Reconciling assholes for nearly a decade.

I just got a really neat (to me anyway) idea

for a site with a collection of sci-fi short stories all set in the same universe.

Except the site won´t have traditional navigation, it´ll be mostly graphical and the links to stories hidden within the layout. While I´m sure this might annoy the piss out of some people, I think others would find it really interesting, especially if they managed to "discover" a particularly interesting/provocative story hidden within the layout.

I´ve got a chunk of stories that I could "seed" the site with. I wonder if I could find anyone else willing to contribute to such a project? Maybe not all set in the same world, if there were collaborators, though. Maybe just an overriding theme...

Maybe when my insides no longer feel like they´re being augered out, I´ll get to work on it.
Permalink muppet 
March 4th, 2005
I have another idea. A version of JOS in which all postings by muppet are in a parallel universe to which there is no access and which muppet can only post to by entering a one way wormhole.
Permalink Stephen Jones 
March 4th, 2005
Ahhhh, you mean everyone else's view of JOS...
Permalink Simon Lucy 
March 4th, 2005
Wow Stephen, that's pretty hostile. Here I had this image of you as an older, more docile sort of English gentleman. I must have confused you with Simon.

I think it's funny that you folks call me agressive, rude, and uncivil, but it's generally other people (like Stephen) who make rude, baseless, out-of-context inflammatory posts in response to something innocuous like the OP. WHen I respond with acid it's generally on something controversial or in response to someone else's acid.

Ah well, to each their own. Hypocrisy has to exist SOMEPLACE, I guess.
Permalink muppet 
March 4th, 2005
I'd try my hand at writing some short stuff. Can't say as I have much to contribute at this point though.

It may also be cool if there were some intertwining of plots. If you had some things written in first person there could even be different perspectives on the same storylines. I like the idea of creating something like that. Consuming it... well that's another story.
Permalink I am Jack's story stock 
March 4th, 2005
Hehe, I think consuming it would be equally fun, but of course I'm strange. :)

I think intertwining plots would be very interesting, especially if stories with common plot elements were written by different authors. First a story about a guy who gets brutally murdered in cold blood, and then a story about the killer, who did it out of self defense in some sort of twisted way, and it turns out it wasn't in cold blood afterall. Something like that. I think it would be a hell of a project, and very open ended. You could always add a whole new page filled with links to stories hidden under some knob on the "interface". :)
Permalink muppet 
March 4th, 2005
And it wouldn't even have to be in the first person, you could write from a third-person narrative but use a POV character so that the narration is limitted to THAT character's feelings, thoughts and perceptions.

You could even have several stories about the same event written in third OR first person, or even in different tenses.
Permalink muppet 
March 4th, 2005
Interesting idea. The navigation should somehow be part of the story/universe. In other words, the stories should revolve around navigation.
Permalink MarkTAW 
March 4th, 2005
Nah, because then you'd have a pick-a-path book. I think it would be neat to just go poking through some techno-looking but alien interface where nothing made any sense (but still had some sort of underlying logic, maybe), so that you could "discover" the hidden stories. When you found a story you liked, it would almost be a sort of accomplishment, and if you found other stories which referenced/related to the first, or told it from a different perspective, that would be a doubly rewarding find.
Permalink muppet 
March 4th, 2005
<obligatory>
Or you could randomly copy words out of the dictionary, because nobody will ever read it in the first place.
Just a thought.
</obligatory>
Permalink Snark 
March 4th, 2005
I still think it could work. Since you want an alien device, then all the stories could deal with the alien device. I'm thinking of Pippa Passes or something similar. What makes the murder Sci Fi worthy? This alien device that was discovered in the room with the victim.

I'm not saying it should be like a Choose Your Own Adventure, but since the one thing that really ties all the stories together is they're in the same universe with this strange navigation, why not connect all the stories by the navigation as well.
Permalink MarkTAW 
March 4th, 2005
When I want to play a game, I want to play a game. When I want to read, I want to read. I *think* the two mindsets are pretty different and not generally intermixable.

But maybe it's just me.

Philo
Permalink Philo 
March 4th, 2005
Wow, we Software Engineers have spent the last forty years trying to impose some hierarchy on chaotic reality. Now Muppet has this 'cool' idea to impose some chaos on providing access to various stories in a fictional universe.

I don't know about others, but to me having a 'Future History' key to the works of Heinlein, Niven, and Cordwainer Smith added to the depth of the works. It was irritating to have to find each book as it was published, read it, and only then have enough information to 'fit' it into the rest of the universe.

Sorry, Muppet, I try to keep my 'excitement over being surprised' reserved for reality. Developing a personal superior understanding of a fictional universe sounds WAY too Trekkie to me. I haven't got the time these days.
Permalink AllanL5 
March 4th, 2005
Like I said, it will annoy the hell out of _some_ people. :)

Allan, it's not about becoming an "authority" on the fictional universe. It's just a bit of entertainment with an actual purpose, that purpose being discovering interesting new things to read.

Philo, it's not just you, but it's not everyone, either. :)
Permalink muppet 
March 4th, 2005
<counterexample>

http://www.ilovebees.com

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haunted_Apiary

</counterexample>
Permalink Snark 
March 4th, 2005
Snark -

Is that a counterexample AGAINST or FOR my idea? Because the I Love Bees site generated so much publicity that dozens of fan sites explaining how to navigate around the site and find clues sprang up in the course of a week or two. :)
Permalink muppet 
March 4th, 2005
That's a self-induced counterexample against my post. People will, in fact, spend vast amounts of time uncovering bits and pieces of an artificial story.

On the other hand, the counterexample was a seriously well-developed and pervasive -experience- (.wav files, GPS coordinates, phonebooths, product release tie-ins, etc. etc.), not just a story.

If you don't care about mass-market, why not geocache the pieces of your story? Or letterbox it? Tie the story in to the actual locations of the physical pieces, and you might have something.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geocaching
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Letterboxing
Permalink Snark 
March 4th, 2005
I agree with Philo.

Btw nobody will be pissed off by the site design, they just won't use it. Do that with their savings bank software, and then they'll be pissed off.
Permalink Daniel Daranas 
March 4th, 2005
That's an idea. Not one I think I'll use, but it's a hell of an idea. :)
Permalink muppet 
March 4th, 2005
Dan, _some_ people won't use it because it won't appeal to them. It will certainly appeal to others who _will_ use it. :)

+++If you don't care about mass-market+++

I don't care about any market at all. This isn't a for-profit sort of project.
Permalink muppet 
March 4th, 2005
"but it's generally other people (like Stephen) who make rude, baseless, out-of-context inflammatory posts in response to something innocuous like the OP"

BTW, while he writes well and has made some excellent posts, I've come to the conclusion that Mr. Jones is, at the root of things, a troll. :)

Philo
Permalink Philo 
March 4th, 2005
Not really a shared universe, but a web-comic that I've always liked is:

http://www.zark.com

By putting hotspot links on each page, you could easily have a non-linear reading experience.
Permalink example 
March 4th, 2005
<apropos of nothing>
If someone is precisely non-trollish, does that make them a billy goat?
</apropos of nothing>
Permalink Snark 
March 4th, 2005
The difference between muppet and Stephen Jones's trolling is that Stephen's posts are clever while muppet has a tendency to say things like "i hope you die of petroleum poisoning" then a few posts later claim he was only kidding.
Permalink Jake Phelps 
March 4th, 2005
Because it's impossible that anyone should ever make a joke on the internet. :)

I pride myself on complete lack of subtlety. I don't see a problem with that, personally (obviously). :)
Permalink muppet 
March 4th, 2005
+1 Jake! Ch-ching!
Permalink Snark 
March 4th, 2005
I'm also amused how some of you seem to relate to this forum as though it were a dick-measuring contest.
Permalink muppet 
March 4th, 2005
Actually, that was a +1 cleverly-true point. But you're free to interpret it according to your, uh, interests.
Permalink Snark 
March 4th, 2005
Also, I think just about the ONLY time I've ever claimed to be kidding on this forum was when I suggested that someone set up a dunking booth for his dying father, which was itself a response to an earlier thread in which I felt the replies were horrific. I never claimed to be kidding when I told Sam that I hope he dies of petroleum poisoning for profitting from an ailing, corupt, damaging, and non-sustainable industry.
Permalink muppet 
March 4th, 2005
Muppet, I hope your kid dies of petroleum poisoning. How can she possibly have a decent life with a parent as defective as you?
Permalink Jake Phelps 
March 4th, 2005
Jake, my kid is an A+ student and an incredibly pleasant little girl, who makes fast friends with nearly everyone she meets. However, thanks for your obviously very sincere concern.
Permalink muppet 
March 4th, 2005
Oh look, muppet has a new enemy. Way to go muppet!

I'm hoping one day we can use the 'my enemy's enemy is my friend' concept to somehow foment a revolution! :)
Permalink I am Jack's laughing lament 
March 4th, 2005
Wait a minute. Obviously I was just being sarcastic. Anyone who can't see that is a moron.

But I still hope muppet's kid dies of petroleum poisoning. :) :) :)
Permalink Jake Phelps 
March 4th, 2005
Jack --

At one point, I knew a girl who always had to have the last word in a discussion / argument. It was physically impossible, apparently, for her -not- to try to get the last word in ... so one of my friends, whenever he was in an argument with her, would say, "OK, we're going to play the Last Word Game now. I'll agree to everything you say, but I get one point for every time you try to get the last word in. And now, I have the last word. Go!"

And she'd get kind of red, and stop herself, and then she couldn't handle it, and she'd say something just to get the last word in. And my friend would say "Yay, I got a point! OK, now I have the last word again. Go!" It was pretty funny, 'cause he could just keep her going.

Sometimes I think that muppet really is that girl, except his spelling is slightly better than hers.
Permalink Snark 
March 4th, 2005
"I just had a really neat idea for a speculative fiction site..." - muppet

"I hope your daughter dies a horrible poisoning death..." - Jake

"Muppet is a god-damned troll!!" - everyone.
Permalink muppet 
March 4th, 2005
Yay, I get a point!
Permalink Snark 
March 4th, 2005
"Jake, my kid is an A+ student..."

All 6 year olds are "A+" students. Get over yourself and your kid. Neither of you are special.
Permalink jb 
March 4th, 2005
So now do you feel like a man, Snark?
Permalink Full name: 
March 4th, 2005
"I am SOMEBODY!"
Permalink Jesse 
March 4th, 2005
Full name :

You only get manliness when you get 6 or more points, modulo checkmark.

<napoleon dynamite>
*GOSH.*
</napoleon dynamite>
Permalink Snark 
March 4th, 2005
----"Jake, my kid is an A+ student and an incredibly pleasant little girl, who makes fast friends with nearly everyone she meets. "----

Are you sure they don't mix up the DNA tests? Or are you proposing her as an proof that free will can triumph over both inheritance and upbfinging?

Anyway, no way she's going to die of petroleum poisoning. she's American.True American's love petrol. They drink it for breakfast. It puts hairs on their chest, It makes a man of them! (well, err, you get the idea).
Permalink Stephen Jones 
March 4th, 2005
I did have an idea the other day, the quality of which is indeterminate, which muppet could perhaps follow. A novel written in various coffee houses, in various cities, about the people in those coffee houses at the time but entirely invented narratives.

In other words the well tried game of guessing what other people do and what their relationships are with the other strangers.
Permalink Simon Lucy 
March 4th, 2005
There are a couple compilations, edited by Robert Asprin, that do roughly what you're suggesting - a bunch of well-known fantasy writers contributing short stories set in the same universe and with intertwining plots. It's pretty fun.
Permalink Flasher T 
March 4th, 2005
+1 to Flasher T. Awesome series--what I've read so far. It's one of those things where I don't mind that I can put it down for a long time; I'm even loathe to finish it out simply because then there might not be any more.
Permalink cubiclegrrl 
March 4th, 2005
Here's an idea for the website: Use css to vary the layout so that people can change the look and feel, but certain patterns will emerge that are constant from one scheme to another.

Which brings me to the question: What stops someone from viewing the source and cheating?

Oh. Don't use HTML. Duh. Nevermind. Use Flash, or something similar.
Permalink Aaron F Stanton 
March 4th, 2005
The way I'm planning things, viewing the source won't help you. You'll be able to find where the hotspots are, I suppose, but the links will contain only GUIDS and no descriptive text. I guess I could use Flash to avoid even the hotspot issue, but I don't know how to use Flash. :)
Permalink muppet 
March 4th, 2005
Yeah, using guids as file names can avoid revealing content by name, but a screen scraper will easily find all pages, and then it's just spider and read. Boring.

I guess you could throw in a shitload of bogus pages just for fun, but that kind of punishes people who actually look. Annoying to find a bogus page.
Permalink Aaron F Stanton 
March 4th, 2005
I figure that anybody who wants to scrape and then just read the spidered pages has missed the point anyway, and they've spoiled it for themselves. There won't be any link on the page to any "spoiler" articles or what-have-you, should any surface, so if people want to go to the effort to find a "map" to the site or a list of all the stories and ruin the whole experience, that's their perogative.
Permalink muppet 
March 4th, 2005

This topic was orginally posted to the off-topic forum of the
Joel on Software discussion board.

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