Hello. I am Francis. I write some stuff. 🙂

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Writing

The latest thing I have published is “Masters of the Wine Printers Guild,” an economic fantasy about a conspiracy of apprentices who decide to defy the masters and print their own wine. In celebration of Public Domain Day 2023, I released it to the public domain on January 1st. You can get it in various formats, including a ready-to-print zine, here.

This year some other artists joined me in celebrating Public Domain Day by ceding their own works. You can find their works also at the link above.

Reading

Right now I’m reading The Last of the Wine and loving it. Renault’s depiction of life in ancient Athens is extremely rich, and any writer of fantasy or science fiction would do well to observe how powerfully she evokes this alien city. So far (85 pages in) not so much has happened as far as plot—at least, not anything where the main character has taken an active role. These 85 pages have been filled, though, with the day to day experience of a free citizen growing up; overheard gossip, political debates; maneuvering through the pressures of state, family, and society.

What’s really struck me is how much Renault’s Athens feels like a small town, with side characters constantly re-appearing and running into one another, everyone knowing everyone’s business, and major historical figures casually encountering our narrator (e.g. Xenophon, Socrates, Alcibiades.) Some of this is plot contrivance, sure, but it really does feel authentic because Athens was pretty small, by modern standards, especially when you reduce it to just the free citizens. And of course the free citizens strongly identified with the City due to its institutions, and due to the civic culture of Ancient Greece. The effect is that Athens appears as a coherent, vivid social space, and the book is utterly engrossing.

Etcetera

Starting in 2020, I’ve been making a one-page comic at the start of each new year. I’ve only ever posted them on Twitter, but since I’m putting more focus on this website now, you can count on seeing them here every new year. I’ve posted all the previous ones as well as this year’s, you can check it all out here.

Good Websites

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