Stanisław Lem - Forum

English => Forum in English => Wątek zaczęty przez: Dragon of Improbability w Sierpień 04, 2010, 12:37:10 am

Tytuł: Guidelines For Lem-Inspired Stories?
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Dragon of Improbability w Sierpień 04, 2010, 12:37:10 am
The Dragon has emerged from Nothingness again,

In the opinion of the most devoted Lem fans on Solaris Station: What are the guidelines to writing fiction (or science fiction) in the vein of Stanislaw Lem? More specifically: what are the steps required to write stories that are like Stanislaw Lem's?

Tytuł: Re: Guidelines For Lem-Inspired Stories?
Wiadomość wysłana przez: OlegY w Sierpień 08, 2010, 02:00:10 am
good enough scientific-related education =)
Tytuł: Re: Guidelines For Lem-Inspired Stories?
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Terminus w Sierpień 09, 2010, 04:35:56 pm
Why would you want to write like Lem? Just don't occupy your mind with that... If you love his books it will show up in what you write.

It is true Lem was very well educated, very intelligent (his speculated IQ was around 200) and imaginative. But knowledge itself isn't most important - in cases of books like Solaris he, instead of knowing anything, had to invent a whole new branches of science connected with the planet. It showed that he had done his homework about how science works, developps, what conflicts it has within itself, and so on. I believe it gives a hint about at least one aspect of "Lem's method" - he got to know some mechanisms to great extent, and then let his fantasy do the rest, while keeping to the details with great care.  Also, he used Polish language such extraordinary ways... But this obviously could hardly be copied even if you were Polish, and you probably are not :)

By the way, let us know when you write anything :)
Tytuł: Re: Guidelines For Lem-Inspired Stories?
Wiadomość wysłana przez: OlegY w Sierpień 09, 2010, 09:15:44 pm
"If you love his books it will show up in what you write".

Terminus, you are really getting the point! I bet you have your own experience of writing novels which are worth reading. Please give me the link. I cannot boast of something like that but my younger brother is training to compose stories and periodically asks my consultation. So I feel myself somehow adhere to story-writing activity  :D
Tytuł: Re: Guidelines For Lem-Inspired Stories?
Wiadomość wysłana przez: trx w Sierpień 10, 2010, 12:23:00 am
Composing stories (good ones) is not this kind of human activity that could be taught by any simple methods, resembling algorithms. If one thinks that he/she may achieve this skill by reading any guides ("10 steps to become a famous poet", etc.) or by writing for practice, he/she is deeply sunk in illusion. There are thousands of factors, making you a a great writer/mathematician/etc.: a set of your genes, your childhood, parents, access to books, libraries, culture. Dozens of them.
Tytuł: Re: Guidelines For Lem-Inspired Stories?
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Terminus w Sierpień 10, 2010, 11:59:49 pm
Well, I'm not sure. Maybe a really good algorithm with large database could try its chance ;)
Tytuł: Re: Guidelines For Lem-Inspired Stories?
Wiadomość wysłana przez: OlegY w Sierpień 11, 2010, 09:13:22 pm
respect to trx. I agree. The art of story-writing is far from being practicing some algorithms. That is why  I like Lem and Strugatskyie. I think the crucial factor here is personal expirience of existance. Funny, it sounds somehow vague in English, but I'm sure my Polish friends can understand it alright. Plus something else of course. May be the ability of seeing things as they are and the courage of being able of sharing this knowledge with  others?
 :o Sorry, I'm getting too complicated.
I'm sure if you were brought up in an intellectual family having pure gene code and were graduated with high level academic education, but if you've never seen life as it is with its absurd stupidness, violence and psycosis - and from the other hand - with those men who can adequately stand it all showing good resistance and professionalism - then you hardly have a chance to be undersood by people. Leave alone composing stories which could impress us.  ::)
Tytuł: Re: Guidelines For Lem-Inspired Stories?
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Terminus w Sierpień 18, 2010, 06:25:50 pm
Alas, I still beg to differ.
Oleg gives an uplifting description of how wonderful person a good (sci-fi) writer must be: abnormally intelligent acute observer, magically tunelling his creativity into ideas never before seen, still keeping it all in agreement with contemporary (and, by projection/extrapolation) future science. All that is obviously true (though I dare say quite a few good writers fail to meet these criteria), but that's not against the point I was trying to make.
In short: creation of a story, even though Lem himself considered such task an ultimate test for AI, is still only as possible as creating AI. I too once objected the idea (of AI) but now I think that task is somehow overrated, not to say that programmers working on it are getting better - cause they still seem pretty far from it - but rather because the "I" in "AI" seems something different to me nowadays. More elusive and illusive  than ideal; an umbrella term encompassing few other, of which some recently became quite attainable, like e.g. problem solving or communication.
Besides, as proven by Lem's own 'Sci-Fi calculator', a "weak"(/"foolish") writer is not far from being a machine, merely choosing should Jack be eaten by Christmas Mechanic Gorillas or save Jean from the Aliens. So why couldn't another machine take it a little further?
Tytuł: Re: Guidelines For Lem-Inspired Stories?
Wiadomość wysłana przez: OlegY w Sierpień 22, 2010, 02:53:30 pm
 ??? that's great. I wish there could be another third man able to discuss this theme. To me the most interesting issue here is the difference between I and AI. I cannot boast of my high iQ (but I honestly can complain to my low one =) The question is that AI is the product of  I (could you imagine the contrary?) so it cannot be smarter that its producer. Is there someone to argue that?  So the perfect story-teller cannot exist



Tytuł: Re: Guidelines For Lem-Inspired Stories?
Wiadomość wysłana przez: tzok w Sierpień 24, 2010, 11:59:24 am
Cytat: OlegY
The question is that AI is the product of  I (could you imagine the contrary?) so it cannot be smarter that its producer. Is there someone to argue that?
I can imagine the contrary. I mean computer-designed bio-cells, made entirely by robots. That's sci-fi today, but possible in the future in my opinion. And as for the second question I also disagree with you. Look, humans can develop brilliant algorithms and learning techniques for computers. Then they can run the programs and wait, wait, wait until some super-AI develops. If you have some mathematical problem one person cannot solve due to its computational complexity, you can delegate the job to computers. Then the "only problem" human needs to solve is to program the algorithm appropriately. That's easier to do and with computer help - it yields a result. The same can happen with AI development. We will "only" have to program computers to do it.
Tytuł: Re: Guidelines For Lem-Inspired Stories?
Wiadomość wysłana przez: OlegY w Sierpień 28, 2010, 10:18:54 pm
Thanks, tzok.
First. Who has produced the robots? Human.
Second. "We will "only" have to program computers to do it" - to develop AI. Sorry, pal. We are now still as far from that as we were when Lem wrote HMV. It's mere sci-fi so far.

I wish  you read his later works.
Lem was trying to ensure the audience that interstellar voyages, contacts with extraterrestrial mind, artificial intelligence, journey through time and other old-fashioned sci-fi stuff is not essential now.
Yes, we are facing technological breakdown. Brand new magical substances, medicine recycling life organs and rejuvenation, more astrophysics resuts, Large Hadron Collider and so on. But we are still alone, we are still human, we are still animals. Wild and stupid. And that is the problem to handle and work out. Not AI.   
Tytuł: Re: Guidelines For Lem-Inspired Stories?
Wiadomość wysłana przez: tzok w Sierpień 31, 2010, 02:38:31 pm
Cytat: OlegY
First. Who has produced the robots? Human.
So? That doesn't exclude the other way round.

As for the rest of your response. I think you are mixing two things. First - is there EVER a possibility to create true artificial intelligence? Second - if yes, where are we now?

For the first question, I think the answer is true. And also in my opinion, Lem with all his pessimism from later works will agree. He always pointed out all dangers and odds, but still remained on position, that someday it will become possible.

For the second question, I am not even willing to doubt in what you say. It is true, that we are all still "wild and stupid animals".

I just thought we are concentrating on the first question :)
Tytuł: Re: Guidelines For Lem-Inspired Stories?
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Terminus w Sierpień 31, 2010, 03:21:46 pm
Just as well, if we're 'wild & stupid', then it should be easier to construct AI that matches our intellect :)
Tytuł: Re: Guidelines For Lem-Inspired Stories?
Wiadomość wysłana przez: OlegY w Wrzesień 01, 2010, 10:46:05 pm
Just as well, if we're 'wild & stupid', then it should be easier to construct AI that matches our intellect :)


Terminus, no way  ;)

Ok, let me be so stupid not to believe that a today's "perfect consumer" could invent and produce technology for improving himself. The first stage to that for him is to learn to become aware that he's nothing more than a "perfect consumer". As I've read in one of Eugine Lukin's books: To get started from zero you should first achive that zero point.
 :D

Tzok: "Then the "only problem" human needs to solve is to program the algorithm appropriately."
Well that's where we differ. It's a classical problem: to put the question the right way means to almost answer it, something like that. 

One more from you: "is there EVER a possibility to create true artificial intelligence? Second - if yes, where are we now?"

I'm an optimist, I believe yes. Where are we  now? The same place as ever before, may be even farther from the solution than we where in Rennaissance age for instance. At that time  naturalists constructed mechanisms and made an autopsy by their own hands. And now you have only be able to push the computer key to be a scientist.
I think the first thing on the way to create an AI is to establish what an "ordinary" intelligence is and how it can be reproduced or replicated.
Do you agree with that?  ::)
Thanks for keeping the dialog alive!

Tytuł: Re: Guidelines For Lem-Inspired Stories?
Wiadomość wysłana przez: tzok w Wrzesień 02, 2010, 10:05:30 am
OlegY, I think I understood what you meant. You are saying, that people are treating technology in a consumerist manner - to have better experiences, more fun, more joy, etc. but no one really looks for a good direction to choose in further development. And looking at all of this from some perspective makes us doubt in any real possibility of AI development, at least in the near future. If that's what you meant - I agree.

Cytat: OlegY
Tzok: "Then the "only problem" human needs to solve is to program the algorithm appropriately."
Well that's where we differ. It's a classical problem: to put the question the right way means to almost answer it, something like that.
Of course my words were a large oversimplification :). I just wanted to highlight a mechanism, that it's easier to write:
for i := 0 to 1000:
    output i
than to write numbers from 0 to 1000 yourself.

Cytat: OlegY
One more from you: "is there EVER a possibility to create true artificial intelligence? Second - if yes, where are we now?"

I'm an optimist, I believe yes. Where are we  now? The same place as ever before, may be even farther from the solution than we where in Rennaissance age for instance. At that time  naturalists constructed mechanisms and made an autopsy by their own hands. And now you have only be able to push the computer key to be a scientist.
I think that you're stereotype-thinking a bit here :). Renaissance is often portrayed as a golden age of humanism, but remember that what we learn now on history are stories about individuals from that time. We all associate Renaissance with Leonardo da Vinci - a brilliant genius... but one person.

And look at modern civilization. Life expectancy has never been so long (it drastically increased in 20th century). We can cure many illnesses, which were fatal not so long time ago. We can travel all around very quickly and easily. We can communicate instantly with people on other the Earth. For the first time in history, the knowledge is free - if you have access to the Internet, it's no matter you're from western Europe or maybe some poor country in Africa.

Just to state it clearly - I am generally on the same side as you :). I am a misanthrope myself - this civilization and this common consumerism are disgusting me. I am saying all of this above for the sake of objectivity. Because with all the greatness of Renaissance or maybe Enlightenment, these were cruel and savage times not less that ours. And also with all stupidity and dumbness of today, we are fortunately not in the worst times ever :). Every time has its pros and cons.

Cytat: OlegY
I think the first thing on the way to create an AI is to establish what an "ordinary" intelligence is and how it can be reproduced or replicated.
Do you agree with that? 
Yes I do, and that's a good starting point. However that's also so much of an open question that I don't think we'll find an answer to ;)
Tytuł: Re: Guidelines For Lem-Inspired Stories?
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Terminus w Wrzesień 03, 2010, 05:04:23 pm
Well then maybe you could look at wikipedia's article about AI. It's clearly visible there, that the field is subdivided into many separate, such as ability to communicate, recognize people, and so on. So formulating a question "What is AI" is - I raiterate - no simpler than answering question "What is Intelligence ?".

Zen masters would be delighted :)
Tytuł: Re: Guidelines For Lem-Inspired Stories?
Wiadomość wysłana przez: OlegY w Wrzesień 04, 2010, 12:16:52 am
Thanks Terminus. The fact that we presently are describing Human Intelligence simply as a collection of features such as imitation of communication, semblance of ability to conclude, pattern recognition, and so forth - this fact somehow confirms that we are unfortunately unable see the root of the phenomenon. We see only its manifestations which we try to recostruct, but  the engine of all those is still left unknown.

Tzok, I might be wrong but the last decades of progress have shown that we can extensively develop only computer calculating capacity and speed. However no new quality such as an independent judgement of computer "mind" has been achieved so far.
Speaking of Rennaissance Age there were hundreds of naturalists like Leonardo. He is the famous one for us - that's all. You may request info about Kardan for example. A dozen more names can easily be found in Wikipedia. And I'm sure the others couldn't leave a trace in history just because of the poor information exchange at that time.  They remained unknown magician and alchemists. But they practiced science and succeded.

Free access to vast volumes of information nowadays has actually  revealed a problem when user lacks the ability to process that information the way to get some use of it. We have learned to compile pieces of information to produce a resemblance of some report or a science work.
But that all is 99% of nonsense. So the number of actual scientists has approximately been staying constant during last hundreds of years.












Tytuł: Re: Guidelines For Lem-Inspired Stories?
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Terminus w Wrzesień 04, 2010, 12:37:23 am
That's why I mentioned Zen masters - because as in the case of our intelligence, there are many phenomena in natural world that we only think we can describe. Standard question: what does it mean "me"?
Can you answer that in a nontrivial way?
I sincirely doubt that!
For "Intelligence" the chance of proper description are similar, at least in my opinion. It is very elegant that you've called it: a sum of manifestations. The same can be said about a "person"... "flower"... etc. Because what a "person" is? An individual with a name? Name can change, look can change, and all the atoms in body change every few years. What's constant? Only some manifestations :) (Of genome, maybe, but that's different matter).

Also, Oleg, I sense you have fought some battles in scientific world, am I wrong?
Tytuł: Re: Guidelines For Lem-Inspired Stories?
Wiadomość wysłana przez: OlegY w Wrzesień 05, 2010, 08:00:17 pm
No, I've never participated in some scientific debates. I was graduated as an oil processing engineer and presently work as an administrator in a company which deals in information security issues.
What does "me" means to myself (or "you" to yourself)- that's the great question! You might try to seriously ask this question to a friend of yours or a relative. And in most cases the answers wouldn't satisfy neither you nor the person who'd been asked. It's kind of magic question.
And I'm not satisfied with my own answer to that also  ;D (Terminus you doubt it right)

As to the problem of "manifestations": well, it really exists as well. Too often we see things which are not  real objects but seem to be the projections of our own (?) psychic activity. Even in everyday life - when communicating with the family, at work, with friends etc. How to distinguish things inspired mostly by your mind from ones related to outside world? That is the key point when you choose how to react, isn't it?
Thanks to St. Lem and some others, we can at least aware the problem.
I'm sure after decade or two this matter will be taught at school. Otherwise we are hopeless.




Tytuł: Re: Guidelines For Lem-Inspired Stories?
Wiadomość wysłana przez: tzok w Wrzesień 06, 2010, 11:36:25 am
Tzok, I might be wrong but the last decades of progress have shown that we can extensively develop only computer calculating capacity and speed. However no new quality such as an independent judgement of computer "mind" has been achieved so far.
If we talk about AI strictly, then you're right - we're nowhere as close as scientist prognosed in ~1950s when AI research started. However this imporvement "only in capacity and speed of calculation" led to some really advanced innovations. There are now produced chips that enable blind people to see again (of course not in every situation). We are also at the beginning of thought-driven interaction which will allow disabled people to live a close to normal life (thought-driven = with use of special hard- and software, people can do some actions only thinking about them). Many interesting things may be done with this huge information processing capabilities that nowadays we have :)

Cytat: OlegY
Free access to vast volumes of information nowadays has actually  revealed a problem when user lacks the ability to process that information the way to get some use of it. We have learned to compile pieces of information to produce a resemblance of some report or a science work.
But that all is 99% of nonsense. So the number of actual scientists has approximately been staying constant during last hundreds of years.
Nicely said :). I agree with this. We're overloaded with information each and every day. I've read somewhere, that it's the first time in human history, that more information is produced than consumed. It has always been the other way round. Now we are doomed to reject some data, to filter the rest, and to finally process only the small part.

However still I am on a position, that it's better to have choice over 1000 books, than to have 10 poor books :). It's just that we have stronger pressure to choose correct data sources.
Tytuł: Re: Guidelines For Lem-Inspired Stories?
Wiadomość wysłana przez: OlegY w Wrzesień 07, 2010, 11:02:22 pm
However still I am on a position, that it's better to have choice over 1000 books, than to have 10 poor books :). It's just that we have stronger pressure to choose correct data sources.

So you are generally satisfied with the way things presently are in scientific progress, aren't you?
Well honestly if  I was deaf or blind and could use the appropriate new devices to compensate my disability - then I would be satisfied too. That's where the progress shows best results. I agree.
All in all we should appreciate our living in technology. You shouldn't work like a dog for a living, you have more free time to waste, more choices. You have your right to make mistakes at last. Because they can be corrected easily.
On the other hand every coin has it's other side.
From 1000 books most of us choose 1 or 2 or maybe 10 poor ones and read them instead of continuing to search the better.
How many people read Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown and other bestsellers alike? And what's your estimation on how many of them ever try to get familiar with Lem works?

Tytuł: Re: Guidelines For Lem-Inspired Stories?
Wiadomość wysłana przez: tzok w Wrzesień 08, 2010, 11:45:11 am
Cytat: OlegY
So you are generally satisfied with the way things presently are in scientific progress, aren't you?
I'll place myself in the middle between contentment and disapproval.

I am not fully satisfied with current science status. But still I try to look at things more optimistically, because there are for sure some areas of scientific research where things are not that bad.

I think we have in fact quite similar opinions about this matter. Mine is slightly more biased towards the good sides of our civilization, yours on the opposite. It's good we can confront these together :)

Cytat: OlegY
From 1000 books most of us choose 1 or 2 or maybe 10 poor ones and read them instead of continuing to search the better.
How many people read Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown and other bestsellers alike? And what's your estimation on how many of them ever try to get familiar with Lem works?
Sad, but true. People don't read much, and if they do, it's often just some crappy books ;).

I know a person who reads a lot of books, but mostly very simple ones. Once I borrowed him my copy of "Solaris" and he concluded it was too hard and required too much thinking of him ;)
Tytuł: Re: Guidelines For Lem-Inspired Stories?
Wiadomość wysłana przez: OlegY w Wrzesień 12, 2010, 08:49:59 am
People don't read much, and if they do, it's often just some crappy books ;).

Ok, so we are getting back to the topic.
If you want your books to be sold in million copies you have to be provided with investors, an experienced publisher and marketing specialists. That doesn't mean that you need to be a talanted writer. One or two fashionably old ideas and a set of time-tested plot templates are quite enough. Market promotion will do the rest.
But creating innovative mind exciting texts is the other matter.
I am sure there are some authors who write story good enough to gain interest of Lem fans, the most hard-to-please part of the audience. But they are certainly unknown to the public.
Please if anybody could name them or give links - I would appreciate it very much. If those works appear to deserve attention than we may spread the information farther therefore contributing to good taste in literature  ;D

Tytuł: Re: Guidelines For Lem-Inspired Stories?
Wiadomość wysłana przez: tzok w Wrzesień 13, 2010, 02:15:54 pm
It'd be good if Q could join our discussion, as he will for sure describe some notable books of other authors. I can only tell from what I've read and this would be Strugacki brothers, but of course you must be familiar with their books :)
Tytuł: Re: Guidelines For Lem-Inspired Stories?
Wiadomość wysłana przez: OlegY w Wrzesień 13, 2010, 10:52:31 pm
 Yeah, I love Strugatsky brothers. It was quite a pleasure for me to find out that Lem said about their Picnic with an admiring envy that he felt somehow he himself had had to write this story.
On the other hand he didn't approve the Hard to be a God novel because the planet described was inhabited with humanoid race and that assumption was strongly antiscientific.
May be the reason was that Strugatskie felt slightly more sympathy towards English/American sci-fi than Lem did and therefore they could afford using the recognizable archetype.  :D

Well all that should be a separate topic here.
The fact is that Strugatskie already are world-wide known authors so there's no need to further. However I believe there are authors mostly unknown whose works could really challenge Lem or Strugatsky or Phillip Dick ones.
The explanation is simple: an author who really cares about quality simultaneously having necessary competence in fact is not sure to mind business.

So that would be wonderful if we could discover such authors for ourselves and may be for others too.
Actually I'm far from hope those works appear to be somewhat of a breakthrough in SF. The art of posing real practical questions and suggesting non-trivial answers which inspire using your brain - that  is more important  :)





 
.

Tytuł: Re: Guidelines For Lem-Inspired Stories?
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Terminus w Wrzesień 25, 2010, 09:18:50 am
you guys have flown so high into this, I'm gonna need like a two weeks more to catch up:)
Tytuł: Re: Guidelines For Lem-Inspired Stories?
Wiadomość wysłana przez: OlegY w Wrzesień 26, 2010, 11:43:13 pm
Ok. I must admit that I presently cannot name authors who are worth to compete  Lem in constructing stories. Just one link for those who knows Russian
http://www.rusf.ru/lukin/
I really hope to find others, would they be Spanish or French or Chinese or Japaneese - doesn't matter. I'm sure we'll recognize the proper one right away
Tytuł: Re: Guidelines For Lem-Inspired Stories?
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Sternenfisch w Grudzień 27, 2010, 11:51:28 am
Lem himself never categorized his work as science-fiction.

And evidently, the usual categories of Science-Fiction (pseudo-technologic pulp)
indeed are those that have to be avoided when writing in his realm.

However, the thing to keep in mind is his quote (that was in Wikipedia before, I just recollect):
" I never identified myself with science-fiction. Those who categorized my work into SF did that on their own accord.
I merely extended situations and probabilities as far as my mental horizon would reach."

Tytuł: Re: Guidelines For Lem-Inspired Stories?
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Q w Styczeń 18, 2011, 05:44:51 am
It'd be good if Q could join our discussion, as he will for sure describe some notable books of other authors.

Yes, I read some Lem-Inspired Stories (http://forum.lem.pl/index.php?topic=729.0):
- "Appendix Solariana" by Wiktor Żwikiewicz,
- "Miejsce na Ziemi" by Marek Oramus,
- "Serce Mroku" by Jacek Dukaj,
- "Powrót Robinsona" by Jacek Inglot,
- "Ukryty w gwiazdach" by Marek Oramus,
- "Oko potwora" by Jacek Dukaj,
- "The Tale of Trurl and the Great TanGent" by Ian Watson.
But no one of them was good enough.


Edit: Gregory Benford's "A Dance to Strange Musics" is probably strongly inspired by "Solaris'" vision of extraterrestial alienees, and Peter Watts's "Blindsight" looks like poor man's "Fiasco".
Tytuł: Re: Guidelines For Lem-Inspired Stories?
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Q w Czerwiec 17, 2012, 01:12:45 am
"Возвращение" ("Return", 1980), soviet animated movie, allegedly inspired by "Solaris":
Возвращение - м\ф (СССР 1980г)_Return (USSR 1980) (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gaY2Ln15yRI#)
Tytuł: Guidelines For Lem-Inspired Stories?
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Zeke Krahlin w Sierpień 31, 2014, 03:23:28 am
In the opinion of the most devoted Lem fans on Solaris Station: What are the guidelines to writing fiction (or science fiction) in the vein of Stanislaw Lem?

I just signed up with this forum today, and am responding to a topic posted four years ago, located here:

http://forum.lem.pl/index.php?topic=762.0 (http://forum.lem.pl/index.php?topic=762.0)

Here is my suggestion:

Stanislaw Lem is known for uber-hyperbolic imagery of great intelligence and wit. So I would read three or four of his most hilarious works, such as: "The Futurological Congress," "The Star Diaries," "The Cyberiad" and "Tales of Pirx the Pirate."

You should also have (or develop) a good knowledge of social critique and other sci-fi authors who are witty, such as Kurt Vonnegut Jr. and Douglas Adams. Here is a page listing of sci-fi writers who are also hilarious:

http://members.tripod.com/de_29/home.html (http://members.tripod.com/de_29/home.html)

Of course, if you are not passionate about telling tall tales, you won't get anywhere. But if you are, then this is a good start.