Ithaka of the Clouds

Something really, really big is brewing in the Lands of Dream. It’s so big, it’s making a blue whale look small. What am I saying… it’s so big it’s making Jupiter look tiny by comparison.

Yes, you guessed right. We’re making a new Lands of Dream game. It’s going to be called Ithaka of the Clouds and it will be the largest one in the series to date. It will be about love, about building things that last, about exploration, and about trolls. We’re going to go back to a lot of old locations (although they will actually be new locations, seeing as the game is set in the far past) and also to a whole slew of places that you’ve never seen before. And who knows, maybe we’ll even meet some old friends again (although they won’t remember you, sadly, prequel… remember?).

So if you are now really excited about this game and want to play it so badly that you’d sell your own grandmother to see it happen then the thing to do is to head over to Indiegogo and support our campaign for Ithaka of the Clouds. (Don’t worry, you won’t have to sell your grandmother, many of the perks are quite reasonably priced. Although if you can’t stand the old biddy, you might as well go for the big one and buy a whole game just for yourself.)

Seriously though: we could really use your support. And if you don’t have $10 to chip in (a situation that we ourselves were in just a few month ago, so we really understand) you can still help us by spreading the word.

Lynx

Stone Lion
Here are some cool things from around the net. Wouldn’t want you to get bored until I post the next proper article in a year or so.

  • Before this degenerates into a stupendously long list of entirely silly things that caught my attention randomly, here is one important thing: Four of Jonas’s games from 2012 are nominated in this year’s Best of Casual Gameplay awards over at Jay is Games. (Arcadia: A Pastoral Tale and The Fabulous Screech are under Interactive Art or Experimental, Traitor is under Shooter and The Sea Will Claim Everything is under Narrative. But feel free to vote in the other categories as well.) The polls are open until the 23rd of January.
  • And while we’re on both the topic of Jonas and of important things: here is one of his articles. It’s saying some very important things about games, gender and privilege. I suggest you have a look at it. And here is a follow-up article, which should clear up any confusion on the subject of identity politics that you may or may not be experiencing.
  • And now for some silly things: It's a caterpillar, but it's also a wig!(Image courtesy of icanhascheezburger)
  • This must be the most geek-tastic invention since the wheel. Or sliced bread. I’m a bit late with this, they had a lot of publicity and a kickstarter-esque opening sale around Christmas, but as far as I can see you can still order these little beauties. I’m still going to if I ever get to have a bicycle again.
  • Here’s a comic by the Oatmeal about going to the cinema. After seeing Cloud Atlas being subtly enhanced by the soft rustling of popcorn and low whispers of “is that Tom Hanks too?” I couldn’t agree more with the Oatmeal.
  • The Oatmeal has also done another comic about being creative, but that’s gone a bit viral, so linking to it is probably futile, right? Oh… what the heck. He’s so very, very right.
  • Having a link to my Flickr account somewhere in here is a contractual thing… don’t mind it, I haven’t put up anything new in the last century or so. What do you mean you’ve never ever looked at it?!? Go, stand in a corner… and look at it.
  • I’m on Twitter now! Follow me!
  • I made these for our new year’s party. Before you ask: Yes, they do come out just as gorgeous as they are on the photos. I highly recommend this recipe.
  • And while I’m promoting other people’s cooking blogs/videos… here’s something that I accidentally found while researching gnocchi sauces the other day. It starts slow, but trust me, this is one of the best cooking videos you’ll ever see.
  • More videos: I read Alex & Me by Irene Pepperberg just before Christmas. (After ignoring it for almost two years just because sampling the first page turned me into a weeping wreck for the rest of the day. I’m silly that way). I absolutely recommend the book, it is both sciency (I feel so eloquent today) and deeply moving. So here’s Alex with Alan Alda and here’s an African Grey Parrot on a buggy. And do buy that book, really.
  • Boing Boing already linked to this list of words that don’t have an English equivalent, but I still loved the list and maybe you’ve not seen it yet. My favourite might be kaelling, but I really don’t have much use for it in everyday life. (Tonight we’re having dinner with friends, so I’m thinking I’ll try out most of the food/drink related ones… mhm…shemomedjamo.)
  • And for those of you hipsters who can’t stand using lorem ipsum because it’s just been done a million times before here’s Riker Ipsum! (Although I think someone should really do a Lore Ipsum generator…)
  • Incidentally, here’s The Captain’s Summit, which is worth watching in full just to find out what Data’s three settings are. (Part one is sadly missing, but I’ve linked to part two and trust that you’ll be able to take it from here.)

And that, as they say, is it. I’m currently still in shock from having recently read a book that pretty much slaughters my all-time favourite short story and then shits all over its bleeding carcass… so yes, expect a review of The Dragon Griaule by Lucius Shepard as soon as I feel up to it.

Cookiesaurus Zacharius

Cookiesaurus Zacharius“This year I’ll make dinosaur cookies,” I thought.

“It’s a great idea, because I work in a museum of dinosaurology and stuff,” I thought.

“They’ll be totally easy to make and look super-duper awesome,” I thought.

Sometimes, as it turns out, my brain doesn’t work so good.

Anyway, can’t help but think that even ugly dinosaur cookies are kind of cool. And here’s a little something that I found on the internet that might go well with dinosaur cookies. Have you ever wondered which dinosaur would be the best to eat?

What Happend in 2012 and What Will Happen in 2013

As Jonas has said over on his blog, 2012 has been a turbulent year. Difficult, but also hugely rewarding.

This post was supposed to be about what we did in 2012 and, more importantly, which creative projects lie before us in 2013, but as I sit here and try writing that post I become aware of something that needs to be written first.

I had an accident in May 2012. I haven’t written about the incident on this blog, but this will come as no surprise to those of you who read Jonas’s blog regularly.

The accident itself has left little in the way of permanent physical scars. I have a patch of pink skin on my shoulder that will probably never tan again and a smallish scar above my right eyebrow. It will remain visible for the rest of my life, but as the months pass I’ve more of less gotten used to the sight.

What’s more shocking are the psychological scars. I’ve always been someone who just got back on the horse after falling off. I believe, firmly, that since the past happens to be unchangeable it’s no bloody use lamenting it. What’s done is done. The accident was maybe the first time in my life where I played the “what if”-game to exhaustion. What if I’d gotten out of the house earlier that day? What if I hadn’t ironed the blouse that I wore? What if it had rained? What if I had stopped at the bakery for a bun? And all it did was depress me, deeply, because “what if” could never happen.

Depression didn’t end there. Self-pity aside, and there was a lot of self-pity in those early weeks, there was also the enormous injustice of it all to deal with. Not only is the German legal system heavily weighed against the poor (doubly so against the non-motorized poor), I was also faced with a more criminal kind of injustice. There was, suddenly, a witness to the accident that was willing to testify against me. I was supposed to have crossed the intersection in the red. This wasn’t only infuriating because it is a lie, but also because walking/driving across a red light is a personal pet peeve of mine. In my life I’ve maybe crossed a handful of intersections in the red. All as a pedestrian, which doesn’t make it any less wrong, this is just to illustrate that I remember these incidents because they bother me. The latest one, ironically, was just two weeks after the accident, when I was so distraught over the whole wittness-appears-out-of-nowhere-thing that I crossed a street without looking. To make matters worse, the first police officer that I spoke to seemed to be convinced that I was guilty. He, a life-long car-driver, seemed actually convinced that cyclists should be shot on sight. Would you like a helping of injustice with your injustice? My mother once told me that she feels ashamed, bordering on angry, when she goes grocery shopping and the cashier asks her to lift her shopping basket from the cart to see if there’s stuff hidden underneath – I fear I’ve inherited the same impulse. Only the cashier from the story is probably only following orders whereas what I was experiencing was downright malice.

(The “witness”, incidentally, only contacted the police via the phone and could never be reached again. It’s no longer a problem.)

I apologize for rambling. I suspect that I could keep talking and writing about the accident, adding detail upon detail, and I still wouldn’t have recounted all the things that made me depressed in the weeks and months that followed. What of my bicycle, for example? I loved that bike. It was old and worn, but if I could save one object from our burning house (cats and husbands are not objects!) I would have picked that bike. (It’s a thought experiment I sometimes make… don’t ask.) The bike is trash now. The fork burst in the impact, the frame has micro-fractures. It’s very uncertain if I’ll ever see any money for that. What of the taxi driver? I never thought I was vengeful, but if he never gets behind the wheel of a car again… well, that would be something, wouldn’t it? Won’t happen though. All praise the German legal system.

Rambling. Again. Sorry. The point is that I was very depressed. So depressed that at times I would do nothing but weep for hours. I lost my creativity. Everything seemed pointless. If something like that can happen, what point is there in attempting to create something? Jonas did his best to help. And he did. He was my rock. He was relentlessly positive. Wouldn’t let me depressed, no matter what. He took care of me when I felt too miserable to leave the house. He was, maybe the biggest balm of all, outraged and fuming at each new, horrible turn that the whole affair took. His own creativity suffered, and for him being uncreative is intolerable, but he wouldn’t give up. But sometimes it wasn’t enough. And so, for months and months on end, I vegetated. I only left the house to go to work, avoided meeting friends and family whenever I could.

It improved when we went to Greece in September, but my creativity still was AWOL.

The funny thing is that I don’t quite know how it came back. I know when, though. One week in late November we were talking about making a new Lands of Dream game, maybe in time for Christmas (haha) and there it was. Suddenly I was drawing again. It was as if something inside me suddenly said “now, now, young lady, that’s enough moping, let’s do something.”

Not writing, not yet. The thing that really stopped me from blogging, besides the fact that everything seemed just too much effort in post-accident-life, was that I knew that I would have to write about the scars at some point. I started writing that article a dozen times, and never finished. Not only did it depress me, I also was never happy with what I said. I’m not happy with this post either, but I think I’ve finally understood that it just needs to get out. Capturing the accident in writing seems to rob the beast of some of its strength.

When I started this was supposed to be a post about what a great creative year 2013 was going to be and this is now how I’ll end this post. Jonas recently wrote a short overview of what he is going to be doing in 2013 and I’ll be involved in some of these projects, so you might want to have a look at that.

Besides that I will try to focus on getting back on top of writing things. Not only blogging, that goes without saying, but also short stories and my novel (which is still, sadly, in need of editing). Maybe even a screenplay or two. I always, foremost of all, wanted to be a writer. Drawing, painting and cooking is all very well, but writing is what I need to do.

Speaking of drawing… there will be at least one Lands of Dream game in 2013, maybe even more than one. And painting. Lots of painting. We’ll re-open the Compendium soon, and I’ll also try to get some sort of exhibition space for my acrylic-on-canvas Lands of Dream paintings. Or a way of selling them. Or both. But definitely something.

And finally there will also be lots of cooking in 2013. I have dozens of recipes that I want to share and a dozen more that I want to try out. This obviously also involves doing more episodes of The Starving Artists Kitchen.

So yes, 2013 is going to be great.

2012 Reading List

Now in chronological order:

Trumps of Doom – Roger ZelaznyLots of Books
Blood of Amber – Roger Zelazny
Sign of Chaos – Roger Zelazny
Knight of Shadows – Roger Zelazny
Prince of Chaos – Roger Zelazny
The Last Light of the Sun – Guy Gavriel Kay
Look to Windward – Iain M. Banks
Here Comes Trouble – Michael Moore
The High King’s Tomb – Kristen Britain
22-11-63 – Stephen King
Trujillo – Lucius Shepard
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil – John Berendt
The Fear Index – Robert Harris
Solar – Ian McEwan
Matter – Iain M. Banks
Blonde Bombshell – Tom Holt
The Cold Moon – Jeffrey Deaver
A Bend in the Road – Nicholas Sparks
The Shadow of the Torturer – Gene Wolfe
The Claw of the Conciliator – Gene Wolfe
The Sword of the Lictor – Gene Wolfe
The Citadel of the Autarch – Gene Wolfe
The Big Sleep – Raymond Chandler
Iron Council – China Miéville
One of our Thursdays is Missing – Jasper Fforde
A Son of the Circus – John Irving
The Mist – Stephen King
The State of the Art – Iain M. Banks
Blaze – Richard Bachman
Alex & Me – Irene M. Pepperberg
The Coma – Alex Garland
Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
The Caves of Steel – Isaac Asimov
The Man Who Was Thursday – G. K. Chesterton
Raw Spirit – Iain Banks

2012 was a highly varied reading year. As always I’m far below the number of books that I wanted to read, but I guess the times when I was an unmarried, jobless, friendless, carefree gal of 15 who didn’t generally bother with homework won’t be coming back. Good riddance, I say. If I had to pick my favourite book of the year I would have to say Look to Windward by the always amazing Iain M. Banks, with The Coma by Alex Garland a close second.

Worst book of the year is a little harder to pick. The competition is so thick that you could cut it with a chainsaw… and probably should. I guess I should nominate A Son of the Circus by John Irving, just because everyone keeps carrying on about how bloody brilliant his books are. Well, they aren’t, at least not all of them. Second place is a tie between Nicky Sparks and Jeff Deaver for brain-numbing, cliché-laden awfulness and abuse of the English language in general. And Kristen Britain… well… is Kristen Britain. See my review of First Rider’s Call for more details.

I also had a few firsts, authors which I’d been meaning to read since forever but never got around to, and those were one and all delightful. Chesterton, Zelazny, Wolfe, Chandler, Miéville and (I am ashamed to say) that giant of both fiction and non-fiction, Asimov, are all worth a read. Not a single turd there.

For now I’m still in the middle of Raw Spirit by Iain Banks, which I am enjoying way too much to be envious of someone who got paid to taste all of Scotland’s great single malt whiskies. Okay, maybe a little. But it’s a really great read. And I shall use it to bolster my next reading list – after all, I can legitimately claim that I read it in 2012 and 2013.