NaNoWriMo 2018 – Overview (Planning Stage)

The planning stage for any writing endeavour is tedious but rewarding

There are so many angles in which I can take to ‘attack’ this challenge: do I go for a science fiction approach? Or should I go for a more ‘fictional’ approach – that is more grounded to reality? This is certainly some of the problems I seem to encounter so early in the planning stage for the month long writing marathon.

Perhaps I should do a series of short series from this ‘world’ and then try to incorporate them into a greater ‘epic’ storyline? Perhaps, but that demands a lot more planning. What interest me at the moment is cyber-technology in the 21st century – what has been proposed and envisioned in high works like Masamune Shirow’s Ghost in the Shell series (manga, anime, movies, TV series, etc.). It is an interesting backdrop of espionage, government intervention, covert operations, ethical dillemmas and all that is common to the ‘cyberpunk’ genre.

But then again, there is an angle that I have not encountered yet – perhaps it is because of my lack of indulgence in the local scene – cyberpunk in my own country; Malaysia. How would that scene look like in the 22nd century? Will we still be a sovereign nation, that is still established on a British governmental system? Would the political scene change? Would the ethnic breakdown in the country be the same? How different would the international scene be? I suspect, for some time now, that there will be a big clash between the two major superpower blocks – which one can argue is led by America and China, or the West against the East. Would that be the time when global issues escalate and ‘correct’ itself in cyberspace? How damaging will it be? With every nook of our economy tied to cyberspace, it is not wrong to make extreme speculation – of mass genocide and displacement of people, especially the identity of people. Imagine, in a time when paper records are nearly extinct, what happens when whole information servers are wiped out? Along with the backups? What about digital money and the function of banks, exchanges in countries? How will this affect individuals and societies? Will anarchy reign? There is another angle as well – religion. In a world that is so fragmented by the issue of religion, how will religion comfort, correct or confront the problems posed in a global cyberwarfare? Is the developed nations prepared for such radical changes? What if the Chinese people that are globally dispersed are coerced somehow to unite against the rest? What if religion unite and seek to overthow the ‘godless’ pagans? Where can we find refuge? Where can we find sanctuary in a world that is physically hostile to a people who had never bothered to care for her?

This is interesting. This requires a lot of research to bring out the issues, and more importantly, the horrible truth of how close we are to such a situation. In the midst of a modern, global warfare (physical and digital), how would a small country that is filled with political, societal and economical problems cope? Will there be liberalisation of the people or a conservative progression? Who will take advantage of the chaos? Who will be the heroes? And if history ever teach humans anything, it is this: heroes are often those who sacrifice what others are unwilling to give up. These are the ones who are forgotten or made into scapegoats after the resolution of the issues. Heroes, true heroes, are never remembered fully for what they have done – but their weaknesses and failings are exploited by the wicked and wolves.

When I posit the context in this way – it is certainly an interesting backdrop for a novel to tackle. I believe pushing the story to the 22nd century makes more sense as the current leaps and development enjoyed by all, can never be sustained, but are confined to certain periods of human history. We have crossed that, after the last half millenium. Things will slow down, and stagnant. What will change is the moral and heart dilemmas – as we have seen in the Renaisance and then the Reformation, so also we will see huge global heart issues that will challenge our very existence, the question of ‘why are we here?’ and ‘what are we here for?’.

Would a ‘budak kampung’, a village boy, survive in a world that is so entrenched in the digital world of the 22nd century? Will this young man in his late teens who has lived his life off-the-grid be able to reclaim his identity that has been stolen by a covert cabal of powerful political individuals to orchestrate the elaborate downfall of the nation’s financial system – and commit political assassination of the top governmental officers. How can this young man fight in a world that is so foreign and alien to him, and not only survive, but thrive against external forces that seek to destroy the last resistance of the newly established empire in the East? Here is an unlikely hero, along with his motley companions, who will learn the pain, trials and failures of fighting against odds in an unknown world; for the sake of a people who will never acknowledge, accept and allign with them.

My tentative title for NaNoWriMo 2018:

“Identity_Unknown: Kamal_Asrin”

Or

“Doxing Cyforce57”

NaNoWriMo – I Am Going to Join this Massive Challenge!

Are you ready? 

The first time I tried NaNoWriMo (years ago, nearly a decade ago), I dropped out after a few days. Writing 50,000 words in a month is DAUNTING! Especially when you have not done it before. This is ALL about disciplining oneself. Well, truth be told, this requires a LOT of planning before hand. 

I know it is tempting to start writing, but the textbook answer is to make LOADS of preparation. Especially if you are writing fiction – the kind of research and material needs to be done before hand. World building IS necessary, unless you are expecting small kids to read your words. (I honestly doubt they would want to read cover-to-cover, 50k words, a work that has no consistency within itself). 

So… what will I be writing? Science Fiction would be my preferred genre. Fiction by itself requires a lot more planning to ensure that the level of realism holds for the reader. Hope for the best! If you are joining, let me know… we all could use the support and motivation 🙂

Earliest Comic Strip Shows the Founding of a Roman City

This is epic (in my mind)! The 2,000 years old discovery shows a simple 5 panel comic strip-like depiction of the founding of a Roman city. It is amazing that such pictorial style is not a modern invention. This is important as many would disparage the use of ‘pictorials’ and ‘graphic novels’ as a second-rate means of teaching and of written communication, insisting that the ultimate mode is written literature. Here is historical proof that such pictorial has been used in ancient times and even in ‘serious’ context.

The version of events painted on three walls of the 52-square-meter funerary chambers probably takes some poetic license with Capitolias’ history. It seems unlikely that the city’s founders literally attended a banquet of the Roman gods, serving refreshments while asking their advice on a good spot to build a city. In the first panel, on a wall to the left of the tomb’s entrance, larger-than-life Roman gods recline on couches while humans offer them food and drink. More likely, the city’s founders would have made offerings at a temple before construction began.

In the next panels, a city begins to emerge from the wilderness. Farmers with oxen gather fruit and tend vineyards in one panel, and Dionysus and other gods help woodcutters chop down trees in another.

To the right of the entrance, the story continues with the construction of a city wall. Laborers lead donkeys and camels with loads of building material to the site, while stonecutters and masons climb the wall and occasionally suffer falls and other mishaps. Architects supervise the whole process (though arguably not very well, given the number of accidents depicted). This panel features scintillating dialog like “I am cutting stone!” and “Alas for me! I am dead!”

And the final panel, the centerpiece of the whole room, depicts someone in the robes of a priest offering a sacrifice to the city’s gods.

The full article can be gotten from https://arstechnica.com/science/2018/10/ancient-comic-strip-depicts-the-founding-of-a-roman-city/

Speaking of which, this gives me an excellent idea of a comic book story depicting the founding of fictional world or event. I am reminded of the old classis tactical game, Myth: the Fallen Lords back in the 90’s that introduced the story by way of pictorials and simple animation. Very effective to establish the fictional world to the player.

Short Story of 4,000 (Four Thousand) Words Completed!

I am very happy with this milestone. I aim to submit this short story to an overseas journal. And my first draft (the useless piece) has been completed in four days. It is based on a true experience, with names changed (somewhat). Next comes the most painful and yet rewarding stage of EDITING! I am excited.

It may end up a completely different story, but this is the mysterious way writing works. 🙂

Internet Chatting Romance – The Perils

A very good write up on a murder done motivated by Internet love triangle. Read the whole article here. Let me say that although Internet chatting is not wrong, but do indulge it ONLY if you know the person in offline (real) life. Stay away from chat rooms as much as possible, as the level of deception in those areas are too real. Some excerpts are as follows:

…Then there was the matter of the hundreds of pages of correspondence and dozens of photos he kept on his computer to document, and savor, every moment of his time with Jessi: It was a digital paper trail showing a man careening out of control. Ken Case, the assistant district attorney who worked on the case, said, “He was a guy who prior to this happening was a very dedicated father. To make that much of a transformation, as a result of communicating with a fictitious person, is pretty frightening….”

…Locals say she was “one of the best parents around” and a devoted cheerleader at Jessi’s basketball and softball games. The principal of the middle school that her children attended was so impressed with Mary and her maternal dedication that he hired her for part-time clerical work. In all of Jessi’s 18 years, Mary told me, she had missed only one of her daughter’s games, to work the polls at election time. How could a mother like that, I asked her, hijack her daughter’s identity to seduce strangers? Her answers, unsatisfactory as they are, suggest a profound capacity for self-deception….

…He tried to explain what drew him to his computer. “When I’m talking to Cindy or you like this, face-to-face,” he said, “it’s hard for me to say what I feel.” As Tommy, however, the words came easily. And then there was Jessi. He loved her, or at least believed he loved her, though he knew he was “never going to meet her.” His plan was to “kill Tommy off” in Iraq, but Cindy intervened too soon. He nearly committed suicide because of his guilt about having lied to Jessi. Why, I asked, when he was suspicious of so much of what Jessi said, did he believe she was who she claimed? “She kept sending pictures,” he explained. “One picture, maybe not. But there were so many pictures over a period of time….”  

Although Instant Messaging is a convenient way of contacting people, but the dangers are equally great. How do you know for sure the person who is actually behind the monitor? Like it or not, too much deception can still creep into the scene, even with web cameras… yes, even that may not be a good defence or assurance giver. So don’t waste your life completely by being lazy and not meet up with a person or at least verify the person’s existence before going deeper into a relationship with him or her. When you do want to meet up or verify, ALWAYS do it with another person. If a person only will meet up if you are alone, run away. It is a scam. There is a difference between real romance, and foolish infatuation that is self gratifying. You have to learn to draw the line somewhere or else live with the consequences.

Some consequences are too great. As the aforementioned story would show.

Be smart.

Prostitution Plight

Sita, a prostitute from Kolkata who gave only one name, told of her violent childhood marriage that forced her to flee her home and land in a brothel.

“My dignity was torn to pieces. I used to cry a lot. But I soon learnt some things will never change no matter how much you cry,” she wrote.

Read the article: http://www.reuters.com/article/lifestyleMolt/idUSDEL28321320070730

If we do understand that the chains are heavy, and even heavier on some than it is on others. Very sad, this.

Asimov: Robotic Thoughts

If man is the creator of Robots, Asimov is the visionary for them. Born in 1919… he grew in fame with his epic Foundation trilogy (then) and later with the short stories that made up the “I, Robot” selections and followed by “Robot Dreams” collections.

In his world, robots are mechanical and capable of some limited independent thoughts. Using his logic, based on the 3 robotic Laws, he put forth the conclusion of a zenith law (zero) that would have to restrict (liberate) the robotic way of thinking in relation to their human masters.

All in all, a very intriguing writer whom I highly admire for his span of grandeur in his writing… he tries to connect every book that he wrote with a singular thought and scope that can be read as a whole and yet be detached. Truly a master of epic writing.

But the other point of admiration is his use of science (true scientific knowledge) to fictionalise his stories. Good stories are truly made with a pinch of truth in them. And the truth needs to be researched well before it will work.

Check out his extensive bibliography at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isaac_Asimov

Tie

I know you…

Can’t be

Hey…. weren’t you playing at Soulz last semester?

uh-oh, here it comes

Girl, you just freakin’ destroyed the last song! I was like…

Ya ya yeaa… I don’t give a rat’s…

… and Nat was like “she can’t be more than 18! Dressing all red ann…..

It’s 21.

Whuh?

I said, I’m 21.

Oh. You’re much youngeee….

Please, just leave. I’ve had enough, can’t you see I’m really not in the mood to ‘chat’ abou…

Well. My little sister thought the red tie was cute. I mean,

You brought your little sister to a pub at Crossway?  She’s what…? 15? 14?

Oh, Boomer (he’s the jockey up front) ‘kay with it, as long as Macy (my sis) is there for the performance and keeps to the back row… it’s not her first time ‘kay?

I mean you’re not going to rat out on her now would…

okaaaaaaay… I guess… I should mak…

she liked the tie, eh? Heh.

erm… yea. All ‘Avril’ thingee… as I recall…

Guess something good did come out of it all. Heh.

Well… look’it the time… my ride’s here… gotta go… you just enjoy your, erm… drink there… seriously, it wasnt’ bad… just not up my groove, … style… whatever…

It’s evian.

Cya!

….

….

freakin’ town ain’t up my style. Sigh…