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Chatoyance

Joined September 2011
696 followers

I'm the creator of Otakuworld.com, Jenniverse.com, the computer game Boppin', numerous online comics, novels, and tons of other wonderful things. I really love MLP:FiM.

Stories (24)

Blog Posts (71)

Feb
13th
2012

Since September 30th, 2011 I have written 405, 334 words of fiction.

Almost a half a million words of Conversion Bureau. I have Just completed my latest novel, The Conversion Bureau: The 800 Year Promise.

That is... a lot of words. I think. I'm pretty sure that's a lot of words. It doesn't feel like it though. It all went by so quickly.

I always feel sad when a story ends. I fall in love with my characters. But stories have a natural and inevitable conclusion, and when it comes, it comes.

I feel content with The 800 Year Promise, for a number of reasons. I managed, I believe, to develop an engaging married couple that have an adventure where they learn something about themselves, their universe, and their love for each other. They are changed by the experience, and become both hurt, and benefited by it; their love is deeper but their innocence is gone.

I also feel I finally put a cork in those who like to claim that Conversion Bureau stories are completely misanthropic; I have given the hardest hard case villains of the Conversion Bureau universe - The Human Liberation Front - not merely a dangerous face, but a likable one too, that in the end shows nobility and even compassion of a sort. More than this, I think I have clearly shown that their fight, the reason they fight, is completely understandable and valid. They are not villains after all, but just the losing side of a very lopsided war.

I have shown humanity unflinchingly, I think, in The 800 Year Promise, with all of its warts, and redeemed it: I have made of those very warts something both sad and hopeful, terrible and yet not without utility. And I have explained how ponies can be nasty and how humans can be better than ponies in some ways, and I have made of Celestia a creature both charming and yet fit to rule a universe. I think I have done these things, anyway.

Above all, I have given a reason for the Emergence of Equestria itself, the fundamental conceit of the Conversion Bureau universe, and I think my reason is both compassionate, and horrifying, a matter of honor and love, and at the same time nightmare fuel.

These are the reasons I feel content with this story, it has its flaws but I think I accomplished what I set out to do. Complete my vision of the Conversion Bureau Universe.

Blaze gave us a clumsy story with a brilliant premise, a concept far beyond his ability to work it. That is nothing to be ashamed of; a brilliant concept is a wonder to all and a master-level achievement. There is no end to what can be done with the basic Conversion Bureau concept.

But I felt that it needed a decent treatment, and a full skeleton to hang the flesh on. It needed to be something more than the mere wish-fulfillment that it was long dismissed as.

In my works I offer the Conversion Bureau mythos my attempt at codifying a solid base to work from. The way ponification serum works. How it works, and why, and in what ways under what conditions. How it was developed and why it was developed. A six-year timeline in which most existing stories can be placed. The cosmic physics behind what Equestria is, where it comes from, how it interfaces with Earth, and what the rules of that interaction are. How Equestria became what it is, what Celestia and Luna really are, and why their cosmos is rainbows and candy-colored ponies. How they rule, and why they rule and what drives them and why it drives them. I have codified a future dystopian Earth made of both good and bad people, extrapolated logically from our current world, but one where humans are slightly nicer and actually feed their own species. And now, finally, I have codified a reason for Equestria to expand and devour the Earth, and suggested why that is both good and horrifying at the same time.

This was my goal, and I think in 405,334 words I have done what I set out to do.

This vision, this codification is open. It is yours to use, yours to make of what you will. This framework is open source and royalty free and it is supposed to be a big tent under which any writer may find shelter and structure and ideas and directions. I wanted to take what Blaze had suggested and make something useful of it, something that you can work with, something self-consistent and rational, yet with ample room to grow and expand in all directions.

I don't know if I have any more Conversion Bureau stories in me at this point. I guess we'll see.

But with this story, this novel, The 800 Year Promise, I have laid the best foundation I can for anyone who wants to make use of it.

It isn't the 'Chatoyance' version of the Conversion Bureau, not to me. It's just the Conversion Bureau Universe, one maybe you can find some foundation in that makes sense, and isn't vague or self-contradictory. For those that want that of course.

Not everypony does. That's fine.

Now I need some rest.

- Chatoyance

Chatoyance · 715 views · Report

Comments ( 23 )

#1 · 136w, 1d ago · · ·

405k! That's excessive! :pinkiegasp: :pinkiecrazy: :derpytongue2:

That's about all I can say to that. One more story the length of 800 year promise and you're over that!

I have thoroughly enjoyed all of your stories, and wow, it does not feel like 405k words. I've read them all, some more than once.

The depth of your storytelling impresses me, the world you have created around the Conversion Bureau idea has benefitted my own immeasurably and I cannot express how glad I am to have been a part of it.

I do think that your take is "Chatoyance's Conversion Bureau", but I don't think that's a bad thing. Every author brings their own unique flavour, and I really enjoy the nuances you employ. From the third-party painkiller to the non-swearing, to the elder goddess from the pastel-coloured pit of hugging beyond the stars that is Celestia and Luna - I don't have to agree with them, I'm not that shallow. I see them for what they are - vehicles towards a deeper meaning in your stories. My frivolous fun pieces pale in comparison, I was too boring to change my ponies around even!

Keep it up (whip-crack, whip-crack), once you've had a rest. A half hour should do, then back to writing more! :heart:

#2 · 136w, 1d ago · · ·

If it means anything to you, I can't bring myself to think of the foundations you've laid as anything other than 'the conversion bureau universe' as well. When I read CB tales, I'm always subconsciously setting them in the world you created. And, it is a world. Not a concept, not a background, but a fully fleshed place, with rules, and history, and so many things that I can't imagine CB stories without. If I ever write my own conversion bureau tale, it will undoubtedly be built off of your foundations, and in addition to thanking you for providing your readers with literally monstrous amounts of content to devour, with hours and hours of intrigue and entertainment, I also want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for codifying this world, and making it simultaneously more approachable and endlessly more vast.

#3 · 136w, 1d ago · · ·

my face when I read 405k words -> :rainbowderp::derpytongue2:

But yea Chat, you are by and large one of the biggest factors in what prompted me to write In Duty's Name in the first place. I'll admit it was Pen Stroke Pony and Past Sins who planted the seed in my brain, but your Conversion Bureau stories are what poured a big ol' pile of miracle grow on it. You, Midnight, Windchaser, Anonsi, Hurricane Puncher, LesPony, and all the other brilliant authors who've written their own CB stories have truly given me a beautiful thing in helping me discover how much fun writing can be. Thank you :twilightsmile:

#4 · 136w, 23h ago · · ·

I have enjoyed all the conversion bureau stories you have written, I can say I loved the stories and the characters in them. They have inspired me to begin write my own stories of the Conversion bureau. Thank you for writting these and sharing them.  

#5 · 136w, 20h ago · 1 · ·

I have, tragically, fallen behind on The 800 Year Promise, which is probably readily apparent in my lack of commentary on most of its chapters. I will, at some point in the future, when I have overcome the challenges currently besieging me, return and offer my comments, for all the good they will do to you now that you have, at least for the time being, paused to rest.

That is, and I am hoping you will pardon my language, a fuckton of words, miss, and I have read all but the last several thousand of them and therefore can say with some degree of certainty that they are some of the most well-thought out, carefully chosen, and meticulously arranged words I have ever seen in fiction writing, and certainly some of the best I have seen in this fandom.

You were my first exposure to the Conversion Bureau universe, miss, and with all due respect to the other noble and skilled authors who have written within its boundaries, you are also my favorite. I confess to having my own story or set of stories on the way set in this universe, inspired heavily by what you (and others, but mostly you) have laid down as a foundation; and while I cannot, and should not, attest to the quality of my words compared to the quality of yours, I do hope to at least represent faithfully the world you have so faithfully represented and built.

I am, alongside so many others, eternally grateful to you for the stories you've created and the world you've helped build. Thank you so much for your months of toil, your dedication to your readers, and your fuckton of words.

To the future, miss, whether it contains ponies or not.

Faithfully yours,

Lysander

#6 · 136w, 18h ago · · ·

I loved every one of those 405334 words! Thank you for writing!

"I don't know if I have any more Conversion Bureau stories in me at this point. I guess we'll see."

Even if you don't, I hope to see you keep on writing, be it other pony fanfic, or more original scifi like Ishtar Crisis. You have quite the talent!

#7 · 136w, 14h ago · · ·

What we need right now is for some angry person to call you out for being (an extremely) pretentious (fuckwit) in this blogpost. :facehoof: (I'm not angry, but it feels like you've created an angry-person shaped hole.) You should be proud of what you've written, and there probably will be other fics based in your ~verse, but it is still Chatoyance~verse. There is no one Conversion Bureau ~verse. Many authors before you successfully decoupled Blaze's basic idea from his setting and created their own versions of both, and they will continue to make their own ~verses for their own stories. They won't be as extensively explored as yours is, but they don't need to be. Statements like "It needed to be something more than the mere wish-fulfillment that it was long dismissed as." and "I wanted to take what Blaze had suggested and make something useful of it, something that you can work with, something self-consistent and rational, yet with ample room to grow and expand in all directions." are insulting to all other TCB stories. Maybe you are both the most prolific and most talented TCB writer, but that give you no right to claim ownership over anything but your stories. Other authors created stories that were beyond wish-fulfillment, and ~verses that were self-consistent and rational. But your ~verse has limited space to "grow and expand in all directions" because you've already defined so many things. And all TCB stories do not fit in your ~verse. You can head-cannon the stories so that they fit, like Vergess does, but by themselves they are different.

Ever since you wrote your first few stories, I've wanted to do the same thing you've done: Explore the far reaches of morality and the big things like what Celestia is and other worlds and Ponification serum. Not just because I feel that all of it can be done differently and explore ideas, not just because your ~verse is super-high contrast and another exploration could include entire spectrum of drama-cultivating grey, but because your Ponies are not the Ponies in the show. Basically, FiM is a tv show for little children, so we don't directly see Ponies hurting each other, but it's sophisticated enough that it's heavily hinted at that some Ponies can be quite hurtful to others, to the extent of completely ruing each others lives. And just because it's peaceful now doesn't mean it always was.

I can't though. I've skipped tons of what I want to say here. I may not quite seem like it, but I'm an extremely pathetic writer. I have statements I wan to make about almost everything you've said, but I can't. I've spend years, thousands of hours, online (lots of usernames) arguing and discussing and being persuasive on different websites across the internet. I'm barely competent. It is not something i have any real talent at, because otherwise I'd be an expert by now. And for all the many and various fiction I've read, I have never written more than a few very short stories.

So no, I can't practice what I'm ineptly preaching. There probably won't be another author who explores their TCB~verse as extensively as you have. But no amount of achievement, no inspirations readers will gain, nothing can excuse how pretentious and superior you are in this blog post. You have no right to claim ownership over everything that has been written and will be written in the Conversion Bureau stories. For the 5th TCB Writing Event, (write a continuation, prequel, or spinoff of someone else's TCB story,) you wrote Ten Minutes: Aftermath. The original Ten Minutes's premise was simple: Replace zombies with armies of brainwashed Ponies, suicidally dying by the hundreds and thousands to convert the remaining Humans of Earth. It was a silly premise, but the author played it straight and serious. In the conclusion of the story, one of the Ponies regains her Human memories and spends a last moment with the last Human before they both die. In Aftermath, you ported the story into your universe, running whateverthewordis over everything in the original by inserting your Perfect Ponies, who instead of being insane were sacrificing themselves to save Human's souls. That didn't make the story better, because it removed everything that small, short, weak and defenseless story stood for.

I really wish that there was an angry person who beat me to all this. That person could rage at everything, line by line, motivated and passionate and powerful. Me? I'm just depressed.

#8 · 136w, 14h ago · · ·

>>14512

Wow, quite the wall of words here. And all of it really pathetically written. :facehoof::facehoof::facehoof::facehoof::facehoof:

#9 · 136w, 13h ago · 1 · ·

>>14512

I actually had someone go over my post to make sure it wasn't egotistical or upsetting. I guess it is impossible to win.

Nutshell: Blaze's treatment was weak, everyone agrees with that, just as everyone agrees that his idea was godlike. I wanted to make a self-consistent big tent framework that any writer could feel a part of and which would solidify the CB mythos. My statement above is just handing the keys to anyone who wants them. That's it. Nothing more. I am giving away ownership, not taking it, I am handing everything over, not claiming it for myself.

What do I have to say to express; hey, I've done this, now it's yours to play with if you want, if you don't want then don't?

I don't know what you read, but whatever you are channeling, that isn't me or what I tried to communicate.

#10 · 136w, 11h ago · · ·

>>14512

I understand what you're saying about how there's little wiggle room for world-building for other writers who want to use her TCB-verse, but not all stories are built around world-building. I can think of many story ideas that can fit into Chatoyance's universe, mostly because I enjoy writing stories about human/pony interaction. Not every story is world-spanning, or world-changing. Sometimes they only involve the personal worlds of a few characters.

#11 · 136w, 8h ago · · ·

Just to poke my head in here... While you have created a bleak dystopia for humanity, Chatoyance, it's a WARRANTED one.  As far as I'm concerned, you've extrapolated nicely.  There's plenty of room to work even within the "constraints" of your particular version of TCB.  Certainly, I think it's confined in some senses, but it's a good, workable confinement.  Ponyfeathers, you and Midnight are the ones I'm basing my TCB work off of, so don't you dare feel bad about what you've written, either here in this blog post or any of your stories.  It's thanks to you two that I'm even writing again, save for annual National Novel Writing Month attempts, for the first time in the better part of a decade.

I don't know why some folks seem to have some particular damage over the way you've worked your continuity.  Me? I'm grateful.  Kind of hard to forget a wonderful author who has been the cause of many, MANY late nights on my part :heart:

In short? Thank you.  Whether you continue writing, take an extended break, or put down the quill and parchment for good, thank you.

#12 · 136w, 5h ago · 1 · ·

>>14636

"if you don't want then don't?"

"for anyone who wants to make use of it."

"Not everypony does. That's fine."

"maybe you can find some foundation"

Is there a single instance of "trying to impose that your interpretation" anywhere in any of that? Even a little?

Have I suddenly stopped using English correctly here? Do my words come out "Gorble Plubash Bark Bark" or something? Jesus Dogfucking Christ on a Pony, just how totally self-effacing and effort-deprecating do I have to be here, before this ends?

Do you need me to say something like "Oh, all of my work is crap and everything I did is just my little stupid effort but, like, you can use it if, like, you wanted to, not that you would of course, because it all sucks and so do I." Will THAT satisfy you? Do I need to say it in 1337 speak, or Swahili or something, is English no longer relevant?

Is somehow there just no possible way to seem small and grovelling enough to satisfy you? Is that the issue? What the flying fuck!

At this point... I am happy to be taking a vacation. Fuck.

Listen very, very carefully, FourFire and Derpmind and anybody else who somehow cannot read clear english:

ME DUMB. ME BAD. BUT ME MAKE STORY WORLD FRAMEWORK. YOU CAN USE IF WANT. YOU CAN DUMP IF WANT. ME JUST TRY TO HELP. DON'T USE IF NOT LIKE!

And if that is not simple enough, then just... go away. Please. Bullshit like this makes me wonder why I bothered at all.

#13 · 136w, 1h ago · 1 · ·

>>14512

>>14636

I had a look at that post Chat made before she posted it, and I think you've got the wrong end of the stick, by a country mile. Seriously. If I were standing there right next to you I'd slap the stupid off you.

Statements like "It needed to be something more than the mere wish-fulfillment that it was long dismissed as." and "I wanted to take what Blaze had suggested and make something useful of it, something that you can work with, something self-consistent and rational, yet with ample room to grow and expand in all directions." are insulting to all other TCB stories

No, I don't agree with you. I'm not insulted at all, infact I'm angry at you, and here's why.

You can blame me if her blog post sounds pretentious, not her, because then I slipped up. What I read it as and what I think she means by every single word, is simply that when she wrote her own TCB stories she wanted to take the one base simple idea that Blaze had, and build around it something that was in and of itself complete, logical and self-consistent. She is not claiming ownership, she is not usurping anything, she isn't even claiming it's the best. She is claiming, rightly so, that as a blanket fleshing-out of the idea, everything you need for a self-consistent, logical mythos is there, and that it is better than the original. It is also the most comprehensive.

Now that she feels that not only is this story done, but a large enough quantity of them, like many authors of shared universes before she is saying "here is the world, play in it if you wish".

Blaze's idea wasn't even scaffolding, it was a nugget, an inkling. As she and I and all others do, we thank Blaze for that nugget, that kernel, but it was quite frankly bad for a number of reasons. That's okay, it's nothing to be ashamed of. It does, however, need somepony to take it further, to give it a rational makeover. That misanthropy (and I know Blaze didn't mean it, but that's what he got), that wish fulfillment - it stands in the way of acceptance not only of the original but of every story that follows Blaze's pattern.

Chatoyance's fleshed-out realization - all 405k words of it - gives you why, how, when and where for so many things. It defines gods, ponies, humans, timelines, locations, methods and reasons behind all of that. Follow her rules, and you have something that won't fall down on a technicality. As much as people like to think it is, her stuff isn't misanthropic, that's the power of it.

in her words:...In my works I offer the Conversion Bureau mythos my attempt at codifying a solid base to work from...

Maybe you read It isn't the 'Chatoyance' version of the Conversion Bureau ... It's just the Conversion Bureau Universe and forgot not to me.

She means "write in my world rather than the original, if you want", not "all shall bow before my hooves".

Chatoyance, I'm sorry for causing you pain by not picking up on ambiguous word choice - I've spoken to you a lot more than most so I know what you meant, and I have obviously screwed up and let you down.

#14 · 135w, 6d ago · · ·

The trick to world building is walking a fine line between detail and ambiguity. And I think Chatoyance has done a very fine job of that.

The 'CB' milieu is now much better defined for her efforts, but there is soooo much more out there, so many more stories that need to be told.

I think the problem we see here is that this fandom does seem to be very literal in their interpretations of all things pony. Challenging anything; the number of princesses, the way ponies interact, or even the 'fannon' personalities of 'fannon' characters is met with instant, and potentially violent, "Not In My Fandom".

I think almost every 'OC Pony' author faces this to some extent with this group as well, and I'm still trying to figure out "Why?"

TCB, by it's very nature is extremely divisive. For many it seems to fly in the face of 'love and tolerate' to some extent - ponies assimilating humanity and not feeling bad about it. And this causes an intense emotional outburst.

The video I did for TCB up on youtube is even starting to generate some 'emotional response' simply because it is associated with the stories... Random people are feeling the need, nay obligation, to tell me that they don't like the stories and their reasoning for this. Even "Transcendence" has earned me a raft of emails similar to: "I don't like your video because it is escapist and I don't feel anyone should want to run away to Equestria. We need to fix the problems here and not fantasize about magic portals to ponyland."

Wow.

Now, I do answer each and every one with a completely unemotional desire for them to tell me more, and I get them into a discussion about 'why' the video made them feel this way. Mostly because it was an experiment in videography to see if I could cause the viewer to self-insert, and by all accounts I was quite successful - but I want to understand why I was successful...

(blinks)

Maybe that's it... TCB really does center around the reader's reality being the situation - that's the fuel for the story. Perhaps it isn't the 'treatment of humanity' that is the real issue, it's the fact that 'the treatment' is amplified because the reader has been pulled into the event so completely and has a real emotional investment in the events depicted. This would take the highly literal nature of the average pony fan and seriously push them to an extreme.

Note that few pony fans are on the fence about TCB - they either sing praises, or wield pitchforks.

(shakes her head)

Whatever the case - it is certainly fascinating and I really do hope you continue writing for us Chatoyance. For me, it's been an absolutely wonderful romp and I really do thank you for all you've written. And that you've done it for nothing more than the thrill of the tale is simply awesome.

Thank you very much Chatoyance.

#15 · 135w, 6d ago · 1 · ·

>>14641

Ummm...  I like your work, please don't stop writing?

Ok, in all seriousness,  I think that you set up one hell of a universe in your stories. You managed to strike that right balance between descriptive world setting, and non dry personal writing to make the reader interested at the same time as you set the universe in which your stories took place. I think that you have one heck of a gift Chat. Write about what interests you Chat. Personal writing is how you pulled me in with your stories.

Also, I don't think you were pushing or really even suggesting that people should use your version of the conversion bureau world.  The impression that I took was that you were willing to let other people in your sandbox and go nuts with it basically. You had done something that most people would have extreme difficulty with. You managed to create a world framework at a frightening (but in a good way) pace that managed (at least for me, can't personally speak for everyone else) to keep the reader interested and invested in the characters.  

Also>>14512,  I get that you think that Chat is trying to push her version over everyone else's, but I do honestly think she is just trying to share it with everyone instead of hoarding it and not letting anyone use her universe. Also, there is expansion available inside of her universe. Two examples of the top of my mind(at time of writing) is how the HLF perfected gene engineering to allow themselves to stay the same and how the PER manages to get new members to do violent things. (I.e. more gene engineering in the potion perhaps?). There are also stories that aren't meant to define a world, but are used to define person and their struggles in life.  Having a world already defined can help take the pressure off of an author and allow them to focus on their characters more. Also, chat never really dismissed anyone else's idea. The closest she came to that was saying how blaze's story never really worked but how he had a great idea, and how she said that she didn't see her universe as Chat's universe but as the conversion bureau universe. To be honest, I don't think that's belittling anyone else version of the universe. Any author will probably, unless they write in another persons universe, think their version of the universe is the right one. We all experience different things and understand things differently.  That leads us to all view the same thing slightly different and have our unique takes on it.  Thus, we all, at least head cannon wise, have our own version of the CB-verse as the one true one.  Chat just simply said that is how she saw her own version, which is one hundred percent cool with me. She didn't dictate that's had to see her version as the one true one, or that I had to do so to write in her universe. She is just letting other people use her universe if they wish, that is all I believe she intended.

Giant wall of text aside,  Chat, you are an amazing writer and I hope you don't give it up. Allow your muse to come forth and write but what it wills.  

#16 · 135w, 5d ago · · ·

The Conversion Bureau is something that every writer is able to depict differently, however there is one author who's stories I have come to accept as the best. Yours Chatoyance. Your stories have indeed developed that universe FAR beyond that of the original, Your stories have captured my attention for hours on end, and your stories inspire my writing on a daily basis. I don't think we need to call it "Chatoyances Conversion Bureau" As it basically is the "Original" in my eyes. I sincerely hope that you will continue to write in that world you have come to design. If you don't though, I guess we will all just have to settle on whatever world you make next.

#17 · 135w, 2d ago · · ·

>>14765

Regarding the emails you got about this. This kind of hate is good. It implies that there is a lot of love for something to justify hating it.

This kind of hate means that they are fascinated by concept and have thought about it long enough to create a stance around it. He isn't merely reading a story, he is philosophising. This is why I consider the good TCB writers (Midnight Shadown, Chatoyance, etc) to be very good at.

In some way it insults us, but you know what, insulting us is the best thing it can do. It forces us to think and question.

#18 · 135w, 2d ago · · ·

I don't remember anymore why I wrote that comment, or why I wrote so much. I need to admit something to myself that I've always avoided acknowledging: I cannot let myself write anything at all when I get emotional. My most essential opinions are unchanged, but given that I devolved into sleep-deprived ranting, I don't believe that I have any right to discuss them anymore. I'm sorry, and I apologize for, to be honest, being myself.

#19 · 135w, 2d ago · · ·

The best stories are ones that make you feel something, even if that something is negative. I think a step back and a deep breath is all that's needed to keep feelings from being unnecessarily hurt. Cooler heads prevail and all that. We will all misconstrue and be misconstrued from time to time. When you're on one side of the line, just remind yourself of the last time you were on the other side.

Chatoyance, regarding your stories, I've really enjoyed them so far. Taking a break is always a good (and necessary!) thing, but I hope it's not out of discouragement or burnout. I've been in sort of a vacuum in all things fan-fiction since turning my attention inward to work on my own as-yet-unfinished story. This was largely because I didn't want to be subconsciously "inspired" by other works and then wake up one morning to find a stream of "omg all you did was copy _______'s story" comments. However, when I saw the sheer breadth of your work, I couldn't resist. TCB was a universe I only ever intended to write in once, so it was exempt from my no-reading-fanfiction rule, but up through what I've read of yours so far (which is everything except 800 Year and Taste of Grass), it's really made me want to write in TCB again. It's hugely engaging and entertaining and it makes me want to play around in the universe some more. That's a Bad Thing™ for me, because I am terrible when it comes to distractions and I'm a slow writer even when completely focused, so I needed this like I needed a hole in the head. That's all my problem, of course; that you've doomed me to (eventually) writing more TCB is the best compliment I can give.

Your setting plays up the futuristic crapsack-world aspect of TCB much more than most, which is necessary for the sorts of stories you tell. Me, I'm a sucker for more immediately relatable settings, so I always envisioned the human side of the TCB universe as more contemporary, with perhaps a liiiittle bit of sci-fi thrown in for some detachment from the "real world." It can be argued that the real world is crapsack enough for the purposes of setting Conversion-Bureau stories to it, but it's easier to look through a window than a mirror.

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