, I'd even name my nob: Shackleton.

The problem is, I'd never remember these names. It's like pets. You start off with some utter shite like "Darcy Sunbeam Montegue III" and end up actually using "OigetoutofityouorriblecuntAAARGHGERROFFMESODDINGBOLLOCKS!" And once you've used the familiar name enough, the original one fades entirely from memory. So I'd be better off not naming anything, and lying to the gunman.

Which I believe I just did anyway.

4: What writer is way, way overhyped?

I'll expand this one to fiction, because RPGs are an incestuous little hobby and few enough people are hyped to begin with. And I'm not going to pick on bright, glowing targets of overhyped crap like J.K. Rowling or Stephanie Meyer because they're too fucking easy. And because annajaneclare has already torn into the Twilight series in a way that I'd find hard to match.

Stephen King, on the other hand, can put down the word processor and back away slowly. He takes "show but don't tell" to a whole new level, lavishing everything with stunning description to the point where it feels like nothing actually happens for hundreds upon hundreds of pages. Even where he does have action the pace doesn't change anywhere near enough. Every single book of his I've read has been the same turgid slog without any sense of urgency. He's one of the few people that Hollywood improved: the film version of the Running Man worked a fuck of a lot better than the original short. I despair that some people consider the Dark Tower as some sort of masterpiece, because that means yet more people wasting valuable hours reading utter bollocks when they could be reading something decent and worthwhile.

5: Where are my pants?

This is a dream. This interview is not being televised. Millions of people cannot see you without your pants. They are certainly not pointing and laughing. You should not feel embarrassed or humiliated.

And questions from mythdude:

1: How would you die?

Given that I asked for the questions while going through death, it's an appropriate one. My bones were on fire, and I just figured that'd be the way I'd go, muscles dying and tearing the attached bones apart. If, however, I'm allowed to choose the means, method, and so on, then I've got a whole smorgasbord of choices. See, people say "there's no such thing as a good way to die". That's horseshit. I agree with Frankie Boyle: drug-fuelled sex heart attack. If I'm going to go, I'm going to go big. More than big. Fucking epic, son. Round up a bunch of girls, a bunch of guys, and as many illegal drugs as I can physically carry and test the limits of human endurance

2: What super power would you want to have?

Back in the early days of the internet. some site used to have a brilliant quiz. Personality test, much as a certain class of person spams over their livejournal. But this was a real personality test, actually asking pertinent questions to measure someone's personality. Then, based on that, it assigned a superpower. Now when I say the early days, I'm lying. It was around 2001, 2002, and it was linked from the old, old Æonverse forum. It was a really great example, and I've never been able to find it since. Apparently, back at the time (admittedly, a time when I hated everything in the order "homo sapiens" in a typical young-male misanthropic fantasy land which I've since dropped) I would best fit regeneration. Which would be cool.

But, y'know, no. Regeneration's cool, can lead to immortality, but frankly it's boring. Oooh, I can't die. But on the other hand, it's a reactive power, it's only something that kicks in when something happens. Fuck that. I'm a big one for active powers. Then again, if the world had emergent superpowers then something like Synch's power (which later became popular through Peter Petrelli). Which, y'know, isn't actually an active power. But it's by far and away the most useful and versatile. Then again, that's picking powers for utility rather than what I'd actually want.

Because what I'd actually want is hyperintelligence. Because I'm already smart, and there's nothing wrong with being smarter. Plus, y'know Brainiac 5. There's a reason I have his threeboot incarnation as one of my icons.

3: If you had a dream house, what is it and where would it be? (Only one question mark, ergo it's only one question! Right?...right?)

Eh? House? It's just a shell, a place to have a bed and an office... yeah right.

I'm thinking a refurbished old castle up in the highlands. Modernized and improved, of course. Lots of rooms, heated, double-glazed windows, several bedrooms, library with secret door, separate office, nobody around for several miles, and high-speed net access with redundant lines. Sever room in the basement, computers and wifi throughout. All old granite or sandstone, heated underfloor. Plenty of big windows, the proper Scottish kind, because sunlight's cheaper than electricity. And a big and well-stocked kitchen.

4: If you could be an aspect of the Endless, which aspect would you be?

I'm going to come out and admit it: I've never read Gaiman's Sandman all the way through. I've dipped in, read bits and pieces, but at present I'm actually further through (and enjoying more) James Robinson's Starman. Yeah, fuck off. Sandman is for people who'd smoke patchouli cigarettes if they thought they could get away with it. But from those bits I have read, I'll say "Destiny". Because I want to know the answers.

5: If you were given the chance to be immortal, would you take it?

Yes. I remember conducting a thought-experiment into true immortality—the sort where no, you just cannot die by any means, at some point you just stop aging. And lots of people said they'd go mad after a couple of hundred years, maybe five hundred. I just don't see it. One of the things with immortality is that it implies a certain resistance, and going mad would be a waste of that. Better to go out and do it, go become a living record of everything the human race (or any other race for that matter) could possibly accomplish. Adapt, interpret, understand, and survive. Because being immortal means being in for the long haul, and I'm cool with that. All of a sudden, I can see how the deck is loaded, I can see how the big things play out.

Questions from spudtater:

1. What was the most amusing misapprehension you had as a child?
I'm not entirely sure. I always had that slight problem of having more detailed answers than the teachers in science lessons (at least until halfway through high school), so it's hard for me to point to specific misapprehension I had as a child.

Probably that I'd never be dumb enough to smoke, drink, or take drugs. Because they're pointless wastes of cash, time, and health.

I believed that until I was about 16. At which point I started stealing cigarettes.

2. Is intelligence measurable?
In theory, yes. In practice, no.

One. Define intelligence. Even if we go with the basic definition of "information processing power", how is that useful? Ahh, fuck it. Assume we can define intelligence in a way that doesn't exclude large ranges of human experience (hint: excellence in just about any field is a sign of intelligence) and that isn't defined by scientists and geeks. Don't agree with me? You're wrong.

So if we get a useful definition, we can't currently measure it. Because we come to the problem of complexity. In order to measure the information processing of a mind we have to be able to create a full model of the mind. That requires a level of neural complexity at least an order of magnitude over and above that of the observed mind. This is the sort of thing Aineko spells out in the last book of Accelorando. when talking about bringing Manny back.

In short: Yeah, it's possible to measure it (assuming that there actually is variance) but you need a Mind or similar to do it.

3. What's your take on mawwidge marriage?
Marriage to me is much like line dancing: I considered it once, decided against it, and proceeded to get drunk. While I appreciate that it's something steeped in tradition and ceremony for many people, I've always lived in a situation where it's an option, but certainly not required for a couple who love each other and are committed to each other. After all, for a long time it wasn't an option for some members of my close family. Hell, going by the basic idea that equal-but-different isn't actually equal, it's still not an option. I had two cousins before my aunt and uncle got married, and several friends of my parents (close enough that I called them "Uncle" and "Aunt") have never been married and probably never will be.

4. What's the coolest thing you've seen on the internet this week?
Hrm. This is a bugger of a week to ask because a fair proportion of everything is crappy lies and a fair proportion are cool lies. Then there's the normal cool stuff.

I'm very partial to City of Heroes: The Golden Age. As I've mentioned previously, City of Heroes is the only MMO that I play, and taking it back to MUD days is just really damn cool. The Hotelicopter would be cool, but it's obviously a photoshop job. Also, plenty of random shit on b3ta that refuses to come to mind just right now.

5. Is internet privacy doomed?
Yes. But also no.

If you're talking about privacy in a school, then it's long gone. In the workplace? Mostly gone, but you've got better recourse (and argument for) proxies, SSH tunnels, and TOR than someone in a school. At home? Well, you can get away with a lot of things, up to the point that someone sends a notice to your ISP. Even then, running an open wifi point gives a certain measure of deniability, as does running a browser off a livecd or ramdisk.

Privacy online may already be gone, but we've got the common use defence: we're all doing a shitload of stuff online, so it's not until someone cares about what you're doing that it matters—and if someone's going to care, you likely know beforehand and can prepare. Otherwise, you just shrug and say "everyone's doing it" and kick up a stink over the freedoms being removed by everyone.

Which isn't an ideal situation by far, but it's the situation we're left with.

Leave a comment and I'll ask you five questions, on the understanding that you do the same when you answer.



( 32 informants — We want information! )
Mar. 19th, 2009 12:59 pm (UTC)

And hey, what the hell. I'm rarely meme-begotten, so shoot me five questions when time allows. I'll answer them when time allows, which is to say, after I've handed you your redlines for that book.


-- c.
Mar. 28th, 2009 08:51 pm (UTC)
1. I know from my own experience that writing, especially with a day job, becomes part of your self identity and when you stop there's this big void. So what would fill the void if, for whatever reason, you couldn't write.

2. What one photograph are you most proud of getting, and what's the story around it?

3. If you could tell your ten-year-old self one thing, what would that be and why?

4. An old meme was "What 10 things have you done that nobody else has?" For this question, I just want to know one—along with the circumstances around it.

5. To beard, or not to beard, that is the question!
-/- - weaver42 - Mar. 28th, 2009 09:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 19th, 2009 01:11 pm (UTC)
Why the heck not?

And I don't know about overhyped, with King - he's popular, but he's pretty much also dismissed as a hack. He also doesn't seem to actually take himself that seriously, which is a bonus for him.
Mar. 28th, 2009 09:16 pm (UTC)
King, yeah, but I see his name all over lists of "World-defining authors" in both fantasy, horror, and SF. It's like the Dark Tower is a holy symbol to some people who really need to read some good SF.

Aaaand on with the questions:

1. Costume! Which one (just one) are you most proud of designing and making? What makes it stand out to you?

2. You've got a chance to go back in time. No trickery; you physically go back and have full agency for 24 hours, any changes you make persist. Thing is, you can't go back before the day you were born. What do you do with your one day in history?

3. Where do you want to be in life five years from now? What'll it take for you to get there.

4. If you had to live in the world of a book, which book would it be, and why?

5. Which pie is the best? Is it beefs pie?
Mar. 19th, 2009 04:31 pm (UTC)

the film version of the Running Man worked a fuck of a lot better than the original short.


Did we see the same film? Admittedly, it was a long time ago, but … WHAAAT?

Mar. 19th, 2009 05:48 pm (UTC)
That movie was FANTASTIC.
-/- - digitalraven - Mar. 28th, 2009 09:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 19th, 2009 05:48 pm (UTC)
Do your worst, sir!
Mar. 28th, 2009 09:41 pm (UTC)
1. Don't you mean "Do your worst, inferior one!"? I mean, c'mon. But let's turn this into a question. One movie quote that has meaning for you. What's the quote, and why does it mean what it does?

2. Here's one: As someone with a stated interest in shamanism and comparative religion, do you believe that intelligence is an emergent property of the human brain, or is it the product of some external agency?

3. Your house is on fire. What do you take out, and why?

4. What one choice in your life would you do over? Why, and what do you see happening because of your change?

5. What's with the monkey with the gun in your icon? I mean, seriously. Giving me flashes of Detective Chimp from Shadowpact, just without the deerstalker.
Mar. 19th, 2009 10:12 pm (UTC)
Me please
Mar. 28th, 2009 10:09 pm (UTC)
1. Intelligence: emergent phenomenon or not? On what do you base your answer?

2. Talk about some (non-fictional) people you actually admire.

3. If you could tell your ten-year-old self one thing, what would that be and why?

4. Your hypothetical child is four years old. E looks up at you with those big, wide, trusting eyes, and with ir reedy young voice pipes "Daddy... where did I come from?" What do you tell em?

5. Which pie is the best?
Mar. 20th, 2009 10:38 am (UTC)
Me too :)

and that reminds me to have a go at you about the hermaphrodites in AE. One of my gamers will not stop going on about it....:)
Mar. 22nd, 2009 10:08 am (UTC)
I know I owe you a response on a couple of things, but I've shagged my back pretty badly. I've not forgotten, though, and I'll catch up as soon as I can.
-/- - digitalraven - Mar. 28th, 2009 09:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
-/- - mythdude - Mar. 29th, 2009 05:25 am (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 20th, 2009 09:02 pm (UTC)
Go on then!
Mar. 28th, 2009 10:30 pm (UTC)
1. Everyone has it; that one song that catches something deep inside and conveys a depth of emotion and feeling that you and only you understand. What's your song, and for bonus points, can you try explaining why?

2. Robert Anton Wilson said "It only takes 20 years for a liberal to become a conservative without changing a single idea." Have you noticed your views and politics becoming more conservative over time? And if so, is that an artefact of personal or public change?

3. Is there a book or TV show that changed how you see the world? What would that be, and how did it change things for you? And if there isn't one, do you think that it's out there, waiting for you to find it?

4. What would you title your autobiography?

5. Ever made a lolcat out of Cassie? Ever been tempted?
Mar. 26th, 2009 10:42 pm (UTC)
I've dipped in, read bits and pieces, but at present I'm actually further through (and enjoying more) James Robinson's Starman.

I knew I loved you for a reason.

Starman is the best comic evar.

-- Chuck
Mar. 27th, 2009 04:27 pm (UTC)
Oooh, don't make me choose. I love both.

And I've never smoked pachouli cigarettes in my life! I just love Gaiman's series with the exception of the 5th and 9th trades.
-/- - weaver42 - Mar. 27th, 2009 04:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
-/- - mythdude - Mar. 27th, 2009 05:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
-/- - weaver42 - Mar. 27th, 2009 05:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
-/- - digitalraven - Mar. 28th, 2009 10:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
-/- - mythdude - Mar. 29th, 2009 05:02 am (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 27th, 2009 05:09 pm (UTC)
When it comes to immortality, I sometimes wonder if I would end up like the two immortals in Wild Seed by Octavia Butler. Would I be like Doro, and have grown callous and detached from humanity over thousands of years and destroy humans on a whim, or what I be like Anyanwu and be the great mystic in the mountains who knows all the answers because everything happens again and again.

If you need a reference, think of Doro as Mr. Sinister and Anyanwu as a kinder and gentler Mystique.

Hyper intelligence is cool. I forget who it was, but someone asked some actor what super power he'd love to have and he said it would either be super intelligence or invisibility, but then said that if hewere super smart he could invent something to make him invisible.

You realize that if you ever got your castle then I would be the one to organize local tribes into raiding it? We'd spend weeks at a time in bitter sieges that would end in the same way. My forces crash on the walls, your handful of defenders manage to defeat them and the two of us will fight an epic battle on the battlements using...oh let's say lightsabers.
Mar. 28th, 2009 10:35 pm (UTC)
Hyperintelligence is the best power out there. Seriously. If you've not read the latest Legion of Super Heroes (pick up Teenage Revolution and Death of a Dream to start), do so. Brainiac 5 is one of the greatest characters in existence.

"Well done, Invisible Kid. One of my species hasn't complemented yours since you discovered fire, but I'm almost impressed."
-/- - mythdude - Mar. 29th, 2009 05:23 am (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 29th, 2009 05:47 am (UTC)
I'm late to the party, but I'll always take questions. It's fun.
Mar. 29th, 2009 11:50 pm (UTC)
pick my cigarettes and whiskey'd out mind
Apr. 6th, 2009 03:18 pm (UTC)
Mawwidge is what Crow T. Robot says in MST3K: the Movie. I am now happy.

Thanks for showing me the CoH: the Golden Age! I don't know how I missed that one.
Apr. 6th, 2009 07:23 pm (UTC)
Are you familiar with the original source?
( 32 informants — We want information! )



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