m. c. de marco: To invent new life and new civilizations...

Boskone 59

Boskone, New England’s longest-running science fiction and fantasy convention, is happening both in person and online this year. The schedule is online, and I’m on it.

Choose Your Own History

Via Reddit: YouTube channel Toy Galaxy gives a brief history of Choosing Your Own Adventure titled The Rise & Fall & Rise of Choose Your Own Adventure Books. New to me were the DVD and Audible/Alexa version, some details of the merger-driven corporate abandonment of the series, the weakness of ChooseCo’s trademark at this point, and (nevertheless) the settlement of the Netflix trademark lawsuit. The only howler in there was his calling Lone Wolf a “copycat” book.

If you prefer an unpunctuated transcript, you can read one here, but you’ll miss the excitingly retro DVD commercial.

DisCon III

Though we were planning to attend DisCon III, the somewhat-postponed 79th World Science Fiction Convention, this winter, their new COVID policy is keeping us away. So I filked about it: Banned from DisCon.

Decision Software

I was inspired to update my hyperfiction software list by my last post and an article, “Design Patterns, Tools and Workflow for Modern Gamebook Creators” by J.M. Green, in Gamebook Zine 2. Most notably, I added a section about making books and ebooks.

Indecision Fiction

Sadly, Decision Fiction has passed from the up-and-comers to the down-and-outers. But don’t despair, there are plenty more where that came from:

  • Sadako compares itself to Twine, ChoiceScript, and Ink, but looks very little like Twine, a lot like ChoiceScript, and even more like Ink
  • Toothrot is a similarly Ink-y choice engine
  • Ramus is an HTML-based (as in, writing your own HTML with a few special attributes) hypertext system
  • Elm Story is an even GUI-er approach to choice fiction than Twine, with ambitions of becoming a cloud service when it grows up
  • Gordian Book is an online converter from (script-free) Twine to PDF gamebooks
  • pangamebook is the pandoc filter successor to gamebookformat
  • Another RPG Engine, the Twine/SugarCube plugin, is up to v3.0.3

Boskone 58

Boskone, New England’s longest-running science fiction and fantasy convention, went online this past weekend. Many panels were recorded, so it’s not too late to catch up on large swathes of the con that I managed to miss while hanging out in the gaming zoom. Next year in the Westin!

National Science Fiction Day

Gentlebeings, happy National Science Fiction Day! I’m watching bad movies on Comet to celebrate, because that’s apparently what the non-sf fans think we do.

A Calculator

Because I didn’t like the baby age calculators already out there, I made an adjusted age calculator that will save dates across sessions and give adjusted and unadjusted ages in various formats. It can also determine due date from the last period or vice versa. Made with moment.js and vanilla JavaScript.

Remapping Life's Lottery

I’ve been meaning to blog about Andy Looney’s remapping of Life’s Lottery since I heard about it (h/t zarf). I’ve added it to my History of Choice Mapping, as he takes a different approach from that of Callum MacKendrick’s definitive flowchart for the book. (Please note that several Yahoo!Groups links in the History went offline with Yahoo!Groups and have been replaced with local copies.)

Also, RIP Ben Bova.

NASFiC 2020

The latest convention to appear online in response to the coronavirus pandemic is NASFiC 2020, a three-day event starting at lunchtime (EDT) today. This one is free and easy to register for. Besides the usual assortment of panels, there will also be online art, dealers, and participatory music. Gaming seems to be being coordinated in a Discord channel. We’ve set up a little KonOpas here to have a mobile-ready schedule just like a real con.

NASFiC is an American convention that occurs whenever the World Science Fiction Convention is abroad—apparently even when both of them are virtual.

Reconvene 2020

The latest convention to appear online in response to the coronavirus pandemic is reCONvene 2020, a one-day event happening tomorrow. This one isn’t free, but I can’t really call $10 expensive after having attended some WorldCons. Besides an assortment of panels, there will also be online gaming.


There’s been an unexpected development in the Slate Star Codex story (a.k.a., The Tragedy of the Cancels) from a few weeks back. The New Yorker scooped the still-unpublished New York Times article by publishing their own article about “Scott Alexander” and the Slate Star Codex community yesterday: Slate Star Codex and Silicon Valley’s War Against the Media: How a controversial rationalist blogger became a mascot and martyr in a struggle against the New York Times by Gideon Lewis-Kraus.

Reactions from the Slate Star Codex community in exile at Reddit were mostly positive, and it also made Hacker News, where the reaction was more mixed. It’s unclear whether the New York Times will continue with their doxxing plans, repudiate them, or never tell Scott Alexander that his pseudonymity is safe.

State of the Circular Bitbucket

I’ve finished pressing the “migrate my repository from Mercurial on Bitbucket to Git on GitHub” button; my repositories are now safe from the circular bitbucket. I’ve punted a bit on the issue of migrating my issues, and still have plenty of links to update but I will sigh a sigh of relief anyway.

This post filed under how I’m spending my coronavirus vacation.


Several conventions have gone online in response to the coronavirus. Virtual Balticon 54 is going on this weekend, with all-free content. (You need to register for most panels and events individually through zoom.)

Next weekend Narrascope 2020 is going online, also for free. Registration is optional; the content will be streamed. Most of the Thursday workshops are already booked up, but the con runs Thursday to Thursday, so there’s plenty more content to be had.

No Heliosphere

Heliosphere has been cancelled along with everything else. But, despite the fact that everyone is now on the viral news train and talking coronavirus all the time, PlagueBlog goes on. Today is Day 47 of COVID-19 in Boston.

For those of you stuck at home and/or nervous about take-out, I’ve updated the cookbook.


I’m still nominally planning to attend Heliosphere for the first time this April, but I’m not really expecting it to still be on by then, due to plague. (Tarrytown is near quarantined New Rochelle, NY.) PlagueBlog, my disease blog, is currently up to Day 40 of novel coronavirus (yesterday) in Boston, at least until I write up some Day 41 news later today.


I used to have another, non-writing blog: PlagueBlog, the disease blog. It’s been moribund for a while, but it comes back out for any epidemic excitement. I’m currently on Day 5 of novel coronavirus here in Boston (and elsewhere).

Boskone 57

Boskone, New England’s longest-running science fiction and fantasy convention, begins in a week and a half. February 14–16 will be a fun weekend filled with discussions of books, science, art, games, music, and more. Visit the Boskone website, the schedule, the Boskone Blog, Twitter, or Facebook for more details!

I’m on the schedule again this Boskone, where I’ll be talking about Star Trek and games of all sorts.


Via Reddit: a new hyperfiction platform, Novelyze, is in a beta state of some sort suspiciously like the old closed beta of Decision Fiction, before their website got even less informative. The (new?) name is also unfortunately similar to Novelize, a Scrivener-like subscription-based online writing app.

Gentlebeings, start your novels!

NB: The NaNoWriMo forums have moved to Discourse, which seems to be mostly an improvement in speed and usability.