September 18 - Everyone ready for the Friday Highlight? It's ready for you here!

Catastrophe Theory (Now with discussion questions!) (Updated 9/09)

Comments

  • Dollyllama108Dollyllama108 Posts: 171 Member
    edited July 5
    @ThePlumbob Just caught your comment!

    And I have good news: "Seven Days" is about to become obsolete. Because, oh man, it doesn't even scratch the surface in terms of how improbable, messed-up, broken, and beyond perfect that romance is. I've been learning to draw so I can make it into a comic.

    What I'm saying is, I'm stoked when someone else gets these guys---but I hope you don't end up like me, so addicted to this relationship it's become a problem. Bahaha!

    (context for those passing through: @ThePlumbob is talking about the chapter where my all-time favorite bonkers sim decides to hit on the Von Haunt Estate ghost Lord and it turns into a love story that puts all other love stories in this universe to shame. That's barely a spoiler because it happens right at the beginning.)

    (ps: goggles sim in your avatar is very pretty)
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    Catastrophe Theory: happy sims are all alike; every one of these dumpster fires is unhappy in their own way
  • ThePlumbobThePlumbob Posts: 4,542 Member
    I look forward to it - I'm sure a lot is in store with this twist dropping so early :)

    And thank you! :)
  • Dollyllama108Dollyllama108 Posts: 171 Member
    edited July 12
    WHEW. This chapter is DONE.

    If you're curious, the whole thing clocks in at almost 31k words, and I'm sorry to say the whole chapter (everything titled "Sunshine and Laughter Pt. n") works better if you binge it in one go. Could probably skim it if you've made it through most of those words already.

    Here's the thrilling conclusion: Sunshine and Laughter (Pt. XI)
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    Catastrophe Theory: happy sims are all alike; every one of these dumpster fires is unhappy in their own way
  • Dollyllama108Dollyllama108 Posts: 171 Member
    And a special treat with this one! I got my life together enough to release a draft of the first page of a spinoff comic, Haunted. (It doesn't have as many words.)

    Here it is!

    @ThePlumbob, here's the content I promised :D
    kbt.jpg
    Catastrophe Theory: happy sims are all alike; every one of these dumpster fires is unhappy in their own way
  • ThePlumbobThePlumbob Posts: 4,542 Member
    Oooh!
    That is really nicely done and very crisp! The rubics cube analogy is so relatable (we've all been there), and very fitting for sure!
  • mercuryfoammercuryfoam Posts: 759 Member
    WHY!
    Noo...! That's the end??? That can't be the end. I don't trust myself to comment for several days now. Dhfgdggd *spastic mashing keyboard* That was brilliant writing for such a horrible scene. :bawling:
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  • Dollyllama108Dollyllama108 Posts: 171 Member
    @mercuryfoam
    Ooof---take your time, though. If it helps, I think you're in a good position to point out some symbolism & foreshadowing, and would love to hear your interpretation.
    kbt.jpg
    Catastrophe Theory: happy sims are all alike; every one of these dumpster fires is unhappy in their own way
  • mercuryfoammercuryfoam Posts: 759 Member
    edited July 17
    Omg I actually did it. I managed to leave a comment that's not a complete emotional meltdown and has some sense in it.
    Anyway I'm just here to say I agree with your caption rant. Reality Tv shows are all for profit. Despite all the parameters and fancy gimmicks it all a perfectly-guised popularity contest. (I'm making up words here because I came directly from the chapter lol I'm too beat to care about grammar.)

    Pardon me but I think you're disappointed because your view on innovator is True Creativity. My view (the common one) of an innovator is someone who takes old ideas and put a nice twist on it. So
    it’s the same 🌺🌺🌺🌺 love story we’ve been seeing since time immemorial
    is so true! But for reality tv shows and whatever the next phone/new gadget/writing/art is, to appeal to the people in the bell graph, one must make sure to innovate within the curve, not out of it (if you want to be popular and well received before you kick the bucket ofc but if you want to be visionary then, yeah. It's a lonely life). :smile:
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  • Dollyllama108Dollyllama108 Posts: 171 Member
    Moving on to a new chapter---the last chapter in Book II, so you know it's setting some things up.

    Making other storytellers cringe b/c of the sheer number of Sims I had to wrangle for these screenshots: The Reaper's White Elephant (Part I)

    And @mercuryfoam, yeah, I think we're saying the same thing. If you're in a cake-baking contest and you enter a recipe you've been developing from scratch for years, maybe it has some weird vegetable ingredients but you've figured out through trial and error how to make it taste good, there's an incredibly high chance you're going to lose to someone who did something minor like put chocolate chips in a box mix, and because no one knows what your weird cake is, you get to watch people line up for them and say "oh it's so creative of you to put chocolate chips in a box mix." Cool, it probably tastes good. And I'm not the type to see creating as a contest anyway.

    The frustrating part isn't not being popular---you're intentionally breaking rules that work for most people---it's that you can't communicate what makes your work special anymore because most people would use the word "creative" to describe both scenarios. You can't point out that simply doing what you've done requires years of expertise, experimentation, failure and focused thought and that taking an old idea and putting a twist on it requires maybe a fraction of the effort, and that's for two reasons: (a) your cake is great on its own without having to diminish anyone else's creations and (b) no one trusts the creator to accurately assess the quality of their own work. So unless someone else comes along and convinces others that what you've done is on a whole other level, you're stuck having to watch this go down. And you can't do a thing about it.
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    Catastrophe Theory: happy sims are all alike; every one of these dumpster fires is unhappy in their own way
  • CathyTeaCathyTea Posts: 22,769 Member
    WHY!
    Noo...! That's the end??? That can't be the end. I don't trust myself to comment for several days now. Dhfgdggd *spastic mashing keyboard* That was brilliant writing for such a horrible scene. :bawling:

    I am in such stiff denial, that I am, presently, currently, and perennially writing the alternate version.

    Or rather, two alternates.

    Make it three.

    Alternate One: Hector pleads. Grim relents. Yay! Claudia quits drinking, grabs a backpack, heads off to Granite Falls.

    Alternate Two: It's a collab! My Simself (yes, the most-like-me one from Spectrum) wanders in, forgetting about the rule that you have to knock, sees Grim, forgets that she doesn't know what to do with her hands, gets down on her knees, and pleads, SO HARD, that Grim actually smiles a toothless grin. And relents. Cathy Tea grabs Claudia's hands and runs out the door with her, skipping! Whistling! Aileen and Hector punch Mike in the gut, kick him in the groin. And.... we remembered to feed the dog, too.

    Alternate Three (this is the for-real alternate): Charlie comes home. For Real. He's really alive, really on the planet, truly walking through the door. Claudia is shocked! Like totally. And (you see this alternate happens before all the brilliant writing of the last chapter), her hysteria wilts. It's Charlie.

    So, yeah. I am basically in denial. The world's too cruel right now, so I'm making up for it by not believing cruel fiction.
    But actually, the latest chapter is quite fantastic because Hector! Yes! I suppose that if I can see a gaslighter exposed, if I can see Hector be strong and righteous, I might actually be able to accept that chapter that I am in total denial over.

    Also, I'm hardly ever at the Forums anymore, so when I browsed through tonight, I caught up on this thread, and noticed that... gee! We've been reading the many parts of this last chapter for months! Since the pandemic was declared a pandemic, actually... no wonder I am in such denial and no wonder that my reading of it is intertwined with this difficult era....

    Also, are we having a book club? Did you mention that you might have questions for us readers so we can talk more about this? It would be fun! I see that lots of my friends are here! XD

    And I would love to talk about the rant that you had as the captions, about authenticity and creativity....
    Cathy Tea's SimLit Anthology

    Dragon Name: Hywicoes | House: Ravenclaw | Wand: Dogwood, Unicorn hair 11 ¼" , Suprisingly Swishy
  • mercuryfoammercuryfoam Posts: 759 Member
    @CathyTea

    Ohh... I know the Alternate Three is the for-real one but... I vote for Alternate Two! I like the end :naughty: I'll bring popcorn. Before your simself and Claudia skip away into paradise, you're welcome to join me as we watch this beautiful ending play out. (Xiyuan can play his violin in the background.) And then we can skip to Alternate Three.
    I haven't read the latest chapter yet, I'm still recovering from the blow. But if it is as you say, I will sneak peek tonight :lol:

    @Dollyllama108 yeah I was simply agreeing with you. I don't think competitions are the right platform for out of the box recipes and inventions. The creator has to either open their own business, find a company to carry out the distribution or patent their product. When the product is deemed successful, they can then create their own competition. Joining an existing one is doable I guess but I'm not holding my breath.

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  • CathyTeaCathyTea Posts: 22,769 Member
    @CathyTea

    Ohh... I know the Alternate Three is the for-real one but... I vote for Alternate Two! I like the end :naughty: I'll bring popcorn. Before your simself and Claudia skip away into paradise, you're welcome to join me as we watch this beautiful ending play out. (Xiyuan can play his violin in the background.) And then we can skip to Alternate Three.
    I haven't read the latest chapter yet, I'm still recovering from the blow. But if it is as you say, I will sneak peek tonight :lol:

    @Dollyllama108 yeah I was simply agreeing with you. I don't think competitions are the right platform for out of the box recipes and inventions. The creator has to either open their own business, find a company to carry out the distribution or patent their product. When the product is deemed successful, they can then create their own competition. Joining an existing one is doable I guess but I'm not holding my breath.

    Oh, the latest chapter is great and it makes me so excited for what's to come! I have a serious case of hero-worship.... I'm really trying not to be a romantic as I grow older and I've shed a whole lot of romanticism, but one stubborn vestige is hero-worship, and Hector is sliding into the hero role for me!

    Most of the chapter is chillingly terrifying--it's the worst of gaslighting, and I'm in such a funk of cognitive dissonance right now that reading it just about tipped me over the edge--but then the ending is so great! I was about standing on my chair cheering!

    Can't wait to hear your response!
    Cathy Tea's SimLit Anthology

    Dragon Name: Hywicoes | House: Ravenclaw | Wand: Dogwood, Unicorn hair 11 ¼" , Suprisingly Swishy
  • Dollyllama108Dollyllama108 Posts: 171 Member
    edited July 21
    @CathyTea @mercuryfoam

    HAHAHA this conversation is great!!
    Alternate One isn't that far off; Aileen and Hector can still fill us in on what happened afterward.

    Alternate Three is... quite interesting. It's interesting for people who know the future plot, in particular---as well as all the little foreshadowing breadcrumb trails---but I'm keeping my mouth shut.

    Alternate Two is great because your simself finally figured out what to do with her hands!

    And Xiyuan fiddling while Rome burns is honestly pretty accurate for how useful he's being right now.

    For those rallying behind Hector, I do have some good news for you:
    as you may have noticed, Hector's not the only person Mike has cheesed off. He may be a master manipulator, but would still struggle to keep his head above water in a battle of wits against a certain sarcastic old Brit...
    I hope some of the portrayal of gaslighting is validating, at least. I'm sure plenty of SimLit avoids this because so many authors are female (thus more likely to know what's up), but, hoo boy, there are more than a handful of romance novels acting like this stuff is 100% okay.

    Yeah, I'm planning on asking some questions after I finish Book II! This final chapter does tie up some loose ends and, I guess, introduces even more loose ends, so it seems like a good time. Mostly it's because the author should take a backseat to y'all when it comes to interpretation. Some questions might also steer people toward juicy hidden details!

    I think I've said enough about the perception of creativity for now but will listen to what other people have to contribute.
    Post edited by Dollyllama108 on
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    Catastrophe Theory: happy sims are all alike; every one of these dumpster fires is unhappy in their own way
  • mercuryfoammercuryfoam Posts: 759 Member
    edited July 21
    CathyTea wrote: »
    Oh, the latest chapter is great and it makes me so excited for what's to come! I have a serious case of hero-worship.... I'm really trying not to be a romantic as I grow older and I've shed a whole lot of romanticism, but one stubborn vestige is hero-worship, and Hector is sliding into the hero role for me!

    Most of the chapter is chillingly terrifying--it's the worst of gaslighting, and I'm in such a funk of cognitive dissonance right now that reading it just about tipped me over the edge--but then the ending is so great! I was about standing on my chair cheering!

    Can't wait to hear your response!

    I was definitely tipped waaayyy over the edge. 😏
    I need to watch Mike fall hard because I was really attached to Claudia. He needs to be exposed, removed from his self-erected pig-headed throne, trialed, found guilty, then equally messed in the head as how he did to Claudia for me to accept that justice is served. An eye for an eye. I like that Hector is aware now too! There's some sort of poetic justice if his own son takes him out, if it's headed that way.

    Im pretty much a romantic at heart. I doubt that'll ever change. 😄

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  • Dollyllama108Dollyllama108 Posts: 171 Member
    Thanks for sticking through the rough patch. It looks bleak now, but I promise that the central message of CT isn't pessimistic.

    Part of why I'm writing it is that I need more stories that aren't wish fulfillment. Sometimes you can start feeling helpless if your experience differs from conventional narratives, like something is wrong with you for your life not playing out the way it does in media, and many authors are afraid to write about things they don't understand. Two characters with romantic tension share a happily-ever-after? Cool, that's the beginning of a story, not the end of one. High school drama? Ok, what happens to those characters when they get older? Villain is defeated in the end? Ok, what if he isn't?

    So far we've only seen the beginning, where living in a whitewashed, sanitized environment still isn't making anyone happy. But the other message is that you can be happy even if things don't work out the way they do in stories*. Xiyuan/Bernard are an early example, I guess. We're going to keep seeing things not working for the characters and have them all press onward anyway.
    Exploring implications of the fact that sims can come back from the dead or avoid death is a major theme. Even if Mike is never brought to justice, Claudia may still be able to find peace.

    (*yeah, it's a story about how storytelling can be destructive; irony is also a major theme)
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    Catastrophe Theory: happy sims are all alike; every one of these dumpster fires is unhappy in their own way
  • ThePlumbobThePlumbob Posts: 4,542 Member
    Part of why I'm writing it is that I need more stories that aren't wish fulfillment. Sometimes you can start feeling helpless if your experience differs from conventional narratives, like something is wrong with you for your life not playing out the way it does in media, and many authors are afraid to write about things they don't understand. Two characters with romantic tension share a happily-ever-after? Cool, that's the beginning of a story, not the end of one. High school drama? Ok, what happens to those characters when they get older? Villain is defeated in the end? Ok, what if he isn't?

    Still so desperately behind in your story, so I don't actually know what traumatising event down the line the discussion relates to, but I just wanted to say that what you wrote here really appeals to me. You are so right, we are conditioned to aim for a happily ever after from a young age, when life in reality is a series of ebbs and flows. So much fiction leaves us pretty unprepared for the actual reality of life, because the moments that would class as a movie happy ending only occur sporadically. So I'm really liking the message here.

    Mind you I might completely change my tune when I finally reach the point the guys are discussing here 😆 So stay tuned for an outraged comment several months from now lol!
  • Dollyllama108Dollyllama108 Posts: 171 Member
    Alright, have a cute one.

    My friend called this a 'narrative breather': The Reaper's White Elephant (Pt. II)

    @ThePlumbob
    Because life is a gradual series of revelations
    That occur over a period of time
    It’s not some carefully crafted story
    It’s a mess and we’re all gonna die

    If you saw a movie that was like real life,
    You'd be like, "What the plum was this movie about?"
    It was really all over the place
    Life doesn't make narrative sense
    kbt.jpg
    Catastrophe Theory: happy sims are all alike; every one of these dumpster fires is unhappy in their own way
  • ThePlumbobThePlumbob Posts: 4,542 Member
    Oh that song is a thing of beauty - you're making me want to see tha movie now :D Life definitely doesn't make narrative sense, and the pacing is all wrong haha!
  • Dollyllama108Dollyllama108 Posts: 171 Member
    We're nearing the end of Book II---and I have to tell y'all, I'm excited. I've been itching to write these last four chapters for months. Let's start off with what this story really needs: more Bernard.

    About as epic an old-school takedown as I can write: The Reaper's White Elephant (Pt. III)
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    Catastrophe Theory: happy sims are all alike; every one of these dumpster fires is unhappy in their own way
  • Dollyllama108Dollyllama108 Posts: 171 Member
    Welp, here we are. 150k words in and the central premise was sneaking up on us this entire time. Now we've got the full setup and there are already some great reader theories bouncing around about the ramifications. Granted, one has insider knowledge, but still.

    And there's a brief mention of quarter water. GUYS. Remember quarter water?

    Aileen, drop dat bomb: The Reaper's White Elephant (Pt. IV)
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    Catastrophe Theory: happy sims are all alike; every one of these dumpster fires is unhappy in their own way
  • Dollyllama108Dollyllama108 Posts: 171 Member
    Late... because this one was a doozy. I told a friend recently that it was okay that her story was less digestible because it's like kale, and even if many people choose to eat chocolate as a snack over kale it doesn't lessen the value of either. But I feel like this post is like chewing on a brick. Hopefully it doesn't come off as too amateurish---particularly due to limitations of the blogging medium---because this was a rough topic to tackle.

    Bernard ruins ghosts for us forever: The Reaper's White Elephant (Pt. V)
    kbt.jpg
    Catastrophe Theory: happy sims are all alike; every one of these dumpster fires is unhappy in their own way
  • CathyTeaCathyTea Posts: 22,769 Member
    Late... because this one was a doozy. I told a friend recently that it was okay that her story was less digestible because it's like kale, and even if many people choose to eat chocolate as a snack over kale it doesn't lessen the value of either. But I feel like this post is like chewing on a brick. Hopefully it doesn't come off as too amateurish---particularly due to limitations of the blogging medium---because this was a rough topic to tackle.

    Bernard ruins ghosts for us forever: The Reaper's White Elephant (Pt. V)

    Kale is my favorite (preferred over chocolate, even, and equally with coffee!), and this chapter was incredibly beautiful to me. I have spent time (and experience unbidden past-life memories) around these themes--and I've seen fields of flowers at the passing of my grandmother--so I felt quite at home with this chapter. Also, all the game-mechanics references were delightful and funny. To me, this was an especially optimistic chapter. The notions of peace, healing, and resolution was present maybe for the first time?
    Cathy Tea's SimLit Anthology

    Dragon Name: Hywicoes | House: Ravenclaw | Wand: Dogwood, Unicorn hair 11 ¼" , Suprisingly Swishy
  • Dollyllama108Dollyllama108 Posts: 171 Member
    CathyTea wrote: »
    Late... because this one was a doozy. I told a friend recently that it was okay that her story was less digestible because it's like kale, and even if many people choose to eat chocolate as a snack over kale it doesn't lessen the value of either. But I feel like this post is like chewing on a brick. Hopefully it doesn't come off as too amateurish---particularly due to limitations of the blogging medium---because this was a rough topic to tackle.

    Bernard ruins ghosts for us forever: The Reaper's White Elephant (Pt. V)

    Kale is my favorite (preferred over chocolate, even, and equally with coffee!), and this chapter was incredibly beautiful to me. I have spent time (and experience unbidden past-life memories) around these themes--and I've seen fields of flowers at the passing of my grandmother--so I felt quite at home with this chapter. Also, all the game-mechanics references were delightful and funny. To me, this was an especially optimistic chapter. The notions of peace, healing, and resolution was present maybe for the first time?

    Yes!! And it means a lot that it resonates with you! You can tell by the delay that it wasn't the easiest post to write.
    Catastrophe Theory! Where the chapter about a mother's love for her toddler son is heartbreaking and the chapter where a man describes his traumatic death is optimistic. We need more trauma-recovery narratives that don't downplay the pain or view the healing process through rose-colored glasses.

    (But I do feel SO CALLED OUT by "maybe for the first time?" Hahaha, great. I'm not going to dispute that.)

    There's one more very short chapter in Book II and then I'll have some discussion questions for you guys :D
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    Catastrophe Theory: happy sims are all alike; every one of these dumpster fires is unhappy in their own way
  • Dollyllama108Dollyllama108 Posts: 171 Member
    Aaand... BOOK II IS DONE.

    IT'S DONE.

    ONLY A COUPLE MONTHS LATE (see banner).

    AAAUUUGH.

    The shortest CT post ever, clocking in at 220 words, but man were those a hard 220 words to write and I'm still tweaking it: Marigolds/Cempazuchitl

    I'll be up with the promised discussion questions later today; you'll know when because I'll also change the title.
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    Catastrophe Theory: happy sims are all alike; every one of these dumpster fires is unhappy in their own way
  • Dollyllama108Dollyllama108 Posts: 171 Member
    edited September 12
    Alright! Book II ended, so here are those promised discussion questions!

    I know there's a lot here, so please, don't feel obligated on my behalf. Feel free to pick and choose what's important to you: these are here to reward people for picking up on details (because holy smokes are there a lot) and coming to their own conclusions. And admittedly for selfish reasons as well, because your interpretations and perspectives are so valuable to me, more than I can express. In fact, the nature of the story makes it possible for readers who disagree with me to ultimately get it right. So let's get the ball rolling.

    (Edit: Spoiler tag)
    DEETS
    (Because next week I'm publishing a '20 Things You May Have Missed' listicle, and want to give people a shot at calling stuff out before the reveal.)
    Did you notice anything odd about the execution of Sunshine and Laughter (S&L)? As in, something so odd that no author would do it unconsciously, so it had to be intentional.
    Why did Bernard choose that moment to lecture Mike in The Reaper's White Elephant, Part III (RWE3)?
    Do you want to share anything you're proud of yourself for catching: jokes you had to think about, non-overt red flags, recurring symbolism, unusual execution, any details of that sort?


    SPECULATION
    What do you think happened to Charlie?
    Do you believe one of the three witnesses, or more than one? Or all of them? Or none of them? Or, @FeroshaCoutora, want to share your alternate interpretation? (Because it would have come into play years later if you hadn't pointed it out, so I bow to you. STANDING OVATION. AND BOWING. SIMULTANEOUSLY.)
    Any ideas on what people are going to do in the next book? Chantel? ViR? Shu? Jo? Mike? Hector? Kendra? Okay, we all know what Kendra's planning, but does anyone want to say it out loud?
    Any theories on how any single character would handle the death issue?


    INTERPRETATION
    What central themes have you identified?
    Are there themes or concepts you'd like to discuss further? (E.g.: how your relationship with death would be different in this universe---you personally---whether there's a protagonist, anything that influenced you, etc.)
    Any relationships you'd like to discuss further? (E.g.: Mike and Bernard as foils, Shu and Charlie as foils, Claudia and Aileen as foils, Claudia and Kendra as foils, joining me in OTP squealing, etc.)
    Shu. Just, Shu. Seems like everyone's split on him and I love it.
    Okay, a light one: who's your favorite character?


    ART
    Despite the unrealistic/unfair deadline I've set for myself, I'm not really ready to start this comic yet. I'm still struggling with some of the basics of digital art, like form and inking. Colors are like---let's not even have that conversation. So it's going to be one of those comics with a load of style evolution. Hopefully.

    I'd like to make some practice comics first where the characters answer your questions. Anyone want to ask a particular character something? They can answer even if they're dead or missing---but you'd be asking a version of Charlie who isn't missing, so he can't tell you where he is.

    (And of course, thank you, THANK YOU all for the enormous amount of time you've put into reading this. I cannot express my gratitude.)
    kbt.jpg
    Catastrophe Theory: happy sims are all alike; every one of these dumpster fires is unhappy in their own way
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