National Novel Generation Month happened in November, concurrent with the well-established National Novel Writing Month. In NaNoWriMo, authors crank out a 50,000-word novel of fiction in a month. In NaNoGenMo, they devise algorithms to write those novels for them. Which is of course just wonderful. There’s a ton of weird/cool/inspiring stuff happening, but it was Liza Daly’s contribution — a gorgeous procedural Voynich manuscript — that took my breath away. The output is beautiful, Liza did such an amazing job explaining her process, and looking at her auto-codex makes me go “arghhh I’ve got to do more stuff like this myself.” And for me, inspiration is always seasoned with just a touch of envy.
Although I find the work of Porpentine interesting and challenging (I’ve been loosely connected to the interactive fiction scene for decades), I’m especially inspired by her courage in wading publicly into what has become an increasingly corrosive gaming scene, as non-traditional and even marginalized communities become visible authors and players. Though “Gamergate” hasn’t directly spilled over into the Twine community, the threat of being attacked for suggesting that the gaming scene might be more inclusive of non–white males is quite real, and I’m inspired by anyone who refuses to be intimidated by that threat.
Under the Skin is like freezing to death in winter in a river downstream from an alien carcass infecting you with its memories. Fem alien in human skin drives van through Scottish Highlands, hunting men for their biomatter, which she sends to her home planet to be made into exotic xenocuisine. Book has more focus on dysphoria, chronic pain, and human cattle than the movie, but I like both. Mica Levi’s soundtrack is perfect death seduction. I like how unusually dim the lighting is. She lives in the rain and darkness and interstitial areas. Like a beast prowling along the edges of civilization, waiting for someone to wander too far into the woods, except the woods are her van. I identify with her alienated existence and the sensory hyperstimulation of the crowd scenes. I wear my own skin and it fights me every day.
Author of Under the Skin
Inspiration is hard to find since my wife died five months ago. But I’m getting strange consolation from listening to Progres 2, a Czech band from the 1980s. They morphed from prog to post-punk, I’ve no idea what they’re singing about, they existed on an alien cultural planet, and that suits me fine.
Musician, founder of Progres 2
We are a Czech rock band who played for a very long time under Communism and endured all the possible problems with the Communists — including not being able to tour. So we were pretty suprised that we inspired someone abroad, especially someone like Michel Faber. Recently some of the group have been excited to see the Swedish band Dirty Loops, mainly for its enormous energy and musicality.