U-F-uh-O

Joan trotted along the banks of the Illuithan, nose to the ground as she picked up the news of the day. Sunlight glinted off her ebony fur – she was finally starting to lose her puppy fuzz. It had taken long enough.

It was hot, even the river seemed to be sluggish – bad weather for hunting, but she had too much energy to sleep. Maybe later she’d go for a swim. Right now though…

Joan lifted her head as a strange buzzing hum filled the air. It sounded kind of like a hornet’s nest, except one really big hornet, and higher pitched. And it hurt. She shifted human to save her ears as the hum grew closer. Beside her, the Illuithan’s calm waters grew white with foam as the river lifted its head to observe the possible threat. Joan inched closer to it, prepared to jump in just in case it was a really big hornet.

A shiny disk appeared over the ridge, coming rapidly closer. Lights flashed on its silver surface, and the whole thing seemed to lurch through the sky like a bird drunk on fermented berries. The Illuithan seemed to humph and sink back into its banks – watchful but unconcerned. Joan watched the disk, saw that it was about to plow into the ground, shifted wolf, and leapt to catch it in her jaws.

The disk whirred angrily when Joan set it down. It was smallish, about the size of a newborn pup, and the lights were flashing rapidly now. Joan crouched over it, tail wagging slowly to see what it would do next.

What the disk did next was open up. A tiny ramp slid out, and an even tinier green man with very big eyes came out and shook its fist at her.

“What were you thinking puppy? We could have all been killed!”

Joan looked around to see who he might be talking to, and finally realized it was her.

“You were going to crash. I was very gentle, I promise.” She sniffed at the little man – he smelled like lightning and something else she couldn’t place. The little man was joined by two more, and they talked to each other for a minute in a language she couldn’t understand. Finally the first little man turned back to her.

“Alright puppy, we forgive you for nearly crushing us. But our transistor is broken and we need a new one. Get us a transistor and we’ll call it even,” the little man said.

Joan cocked her head. “What’s a transistor?”

The little green man turned purple. “What’s a… you know what? Fine! Just take us to the nearest spaceship repair store, we’ll handle it from there.”

Joan shifted human and sprawled on the ground, staring at them. “What’s a spaceship repair store? I mean I can take you to the elders, they might know what to do.”

The little man got even more purple. “What backwards backwater did we end up on? You don’t even have space travel yet? What is this?”

He was kind of cute, in an angry sort of way. All three of them started chittering back and forth, hands waving as their big baby heads bobbled. Joan reached a finger out, just barely brushing the surface of the disk. It sparked, a crackle of electricty jolting her finger. Joan jerked back, and all the little men turned to look at her. One of them smacked the leader.

“Fool! We landed on the magic world! No wonder everything went haywire!”

“Hey, it’s not my fault Derek spilled coffee on the control panel and shorted out the navigation!”

“You’re the one who bumped me and made me spill Garnuk!”

“Fine, fine, fine, fine, fine. Let me think. You! Puppy! we need magic to get the transistors running again. With luck we can make it to the next fill station on that.” The little man pointed at Joan. Joan leaned down to try and come eye level with him.

“Ok. uh, where do you want it?” She stared at the disk quizically. It didn’t look like anything she’d ever seen, and people usually didn’t come that small.

“Just, uh, put some on top, and we’ll hope that works. Derek, get the engines started!” the little man turned away, all three of them marched inside and the door closed behind them. Joan shrugged, pulled her knife out, and let a few drops of blood onto the top of the disk. She could hear a humming from inside, which then got louder as the disk lifted off the ground. Joan fell back, watching as the disk buzzed in a circle before shooting off into the sky and disappearing.

Joan watched the sky for a minute, seeing if they would come back or not. They didn’t. She shrugged and leapt into the Illuithan. Her friends would never believe her, but it would be funny to see the look on Roin’s face as he tried to comprehend the story.

 

 

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Schrodinger’s Cat

There is something freeing about being able to go anywhere and do anything. Nothing’s stopping you, so you might as well chase that dream. Being both alive and dead really means that there’s nothing stopping you.

Well, until the box is opened and the choice has to be made. Maybe if we humans lived in a vacuum, free from any outside influence, we could truly be anything. But, the box is always open. You have to be something – man, woman, child, parent, old, young… you get the idea. Human beings are always in relation to something. vacuums don’t exist. There are some things I cannot be, and some things I cannot say I am not.

But that’s a different kind of freeing. Those relations mean that there is a lifeline when everything falls apart, and that the billions of choices become millions – which is a much more manageable number. boundaries give us something to work around and overcome. They give shape to what would otherwise be a gelatinous mess. You may color outside the lines, but that is only rebellion if the lines exist in the first place.

Planning vs. Pantsing

Sometimes I think it would be so nice to be able to write a coherent outline before writing the story – you know, actually know ahead of time when things were supposed to happen, plan out the timing of events before they happen, and have an idea of how the ending will go.

But it never seems to work like that. Just because the road map exists doesn’t mean that you always make the right turn – or that the street even exists when you get there. I’ve had that happen in real life before. (Ok, it was a lake, not a road, and the cows drank it after completely confusing our trail, but the point stands.) Or else traffic is going one way, and before you know it you’re stuck in the wrong turn lane and have to take three left turns to figure out where on earth you were supposed to be going.

The scenic route has a certain charm however. There’s a kind of freedom in setting out with no idea where you’ll end up. There’s also the risk of ending up in another country or starvation, but hey, you’re only lost if you had somewhere to be.

In writing, I have never been able to plan ahead of time where a story will go. There may be a few scenes that I kow I want to hit, but half the time by the time I get there they don’t fit anymore. The characters take over, gaining a life of their own as their backstories and motivations develop. Even when I have a complete draft down, the new draft starts with a new blank peice of paper. The old draft is like the topo map, and my job is to use the new draft to plot the best course. Sometimes one that is completely different from the last one. New ideas spark new scenes, a throwaway character gets mentioned again and becomes important to the plot. Backstories change as the world develops.

And the writer goes insane. But hey, it’s a nice kind of insanity.

 

Pokemon and Wonder

Pokemon Go has become all the rage since its release. Full disclosure – all I really know about the app is from looking over my brother’s shoulder. But seeing a little bird-thing sitting on the hood of my car was highly amusing.

It’s interesting how popular an app that inserts animated mythical creatures into real life has become. But honestly, mankind has been looking for the fantastic within the mundane since time immemorial. Where did you think the mythos of Dryads, Naiads, fauns, fairies, and the rest come from?

We see the world and ache to discover something more than normal, everyday life. We long to pull back the veil and find a world alive with wonder. It is so easy to get caught up in the doom and gloom from the news, or the dreary constant of work and sleep, each week rushing toward those blessed two days of freedom a week. Into this comes an app that tries to make the mundane new again – a little bit of wimsy that if it does its job well will make people stop, and look, and maybe see that thing they’ve passed by every day for the past two years in a new light.

Because really, wonder is one of the things that makes life worth living.

The Sophist

It started with a simple sentence
Then came a simple question: “what do you mean?”
Then the words took on a life of their own
They ran every which way
Like one of Daedoulus’s creations
Each word bred a thousand more
Shades of meaning gathered till the sky was black
Words twisted
Changed
Flipped places and disappeared
Only to reappear in strange places
Places they didn’t belong
Or maybe they did
A simple statement turned into
Theology
Philosophy
Ethics
Politics
Everything and nothing
The bones of existence itself were laid bare
Or maybe created
But still the words piled on
Words upon words
Blowing, drifting, spiraling and piling like leaves in late autumn
The drowning speaker shouts a question:
Why?
But the answer drowns him in words
The path out only leads deeper in
There is no escape from the words
The noise
The senseless circles
The start of it all is lost amidst the words
The end may not exist
Or if it does, it only leads to a new beginning
And still the words come
Word upon word
Idea upon speech
No relief
No rescue
The words keep coming
And the truth is lost in the babble of the words
Or maybe the truth is the words
Or the right words
But there is no answer
Word upon word
Till the words grow so much that they cease
Silence

On writing

Have you ever thought about how strange the written word is? I can make black marks on a white page, and anyone can know what I meant. It’s not even hard – anyone who has been taught to read will do it reflexively, without thinking.

The reason why I love fantasy and science fiction is because it makes the mundane strange – it makes you take another look at what you thought you knew. It is so easy to go through life with eyes half-closed, never seeing the wonder in something we have seen all our lives – like black marks on  white page that will spill secrets to whoever looks at them.

 

A Love Story, part 2

The continuing letters between my two young loves…

Hey prince-boy!

Heh. Sorry, your last letter was so stiff and formal I had to. Oh, ignore the other sheet of drivel I included in the envelope, my tutor made me sit down and write a letter with all the proper formalities. It was boring and stupid. I like you, and you already know all my dirty little secrets (I’m assuming so anyways – you did say you were a telepath) so let’s just honest.

I tried to draw you a picture of my ornithopter, but it turned out looking like a mass of unidentifiable squiggles. You will just have to come and see it. And exploding runes sound exciting! Although I might coat some of the more sensitive ones in gold – I’ve heard the Roses say gold is like the anti-silver for mages, right? You’ll have to tell me everything, so I can get the palace ready for when you get here for good.

Oh, the book! I loved it, your mother is so cool! I wish my mother was like that. She’s kind of boring and tired all the time. Papa says she’s sick, mama always adds on “of politics.” I can’t wait to be eighteen so I can take over for them and they can retire to a cottage like they always wanted. You don’t mind marrying an Empress, right? Well, you better not, because it’s happening, and you can’t back out now. It wouldn’t be fair.

Ok, got to go. Send me a real letter next time, you can skip all the boring stuff at the beginning. I know what my name is and what your name is.

Love ya Jace,

Kily

 

Kily,

I appologize for the ink-splatters, I’m trying to write this in the high tower with my eyes stinging from stupid burning silverbane. I hate it when Eras is in her glory. It’s so loud, I can hear everyone, I can’t tune them out.

Yeah, don’t be jealous of my power, it sucks. Especially when you’re threatened with blood-binding all the time. Silverbane or solitude is the only way I can get at least a little peace. Why does everybody have to think so loudly?

And then Nazad – I hate him. He’s evil, but he claims Andraste blood so dad won’t listen. And Nazad… he’s just evil. Absolutely.

Alex is a pain, as always. He gets everything, while I just get the scraps. I wish I was normal like him. It doesn’t help that he’s cute. And the heir. I should be heir, I’m older. I hate being a mage.

I should stop ranting.

Jace out