Doing the wrong things for the right reasons
September 18, 2013 7:12 AM   Subscribe

Introverted teenage girl gets superpowers- it's been done to death, right? Never quite like this. Worm is a web serial updating twice a week since mid-2011 that follows Taylor, a would-be superhero in a crapsack world with the ability to control insects and a truly frightening creativity with that power. Things escalate quickly. Morality is gray. Survival seems increasingly unlikely.

From the About page:
An introverted teenage girl with an unconventional superpower, Taylor goes out in costume to find escape from a deeply unhappy and frustrated civilian life. Her first attempt at taking down a supervillain sees her mistaken for one, thrusting her into the midst of the local ‘cape’ scene’s politics, unwritten rules, and ambiguous morals. As she risks life and limb, Taylor faces the dilemma of having to do the wrong things for the right reasons.
posted by Wretch729 (52 comments total) 63 users marked this as a favorite
 
Why? Why do you send me to tvtropes and introduce me to a new genre of their characterizations of *things*? This time it's setting-tropes and before I thought all they did was character-tropes. There goes at least a half day of work, straight down the internets.
posted by RolandOfEld at 7:47 AM on September 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Looks interesting. Is there a kindle friendly version?
posted by Drinky Die at 7:52 AM on September 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Drinky, the FAQ says not yet but eventually.
Q2: Will there be an ebook version?
A2: I hope to self publish and sell some somewhere down the road. Going to finish the story first and edit things as thoroughly as possible first.
posted by Wretch729 at 7:58 AM on September 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Links to tv-tropes should be banned. I thought, "What's a crapsack world?" Followed the link, "Scenery Gorn?" On and on. Then I was all, "How did I even get here?" when I was on a page about time travel. Took me like 15 back clicks to get back to this post.

I love the idea of a serial like this.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:08 AM on September 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Trigger warning, bullying.
posted by Slinga at 8:09 AM on September 18, 2013


Ah, that's why the low comment count. Everyone is mired in tvtropes.
posted by Mitheral at 8:17 AM on September 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


As it says at the top of the first installment: if you're the type to be on the lookout for trigger warnings, you might be best served to just read the comments here and give the actual story a pass.
posted by Poppa Bear at 8:18 AM on September 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


So I guess "oh noes TV Tropes my day is ruined" is the new "you owe me a new keyboard because of the soda I spilled on it"?

Anyways this looks pretty awesome.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:19 AM on September 18, 2013


Sorry I am a cliché.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:24 AM on September 18, 2013


Slinga - hadn't occurred to me but I probably should have mentioned it in the post. This is not a nice universe, and the (truly horrific) bullying is just the beginning. Possible trigger in there for damn near everything. Violence of all kinds, weird insect-related stuff, and emotional abuse, just for starters.

Just to compound my evil ways the specific TVTropes page for Worm itself is pretty extensive (and filled with spoilers).
posted by Wretch729 at 8:24 AM on September 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


a would-be superhero in a crapsack world with the ability to control insects and a truly frightening creativity with that power

I've seen that movie!

So I guess "oh noes TV Tropes my day is ruined" is the new "you owe me a new keyboard because of the soda I spilled on it"?

There's even a TV Tropes entry for the concept!
posted by Gelatin at 8:41 AM on September 18, 2013


MetaFilter: a would-be superhero in a crapsack world.
posted by jason_steakums at 8:53 AM on September 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


[A couple comments removed, please do not do the HA HA I NEED A TRIGGER WARNING FOR "TRIGGER WARNING" thing.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:41 AM on September 18, 2013


The first few entries are quite nice.
posted by jsturgill at 11:02 AM on September 18, 2013


This is why I would end up as a supervillain, or at the least one of those vigilantes that heroes have to stop, because I would SO have covered those bullies with insects. My temper, sense of justice and superpowers would be a bad mix.
posted by happyroach at 11:20 AM on September 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Links to tv-tropes should be banned.

Can't happen. Every time the mods peruse tvtropes to decide whether it should be banned they wake up many hours later with a facial impression of their keyboard and no memory of how they got there. It's like trying to ban The Silence.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 12:15 PM on September 18, 2013 [11 favorites]


Oh man. I used to follow Worm up until about a year ago when life got hectic and I let it drop by the wayside. Wildbow (the author) is an absolute bastard (and I mean that in the best possible way) in terms of screwing with their characters and in pacing every story post to keep you reading.

Which is why I'm going to wait until after work to start re-reading. Honest.
posted by mikurski at 12:45 PM on September 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


mikurski: "Oh man. I used to follow Worm up until about a year ago when life got hectic and I let it drop by the wayside. Wildbow (the author) is an absolute bastard (and I mean that in the best possible way) in terms of screwing with their characters and in pacing every story post to keep you reading.

Which is why I'm going to wait until after work to start re-reading. Honest.
"

Same here. I got into Worm way back when there really wasn't much to it. I need to get my hands dirty again.
posted by Samizdata at 4:22 PM on September 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


The discussion here is why I pretty much always put [warning: TVtropes] after all my links to that place.
posted by egypturnash at 7:08 PM on September 18, 2013


Also man this is nasty and brutal and is it wrong that I want to punch the entire clique of kids bullying the main character? Crapsack world indeed.
posted by egypturnash at 7:19 PM on September 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


What's worse, based on how far I've read, I don't think it it's a crapsack world. I t seems very similar to ours, complete with bullies, economically depressed cities, and public figures who are manipulative assholes. It's just our heroine has a really crappy life. I may find out differently later on- maybe there's an evil world dictator, or most of the world's a wasteland. But as it is, it's simply depressingly realistic.
posted by happyroach at 8:48 PM on September 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Wait until you get past the seventh interlude. The crap falls with a mighty splat.
posted by egypturnash at 12:40 AM on September 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Please tell me the author is going to finish this story. I'm starting to get really into it, and if it's another discontinued project you are all going to hear my howls of disappointment resonating through the tubes.
posted by BrotherCaine at 8:25 AM on September 19, 2013


Either that or I'll be driven to become a sinister supervillain contributing endlessly to TVTropes until people start starving to death surfing endlessly through it.
posted by BrotherCaine at 8:28 AM on September 19, 2013


So I was ready mock the "trigger warning", but then I started reading and, yeah, was taken right back to middle school: clueless teachers and administrators, peers who didn't understand, and...

I'm totally sucked in to it. Unlike so much "started free on the web" fiction I'm able to stay in the world; it's richly imagined with enough detail that I feel it, but no sharp edges that are making me say "Wait? What? That's not consistent!" And like good metaphor, there's a lot of "she's drawing strong analogies between these two different worlds", but never a one-to-one mapping.

Damn it, I'm hooked.
posted by straw at 8:53 AM on September 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


Really, this is good writing. Not literary but well potted, interesting characters, with depth for everyone, even villains and minor characters. It is exciting to watch situations and characters progress and grow. The fight sequences have a strange flavor to them (the cadence is slow and heavy on analysis and response, rather than a flow of swift and dramatic action), but it's a quirk, not necessarily a flaw, and helps show off the characters' abilities and personality.

I don't necessarily buy that this many conflicts can happen with so few deaths, but I'm willing to swallow that kind of disbelief.

This should absolutely be on bookshelves somewhere.

I've spent an absurd amount of time reading it. I think I'm at 300,00 words now, in less than 24 hours?
posted by jsturgill at 11:25 AM on September 19, 2013 [8 favorites]


I think the low number of deaths is part of the conceit of "these are para-humans playing with each other's lives, and only the really evil ones actually do bad (physical) things to normal humans". It's part of the superhero/supervillain trope that all this property destruction goes down, but the specials get to beat on each other like it's playground fighting.

And, yeah, the fight sequences are exposition, not action.
posted by straw at 11:43 AM on September 19, 2013


I'm in bed sick today. This is great reading for a quiet day at home.
posted by Lizard at 12:03 PM on September 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


I need to be working, and I keep sneaking back to this.
posted by BrotherCaine at 10:35 AM on September 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


I was expecting more cuddle death and villains drowning in suffocating clouds of midges.
posted by BrotherCaine at 6:17 AM on September 21, 2013


Jebus, this is addictive.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:40 PM on September 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


BrotherCaine - Have you read 22.4?
posted by Wretch729 at 8:28 PM on September 22, 2013


Not yet, no spoilers! ;)
posted by BrotherCaine at 9:17 AM on September 23, 2013


This is shockingly entertaining. I was annoyed that there was no ebook version, so I wrote a few scripts to make my own. I'm not sure it's a good idea for me to be posting someone else's work publicly without their permission, so I'll just leave a link to the code that did the conversion. If you're feeling adventurous, you can run it yourself (it requires Python, Rake, and a few other bits and pieces).
posted by LegoForte at 10:41 PM on September 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


LegoForte: thanks for that. It needed a few more pieces than listed in the readme, but it was easy enough to figure out. After passing it through Calibre, it's now sitting happily in my Kindle app.
posted by cameleon at 5:30 AM on September 25, 2013


I have lost so much sleep over this thing. I can't stop.

Send help.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:40 PM on September 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


There is no help. You must keep reading.

I just this minute came in here to say I am horribly addicted and look! Comment saying the same thing!
posted by cmyk at 6:52 PM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


But what happens when I run out? I'm already at Arc 26 after 3 days. My eyes hurt.

Just donated some money to the author, given that I've spent countless hours entertained by this and I can't buy an ebook (yet). If you guys have enjoyed it, you should too.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:02 PM on September 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


From the FAQ: It has (as of August 2013) reached an excess of 1,400,000 words; roughly 9-23 typical novels in length.

Holy crap, this thing is literally twice as long as the existing novels in A Song of Ice and Fire. And George Martin took two fucking decades to write those.

Worm was written over two years. That is prolific.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:11 PM on September 25, 2013 [7 favorites]


I have never sworn so much at my computer in my life. Thank you.
posted by Marinara at 9:54 AM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Finally caught up. I think I see where the thing with the duplicators is heading, and I'm wondering when Taylor's light bulb is going to go off.
posted by BrotherCaine at 10:43 AM on September 29, 2013


Well don't be coy. This is you moment to shine. Predict!
posted by jsturgill at 12:56 PM on September 29, 2013


Nah, rather be all mysterious and not look like an idiot if I'm wrong ;)
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:14 PM on September 29, 2013


Well, I managed to look like an idiot by misspelling "your" and not noticing it within the edit window.

So, there's that.
posted by jsturgill at 3:38 PM on September 29, 2013


Also, I can't speculate further without mentioning spoilers (for those not caught up) to explain what I'm speculating about.
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:41 PM on September 29, 2013


Damn it, Imp gets all the best dialogue.

I'm also amazed. I'm on the mailing lists of a few other authors of long-form web published fiction, and the good ones generally have teams of proof-readers and consistency checkers, and often the delay between "okay, I sent the first draft off to the editorial team" message precedes the actual publication of a chapter by a few weeks.

And even then I find the typo or two.

Twice weekly, and very few typos.
posted by straw at 11:17 AM on September 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


While the author's own proofreading is impressive, if you look in the comments you'll notice typos are quickly caught by the readers and fixed on the fly by the author. The fact that the broader narrative hangs together so well without veering into pointless sidequests or repetition is more impressive to me. Author comments in the FAQ that "Worm was founded on the remains a hundred+ unfinished short stories I wrote" which both helps explain and yet makes it even more impressive how well it hangs together.
posted by Wretch729 at 12:34 PM on September 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


Now that I'm caught up on Worm, any recommendations for other long running stories? I like deep characterization.
posted by BrotherCaine at 12:49 PM on September 30, 2013


The links on the top right of the Worm page to webfictionguide.com and topwebfiction.com might be a good place to look for stuff BrotherCaine, though I'm not personally familiar with them. If you're not put off by fanfic you might also noodle around the TVTropes FanFic recommendation pages. (Here)
posted by Wretch729 at 1:02 PM on September 30, 2013


Now that I'm caught up on Worm, any recommendations for other long running stories? I like deep characterization.

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality
is pretty good, even if it is technically fanfic.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:02 PM on September 30, 2013


I left this open in a tab for like two weeks before I started reading it. I expected that I would read about one page of it, and then close the tab. But I've actually now read all of it that's published so far. It's fantastic, except that the (Scientology-influenced?) cosmology is an extremely serious, story-destroying flaw that you only discover like 4/5ths of the way through what's been written so far. So far, I can actually pretend that those parts of the story don't exist and retcon around them in my headcanon, but I'm worried about the future.

One thing I found interesting was that as soon as Siberian encountered Clockblocker, I had an immediate, very strong opinion about of how their powers would interact. I was wrong, but it's still weird to have such strong opinions about nonsense physics.
posted by novalis_dt at 6:07 PM on October 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's fantastic, except that the (Scientology-influenced?) cosmology is an extremely serious, story-destroying flaw that you only discover like 4/5ths of the way through what's been written so far.

What? What's the flaw?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:55 PM on October 15, 2013


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