I gave a talk last night. Based on the understandings and commonplaces of hacker-camps and similar, it fitted into the model of 'lightning talk only with a tolerable amount of preparation.' However, I'd say about 50% was made up, which is entirely
against the spirit of those events.
So what happened was that I wrote a story a while ago which was ostensibly about debugging the control systems for a steam elephant and sort of about how you'd bootstrap the debug toolchain in the face of fanatical management indifference. There are also a set of not-even-slightly-veiled references to industrial processes that view(ed) people as a disposable 'resource' and a good shovelful of hacker in-jokes. The lovely people who were good enough to put it in an anthology wanted to create a sort of launch event that wasn't just a booze-up after a signing, so last night there was the Airship Ball at the Folk House
I am horrified to admit that I'd never been to the Folk House
before and it is the sort of utterly marvellous venue that you wish you'd known about ten years before.
The brief for entertainments at the ball went along the lines of 'consider turning part of another story into a short radio play', which seemed well beyond my dramatic capabilities. Mind you, since I keep a Livejournal well into the C21st, perhaps I do have a carefully tuned elbow (or knee or ear or whatever) for Drama still. Who can say?
Thus I suggested that I could have a bash at writing a technical presentation on how you'd hack the (made up) control systems inside the (made up, physically, metalurgically, etc impossible) steam elephants I'd written about. Thinking, as is my wont, that no-one in their right mind would go for such an idea. Not that the organisers of the Ball, etc, but something like that falls neatly between several stools and I have already put up with a handful of hacker-types grousing that things in my stories couldn't possibly work because $reasons. It seems that if you're going to make something up, signal clearly that it is indeed made up by having it happen in outer space far away or chuck in dragons or perhaps a set of interpersonal tropes and expectations that will blight the lives of the impressionable sorts reading/viewing same. The teen films of John Hughes, for instance.
Obviously the best way to goad work out of me is to tell me it's impossible or take my poorly-thought-through rantings at face value.
I have learned, mostly through watching Mitch Benn, Mark Thomas and, er, @tef, that a good presentation sits somewhere between stand-up comedy and a short story.
So what happened is that I accidentally most of the work for another story in the same universe as the last one.Bugger.
Anyway. The Airship Ball was a top evening filled with mad things and splendid people. It was less 'Spinal tap and puppet show' and more 'Cauda Pavonis, two short plays and, er, JHR playing a musical box backwards in order to summon the uneasy spirit of I.K. Brunel.'