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

spaceeditor2


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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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