A Series of Unfortunate Events in the Trump Era

So, I’ve just started watching Netflix’s adaptation of A Series of Unfortunate Events because I’m always six months behind the conversation. Earlier this year, the second season dropped and I’ve been enjoying it more than the first. Now, I did read the series when I was younger. My memory of the books is hazy but from my memories, the show is rather faithful. The area in which it probably differs the most is in expanding the role of the adults in the series. Now, as I made my way through the series I had a thought. A Series of Unfortunate Events reflects the Trump era in an interesting way. Now for me to explain why I am going to spoil both series to a point. The discussion of the series will probably spoil The Vile Village and all preceding episodes. With that out of the way, let’s begin.

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The Benefit of Writing in an Established Universe

So, this past week I’ve been writing up elements of the world that I run D&D in. Now in my campaign, I have three players new to the world of D&D and one player who has been running his own games of D&D for ten years. Often, I will add elements of the lore of D&D into my world. When these elements are discussed, there is a back-and-forth about how they are typically portrayed in the canon of the lore and where my world differs. While writing up the deities of my world, I’ve thought more about where the stories that have been told about the gods differ. So, that’s a fun writing topic, what are the benefits of writing in an established universe?

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Thinking Deeply About Fictional Worlds

So, despite the fact that I call myself a writer. I don’t often dole out writing advice. I’ll correct those around me on grammar and language choice if they want but I’m not in the habit of shaping myself up as an expert. Mostly because I’m not. I’m a practitioner of the craft but I have some way to go before I can call myself an expert. With all that out of the way, let’s talk about worldbuilding. When I say worldbuilding I refer to the practice of creating fictional worlds usually employed in works of science fiction and fantasy.

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The Eyes of God

The shimmering eyes stared down at them from enormous backlit billboards. In days gone, they might have been confused for an advertisement. No longer. The eyes were cruel. Although to give them that much agency was to personify them. The eyes felt nothing. They weren’t really watching from their point above everyone, plastered to the side of ever-growing skyscrapers. The eyes were merely a warning. God is watching, though a god of their own making. A god that was above but was also hiding in their pocket and their watch. The machines had won, and they were God now.

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Returning

Stepping on the creaky boards, a million memories came flooding back. The space has barely changed in twenty years. She noticed the new paint in places. The stage was in a halfway state, vaguely resembling the set from the prior set. She had acted the words of a dozen notable playwrights on this stage from Shakespeare to Ibsen to Brecht. She had played everything from Lucy in Cosi to a gender-swapped Hamlet. That was many years ago though. The face of a younger woman adorned the posters that hung all around the foyer. Her hair had begun to grey, and wrinkles had formed at the corners of her eye. Whereas she had once played the role of ingenue Cecily in The Importance of Being Earnest, she now feared that the role of Lady Bracknell was not far off.

‘Hasn’t changed a bit, has it?’ a voice came from backstage.

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Harry Potter and Thanatophobia: Is Death Natural?

Recently I’ve been getting into the hobby of Dungeons and Dragons. This is, I admit, an odd way to start a conversation about Harry Potter. The reason I mention it is that in the spell lists of D&D there is resurrection magic. Online communities for D&D openly discuss what the meaning of resurrection means for their game table. Mechanically, it means that a player can continue playing their character that they’ve grown attached to. While I was ruminating on resurrection, I began to think of the most influential fantasy text of my generation. When it comes to healing and resurrection in the world of Harry Potter it is a painful, slow process that more often involves potions than spells.

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The Third Elf

Sitting at a crowded intersection where Glittergold Ave and Dathos St meet, there is a small building. The building is about five floors and on each floor, there are twelve small offices. If one were to wander down the right-hand side hallway of the second floor, they would eventually find themselves standing in front of a door. This door would have inscribed on its frosted glass window the following epitaph.

Althis Sarren: Private Investigator

Behind that door, one might discover a lean and sickly-looking elf in an oversized suit. He would probably be smoking his pipe of tobacco, scanning over some photograph or obscure legal document. The particular legal document that he was perusing at this moment was noteworthy. Its noteworthiness came from the red typeface at the top of the document that read simply: Eviction.

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