Changelog

Making art requires putting a part of yourself into the weird thing you make.

(Let’s assume we’re talking in the figurative sense. I’m not prepared for the ads that will follow and haunt me after I search for literal examples.)

As a programmer (and by definition egotistical and self-aggrandizing), of course I tend to see code as art. Or at least as a craft that can be pretty artful at times. Not, eh, high art, you know? But I’d say it’s still up there. Code can be beautiful and elegant in addition to efficient and hopefully working.

So, then, if we assume that code is art or art adjacent, we should expect to see people somehow represented in the code they write, either through their ideas, their opinions, their philosophies, or the way they think, as expressed through code and code design.

But we usually don’t see people or their art when using a program. Interacting with a program tends to be impersonal and artless, focusing instead on utility and reliability. I have worked with computers for many years, and I have yet to hear somebody say, “The validation logic behind these spreadsheet cells was artfully implemented! I feel spiritually enriched with how the artist alerts me to the wrong number of decimal places I have used!” I’m only one person, though. Lots of spreadsheet enthusiasts out there. Such a thing could very well have been said.

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Into the blue again after the money’s gone

I’m pretty sure I know where I met Vasili. He was the second of our characters that I met, but the first that I felt like I connected with.

As the ship was clearing the docks, a lone figure was futilely sprinting towards them. In one hand he held his pants and belt, the other he waved frantically trying to garner attention. On the bridge he was clearly visible.

“Who was he?” Archamae asked idly. She wasn’t know (sic) for socializing amongst the crew much.

“Mikhailovich.” Sephara said at the starboard windows, staring at the desperate crewman slowly being swallowed up by darkness.

“Well, you did say midnight.” Archamae smirked, slamming the accelerator forward several notches. The [Requiem] Dawn responded by lurching forward with impressive speed.

“That I did.” The first mate caught the pilots (sic) eye and they shared a knowing smile.

Mike would be angry if I didn’t immediately communicate that:

  1. This is not from our Skysail books, but from Mike’s work prior, telling instead of the adventures of the crew of the Requiem Dawn.
  2. This is from 2010, so at time of writing, was written eight years ago. Which is basically an eternity ago in terms of life as well as how much better we are at writing.
  3. This is unpublished, unedited, and wasn’t supposed to ever see the light of day.

In the parlance of the role-playing forum from which he originated, this ‘Mikhailovich’ was an NPC, a non-playable character. He was someone who Mike created in order to be thrown away. He was disposable. He was a punchline. He was the kind of person who would be left behind.

To equal out the embarrassment, here’s something I (Josh) wrote, way back when:

You’re free of your worthless, pitiful son, father, Vasili Mikhailovich thought to himself, looking out over a (sic) weak beginnings of a muddled sunrise. Your burden laid to rest.

The fifth son of the petty noble-baron Anton Mikhailovich. And as Anton would put it, the “fifth-most diluted.” The preceding sons received the titles, the inheritance, the law, the church… to Vasili was bequeathed contempt, blame for his mother killed in childbirth for an unexpected son, and the constant threat of banishment from his father’s house.

I should clarify:

  1. This is from a short story I (Josh) wrote, detailing the backstory, the arrival on the airship Requiem Dawn, the apprenticeship under ‘Gregor the Boatswain’, and the abrupt departure of a moody young noble named ‘Vasili Mikhailovich’. The short story paralleled the original role-play forum thread, and filled in what was left unwritten with the crewman they left behind.
  2. This is from 2011, so, seven years ago. I can’t stress enough how long ago that is. A kind of long ago that should be measured in geologic time.
  3. I spent, like, a lot of time writing this short story. Let’s estimate at least 8 to 10 hours on the first draft, and maybe a dozen hours of editing in years after. And I still found that a weak beginnings typo. Ooof.

Such choice, lean cuts of meat these two excerpts are! Just look at them. Energetic, muscular, and glistening. Such artifacts of another, more alien time. It’s like drilling a core sample to find out how things were back then, how we wrote, how good we thought we were, and how little carbon dioxide was still in the atmosphere.

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Craft Singles

It’s been more than a year since we published The Apotheosis Break (published October 2016).

We’re sorry? We guess? We get asked a lot: When is the second volume coming out? That’s probably not uncommon of people who publish something with ‘Book 1’ or ‘Volume 1’ or ‘Saga’ in the title. We have hoisted our every petard.

Our coy, infuriating answer for 2017 was, “Coming in 2017!” People laughed, and nodded like they got a satisfactory answer, and went about their business.

Now it is 2018. Now we say, “Coming in 2018!” They laugh less. They do not nod. They insist, “Yeah, but when?” The eyes in the room turn toward us. We shrug. They go about their business, but glance back occasionally. Their disappointment is apparent.

We have been working. We have been working a lot. But that is mostly irrelevant to someone who has just finished the first book and wants more. They wonder if we’re ever going to answer the questions they have. They wonder if all the time they invested into the first book was worth it. They are asking if they should put that mental real estate back into the market where it could be put to better use: those continuing education credits, that dissertation, that critical thesis, that new season of Black Mirror.

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Vol 2 Cover Art

It’s been a while! While we have been working deep in the word mines, Mike commissioned our Volume 2 cover art:

I (Josh) think it looks great. We have Gustaf Ekelund to thank for bringing to life one of our scenes from Skysail, Volume 2: The Gestalt Job.

As of this writing, Volume 2 is weighing in at roughly twice the length of Vol. 2. This means: twice as much to read through, twice as much to edit, and exponentially more times that Mike has requested that I split a chapter into two.

It feels like we’re close. Much like we said in 2017, we hope to deliver you Volume 2 in 2018. Or, you know… *soon*.

Until then… we’ll get back to those mines.