The Four Chaos Gods of Writing

When struggling with abstract or existential problems there’s no better life coach than Warhammer 40,000. Because they solve abstract existentialist horrors by sharpening knives and fitting them to chainsaws. It’s a literary universe where the word “rip-roaring” isn’t just a valid description, it’s the subject-object interaction between most of the inhabitants, and everyone is always getting on with it. Which makes them the ideal motivator for most writers.

Their dark pantheon are four Chaos gods which handily represent the four stages of writing.

1. Slaanesh: God of Lust and Sensation

Slaanesh is all about the orgy of indulgence, the adrenaline of exploration, the thrill of sensation and the joy of experience. It represents that glorious first stage of writing where you’re bursting with new ideas and can’t wait to try them all out. But just like (his and her) chaos demons most of these ideas never escape into our world. They’re trapped in an imaginary realm where none will ever truly enjoy anything. And most of those who make it into our plane don’t survive for long, their imaginary impossibilities collapsing under the weight of existence. But those who make it have so much fun. And the one conjuring them always enjoys it.

2. Tzeenntch: God of Chaos and Change

The second stage is the sinuously shifting god of change. Ever-flowing, ever-moving, ever plotting and planning and shifting the stage to better suit its desires. Tzeentch is the power of rewriting. His is the glory of mutation, taking things that thought they were one thing and twisting them into shapes better suited to the new plan. This is the shifting of schemes in react to real problems. This is the glory of random creative chaos suddenly resolving into success, then getting to claim that you were an Architect of Fate all along.

3. Nurgle: God of Death and Decay

The oldest god, a bloated and scabrous thing which claims victory not through strategy, nor strength, but simple rot and neglect. Nurgle is all the articles left unfinished. The stories shelved because they got difficult. The endless bandaged forest of mummified corpses left waiting for inspiration which will never come. Of all the gods, Nurgle is the most powerful. Nurgle is always waiting for you to fall. Nurgle must be defeated.

But you have a powerful ally.

4. Khorne: God of Violence

Khorne is the god of rage and blood. The most savagely simple of the gods. The most despised by amateur writers who fancy themselves apostles of Tzeentch but he is the most vital for their victory. Because Khorne is the god of editing.

You must get in there and finish things. You must chase your pieces down and end them, dispatch them to where they’re going, and that means ripping and tearing and cutting them to the bone. Feel the savage joy of blades separating the rot and bloat, carving away the unnecessary and the ugly. Only the worthy survive.

Of all these inspirations, I most love the idea of Khornate berserkers set loose on the magical Faerie forest of Muses. Blood-drenched barbarians of spiked iron and action chasing down those diaphanous excuses, burning down their sun-dappled copseso f inspiration with the war-fires of immediate assault, dragging the flittering malingerers before their god of editing so that their blades can draw deadlines. Because the god of editing does not care from whom the word count flows.

Only that it flows.

Bonus: He’s not a Khornate, but I conjured my Inner Space Editor long ago, and he still does sterling duty in service of the Typing Throne


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The Worst Romantic Lessons from Videogames

Video game have decided that they must have romantic options, and they do it the same way every social shut-in who decides they suddenly need romantic options: clumsily, loudly, and with a ludicrously simplistic idea of how human relationships work. Every AAA release has decided it needs a romantic subplot, even when the main plot is best described as “insane chain-reacting-fireworks murderer”. But you can’t expect subtlety from people who program games about exploding entire species and decide halfway through that they want to add a boning simulator.

Though one game did get it right. (Source: Volition)

Though one game did get it right. (Source: Volition)

Prepare yourself for Valentine’s day with videogames. Which has the advantage of working whether you’re dating or not.

And behold: a bonus entry! Cut for word count, but restored for you, the worst lesson found in the most games!

One Love Fits All

Do you like girls? You better hope so, because most games think you love girls. In virtual worlds where “conservation of energy” means saving your plasma ammunition, and gravity is just a gentle reminder, heteronormativity is the only inviolable law. Fantastical lands of imagination where you’re allowed to select any body type and gender you want for beating up strangers, but love means taking what you’re given by the Love Interest Clone (TM) factory.

Which is weird, because sex is where our species has spent most of its imagination since it worked out it had one.

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New Health Initiative “Just Happens” To Make More Shitloads More Money, Insists Government

“Most Irish adults drink too much and many drink dangerously” said Mr Vradakar, government-appointed Health Minister and self-appointed granny to every family in the country, introducing plans to raise the cost of drink. The new proposals would raise the minimum cost of wine and at least double the price of cheap beer.

He confirmed that fact Irish people are already drinking 20 pc less than five years ago, with a continual downward trend, was not having the desired effect government revenues. Health, he meant health.

“It is not anticipated that there will be any significant benefit to the Exchequer.” said Mr Vradakar. “Nearly doubling the price of things could never do that”, he presumably added, before equally presumably explaining that people with a habit lifetime habit of drinking will just stop immediately with no ill effects the moment it became a problem. So the new prices definitely weren’t targeting the poorest in society with increased government taxes.

When asked whether this deep concern for the public health wouldn’t be better served by increasing funding to substance abuse recovery and support services, or maybe increasing funding to desperately overloaded hospitals and emergency services, Mr Vradakar laughed. “No no no, increasing services and support for people costs money.” His voice adopted the tone of one explaining simplicity to a small child. “COSTS money. This MAKES money. MAKES GOOD. COSTS BAD.”

Mr Vradakar clarified that this attempt to end the pervasive, all-dominating influence of drink on Irish culture would in no way affect the pervasive, all-dominating sponsorship by drink of Irish sporting events.
“It is not this government’s intention to in hamper the freedoms or personal liberties of gigantic corporations. We’re only interested in targeting the poor.” he explained. “I’d have thought that was perfectly clear by now.”

Victims of the increased prices will however get something for their money. Cigarette packet-style health warnings on every can are expected to generate at least three million incidents of hilarious feckers slugging a can, then suddenly acting stunned and shouting “Jaysus, lads, this stuff’s bad for you!”

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Making a Column of a Selfie Stick

I welcome the new year in traditional manner — strolling over Westminster Bridge idly revising my thesaurus — when what should obtrude on my peregrinations but silly people snapping selfies. I’ll never understand these self-referential souls, no matter how long I write my every thought in weekly national columns. As they arranged themselves in spokes of sight lines centered on Big Ben, at every compass point but pointing only at themselves, Narcissi no longer prisoners of the poolside. But the sight of their shoulders against our iconic clock only told me it was time to tell them that they were wrong.

Who could possibly provide a new view of Big Ben? Well, me, just now, obviously. Maybe one or two of the more important Lords working next door. I suppose the Queen must be allowed to contribute if she wants. But everyone else is wrong. But these people, who’ve travelled thousands of miles at great expense to see one of the most famous buildings in the world, who want to remember this moment and share it with friends and family, why would they want a picture of themselves with it? Surely they understand it has been photographed before.

Perhaps if one of the anonymous hordes — they may have photographic proof they’re not faceless, but they don’t register as real people to me — was teleported to parts even further afield than their homeland, then their photographs might prove useful to humanity. Should they appear around Alpha Centauri, then I might allow them a snap, as long as they promised to capture some interesting new rocks as well as the inevitable obstacle of their own existence. In the meantime they should sit quietly in other countries. They may mail-order postcards of anything English they wish to see.

Worse is the idiotic implement employed to assist their exterior introspection. What I must eponymously call the “selfie stick”, the staff of self-referential. Who do these people think they are, using tools to achieve desires? Some kind of human being?

The selfie stick is surely our most idiotic invention. They should just invent an ultrarefractive new material which is cheap and easy to produce. Change the wavelength of visible light to better suit the scale of the human arm. Fold spacetime like a couple of meters of used tablecloth until they get the zoom right. Something sensible, rather than a stupid idea like “the first and most useful tool ever invented”. Ugh. Idiots.

Who could be so narcissistic as to think the least moment in their lives is worth such analysis and attention? Maybe some of the millions of readers of my nationally printed thought pieces might understand, but I most definitely don’t.

The Bestest Short Sci-Fi Ever

The children were playing in the field, innocently, when Jake called out “Look what I found!”
“It’s a sword!” exclaimed Ben.
“It’s not just a sword, it’s Excalibur!” clarified John.
“YOU ARE CORRECT!” proclaimed the sword. “But all your legends are actually stories of extreme high technology, like me, an artificial intelligence designed only to provide exposition, but never to take action or replace a character!”
“Wow!” wowed Jake. “You mean I could be like King Arthur?”
“No” exposited the sword. “Thou must now travel back to BE King Arthur! My super-advanced systems are needed to defeat the uprising of sexy zombies.”
“Awesome!” grinned Ben.
“Wait!” cried the girl, “Can’t you see the power is corrupting you absolutely?”
Ben sighed. The girl was right.
“Excalibur,” he sighed, heart heavy, “Self-destruct.”
The sword disappeared, along with the field, and the girl. It was just a dream.

“Excellent, the thinks it was just a dream.” cackled the evil military scientist.
“Thanks for cackling that out loud.” smirked the evil general. He smirked. The weak government the author didn’t support would never stop them now.

“See, even under their evil mind control experiments he will not break,” admired the alien on the spaceship. “He is suitable. We must give him superpowers. And then…”
The alien krizblached forwards, skizzwilding its thematubes.
“… THEN he will get to kiss the girl.”

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Jesus Returns For His Cut Of The Money

This morning the Son of God descended to Earth in all his heavenly glory, shafts of light shining on his countenance, where beads of sweat glittered as he spake “Yeah, yeah, blessings and all that, do you have some of that money you’ve been collecting?” Choirs of angels sang his praises, but didn’t quite cover the sound of thunderous knocking on the clouds above, and shouts of “The Odinbank dost demand its gold!”

The Way and the Light landed in Saint Peter’s square, where Pope Francis insisted that none of the Catholic Church’s hundreds of billions of dollars in yearly income was currently stored in his vestments.

“There are many homes where my father lives”, explained the One True Savior, “And when you don’t flip them in time the interest gets pretty savage. And their debt collector carries a hammer. A hammer! Sweet me but he’s scary.”

“It turns out moneylenders are way harder to deal with when you can’t just violently smash up their stuff” added the Lord of Hosts, rubbing his most holy jaw and limping a little. “Honestly, as an unarmed pacifist I’m not sure how I got away with that the first time”

The Lamb of God whistled as entered St Paul’s basilica. “You guys have done alright for yourselves. No moneylenders in here, they couldn’t afford it. Any tax collectors? They owe me a favor.”

As storm clouds gathered over the Vatican it was explained that despite literally incalculable wealth, the Catholic Church doesn’t actually pay taxes. The King of Kings winced, sucking his teeth and explaining that while he would normally have a problem with that, now was a brilliant time for any rich men or even wealthy camels who wanted to work out entry into the Kingdom of Heaven. Christ the Lamb then winked, rubbing his thumb and fingertips together as lightning boomed above the dome.

At time of publication the Son of God is standing in St Peter’s square offering to turn bottled water into Romanée-Conti Burgundy at five euro a pop, but sales are poor owing to torrential rain.

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Heavily-armed Fundamentalist Sect Apprehended In Major European City

Early this morning an anti-terror raid recovered a cache of hundreds of pistols, rifles, and machine-guns, and arrested over a hundred men who had been trained in their use and stationed in the heart of the tourist district of Rome. These men insisted that they did not recognize the laws of Italy, and that they only answered to the will of a man they called “the Holy Father”.

Arresting officers discovered dozens of lethal HK MP7 submachine guns, SIG MKPO submachine guns with folding stocks, and dozens of Glock 9mm pistols, all specifically chosen because they could be hidden under the sect’s bizarre religiously-motivated clothing in crowded tourist areas.

Also recovered were dozens of swords, polearms, and a variety of medieval suits of armor. “Whoever this ‘Swiss Guard’ think they are,” said one investigating officer, “they never threw away a single weapon”.

The group’s fundamentalist beliefs are a direct threat to modern society. They allow no women in their ranks – a fact investigators credit with speeding their discovery, as no legitimate normal organization could maintain such blatant sexism in modern society for any length of time.

The cult’s leader “Holy Father”, aka Jorge Bergoglio, was also arrested in the sting. Despite his repeated insistence that his was a peaceful organization dedicated only to helping the needy, goods worth ten billion dollars were recovered in the group’s vast multi-building hideout. When asked if a legitimate charity organization could acquire this level of wealth, several responding officers started laughing, long and loud, and show no signs of ever stopping.

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Hollywood’s Upcoming All-White Live-Action Remakes

After bleaching Egypt in Exodus, and announcing caucasified live-action versions of Ghost in the Shell and Akira, Hollywood is half a step from releasing an all-white remake of the rainbow. What other projects are in the pipes?

  • Chess. Making all the characters white would make the plot confusing, if the plot hadn’t been simplified to a single male lead (White King) saving the Queen by/while killing a bunch of black pawns. The King and Queen have swapped powers, because Hollywood can’t handle a powerful woman rescuing a distressed male. In 2015. Apparently.
  • Where’s Wally. Searching through a huge number of near-identical figures to find the right one closely mirrors the modern lead casting process. Also provides a solid justification for making sure everyone is the same color.
  • Othello. Why not at this point.
  • La Pieta. This original has the advantage of already being white! Sure, it’s a masterpiece in its original medium, and the conversion to live-action movie would be more pointless, lifeless, and heavy-handed than replacing a porcupine with a bowling ball, but it’ll help Hollywood avoid new ideas for one more movie.
  • The Law of Gravity. Spinning a single equation into a two hour screenplay will require some effort. Announcements so far include a romance subplot, an old friend of the hero who appears to have betrayed him but relents at the last minute, and the inhuman universal constant of gravitation will be played by Benedict Cumberbatch.

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Lovecraftian Horrors Distance Themselves From Lovecraftian Racism

Madness congealed from beyond the reach of reason to hold a press conference yesterday, the squamous ichors of unknowable things incorporating to distance themselves from the racist remarks of Howard Phillips Lovecraft.

“We’re obviously grateful to Howie for all the work he’s done as a publicist, but can no longer ignore his execrable behavior” intoned C’thulhu, shattering microphones and eardrums with his R’lyhian unspeech. “The actions of the miniscule speck that is humanity are usually far beneath our contempt. But sub-dividing that speck based on hatred of race? Absolutely and always worth contempt, from anyone or anything capable of perceiving it.”

“We Old Ones are committed to flaying your minds for their contents, not the color of your skin.”

Nyarlthotep, flesh of nightmare and mocker of sanity, then took the microphone in a pseudopod coiling dark and strange through unknown dimensions to apologise for taking part in such racist work.

“We were young, mere aoens dark and deep beyond the span of counting, and, like, just waking up. We didn’t really know what I was doing. Those are not excuses. Those are the reasons I worked with someone I should have said no to.”

“We exist in the darkened howling of infinities which would flense the thoughts from your mind should you so much as glance upon them, leaving your being a shallow mockery, a petty void howling in resonance of the vastness that destroyed you. That’s what we do. We don’t write jaunty little poems titled ‘On The Creation of the N-word‘.”

“Jesus” added Nyarlthotep. “‘Creation of the N-word‘.”

The assorted horrors then proceeded to consume utterly all present, though those who said “He was a product of his time!” were seen to be consumed first, twice, and repeatedly in a gory affront to causality and hope.

C’thulhu addressed these objections even as they dissolved. “He was only a product of his time in the same way plutonium is a product of nuclear breeder reactors: he was made possible by what surrounded him, but was denser and far more poisonous.”

NOTE: We would like to thank our associates at FAX news for sharing their reportage. The mere sight of Old Ones destroys all intelligence and reason, rendering every other reporter incapable of words or thought, but the FAX reporter was apparently fine, and already submitting a story connecting the Old Ones to playground ebola terrorism before the conference ended.

Enjoy extended eldritchicity with New Problems From Old Ones: Seafood

China and the Ringtone of Doom

Halfway between meme and gene is the ringtone, an informational packet passed from person to person, and replicating more often based on their social success. It undergoes selection, just like everything else with a replication system, but China has forced it to mutate in aggressive and destructive ways.

In mere megalopolises, the ringtone is selected for uniqueness so that the owner knows it’s their phone. But in Chinese cities the sheer density of mobile phones per square meter has passed the critical concentration where any sound you could imagine is sure to be used by someone else as well, and the only reliable identifier is volume. Sheer bone-shattering volume.

If you’re on a bus being deafened by polyphonics, well, that just means that there’s phone service in the area. That could be anyone’s. It’s only when you notice your own ossicles bouncing out of your ear canal that you can be sure it’s your own phone. The concept of avoiding disruption of other passengers simply doesn’t exist. Possibly because being bothered into not doing things by the presence of other people would cause a population of this size to crash and freeze entirely.

You could set off a golabl tidal wave by hacking the cell towers to ring every phone at once, without the hassle of organizing everyone jumping at once. In fact, jumping would be unnecessary, as the resonance of every possible ringtone sounding simultaneously at maximum volume would project the population into the air, where they’d float like electro-hovercraft over the disintegrating wail of badly digitized pop and movie samples.

This synchro-sounding would drive the tidal waves even faster, washing away every other nation on Earth, while resetting China to pre-industrial times as everything electronic is overloaded and destroyed. It could well be a last-ditch antipocalypse intended as a final fall-back position, to keep humanity going at the base level when we’re on the verge of utterly wrecking the ecosphere.

At least, I think that’s why everyone has their phones so loud.

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