Friday, December 19, 2008

Flaky Fluff

"The Lambards are software engineers and former writers for an '80s video game called Car Wars, which spawned a role-playing card game and the magazine Autoduels Quarterly, which folded in 1992. With their three children, the couple also organizes and participates in annual 'filking' conventions, where participants bring renaissance instruments like mandolins and dulcimers and party in their best sci-fi or fantasy costumes."
"The Family That Preys Together" Laura Onstot. The Seattle Weekly, 16 December, 2008

As it turns out, being a science-fiction fan during my misspent youth (Does ANYONE ever spend their youth well?), I'm familiar with Car Wars, Autoduel Quarterly magazine, and filking. Ms. Onstot is clearly unfamiliar with all of the above. A few minutes of searching online would have told Ms. Onstot that the Lambards wrote the card game - the Car Wars video game was programmed by Jim Dramis and that the only thing that the video game and the card game had in common was the name. (I've played both - the video game on the TI99/4A that my parents owned, and the card game on a trip to Japan. I still have my copy of the card game. I'd rather still have the video game.) Or that there is no requirement that filking use renaissance instruments - it's simply (primarily) science fiction or fantasy themed music sung in the manner of folk songs, and you don't need to wear a costume, either. (So for instance, were I to write a folk-style song about autoduelling, that would qualify as filk.) Or maybe even the correct spelling of Autoduel Quarterly - note the lack of an "s."

But, in actually, none of these things are important. The article is about how two generations of the Lambard family bilked an old woman out of tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. Their ties to the gaming, convention and filking communities are completely irrelevant to the story at hand. Why include worthless details, if you aren't going to get them right?

In a way, it doesn't matter. I know these things, but few other Seattle Weekly readers are liable to know, and fewer still, to care. I guess I think that even free journalism should get the details right, and avoid fluff if it's not going to be fact checked.

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