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Hitherby

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Back in May, I posted some links to a few entries at Hitherby Dragons. I still haven't gone back to read the story arc entries--I'm intimidated by the sheer volume of them--but I keep coming across other entries in various contexts, and I thought it was worth mentioning the site again.

The author, Rebecca, is a roleplaying game writer with a Ph.D. in CS. I just found out that she wrote Nobilis, possibly the most gorgeously produced RPG ever, though I've never played the game itself. Nor read the game rules/book, for that matter, but the production values made me drool. Not onto the book, of course.

Anyway, so Hitherby is sort of a blog, sort of an ongoing story, sort of an ongoing collection of mini-stories. It includes entertaining standalone pieces like these three in a row:

  • Higher Jam, in which a mad(ish) scientist and her indifferently faithful assistant attempt to get a jam jar off a high shelf; bits of it remind me obliquely of Karen's conversations with Pär.
  • An Oracle for NP, a seriocomic exploration of truths derived from torture.
  • Wednesday 12/14: "Wednesdays are probably made of a glittering, sticky tar that they mine in Mexico . . . You cannot make Wednesdays out of unprocessed tar. Never ever! If you make a Wednesday out of unprocessed tar you wind up with a disaster like Ash Wednesday, when people have to rub ashes on their foreheads or die."

and, of course, the entries I linked to last time I mentioned Hitherby, especially Aslan Shrugged: The Wardrobe, which turns out to be part one of a three-part series that's preceded by an Author's Note of a sort. The ending of part 3 is particularly entertaining.

Oh, yes, and then there's the eight-part story House of Saints, all about the sorting hat at the Lethal Magnet School for Wayward Youth, which sorts people (some of whom are named Peter, Susan, Edmund, Lucy, Sally, and Linus, though they aren't really who those names might suggest) into the House of Saints, the House of Dreams, or the House of Hunger. Also featuring Vidar's Boot (in space!), and the graveyard of the hats, and the Fenris Wolf. Plus assorted Fun Facts, like: "Fun Fact! If you have unholy zealotry in your voice, you can gargle with salt water to get it out!"

Hitherby also includes an ongoing story arc (none of the above are directly part of it) that sounds totally fascinating but that I think I would want to start reading from the beginning, which looks to be a project for some putative future time when I have, oh, a few weeks of uninterrupted free time.

The site also includes non-Hitherby stuff like Structure and Meaning in Roleplaying Game Design.

Plus extensive comments from a loyal band of readers.

Anyway, my real point is this: go read Hitherby! It's good stuff. The non-arc stories don't require any background, though you should probably start with the description of the site that I linked to up at the top of this entry.

You might also keep Hitherby in mind next time there's a Best Website Hugo--it's not that it couldn't be done on paper, but I don't think it would be done on paper, and I don't think it would work as well.

Disclaimer: I have no affiliation at all with the Hitherby site or its creator; I'm just a fan.

1 Comment

Hey, Jed,

Just came across mention of your mention of Hitherby on the site itself, and, since I vaguely know you and everything, thought I would go check out what you'd said. I want to let you know that I also spent some time being afraid of the canon and worrying that reading it would take humongous amounts of free time. But then I found that there were some canon entries that were so fascinating that I had to read them anyway, and I couldn't resist them, and all of a sudden, much quicker than I'd expected, whoops, I'd read most of the canon.

But anyway, my point is, you don't actually have to read canon in order. In fact, the first few canon entries don't make much sense if you haven't read other canon. Just like the legends, a lot of the individual pieces of canon work fairly well on their own, as well as giving you enough of a sense for canon that you can begin to understand new canon when it comes in.

If you are at all interested in reading bits of canon, I would recommend:

-"The Flower (I/IV)" and its follow-ups - the first one, in particular, is a fairly good introduction to why canon is happening, and the rest help to summarize part of the rest of the story.

-"Tantalus (I/IV)" and its follow-ups - they're just like regular Hitherby, incredibly funny/poignant retellings of Greek myths intertwined with brilliant pop culture references, only rather more canonical.

-Oh, just do a search on Hitherby for any mentions of Mylitta, or any mentions of "/?", and read all of the Mylitta and Nabonidus stuff and all of the Buddha stuff. It is all brilliant, incredibly worth of being read, not all that confusing, and I love it to little bits!

Umm, please forgive me if you're really not interested in reading canon. I just wanted to let you know that you don't really need weeks of free time to read some amazingly wonderful stories that everyone should totally read because they are the essence of good wrapped up in small, Internet-sized bites.