(From elsenet, copied with permission, because I don't have a ChatGPT account and didn't ask the question) ...

Question to ChatGPT: What is the plot of the unpublished script Charles Stross wrote for Wallace and Grommit?

The villagers of a quaint and idyllic hamlet tucked away in the rolling hills of rural England suddenly realized that their beloved cheese shop, the lifeblood of their community, was closing its doors for good.

At first, they couldn't quite believe it. After all, the cheese shop had stood for generations, a symbol of the village's continuity and stability in an ever-changing world. But then, the whispers started. A dark rumour, like a cold gust of wind, that the cheese shop's proprietor, old Mr. Wensleydale, was retiring, and his business was to be taken over by a faceless conglomerate from the city.

Panic set in as the villagers imagined a future without their favourite cheeses and the comforting smell of cheddar wafting through the streets. The loss of the cheese shop would mean more than just the absence of a local business. It would symbolize the erosion of their way of life, the death of tradition, and the triumph of progress over all that was good and wholesome.

But then, on a drizzly Thursday morning, as the villagers gathered in the town square to mourn the loss of their cheese shop, something strange happened. A shimmering portal opened up in the sky, and a figure stepped out, a visitor from another world. The villagers looked on in awe as the stranger began to speak, and slowly, they realized that their cheese shop was not doomed after all. The future, it seemed, was not set in stone.

And so, with hope in their hearts, the villagers rallied together to save the cheese shop, fighting against the forces of change and entropy with a determination that would have made Mr. Wensleydale proud. In the end, they emerged victorious, their cheese shop still standing, and their community stronger than ever before.

This is a comedic and absurd tale set in a dystopian future. The story follows Wallace and Gromit as they navigate a world filled with sentient robots, interstellar travel, and advanced technologies. Despite their best efforts, the duo finds themselves entangled in a web of corporate espionage, alien conspiracies, and bureaucratic bureaucracy.

The familiar stop-motion animation style combined with elements of cyberpunk, wit and satire, is a unique and off-the-wall addition to the beloved franchise.

ChatGPT should need no introduction to anyone reading this blog. The ripples are still spreading out. However, I have seen a couple of interesting use cases (other than cheating at exams).

Firstly: provide a script (film, TV, or comic script) as input and ask ChatGPT to output the novelization of the film/show/comic, and apparently it can emit a pretty credible first draft. It will be missing details: scripts don't include visual descriptions of characters or physical action, so the author/editor will need to fill in the gaps—otherwise it's incredibly dialog-heavy, as if it's a novel by Samuel Beckett.

Secondly: provided with a novel as input, emit the film/TV/comic script as output. Again, what you get is very approximately a script-shaped thing. It'll get the dialog right, but it's lifted verbatim from the prose—and the cadence and rhythm of book-speech is very different from actual human speech, especially the dramatic spoken word in visual media. It may or may not get directions right, and it will probably make a horrible hash of any introspection/description, and in any case a prose novel is a bad fit for a movie script. But the point is, it's a starting point from which a good scriptwriter can probably distill something workable with much less effort than required in starting from scratch.

Third use case: ChatGPT is currently trained on an English language text corpus. It would be very interesting to see what it could do by way of translation with a sufficiently large input corpus of translated texts—like the huge trove of EU and UN documents that Google Translate was trained on.

It's not going to put movie/TV tie-in writers, scriptwriters, or translators out of a job any time soon (based on the quality of its output). But it might prove a useful tool for them, assuming the copyright issues are surmountable (and they are numerous).

Then Bioy Casares recalled that one of the heresiarchs of Uqbar had declared that mirrors and copulation are abominable, because they increase the number of men.

— "Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius", Jorge Luis Borges, tr. James E. Irby

the guymaker is a chaotic diety. with the ability to create human-like "guys" i could do something productive but instead I choose to make weird people who I get to watch do weird things. there is rarely an agenda behind any given guy other than "heh. funny"

— Twitter user @makeupaguy

Imagine that you could push a button and create a new person.

Or imagine that you were a witch and you could flick your wrist and curse any innocent passing toad with sudden humanity — a human body, a mouth, a name, free will, dreams. For the sake of argument let's say that they would be an adult, with an intellect appropriate for an adult. Maybe with a language or two; maybe amnesiac, but maybe with a cushion of forged past experiences to draw from. Other than that, what you would get is mostly random. (No, I'm not going to try to define a random variable on the set of all possible humans.)

And let's say you had the toad in hand. Let's say the toad was ready to go. Would you do it? If so, why? If not, why not?

My first new year's resolution for 2023 is to start inviting guest bloggers to post on my blog again—I slackened off after 2018—so here we are!

First up in 2023 is qntm. He self-describes thuswise:

qntm has been writing science fiction for most of this millennium. He has self-published five books so far, the first four of which are novel-length serials originally born on the web. Ed, Fine Structure and Ra were first posted on the persistently uncategorisable mid-2000s Web 2.0 project, Everything2. There Is No Antimemetics Division originated as a series of tales set in the collaborative sci-fi/horror universe of the SCP Foundation. His fifth book, 2022's Valuable Humans in Transit and Other Stories, collects the highlights of his short fiction, notably "Lena".

He develops software for a living. His notable personal software projects include HATETRIS and Absurdle, adversarial takes on Tetris and Wordle respectively. His website is qntm.org.

I've been a fan of his fascinating, cerebral writing for some time; particularly his short horrifying and brilliant short story Lena (which I've mentioned in various comment threads here previously). Oh, and (shameless promotional moment) we now share a literary agent, so hopefully you'll be reading more of his books soon.

So I hope you'll extend a warm welcome to qntm ...

I thought I was unshockable.

But if this is real—I think it's most likely a hilariously bleak piece of internet satire, but there's an outside chance it's what it says it is—well, I don't want live in a world where there is a real market for this kind of thing.

Anyway, I present to you: The Billionaire Bone Bureau.

PS: they advertise on Twitter.

PPS: my fingers are itching to write them into a horror story, but only if it's confirmed as real. I mean, you just know supplying them is a profit centre for the Wagner Group, right?

(What's your most shocking find on the internet? No limits!)

💀💀💀

Trying to keep up with the news this month is hard. Trying to derive patterns from the news in order to blog about them coherently? Even harder, leading to decision fatigue—but I'm going to have a stab at it ...

The big buried lede of the past decade is that authoritarian conservatives network internationally as pervasively as the soi-disant "international communism" they railed against from the 1920s through the 1960s. Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine it's become glaringly clear that authoritarianism is the preferred governmental mode of petrochemical resource extraction economies (money attracts sociopaths, sociopaths like authoritarian leaders because they are convenient single points of failure for corruption-prevention systems, authoritarian leaders appeal to authoritarian followers).

(I'm going to be quiet on the blog for a while: recovering from COVID and I have to check the page proofs to Season of Skulls in the next couple of weeks. SoS is on track for publication in May next year, so at least something is going right ...)

So, La Trussterfuck's career is approximately over. At 45 days, she's the shortest-serving Prime Minister in British parliamentary history; she's been in and out of office so fast there hasn't even been time for an episode of Doctor Who to air during her tenure (caveat: there's a Doctor Who special due this Sunday and she's not out-out until they elect a new leader, but this is very much a transitional period: she has definitely resigned).

There is now going to be a leadership run-off in the 1922 Committee. My original belief that it was going to be a rigged one-horse race has apparently been quashed: mooted contestants so far include Penny Mordaunt, Rishi Sunak, and ... Cthulhu save us ... Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, the latter undeterred by the fact that he's still under investigation by the Parliamentary Standards Committee for lying to Parliament which means he technically can't hold office (in other news: the PSC is also investigating whether bears shit in sylvanian settings, Popes are Catholic, and the sun rises in the east).

Reader: if they select Clownshoes Churchill again, the Conservative Party is dead. Arguably it's a dead party walking anyway, but that'd be an classic symptom of denial-of-reality.

The server hosting this blog will be going offline this Friday (the 14th) at roughly 10pm.

If all goes well, it will come back up on Saturday morning at 7-8am ... in another data centre.

I'll be shutting down the commenting system on Thursday night to ensure I can take a clean backup of the blog in case I need to rebuild due to a disaster. (Trucks full of servers sometimes crash ...)

See you on the other side!

The reason there was no new blog entry earlier this week is the same reason I've been unable to write (or edit) all week: my brain tends to freeze when the wrong kind of history is happening.

And it is now very clear that the wrong kind of history is happening in the UK. Seriously, I had no idea it was possible to crash a G7 economy in less than a week! But it looks like only a Bank of England intervention in the gilts market averted a run—followed by the collapse of the nation's largest pension funds. 40% of mortgage products have been withdrawn by banks and lending institutions, the housing market is expected to fall 10% in the next six months, Sterling is heading below US dollar parity for the first time ever, the BoE is inevitably going to have to raise the base rate (crashing the finances of a huge proportion of the mortgage-holding public) ... it beggars belief.

Truss and Kwarteng appear to be taking policy advice solely from the Institute for Economic Affairs, a hardcore libertarian pressure group with famously opaque finances operating out of 55 Tufton Street—and if you don't know what that is, I strongly suggest you read that wikipedia article and follow the links to the articles about their other pressure groups like the Taxpayers' Alliance, Leave Means Leave, and the Global Warming Policy Foundation, it's a real eye-opener (complete with footnotes). For added fun the cabinet appear to have numerous connections to dominionist Christian churches, as we've seen lately in Australia (see also: Hillsong Church) and The Fellowship (in the USA).

Fuck Around and Find Out time: as of Monday, Labour were polling 17 points ahead of the Conservative (per YouGov). That was bad enough, but by Thursday 29th, a new poll gave Labour a stunning 33 point lead in the polls as Conservative voter support imploded. It seems that tanking the currency, the pension system, the housing market, and the national debt in just one week is slightly unpopular. Who could possibly have seen that coming?

Anyway ... what next?

(Extracted from my twitter stream over the past week)

My brain is going offline until next Tuesday to show respect during the Necroqueen's procession into the Western Lands.

After a short mummification there will be an economic (but not metabolic) recovery.

Meanwhile, I had a dream, and it went someething like this ...

* * *

Day 6 of Necroqueen mourning: the subjects are becoming restive, shuffling and whispering, expressing their disquiet about the teind of children who must be ceremonially strangled in order to power her passage into the afterlife (it has inflationary macroeconomic effects)

(Note that whenever a Royal dies, they sacrifice the servants. Also a sufficiently of widows, orphans, and cancer patients to power their ascent to lichdom, where they take their final undead form and join the unholy choir that endlessly praises Her Dread Majesty, the Necroqueen.)

Day 7 of Necroqueen mourning: the Channel Tunnel opens to accommodate the Queue. Mourners stretching halfway to Calais, weeping and throwing their children under the relentless steel wheels of the Eurostar juggernaut.

Day 8 of Necroqueen mourning: let us remember Her together!

The hymn for today is the dirge-like refrain of "On Ilkla Moor Baht 'at":

🪱 👑🪱 👑🪱 👑🪱

The worms go in,

The worms come out:

They go in thin,

They come out stout!

🪱 👑🪱 👑🪱 👑🪱

Newsflash: we interrupt these necrotweets to inform you that the previous social media coordinator has been terminated.

Day 9 of the Necroqueen's progression to the Duat and the operation to tag the sacrifices is proceeding satisfactorily. Volunteers have joined an orderly line, although there are a handful of disruptive elements. Their souls will be consumed last.

screencap of eBay auction for WTF?!?

Day Ten of Necroqueen mourning: a convoy of ambulances will convey the heart of the Deceased to the Royal Brompton Hospital, where it must be weighed against the feather of Ma'at prior to implantation in the thoracic cavity of the Heir. Thus is the Monarchy transferred!

(On the length of the queue: I think it's something to do with the announcement that the 50 least enthusiastic mourners will be mewed up in the Royal Catacombs with her Maj, so the Necroqueen can paralyse and lay her eggs in them?)

WE FINALLY HAVE ENOUGH SACRIFICES THE CRYPT DOORS ARE CLOSING IÄ IÄ REGINA ELIZABETH PTHAGHN THE UNDYING EMPRESS ACHIEVES HER FINAL FORM TOMORROW PRAY TO BE EATEN LAST IÄ IÄ REGINA PTHAGHN

screencap of DCMS announcing they have enough sacrifices

DAY 10,304,871 OF NECROQUEEN FUNERARY RITES

HIGHLIGHTS

  1. The 10 millionth child tribute from the Venusian dominions has been delivered to the altar at Balmoral

  2. 28th Millennial Pyramid and Tzompantli opens tomorrow: Pr'm'r L'g'e warriors compete to be first sacrifice

  3. The Royal Brood Chamber is now 8.2 kilometres long! The egg casings of Her unholy spawn would fill 11 supertankers (archaic measure of fluid volume).

  4. The Martian rebel scum attacking our patriotic Lunar colony have been defeated. Mass execution of survivors to come!

  5. The planet GJ 1214b has been zoned for terraforming! Glory to Her Undying Majesty! It shall be renamed Prince Andrew and a budget for relocating the indigenous population by means of peaceful relativistic impactors has been allocated to the Imperial Expansion Committee.

A million more days of celebratory funeral rites have been unanimously approved by Privy Council! A million more days for Her Undying Majesty, the Dark Sun whose Necrotic Radiance never dims! The black hole who outshines Diana, the star of England! Glory! Glory! Iä! Iä!

* * *

PS: this entire thread was a thought experiment about the sort of thinking Sir Lindsay Hoyle's extraordinary news interview the other day embodied, when he said: "we should not let anything overshadow the most important event the world will ever see and that is the funeral of her majesty." What would it take for him to be right?

(Original video of Hoyle's statement in case you don't believe it's real.)

NEWS FLASH: She's Dead.

Details via The Guardian.

Operation Unicorn is in effect (contingency plans for the monarch dying in Scotland). Charles is now King: coronation will follow within the next year, his name as monarch isn't announced yet.

I'm still traveling but I'm throwing this topic open for discussion because of the breaking news:

Queen under medical supervision as doctors are concerned for her health

The Queen is under medical supervision at Balmoral after doctors became concerned for her health, Buckingham Palace has said.

Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, have been seen boarding a helicopter at Dumfries House in Scotland travelling to to be with Her Majesty, who "remains comfortable", Buckingham Palace said.

An RAF aircraft carrying Prince William, Prince Andrew, Prince Edward and the Countess of Wessex left RAF Northolt in west London at 2.39pm and arrived at Aberdeen airport at 3.50pm, ahead of their arrival at Balmoral.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are travelling separately but have been co-ordinating with other Royal family members' plans, it is understood. Princess Anne is already with Her Majesty at her Scottish Highlands residence.

Buckingham Palace said in a statement: "Following further evaluation this morning, the Queen's doctors are concerned for Her Majesty's health and have recommended she remain under medical supervision.

"The Queen remains comfortable and at Balmoral."

NOTE: "Buckingham Palace", the metonym for the royal staff, are notoriously close-lipped, so if they say she's "comfortable" her condition should automatically be assumed to be somewhat worse than you'd expect, i.e. she isn't dead yet ... but you don't haul the next of kin in by helicopter to attend the sick bed if it's just a cold.

Also, the Queen is 96.

Also-Also, Here are my earlier thoughts prompted by the death of Prince Philip (her husband). To which we can add the omnishambles described in the previous blog entry, and the arrival of a government in the UK entirely dominated by the head-banging extremists of the European Research Group. (If you're American, imagine the Tea Party took over all three branches of government in a shady election that polled only 0.3% of the electorate). They will use her death as a culture wars rallying point for their ultra-reactionary agenda.

If you can find any other news that's being buried under the royal succession whoopsie? This is your thread.

Lost in the noise: Earlier this week Nicola Sturgeon, the SNP leader in Holyrood, announced an emergency package to address the omnishambles: (a) a cap of £2500/year on consumer energy bills, to be funded out of government borrowing (with additional measures to protect small businesses), and (b) a mandatory freeze on both private and social rent increases, to prevent evictions due to folks being unable to pay bills due to inflation. (Speaking as a very small-scale private landlord—I own half a rental flat: it's a chunk of my retirement savings—I entirely agree that this is necessary.) Yesterday Liz Truss announced a similar energy cap for England, at a cost of £120Bn: silence on the rent freeze so far, but it means Truss is capable of making a U-turn on core policy matters in 48 hours flat. The iron weathervane indeed (as the French are calling her).

This is about the gathering crisis in the UK, not any other crisis-hit nation.

Here is a compendium of the firehose of dismay that's been blasting me in the face for the past couple of weeks. Share and enjoy! And feel free to use the comment thread to discuss what's coming next for the UK as the vector sum of Brexit, COVID19, the energy crisis from the Ukraine war, and the worst inflationary bubble since 1980 punches us in the face.

Next month I'll be attending Chicon 8, the worldcon, my first overseas SF convention since September 2019, right before COVID19! It'll also be my first SF convention on US soil—and first book signing there—since February 2017.

Here's my draft schedule, by convention day.

Thursday, 1 September

Table Talk, 1pm, Crystal Foyer

This is what they're doing instead of Kaffeeklatsches/literary beers these days (masking is mandatory at Chicon 8, for obvious reasons)

Panel: Beyond our Assumptions, 5:30pm, Randolph 2

Human-built systems, such as capitalism, are neither immortal, nor inescapable. SFF often helps us imagine a world built on different scaffolding than our own. Each of our panelists will start with their favorite "What If" scenario (such as "What if all children were born without primary sex characteristics?" or "What if our only form of currency was seeds?") and we will brainstorm to build worlds beyond current assumptions of "how things work."

Friday, 2 September

How Horror and SFF Blend, 2:30pm, Crystal Ballroom C

Horror has often overlapped with SFF--hello, Frankenstein! Lately it seems like we're seeing a rise in horror elements in popular SFF, including many recent Hugo winners and nominees. What makes horror blend well with science fiction or fantasy? Are there challenges or problems with mixing the genres? And how do cosmic horror, the Weird, and New Weird fit into this discussion? Come find out whether or not anyone can hear you scream . . . in space!

Autographing, 5:30pm, venue TBA

Saturday, 3 September

Alternates, Parallels, Mirrors, and Multiverses, 11:30am, Grand Hall L

Alternate histories and parallel dimensions have been elements of science fiction for a long time, and they seem especially prominent right now, from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Star Trek to novels like Micaiah Johnson's The Space Between Worlds and Gibson's Jackpot novels. We'll discuss what using multiverses does to writing and reading SFF, talk about texts where it works great and others where it falls flat, ask ourselves why it's having such a moment, and wonder how this panel compares to the infinity of parallel panels happening at the same time.

Getting the "Cyber" part right, 2:30pm, Michigan 1

Computers and information technology are omnipresent in both our daily lives and science fiction, but most SFF doesn't focus on it in a deep or scientific way, often using old and inaccurate tropes. What writers are great at conveying interesting things about actual computer science and techno-culture? What are our favorite examples of AI, programmers, and tech support that feel accurate or insightful?

Reading - Charlie Stross, 5:30pm, Airmeet Readings (this will be a virtual session)

NB: I'm not sure what I'll be reading yet, but as I just sent Season of Skulls off to production and have nearly finished A Conventional Boy it'll probably be one of them, unless it's a chunk of unfinished space opera or something else bites me.

Sunday, 4 September

Waiting for Closure, 1pm, Grand Hall K

Getting involved in a book series is always a tricky proposition. On the one hand, there's the FOMO of hearing all your friends squee about the latest book, but on the other hand there's the agony of waiting for the next one to come--or in some cases, wondering if you'll ever get another book! Let's talk about how serialization affects how we approach books, their plots, themes, and characters--as readers and writers, what does the promise (or threat!) of future installments do to how we engage with a book?

Monday 5 September

Future Transit, 1pm, Michigan 2

We're well on the road to self-driving cars, there are companies designing small supersonic jets, and Virgin Galactic is aiming at suborbital transportation. How will we get around in 10 years? 20? 100? Our panelists will imagine future travel both fast and slow.

Footnotes

Other program item participants omitted because I copy-typed the descriptions from an annoying javascript-based scheduler app that doesn't make things easy. For other participants, see the official final program.

All of this is conditional on me not coming down with COVID19 again, either before I travel or while I'm at the convention. I'll be masking/distancing and testing regularly, as is convention policy: yes, I know it's a pain, but I really don't want to get this virus again or worse, infect you with it afterwards. (I am willing to unmask in public if I'm outdoors, there's airflow, and everybody is sensible about social distancing.)

I have other engagements that are not part of this public schedule (eg. business meetings with my agent and possibly publishers: also toilet stops, meal breaks, etc), so please, if you pass me in the hall and I say I'm on my way somewhere, don't be afraid to ask again later (if I growl it's probably because of my knees, not you). If you missed my signing and I'm not busy I'm happy to stop for a moment to sign books.

Pub crawl: there's going to be a pre-worldcon real ale pub crawl on the evening of Wednesday, August 31st. I'll try to update this with details nearer the time. My wife's one of the organizers, but I may not make it—I recently started a new antidiabetes med that is playing merry hell with my stomach, and drinking even two pints of beer is a reach. (Add bad knees and too much walking and you can see why a pub crawl might lack appeal: I'll just have to see how I'm feeling on the day.)

Comments: Please do not use this topic for general discussion, keep it clear for the worldcon (in case I need to notify folks about schedule changes or discuss where to meet up). Thanks!

So we're into the Conservative Party leadership run-off campaign, and the two candidates are throwing policies at the base that, to outsider ears, sound increasingly bizarre. But there's a lot we can learn from them about how the Conservative elite perceive the state of the UK today, and some of it (who am I kidding? Most of it!) is disturbing.

In the latest move, potential Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (the richest MP in parliament, a former Goldman Sachs employee and hedge-fund manager who married a billionaire) has vowed to phase out university degrees that do not improve students' "earning potential":

... Yeah, I know what you're thinking: "train the serfs for work, actual education is for the wealthy elite". But there's a lot more to it than that.

(Disclaimer: I am a transhumanist skeptic these days, not to mention a singularity curmudgeon and a critic of Mars colonization, but I still find these ideas nice to chew on sometimes.)

Humans are social animals, and it seems reasonable to assume that any transhuman condition we can wrap our minds around will also be a social one for most of its participants.

Society implies a social contract, that is: we grant one another rights and in return make the concession of respecting each others' rights, in order that our own rights be observed and respected.

And violations of rights tend to be at the root of our concept of crime and injustice—at least, any modern concept of crime once we discard religious justifications and start trying to figure things out from first principles.

Which leads me to ask: in a transhumanist society—go read Accelerando, or Glasshouse, or The Rapture of the Nerds—what currently recognized crimes need to be re-evaluated because their social impact has changed? And what strange new crimes might universally be recognized by a society with, for example, mind uploading, strong AI, or near-immortality?

It's been a long time—a couple of years—since I last posted a blog entry describing a book I will not write, because mostly I either wrote them or I just stopped having so many wasteful ideas.

But I had a mild case of COVID19 in late May ("mild" belongs in scare quotes; it kicked my ass worse than influenza, and the lingering gastric effects are horrible, but I didn't need antivirals or hospital treatment, so yay vaccines?), and I downed tools and haven't gotten back to work yet, which is annoying to me but continuing an existing project while cognitively impaired is a really bad idea. (You generally end up spending twice as long untangling the mess you created as you spent making it in the first place.) I expect to get back to work later this week: but in the mean time, my Muse made an unexpected and unwanted house call, screamed at me for a while, and left me with an incoherent pile of notes.

Specials

Merchandise

Syndication

Recent Comments

Search this blog

Propaganda