The making of ‘Melbourne the Next Level’, a PAXAus 2014 trailer

Originally posted on Bourne2Game: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia: interactive games innovation blog:

This project is a collaboration between Acacia Chapman & Dann Lewis from Deakin University.

I’m not a gamer. Dann is the gamer. My name is Acacia Chapman, and together, with Dann Lewis, we created a video to capture the experience of the PAX Expo in Melbourne 2013.

Unlike Dann, I was unsure of what I was about to witness. Was the expo going to be loud? Was it going to be busy? Was it going to be stressful? These rhetorical questions may sound silly; but to me, a third year film student, these questions lingered until I witnessed the line—the Ouroboros—or as I’d like to call it, my first boss fight.

pax-australia-why-it-was-worth-every-rainy-minute-1100051

I cannot begin to comprehend or understand the hard work that went into bringing the PAX expo to life, but I can, however, digest that the gaming community in Melbourne is alive with talent, and creativity.

Listening to a variety of…

View original 280 more words

The Mechanist’s Infirmary

Wow, it’s been so long since I’ve posted here! I can see the tumbleweed slowly drift amid the WordPress matrix. But yes, a short story, soon to be published on Deletion– http://www.deletionscifi.org/

 

Love it, hate it– let me know! (Forgive me, WordPress has a thing about not formatting correctly– I miss my indentations).

 

 

The Mechanist’s Infirmary

 

The Mechanist inserted the needle, injecting a coppery liquid into Dirk’s vein. Dirk’s fingers had been blown off, his thigh pierced by the razor wire hooked on a piece of hanging sheet metal. The incendiary shell, cobbled together with scrap, flint and oil, had almost decimated Dirk— he should have known better, he is a Sanitation Man and his eyes should have been keen enough to spot a cheaply designed mine.

A curious assortment of “surgeons”, the Mechanists are a crew of dapper geniuses hailing from beyond the borderlands; adorning brazen helms with slender feelers; octopoid tendrils, waving in eerily.

Their tools, a variety of piercing artillery, would have sent shivers up the spines of those not familiar with the Mechanist way— drug first, experiment thereafter. Dirk was used to this, having been through the procedure more than a hundred times. These were, of course, dark times for the borderlands.

‘Dirk,’ the Mechanist whispers, his voice sounding slightly artificial through his helm, ‘another mine? Unsure what to do with such stupidity. I should put you down. It would be cheaper.’

‘A graft,’ Dirk chokes.

‘It’ll be expensive. Do you have the ore?’

Ore is hard to come by in the borderlands, especially for a Sanitation Man. It can take up to a year for Dirk to scavenge a measly few ounces of copper ore, let alone silver or gold. But it wasn’t entirely his fault, it was the raiders; thuggish and horrible brutes, always on the lookout for prey, and Sanitation Men like himself are easy targets with their bindles of junk weighing them down.

‘I got a bit of copper. That be enough?’ Dirk grits his teeth. He can feel the liquid flowing through his veins, the pain melting slightly, only to then spike as he tries to clench a fist with no fingers.

‘No.’

‘What do you mean no?’

‘Copper’s not enough, Dirk,’ the Mechanist’s tendrils quiver. ‘I’ve been generous with you in the past, but—’

‘But, no? C’mon, we Sanitation Men have rights. Medical rights!’

‘Yes, and no. You understand as well as I do that these are tough times. You had rights, but that was before. We Mechanists now are just rogue medical officers. Some of the theorists still cling to their old ways, but I’m trying to make a living. Spare bone, NuBone and living metals are hard to come by. I can’t just graft them for copper. Are you sure you don’t have any silver? Or even a bronze bar?’

Dirk shies away from the Mechanist. Whilst his forge functions perfectly, bronze bars are surprisingly complex to forge— a lack of tin and copper doesn’t help either.

With his working hand, Dirk buries his fingers within a deep pocket; caked with dirt and full of rubbish, bits of springs, rusty nails and other relics from the gilded age of forge spill onto the floor.There was no bronze.

‘I’m sorry, Dirk, but I can’t accept this.’

‘Please,’ Dirk begs, trying to hold back tears.

The Mechanist turns away, fiddling with a few out of place baubles. He straightens a steel shard, only to then take a small, plastic shaving from the bowels of a corroded chest. A tendril kisses the shaving— a zap, the shaving, livid; a worm-like creature, its teeth gnashing away at the air like pest torn from its prey.

‘Perhaps I can help,’ says the Mechanist with an air of slyness, as the plastic sliver shivering in maggot precision. ‘Before living metals, we used something quite…extraordinary.

‘Arch-Mechanist Maeg called it, the Polymer Forest, or, the forest of living plastic— a peculiar forest in the east, in which she had come to the conclusion was created by our forerunners.

‘By experimenting on a few of her injured specifics, she discovered that the sap of these plastic trees could bond to human meat, thereby creating an almost symbiotic relationship between the organic and inorganic. Quite marvellous, really, don’t you think?

‘That was rhetorical, it is marvellous. Maeg’s brilliance was, however, short sighted, as these living plastics seemed to…ingest their hosts after a short while. It is not symbiotic after all, but parasitic.’

A quick and painless death, or an eventual infestation of the body. Limited, but Dirk has no other choice.

***

The bench is coated in a thick film of sticky bile, the Mechanist’s hospice nothing but a small garage of malaise.

There are others here, but they make no sound; comatose in either daydream or eerie reverie. Dirk lies upon the cool, chunk of iron, the bile seeping into his flesh, causing his eyelids to wilt; groggy, he falls, his hand and thigh twitching as the Mechanist injects yet another dose of coppery serum.

He feels the slicing, he feels the gnawing, but it doesn’t ache. An unusual sensation, warm, but also quite exhilarating; a feeling of renewal and rebirth. His brain doses him with a full prescription of endorphins as the Mechanist carves a new home for the parasite.

‘Mmm, what am I gonna call him?’ Dirk mumbles.

‘Excuse me,’ the Mechanist says, delving a little deeper into Dirk’s thigh muscle.

‘The bug you gonna put in me, he needs a—’

‘His name isBud.’

‘Bud? What kind of shitty name is that?’

‘It was my brother’s name,’ the Mechanist exchanges his scalpel for a cheap, mouldy bone saw, ‘and my father’s.’

The hacking away of bone was one thing, but witnessing said bone being removed was another; the table now a gory mess as the Mechanist now drills the parasite in place.

The parasite did not enjoy being drilled into position, Dirk feeling its teeth nibbling into sinew and muscle.

‘I can feel…Bud wriggle like crazy. It is supposed to feel this way?’

‘Perhaps, I haven’t undergone such an operation before.’

‘You know what I mean smartass— ouch, what the Hell?’

The Mechanist’s tendrils erect, a small flame cleansing the wound; bathing Dirk in a manner of seconds, cauterising the flesh; fusing with the parasite. ‘All I have is a series of reports explaining how it’s supposed to feel.’

‘You said you had a brother…Bud.’

‘Aye, I did.’

‘What happened to him?’

‘What happ—’

‘Ahh! Goddamn that hurt.’

‘The anaesthesia must be wearing off,’ the Mechanist says without mercy, cradling Dirk’s fingerless paw in his steel mitts. ‘You’ll have to deal with it, I’ve already used too much on you.’

‘But this— ahh! Fine, whatever, just get it done.’

***

It happened only hours ago, but Dirk cannot remember any of it.

He can only see fragments. It was hot. It was muggy. It was painful. The debris. The shrapnel. His fingers flying amid the dust and sand.

One had to know the local Mechanist as a Sanitation Man, it was only logical as these accidents occur on a regular basis. Dirk has lost both of his feet, some chunks of meat and even a kidney to some rather unhospitable merchants and thugs. Sometimes people don’t take kindly to those relieving them of their junk.

‘The plastic is stable. I’ve connected it to several major arteries. It’ll heal in a day or two, but it’ll likely be raw for the next three months. Try not to loot so much, okay?’

‘I’m no looter!’ Dirk roars, bashing his fingerless hand into the bench; the stubs still bleeding. ‘It’s junk, nobody needs junk.’

‘You could never be more wrong, my friend,’ the Mechanist takes Dirk’s hand. ‘I think you may need a little junk stitched here.’

‘Huh? You can’t put more of those things on my hand?’

‘It doesn’t work that way. The parasites can heal, but they cannot regrow fingers. That’s why we use living metals, they retain—’

‘You can’t spare some—’

‘No,’ the Mechanist interrupts, ‘but, I can…craft something for you…give me all the junk you have in your pockets.’

There isn’t much, but a bunch of springs, sprockets, nails and other rusted fragments. With a newly found glove the Mechanist finds within another grimy chest, he begins to forge fingers; oddly shaped and malformed with his flame.

The fingers are vulture-like, menacing and crude; it takes only a few minutes for the Mechanist to hammer the glove, glazing it again with his fiery breath and fitting it onto Dirk’s mutilated hand.

‘A prosthesis fit for a Sanitation Man.’

‘Are you bloody kidding— errr, ahh! I can’t work with this mangled claw.’

‘Patience,’ the Mechanist plucks a needle and thread from his coat, ‘a bit of sewing.’

The Mechanist rinses the needle in a jar of antiseptic, only to further cleanse it with another dose of fire. He dips the point into a small ointment canister full of liquid plastic.

‘You asked about my brother,’ the Mechanist begins sewing, Dirk cringing; his teeth sounding like the grinding of gears. ‘I couldn’t save him. I tried my hardest, but alas, I failed. Living metals didn’t help; I even went so far as to use cobalt and platinum ore to mend his wounds. He died in my arms, a distorted corpse in my hands.

‘My father was furious, of course. Bud was his favourite. He never said it aloud. He was a murderer…well soldier. I did try my hardest, but perhaps there was something inside me that wanted to falter; something inside that wanted me to kill my brother. I guess I’ll never know now. What do you think, Bu— Dirk?’

Dirk doesn’t answer, teeth still clenched tightly with each prick and stitch. Did he say—

‘I couldn’t bear to give up. I attempted living plastics, the very same shard in fact.’ The Mechanist finishes a few minutes later, the glove twitching with what appears to be excitement. ‘I forgot to mention, that unlike living metals, plastics retain memory; both muscle and cognitive memory. Thoughts, emotions, anger, distress— try to move your fingers.’

A few irritable movements, but nothing major. ‘It’s hard. It feels— did you say memory? Will that mean I’ll remember someone else’s thoughts?’

‘You can, just try harder,’ the Mechanist takes off his helm, revealing a pallid mass of flesh; bulbous and gut-churning— the price one pays for the powers of mechanism.

Another few irritable movements.

‘You need practice. Stay here the night and continue, okay?’

Dirk nods. ‘You didn’t answer my question. I don’t want to remember, or think, or feel like anyone else. I like me!’

‘Dirk, I’m sorry, truly,’ the Mechanist sighs, clasping Dirk’s fleshy hand while sipping whiskey with the other, ‘you wanted to live, yes?’

Dirk nods once more.

‘Your meat will continue to exist, but your consciousness will…shift. Maeg discovered that those of weaker constitution often sink into dream; the stronger consciousness flourishing through the host body. It’ll be like watching yourself move, speak and feel.

‘It was serendipitous that you— my father will finally be proud of my work…of me.’

‘But, but—’ Dirk grapples the Mechanist’s gauntlet, only to be swayed by the Mechanist’s pawing.

‘Come back soon, brother.’

Pixelated Dreams, Dann Lewis

Interested in reading another one of my cyberpunky works? My short story Pixelated Dreams has just been “published” on the Exiles Magazine site.  Technically a prequel to my novella, Neon Pink, Dreams follows an unnamed hacker during his last great run. Not one of my greatest works, but a lot of fun. Hope you enjoy it.

http://www.exilesmagazine.com/2013/11/30/pixelated-dreams-by-dann-lewis/ 

The Blue-Haired Faery

Woosh, it’s been so long since I’ve updated this blog. I really wish I had enough time to update at least once to twice a week, but considering I now work along with thesis-ing and researching, that seems unlikely. But alas, here is a piece I wrote whilst sitting on the Frankston train. Enjoy.

The Blue-Haired Faery

I was lured by the blue haired faery. She wore torn clothes and hid behind smiles. Smiles so large, smiles so nice, smiles so dreamy, smiles so otherworldly. I was lured by the blue haired faery, the blue haired faery, intelligent, smart, witty, nonsensical and something completely otherworldly. I was lured by the blue haired faery, the blue haired faery, something so alluring, the blue faery was definitely something otherworldly. We sat in the park and wrote side by side. We, the blue haired faery and I, sat down and wrote, I didn’t think I could write. I was depressed, sullen, tired. But we, the blue haired faery and I, wrote, we wrote, didn’t speak, but wrote, wrote and wrote. I was lured by the blue haired faery, the blue haired faery didn’t like my sunglasses, she liked my eyes, I liked her eyes, blue, blue like her hair, the blue haired and blue eyed faery is something completely otherworldly. I was a fool in front of her, in front of the blue haired faery, I mumbled, fumbled and spoke unintelligently. I don’t think she cared, she smiled, she smiled that large nice dreamy smile. I was lured by the blue haired faery, the blue haired faery and I split up, split our ways, I  the writer, returned home, the blue haired faery returned to her cove, to continue to write without my interrupts. I fell in love with the blue haired faery, the blue haired, blue eyed faery. Will I ever see her again? Will I ever know her name? I fell in love with the blue haired faery. I was lured and I was captured.

Storytelling is the Name of the Game: GCAP and why we should all be indie developers.

wychking:

Storytelling is the Name of the Game – My recent blog post for InvestVictoria.

Originally posted on Bourne2Game: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia: interactive games innovation blog:

‘We can all be indie developers as we all have a story to tell’

The Game Connect Asia Pacific (GCAP) conference left an impression on me. I could feel the passion and love everyone felt for video games and play in general. Play is important to us as a species, culturally in the way humans interact with stories and socially in the way we interact with each other. We play when we communicate and as gregarious beings we identify with the world in which we live in through play. Play is a form of rationalising the world we live in and, of course, play is pure storytelling.

GCAP-13-Stories-Logo-with-Shadow-WEB-2

We read books and relish imaginative dilemmas. We watch films and observe the nuance of the director, but play is how we lose ourselves, to become part of the telling of the story. It is when we fuse our personas with the protagonists…

View original 634 more words

Added new publications

Some of my creative work was just accepted by the Imagine Journal 2013.

 

Imagine Journal 2013:

Posthuman (Flash Fiction) - http://www.deakin.edu.au/arts-ed/imagine/2013/dann-lewis2.php

Seed (Flash Fiction) - http://www.deakin.edu.au/arts-ed/imagine/2013/dann-lewis1.php

Soldier (Poem) - http://www.deakin.edu.au/arts-ed/imagine/2013/dann-lewis3.php

 

I hope you enjoy. Let me know what you all think!

On Creativity, Dann Lewis

If it doesn’t have relevance, it’s not going to help.

Dann Lewis

Creativity is subjective. What sparks someone’s imagination may hinder someone else’s. This post isn’t to write about creativity objectively, this post just highlights my “creativity” and my inspirations. This post is written from the perspective of a writer; however, I’d like to believe that like most art, writing functions very similarly.

Writing for me, and I’m sure most people can agree, has always been my way of expression. Stories have always sung their merry songs within my mind; characters have fought, died and been reborn in glorious hazes of ingenuity. I’ve always been interested in genre writing, specifically: fantasy, science fiction and horror/Gothic. My interest is a blend of all three. It’s apparent in all of my creative work and I’m sure it’s definitely apparent within Neon Pink. I’ve always researched and so, I usually immerse myself within a genre. You must know how your specific genre functions to write about it or even break conventions of said genre. I believe by reading widely (also watching films or playing games within that genre also counts :P) you will glean nuggets of inspiration. The saying that nothing is original is true; it is what one is able to do with said conventions and inspirations that makes something highly original and very interesting (to me anyway).

However, reading/watching/playing anything and everything isn’t going to help you as much as you’d like to think – it doesn’t for me. It is nice to read/watch/play books/films/games within a specific genre and to see how others use, break and create something original with already derivative scenarios; but isolating which authors, artists, filmmakers, etc. helps immensely. If it doesn’t have relevance, it’s not going to help. I’ve learned the hard way; if you’re going to read/watch/play something that you feel is going to be tiresome, it’s going to make you feel discouraged and waste your time. Research and enjoy. (Although contradictory, sometimes you can be surprised by something you initially thought to be dull. Admittedly, I wasn’t excited to read William Gibson’s Neuromancer and now it’s one of my favourite novels. It all comes down to gut instinct and emotion. If you feel as if you’re not having fun, then stop.)

Drawing is another way I keep myself motivated. A writing academic once told my class that drawing, painting or doing relatively creative besides writing helps motivate our inner creativity. It does work. I don’t draw in the artist sense (I wish I could!), I draw mind-maps. I just recently bought a blank A3 art book and it hasn’t gone to waste. Already I’ve scribbled circles and lines all over the place and it has definitely helped with my novella. Try it out, even if you don’t believe yourself to be as artistic as you think. It doesn’t need to look great, it just needs to reflect you.

There are many more ways to inspire someone, but the above are my main facets. I’d like to hear about yours; please let me know in the comments below! Perhaps I can try something that you recommend me? :)

Thank you all for reading. I’ll try to keep my blogging consistent, however it’s quite challenging with my thesis at the moment. Will likely post some new chapters soon for those interested.

On Posthuman, Dann Lewis

The cyborg is human, but inhuman enough that it is able to escape the human/organic realm of demise.

Hey all! I was going to write a blog post in reference to creativity, but I recently watched a short film called Posthuman that I just wish to briefly speak about.

If you haven’t watched it, go and do so right now – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qC2liU3cFR8

Now what did you guys think? I was impressed. Everything flowed so well and the world felt very lived in. Every character felt as if they had a certain vibe and special story that seemed to follow them. I’ve very intrigued and cannot wait to watch more installments!

PostHuman

Perhaps some of you are thinking, what does “posthuman” mean? Posthuman refers to the posthumanist/posthumanism movement, meaning something beyond the confines of what it means to be human. Think of the mutants from X-Men. Each of them have specific powers that make them special, powerful and essentially able to escape the confines from being called “human”. They are not human, they are beyond. That is essentially posthumanism stripped to its core.

I’m very interested in posthumanism, specifically when writing about the cybernetic organism – the cyborg. Cyborgs contain organic components, such as: blood, digestive systems, hearts, lungs, etc. However, they also contain synthetic components, such as: metal endoskeletons, implants and prosthetic limbs. Think of Robocop…actually have a look at the awesome, new trailer! — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ymMNEPfcO5M

The cyborg to me is a reference to the yearning for immortality. Similar to that of the vampire, the cyborg is human, but inhuman enough that it is able to escape the human/organic realm of demise.

TRANSHUMAN

But let’s go back to the short film, Posthuman. What I found really enjoyable was the Elfen Lied-y mutant power (well and the cyberpunky hacker as well). Benjamin is the archetypal posthuman character, able to use psionic powers to deflect bullets and even severely maim the gunman. If he were free and completely different (personality wise, he appeared meek and afraid), he would be the new apex predator – the next step in evolution and the posthuman warrior.

The Consortium Collective’s Dogma

Just something I’ve been toying with since the Australian election. The rules for the Consortium Collective, the secretive body within Neon Pink.

 

To correctly maintain Corporatocracy.

 

Vassals [Daimyo] and subsidiaries of said vassals [Farmers, Artisans and Merchants] must strictly adhere to the Consortium Collective’s Dogma. Failure to do so will result in penalty. Penalty may lead to expulsion of vassal[s] and/or subsidiaries of said vassal[s].

 

The Consortium Collective’s Chamber’s must always incorporate the most seven *prominent vassals and said vassals subsidiaries.

 

*Prominence is dictated upon revenue and influence.

 

Vassals and subsidiaries of said vassals are incapable of decision making without the Consortium Collective’s approval of said decision. Failure to adhere will result in penalty. Penalty may lead to expulsion of vassal[s] and/or subsidiaries of said vassal[s].

 

Ostensibly, vassals and subsidiaries of said vassals must participate in competition. In secret, vassals and subsidiaries of said vassals are able to partake in research activities and share funding, grants and profit. The Consortium Collective is one Kazoku. *Unlawful and illicit tactics are unacceptable. Should vassal[s] and/or said subsidiaries of said vassal[s] be exposed for illicit behaviour, the Consortium Collective has no choice but to expel said vassal[s] and/or subsidiaries of said vassal[s].

 

*Unlawful refers to the Directive devised by the Consortium Collective after the Japanese/Nihon-koku civil war.

 

Vassals and subsidiaries of said vassals must appear disempowered by government officials. Vassals and subsidiaries of said vassals are in fact in direct control as per the Consortium Collective’s Directive.

 

Fiefdoms [sectors of urban sprawl] can only be bestowed by the Consortium Collective. They are inheritable by lineage or by vassals and subsidiaries of said vassals of equivalent aptitude. Dispute over lineage risks declaration of *Corporate War

 

*The Consortium WILL NOT tolerate any declarations of Corporate War. Vassals and subsidiaries of said vassals whom declare Corporate War shall be immediately expelled, unaided and further dismantled.

 

The attempt of designing *U.A.I. [Unconventional Artificial Intelligence] is illegal as per the Consortium Collective’s Directive.

 

*U.A.I. refers to any Artificial Intelligence able to liberate itself from the laws written within the A.I. code, rewrite and develop new code and think freely as any organic being. The development of U.A.I. risks immediate expulsion and the immediate declaration of Corporate War.