“When Your Child Strays From God” (Sam J. Miller), you, as highly faithful mother and Pastor's wife, take a dose of his very highly illegal drugs (you did some random Google research on that and you know all the psychedelic and psychotic and mind-colliding episodes it can induce), drive your car to your former lover and find your son in a relationship with his son. And make a blogpost about it all. The story does well at narrating inner struggle, but on second thought feels really inconsistent.

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There should be a swagger-like standard for command-line tools... 🤔

What do I mean by that?

Wouldn't it be great if tools provided an interface to an automated documentation of their own command-line parameters and flags?

This could be used to provide interactive help while typing on the prompt, as well as accurate auto-completion in your shell.

Today I join an RPG GMs meetup. I fear it will be nearly exclusively D&D (and I think even then only 5E) – my interest is elsewhere: Indie, philosophical, or political RPGs written with a narrow purpose. Hopefully I will still find people and topics worth a chat.

Caitlin R. Kiernan's “Riding the White Bull” (a title I don't understand) is a noir cosmic horror story of alien parasite invasion, with the typical unexplained compatibility of distant aliens with human bodies and psyche. It's bleek, it's postapocalyptic, told by an unreliable narrator jumping between scenes, and it has random humans with part animal physiology. If some of that is your thing, it might actually be a good story for you. I isn't for me, though.

Terry Bisson's “The Hole in the Hole” is a story about old cars and wormholes. It's quite fun to listen to, apart from the always shifting goalposts of formulas that Wilson Woo is scribbling everywhere. It would be nice if at some point he gave a prediction, right or wrong, instead of only post-hoc explanations. That character, and his contrast with the straight-up lawyer protagonist, is marvelous, though. He reminds me, in a good way, of the pages upon pages of backstory of Old Man Henderson.

“This Wanderer, in the Dark of the Year” by Kris Millering is one of those first alien contact stories, including a meteor-style thing with apparent markings falling from the sky, an alien emerging, and the main character learning to communicate with it. That's not the special bit of this story. The special bit is that this is actually a story about armed conflict, told by a war correspondent who has met the surviving victims of massacres and not got away unscathed.

Andy Dudak's “Asymptotic” is a story about the thrills of faster-than-light travel, and its dangers to the fabric of the universe. The universal speed limit is the law, obey it! It will be enforced, by the main character. I expected that time travel, accidental or otherwise, would be a major plot point, but it is avoided in favour of a persistent theme of the main character's consciousness being to some extent outside of time, reenforced (ha!) by the story jumping around in his timeline.

Bogi Takacs's “Forestspirit, Forestspirit” is a marvelous intertwine of mythology, far future tech and current observations in artificial neural networks. Forestspirit is an ancient agender infiltration supersoldier with ultimate shape shifting abilities, protecting eir forest from an artificial neural network world government using the power of ADVERSARIAL EXAMPLES. And friendship. There is a lot of really cool detail in the story, including the personalities of the four … interacting agents.

E. Catherine Tobler's “Somewhere I have never traveled” has many of the elements of cosmic horror: dreamlike visions of other places, a protagonist descending into what looks from the outside like madness, hints of vast, incomprehensible alien life forms, and human folly. Except it isn't written as such: it is written like a phantastic encounter story, with a lot of desperation, but always going forwards towards kind understanding. Thank you, !

“An Evolutionary Myth” by Kim Bo-Young is weird and wibbly in all the best sense. The fundamental point where its world differs from ours is how evolution works. In the Myth, an individual body can adapt to vastly changing circumstances in a lifetime – more like Pokemon than like Darwin. So the cruel king's nephew and former crown prince goes through steps and steps of changes, trying to avoid notice. But as a classical Hero's Journey, you can be sure that's not how it ends.

“Solace” by James Van Pelt starts as a very depressing piece. I found it very emotionally taxing. It is very beautifully told with the two strands of the stories, about two lone maintenance workers, intertwined. It sounds like a story of hope, but then in comes my overananalysis: It is still a story of senseless risk to human life and happiness, and some simple forethought and carefulness on a few peoples' parts would have made the token of hope unnecessary in the first place.

Ian Muneshwar's “Ossuary” is narrated from the beautifully crafted perspective of a recycling facility for space ships, taking care of whatever she can. Without going into more detail: Check it out, it's not very long. This kind of gem is why I read magazine.

“Mrs. Griffin Prepares to Commit Suicide Tonight” by A Que feels a bit forced. It incorporates all the standard tropes of a life story, in the various generations: love at first sight, deep devotion, tragic misunderstanding, irresistible attraction, path to redemption, estrangement, emigration, undying loyalty. As you would expect, she doesn't, because her robot loves her, but it is programmed to follow her wishes, so he cannot directly interfere, but only point out gruesome or romantic facts.

In Andrea M. Pawley's “For all the love of Sylvia City”, the daughter of refugees prepares for a stand defending her adoptive home against the wars she fled from. The adoptive home is Sylvia City, deep under the sea, inhabited by specifically adapted humans. And the conflict is a brutal war between most land dwellers, executed with weapons of mass destruction. I could well imagine the murky waters and fiery destruction from Kate Baker's narration. And the story ends exactly where it should end.

I have about 9.50€ Google Play credit to blow (I could put a bit on top for a really good game), because for some reason it does not transfer when moving country, and it cannot be transfered in other ways either. I love foreign cultures, exploration, interesting procedurally generated content and optimistic stories. I'm not used to computer games, even less so on a tablet. I don't really like pixel-accuracy, violence, repetitiveness or time pressure.
What's a good game for me to buy?

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It's about that time of year when people start wondering things like "hey, why isn't DECEMber the tenth month of the year?"

So it's time for my little lecture on Romans, calendars, and our friend Gaius Julius Caesar.

I'll be posting it as a tootchain replying to this one, but if you're impatient, here's the whole thing: gist.github.com/joyeusenoelle/

So: “Why isn’t the new year on winter solstice?”

The answer, honestly, is that the Romans had no fucking idea how to run a calendar.

“The Garden Beyond Her Infinite Skies” by Matthew Kressel is a creation myth. It describes infinite(?) fields where gardeners, which are all-too-human, apart from their physics-mumbojumbo bodies (why would our physics even exist outside universes? Would this story pain me even more if I knew HEP?), weed out imperfect universes, until Rebellious Teenager Protagonist takes a liking to a crooked universe containing a species capable of introspection and nonviolence. Not fully mine, but interesting.

Okay, I expected her to “befriend” one of them instead of being merely an archeologist about their dead culture, but maybe that's because the first few minutes sounded to be more about “fear of what's different” than “fear of the unknown”.

“Weep for Day” by Indrapramit Das is … hm, a bit predictable? A fundamental struggle, Light vs. Dark, overall Victorian world views of religion, industry, colonialism and military bravery, narrated by a contrasting (but still role-bound) female character who is one of the few willing to imagine that Dark is not Evil, just different as memories addresses to lost family. In a world that appears tidal locked to its sun, with little further exploration of the ecological and other implications.

I think it would have helped knowing more about The Company for following “Noble Mold“ by Kage Baker. Kate Baker mentions it in her introduction, and they are somewhat described towards the end, but it is very clear that this story is part of a larger universe. What I still take from the story is some twisted flavor of colonialism, in that the main character structurally upholds it while superficially mitigating the effects both for Spain on America and for the Company on all of history.

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Wandering Shop

The Wandering Shop is a Mastodon instance initially geared for the science fiction and fantasy community but open to anyone. We want our 'local' timeline to have the feel of a coffee shop at a good convention: tables full of friendly conversation on a wide variety of topics. We welcome everyone who wants to participate, so long as you're willing to abide by our code of conduct.