Christmas Pimpage

Stuck for Christmas Presents for your friends and family? Why not give them stuff I’ve written this year?

There’s Cthulhu Lives! from Ghostwoods Books. That there is an Amazon affiliate link which gives me an extra 20p or so at no extra cost to your good self. It’s like ticking the Gift Aid box when you give to charity – except in this case you get an actual book for your cash.

Or an eBook. They do those too.

Ethical objections to Amazon can be dealt with by buying it from another retailer. Ghostwoods has a list.

Or if your pals prefer something a bit more doctorwhoey (which is completely a word and in no way something I’ve made up) then you could try Outside In. It’s on sale in the US at Amazon or from my website in the UK.

 

The Wheel of Karma

Some years ago, I had a minor entanglement with Alex Dally McFarlane and the notable hatemonger known as Requires Hate (also known as Winterfox, Benjanun Sriduangkaew, and too many other aliases to mention here), where they bullied a friend of mine off of Twitter and very nearly out of fandom altogether for the crime of Not Being Anti-Racist Enough.

So proud was MacFarlane of this feat, that she crowed about it on Twitter (tweet since deleted) and in a blog post on her own site which – at the time of this writing – is still up. (In case it should mysteriously disappear at some point in the future, here’s a copy from The Wayback Machine.)

As mentioned in the comments, the tweets MacFarlane presents are quite one-sided, and she tells a wee porkie about the number of people who confronted her for bullying. Alas, I didn’t screencap the whole conversation at the time, as like most of the people involved, I simply blocked and moved on, figuring – to quote MacFarlane’s own words to me – Not interested in working with idiots.

However, things have recently started to come to light suggesting that this was not simply an isolated incident.

It seems that MacFarlane and Requires Hate have a track record of attacking women on the Internet. Here’s another tale of their methods. And another.

Should you wish to go deeper down the rabbithole, Laura Mixon has a very fine overview of Requires Hate’s output over the last ten or more years.

These are not just isolated incidents. Many other people are now discovering that they, too, were bullied by Requires Hate, often abetted by MacFarlane. Many of them didn’t realise it was a campaign of deliberate hatred, and often blamed themselves. Others had seen how people who attempted to speak up against Requires Hate were bullied and attacked in literally every venue on the Internet where they appeared. Here’s Requires Hate attacking a rape victim for over six months.

And now, one-by-one, her victims are beginning to speak up. To realise:

No.

It was not me.

It was not my fault.

And I was not alone.

And people are beginning to realise that those who attacked anyone who dared to disagree with them under the battle flags of Justice For The Oppressed and If You Are Not With Us Then You Are Complicit In Oppression might not be doing it because they believed in the causes they espoused. Requires Hate, for example, has been sending death threats to people who disagreed with her for years before cloaking it in the flag of social justice.

And now all the karmic justice that has been piling up behind her has finally caught up. The mills of god grind slowly, but they grind exceedingly fine.

If you’ve been harassed by Requires Hate, you may want to contact Laura with details. As Laura says, “BS/RH’s targets need to know that they are heard and believed.”

Each person who reveals their story makes it easier for the next person to reveal theirs.

It’s often said that sunshine is the best disinfectant.

Let us bring some sunshine into the dark corners of this world.

My Stalker Hell

I was dating someone a while back. Doesn’t matter who.

It ended.

Shortly afterwards I started receiving emails from sockpuppet accounts on an online dating site which we both frequented. It was easy enough to tell who they were from, because after a few how-are-you your-profile-looks-interesting getting-to-know-you exchanges, they would make the same claim as the person whom I’d been dating: specifically that all of my female friends were whores and cunts, and that I was having sex with all of them.

Also that I was going to get what was coming to me. That was new.

One I particularly remember, because it ended with the words “We know where you live.”

It got to, I think, about three of these before I’d had enough and reported it.

Around this time Housemate Matt came home one day shocked and surprised because someone had thrown a stone at him in the street. He never did see who or find out why. It may have been unrelated. But I have my suspicions.

The last interchange I had with this person was via another sockpuppet account, this time purporting to be an old male friend. This time that someone I was seeing was ugly, and that they would see me in Leeds, where I was going for a conference.

Needless to say this old male friend didn’t exist.

At this point I’d had enough and spent a few hours looking up the law, and sent this to the latest sockpuppet.

Hi [REAL NAME REDACTED]

You’re probably not aware of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, as amended by the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012. Here’s a helpful link. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/a-change-to-the-protection-from-harassment-act-1997-introduction-of-two-new-specific-offences-of-stalking

You may be particularly interested in reading the guidelines on sentencing on that page.

You’re probably also not aware that your IP address, which tracks the computer you’re on, is recorded by [DATING SITE] whenever you access the website. 

Get help. Do not pull this shit again.

The response from “jamessprat” was as follows:

I think you meant this for someone else, but will say hello in Leeds.

The harassment stopped, and I’ve never heard from them or their sockpuppets again. Which is all for the best. And, needless to say, the mysterious Mr Sprat did not turn up to say hello in Leeds.

During this time, I thought to myself that this, in some small way, must be what it’s like to be a celebrity on the Internet.

It was only a couple of days afterwards that I realised that wasn’t quite right, and the following was closer to the truth:

This, in some small way, must be what it’s like to be a woman on the Internet.

Acting on the Edge

M’brother Rafe taught at East 15 Drama School on something called The Project.

It’s a big part of their training, and basically involves a metric shit-tonne of research, followed by an in-depth week-long semi-improvised residential workshop where you will be in character almost all week long. It’s completely immersive, and if you’re interested in how to merge yourself into a character completely is an experience unlike any other.

Everyone I’ve spoken to who’s been through the training has said it’s helped them as an actor, and most have said that it was the high point of their training.

Also that it was physically and emotionally draining, and not something to go into lightly.

He and Kelly Golding have teamed up to make the training available for those outside a drama school for the first time.

The training is for professional actors only – you need to have been to a drama school or have half a dozen paid gigs under your belt even to apply.

Basically, this is a postgrad course for actors. There are no workshops, showcases, or films made as a result of this. It is purely and simply an opportunity to get new tools to help make you a better actor, without the pressure of public performance.

The cost for nine days of training is a heavily-discounted £550.

Find out more and apply on the Red Table website.

 

Final Draft Stage Template

Ages ago, I made a Final Draft Template for Stage Plays.

People keep asking for a copy, so here it is.

Stage Play

Just add it to your Final Draft Templates (or double click on it to open it) and, voila!

This version is for FD8. I may have an older version for 7 lurking around somewhere. Ask if you need it and I’ll try to dig it out.

D&D Adventurers League

Dropped into my FLGS yesterday to try and play some 5th edition D&D, and it was a bit unclear exactly how the organised play system was supposed to work. So when I got home I armed myself with a glass of whisky and dropped down the rabbithole. If you want to give the new edition of D&D a try, here’s what I found out…

(Or if you want some dragon-killing action on the side, if you know what I mean. It’s all right. I won’t tell your DM.)

There’s a huge overarching storyline – Tyranny of Dragons (ToD) – which will be lasting over the next six months or so in *everything*.

Video games. Stores. Home play. Written fiction.

*Everything*.

You can create or consume as much or little of this story as you like. If you want to play it at home, you can. Just buy the two main adventures Hoard of the Dragon Queen and The Rise of Tiamat, and you’re done. If you want to play those adventures at a store with people you know (or don’t), that can happen too.

D&D Encounters is the pickup game on Wednesdays for stores, 1-2 hours a sesh, and is basically level 1-4 of the main storyline. You can just turn up, be given a pregenerated character (or bring your own), and start playing there and then.

After that, you can either carry on the main ToD storyline at-home or in-store – either way someone needs to person up for a hardback at that point – or start turning up to D&D Expeditions, which can only be played in-store.

D&D Expeditions are 4-hour games set in a different part of the world, but still all connected to the main storyline. If your character is of the right tier (levels 1-4, 5-10, 11-16, 17-20), you can play any adventure in that tier. There are “levelling bumps” for in-store play which will get your character from one tier to another if you miss a few sessions, so it’s easy to continue playing with friends. There are *many* of these adventures, and more on the way.

They all tie into the main storyline, showing the events and consequences of ToD in a different area of the world. After playing a storyline, the DM reports back the decisions made by the players – did they destroy the dragon? Sell out the old man? Eat the tasty basilisk and tell the street traders in the local city just how delicious they were? The majority decisions as reported back then become facts in the history of the world, and may have long-term consequences…

D&D Epics are fifty-plus player world-shaking events. Whatever happens in these gets wrapped into the overall storyline and will affect the world in a big way. There are none scheduled for the UK yet. 

You can swap between any of these stories at-will provided you’re the right level. So you could start with Encounters, move to a few Expeditions, drop into the main storyline for a level or few, decide the fate of the world in an Epic, and then have some home play with the character, switching between between them all as you like provided the games they’ve played through are official ToD products.

The adventure in the starter box is also completely legal for organised play. Take the characters who’ve played through it to your FLGS, and they’ll be fine. Or play through it there.

Want to give D&D a try?

Then all you need are an adventure logsheet (to show what happens in the game) and a pre-generated character. Print one of these bad boys and girls out, take them to the store, and you’re good to go.

The store should have both of these available, but I’d print one of each out and take it anyway on the off-chance they don’t.

Pregenerated Characters
D&D Adventurers League Logsheet

Wizards of the Coast (the company that make D&D) will only tell people about D&D Encounters events which happen on Wednesday. So if your FLGS wants new people to come in and spend money (they almost certainly do) then they’ll be running Encounters on that night for sure. Maybe another night too, but almost certainly on a Wednesday. So that’s where you start.

Want to create your own character?

Then the free entry level is a copy of the Basic Rules, and a copy of the Adventurers League Player’s Guide (which tells you how to make a  character legal for organised play).

Player’s Guide
Basic Rules

Don’t like the character you’re playing with? Any time from level 1-4, you can change anything about them except their name. Class, Race, Stats, anything you like. You don’t get locked into a choice until they hit level 5.

Want more options? 

Then buy yourself a Player’s Handbook. The Player’s Guide tells you what’s legal. (It’s pretty much everything.)

Want more or higher level games?

Anything that’s not a drop-in Encounters games (ie the main ToD storyline past level 4 and D&D Expeditions) can be scheduled by your FLGS on any day of the week. It might be Wednesday, it might not. Talk to them to find out what they have on.

Sources:

http://dnd.wizards.com/playevents/organized-play
http://dndadventurersleague.org

If you’re in London, your FLGS is Dark Sphere. Other FLGSes are available.

Enjoy!

Loncon 3 Schedule

Here’s my schedule for this year’s Worldcon in London, for  those as are interested in that sort of thing.

Mastermind

Friday, 15 August 3:30pm – 4:30pm

The play what I directed.

The masked villain known only as Mastermind has hidden a bomb somewhere in the city. When it goes off, it will kill hundreds of innocent people.

It’s going to explode within the next hour.

Reporter Liz Lassiter knows how dangerous Mastermind is. What she doesn’t know is if she and her boyfriend J.D. can escape the city in time.

But that might not matter any more either. Because J.D. thinks that he might know the location of the bomb, and how to defuse it.

Because J.D. thinks that he used to be Mastermind.

Cast and Crew details here.


Signing

Saturday, 16 August 3pm – 4:30pm

I’ll be signing copies of Cthulhu Lives! and Outside In, both of which will be available from the bookshop in the Dealers Room. Dealers Floor. Whatevs.

Cthulhu Lives! isn’t even officially released till the 26th, so you’d be getting your copy before anyone else in the world.

If you happen to have a copy of something else I’ve written and want that signed, feel free to bring it along. Spaceships of Science Fiction. The Actors’ Year Book. 

Hell, I’ll sign whatever you like. A printout of this blog? First edition of Grey Lensman? Sure!

 

 

 

Other than that I’ll be wandering around, in panels, or in the bar. Do please come up and say hello.

Mastermind

Helen Oakleigh as Liz Lassiter

I’m immensely happy to be able to announce that I’ll be directing a play at this year’s World Science Fiction Convention in London.

It’s called Mastermind.

The masked villain known only as Mastermind has hidden a bomb somewhere in the city. When it goes off, it will kill hundreds of innocent people.

It’s going to explode within the next hour.

Reporter Liz Lassiter knows how dangerous Mastermind is. What she doesn’t know is if she and her boyfriend J.D. can escape the city in time.

But that might not matter any more either. Because J.D. thinks that he might know the location of the bomb, and how to defuse it.

Because J.D. thinks that he used to be Mastermind.

Rhys Lawton as J.D.

The play is written by Michael Patrick Sullivan, and as soon as I read it I knew it was something that I wanted to direct. Claire Childs will be in charge of the Lighting Design, and my wonderful cast includes Helen Oakleigh as Liz Lassiter, Rhys Lawton as J.D., and introducing as Mastermind…

Well. That would be telling.

If you’re planning to attend Worldcon, I hope you’ll come along and see it.

3:30pm, Friday 15 August.

 

The Politics of Cowards

You might not know about the bill that’s going before Parliament next week to force telecoms companies and ISPs to retain data so that the security services can look through it at a later date.

This is because it’s being rushed through as emergency legislation.

The leaders of all three parties are claiming that there’s an emergency because, due to a recent ruling from the European Court of Justice, it turns out that hoovering up everyone’s data was actually illegal.

Whodathought.

The ECJ ruling was on 8 April, three months ago. This is the lightest session of Parliamentary business in living memory. MPs were sent back a week early to their constituencies in May because, apparently, there wasn’t enough legislation that needed scrutinising. And any legal challenges to the current state of affairs will be six months away.

And yet, this bill needs pushing through in three days?

This is, frankly, bollocks of the highest order.

Pushing this legislation through stops the House of Commons from properly examining laws before they are passed and making certain that they are fit for purpose. The three main parties are literally stopping MPs from doing their job.

And that’s before we even get to Clause 1 (3). “The Secretary of State may by regulations make further provision about the retention of relevant communications data.”

Or in other words: After this, the government can make as many new regulations about data retention as they like without reference to anyone else.

This, my friends, is a god-damned stitch-up.

I’m not necessarily against the bill. I am against it being pushed through on the word of the three main party leaders without a proper debate. Because that’s not how politics in this country works. 

You take the laws you want to pass, and you put them before Parliament, and Parliament does its job.

You don’t push them through quickly so that nobody gets a chance to look at them.  That’s not believing that the laws you’re trying to introduce will stand up to scrutiny.

That’s cowardice.

If you’re as angry about this as I am, rather than clicking on a petition, why not do something that actually might make a difference, and write to your MP?

In our parliamentary democracy, the MP knows that something their constituents care about is more powerful than what their party thinks.

Because you are the person that will vote them in or out of office.

Not their party, not their party leader.

You.

Thanks to organisations such as They Work For You, contacting your MP is easy.

  • Go to Write To Them and enter your postcode.
  • Click on your MP’s name.
  • Write your letter

Here’s the letter I wrote to mine.

Hi Kate

Some years ago I wrote to you about the planned introduction of ID
cards by the then-Labour government. You replied with assurances that
you had voted against your own party on the measures, and would again
in the future should it become necessary.

I treasure that letter, and often refer to it when speaking in favour
of our parliamentary democracy.

I was very concerned to learn yesterday that the government plans to
pass emergency legislation regarding data retention which will be put
before the house next week.

We are not in a national emergency.

Legislation written in haste is bad legislation.

The idea that this government will attempt to use emergency legislation
to push through controversial laws without the due scrutiny of the
House appals and disgusts me.

I would be grateful if you could assure me that you will do your best
to ensure that this bill gets the attention from Parliament that it
deserves.

Piers

I hope that you’ll take this opportunity to write to yours as well.

Parliament can, and has, made some bad collective decisions in the past. No doubt they will again. But if they’ve all had the time to look at the proposed laws, consider them, amend them, and vote on them, fair enough. That’s the way a parliamentary democracy works.

But this, trying to push through ill-thought-out laws that cede power to the Government in just three days?

This is wrong.

There’s still time to let your MP know it’s wrong. And remember, they’re not the one with the power in this relationship.

That would be you.

(Amended 12/7 to clarify the difference between legislation and regulations)