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Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Therefore let us confuse and scatter them

I'm always surprised when other people are surprised that I can get quite exercised over politics. Aristotle aside, you don't have to read much of my stuff to pick up on that, surely? And anyone who's looked at the Mirabilis comic -- or my Twitter feed -- will be in no doubt where my political sympathies lie.

On the other hand, if you read the Knightmare novellas you'd probably conclude (wrongly) that I'm strongly religious. So maybe not much of the author's personal slant makes it into the finished work after all; it only feels that way from this side of the keyboard.

Anyway, I'm currently finishing up work on my latest book, and I feel I ought to mention it here because it's a gamebook. My first since Frankenstein in 2012 (also pretty political, come to think of it). In this gamebook, though, there are no dragons or magic spells, no epic quests, not a single death paragraph. It's set in the real world and the conflict is not fantastical but political.

The picture shows a couple of the very weighty docs I've been working from over the last few months. Europeans will need no more clue than this to twig what it's about, and will understand when I say that no fantasy world could possibly match the madness, deception, fanaticism, stupidity, chaos and outright Kool-Aid quaffing involved in this particular real-life bonfire of reason. Other nationalities -- don't worry, I know you've got your own problems. The gamebook also has input from Jamie, and it should be ready before the end of the year. The working title: Turn to Article 50.

But if politics is not your thing, never fear. The regular Friday post will whisk us off to a world of mazy webs and noble knights, time travel and star voyaging, longing and loss... in a place not far from Camelot.

23 comments:

  1. Dave, I am volunteering now to help deliver a copy to every MP for Christmas...

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    1. We could maybe work some kind of Christmas Carol/ It's A Wonderful Life miracle ?

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    2. Confronting the likes of Farage and Johnson and Davis with the Ghost of Brexit Future, eh, John? Worth a shot... though maybe, given the temptation, that's a poor choice of expression in the circumstances.

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    3. Maybe we could enlist "The Muppets" as well, following on from their 1992 classic. I would say that would make Farage and Johnson feel at home, but that would be doing Kermit & co a real disservice.

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    4. Since he's finished with Doctor Who, maybe bring in Peter Capaldi to bring some Malcolm Tucker into the mix.

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    5. I've seen any of the Peter Capaldi episode of DH, mostly because I can't imagine them living up to this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Blf073f2Lc&sns=tw

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    6. I haven't seen any Capaldi Doctor Who either. It would be like watching Ian McShane as Lovejoy after seeing him play Al Swearengen.

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    7. For a real head trip try watching a 2007 movie called The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising which features post-Deadwood Ian McShane as Merriman and post-Doctor Who Christopher Eccleston as the Dark Rider. I kept expecting this dialogue at some point:

      Rider: "I'm going to cover the world in darkness and cold. Isn't it fantastic?!"

      Merrirman: "Aw **** off you ******* piece of ************* ****. I seen scarier turds floating after me mornin' ****!"

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    8. Is that based on the Susan Cooper novels? Maybe I should take a look -- although the movie can't possibly match up in reality to your version.

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    9. It is indeed based on Susan Cooper's novel. The movie is mostly just... mediocre. It doesn't completely suck. There's a couple of neat, suspenseful bits early on. Apparently (according to one of my own reviews that I reread) there's even a bit involving theoretical physics (which my review also notes is never followed up). The movie was 10 years ago and not all that great, so the books are much more memorable (and better).

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  2. Happy to get this out there to some of my political and journalistic connections. Looking forward to it!

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    1. Thanks, Dermot. Just a few finishing touches needed... and a whole lot of playtesting!

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  3. And who said gamebooks were boring where you choose left or right?!

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  4. Great project Dave; but I have a question, and I'm stealing unashamedly from a seminal 80s teen movie, for you: is the only winning move not to play this gamebook? ;-)

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    1. Lol. Good question, Richard. I'd say you can win, but not necessarily at the implied goal of delivering a successful future for the country.

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  5. When will it be released I need in my life!

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  6. The biggest problem with political game systems is that the writer must start with the belief that they understand the system in question. That they can define the rules of play, the chances of success, and the various modifiers to those chances, and of course the consequences of success or failure. In a system where you invent your own world, you can be the arbiter of these things. In a system where you are attempting to model a highly charged scenario with which the reader has familiarity, you run the risk of being (justly and unjustly) attacked for "bad simulation" when people see results form their actions that they don't believe reflect real life.

    Seems very risky.

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    1. True, but you have that risk in any system. I can completely invent rules for magic, but when it comes to aiming a gun, climbing a wall, hiding from a sentry, etc, whatever numbers I come up with have to be credible.

      In this case, as with any political game, there are the meta-questions. What are you actually trying to do? What is victory? If you only look at the numbers you may be missing the point of how a political leader thinks.

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    2. You're right that the same thing applies to aiming a gun or climbing a wall, but if you provide rules for such systems that run counter to a player's intuition, they don't tend to feel personally attacked. Most players don't have an emotional investment in the way guns work or the way climbing works, but run counter to their political intuition and you may have a revolt on your hands.

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