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A Whole Spectrum of Beasts

Comment, kittens!

I can't remember the day we closed our World of Warcraft accounts. Must have been back in, I'm thinking, early May. So, about four and a half months ago, right after we did the Rift Beta and decided it was such a vastly better game. Anyway, I don't think too much about WoW these days. True, I have my Shaharrazad mousepad I must see...well, all day long. And the erotic dreams involving Sylvanas Windrunner, My Dark Lady. And all my action figures, and...okay, so I probably still think about WoW more than I think I think about WoW.

But, this morning I was thinking about WoW, and some of its really magnificent absurdities, and perhaps the greatest of all those are the Taurens. I was imagining a bunch of Blizzard geeks sitting around a table (cluttered with boxes of doughnuts, bottles of Mountain Dew, and whatnot), and they're sitting there thinking, "Okay, so, what about cow people? Hey, that would be cool, wouldn't it? I mean, think about it, dudes. Cow people. You know, like minotaurs?" And someone points out the problem with females and udders, and someone else says, no, no, don't worry about the udders, these cow people, the females have breasts. Also, it'll keep the furries pacified a while longer. Do you know what percentage of our demographic self-identifies as Otherkin?

"OH, and we need more ethnic diversity among the races of Azeroth," someone says, "because we keep getting these angry letters about the Rasta trolls (pause here as the 'think tank' devolves into a three-hour argument about pussy liberals and the merits of Libertarianism, and how orcs are green, and night elves are blue and purple and grey, and...), and it would be good PR if there were more ETHNICITY." "Wasn't that covered in the last company retreat?" asks someone. Sure, sure, says someone else, and hey, cows are sort of like bison, another interjects (here we pause for yet another to explain how bison are related to cows, and some cow nerd goes off on the domestication of cattle, the evolution of the modern cow from the aurochs, Bos primigenius). "Okay," says the guy who started all this. "So, cows are like bison, and Native Americans hunted bison, so...the culture of the cow people will be Native American culture. You know, all teepees, totem poles, peace pipes, dreamcatchers, and stuff, right? Oh, and, since they're like Indians, they'll say HOW, instead of hello!" There are cheers and self-congratulation all round, except for the cow nerd, who keeps trying to point out how Native Americans hunted members of the genus Bison, not the genus Bos, and that modern cows are not derived from Bison; he is roundly ignored).

Yes, it was probably just that stupid and offensive. And out of an entire planet of possible animals to pattern a new race on (let's set aside the issue of novelty; WoW finally figured that out with the space goats), from all the terran bestiary, Blizzard chose...cows.


Today, I am waiting to hear from TPTB how well Phase One was received, and where we go from here. Then, I'll proceed to the as-yet-unopened CEM of The Drowning Girl: A Memoir. Oh, and I should mention, my publisher's marketing gurus decided that "A Memoir" should not appear on the book's cover (or, it seems, on the Amazon page). Why? Because, then people might think it's nonfiction, and it would be shelved under biography. Yeah, I did that o.0 emoticon thing, but I didn't argue. Friends who've worked in bookstores assure me this really would happen. Um, okay. I truly do give humanity too much credit. I must take solace knowing that the title page will bear the novel's actual full title. Anyway, I'm not opening that "bubble envelope" containing the CEM until I know if Phase One nuked the launch site or not. I have until the 23rd to get the CEM back to NYC.


Also, you should read this entry by catvalente. Because Amazon.com might have thought up the best way to steal from authors since the Great Google Books Rights Snatch of 2010 (or whenever). The rise of ebooks cannot be predicated on the perpetual fucking-over of authors.


Yesterday, when I was done with this, that, and the other, we took in a matinée of Soderbergh's Contagion, and we both loved it. It's bleak, artful, terrifying, beautiful, and I highly recommend it to all. I'm not going into details, because it would be too easy to drop spoilers. But don't dismiss it as some Irwin Allen or Roland Emmerich overblown schlock-fest. Because that's what it's not. It also isn't science fiction, but that's a discussion for another time.


Please have a look at the goodies in Spooky's Etsy shop (Dreaming Squid Dollworks and Sundries), where there are two new necklaces - reasonably priced - and you must buy them, or you won't be allowed to read my next book. Honest Tauren.


Okay, please excuse me now. I'm going to listen to Neil read The Graveyard Book to me until I get that call from the NSA...I mean, um...that call from McDonalds. Oh, and good RP in Insilico last night. Thank you, Joah.

Not Bovine,
Aunt Beast


( 26 comments — Have your say! )
Sep. 13th, 2011 07:35 pm (UTC)
So ... a good compromise would be to replace the cow wizards with plague chickens.
Sep. 13th, 2011 07:46 pm (UTC)

Sep. 13th, 2011 07:52 pm (UTC)
Well, if cows aren't scary but bird flu IS, then they just chose the wrong anthropomorphic farm animal. I see the WoW chickens as sort of a death cult, spreading pestilence and worshipping fowl gods.
Sep. 13th, 2011 07:57 pm (UTC)

You're forgetting mad cow disease.
Sep. 13th, 2011 08:04 pm (UTC)
Kamikaze hamburgers aren't threatening.
Sep. 13th, 2011 08:08 pm (UTC)

If you say so.
Sep. 13th, 2011 08:14 pm (UTC)
Memoir on the jacket of a novel is a big no-no. Another trap to avoid is a novel consisting of a persons first and last name. Some bookseller will inevitably not consume enough coffee and shelve DANIEL MARTIN by John Fowles as though Mr. Martin had created Mr. Fowles and not the other way round. Bless their pointy little heads.
Sep. 13th, 2011 08:16 pm (UTC)

Bless their pointy little heads.

Off with their point little heads.
Sep. 13th, 2011 09:08 pm (UTC)
This is true. According to at least one of my coworkers, Kris Longknife writes books about someone called Mike Shepherd. I used to laugh at books subtitled A Novel; when I'm trying to sort and shelve a few hundred books at a time, it's very helpful.
Sep. 13th, 2011 09:11 pm (UTC)

I've only done that once, because I wanted Threshold subtitled A Novel of Deep Time. But it's a holdover convention from Victorian and earlier publishing, when books were often accompanied by long and explanatory subtitles.
Sep. 13th, 2011 08:43 pm (UTC)
I just cannot get into the idea of a Nook/Kindle/iPad as a way to read. I can't. It just doesn't compute with me. (Also, I take a precise delight in book browsing and shopping. Don't take that away from me, technology!) My husband loves reading on his iPad--what I would give for him to just read a real book these days--so when I heard about Amazon's plan re: books, I was horrified. Is it really so hard for people to enjoy the sensation of an actual book anymore?

Hold on, I've got to go tell some kids to get off my lawn, apparently.
Sep. 13th, 2011 08:57 pm (UTC)

Is it really so hard for people to enjoy the sensation of an actual book anymore?

It's all just zeroes and ones, as Mr. Reznor pointed out.

Hold on, I've got to go tell some kids to get off my lawn, apparently.

I'm resorting to buckshot.

Sep. 13th, 2011 09:37 pm (UTC)
While I don't truly believe that real live actual books will truly go the way of the dodo, what I fear is not being able to afford to purchase them eventually. When you can pay a pittance to download a book to a device but should you want a hard copy, be ready to pay: that's the end I fear as well as beloved authors not being able to write anymore (or rather, afford to write).

I picture dozens of little workers, sort of like Damien Hirst's interns, doing the work of Dan Brown/Stephanie Meyer/and such like because they trick those little workers into believing that what they do matters. (Of course, James Frey has already figured that shit out.)
Sep. 13th, 2011 10:47 pm (UTC)

While I don't truly believe that real live actual books will truly go the way of the dodo, what I fear is not being able to afford to purchase them eventually.

Well, while I can foresee an eventual future where new analog books are not being published, I think we will first pass through that transitional phase, where the actual books are just really expensive. We're getting there.

And it makes me ill.

that's the end I fear as well as beloved authors not being able to write anymore (or rather, afford to write).

Exactly. Frankly, I'd say it's time to call for a strike, but no one has the savings. Maybe if the BIG NAMES would strike for fair ebook deals for all, but they have no vested interest in doing so.
(Deleted comment)
Sep. 13th, 2011 10:47 pm (UTC)

For some people, this would be the case.

There are places I will not allow my imagination to go.
Sep. 13th, 2011 09:00 pm (UTC)
Space goats? Truly?

The whole memoir debacle is fucking pathetic. Would Amazon then shelve, say, The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes under biography? Bah. I'll refer to the novel by its full name, if it cheers you.

"I truly do give humanity too much credit."

And not enough rope.
Sep. 13th, 2011 09:04 pm (UTC)

Space goats? Truly?

The Dranei, which were actually my favorite race after the Blood Elves. Still, they were only chimeras. Some creature designer smushed fauns, Klingons, and Nebari together and got the Draenei. Oh, and they have Russian accents.

And not enough rope.

Sep. 13th, 2011 09:24 pm (UTC)
That's quite a handsome design. Not sure I can imagine the accent, though.

I read Cat's entry - every time I read the words "e-book" now, I just feel dread, I really do.

Sep. 13th, 2011 09:52 pm (UTC)

That's quite a handsome design. Not sure I can imagine the accent, though.

It sort of works, actually.

I read Cat's entry - every time I read the words "e-book" now, I just feel dread, I really do.

The potential of ebooks is being turned against authors.
Sep. 13th, 2011 09:15 pm (UTC)
What are the agents doing about Amazon's experiments with new content streams? They seem to be the middlemen most vulnerable to new marketing models.
Sep. 13th, 2011 09:53 pm (UTC)

What are the agents doing about Amazon's experiments with new content streams?

There's very little they can do. There's not enough money in NYC publishing to fight Amazon.
(Deleted comment)
Sep. 13th, 2011 10:43 pm (UTC)

We've never played WoW and we're getting ready to close down our Ultima Online accounts for good within the month- not that we've actually played much this past year, so really, it's a waste of money.

Never tried Ultima. WoW was my first MMORPG. But yeah, if you're not playing it's just wasted money.

even if I do hate Etsy for the hipster/reseller bullshit they have now become.

These things are annoying, but I don't think they've really lessened Etsy.
Sep. 13th, 2011 11:06 pm (UTC)
This is increasingly why I prefer different business models in MMORPGs these days (the F2P model, yes, but also that of Guild Wars).

Of course, I'm somewhat expected to play multiple games a year as well, so dedicating it all to one online game would probably not be the best idea (unless I just want to write about MMOs).
Sep. 14th, 2011 01:07 am (UTC)
I think the truncated title is more marketable, and people would likely refer to the book as The Drowning Girl anyway. I agree that their reason for the change seems like a bizarre one, but it may have a positive impact (although impossible to measure). Part of the job of the title is to get people to pick the book off the shelf, and I think the shorter title is more intriguing and easier to take in at a glance.
Sep. 14th, 2011 06:11 am (UTC)
It could have gone in the other direction.

We need more racial diversity. Who haven't we represented* yet?


Didn't we do India with that four-armed blue chick?

American Indians, dumbass.

Oh, you mean Native Americans?

HEY LANGUAGE POLICE! Jesus, it's political correctness gone mad around here.**

Ok so let's workshop this. What do we know about Indians?

[the conversation goes all dreamcatchers and teepees and that for a while]

Oh hey, aren't bison sacred or something? Let's give them bison heads, like minotaurs.

[cheers and back-patting]

Wait up, if Indians think bisons are sacred, then a bison-head race might be offensive.***

Oh yeah. What about eagles?

Eagles are carnivores, we need to honour the Indians as peace-loving vegetarians in touch with the Earth. Something like bison, but not actually bison.

[suggestions ranging from horse to dung beetle are tossed around the table like a hackey-sack]

I've got it! What about cows? Cow people! They're like bison minotaurs but not offensive to anyone!

Brilliant! Give that man a payrise and a certificate for racial sensitivity!

*read: insensitively parodied
**These guys glow in the dark
***No, really, I have actually heard people say things this brain-mashingly stupid when workshopping diversity and inclusiveness.
Sep. 14th, 2011 02:00 pm (UTC)
The tauren were introduced in Warcraft III, and there they were shown as nothing more (or less) than a true-breeding race of minotaur-like people. Chris Metzen -- principle architect of the Warcraft universe and metaplot -- grew up reading fantasy novels, comic books, etc., much like most of the rest of the core Blizzard staff from early on. As a result, the Warcraft universe is a pastiche of all these influences, sometimes introduced without much awareness of where some of those tropes originated. (I'm fairly sure that the idea of the tauren as a true-breeding race of minotaur-ish creatures came directly from DragonLance novels. Chris Metzen being an avowed fan of DragonLance is the reason Richard Fucking Knaak continues to write tie-in novels, despite Knaak's prose inducing bleeding in the eyes... er, excuse me, orbs.)

That said, tauren don't seem to have much in common with bovines at all, other than having hooves, horns, and a similar sort of skull structure. Tauren are omnivores, like the other PC races, and their reproductive strategies clearly have far more in common with homids than with anything quadrupedal. Not only do they have breasts rather than udders, but, as we see in Northrend, their children are born as dependent on their parents as that of any human, tiny (relative to the adult) and incapable of doing ... well, much of anything other than nursing and pooping, really. (There are no cows on Kalimdor, and prior to contact between the Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor being reestablished in the course of Warcraft III, tauren had no idea what a cow was -- most of the cows in the game are in Elwynn Forest, and Seahorn, a tauren pirate in Booty Bay, is mildly amused by some of the other races seeing a resemblance between tauren and cows. My own druid takes offense at being called a cow, and has -- in RP -- thrown a goblin off a tall building in Orgrimmar for pushing that too hard.)

I'm actually rather fond of playing tauren, though I think it's largely because I really only play female characters, and female tauren have such dignity and grace. I'm of mixed mind about the cultural presentation, which is a muddled mishmash of indigenous North American cultures, but I was not raised in any of those cultures, nor am I perceived as anything other than Caucasian, so I really have neither the background nor the larger context to unilaterally declare it offensive. (I did, however, blink a bit, the very first night of my trial, when I rolled my tauren druid and, when clicking on a male tauren NPC, was greeted with, "How.")

One woman I talked to was a WoW player and a card-carrying (literally) member of one of these cultures, and she didn't find the tauren offensive at all. She did qualify it by saying that her grandfather would likely find it offensive, though, so make of that what you will.
( 26 comments — Have your say! )