Bleeding Cool

Ever since I remember being aware of such things, but particularly when I was working in trad publishing, “cool” or “Wonderful” was doing something to punch the consumer of story in the mouth, metaphorically speaking…. er I man, subvert expectations.

The problem is “expectations.” As in, when does an expectation stop being such?

By five years ago, I’d stopped expecting any romance on TV or movies to end in happily ever after. It usually ended in the woman going off to “self actualize” which only sounds good to people who have no concept of romance, marriage, or life.

And particularly to people who’ve made career into romance. And who are then unhappy because it turns out playing glorified nursemaid to a business is not the same as having someone who has your back on your way through life. Nor does it give you kids, nor really anything tangible other than a paycheck. Sorry, but, businesses will use you and discard you, because that’s what businesses do. They’re not a holy mission.

Anyway, at this point it’s seeping into trad published books, so no matter what the meet-cute or the love, friendship and support, I know that the couple will end apart so the woman can be “free”. (Freedom is just another word….)

This is the last breakdown but there have been many.

As far as I can established, the culture got locked into a rut where destroying the support pilars of society and the culture was what was viewed as artistic or transcendent.

So, if you run a trilogy with an amazing hero, by book three you’re supposed to show he’s really worse than the villain.

I expect it. I brace myself for it. For years, it was all there was to read.

Publishers, editors and other people steeped in this wallow fo decadence and unthought will acclaim all of this as “cool” or “so innovative.”

In fact, it’s not. It’s been done in every story for at least 100 years. Since you know, the culture started tearing itself apart like a cat with a skin disease scratching to death.

Look, most people aren’t innovative or creative. And art gets stuck in ruts. So subversion is needed, oh, every 100 years or so.

And since this particular rut is one of the stupidest ever to inflict on a culture, it’s time to be done with it.

I speak as someone who took years to stop reflexively doing this shit.

Because it’s the stereotype, it’s the pattern, and we absorb it, before we can even speak.

No one is asking you to write or read polyanna stories. But the shit being pushed at us is as unrealistic, just less useful.

Your neighbors are not all living lives of quiet desperation. Most people are pretty happy where they are. Unless you’re profoundly unlucky, if you breakdown almost anywhere in the US (other countries… well…) someone will stop to help, or at least call emergency services for you. Most businessmen aren’t corrupt, outside of some totally effed up industries. Most people might do things YOU disapprove of (duh) but have their own code and try to live by it.

Humanity is not all horror and evil. There is that, of course, but there is also shining good and amazing courage. Sometimes in the same person.

And it’s important to know this, because we live steeped in story, and stories build what we expect.

What we’ve done to ourselves for 100 years is depress everyone.

Stop it. Stop it now.

Write heroism against all the odds; honor and glory in environments that forbid it; bravery for one last stand. Write people we can look up to.

Most people are living in paradise, but staring at the mud.

Bleeding cool is bleeding to death.

Apply a tourniquet to the culture.

86 comments

  1. > So, if you run a trilogy with an amazing hero, by book three you’re supposed to show he’s really worse than the villain.

    Mrs. TRX loves British cop shows. In “Dalziel & Pascoe,” Pascoe turned out to be a crooked cop. In “Taggart”, one of the senior detectives was. In “Inspector George Gently”, his partner was. In “Judge John Deed”, the main character was crooked.

    I’d watched most of “Taggart” with her; despite a minimal budget and being filmed on consumer-grade VHS, the plots and characters were rock-solid. But eventually the rot came to that show as well.

    1. Aaargh! They made a TV show about Hill’s Dalziel/Pascoe mysteries and depicted Pascoe as a crook? Reginald Hill must be spinning in his grave!

      I know the appropriate response for “How could TV/movies ruin this book?” is, “They didn’t ruin the book, it’s right here on the shelf.” But this goes beyond incompetence. It’s evil.

  2. Most of today’s publishers, and ‘woke’ authors, would be much improved if you applied that tourniquet around the neck.

    If the evil people weren’t a small minority, we would never have developed civilization in the first place. We wouldn’t have our notions of ‘fairness’ and ‘justice’. We wouldn’t have laws against doing bad things to others.

    I wish those jackasses screeching about how ‘racist’ and ‘oppressive’ our society is, today, could spend six months in 800 B.C. Rome or Egypt. Back when they REALLY knew how to do oppression.

    I like stories about good people. The ones who build, and create, and are not just successful themselves, but spread success to the people around them. The ones who make modern civilization possible.
    ———————————
    Jordan Peterson: “If I told you to cook in the bathroom and shit in the kitchen, that would be a new idea. Doesn’t make it a good one.”

    1. That’s one of the things I like about most of Nevil Shute’s stories – a lot of them are just ordinary people doing the right thing because it’s the right thing to do. Nothing heroic, nothing devastating. Just doing what they can to fix a situation and make it better.

      1. Is he the author of, “On The Beach,”? Because, for fairly obvious reasons, after reading that I felt no desire to look up that author’s other works.

        1. That book made me consider suicide. “A Town Like Alice” wasn’t much better. Guess which were assigned reading in school?

          On the other hand, he wrote “Trustee from the Toolroom”, about an extreme Odd with no money, no friends, and no social skills, who has to make a trip halfway around the world, somehow. “Trustee” is written in a fusty old British style and doesn’t move very fast, but it’s hard not to cheer the guy as he makes his way across the world.

          The “trustee” part doesn’t refer to prison, it’s the Britlish word for “executor.” And the “toolroom” refers to what the Brits call “model engineering”.

          https://archive.org/details/in.ernet.dli.2015.149264

          1. “On the Beach” is not at all typical of Shute’s works. He wrote a number of less well known books that I like much better. “Trustee from the Toolroom,” as mentioned. “No Highway,” with an extremely Odd hero. “Pied Piper”, “Ruined City” and “Round the Bend” are other favorites.

            He must be spinning in his grave to see what Australia has become now.

          2. “No Highway” was a good one. Milk toast researcher who’s been digging into obscure metalurgy realizes

            A) it has real world implications
            B) he has to step up and do things that will horribly embarrass him if he’s wrong, or people will die if he is right.

            His “Pied Piper” was another good one. Old British guy gets stuck in Europe during the outbreak of WWII. In trying to get home he ends up picking up and saving a gaggle of kids, because he can’t just let them go die.

            I did not read, and did not have any interest in reading “On the Beach”, but his good books are very good.

        2. “On the Beach” is the exception to the rule. You won’t regret reading “Trustee from the Toolroom.” Or “In the Wet.”

            1. He was involved in that quite in aviation, after all. He was senior stress engineer on the Barnes Wallis’ design team for the majestic airship R100.

  3. It’s why I find it hard to get anything new to read. You can already tell, at times, where the story is going to go from the cover-and that somebody is going to be terrible, other people are going to be horrible, everybody else is going to be apathetic at best…

    Look, mindless optimism bores me as well. But, mindless cynicism depresses me. If I’m depressed reading your book at B&N, why am I going to buy it?

    Some authors-and some genres-justify that “dirty glass mostly empty” storytelling. But, most of the time-evil is merely petty and lazy, not viscous and active. Most cops are just tired and frustrated, not actively corrupt. Most politicians are…defending their constituency (which is the ones that give them the most money for their re-election campaigns). And, more people get into trouble because they’re trying to do “the right thing”-even if that “right thing” is nebulous and difficult to understand most of the time.

    Whatever else, I try to make my stories clear that it might be dark…but there is a dawn. It might take a while to get there…but we will.

    1. > you can tell where the story is going to go

      Whatever ideas the author had were homogenized by writers’ groups and editors, who tend to follow the Narrative about what’s acceptable and marketable. So you wind up with an endless stream of McBooks, all technically proficient, but largely similar and interchangeable. Whatever voice the author had was edited away, along with any of the story that didn’t meet current ideas.

      You would *never* mistake a Mickey Spillane book for an Ian Fleming book; they had entirely different voices. Run them through modern publishing, and there’d be little difference between them when they came out.

  4. In all seriousness, why do these morons think that they need to remind their audience that people suck and the world is falling apart? All anyone has to do is turn on the news or log into social media (especially Twitter) to figure that out.

    What’s wrong with wanting to escape? To be reminded (or at least pretend) that some people are good, that the bad guys don’t always win, that the future might just be a little bit brighter?

    1. Because most of them have never truly left that High School mentality. The one that says that if they can’t get what they want immediately, then you have to burn it all down.

      Seriously. You have editors at one of the biggest comic book companies bragging about how they can have milkshakes and that makes them better than everyone else. Our lovely host probably has a dozen different stories of editors at other publishers that have small minds, big egos, and massive unresolved frustration in their lives.

      1. That’s just corporate mentality right there. “We care about our horrifically-overworked-and-underpaid employees because we give them a pizza party/catered lunch once a month.” My previous employer was the same way. Owner couldn’t figure out why the company was hemorrhaging employees worse than an Ebola patient.

        1. I’m not sure if it’s that, per se, or just the current initiates in the MBA cults. I do know that from dealing with some people in the creative fields that there is a lot of very…marginal people there. In bad ways.

          1. Fiber arts has some of it on display in that some women doing spinning/weaving/felt/basketry want to be seen as “creative artists,” and compensate for their old-fashioned skills by being very “progressive.” “See? I am truly an artist, and everyone knows artists are very culturally advanced.”
            This also can produce some really ugly “art.” See weaving and embroidery books from the ’70s for examples.

              1. What? Avocado green refrigerators, shag carpet, and polyester leisure suits are beautiful? Next you’ll be telling me that bell bottoms and plat forms shoes aren’t the acme of style!

                1. I still miss my bright blue elephant bells (yes, yes I “came of age” in the Seventies …)

                  Can leave the avocado-green on the curb, or use it as long as it is still operating properly – just consider covering it with kid-art or Contact Paper … depends upon the color and maintenance level for the shag carpet.

    2. Crab bucket.
      They’re miserable people, and they want everybody else to join them.

      But at the end of the day, does the “why” even matter?
      Petty and vindictive gets them the starting role in a cautionary tale, or the role of suspect in a mystery. Beyond that? They’re a foil at best.

    3. If not everyone is horrible, then that might mean that the person writing the story needs to improve, or could make different choices.

      If you’ve ever ended up around the Mommy Wars– that gets people emotionally invested. Anything other than what they did is a gut-level threat, because it suggests they didn’t do the absolute most perfect thing ever.

        1. Your instincts are sound.

          It’s a phrase used to describe the generally rather vicious arguments between women and the men who love them or would like to get in their pants, on pretty much anything related to female life choices.
          The most classic divide is stay-at-home-vs-career; culture is generally on the side of the high social status career mom, when it’s not being used for a story where they take the “work a holic dad who never had time for the kids” story and gender swap it.

          Most women only find out about it the first time via the “what was that clicking sound?” after stepping on a land mine….

            1. My intended implication was that the primary fight was between women, with guys only being drafted secondarily.

              The pants wars at least sometimes have arguers who aren’t there to defend the choices of a specific woman….

              (Modesty arguments in religious context, for those who managed to avoid that; why yes, it does somehow always end up being about women, where we’re to give thanks guys breath inside of a church. Possibly because the basic ‘don’t be a dick’ stuff is agreed on fairly early, and most of the sane leave….)

    4. If we were all on board ship and there was trouble among the stewards, I can just conceive their chief spokesman looking with disfavor on anyone who stole away from the fierce debates in the saloon or pantry to take a breather on deck. For up there, he would taste the salt, he would see the vastness of the water, he would remember that the ship had a whither and a whence. He would remember things like fog, storms, and ice. What had seemed, in the hot, lighted rooms down below to be merely the scene for a political crisis, would appear once more as a tiny egg-shell moving rapidly through an immense darkness over an element in which man cannot live. It would not necessarily change his convictions about the rights and wrongs of the dispute down below, but it would probably show them in a new light. It could hardly fail to remind him that the stewards were taking for granted hopes more momentous than that of a rise in pay, and the passengers forgetting dangers more serious than that of having to cook and serve their own meals. Stories of the sort I am describing are like that visit to the deck. They cool us.

      — C.S. Lewis

  5. *Rueful* And my definition of “cool” was more along the lines of “that’s even better than I expected!” Not the hope-destroying one.

    Let me add CSI and Criminal Minds to the list of “started off good, then dragged the characters down into more and more depravity”. Oy.

    Currently working on a very-slow-burn paranormal romance – very slow burn, as in first book meant to end with “hey, you’re a neat person – can we go get coffee?” and build through the next 2 books. (First book is in edits, but part of the idea changed on me midway through so I want to make sure I do the first round of edits on that to put all the pieces back together before I start the next draft.)

    Because yes. We need more People Being Decent People in stories!

      1. That sounds like something the Great Emperor (not Northern yet) in the next Merchant book would say, although perhaps a bit despairingly. He and the protagonist have . . . a philosophical dispute exacerbated by divine intervention(s).

    1. Castle was fun for years until the final season, which ranged from, “huh?” to, “You’ve got to be kidding.”

      1. I think they had the issue that near the end, that Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic couldn’t stand being on the same set with each other. That meant they had to film around those issues, and that lead to some very…interesting plots.

  6. From my interview with Lester & Judy Lynn Del Rey at Minicon 10 in April of 1975, I offer this very brief snippet:

    There are enough problems in the world already; people are depressed enough. But you don’t need somebody to tell you it’s polluted outside, you can look out the window and see for yourself. You don’t need science fiction to tell you this.

    https://tangentonline.com/interviews-columnsmenu-166/interviews-columnsmenu-166-interviews-columnsmenu-166/classic-lester-a-judy-lynn-del-rey-interview/

  7. Yeah, this. I’m sick and tired of depraved and treacherous and grimdark. It’s become =boring=. It’s to the point that when a main character is a sociopathic cunt, I begin wishing bad things to befall ’em. And then book meets wall, and I go wash out my brain with something more appealing (and usually a lot older).

    Conversely, I’ve become fond of John Bellairs’ kids books, not for the stories but for the strong sense of 1950s nostalgia, when no one locked their doors and everyone trusted their neighbors, and everything turns out right in the end.

      1. Heh, didn’t know about that, thanks. Eccentric is definitely the word. (But the stories leave my brain almost immediately, along with most of the titles.) Especially for The Face in the Frost, the first one I read.

        My normal avatar is a horrible little monster from an illustrated Bellairs, tho of course I can’t recall which one!

      1. Yes he did! It’s creepy and wonderful and every time I reread it, I wish John Bellairs wrote more in a similar vein.

  8. That’s why I don’t read much anymore, and why I often will check reviews on movies to see if it has as horrible ending (I didn’t do that with AI, so now, I rewrote the ending in my brain, to the point where I barely remember it.) I certainly can’t write that tripe. There is always a touch of humor here and there. The other bad trait of modern writing is the villain is just an anti-hero who is mis-understood, and is doing it all for someone’s good, or because (s)he just wasn’t taught better.

    1. I’ve found movie reviews to be almost entirely useless, to the point where, after I watched the movie, I wondered if the reviewer saw the same film I did.

      For some amusement, read the reviews on “Gran Torino.” Probably 75% of them are “racist old f*** gets what he deserves.” I suspect that if they saw it at all, they had already made up their minds what the movie was about, and only paid attention to any parts that supported that.

      1. My dad was a dead ringer for Eastwood at that age. One reason I haven’t seen GT is I’m afraid it’ll hurt too much.

        1. I had never seen any of the ads for it, so I saw it cold. It’s very well made. Very Catholic, too, but it’s an important part of the main character and his story. It is, when everything else is stripped away, a story about redemption… and unlike forgiveness, redemption has a price. Sometimes the price is “everything.” Yet while it’s very sad, it’s not a downer.

          Yes, it’s still a very *intense* movie, and maybe not something you’d want to watch twice, but everyone I know in meatspace who saw it, thought it rocked.

          1. Half an hour or so into G. T., I said, “This is a documentary.” Granted, I saw it with other members of the North Texas Shooters, Pilots, and Writers Association, but I know several people like the main character.

  9. Between one in ten and one in a hundred folks are utter jerks. Depends on how loosely you are qualifying ‘jerk,’ and if someone having a bad day qualifies or not. (I know mine gets a lot looser the worse the day has been.)

    Between one in four, and one in a hundred, is really nice. Again, depending on how entitled you feel to others behaving as you wish. I tend to qualify even ‘just’ making the effort to try to lift someone up as being nice, since I know the utterly needless, go-out-of-your-way to be unpleasant stuff would be qualified as a jerk.
    Yeah, the really nice does tend to focus more on the low-cost-beyond-a-smile-and-refraining-from-being-a-jerk end of the scale than the “here, let me buy your groceries” type nice, but people are more likely to say something nasty than to steal your grocery cart, too.

    But if you go off of TV, you’d think that it’s one in five is on the hunt to be nasty, while maybe one in a hundred would cross the street to piss on you if you’re on fire.

    I get that it ruins a lot of stories if there is anybody who actually does the decent thing…but would it kill them to do a little more work to make a realistic problem?

    At least give a REASON folks would go ‘not my problem’? Previous good actions being abused, SOMETHING?

    **********

    ::grumbles:: Makes you wonder what kind of normal interaction these guys HAVE. I am so sick and tired of “subversions” that are “new and exciting” that were done to DEATH two generations ago. (Literally. Some of the stuff was around when my mother was younger than my daughter.)

          1. Thing is, when you deliberately focus on pissing off evil people, they can often tell what you are doing, and it bothers them less than if you are genuinely motivated by good.

    1. I’ve made similar observations about the prevalence of daddy issues in modern characters and the complete inability of modern television writers to depict happy family life.

      1. Not inaccurate. It’s like these people are still reacting to their stereotypes of “Father Knows Best” and “Ozzy and Harriet.”

        That having been said, though, I think some of the “inability to depict happy family life” is a product of “we need another potential source of conflict for the show” and not just “we don’t know what happy families look like.”

  10. ““cool” or “Wonderful” was doing something to punch the consumer of story in the mouth, metaphorically speaking…. er I man, subvert expectations.”

    Yes.

    “By five years ago, I’d stopped expecting any romance on TV or movies to end in happily ever after.”

    Yes. To the point where a happy ending makes you say: “Wow. I did not see that coming.”

    “Humanity is not all horror and evil. There is that, of course, but there is also shining good and amazing courage. Sometimes in the same person.”

    But not in fiction, as you say. And particularly not on television. Which is why even gang-bangers and FBI agents in my books rise to the occasion when required, and fight the evil-du-jour instead of running away like chickens. (Any lurking Leftists wondering why I put FBI and gang-bangers in the same sentence, go read a newspaper. If anything I have more respect for the gangs at this point, they at least stay true to their purpose.)

    Which brings me to the TV show Love Island.

    No, really. Love Island is hugely successful, makes a ton of money. It is driven directly by audience participation in the form of voting, and by the social media tie-in. (I’ve been watching it because Someone Else here at Chez Phantom was bored stiff and got hooked on it. Yes, they were that bored of Netflix. Yes, the TV is next to my computer. No, it is not the worst thing on TV these days. Just think on that for a moment.)

    We’ve been watching it backwards from Season 6. Doing it that way reveals the progression as the producers learned to make the show. The thing to remember about Love Island is that it is -scripted-. There is zero “reality” in reality TV. What’s interesting to me is the way the script has drifted in six years, based on virtually real-time audience feedback. They eliminate anything and anyone that is not popular.

    Example, according to teh interwebz almost half the comments they got in Season 3 were about smoking being bad. There was no smoking in Season 4 onward. No visible ashtrays, even.

    Season 1, they got the sleaziest bunch of tattooed Instagram models they could find, threw them into a big house and filmed the result. Lots of sleaze, smoking, vulgar innuendo, bad language, bed hopping, and nakedly mercenary alliances. Zero romance.

    Season 6, all the sleaze, smoking, mention of the prize money, strategic alliances and vulgarity are gone. Most of the bad language is gone too, which is saying something for a Brit show. Instead the script is romance, loyalty, drama is driven by characters straying from their couples, and so forth.

    The sleaze wasn’t selling. The romance, the appearance (because scripting!) of morality or lack thereof, that was selling. The more time went on, the more it sold. Also, interestingly, the camera work changed to less revealing angles. No up-the-kilt shots after Season 2. Fewer down-the-cleavage shots after Season 5.

    I postulate one reason for this shift may be this sort of thing here: https://unherd.com/2021/09/why-women-are-seeking-sugar-daddies/

    It seems there’s a rise in the number (or visibility, anyway) of young women (and to a lesser extent young men) seeking “advantageous assignations” with older members of society. Otherwise known as concubinage, pretty much. As history continuously shows, concubinage and all the other flavors of harlotry are, objectively, a shit life. Both the “workers” and the “customers” suffer in the arrangement. They suffer horribly and obviously. Any spectator to it can see the suffering. Also, it is amazingly uncool seeing kids selling their youth for a bowl of pottage. Revolting.

    And the Love Island audience apparently doesn’t like it. Good news for society, at a time when I could really use some good news.

    1. I, for one, find it astonishing that the producers gave a damn what the viewers thought, and borderline incredible that they actually changed the show based on feedback.

      1. Money talks. Example, one of the girls from Season 4 was Megan Barton-Hanson. Apparently little Megan has an Only-Fans site that pulls down ~a million bucks a month since her stint on the Island.

        Even TV weenies can’t ignore that kind of money. Their viewership and even more importantly their larger media/internet presence keeps growing with every season because they mine the social media for data and then USE the data to change the show episode by episode. They seem to pay very close attention to it.

  11. Everything moves in fashion and publishing & media — which claim they aren’t fashion-driven — are so blind that they can’t see how constricted they are by what they consider to be utterly fashionable and of the moment. Since so much $$ is sloshing around, they’re still insulated from their choices.

    Consider two thoughts:

    The luxury of artificial fear. If you don’t actually have to fear roving bands of savages bent on rape, looting, and murder, then pirates are fun and safe.

    If your grandmother likes it, then it must be bad, trite, hackneyed, old-fashioned, and totally not cool because your grandmother was always an old biddy who doesn’t understand anything about being young. Nor, despite the presence of her five children, did she have sex.

  12. “Look at me! I’m subverting a trope! I’m cool, I’m Prometheus, I’m Lucifer!”

    Me: [looks over top of glasses] “You’re three generations behind the times, and you’re closer to the feather-duster in my cleaning closet than to being a fallen angel.” Yawns and goes back to writing.

  13. Well said, and should I ever actually get even partway to semi-functional at this writing thing none of those subversions have much appeal to me, especially not the Unhappily Ever After Split one. What can I say, I guess I’m still enough of a fool for romantic stuff to where I at least want to see my hero characters accomplish something I’m…not very likely to, to say the least. =P Not that the current project doesn’t involve someone with at least the reputation of a hero finding out just how far he’s willing to go for glory and paying the price accordingly but he’s not the actual hero figure here so maybe I can make it work? Either way, glad you’re putting posts like these out there.

  14. If that’s bleeding cool, all of us North Texas Writers, Shooters, & Pilot’s Association are orthogonal to it. Not just in direct opposition, because very few of us set out to write “anti-NYC”; we set out to write good stories, and those are only anti-trad pub because of the direction those editors and agents chose to go.

    Okay, CV Walter specifically set out to portray healthy relationships, and her female characters have pants with pockets, but there’s one in every crowd.

    And JL Curtis was so pleased the day his Grey Man series with its healthy family in the center of cowboys vs. cartel & ranch life outsold, by an order of magnitude, the scornful predictions of an agent that it’d never sell.

    And Cedar Just released an anthology of stories that focus on kid’s adventure stories that have healthy families, because no publisher was interested in that concept; they only want kids with broken families.

    And Alma Boykin, CV Walter, and I all got in grousing conversations about how modern Urban Fantasy and Romance has extremely toxic relationships, and all 3 of us have written things with healthy relationships after said grousing…

    You know what? Nevermind. Forget I said anything.

  15. Reading this post and the responses reminds me of roughly half (at least) of the criticism leveled at modern American superhero comics. At least the ones published by Marvel and DC. The sad part is that having looked at a few of the most recent, the DC Metal: Dark Nights ones, they seem to have some clever and even fun ideas that end up getting buried by the grimdork. I mean — Batmanasaurus? A crippled Batman transplants his mind into the big T-rex in the Batcave and goes after his enemies? That’s so demented it’s amazing.

    What amazes me is a comment given in the story about the big villain that describes current DC and Marvel almost perfectly: “Barbatos only allows us some hope because it hurts all the more when he crushes it.” How did that line even make it through?

    1. Because it’s never been about telling stories to them. Everything they’ve done since about 2010? 2015 or so? This is their efforts at therapy for their various issues, and getting other people to pay for it all.

      …yea, they are that nuts.

      1. That…makes a lot of sense, actually. I am convinced that, for example, the working title for Mass Effect 2 was “Our writers are working through their daddy issues.” Almost every single secondary character arc in that game was related, in one way or another, to flawed parental figures.

        1. Almost entirely daddy issues, with the occasional mommy or mommy-equivalent issue. Hell, they even lampshade it in Mass Effect 3
          Shepard: How’s your focus, EDI? Any big questions?
          EDI: No.
          Shepard: Any small questions?
          EDI: No.
          Shepard: Any lingering issues?
          EDI: About what?
          Shepard: An imperfect designer who could be seen as a warped father figure, maybe?
          EDI: Definitely not. Did something prompt this line of questioning?
          Shepard: I’ve just learned you have to ask about these things.

  16. May not have a full tourniquet on hand, but I’ve got at least a bandaid (or box thereof) in the pipeline … space opera-ish, first volume should be released before the end of the year. The big bad is/are truly EVIL, and the roster of heroes are portrayed with foibles and all that: but the good guys win in the end, win against the odds, win while refusing to descend to the depths that the depraved minds they are facing have already firmly staked out.

    Yeah, it’ll take three or four novels worth of story to write it all out — but I’ve got all the best parts already in the jar pickling before I fish them back out and rinse them off, assemble them into a full platter of goodness. (Now I’m diving back into the edit on Volume Zero…)

  17. A hundred years, just like Mrs. Hoyt said.
    From Emily of New Moon, originally published in 1923:
    “Don’t be led away by those howls about realism. Remember-pine woods are just as real as pigsties and a darn sight pleasanter to be in.”
    ― Lucy Maud Montgomery

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