(CW: Foul language. Too much language; i.e., SNOOTiness. We don’t do bloodshed but people with decades of Sim serial murder under their belt have called CT “sick” and claimed they “couldn’t handle writing a story that dark.” Make of that what you will.)
Death has fascinated storytellers for at least as long as language has been around. For us, death is inescapable—the last great mystery. Countless authors have dedicated their lives to writing about a topic none of them have ever experienced. Some believe in an afterlife, others believe we achieve immortality through what we leave behind.
But as other authors have pointed out, immortality has its downsides too. Few things are more human than hearing the argument “eh, we’ll get bored of it eventually” and taking it at face value.
Ok—so our current situation is undesirable, as is immortality. Let’s eliminate fear of the unknown. What if we had control over our own death? What if some benevolent force took all the guesswork out of it, so we’d know we’d be immortal until we, ourselves, chose to die? And how would we know we’re ready?
And what if a group of people lived in a perfect utopia designed for their enjoyment, where jobs were plentiful, anyone could gain expertise in any skill, discrimination were nonexistent, and earning money were as easy as making frogs hump and selling their babies? (The frog’s babies.) What, then, could possibly make them decide when to die?
Let’s find out.
A MESSAGE FOR NEW READERS
If you’re brand-spanking new to the story, I highly recommend not starting from the beginning. Cannot stress that enough.
What happened was that, on top of the normal flaw amateur writers have where you could throw a rope over the gap in quality between old stuff and new stuff and have it not reach the other side, I made the fatal mistake of having my favorite book be Infinite Jest, so, possibly due to its influence, the ‘hook’ doesn’t really drop till near the end of Book III. And we’re not quite there yet. So while Book I is okay for what it is, it lacks the dramatic tension of the later chapters and isn’t—I want to say ‘sticky’—enough to compete with stories where you know what’s going to happen.
I’ll release a prologue closer to the start of Book III that should pack enough how-the-heck-what-happens-next to make up for my floundering storytelling in the first book. I hope. But for now, this is the order I’d suggest instead:
– No Place for a Heroine. It’s relatively spoiler-free and represents the quality of later chapters. The first post does not. I repeat, the first post does not.
– Kendra and Shu Summarize Book I. Get caught up on the spicy gossip fast, and you lose nothing from picking and choosing which Book I chapters to read.
– Book II: Open Floodgates, Closing Door.
We also have a character page.
Living in paradise wasn’t enough. Good intentions weren’t enough; they never were. The Jeong-Espinosas and the Lius were successful and talented, but as time went on, they realized their true talent was making themselves miserable.
Mike Jeong and Claudia Espinosa are proud parents to a habitual overthinker, a doll executioner, and a little boy with the personality of a game-show host—but if you listen closely, the jokes thrown around the dinner table are more about control and belittlement, predator and prey, than anything else. And Aileen and Xiyuan Liu love their young son, a violin prodigy, even when their struggles with sexuality threaten to rip the family apart. The first 20 documented years of family history start as a loose first-person gameplay description before plunging deep into the characters’ heads as they unravel.
Book I of Catastrophe Theory explores its initial hypothesis: there is no need to torture Sims. They torture themselves.
(Dolly hashed most of these out before intending to make the story public, as the screenshot quality and stylistic changes demonstrate. Regardless, it has its moments.)
The tension in Book I can’t be kept under the surface anymore: here it starts bubbling out onto everyone’s shoes. Shu and Claudia struggle to take control of their failing relationships. Kendra finds a way to Keep Strangerville Weird as the Jeong-Espinosas handle an unexpected family tragedy. Liu family drama trickles into the San Myshuno music scene, as if tainting the San Myshuno art scene wasn’t enough. And when the game mechanics poetically thrust the family into the next step in their existential journey, no one is prepared for it.
Book III: Apotheosis
With suspense at an all-time high, the sims are pushed to their limits. Hector enters adulthood with a hate-fueled drive to succeed. Chantel’s career gives her the coping mechanisms she needs and more than a couple shin bruises. Xiyuan and Bernard reveal more of their authentic selves, to the dismay and delight of everyone around them. Jo and Jasper add new and old faces alike to their growing family. But while many smaller mysteries get resolved, they’re minor-league distractions from the decision at the back of the sims’ minds: what are they going to do with the knowledge that they can beat death?
At least a couple people think they’ve figured it out.
After Book II ends in August, we’re going to take a break—draw some comics, make some CC, release some extras, get ahead in the story—and start Book III in December 2020.
Not Catastrophe Theory
Because the main story didn’t have enough characters. These, at least you don’t have to remember.
The Real Meaning of ‘Claudia! Duck!’ (you’ve activated my trap card)
The Applied Apple Approach (story contest theme was apples… yeah, it was rough)
The Watcher (proof that Dolly isn’t a crap writer, just a crap promoter)