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Thursday, May 15, 2014

Works in progress

I've been very much neglecting this blog, but I figure, faithful readers, that I ought to at least let you know what I'm working on creatively!

  • The main endeavor, as friggin' usual, is a revision of The Unraveling, a book I have rewritten each year for the past three years.
    • The current rewrite is at the request of an agent. That doesn't mean I have an agent; it means there's a courtship going on, and part of it is the agent having some good ideas about where to take the book, and me implementing them, and then us seeing what we think we want to do next.
    • I was hoping to have it done by now to continue my practice of finishing the book every Wiscon, but no such luck. Still, I'm plugging away.

  • It's always a question, when in novel mode, how much to do on the side. Does the emotional boost of finishing a side project balance out the risk of distraction from the main gig? I've tried to take a middle path here, and allow myself small adventures without getting too sidetracked. So, I've also finished:
    • "Tractate Metim 28a", a comic Talmudic zombie story, sold to an anthology edited by Lavie Tidhar, which I don't think has been announced yet so shhhhh...
    • "Fift and Shria", a chapter of The Unraveling pulled out and made into a short story (it's when Fift and Shria meet, as kids); also sold, to another originals anthology which I also haven't seen announced yet, so I won't say anything further about that either!
    • "Tree of Life", a first draft of another Jewish zombie story, this one contemporary/post-apocalyptic and somber in tone. I think it's a solid first draft, but it's incubating, I haven't looked at in a while, and it hasn't seen critiques yet.

  • So that's the fiction, short and long; but recently I've also gotten seduced by another form: game design, and particularly narrative-centric roleplaying game design. Now, long-time readers of this blog have seen various informal games that my kids and I have cooked up, and I've also mentioned a board game that Aaron Walker and I were working on (and which is now on ice, though hopefully not forever). But it's only in the past year or two that I've gotten back into playing roleplaying games again (it was a central pillar of my youthful becoming, and in the meantime the games have gotten so much better -- games like Fiasco, Apocalypse World, Monsterhearts, Microscope, and The Quiet Year...), and, inevitably, drifted into wanting to make my own.

    And now, so I have. I just finished two games, ready for playtesting:

    • One is called Dream Apart, and is a hack of Avery McDaldno's daring and lovely queer post-apocalyptic game, Dream Askew. I am super, super excited about this one, not only because I'm a huge fan of Avery's but also because Avery has generously allowed me to use their mechanics, much of their rules text verbatim, and even to directly adapt their formatting to my purposes! What I have done is just to move the game from the queer post-apocalypse to magical Jewish history. From the program entry for the open playtest I'll be running at Wiscon:
      A GM-less, collaborative, rules-light, historical fantasy storygame of sorcerers and scholars, midwives and matchmakers, soldiers and klezmers, dybbuks, gossip, pogroms, trolls, rebels, betrothals, demons, angels, blood libel, lusts, and secrets in an Eastern European Jewish shtetl, circa 1850. Dream Apart is inspired by Avery Mcdaldno's Dream Askew. Where Dream Askew queers the post-apocalyptic genre, Dream Apart jews historical fantasy, reimagining fantastical Europe from the perspective of European history's underdogs; like Askew it's about otherness, resistance, strife, and survival, beyond the borders of a brutal dominant society.

      (It is, of course, among other things, a product of that inquiry into Jewish high fantasy that was all the rage in 2010.)

      Want to playtest this game? Let me know!

    • The other, less serious, more crazy-last-minute-let's-go-for-it game, is my entry to this years' Game Chef competition, which is Iron Chef for little indie games. It's called "Tohu vaBohu" and it's emergent, surreal, anti-story-storygame cardgame, and not currently very well balanced; but hey, I made it in three days. I guess I'll post the link to it after the contest is over?

Posted by benrosen at May 15, 2014 09:44 AM | Up to blog
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