So, now that the first three chapters of Ward/Worm II have been posted, I’ll give my impression. The impression is simple.
Typical Wildbow so far. You have the detailed, at least theoretically interesting setting, the dark tone, and the mediocre prose that feels kind of “infodumpy” and has trouble moving to different tones. That wasn’t surprising. (Neither is the argumentative discussion on Spacebattles, unfortunately).
The big question mark will be pacing. Pacing was one of the big weaknesses of the original Worm. It managed to be 1.6 million words long, or almost three times the length of War and Peace. Yet it also managed to escalate far too much. Even Wildbow’s shortest full web serial, Pact, is only slightly less than twice the length of that legendary thick book. For me, it’s at least easier to follow if I read from the start and read one chapter at a time (which is easy, I read fast), instead of binging on millions of words written clunkily.
So, I’m not exactly surprised by anything I’ve seen so far in Ward. The question as to whether it can recapture the magic of Worm in SBCRW also remains unanswered. To answer that will have to wait until the story develops more, and then to see how many fanfics use elements from Ward and Ward alone.
That’s Ward after three chapters. More or less what I expected, with all of Wildbow’s strengths and weaknesses. I hope it can improve, but given how it’s checked so many of the boxes already, I’m a little skeptical.
After nine teaser previews and much anticipation, the first chapter of Worm II (with the formal name Ward) has been posted.
I read it. It’s at least fresh, even if I still have issues with Wildbow’s prose and the excesses of the setting. One literary note is that the narrator’s name (Victoria Dallon) is somewhat clunkily inserted, and done at the very end of the chapter as a cliffhanger.
I’ve hopefully absorbed enough Worm knowledge through Spacebattles to get the general setting view. And speaking of Spacebattles, I’ll just say I’m glad there’s a seperate Worm forum in CRW.
The first prologue, or as Wildbow calls it, “Bridge chapter” of the long-awaited Worm 2 has been posted.
I read it. I’ll have to read from the start or else I’ll fall behind. It happened with Pact and Twig. SB must be bracing itself for more wormfics-which surprisingly only made up 6 of the top twenty most popular threads by the most recent count. Let’s see if that changes.
So, the final chapter of Wildbow’s story Twig was posted yesterday. Now the fans are understandably eager for Worm 2.
I found Wildbow’s comments on his own work to be very fascinating and illuminating. Give them a read. As for whether or not Spacebattles will become even more overrun with wormfics-I stand by what I previously wrote.
(Also, the belief that Arc 20 was going to be the final one turned out to be accurate. Whether it was truly prescient or just crying wolf until a lupine beast finally appeared is a difficult question).
Although Twig has not officially concluded, much less Worm 2 having started, the first epilogue of that story has been posted.
The question of whether I should try to get into Worm 2 is tough. I tried to get into Twig a bit, but it just didn’t really grab me, however thematically interesting. Reasons I’d want to get into Worm 2 are:
- I could be pleasantly surprised.
- I want to know more about Spacebattles’ favorite weird niche webfic.
- Most importantly, reading it as it starts means I’m not buried by a gigantic overload of previous chapters.
However, the reason why I wouldn’t, and why I haven’t, are twofold.
- Wildbow (the author) has prose that’s just “meh”. Not terrible, but not the most gripping.
- The pacing of the stories isn’t very good, which combined with their (admirably) fast update schedule means I catch up on several chapters of nothing.
That being said, I’ll still give it a try, and if nothing else, I might be motivated to read through the many updates of Worm 1 while Twig winds down. Maybe I’ll find it an acquired taste. It’s certainly happened before with stuff that didn’t seem good at first impression.
One piece of webfiction in particular holds a peculiar trend. The work of fiction would be the web serial Twig, by “Wildbow”, the author of the Spacebattles-favorite superhero epic Worm. The trend is for fans to declare that the storyline must be almost over.
The claims that Twig must be ending soon first started appearing in earnest around Arc 10. Now Twig is at Arc 20. And there’s talk that, honestly, really, Wildbow’s close to finishing it off.
When browsing through the Worm community, I’ve found an explanation that I felt made a lot of sense. People want Worm II, Wildbow’s announced sequel to the initial blockbuster, and they’re so eager that they want Twig to be over.
I admit to being one of them. A story I could follow a chapter at a time could get me to know the setting better than having to dig through a gigantic million word archive. At the same time, I’ve always felt Wildbow has had pacing issues, and thus I’m not surprised Twig has gone the way it has.
The morbid question I have is “will Worm II overload Spacebattles even more?” According to a running thread, around 15-20 of the top stories in Creative Writing are Worm-centric. I personally feel that if it catches CRWs attention again (which is not a guarantee-Pact has only two fanfics written on Spacebattles, and Twig has zero), most of the “victims” will be other wormfics.
So I guess I’ll have to wait and see. For what it’s worth, Worm itself ended after 31 arcs, and Wildbow’s next work, Pact, wrapped after 16.
It’s a weird coincidence.
Shortly after I made my post about how I’d soured on Alternatehistory.com, there was an incident in the dreaded Chat. The board administrator had undertaken another mass banning and issued a rant that many considered to be far beyond his well-known anti-Israel bias, crossing the line into being outright anti-Jewish. As a result, with the aid of friendly staff, a breakaway (sub)forum was set up on Sufficient Velocity.
Many people pointed out the irony of that, since disagreements with board administrators was how SV got started to begin with. And like the Athene Incident, I viewed the latest blowup as primarily a catalyst. Mass bannings/kickings [tempbans] over Israel and the administrator’s view on the country were not exactly a new experience.
This makes me all the more glad I moved away when I did.
Someone on Spacebattles made and posted this background document for the infamous Infinite Loops project. In terms of showing how goofy oneshots turned into something as tangled as it is, it’s worth a million words.
Linked here because it’s too big to fit in this post. The thumbnail below shows why.
Spacebattles has, thanks to board upgrades, finally been able to implement a Worm subforum for their Creative Writing board.
The Worm craze has been gigantic, and is every bit as big now as it was when I first blogged about it. Making it opt-in is preferable to just stuffing everything into a subforum to cries of “fencing off”.
So hopefully this works without much issue.
So, what would I do to improve the loop-threads?
This is legitimately tough. A part of me just wants to go “Ok, I’d criticize them, but let them be as long as they don’t have inappropriate content.” Another part of me just wants to impose better rules.
Rules like the Familiar of Zero ones, designed to turn a previously spammy fandom substantive. The problem is that FoZ is a specific setting, and the Loops aren’t.
So, if I was in charge of policing the Loops on Spacebattles, here’s what I’d do.
-Inactive loop threads are unceremoniously closed. For active ones, I’d give the authors a short time to write a finish, and then close them as well.
-Canon is flushed-the entire Yggdrasil excuse setup is gone.
-Snippets have to be very long.
-No one-liners, no dare/suggestions.
-The writer should ideally set out an endstate.
This is an disproportionately large burden, but the loops are disproportionately vulnerable to the worst excesses of goofy fandom. I’d feel reluctant in some ways, but consider it necessary in others.