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.