Writing: damnit!

The downside, as I’ve said before, to writing “the story I want to read” is when I notice an old file, open it – have an inkling of what I intended and go “damnit. I wanna know what happens!”

I totally did that with a ~1 pg document.  There is a teaser.  A tiny, itsy-bitsy teaser that is driving me crazy.  I don’t remember who the villain was going to be, I have just enough to be curious.  I guess it wasn’t my worst beginning…. You tell me.

Prologue

It is so small and weak. The voice was quiet, pleading.

Their species is not weak. It is almost a bark, with an angry edge to it.

Our younglings are just as helpless. They are not as loud. A third tone, almost a soft musical chime to the worlds.

Do as you wish your highness. Keep it as a pet if you so choose, but if it ever looks the least harmful, then we will kill it on sight. A final, fourth voice said.

The pink mewling creature was lifted up and carried off the hulk of the ship.  As they left they passed the crews that were dismantling the pieces of the ship.

You must admit, came the fourth voice¸ they are good with machines.

They have already integrated too much of our technology the harsh and angry voice said all we can do is win by attrition.

Not all the quiet voice said, Please give me a chance. I am sure there is a way to make it work.

The plan has merit the sing-song voice added.  What can it hurt?

The creature suddenly opened its mouth and let out the most horrendous noise.  All four stopped moving and stared at it.  Then they looked to one another and the chiming voice said, It is hungry.

She is hungry the voice which had been angry no longer was, instead sounding shocked.

So be it, the fourth voice, As king I decree that we shall no longer seek them out.  Princess Risha’lla will raise the thing.  It is not deaf and her plan will be given the time needed to see possible success.

I will not fail you father the soft voice, Princess Risha’lla said.

Chapter 1

“Sir, the orgalla have entered the system,” the helmsman said.  “Shall we meet to escort them?”

“No, wait for them to reach us,” the captain said and moved from his seat on the bridge to the view port at the gunner’s station.

The ship he saw was massive with three smaller ships around it.  His own vessel ran a crew almost a thousand men and women with space to spare for recreation, a dome garden and three sets of quarters which could be used to expand for families if the ship ever was placed on local patrols instead of being on the border patrols.  The ship approaching was at least three times the size of his vessel.

“The price of being good at my job…” the captain muttered as he looked at the ship.  He then went to his chair and sat back down, “Lieutenant, please let the ambassadors know that the orgalla have arrived and we will be meeting them in approximately an hour.”

“Yes sir,” the communications officers quickly turned and began to relay the message to the ambassadorial team on board.

“Captain Chou, the orgalla are requesting to link to our nav comms,” the communications officer reported.

“Link them in so they can follow us into the port,” Captain Chou said firmly.  The young man took a deep breath and sent the signal.  The orgalla were still the monsters parents told children about to scare them.  Some of the colonies still had massive damage from the orgalla almost twenty years before.

“Commander Lorant, you have command until I return,” Captain Chou said.  “Lieutentant, please make sure the ambassadorial team isn’t running late this time.”

The captain did not have to rush to get to the docking bay which would allow them to access the orbital planet access point, but he did not pause to think or talk to anyone either.  The collar of his dress uniform was a little loose, but he didn’t try to figure out a way to tighten it now.  When he arrived two of the attachés were waiting, but none of the ambassadors had arrived.

“Was an hour not enough to time for the ambassadors to be able to dress and assemble?” he asked the attachés with a frown.

“I apologize sir, I know that Ambassador Irvine is on the way,” one of the two said.  As he spoke, a woman swept into the room.  She had chosen to wear a formal gown instead of a suit.  It was appropriate that she had chosen the historical garb of her people, but the long sweeping sleeves trailing across the floor behind must be heavy and hot.

“Am I truly first to arrive?” she asked.  “This is a disgrace!  Ashley, call Poul and you should get Yewoul too.  It is not like any kikital to be late.  I’m sure he’s been detained by Poul.  Oliver I want you to call Etcorm, Deneph and Risyk.  Find out where they are.  I apologize Captain, I thought an hour was more than enough time.  Especially because Deneph doesn’t need to put on clothes or brush fur in anyway.”

“Thank you Ambassador, it is appreciated to know that it is not a lack of protocol,” Captain Chou said with a smile.

“No, I agree with you that we need this peace,” Ambassador Irvine said.  “If my ancestors hadn’t gone to Mars then we would have been destroyed by the Chinese, I understand better than most that we need to expand safely.  The orgalla are too powerful not to make sure they are on our side.  I just wish Earth had sent someone other than Poul.”

“It doesn’t help that the North Aligned States never really saw much of the fighting in the last war,” Captain Chou said.  “Hence they had the power to have Poul selected.”

“Well, he is here now, so we’ll have to make it work,” the woman said firmly.

It was only a few minutes before the other ambassadors arrived.  Ambassador Poul Westmire represented Earth itself, while Ambassador Johanna Irvine represented the human-colonized planets everywhere else.  Poul was wearing a white tuxedo with a white turban around his head.  His thick beard had been combed and greased into a pair of points down his chest.  Johanna was wearing the long blue and silver kimono she had brought which had once been worn by the last royal princess of Japan as she fled to Mars, the ships built and piloted by Australians and then flying to help Australia and Japan escape the Chinese invasions which turned half of Earth into a single empire almost three hundred years ago.  The princess had died on the trip to Mars because of a terrible pregnancy combined with seven months in space.

Review: The 10th Kingdom

I was JUST talking about this with someone…. telling them they should watch/read/either this one!

Dream by Day

Mini Series poster

This is one of my favorite books and mini-series. The show isn’t exactly like the book, but it does a very close job of it. I probably watch this once a year (maybe every 10 months) and I’ve read the book an average of every 16 months since the first time I read it. If you haven’t read this book – you need to. Not you should. You need to. You’ll never see fairy tales the same way, and it is beautiful for it.

Synopsis: I’m not going to take anything from anywhere, so I hope I do it justice: Virginia is your average young waitress living with her father and struggling to keep it all together. Until the day that Prince Wendell, the grandson of Sleeping Beauty and cursed by his wicked stepmother into the body of a dog, crashes in Virginia on her way to work…

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Short Story: Mastermind or Not?

I look out over the city.  There are cheers.  I hate it.

You see, the problem is that I tried to be a villain.  I never actively tried to help people.  In fact, the problem with my city was the morass of super-heroes.  It was actually a problem because you had “heroes” like Betsy Bobcat – a literal bobcat that had been given human intelligence.  Her thing was people illegally feeding pigeons.  Did you know it was illegal to intentionally feed pigeons?  I didn’t.  Then there was the strongarm-super-fast Mr. Thumbs.  Something about his thumbs was special I guess.  He was annoyingly particular about people speeding through lights.

I hated them.  I hated that one of the speedsters gave my dad a jaywalking ticket and when my dad tried to argue it in court he was given 30 days in jail for “anti-superhero actions.”  A misdemeanor that not only lost him his accounting job but made it nearly impossible to find another.  He died two years later because of an accident at the construction site where he’d found work – but you know, where was a superhero to make sure the working conditions were actually safe or whatever?

So I began tinkering with gadgets that year.  I was studying to be a superheroes’ gearhead theoretically.  I lied.  A lot.  You see, they have psyc tests to try to weed out anyone who might turn villain.  I knew this and so I lied.  I told a hum-ding-whopper of a lie and even when there were supers who supposedly sensed or smelled or whatever lies – I passed right through.

You see, my super power is unique. I am technically super powered you see.  I negate a certain amount of super power.  For some like Betsy the Bobcat I could mostly negate their power.  I don’t mean to.  It isn’t something I can turn on and off.  But if it’s a power like Mr Thumbs’ strength, I bring him back to human-range. I didn’t know this until way later though.

So you see, the normal people – non super heroes – actually kind of hated the supers.  They were obnoxious BUT they did “good” and everyone was a little afraid of them.  Well, I hated them too and I wasn’t normal. And I convinced my teachers I wanted to be super’s gearhead.  So I learned and I plotted.  I had a plot to remove the government and replace it with myself, but I knew I would need to deal with the plethora of superheroes who would try to stop me.

It wasn’t until I had the bulk of them neutralized, many of them now normal people themselves, that people began treating me differently.

You see, every time I robbed a bank or broke a supposedly villain out of jail – and by “villain” I mean it was non-violent criminals of stupid things like “anti-hero activities” – well, apparently I wasn’t alone.

And then I went against Mr. Thumbs.  He was tough.  Beyond his super-human strength he wasn’t an idiot and he did his research.  He had figured out where I had been educated and was prepared for most of my usual tech.  I actually broke out a villain named Mastero to help me beef up to deal with Mr. Thumbs.  It was really Mastero that taught me I had power not just luck.  You see, his power was psychic shock, but he couldn’t do it to me.  Mr. Thumbs threw him through a wall with steel beams and broke his back.  I made him a special chair later, but it was also rigged to suppress his powers.  But he did teach me what I needed to know that let me defeat Mr. Thumbs.

The mayor tried to give me the key to the city.

Damnit.

So now they are having a party.  For me.  I can see young people dressed as me.  Wearing the dark black and purple I adopted when I turned villain.  Wearing the little tophat at an angle.  They all seem to have it on a headband.  Mine isn’t, but they don’t realize there’s a spider-shaped piece under it which contains my distilled blood.  I’m pretty sure it will subdue most supers, but I haven’t really been able to test it.

The school is closed.  I made sure of that. And as soon as it was closed the government said they couldn’t afford to rebuild so they will be watching for super-powered children in normal schools and giving them “alternate educations” there.  I might have had one of my lackeys take the job heading that team of teachers and they will be making sure those kids just want to be normal. Or gone.  I don’t care which.

But damnit, now my plan is ruined. The government loves me.  It’s supported and sometimes even gone beyond my own desires to make sure the city is managing rather than overrun by superheroes.

I am supposed to be the villain damnit.

Review: Villains by Necessity

Villains by Necessity by Eve Forward has been on my reading list for years.  I read Animist when I was in HS and am still disappointed there hasn’t been a sequel. But to be honest, VbN is the better book.  Ironic that her debut novel is better than her second book – but it’s true.  I am sad she hasn’t written more novels because I really like her writing.

So, let’s start with VbN being a book where the “heroes” are all villains – assassin, dark sorceress, thief.  But in a world be subsumed by “goodness” those who want to live outside the lines ARE heroes.  Those who stand up against someone’s vision of “good” to demand they should be allowed to make their own choices to be good or evil as they wish.

The irony that this book comes into my life at a time where I am struggling with ideas of “free speech” isn’t lost on me.  It also makes me chuckle that this damn lens on my face colors EVERYTHING.  But the message is pretty blunt – villains shouldn’t be forced to be good people; it should be a choice people are allowed to make.  And make again tomorrow. And motives matter.  Someone who kills to protect is different than someone who kills for “pleasure” (ew).

The characters ARE tropes – but it’s part of the story to say that Forward explores the fact that every “villain” in the trope might have a reason or a past that makes it make more sense.  Heroes might be villainous to the villains and villains might be heroes when they do something “good” even if they do it for “evil” (usually selfish) reasons.  By playing UP the tropes, she explores them beautifully. Especially to anyone who has played RPGs like Skyrim or D&D they will recognize the classes used.  I can’t say it will make as much sense to someone unfamiliar with the genre, but I think almost anyone can follow the story and enjoy the adventure.

The plot is clear and crisp and even when I thought it was a little predictable, Forward pulled it together by doing a few different tricks – like flipping to the “heroes” and exploring some of their motivation.  She also plays into the story itself everyone understanding the way stories are “supposed to” happen – good guys win and bad guys lose. Right?

Overall, this book took me a bit to get into – probably the full 100 pages I give a book.  It was a book I actually kept in my bathroom for close to six months and managed to pick-up-for-a-page and come back the next day for the next page.  Because of the strength of the tropes, this worked really well.  It isn’t like some “bathroom” books I’ve tried where I have to constantly go back three pages because I’m always “lost” – the plot holds throughout.  It’s simple and yet the twists and turns keep it fascinating.

Seriously, find a copy of this book – it’s out of print or I would absolutely put links up.  Eve Forward deserves every dollar for this book!

Review: (Article) Middle Children Going Extinct

I read this article over the weekend and (being the youngest) sent it to my sister for her thoughts (as she is the middle child).  Both of us agreed although there are some interesting bits in it – what exactly was this author trying to convey?

He made a single throw-away comment about Millennials waiting to have kids, and I really wish he had shown the courage to delve into that.  But that wasn’t his point and I appreciate it. He also made a snarky comment about the “indulgence” of people he knows who have a third kid and what fiscal security they must feel to do this.

Ok, so (a) OMG his privilege and (b) again, not the courage to get political and discuss the fact that kids are PROHIBITIVELY expensive.

In case it isn’t clear – In 2011 OECD published this report on the change of fertility rates 1980-2009 (ish).  Now, to be clear in 2009 kids born in 1982 (early Millennials) were 27, so when they said “the average age at which women have their first child increased from 24
in 1970 to 28 in 2008” (pg 21), they aren’t really talking about Millennials.  Taking the 1982-1997 age range for Millennials, we’re looking at people that are now 36-21.  Ok, so we can finally all drink and most of us can rent a car.  But in 2011 even, many, many Millennials were still in high school and college. So this research might already be wrong.  I didn’t find anything that looked legit that was more recent in my quick Google search.

I don’t think the author of this article is wrong per say, but I feel like he didn’t want to dig into WHY people aren’t having more kids instead just bemoaning sadly this loss to his personality. Without digging into what is motivating this change in our society, he acts like people are just doing it on purpose.

In case you aren’t reading my subtext – I’m a bit offended by this.

I would love to have more than 1 kid, but I’m already past 30 and I did wait.  I waited for 2 big reasons.  The first is I had to find the right partner.  That one took awhile, but even after we met we were both working a fairly low-paying job.  We’ve fought and struggled to put ourselves into a place where we feel more secure.  We still don’t have children and I’m over that “magical” 30-age number that means I’m old to start a family.  I’m well past that 28-average age that was true in 2009.

Review: Trigun

I took vacation and re-watched Trigun for the bazillionth time.  It’s less than 10 hrs once you skip intros and credits on the episodes (26 episodes which run ~20m each). But this time, as with many things in my life I’ve been seeing things through a lens colored by the current world.  Even trying to avoid the news while off work (staying out of touch!), it filtered in from a hundred small sources. So I watched Vash the Stampede struggle in his world and grieved.

If you’ve never seen this late-90’s anime, you should.  This is one of the series I’ve recommended as a good introduction to anime.  It is funny and dark and fun all intermixed. It is long enough to help someone figure out if they can stand a longer-than-2-hour story arc but not the 10,000 episodes of something like Inyuasha.   It seems like just a light-hearted twist and then it interweaves these little hints of something “bigger” going on.  Then another hint.  And then a much bigger hint.  And if you aren’t sucked in by the time the second bigger-hint hits, you will be from then on!

There have been viewings where I found Vash beyond idealistic and annoying.  When I watched this in the last few months of my last job – when I was frustrated and hated my management… Vash drove me crazy.  But this time as I watch him… I adore him for the exact same reasons.  It’s easy to love idealism when life is easy, it can be frustrating when someone else is idealistic and you aren’t.  I’m now in a place where my lens is so dark with bad news – hanging onto idealism and hope is all the more important.  Vash’s pain and sadness leak through occasionally, but overall he fights for the light and love answers to life. I want to hang onto that.

Because this is a tv show, I can only review the over-arching plot. Individual espisodes are better or worse.  There is one episode that makes me bawl like a baby every damn time. I love that episode.  Love it so hard. I always just want to cuddle Milly.  God, I love Milly.  She is such a flat character so often, but she occasionally dips into a deeper bit and when she does – DAMN the feels.

The over-arching plot is what makes me want to go back and watch it.  I know at least once where I tried to pick out the “five important episodes” and ended up essentially watching the entire series twice because I kept going, “oh, I should have watched that one.” So when I decide to watch it, I just start with Episode 1 and I don’t remember ever regretting that choice.

I know I should “critique” Trigun and it isn’t perfect.  It’s cheesy and the animation isn’t flashy and the characters are kind of flat.  But honestly, even each of those things I’m as likely to defend as turn negative.  It’s fun. It tells a great story in a clear way and if you like sci-fi/western (*cough* Firefly *cough*) you should watch this.

Life Events: Pet Relations

Kawaii would have been quite happy if we had never gotten a dog.  She spent the first three days as often under the bed as anywhere else.  I think she pooped only when Riley was in his crate.  She was not ok with this change.  Granted, she doesn’t much care for change.  It definitely is taking her the longest to adjust to having a dog in the house.

Genkii on the other hand follows Riley around.  A Lot.  He has tried to steal Riley’s food.  He has sniffed Riley’s crate.  He cries when Riley goes outside without him…. even in the rain.  Genkii has always thought he’s a dog and he doesn’t quite understand why the real-dog gets different (better?) stuff.  You know, Genkii’s higher-fat kitten food (which is higher fat than adult food) just isn’t as good as the low-fat/high-protein dog food.  Fortunately, Riley doesn’t get bothered by any of these antics but has finally starting sniffing Genkii’s butt- to the cat’s great confusion.

Riley as the best success is happy.  We were told he came from abuse, but honestly – I expect he’ll never remember it in a year.  So far the worst moment has been at the vet’s office.  I don’t know what happened to him before, but when he saw the vet’s stethoscope he kinda freaked out (cowering behind me and growling at the vet).  He did not want to have that thing near him.  I ended up having to put a muzzle on him so we could give him his influenza vaccine (since we are in high-social-time right now to get him used to meeting new people & animals).  Now, the fact that he cowered against me and allowed me (without any fuss at all) to put the muzzle on was actually fairly positive.  The vet said she thinks he’s bonded well and now we just need to teach him that vet visits will be positive experiences for him.

I am wondering/thinking that eventually we might do Genkii+Riley vet visits.  ‘Cause Genkii is a freakin’ CHAMP at the vet.  Vets LOVE my cat.  He doesn’t know what “bad touch” means so they can examine paws, nose, teeth, ears and whatever else and he just wants to look around.  The biggest problem I have with him is he keeps trying to get to the kennel area so he can meet the doggies.  I’m not sure Riley is paying enough attention to Genkii yet, but he’s beginning to.  We’ll do Petsmart a few times and see if they can learn from each other (Genkii could learn better leash manners from Riley).

So we have 3 animals who are finally willing to be in the same room with each other – and this exemplifies them perfectly.  Riley is unaware; Genkii is trying to be just like the doggy, and Kawaii isn’t sure if any of this is ok – but damnit she wants to be here.

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