Ambiguity Machines: An Examination April 29, 2015 Ambiguity Machines: An Examination Vandana Singh A test for Junior Navigators of Conceptual Machine-Space. The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn April 22, 2015 The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn Usman Malik He will inherit the Unseen. The Ways of Walls and Words April 15, 2015 The Ways of Walls and Words Sabrina Vourvoulias Can the spirit truly be imprisoned? Ballroom Blitz April 1, 2015 Ballroom Blitz Veronica Schanoes Can't stop drinking, can't stop dancing, can't stop smoking, can't even die.
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Showing posts by: jacob clifton click to see jacob clifton's profile
Feb 18 2014 10:00am

Geek Love: If U Cri Evertim

Tobey Maguire Cry Evertim

Of all the media-related, geeky things my friends have wished I would shut up about—well, at least until Frozen came out, and omitting my obsession with Mass Effect’s krogan race, which I am slowly getting under control—the one that gets the most play over the last couple years has been my YouTube obsessions. I couldn’t put a timer on exactly when they started taking over my online life, because I don’t really talk about either of them in public, but I’d say probably about two years.

[Read More]

Feb 6 2014 11:00am

Geek Love: Man Of Steel, Fandom Of Kleenex

Growing up, I always had an affinity for Superman—but only the idea, the figure, rather than stories. Even when I was a very young comics fan, scrounging up my buck at the corner store, I preferred the soap opera theatrics of Claremont X-Men (and most especially their junior class, the New Mutants) over anything DC had to offer... But when pressed for my favorite comics characters, I’d invariably name Superman, Wonder Woman, and Hal Jordan. People I knew only through their Who’s Who biographies and indexes, whose histories were banked forever in that corner of my mind but whose monthly adventures—actually participating and enjoying them as they occurred—didn’t interest me at all.

For me, that math was simple and it remains simple: I like the idea of Superman and Wonder Woman, of inclusive human perfection, a lot more than the feet of clay that any given story demonstrates. I was a kid that loved soldiers and warriors, as ideas, but preferred my reading companions to be directly identifiable: I can talk about Superman all day, my house is frankly full of Superman crap, but I’d rather be reading about characters I understood and felt for.

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Jul 29 2013 9:00am

Geek Love: The Observer Effect

Andy Warhol Self Portrait Polaroid

We don’t do it a lot these days, but I remember when Instagram started being a thing, there was a lot of back-and-forth having to do with the use of filters, the accusations of hipsterism that came along with them. To some observers, the manufactured nostalgia of a pre-degraded image that gives the illusion of a history or Polaroid or Viewmaster cartridge seems to be emotional cheating. But to the person doing it, it’s a bit more involved and personal. That’s the part that interests me.

Digital images do not—and will not—ever degrade, and so the idea of putting forth an image as a thing-in-itself violates the most confusing, and omnipresent, rule of online life: Every statement made online contains within itself two completely separate levels of meaning. The first is the statement’s object, the thing we are talking about, and the second level is what it says about us. There’s a lot of confusion online about what’s a fact and what’s an opinion, and the reason for that is simple: All online statements are automatically both.

You are talking about a TV show, but you are also talking about yourself. You are making statements that are durable and global, and refer always back to you, and forth to the opinion you are presenting.

[Read more.]

Jun 10 2013 9:00am

Geek Love: Nice Days After A Red Wedding

designed by Jenny SlifeLast Monday the genre internet—which is to say, basically, “the internet”—seemed starkly divided into two camps: Those who’d been holding their breaths for up to twelve and a half years, and those who were still recovering. I don’t like the physical act of reading high fantasy, so I haven’t read the books. I do have a habit of devouring wikis having to do with these long epics I’ll never actually read, or the rules of roleplaying games I’ll never play, and I’d been following the story for at least ten years, but that doesn’t seem like a normal behavior.

Plenty of people have, of course, read the Song Of Ice & Fire series since A Storm Of Swords was published, and we all have geek friends that love nothing better than to either coyly tease with non-spoiler spoilers, or answer direct questions: I bet most of us probably do fall somewhere between those camps in one way or another. Either way—unspoiled, by the way, herein—it was an explosion.

[Read more.]

May 28 2013 10:00am

Geek Love: My Big Gay Skyrim Wedding

Geek Love My Big Gay Skyrim WeddingMy name is Jacob Clifton, and I am a bad gamer.

...Well, a bad role-player. Part of it is, I think, that coming into gaming in my mid-thirties means role-play has lost a lot of its appeal, since real life provides far too many opportunities for that as it is, but honestly I just can’t understand the appeal of being anyone other than myself.

What that means is that when I play a game—beyond Mass Effect, the games I’ve learned I love most are the Bethsda open-sandbox franchises, Fallout and Elder Scrolls—I play as myself. I suppose I’m missing out on part of the adventure, but I’m more interested in exploring other people’s stories than my own.

Minor spoilers, as usual—and plenty of nitpicking to be done—but not really the point.

[Read more]

May 13 2013 2:00pm

Geek Love: Mass Effects: We Are Not A Mistake

Geek Love: Mass Effect

I’ve only been playing video games for about a year, because I only recently got the memo that videogames had turned into something I would enjoy. I don’t like being told what to do and I don’t see the value in things like fan fiction, usually, because I don’t get off on playing with other people’s toys. But people I trust kept telling me videogames weren’t like that anymore, so I gave it a shot, and I haven’t looked back since.

The first thing I got really obsessed with was the Mass Effect trilogy, which is basically a story about the diplomatic moves necessary to create a community in the face of Apocalypse. Over three games—hundreds of hours of playtime—you build an army, out of a complex variety of factions, races, interests and centuries of nasty political history.

The big selling point of the game—some would say, dubiously fulfilled—is that every choice you make carries weight. People you mess with in the first game might still resent you two games later. Valued allies you allow to die won’t be around when you need them, and so on. But there’s one choice, early in the game, that has led to more fights around the story than any other.

Minor spoilers to follow—and plenty of opportunities to nitpick, I’m sure—but they’re not really the point.

[Read more]

Apr 29 2013 2:30pm

Geek Love: On the Matter of Bronies


Yeah, we’re gonna talk about it. Don’t get weird.

I realize that the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic contingent is old news for a lot of us, and that most of us have made up our minds one way or the other, so I want to make clear at the outset that I’m not making a case for or against, or even really trying to take part in whatever the conversation has become, because I don’t really know where the state of things has ended up.

[Read more]

Apr 15 2013 9:00am

Geek Love: Pictures of the Floating World

Geek Love: Pictures of the Floating World

“And I had to wonder... Are we controlling the cell phones, or are the cell phones controlling us?”

After Gossip Girl was over—I recapped and analyzed every episode of the show, for all six seasons—my beloved Editorial team at TWoP suggested it might be a good idea to take on the new show from that production team, The Carrie Diaries. I didn’t need to think too hard before I said no.

Part of it is that I have beef with Sex & The City—for giving scores of bright young girls the idea that my life is an audition to be someone’s Pet Gay—but honestly, the majority of it is that I don’t have a lot of patience for period pieces.

And the reason for that has to do with futurism, basically, which is what I really want to talk to you about.

[Read more]

Apr 8 2013 9:00am

Geek Love: What It Is and Where It Came From

Geek Love nerd culture column by Jacob Clifton

I’ve been writing about television for the site Television Without Pity for about ten years now, and while I love having the opportunity to think more intensely and talk things out when it comes to the shows and stories I love most, that part of the job pales in comparison to interacting with the fans of the shows and seeing the communities they build around those shared interests.

It’s practically impossible—for me, at least—to think about shows (especially in the genre) without immediately attaching a kind of parallel narrative about the fandom of the show, its connections with other fandoms and geek interests, and what the things we love say about us as people. Not really in the same way as scholarly “media studies” work, or even the snarky metacommentary and inter-fandom sniping that goes on (no matter how often it’s hilariously true), but in the very personal and heartfelt ways fandom appreciation creatively expresses itself.

Being a TV recapper for so long, I’ve sometimes felt stuck in that blurry area between “consumer” and “producer” of content. I mean, I write stuff that people find enjoyable for some reason, but in my role as recapper it’s not really my toys I’m playing with.

[I don’t think I’m alone in that blurry place.]

Apr 8 2013 9:00am

Geek Love: Gargoyles & Geek Girls

Geek Love Gargoyles and Geek GirlsIn Neal Stephenson’s rightly-beloved masterpiece Snow Crash, there are a few memorable moments of scorn in the story—which I’ve always thought, sidebar, to be slyly narrated by one of the characters, in an unbreaking deadpan manipulation of the fourth wall—for what their near-future society terms “gargoyles.”

These are people who, unsatisfied with the seamlessness of human-use technology, strap video cameras and tape recorders to their bodies, in order to more fully embody surveillance culture (couture, if you like). Of all the mystifyingly accurate parts of the satire/prophecy the book contains, that one always stuck with me. I liked to imagine them, steampunky almost, uploading their experiences at baud rates, one photo and soundbite at a time.

Of course the real future—us—is a much different situation, and we’re engaged right now in a cluster storm of debates about privacy, technology, even the very basics of how to accomplish capitalism in a world where information is literally free, because the real future takes its form from continuity. It’s a rare technology that survives without fitting seamlessly into daily life, which is why the few evolutionary jumps that actually change the way we operate ourselves—the PC, the Smartphone—do such big things to our economy.

Generally, when we say “early adopter” we mean physical technology, hardware. But there’s a rumbling undercurrent over the past few years that I think applies a new meaning to the word, and it has to do with the acquisition of IP. And it has to do also with being a dick.

[Read more]

Oct 1 2012 10:00am
Original Story

The Commonplace Book

“The Commonplace Book” concerns certain social and technological developments in New York’s sixth Borough of Lytton, a timeless locale facing great change at the hands of new motion picture technology and the advent of machine intelligence. And, most of all, from inventors and iconoclasts Lady Adelaide Babbage and Mr Maximilian Willoughby, struggling in parallel with a hopeless inability to conform in fashion or manner to the standards of the day, and the construction of identity in the face of the knowledge that the creation of AI is—like any other art—also the creation of self.

The first piece of short fiction by popular Television Without Pity writer Jacob Clifton is like nothing we’ve ever read, a piece of postmodern steampunk encompassing past, present, and future all at once. Jacob writes, “There’s a level on which the story is an indictment of using steampunk as a fashion or trend. It came about because I wanted to see what would happen if you substituted Jane Austen for Jules Verne in the steampunk equation—and part of that is the notion that you can’t just remix, you have to transform.”

This story was acquired and edited for by Tor Books editor Liz Gorinsky.

[Read “The Commonplace Book”]