Saturday 9 August 2008

Prince Charming: A Postscript

This is, of course, a huge Eve Online fan story - not in the sense that it features anything from the Eve universe, but in the infectious sense of fun that Hilmar Peterssun conveyed at the Edinburgh Interactive festival that I attended last year, and the scale and sense of the challenges that running a single shard poses for the game.

The story itself is flawed, as several of the magazine editors I submitted it to pointed out, in that 'what the female character does is sit there and listen to the male character explaining how great he is', but at the same time I immensely enjoyed the process of writing and submitting it for consideration, and the feedback I received. It crystallized as a piece of fiction beamed whole into my brain on the final night of my honeymoon and is dedicated to my wife as the first story written about and for her.

As for why I am publishing it here, instead of continuing the submission rounds, you can blame Warren Ellis. His recent diatribe on why the print science fiction market is failing forced me to consider if I'd ever get the story published, and that it is better in the creative commons, where gamers and science fiction fans alike can enjoy it. As for why I'm doing it for free, it's because I can't get a Pay Pal account up and running at the moment. When I do, feel free to tip as little or as much as you think the story is worth.

You can also blame Charles Stross. If I get another rejection letter pointing out how Strossian this story is, I'll point out that few other authors have been privileged enough to end up as an adjective, and as a relative newcomer on the scene, he should thank the accident of fate that ensures his name is so easily abused. Luckily, this story opens with a scene that passes the Bechdel test, even with its subsequent flaws, so I'm sure he would approve.


keldwud said...

This story was beautiful. I thought that cyberpunk was dead, but it was just hiding from us. Absolutely fucking beautiful.

I look forward to reading it several times more.

Unknown said...

Being too "Strossian" is hardly a bad thing.

Mikolaj said...


Several passages that a non-native English speaker has trouble understanding:

Jasmin was reminded why they didn't hang out more. She explained.

her assistant had told her.

This supplemented an Iceland

unlike the Senate, Congress and government ministers in most of the rest of the world, the presidents position is a little more full time to be allowed to be involved in other interests.

Mikolaj said...

I also don't understand:

constructed and discovered Gödel axioms

--- I think, axioms are assumed, not constructed nor discovered; it is a set of axioms, a theory, that is constructed and sometimes afterwards discovered to reflect some reality. BTW, the choice of Gödel's name is IMHO very good :)ödel's_ontological_proof

inadvertently proving the Halting Theorem

--- I don't get the joke, unless it's very crude, in that they halt themselves; the proofs in question are quite simple and there is nothing very unique or natural to them, IMHO; just a diagonal argument after a long and boring set of definitions. Perhaps you allude to them inadvertently trying to construct an algorithm solving the Halting Theorem? That happens, but people then bump repeatedly off the impossibility of their task, rather than realizing and proving they can't succeed. And people that proved the theorem a few times, usually recognize the pitfall easily.

computational neutronium

--- what's so neutral about that particular computational device or model?

Mikolaj said...

that was to be "solving the Halting Problem", not "Halting Theorem", sorry :)

Andrew Doull said...

So many questions:

Computational neutronium: see but capable of supporting computation much as silicon does. Idea from Alistair Reynolds.

inadvertently proving the Halting Theorem - crude joke.

Constructing an axiom: I was alluding to the fact that the AI are generatively creating new game systems which operated at a complexity similar to scientific theories. An axiom is not only something that you can assume, but that you could equally assume that the opposite is correct (e.g. parallel lines intersect) without any inconsistencies - in fact the assumption is usually to resolve a systemic inconsistency that would otherwise occur. This process feels like constructing a system out of a set of axioms, which I shortened to constructing an axiom - probably lazily.

Mikolaj said...

OK, agreed about axioms. Thanks for citing your sources about neutronium --- I would like to see this :).

You know, when I slept after reading your novel, I dreamed somewhat using it's content, though it switched to Wesnoth at some point, "Princess" probably being the keyword responsible. ;)

VRBones said...

Finally got to read this all the way through after the second economic reference reminded me of it (and a bit of spare time at work).

I really started to get into it as a story rather than a writing experiment in the 3rd chapter, where the more elaborate in-game mechanics started to come to the fore. The end reminded me a lot of Greg Egan's work too, spinning off little self-powered virtual realities.

There were a couple of points in the story where it feels like the dialogue gets mixed. I had originally thought that when he proposed, Jasmin knew she couldn't marry him because of "His words.", and then proceeded to tell a story of her marriage in-game to cover the fact. On a re-read (after completing ch.5) the words spoken must be his little prepared speech, and he was the one saying goodbye.
As an adjunct to that, when they next met and were discussing the in-game death of a partner I had to read it a couple of times to figure out who was speaking which line. Once again the second reading with knowledge of the end helped a lot.