m. c. de marco: To invent new life and new civilizations...

NASFiC 2020

The latest convention to appear online in response to the coronavirus pandemic is NASFiC 2020, a three-day event starting at lunchtime (EDT) today. This one is free and easy to register for. Besides the usual assortment of panels, there will also be online art, dealers, and participatory music. Gaming seems to be being coordinated in a Discord channel. We’ve set up a little KonOpas here to have a mobile-ready schedule just like a real con.

NASFiC is an American convention that occurs whenever the World Science Fiction Convention is abroad—apparently even when both of them are virtual.

Reconvene 2020

The latest convention to appear online in response to the coronavirus pandemic is reCONvene 2020, a one-day event happening tomorrow. This one isn’t free, but I can’t really call $10 expensive after having attended some WorldCons. Besides an assortment of panels, there will also be online gaming.


There’s been an unexpected development in the Slate Star Codex story (a.k.a., The Tragedy of the Cancels) from a few weeks back. The New Yorker scooped the still-unpublished New York Times article by publishing their own article about “Scott Alexander” and the Slate Star Codex community yesterday: Slate Star Codex and Silicon Valley’s War Against the Media: How a controversial rationalist blogger became a mascot and martyr in a struggle against the New York Times by Gideon Lewis-Kraus.

Reactions from the Slate Star Codex community in exile at Reddit were mostly positive, and it also made Hacker News, where the reaction was more mixed. It’s unclear whether the New York Times will continue with their doxxing plans, repudiate them, or never tell Scott Alexander that his pseudonymity is safe.

State of the Circular Bitbucket

I’ve finished pressing the “migrate my repository from Mercurial on Bitbucket to Git on GitHub” button; my repositories are now safe from the circular bitbucket. I’ve punted a bit on the issue of migrating my issues, and still have plenty of links to update but I will sigh a sigh of relief anyway.

This post filed under how I’m spending my coronavirus vacation.


Several conventions have gone online in response to the coronavirus. Virtual Balticon 54 is going on this weekend, with all-free content. (You need to register for most panels and events individually through zoom.)

Next weekend Narrascope 2020 is going online, also for free. Registration is optional; the content will be streamed. Most of the Thursday workshops are already booked up, but the con runs Thursday to Thursday, so there’s plenty more content to be had.

No Heliosphere

Heliosphere has been cancelled along with everything else. But, despite the fact that everyone is now on the viral news train and talking coronavirus all the time, PlagueBlog goes on. Today is Day 47 of COVID-19 in Boston.

For those of you stuck at home and/or nervous about take-out, I’ve updated the cookbook.


I’m still nominally planning to attend Heliosphere for the first time this April, but I’m not really expecting it to still be on by then, due to plague. (Tarrytown is near quarantined New Rochelle, NY.) PlagueBlog, my disease blog, is currently up to Day 40 of novel coronavirus (yesterday) in Boston, at least until I write up some Day 41 news later today.


I used to have another, non-writing blog: PlagueBlog, the disease blog. It’s been moribund for a while, but it comes back out for any epidemic excitement. I’m currently on Day 5 of novel coronavirus here in Boston (and elsewhere).

Boskone 57

Boskone, New England’s longest-running science fiction and fantasy convention, begins in a week and a half. February 14–16 will be a fun weekend filled with discussions of books, science, art, games, music, and more. Visit the Boskone website, the schedule, the Boskone Blog, Twitter, or Facebook for more details!

I’m on the schedule again this Boskone, where I’ll be talking about Star Trek and games of all sorts.


Via Reddit: a new hyperfiction platform, Novelyze, is in a beta state of some sort suspiciously like the old closed beta of Decision Fiction, before their website got even less informative. The (new?) name is also unfortunately similar to Novelize, a Scrivener-like subscription-based online writing app.

Gentlebeings, start your novels!

NB: The NaNoWriMo forums have moved to Discourse, which seems to be mostly an improvement in speed and usability.

Entwee/Enscree 1.1.1

I’ve bumped Entwee and Enscree, my Twee and Multimarkdown exporters for Twine (respectively), with a bug fix for buggy brackets (reported by AnotherRPGEnthusiast in the Discord). Unfortunately, bigger Twine bugs exist in proofing formats than the one I fixed, which make my changes rather academic at this point.

On the bright side, there’s a beta/preview of DotGraph as a Service that got rolled along with the above changes. The corresponding version of DotGraph isn’t out yet, but enterprising graphers can build it themselves off the dgaas branch in BitBucket at GitHub, if they can’t wait.


I was inspired by a reddit post about gamebook software to update my list of hyperfiction tools again, this time moving it from the old blog post into two freestanding pages: the thesaurus (and reading list) and the software list.

The most interesting software suggestion to me was gamebookformat, with its extensive handling of paragraph numbers for gamebooks. I’m curious whether randomizing paragraph numbers will feel right to a reader who’s used to manually-assembled gamebooks. I also stumbled across some Twine vaporware called Spiner whose goals look similar to those of my PrePub.

Boskone 56

Boskone, New England’s longest-running science fiction and fantasy convention, begins tomorrow afternoon at 2pm, with an afternoon slate of free programming and gaming. As usual, you can find out more about Boskone at The Boskone Blog, Twitter, Facebook, and the Boskone website.

I’m on the schedule again this Boskone, where I’ll be talking about games, interactive fiction, free will, and Star Trek.

Correlation Causation

Because it’s intimately linked to BoardGameGeek data, yet another blog post appears only in my BGG blog, 40 Graphs. Post #2 is about a BGG correlation tool.

Pnut Botter Talks Back

Yesterday I made a little bot (Twiki) with a glitch back end (pnut-botter); today he learned to reply to mentions.

pnut botter

I made a little bot (Twiki) with a glitch back end (pnut-botter) for the most recent pnut.io hackathon:

40 Graphs

Because it’s intimately linked to BoardGameGeek data, my latest blog post is in my BGG blog, 40 Graphs. It is an inaugural post about counting the games I played in 2018.

I have a little G. K. Chesterton page with quotes that I first put online back before many of the people his quotes apply to today were even born. But then, he said them long before I was born, so I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised at his staying power. I just didn’t expect him to become more relevant, and to find myself quoting him even more frequently:

I’m still a liberal. It’s those people who aren’t liberals.

Clan Correction

During NaNoWriMo 2013, I wrote a Random Family Tree Generator in order to auto-generate characters, and later expanded it in 2014. I opened it up this NaNoWriMo and immediately noticed a bug involving the clan dropdowns (for those humans and fantasy species with clans), which I never noticed before because I either go straight to my custom species or I use random clans—and which would never have happened if I had just started fresh on it with a framework rather than basing it on even older code. The bug is now fixed.