Causa Creations: The Station

About 18 months ago, I got an email from Georg Hobmeier. We’d met late the previous year and realised we know all the same people, courtesy Freiburg and other Germano-Austrian places filled with dancers. Georg wrote:

I’m sitting in a room making games. I might require your particular skillset. It’s the story of a woman who’s supposed to activate an unruly missile defence station on an orbital station. There’s drones involved, vending machines and a lot of death in space.

I replied, “… death in space? I say yes!”

And so, in May 2015 I became something of a copy editor, proofreader, translator, fact checker / researcher (just how big would a standard-ish Oort cloud object of slushy comet nucleus type, or d-type asteroid need to be to flatten a city?), co-writer of Georg’s text for Causa Creations’s and Gold Extra’s interactive sci-fi novella The Station. Which was released on Tuesday.

Which makes me a published sci-fi writer / game writer. I think. Woo!

What started out as a quick-ish proofread turned into a few weeks of ever more involved discussion on identity, feminism, colonialism, 500 years in the future. You know, my usual gear, the parts of my particular skill set you get when you require my particular skill set. Some people think they can get me without the politics, like it’s optional. Not Georg! He knows what I’m about.

Which led to me thinking about the main character — already a woman — thinking about utopian-ish futures, and deciding she was bisexual and brown. Georg replied, “So, did I get this right, our hero is an umber-skinned bisexual? Somehow I picture her now as Deborah Dyer aka Skin!” Or Hannah John-Kamen, or Korra, both of whom were in my sci-fi imagination around then. So when you play The Station you have three handy references for who you are.

You’re in space! But why? And how did you get there?

“The Station” is an interactive sci-fi novella set in turbulent times, which the protagonist has a hard time remembering. It’s an orbital rabbit hole tale developed by gold extra with Causa Creations’ support. Text by Georg Hobmeier and Frances d’Ath, Code by Patrick Borgeat, Sound by Juan A. Romero.

Featuring:

  • lasers
  • brain damage
  • lots of accidents
  • vending machines
  • zero gravity horror
  • one rather short labyrinth
  • visually compelling feature list
  • linux puzzles, but not too hard ones
  • a full menagerie of quirky & annoying maintenance machinery

Please also enjoy a full hour of magical space drone music with deep space bass. Available soon.

Available on: App Store and Google Play.

causacreations — The Station
causacreations — The Station

Reading: David Nicholas — The Northern Lands: Germanic Europe, c.1270-c.1500

My combination book unpacking / book selling (fuck yes, I sell books sometimes too!) led to the discovery of a few books I’d never blogged – or for that matter finished reading. David Nicholas’ The Northern Lands: Germanic Europe, c.1270-c.1500 is one of those, unfinished because it’s kinda boring; rereading cos it’s informative and enlightening in a broad, generalist, undergrad way, heavy on the facts and light on poetry, a bit like reading contract law or  health insurance.

Who is David Nicholas and why does start sentences with ‘but’ so much? Professor Emeritus at Clemson University until he retired a decade ago, and yes, if there’s a distinct style of, white, anglo-euro-american male academic writing (and have I read a trunkload of them), he’s it (reminds me of Central Asian scholar Christopher I. Beckwith, or Aloïs Riegl). Around once every sentence I notice I’ve vagued out into mediæval fantasy land (me in central role saviour-ing or slaughtering, either/or), before returning to one of his regular and unintentionally hilarious sentences or clauses. (Such as – paraphrasing here: “Austrians always regarded the Swabians as aliens.”)

Yes. I have been learning things. No. Not quite sure what. Ignoring entirely the awkward-ish ‘Germanic’ in the title, no, he’s not tromping down the well-worn racist path of pure German identity, in fact he makes it quite clear without making it the central thesis that whatever constitutes ‘Germanic’ was throughout the period he covers conditional and contextual, and often incomprehensible: Swabians, Slavs, Wends, Frisians, Flems, Danish, Scandinavians all at various times and places both were and were not Germanic, even moving back and forth depending on where they were, whom they were speaking to or who was speaking of them. It’s the -ic in Germanic that’s important, an attribute of language, thinking, culture that moved back and forth between lands and regions, rather than an identity or nation that existed as a fixed object. But it’s the German that’s at issue, and while Nicholas broadly divides regions into England, Flanders, Netherlands, Denmark and Scandinavia, and Germanic regions (contemporary Germany, Austria), along with forays into Poland, Czech and those parts of the Holy Roman Empire, he nonetheless prioritises ‘German’. Probably would have been better to leave the title at “The Northern Lands” and move his focus to the interactions between these regions. Professor Len Scales’ review is far more eloquent on this than I can be.

My criticism is predominately on the boringness of the writing (ok, and on the substantial absence of women, art, culture, Jewish communities …). Dry, dry, dry enumeration of facts and names, which I can stodge through if it weren’t for baffling jumps back and forth across hundreds of years, frequently in the same paragraph. I’m sure for Nicholas this makes sense, but fuck me sometimes I’m at a loss to understand his line of reasoning or his point. If I was twenty, considering a life in mediæval history and was assigned this for coursework, I’d probably go off and become a tradie, spending the rest of my life thinking it was because I was stupid, and not that for all its density of information this work fundamentally uninterested in communicating – and I’m saying this as someone who reads Caroline Walker Bynum for pleasure (repeatedly).

For a more realistic comparison, trundling through Wikipedia pages on the Hanseatic League, Magdeburg, Sachsenspiegel, (all of which he’s written about), and various other labyrinths of mediæval gloriousness (plus following links out into the wilds of the internet) is far more informative, rewarding, and enjoyable. Weirdly, I keep hoping the next page he’ll break from his interminable introduction style and get down to some substantial writing. Not bloody likely.

If you’re at university and being made to read this, go somewhere else. Mediæval northern european history is mad fun, alternate history levels of science-fiction strangeness, it’s addictive as all shit, and it’s a living thing you can walk into any old church and see, it has philosophical debates and ideas as wonderful as Deleuze or Serres or Butler, art that thrashes contemporary stuff for levels of intensity (imagine walking into church and it was 5 hours of Volksbühne: that’s mediæval art), in all seriousness whatever workable future Europe has – politically, socially, culturally – it’s going to find more possibilities 800 years ago than in the last couple of hundred years of contagious bollocks, and if you’re reading The Northern Lands you’re going to experience approximately none of this. Fuck’s sake, go and read Bynum.

David Nicholas — The Northern Lands: Germanic Europe, c.1270-c.1500
David Nicholas — The Northern Lands: Germanic Europe, c.1270-c.1500

Gallery

Reading: Udo Kittelmann, Britta Schmitz (Eds.) — Gottfried Lindauer: Die Māori-Portraits

No photography. Bought the catalogue. Photographed that. Goosebumps the whole time. Their names, tā moko on their chin and lips, some of them look so like women I knew. Reading it very slowly, with very clean hands. Sits on my desk looking out at me. Aotearoa.

Alte Nationalgalerie: Gottfried Lindauer — Die Māori-Portraits: Tamati Pirimona Marino (catalogue cover), undated
Alte Nationalgalerie: Gottfried Lindauer — Die Māori-Portraits: Tamati Pirimona Marino (catalogue cover), undated
Alte Nationalgalerie: Gottfried Lindauer — Die Māori-Portraits: Raiha Reretu, 1877
Alte Nationalgalerie: Gottfried Lindauer — Die Māori-Portraits: Raiha Reretu, 1877
Alte Nationalgalerie: Gottfried Lindauer — Die Māori-Portraits: Māori Girl, ca. 1874
Alte Nationalgalerie: Gottfried Lindauer — Die Māori-Portraits: Māori Girl, ca. 1874
Alte Nationalgalerie: Gottfried Lindauer — Die Māori-Portraits: Kuinioroa, daughter of Rangi Kopinga — Te Rangi Pikinga, undated
Alte Nationalgalerie: Gottfried Lindauer — Die Māori-Portraits: Kuinioroa, daughter of Rangi Kopinga — Te Rangi Pikinga, undated
Alte Nationalgalerie: Gottfried Lindauer — Die Māori-Portraits: Mrs Paramena, ca. 1885
Alte Nationalgalerie: Gottfried Lindauer — Die Māori-Portraits: Mrs Paramena, ca. 1885
Alte Nationalgalerie: Gottfried Lindauer — Die Māori-Portraits: Huria Matenga Ngarongoa (Julia Martin), 1874
Alte Nationalgalerie: Gottfried Lindauer — Die Māori-Portraits: Huria Matenga Ngarongoa (Julia Martin), 1874
Alte Nationalgalerie: Gottfried Lindauer — Die Māori-Portraits: Te Paea Hinerangi (Guide Sophia), 1896
Alte Nationalgalerie: Gottfried Lindauer — Die Māori-Portraits: Te Paea Hinerangi (Guide Sophia), 1896
Alte Nationalgalerie: Gottfried Lindauer — Die Māori-Portraits: Mere Kuru Te Kati, 1903
Alte Nationalgalerie: Gottfried Lindauer — Die Māori-Portraits: Mere Kuru Te Kati, 1903
Alte Nationalgalerie: Gottfried Lindauer — Die Māori-Portraits: Mrs Haromi (Hinekura of Te Reinga), 1907
Alte Nationalgalerie: Gottfried Lindauer — Die Māori-Portraits: Mrs Haromi (Hinekura of Te Reinga), 1907
Alte Nationalgalerie: Gottfried Lindauer — Die Māori-Portraits: Heeni Hirini and Child (previously known as Ana Rupene and Child), 1878
Alte Nationalgalerie: Gottfried Lindauer — Die Māori-Portraits: Heeni Hirini and Child (previously known as Ana Rupene and Child), 1878
Alte Nationalgalerie: Gottfried Lindauer — Die Māori-Portraits: Pare Watene, 1878
Alte Nationalgalerie: Gottfried Lindauer — Die Māori-Portraits: Pare Watene, 1878
Alte Nationalgalerie: Gottfried Lindauer — Die Māori-Portraits: Rangi Topeora, undated
Alte Nationalgalerie: Gottfried Lindauer — Die Māori-Portraits: Rangi Topeora, undated

Gallery

Some Vienna Train Photos

Cleaning my camera out and found these from the day I left Vienna, catching the train from Wien-Meidling to Berlin it passed Arsenal where I’d been the day before returning my ImPulsTanz bike, and then trundled over the Danube. I decided to stop photographing after that, and just stare out the window.

Vienna-Berlin Train Near Arsenal
Vienna-Berlin Train Near Arsenal
Vienna-Berlin Train at Hauptbahnhof
Vienna-Berlin Train at Hauptbahnhof
Vienna-Berlin Train crossing Danube
Vienna-Berlin Train crossing Danube

Fest Premiere

Aside

Saturday night 11pm sold-out premiere pushed to 1130 and closing in on 1am before it was all over, then off to the ImPulsTanz Lounge for eating, drinking and my one post-premiere cigarette. Besides “underwater microphone” problem (sweat-soaked, that is), everything went gloriously. And now I feel I can talk about all the things as they are no longer rehearsal-room goings-on, I’ll blog properly, and with pictures. One more show tonight, also.

Fest — 7 (and various things)

The last week we spent back in the Volks Oper rehearsal studios where we remain until later today when we retrace our steps to Kasino Theater for two probably gloriously chaotic days of setting up, rehearsing, and on Saturday night, performing. In the meantime, Giacomo arrived from Italy (and has been occupied watching Breaking Bad until the early morning hours) and the coffee intake has naturally increased.

Back one week. The bike ride in +30º late-afternoon summer warmth from Währinger Str to Wien-Meidling train station turned out to be somewhat longer than expected, and Dasniya’s train was early. We met nonetheless, on the platform, she with a suitcase bearing a blackly iridescent travelling companion, some kind of tenacious flying beetle that had accompanied her and refused to depart. We left it in the grass on the Gürtel as we made our way homeward, me still to return to rehearsal.

The weekend for me was split between rehearsing and Dasniya’s workshop, with a beautiful group of women in the Shibari Dojo, off Mariahilferstr just the other side of the Gürtel. A came along on Tuesday evening also, and found myself tied and slapped by Klaus, the physicist who came to our ImPulsTanz workshop last year.

Rehearsals, then. It’s a little like writing code. When one part is touched up, it shows how another part can be made more elegant, which in turn shows often unexpected inconsistencies and oddities in completely unrelated places. By the end of last week we’d more-or-less found an end and much of the work has been going back and forth the length of the work, rewriting, cutting, editing. Switching rehearsing from Kasino to Volks Oper also has changed it; the latter is very much a rehearsal space.

From my point of view writing here, having seen so many times those very disturbing moments in the first two acts, and how they sit within the text, it’s difficult to say much without giving things away. The Saturday is a 11pm, and the day will be around 36º, which means Kasino will be an airless oven, somehow appropriate for the ghastly eighty-minute goings-on of the three acts.

We seem to have come to conclusions in the work, in the text; every pass through and run becomes a more fine stitching of things. Decisions are often on the most detailed level now, how a person moves, turns their head, pauses solves the problem or gives the meaning on the larger scale. Still things to decide though, music, costumes, lights (Giacomo runs a lighting desk on his laptop and spent yesterday programming some broad ideas – much better than having to wait for non-existent access to the theatre and having to tangle with a new board), how to shave off various minutes from the acts. Returning to Kasino I think will answer a lot of this, and obviously make a hash of things we thought were sorted.

And perhaps some photos on Sunday, after the premiere.

Gallery

Lainzer Tiergarten Once Again

When the weather forecast in Berlin says ‘Wolkig’, it means a certain overcast, not as thick and heavy as, say ‘Bedeckt’, which I think of as beneath a flooring of clouds in the same way one might be besieged in a crypt beneath a stone ceiling, but nonetheless, an absence of the blue stuff. Basically any forecast of clouds in Berlin is merely referring to how near the ground the blanketing is, and how grey, rather than any sky-to-cloud ratio one would expect in normal conversations about meteorology.

So today, on my day off and with plans once again to wander through Lainzer Tiergarten (I’d deserted my other hiking possibilities as I’m less than sure of the other forests girdling Vienna) and with the forecast being wolkig, I was expecting a nice, shady hike with perhaps some wild boars foraging, and to mostly follow the route I took while working with Hans, that cold, very rainy and windy day last time I was here. Lucky I slathered on the sunblock as the day was mostly absent from cloud, except for the half hour or so I spent reading and taking lunch at Hubertuswarte.

Last week, I cut my wandering short, feeling the onset of blisters, and spent the next two days hilariously sore in hamstrings from the ascent – that’s what happens when you live in a city where the slightest rise of say, half a metre in the length of a suburb is regarded as a serious hill-climbing challenge. This week, embracing the certainly foolish, “Yup, I got the soreness out last week,” I decided for a longer route, and discovered it’s definitely the easier way to get to the top of the hill, taking about three times as long to cover the same elevation. In turn, on the descent, I was passed in the opposite direction by a staggering bunch of individuals suffering their way upwards by running. Most amusing for me and I wondered how much enjoyment they got out of the actual forest, some with earbuds, and all with pasty and grimly ground-focussed expressions of “this is good for me,” in the high-twenties Vienna temperatures that are the equivalent of ten degrees warmer in Adelaide.

The less steep parts were thankfully depopulated of such stupidity, and I even got to see a family of five wild boars and their several piglets in the fields around Johannser Kogel, heard a couple of woodpeckers, and generally had a smashing time stumping around in my boots. Came home, promptly fell asleep.

Lainzer Tiergarten near Johannser Kogel
Lainzer Tiergarten near Johannser Kogel
Lainzer Tiergarten still near Johannser Kogel
Lainzer Tiergarten still near Johannser Kogel
Lainzer Tiergarten around Wiener Blick
Lainzer Tiergarten around Wiener Blick
Lainzer Tiergarten a Photo of a Photo of Wild Boars
Lainzer Tiergarten a Photo of a Photo of Wild Boars

Dasniya Sommer Yoga & Shibari, July in Vienna

Aside

A quick note that Dasniya is coming to Vienna in the third week of July to teach at the Shibari Dojo Vienna. More details in the coming days, but for now:

A two and a half days bondage-yoga class will be held at the Shibari Dojo Vienna.

  • Friday, 19.7., 6pm-11pm
  • Saturday, 20.7., 12am-7pm
  • Sunday 21.7., 12am-7pm

120/90€ for 2 1/2 days
Tuesday evening: 10 euro donation
Individual classes: costs by negotiation

Please contact either:
judy37@gmx.net at the Shibari Dojo Vienna for further information and registration.
or:
Dasniya workshops@dasniyasommer.de

Lainzer Tiergarten Again

A very late start, early afternoon I took off to Lainzer Tiergarten for my third visit in as many years. The last time I hiked my way through it was raining, cold, and seriously windy atop Hubertuswarte, some 300 meters above Vienna and the highest point in the forest. Today was quite the opposite, sunny to the point of distracting, pleasantly warm, and full of the type of people for whom mucking about in crappy weather holds no charm.

It’s a curious place, walled in and full of wild animals – I encountered two groups of foraging boars, mothers with a clutch of tiny spot-striped bairns – heavily cropped, indeed despite the mass of mature trees it’s equally a forest of chainsawed stumps and it’s rare to find a stretch without it being framed by some manner of arboreal butchery, and quite limited for proper hiking possibilities as all the attractive looking trails with plenty of vertical variation have signs saying, “Bitte niche betreten”. Whether this is to protect idiot people from being gored by the many horn-bearing beasts, or them from us is unclear, the result however is that almost all wandering is circumscribed to basically narrow dirt access trails.

Still, from Nikolaitor to Hubertuswarte is an enjoyable upward trek broken twice by stretches of downwardness, and both times then followed by more upwardness to regain what was just lost. Some people run it. They tended to be middle-aged or older and, like the 70-ish year old granny who nearly overtook me with her trekking poles, made me feel pathetic.

I made it as far as Hubertuswarte and sat on the top eating and reading Iain Banks. I could have stayed there all day, but it was as busy as a once-daily rural bus stop, so having aired and dried my feet, I retraced my steps. Originally I planned from there to continue a loop, coming back along the east side to arrive at Wiener Blick (a nice uphill stretch to there, having bled off all that altitude down to Hermesville), but having not worn my boots for a long while I could feel blisters would start appearing if there was much more walking up hills.

The way back, once I’d reached Nikolaitor was a most excellent, hilariously fast and smooth bike ride along the Wienfluß Radweg, getting spat out at Hietzing and deciding to go along whatever street took my fancy (Penzingerstr into Mariahilferstr) back to home. And the bike needs servicing again. By God does this one get dirty and whiney. Probably something to to with riding it in muddy rainstorms in the forest. And once again the infernal cantilever brake judder, which is so bad it feels like my forks are going to blow apart. I spent an hour or so reading on possible fixes for this, and besides swapping out the fork for a new one that can take discs, the only other option is a fork-mounted cable hanger. Cantilevers eh? This T-shirt is entirely accurate.