I just read the beginning.
I think you should write more sad stuff. Your funny stuff is good and all, but if this want one of the best sad stuffs I ever read … Well let’s just say it was. Don’t know how representative I am of your target group, but I thought you might like to know, based on Dweller and this: You’re very funny when you’re funny, but you’re insanely brilliant when you’re sad.
To me, at least.
All right, I have now finished Cyclops Road, and I loved it (I’m going to write a short but adoring amazon review since I suspect that would help you more than a longish, adoring but also semi-critical comment on your blog.), thank you. This was a really great story with a brillant beginning and a satisfying conclusion and everything. I’m going to recommend this to all of my friends, although you shouldn’t expect too much from this, because I only have two, and they are both not going to follow my recommendation.
But there’s something I’d like to know. I’ve noticed it before from other writers, but I think I’ve also noticed it in your stories before, although I can’t quite remember where, so I’m going to use this opportunity to ask. In Cyclops Road, when they pick up Seth (I don’t think I’m going to anything, but if you feel I do, feel free to edit or delete this comment.), someone asks “How many hit points is that?” and a little later remarks “This isn’t middle earth.” Those comments took me out of the story a little bit, because they struck me as the kind of remark somebody who knows nothing about rpgs and the culture around them might imagine a role-player making, although they do not actually fit. On the other hand, I can’t claim comprehensive knowledge of all the different subcultures of rpg-players and stuff, so I’d like to know how you made those decisions. From where I’m standing, an rpg player might conceivably ask about experience points or something like that, but I can’t quite see hit points as the first question that comes to mind, and of course, there are no cyclopses in middle earth since the author apparently wasn’t very kien (muahaha) on Greek mythology. I have a strong dislike for his stories, and even I know that.
So why? Did you decide to do this on purpose, or did you just not care? Do I not know what I’m talking about and this dialogue makes perfect sense from the right angle? I’d really like to know.
(And in case you were wondering why someone would not have more than two friends, you probably stopped a few sentences ago…)
The answer is never “just didn’t care.” This is not to say that every single line in a book is meticulously verified for accuracy, or that sometimes authors don’t knowingly get things wrong for the purpose of the story. (For example, as somebody who lived in Alaska, 30 DAYS OF NIGHT is utterly ridiculous even without the vampires. But they needed to ignore how the Alaska daylight works in order to tell that story.)
The small details matter. We’ve all read something where the author will get a small, inconsequential detail wrong and it completely pulls you out of the book. “This character wouldn’t say ‘soda,’ they’d say ‘pop.’ WTF?!?” The challenge is that when you’re writing a book you’ve got thousands of small details…and sometimes you screw something up. James Cameron was =obsessed= with accuracy in TITANIC. Obsessed!!! But it didn’t occur to him to make sure the constellations were in the right spot for that location at that time of year, and to somebody like Neil DeGrasse Tyson, it was sloppy research.
So. CYCLOPS ROAD. I will defer to your expertise, but I’m not sure why “hit points” would be the wrong term, asked by a character who is trying to make a joke. Based on my D&D experience from long, long ago, “How many hit points does that monster have?” would be a logical, if sarcastic, question. (He’s not legitimately trying to convert the Cyclops into game statistics; he’s making fun of his friend.) But “experience points” also works.
The “Middle Earth” line slipped by me because that’s what my friends and I always called it, even though we used D&D monsters and didn’t actually make any specific efforts to make our gaming sessions accurate to Tolkien. I could probably break down that paragraph of dialogue line by line and justify it, but I’m going to officially call it a “mistake.”
Thank you for explaining!
It’s not a big problem to me, and I certainly understand that there comes a point when we (notice how smoothly I slipped that in there?) have to decide if we want to get all the details right our if we actually want to publish a story, so I certainly didn’t mean to ask “HOW COULD THIS HAVE HAPPENED????”
I was just curious where my assumptions about you went astray.
So thank you again, you answered my question better than I hoped.
Concerning the hit points: Seems to be just a difference in our rpg socialisation. Where I played, no one considered hit points a primary characteristic (our at least they didn’t show it I a way I recognised), so the remark seemed to me similar to “What’s its magic resistance?” – oddly specific without sufficient relevancy. Taken together with my impression that hit points is one of those terms people always use to pretend they know stuff about rpgs, it struck an odd note with me.
So thanks one last time for this, and for the great story. I just bought Kutter. Let’s see what I find to talk about in there…
I have sought an official ruling from a friend who writes RPG modules and has an RPG web series. If he says I’m wrong, I will wallow in shame, but I still think that hit points, in direct reference to killing a monster, is a joke that a DM would make. The Cyclops is dead if its hit points are knocked down to zero!
(I changed it to “experience points” because I think that’s a bit funnier. But I’m not yet willing to concede that “hit points” would be out of character, dammit!)
(I’m willing to stipulate that asking about hit points might appear appropriate in other gaming circles than the one I was socialized in if you agree that Cyclops Road is a slightly uninspired title for such an otherwise brillant work of fiction.)