Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Guide: New Readers

I. What is this strange place?

The Unterblag is a collection of fiction, written largely by this author, Nicholas 'Cavalcadeofcats', and by the infamous Mr. Zhang, known by many names but most often (as of this writing) 'Calvacadeofcats', a name chosen to confuse and befuddle according to Mr. Zhang's own puckish caprice. Others occasionally contribute It began some years ago as a sort of chronicle for the many deeds of that most noble of groups, the League of Desmond. (A group of like-minded high-school friends.) Years have passed, and the group has largely dispersed; therefore the blag has diverged somewhat from its initial purpose. Content on the blag, in whatever era, tends to fall loosely into three categories. These are:

First, the literal recounting of events that have occurred. These are fairly uncommon.
Second, a retelling of real-life occurances in a somewhat less literal vein. These were more common in the earlier years of the blag, but still occur at some frequency, most especially in the infamous Mr. Zhang's posts, which nearly all might be marked with this label.
Third, complete fabrications, intended to delight, educate, and/or set to contemplation. At present, these comprise the majority of my posts, and therefore the majority of posts on the blag.

You might argue, "I am not of this 'League of Desmond'" - if indeed this were the case - " and so I have no interest in literal recountings of your lives, which are rarely of such interest as to pique my tastes." This may be the case! I fairly confess that it may be so - much as I strive to imbue even my most factual writing with the character of entertainment, some dissapation of interest is to be expected from those entirely uninvolved. However, such posts are uncommon - as noted above - and you may readily move onwards from them to subjects which interest you.

But you might continue - "As I do not enjoy tales of your life in the most factual mode, it seems reasonable that I might not enjoy those in the more fictionalized form." This would wound me - for the fictionalization of events is something both myself and the infamous Mr. Zhang take no small delight in - but I would shrug, and raise my palms apologetically. Though I, as an author, feel that my fictionalisations are so obfuscated, and given such a character of narrative, as to stand on their own independent of knowledge of events therein described - certainly I am biased! I cannot be certain. To you I would say, "Very well, then; let you disregard such posts, too - if you can separate them from the broader crop - and move onwards. Even with all posts relating to reality removed from the blag, there is much to choose from."

But a third time you might object - decrying, "What is this? Fiction? Fantasy, science-fiction, other immature, puerile nonsense? What are you wasting my time with?" And at this I would cry out, "Arrant fool! Begone from this place - no more are you welcome here!" For though certainly many of the stories here are not of professional quality (being written, after all, by amateur hands), and fairly one might even describe some number of them as puerile - though your indiscretion in so doing would cause me to wince, at the very least - in your rejection of fiction entirely you would deny all that is the best here, and prove your heart black and empty in so doing.

But I rather hope you will not; and in that spirit, will carry on.

II. Do I need to read the older posts before reading the current ones?

As of the time of this writing: No! There have in the past been episodic series of posts, telling an ongoing story; there will likely be such again, and in those cases, you would probably be well advised to read the constituent posts of a series in order. But when there are such series, they are in general carefully marked, so as to avoid confusion; and most posts, in any case, are entirely stand-alone, and of no relation to each-other. Certainly I would not discourage you from reading older posts - there are significantly over 1000 posts in the archive as of the time of this writing, which, even if only one in ten is really worth reading, a not insignificant figure. So there is that possibility; but it is by no means required for the enjoyment of current posts.

III. Who on earth is Desmond, anyway? And why is he in Isselunde? (What's Isselunde?)

...all right, that's a bit of a long story, and nothing on the blog will explain it, even if you trawl the archives.

In short: 'Desmond' is Devin M., one of the original League of Desmond members. He's in Isselunde (Medieval Iceland) because the infamous Mr. Zhang wrote a series of very, very strange stories about the Hero Desmonde's adventures and battles against evil, all of which began with something not unlike the sentence at the top of the blag. Some few of them have survived to be posted on the blag, tagged as "chronicles"; most are long gone, essentially because he wrote them in class, on the TI-84 graphing calculator. (Of all things.)

He's not around so much these days, largely because Devin himself moved to another state some time back, but he remains forever beloved in our hearts.

IV. What content rating would you give your stories, if they were rated by the American movie-rating system?

Varies wildly. Most are somewhere in PG-13. A few wander around R. One is probably NC-17, but it's way way way back in the archives, and only has one paragraph of relevant material, hidden in white text. NOW YOU KNOW.

V. I have further questions, or perhaps I have praise, or criticism. I'm not entirely certain, largely because I'm an FAQ-question written to cover too wide a range of topics.

That's all right! I don't mind, too-generally-written FAQ. Email me at nick dot feinberg at google's email service dot com, replacing 'dot' with '.' and "google's email service" with the appropriate five-character name, and I will reply promptly and politely. You could also try to contact the infamous Mr. Zhang, who may post his contact information if he feels so inclined; this may be more appropriate if the question/feedback relates to one of his posts.

We (or I, at least) try to read all comments, but this is somewhat difficult; Blogger doesn't really provide any convenient way to tell which comments are new or unread. Email is probably more reliable. BUT - more dangerous. You could be infected by a rampant meme-worm, just by emailing me! Think of the risk!

(There is no such thing as a meme-worm.)


SUPER BONUS QUESTION VI: Are there any posts you'd particularly recommend to a new reader?

An older version of this guide has a number of links, none of which I'm particularly inclined to disown, at this moment. A potential project would be to compose a link of old posts that are probably worth reading; if and when I accomplish this, I'll update this question with a link. Until then: follow your heart!

(A good motto to close on.)

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