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One more thought from yesterday's book review: in retrospect, Jane, Unlimited could make a good LARP; some aspects of the worldbuilding might be a little tricky to do, but much of it would work. This might not be that surprising since it was originally written as interactive fiction, but also it has a good ensemble cast of interesting characters each with their own secrets.  If it were actually played as a LARP, I think the players would come up with all sorts of genre-crossing solutions to their problems that would be far more awesome than anything in the actual book.

This is not the first time I've encountered a piece of fiction that felt LARPy to me, so I thought I'd explain what aspects can make a story feel LARPy to me, and give some examples.  (I am an occasional LARPer: my social circle from college included a bunch of people who did LARPs, though I didn't get into it until the end of college and since have only done it when it's been convenient to me.)
  • Stories with a large cast of interesting characters whose concepts can be described in a few sentences.   Especially if the book is more about giving them the chance to interact and develop than about a specific plot, e.g. Seanan McGuire's Every Heart a Doorway.
  • Plot mechanics that feel particularly game-like, or that are particularly easy to implement in a LARP (e.g. the blank visas in Casablanca are totally a LARP item).
  • Stories set in a mansion or other building/enclosed space, or which have a specified cast of characters (e.g. The Westing Game, which feels like it might be in dialogue with the murder mystery game genre, but appears to predate the murder mystery roleplaying game so maybe it's just in dialogue with Clue?)
  • Certain types of tropes/genres that play well in LARPs: secret identities, hidden agendas, espionage, mystery, characters are absurdly rich and/or powerful.
  • If in a genre that involves worldbuilding, types of worldbuilding/social structures that feel highly legible/easy to implement in games.  The best example of this is Jasper Fforde's Shades of Gray, a dystopia in which characters are sorted into castes based on colors, and also wear badges showing their social status+how much credit they have in the social credit system.  In fact, <cut = "spoiler-ish theory">given that this is a post-apocalyptic setting where the best world map they have is the one from the game <i>Risk</i>, I like to think that the code of laws their society runs by must have originally been the rulebook for a dystopian RPG of some sort, perhaps an augmented reality game.</cut>
A book feeling LARPy doesn't necessarily make it less good, though I find that it can have a distancing effect if I notice it when reading: I'm more likely to abstract away from the characters and view them more as game pieces -- though the way the book is written can also lend itself to that regardless.  Jasper Fforde's Shades of Gray is a good example of that: it didn't hold up as well as I would have liked on a reread because I could see the ways in which it was LARPy more than I connected with the characters.  (Also that book has some troubling stuff going on with sexual consent.)

Readers: have you ever read(/watched) stories that particularly felt like LARPs/RPGs/other sorts of games?  What aspects of the story gave them that feel?  How did it affect your enjoyment of the story?
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(Since a large part of what I use DW for is to read quality booklogging, I thought I might post some reviews of my own here.)

This is one story with five endings, each from a different genre. It is set in a crazy mansion, built out of pieces of other houses, in which far too much is going on. Apparently it was originally written as a choose your own adventure? There is some amount of metaplot as the reader learns more about what's going on with each story, and also a (F/F) romance arc that spans the stories. I enjoyed this and thought the layering of the different stories, showing the characters and setting from different perspectives, was well-crafted. However, I found the fifth ending to be a let-down: at that point it was clear which threads were left to be tied off and how this would happen, but the execution wasn't that compelling and didn't have enough of the characters I'd cared about from earlier. (Also I was maybe hoping for a meta-ending, but there wasn't.)

(ETA: oh, also it has weird artistic umbrellas! Those were cool!)
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(Cross-posted to tumblr, where my username is radicalaxis)

Not that I watch it myself, but a Game of Thrones discussion elsewhere had me thinking that fiction really likes the trope of “protagonist’s mother dies giving birth to protagonist”. But it occurs to be that historically, when mothers die in childbirth, often the child also dies, and usually doesn’t become protagonist of anything. (Though I'll give Garth Nix some credit here, as Sabriel would have died without Abhorsen intervention).

I got wondering as to how many famous historical personages had their mothers die giving birth to them (and not to a younger sibling). I couldn’t find a list, but research on Wikipedia and TVTropes suggests “not too many”. Here’s an incomplete list: please suggest additions in comments!


Mary Shelley
Anna Atkins, Victorian botanist and photographer
Alice Roosevelt Longworth, Teddy Roosevelt’s daughter
Michael Dillon, a trans man who lived in England in the first half of the 20th century
Benjamin and Ichabod from the Bible
Austen Chamberlain, half-brother of Neville, who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1925 for negotiating the Locarno pact between France and Germany.

Plus various royals and nobles who probably got better than usual postnatal care for their time:

random royals )
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Vaguely prompted by [personal profile] skygiants's post on Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland's race around the world, I've been thinking about badass women of the late 19th century, and remembered Hertha Ayrton, who I think should be used in steampunk way more than she is.

"Who is Hertha Ayrton?" you are probably asking. I actually didn't know about her until I went to a museum exhibit fairly recently.

Zombie Marie Curie wants you to be one of today's lucky ten thousand! )

And yet, despite all this, I've never seen her represented in fiction, even though she seems a natural fit for steampunk. She got a Google doodle, and there are a couple steampunk-themed games that have her as a character, but really, that's it. But there are so many possibilities: arc lamp pyrotechnics! action scenes in the air/water where she harnesses the power of vortices! alternate history where Ayrton fans were in widespread use! And to be honest, I'm getting a little tired of Ada Lovelace being the one female historical character in Victorian-set fantasy, and would like to see more representation of women who grew up in humbler backgrounds.

Though, actually, when researching this I learned that there is actually *one* novel based on Hertha Ayrton's life: The Call by her stepdaughter Edith Ayrton Zangwill about a woman scientist and suffragist. I should read it and see if it's any good!
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Hi everyone! I'd been thinking for a while that I might want to use DW as a place to publicly post my reactions/reviews of various media and similar -- and now there are people coming in from tumblr, might not be a bad time to start.

Recently I heard Grieg's Holberg suite and remembered that I really like it, so I went to look up a version on YouTube, and found the Camerata Nordica performance, which I highly recommend. It's worth watching the video and not just listening:, with the performers playing standing up with no sheet music, Baroque-style, with great body language. I'm reminded of the string quartet bits in Fire and Hemlock.

I then went and looked for other YouTube videos by Camerata Nordica, but unfortunately there are only a handful on Youtube: also, the group dissolved in 2016 due to serious issues with management, though it seems to have recently revived as the Aurora Chamber Orchestra. However, one of the things I did find was a clip from an open rehearsal which features audience reactions from some truly adorable kids.
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A year or two ago at Milk and Cookies [personal profile] dr_whom read aloud The Pirate Princess, a fairy tale written by Rabbi Nachman in 1815 with an impressively empowered female protagonist. I was recently reminded of this by discussion elsewhere on DW, and found the wikisource version of the story which calles it The King and the Emperor. I decided I would write a Good Parts retelling of the story, which I am now posting here:

In which the Princess outsmarts everybody in sight )
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