(Typing this from my phone, so… here’s hoping I don’t break the entire site.)
Unless you are just starting reading my stories (hoo boy), you will have noticed the last main story update was in June.
There’s been a lot going on — the entire series is now also available on AO3, and since I have an archive of everything I will be creating a mass-edition PDF with the entire span of my works. (SoonTM).
But the updates stopped because I am doing something, in the words of my Discord readers, as “completely insane”
To wit, I am running a series of roleplaying scenarios based in the PVME, around the 1-year mark after Shepard’s death. The characters in these will be showing up in the main chapters, as will various bits of backstory.
Some of this is already in Bird of Hermes. BOH2: The Monster with a Hundred Heads, will cover a mess involving yet another secretive organization, the Hecatoncheires, a group devoted to trying to figure out all the messes going on behind the scenes as part of a three-way power battle between anomalous control organizations.
The Xabiar files on the Traverse and Terminus also play a HUGE role as both the Broker Fight and the end game occur there. Once all the support pieces are in place (remember, I hate plot holes) then the next couple of chapters won’t take that long.
I have some other stuff to keep y’all happy, though: more military files from DH and the last half of Bird of Hermes, plus this year’s Writecon efforts and maaaaybe a Lion’s chapter for Christmas. We’ll see.
The yearly Death March is arriving November 28th, but since we already tackled the Apple 14 mess maybe it won’t be so bad. We’ll see.
So, if you are following my work, you know I didn’t get a lot accomplished in 2021. Aside from COVID, there’s reasons for that.
We got a few things done;
Richard Manswell file
First parts of the Omega Doc
The ‘early human history’ document is done.
TWCD two chapters
Updates to Memories, Order of Battle, and Bird of Hermes
Writecon 2021 completed
Wave 2 RP completed (at last)
But I didn’t get a lot of writing done for, as I said, several reasons. The biggest of which was the split of the company I work for, which resulted in a literally months-long Death March that (no kidding) ended up with over 20 people dead of COVID, 4 of heart attacks, 40 or so quitting, and a lot of overtime
I think from July to December I never had a full eight hours sleep except on Sundays, and that my average work week went from 40-42 hours to 68-74 hours. And in December and early January that was higher.
Things are FINALLY starting to calm down, so 2022 should see a lot more productive work done than 2021. I am about a third done with the next chapter, but i have to expand on what the Editing Gang has suggested so the chapter will be split in two. That will come out in February, as I have a week off then.
In a few more weeks I will do both the “reviews of the 2021 Writecon” and my usual “Thanks to” piece. I am mostly resting today as the death marches are finally over and we go back to normal hours and rotations.
I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday. I got a lot of Christmas Cards from you (the Lethath one was the best) and I might make a mailing list in the Discord for people to exchange cards with each other for Birthdays and things like that.
Please be safe. Please be kind. Please be aware of the needs of others. And please read the fics of Xabiar, Aberron, TheElderOne, PallanMinerva, and the others I have recommended.
In the event that you are new to reading my works (or an old hand but do not feel like trying to read through four years of Discord ramblings), there’s a lot of ‘side’ information that doesn’t really make it cleanly into the fic or the side stories or documentation stories.
A Discord member, Nemo (He Who Gets No Credit) recently put together a small document covering all the other side documents attempting to bring sanity, or at least organization, to this six-alarm dumpster fire.
Additionally, user viridae (asks Concerning Things and gives Concerning Speculation) has put together some in-depth guides on Commissars, the Department of Abnormalities, and Alliance R&D that gathers materials scattered across several books, the forums, the discord, and the PV Roleplay into one source. They can be found in the reference works menu.
Finally, Maddie (LP’s Heraldess of Chaos and Damnation) has recently finished up preliminary work on a guide to eezo, the first of several hyperfucked materials in the PV and the most cursed. If you aren’t into extremely dodgy math and logic so tortured you could have it star in a BDSM movie, you might not get much out of it, but if you do get at least some higher math it is worth getting a headache a read.
Due to a happy coincidence of timing, I got the next TWCD chapter published as well as Xabiar’s new Citadel Files : Military out the door today.
We are having a PV-RPG session today from 2 PM to 6 PM CST, which will result in that being put into an online chapter along with Bright’s next happy discoveries.
I’m also in the process of getting bids and estimates for the next set of artwork, as well as waiting for my Patreons to determine what oneshots they want to see. Later on this month we’ll start to see more of the stories from the Fanfic WriteCon showing up as well.
It has been an interesting month, in the Chinese sense of the word.
Due to work events, I have not been as productive as I would like, but I have managed to overhaul the Patreon stuff and get some organizational work accomplished on things in the background.
The next TWCD chapter is mostly done — about 70% of it is with the Editing Gang, I just need to put the final few pieces together. The outline for the chapter after that is coming along…slowly.
I put out a Naruto chapter a few days ago due to insomnia, I will probably do more as I hit bits of writer’s block here and there. The first few entries for the PV WriteCon are coming in and I will set up a page to display those here very soon.
There’s also some new art that’s been completed, Uressa T’Shora is finally done:
Work has not really improved. Things have become… messier in the real world. The issue with Coronavirus, protests, climate issues, and the rest of things feels disconnected from ‘life’ when you are basically super-isolating yourself from others. There are always challenges to overcome, but each one feels less and less like ‘accomplishment’ and more and more like an endurance time trial.
(Warning: Rant below)
That being said, I’d like to take a few moments to address a common theme I’ve been seeing and hearing in regards to all kinds of things; namely, intolerance to those who disagree. It’s an insidious poison, one that makes anything that doesn’t fit your filters just get ignored, and blinds many people to reality.
This is not limited to any one group. I have no ‘formal’ political affiliation that makes sense, given my views are mishmash of hard left, hard right, and draconian. But I always, always try to take the time to listen to people who disagree, or who have mindsets different than mine. And what I find is that most people I know are doing the opposite: refusing to listen to anything from anyone who is not in agreement with their own views… regardless of the validity of said views.
You see it everything now, from left to right wing, from various interest groups and blocs, from fans on shows to people discussing what should be hard science. We have now come to a point where facts, discourse and compromise are less important than irrelevant shit like ‘purity’, ‘wokeness’, ‘patriotism’, or whatever the fuck other whack-ass bullshit drives any particular brand of wonkery.
“Well that’s great, you senile old bitter bastard, what the fucking duck does that have to do with the fanfic stuff?” I’m glad you asked.
Ironically, my fic started as me venting negativity to get it out of my system, and now I realize I was actually not negative enough to match reality.
The Earth went to shit in the Days of Iron in my fic because people took a hard-line stance on everything and doubled down on Fuck You Syndrome. People wanted ‘strong leaders’ but no longer trusted government. Wars erupted not over real problems but over the egos of their nation’s leaders. Resources were ruined and destroyed rather than shared because by then people had convinced themselves that anything not from their nation was evil.
When I wrote that outline of the future, back in 2012, I was bitter and depressed at the death of my wife. I was upset because Barrack Obama was wasting political capital on projects I knew full well would not work out due to political infighting. I was somewhat negative on my views of the future.
But in my wildest, most fucked up nightmares induced by drinking Jack Daniels and eating cheese pizza after midnight, never did I imagine anything like what I set forth in a Series of Sorrows Unending would ever come to pass.
We live in a world where the Wheeze is real (COVID-19), and even worse than I set it out to be.
We live in a world with worse climate change conditions than I set up, with 100f + temperatures in Siberia and massive wildfires in Australia, and that if we had any kind of nuclear exchange as in the Days of Iron would actually be WORSE than my depiction. If all the carbon locked up in tundra lets go, the sea level rise would drown billions.
We live in a world where the structure of transnational cooperation is not only frayed but is basically destroyed, where the UN is increasingly seen as a laughingstock with countries like Uganda and North Korea on the Human Rights council and its toothless peacekeeping forces helpless to stop ethnic cleansing in Myamar, China, and elsewhere.
We live in a world where the power of the rich and influential is so much stronger than it was just a decade ago, where already we see the rich talking about orbital stations and moon colonies. We live in a world where the rich are idolized and all that drives people is status and money and goddamned Twitter followers.
We live in a world where actual achievement is sneered at, and where fucking participation alone is supposed to be worthy of appreciation, where scientists and artists are backed not due to the brilliance of their creation but if they are black or lesbian or whatever.
I set out to make a Days of Iron that was supposed to be ridiculous and over the top, because of course no one wanted rich autocrats to rule them, or to have draconian laws, or to start world war III over petty shit.
Now, standing on the cusp of what is a nightmare given flesh and form, my own words mock me. And the shape of what has transpired is because we no longer take the time to listen to those who disagree.
Instead, people define everything in their life by what separates them — race, sexual orientation, gender definition, political affiliation, belief in pseudoscience — and then get offended when others judge them based on what they define themselves by.
We now live in an era where science, common sense, and generosity are not only ignored but openly mocked, where virtue signaling is more important than empirical data, where ‘critical thinking’ is actually being derided and instead people cling to horoscopes, numerology, or (God give me strength) fucking homeopathic crystals.
A lot of people have said “OSABC is too depressing and grimdark things would never turn out that way on Earth”. And they are right, things are turning out worse. Victor was a monster but at least he was competent and had a certain level of grace and pity. I doubt very strongly any of our leaders, potential leaders, or corporate CEO’s have his level of vision.
A lot of people have said they don’t like ‘reading depressing things because I want to escape from that’. And this is why the entire fucking planet is going to shit. Because people can’t be bothered to spend two hours doing Meals on Wheels. Or skip playing CoD to work at a soup kitchen. Because people don’t want to deal with ‘bad things’ and ‘depressing things’.
Well, folks…that is how you get to the Days of Iron, basically. By ignoring the reality going on around you, and by pretending it will all be okay, until you wake up one morning and discover everything isn’t okay. For some people, that is happening right now, with COVID, or with drastic temperature changes. For a lot of others, it hasn’t happened yet.
But it will, and by then it will be far too late to do anything about it. I’m aware that almost everyone reading this is probably feeling like you have no power.
I reiterate the wisdom of Benezia T’Soni, which someone recently reminded me of myself, that when it comes to changing anything, you always have to start from zero, and that any increment is progress. That is true in both regards. If you work towards change, even if you do nothing but improve a single person’s life for a few hours…that is still improvement.
And the flip side of that is that lack of trying, of telling yourself you don’t matter, that you can’t fix it, that it is not even worth trying, becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy if enough people buy into it. If you let yourself be neutralized by despair, then you add one more tally stone to the stack of shit already tipping us towards the abyss.
Or, in other words…no single raindrop blames itself for the flood.
The coronavirus shares several frightening characteristics with a theoretical flu variant call the Wheeze I came up with for the backstory of PV Earth, a virus that killed tens of millions of people and was one of the key factors in shattering world civilization into the mess that became the Days of Iron. As several other factors in my work have also come to pass, I begin to grow worried.
That being said, I am a paranoiac and disaster prepper anyway, so this outbreak hasn’t affected me much IRL. I already have high quality filters for my air, lots of toilet paper, MRE’s, canned goods, and the like. And I had a stack of N95 masks and surgical gloves after the SARS outbreak that are still here. I am able to work from home and my company is deeply involved in shipping medical supplies and food. Given the importance we have I am unlikely to lose my job.
I haven’t gotten much writing done, mainly because I’m having some blocks on the next main chapter, but also because my work schedule is chaotic. Our company lost our disaster response team so I’m part of a rotating on-call 24/7 response group. Yesterday, I worked from 5 AM to 2 PM, got 3 hours sleep, worked from 5 PM to 9 PM, got three hours sleep, and then again from 9 to almost 6 AM today. This erratic pattern doesn’t allow for good introspection.
I do have some updates, however. Thanks to the efforts of the Patreon donators, we have new art of Shepard — specifically, her attire at her wedding and a close up of the Star of Terra.
Right now, the current plan for the fic is as follows:
Side Piece work — tech guide on battle suits, finish refurbishing the Order of Battle Document, and rework a few things in the Biotic Encyclopedia
Finish next main chapter of TWCD
Put out chapter of Lions
Put out chapter of Alliance News Network interviews — Anderson
Beyond that… I dunno. This virus is a scary thing, but so is what it is doing to society, to economy, and to the lives of the poor and without resources. My work at my company is literally saving lives so for the moment I am more focused on that. On the other hand, with everyone shut in and isolating, I know a distraction is valuable, and I have certainly not forgotten any of you.
Feel free to email (firstname.lastname@example.org), PM in FFN, DM on Discord or comment here if you need to discuss anything, need advice or want to ask a question. Please stay safe. Please self-isolate and don’t take stupid chances, this thing is containable if we just all act intelligently.
I am satisfied with this 26k chapter. Have a wonderful new year and let’s hope 2020 is better than 2019. MAJOR thanks to the Editing Gang for pulling together and getting this one out the door, and with the suggestions that made the re-write work.
So, the good news: the new chapter is with the Editing Gang and should be out by next weekend (unless a rewrite is needed.)
Bad news: As it stands, it ends on a cliffhanger.
I need to write the Shepard-Liara scene, but I want to do it the right way, since it is going to be a critical thing. And as I may have pointed out before I am not a female so I want advice and feedback on how to proceed before I do so.
The semi-good news is I will try to have that chapter done before Christmas. We’ll see.