Monday, December 29, 2014

17613--Do you know Elf-fu?

I'm sure Peter Jackson will find more work.

Now, with the last of the Hobbit movies unleashed upon us and being readily consumed, we are free to take the time to reflect.  I'll assume by now that you've either read the books or have familiarized yourself with the material.  From this point on, though, I'll speak freely.

You've been warned.

Picking up where The Desolation of Smaug had left us, we were treated to the final flight of His Resplendence, Smaug the Magnificent.  Inappropriately or not, I laughed my ass off watching him blaze a path from one end of Laketown to the other in a single pass.  Frankly, though, those barrel-riders were asking for it.  If they didn't want to be targets for the dragon, they shouldn't have lived within sight of Lonely Mountain.  There was a town outside Erebore, sitting on Smaug's doorstep.  If they weren't going to live over the horizon under aerial camouflage, they might as well have lived out there.  They could've chatted up the old fellow over the years, offered up some cattle...

Oh, well, hindsight.  Laketown had no chance.  The next best move would've been moving into...Smaug's doorstep.  Outer Erebore?  Whichever you like.  Anyway, move in and tell anyone who comes in response to Smaug's death that he's still alive.  "Shhh...His fearsome majesty has just gone back inside to sleep."  Maybe they could even get through Thorin's gold fever and get the dwarves to make some convincing grumbling sounds.

Don't get me wrong, though.  I'm not out to squelch the story.  Good stories come from bad choices, so the characters have to be allowed at least a few.  Too much logic has people moving out of haunted houses as soon as the walls start to bleed and where's your movie then?  Using logic to avert a war doesn't get you The Battle of Five Armies.

Were we entertained?  Damn straight.  If you liked the other dozen-plus hours of barefoot hobbits, staff-wielding wizards, and sword-swinging fighters, then you've already seen this one at least once.

What did we learn?  Always bet on the fifth army--the last ones to show up to a fight always have an edge; air-dropped cave bears rock; as in Star Wars, armor isn't always as useful as you might think it's going to be; Billy Connolly just can't help being funny; and as every installment has shown us, Elf-fu will jack a sucker up--Legolas, bitch!

Once again, well done.  Certainly better than time spent on another bit of tripe from Hollywood's rom-com division.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

17609--Do You Get It?

"What'd you get?"

How many Christmases have we heard that question dominate the day?  Sure, there's always a lot of talk about spiritual enlightenment, but we seem to keep falling back into this quagmire of "buying Christmas" and getting stuff.

Whichever side of the line you're on, well, I'm not here to tell you how to live.  People have tried more than enough times to lay out some universal path to happiness.

I say you need to find your own.  It may be a longer journey than walking some prescribed path suggested by another, but it's the one that'll work best for you.

Me?  I don't ask for stuff.  I try to be happy with what I am and what I have.  When I'm not, I work to change it.

We still have war and injustice.  They're part of humanity's path and we may be struggling against them as long as we're around.  We still have love and pain.  Same spiel, though we all experience them to differing degrees.  That's all part of our individual journeys.

I make it a point to get some exercise and plenty of water, eat a three-egg omelet with a pancake, indulge in some chocolate, and write.  Any day with all that has plenty of potential.

Today, was a four-egg omelet day and I'm breathing well.

How're you?

Saturday, December 13, 2014

17597-- Bloody Ala

Hurry, scurry!  Get to bed!
Bloody Ala wants your head!
Tuck in the covers;
Quick, hide your neck!
Cover your heart,
Then, be still...

Silence hides you from white fang's flash.
Swiftness protects against steel's cold slash.
Hurry, scurry!  Do what you must!
Your veins she seeks for her only lust.

-- bedtime tales of Clan Isharien
"Child of Fire and Blood"

Monday, November 24, 2014

17578--Are You Responsible?

I say you are.  In fact, if you're reading this, I know you are.

I wanted to make a note to mark today, because after a couple of hundred plus posts since April of 2011 this is the first day that this site has received over a thousand views in a day.  I think I'd personally prefer that the short stories and chapter samplings from my novels were the major draw, but it's mix of those and my ramblings (I guess we can call them articles or just blog posts).  That's fine.  I'm not so picky as to turn away readers.

You probably know this already, but writers love readers.  Tell your friends.  My door's always open.

Yes, I attribute the responsibility, at least in part, to you for coming here to read.  I'm going to write whether people show up or not and I'm not forcing anyone to come look at it.  You chose to come here and love what you read (hey, it's my hypothetical--go with it) and then tell the world about it through retweets and shares and whatever, so the hundreds of thousands of visits that have taken place over the years and continue relentlessly around the clock (go with it) are on you.

Thanks for stopping in, even if it's just to see whether or not I've lost my mind yet.

I'm going to get back to plotting and scheming and stringing words together.

Don't live wanting.  Don't die wondering.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

17569--Entertainment is for Enjoying

If you're a long-time comic book aficionado and you were watching ARROW this week(11/12/14 "Guilty"), then you likely caught a glimpse of the return of the classic boxing glove arrow, subject of long-running debate.  It gave me a laugh, but I'm still among those who think its unwieldy nature should prohibit its presence in the quiver.  Still, where better to use it than in a story featuring the boxing hero Ted "Wildcat" Grant?
Also good for some laughs was BIG HERO 6.  I haven't read the source material, but the film was fun.  The plot was simple enough to be predictable.  While that doesn't leave you with a lot of surprises, it's still entertaining.  And even though the hero, Jiro, could've and should've used a far more elegant and obvious solution to their supervillain problem (easily cutting down the run time by a third...which also means having to listen to my tactical analysis if you've gone to watch it with me, but if you know me, then you know that's the risk you take in dragging me to a superhero movie), it was still really entertaining.
Don't worry about it.  A lot of people finally started realizing that Indiana Jones serves little purpose in Raiders of the Lost Ark but it's still a very enjoyable film.  Like The Incredibles, you just don't want to go tugging at threads.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

17562--This May Count as Monologuing

I'm going to be direct about this
and just tell you straight that I enjoyed The Incredibles tremendously.  It's a well-made piece of entertainment.  I know this isn't a bold, out-on-a-limb position.  Lots of people share it, after all.

If you're among those of us who are fans, you're probably glad they're finally working on a sequel.  Creator Brad Bird said he wasn't going to work on a second unless he could produce something worthy of the first, so that's cool to know he's concerned with quality.  He's built himself a decent track record of films, so I imagine he doesn't want to start fouling up the list with stinkers.

As much as I enjoyed it and still enjoy it, the film has still left me with a couple of nagging problems.  Believe it or not, they have nothing to do with the amazingly atypical body count for a Disney film.  That part I can live with.  Those characters knew they were getting into dangerous jobs when they signed on.

No, the first thing to bug me were the legal issues that drove the heroes underground.  First, Mr. Sansuite was attempting to commit suicide.  This is a serious matter and typically illegal.  No matter how much he wanted to end his life and blame Mr. Incredible for messing up his plan, he'd still have little legal traction in court and would more likely have ended up under protective observation.  The litigious train passengers would likewise have found themselves with little support as their hero would have been shielded by the Good Samaritan doctrine and any good lawyer should've been able to coherently argue that he wasn't responsible for their injuries.

Still, with all those tricky maneuvers having to take place to force the heroes out of action being allowed, we're still left with the next issue.  My follow-up is that I want to know why the super-villains dropped out of sight.  What happened to the major crime sprees that should've erupted to take advantage of the hero vacuum?  Where was the subsequent clamoring for the return of the heroes?  Fifteen years?  By that standard, it took virtually no time at all for people to beg for Hancock to get back off the sidelines.  Hancock!  And that was before he'd been able to redeem his public standing.

These things make me ponder.

Comments welcome, especially from Mr. Bird ;)

Monday, November 3, 2014

17557-- Winter is Coming

Don't tell me you're the only one who didn't know.

I know I see a lot of things ahead of others, but I usually try not to be the spoiler guy.  At this point, I felt it was safe to say something.

I'm not sure, but I think it may have been because of the changing weather.  I had a dream.  It was one of those vivid and unusual dreams that stood out...for whatever reasons dreams stand out.

Well, I suppose that the reasons already cited should make it clear enough: vivid and unusual.  This one had a lot to do with water.  I don't usually spend much of my waking time or dreamtime around water, so watery dreams tend to stand out.  There was nothing supernatural about it either.

The situation I seemed to find myself in was that of being a covert military intelligence operative.  I had infiltrated a Russian command with a partner and we were preparing to implement our exit strategy, which involved an underwater swim through icy water.  See?  There was a winter connection.  At least that's my speculation.  It was a dream.  Who knows?  For all I know, it could've had something to do with the dream I had about the Georgian spy eight months ago.

These things need to come with notes or some kind of map.  Half the time I feel like I'm tuning into the middle of a movie.  Must be what quantum leaping is like.

It's good pay for sleeping.  If it were less interesting, I'd probably fight it more.  Lord knows I probably don't need to spend any more time awake than I do already.  Still, it gives me time to write and connect those dots.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

17549--Sound of Thunder

You didn't just hear felt it.

It rumbled, resonating through your flesh, your bones and everything around you.

Whether through lore or science, many people have attributed the effect of lightning's passage to many different supernatural actors.  Accordingly, the kinetic disturbance has also picked up a host of names.  Among the more enduring is "Donar" or "Thor".  Thanks to the modern mythology of comic books and the films they have inspired, the force of nature embodied as a ferocious warrior has enjoyed a popularity as a modern superhero that he hasn't seen since before the changing of the religious guard started cutting down oak trees and nailing up wood crucifixes.

Thor was created from a union of Odin's power with that of Mother Earth, resulting in one of the most powerful beings ever known to Asgard.  One curious development at the core of Thor's comic book characterization, though, has the guardian of Earth and Asgard bound by his father to the immortal's legendary weapon.  To teach his son humility (and humanity, ironically), Odin created an enchantment that tied the power of the storm-who-walks-like-a-man-god to the hammer Mjolnir.  Whomever holds the hammer and is deemed by its enchantment to be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor.  Usually, possession is acquainted with more malefic intentions, but I suppose we'll let that one slide for now.  As a father-figure, Allfather Odin is usually regarded as one geared more toward doing good than harm.  Still, y'know, gods can be capricious and their ways can seem quite harsh to mortal sensibilities.  Either way, the hammer was put in charge, a sophisticated leash for the power of Thor.

Now, one of the other great challenges some of you may remember being sent against Thor was the magical automaton called The Destroyer.  I've never liked that.  In my head, I've always tried to re-label it as The Annihilator.  I've never understood why they chose the name they did at Marvel.  The name of the hammer, star of Thor's show, is Mjolnir.  Mjolnir means "The Destroyer".  Bad enough that the robot's super-tough because it's made from the same metal (Uru) as the hammer, but they gave it the same name as the hammer.  That's got to get a little confusing in the heat of combat.

Oh, well, maybe they can work on it during their next retcon.  It can't be too far off.  What time is it?

Sunday, October 12, 2014

17535--Fleeting Time

It has been nearly two months since I last unleashed something new on this site. 

To my regular and even irregular visitors, I offer my apologies.  With my mind awash in writing (Child of Fire and Blood, Part 4, primarily), I had no idea so much time had passed so swiftly.  I may have to consider the possibility that my attachment to the temporal component of our continuum.  Is consciousness an independent variable allowing not only a variance in the perception of time passage, but alterations in one's physical relationship with time?  Well, the Nobel Prize committee is going to have to wait.  Before I go proclaiming myself a time lord, I've got writing to do.

See?  I haven't abandoned you.  I just get sucked into tangents.  It isn't that I didn't think about you at all, just that I've been busy.  During that time, though, I did also think of many things to write and share.  I'd share more bits from my books since some of you tell me you're enjoying them tremendously, but I don't want to spoil your fun in unraveling mysteries or watching them bloom in the course of a story.

I realize I'm my own marketing department, but I make a point of steering in the opposite direction of a Hollywood film trailer.  That is to say, I neither summarize a given story nor put my funniest jokes into the preview.  Those gems you earn by strapping yourself into your seat and diving into the story.  When you're willing to do that, you deserve more than a rehash of any preview.  Hell, there are times I consider being intentionally misleading just so you can be truly surprised.

hmmmmm...Now that I've put that into words, I'm pretty sure I've already done that.

You're welcome.

You can thank me later.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

17532--Such a Crisis


Overlooking the smoldering city, the two legendary titans of justice stood.  Paused in their selfless works, they allowed themselves a brief respite from their struggles.

"With Ultra-Loser and his latest Secret Society of Punching Bags in Tights safely in custody," the dark-cloaked hero's gravel voice spoke, "I suppose you'll be riding the next cloud for home."

"Not that I don't enjoy our time together," the alien powerhouse said, "but yes.  I try to be wherever I'm needed.  I just wish we could convince more misguided souls to use their gifts for good, rather than just beating on them and jailing them."

"They made their choices and earned their punishment," the more grim of the pair said, the smoky breeze tugging at their billowing capes.  "I'd say we've sufficiently quelled the chaos here to satisfy even your overdeveloped sense of responsibility."

"You're one to talk," the superhuman smiled.  "You've collected more cuts in the last hour for you-know-who to tend than I--"

He was interrupted by a rapid electronic tone from his belt.  Both men recognized the beeping.

"League communicator," the dark warrior said with an arched eyebrow.  "Mine's quiet, though."

"Curious," the superhuman said, lifting the device to his ear.  "Hello?  Wha--?  Ma?  How'd you get this number?"

His dark comrade-in-arms snorted, barely able to stifle an uncharacteristic laugh.

"I'll have to have a talk with her about...Dinner?  Well, you know I love your cooking, ma, but we still have so much to do here.  It's really not a--What?  You see us on the news..."

"Busted," the dark hero whispered.

"We're just taking a breather, ma.  There's really no telling...Yes, ma.  Yes, ma.  No, ma'am.  Yes, ma," he said, sounding exhausted as he lowered the communicator.

"Oh, very impressive," his dark companion said, shaking his head.

"Don't sound so smug," the alien immigrant said, handing over the communicator.  "She wants to talk to you."

"What?  But I--"

"Be nice."

"Hello, ma'am.  Well,, ma'am," he said with a sigh.  "Yes, ma'am."

The dark hero handed the communicator back to his larger friend.


"Dinner's at seven," the dark warrior grumbled.  "Roast beef."

"Not so easy to turn her down, is it?"

"I don't have a lot of practice with mothers."

"Practice wouldn't--"

"Because, you know, my parents were killed when--"

"Really?" the superhuman asked.  "This again?  We know.  We all know."

"Hey, I didn't grow up with a bunch of super-powers to make things any easier."

"No, only several billion dollars to--"

"You think I wouldn't have traded that to have my parents back?"

"Of course you would've," the alien said.  "Just like I would've traded my powers for mine."

"Oh, are we making this a contest?" the dark hero asked.  "At least you grew up with parents."

"Lost my whole planet."

"Happy life, adoptive parents..."

"Billionaire, surrogate father..."

"You still have a mother...and stable relationships."

"Whole planet," the powerhouse repeated, "and you're only as alone as you choose."

"So glad we're not competing or anything."

"Of course you are.  I'd be winning," the alien hero said, smiling as he began to rise into the air.  "Casual dress."

"Yeah, I'll have to let you-know-who know I'll be out of town.  Hey, will your cousin be there?"

"Probably, why?"

"I know she's young, but she's...mature."

"What's your point?" the floating man asked, the smile gone from his perfect face.

"Oh, come've seen her.  She may seem young in Earth years, but back on the homeworld, she'd have to be legal, right?  I mean--"

"Stay away from my cousin," the superhuman said before launching himself skyward.

"Yeah, yeah," the dark hero mumbled, stalking off toward the smoke and shadows.  "Like you're going to do anything."

His communicator beeped.

"Hello?" he rasped.

"I can still hear you," the superhuman warned.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

17513--You Didn't See Anything

And even if you had...

Do you hear anything?  Is it...too quiet?

Several years ago, I enjoyed a comic book series you probably never heard of called Whisper.  She was a ninja.  More accurately, in her world, she was the ninja.  By that, I don't mean she was the most bad-ass ninja.  She was the only ninja in the world.

You see, in the history of Whisper's world, the adult Alexis Devin put on a ninja costume to investigate the death of her adoptive father.  She learned that he had been not only a businessman, but a ninja in the employ of the Yakuza.  Ultimately, the organization's head explained to her that ninjas were a myth, fabricated centuries ago to use the idea of them as a deterrent of fear.  Alexis' father had been so enamored of the legend that he had trained to become a ninja, not realizing he was making himself into the only one to actually exist.  After his murder, by using the training he had given her, Alexis had also unwittingly taken on the mantle and power of a weapon designed for intimidation.  Embracing the idea, she was able to exploit the fear that ninjas inspired against criminals and government agents alike.

Did you know that the United States has over a dozen different members of the alphabet soup club that report to the DNI (Director of National Intelligence) operating under immense secret budgets?  Espionage is a big deal.  Governments and their militaries have long-relied upon the power of gathering hidden information with invisible eyes.  Properly utilized, spies can change the course of a war or make war unnecessary, a single agent accomplishing what ten thousand soldiers might not.  It was the serendipitous arrest of British spy John Andre that helped reveal the betrayal of Benedict Arnold and save West Point from being handed to the British.  Yeah, that catch was all luck, despite the American military having its own intelligence network.  Nowadays, they seem to be working overtime to know...pretty much everything, it seems.

In fiction, we have all manner of intelligence options showing up.  We have Bond and Bourne, the IMF, SHIELD, Task Force X (the Suicide Squad), and Checkmate.  Star Trek alone has produced the Romulan Tal'shiar, Kardassia's Obsidian Order, and the Federation's Section 31 (which they'll be quick to disavow even exists).  Covert manipulation and intelligence gathering is so important a part of governmental and military events that I've had to make sure they were represented in my own world building.  In the Theobroma books, the world of Tarakk plays host to the secret activities of the Scales of Justice and smoke agents, the operatives of both being magic-savvy, metamorphing dragons; the infiltrations and espionage of Clan Isharien, rumored to be ruthless practitioners of martial arts and magic; the various government Ministries that vie to influence the Republic of Zadiasam and the lives of its people; and the aloof warlords whose mastery of nanotech and space folding have given them reputations of limitless reach and knowledge.

Conflicts between secret players with access to huge resources can have far-reaching consequences, limited only by the imaginations and ambitions of those pulling the strings from the shadows.  Who will determine the outcomes of the wars we see unfolding on the nightly news?  Probably the same people who put the figureheads at the forefront of their governments and factions.  That is to say, no one most of us have probably heard of.  That's just the way they like it.  Out of the public eye, the power behind a throne acts freely.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

17506--Tough Act to Follow

Robin Williams is dead.

Peter Pan ran out of happy thoughts.  There, it's said.  Like any successful entertainer would want, I'd expect, he touched a lot of people with his work.  It's OK, people, everyone will get a turn with the doll to show us where the bad man touched you.

HA!  I'd like to think he'd have appreciated that.  I've had the benefit of getting to see the full span of his career.  I'd like to have seen him go longer, but I'm glad he didn't OD years earlier.  I'm sorry he fell to depression sufficient drive him to suicide.  With any luck, the story will end there and we won't find out he was murdered by a loved one like Phil Hartman, we won't have an unsolved homicide like George Reeves, or learn it was an autoerotic asphyxiation like David Carradine (which I totally knew was how Carradine must've died from the instant I heard of his "suicide").  Lots of comedians make claims to being driven by darker emotions.  It's sad to see that pain consume them, especially when they've brought so much joy to their fans.

Well, that's not really telling anything special.

Really, I just wanted to note the date and the passing.

Mr. Williams stood out with his comedic creativity and acting talent.  He was a rare brightness in a field where comics and actors are easily replaceable.  Certainly, there's no telling when we may see someone approximating his unique spark again.

Friday, August 8, 2014

17502--New World


New World, Iowa had been carved into a location generally considered to be representative of the expression “middle of nowhere”. It was nothing less than the drive of human will that had brought a living community into existence on a patch of ground that had previously not even been exploited for farming. Isolation was what had made the location so appealing. A clean energy company town had been built out from the primary construction site for the world’s first interstellar exploration ship.

To promote continued interest in the project among children and bolster their sense of community, the town’s school included associated research assignments every year as part of the students’ curriculum. The only kid who had had the insight and testicular fortitude to call the site commander’s office directly since the project began had asked to meet him for an interview. Given the nature of his job--what he had come to see as the real nature of it--the commander didn’t see how he could refuse.

When the student arrived at the bookstore’s coffee shop, the commander had hot chocolate waiting for him.

“Order what you like,” the inspiring hero told him. “I tip big, but they refuse to charge me here.”

“Thank you, sir,” the boy said, sniffing at the steaming liquid as he pulled the cup toward him.

“I know that look,” the man told his guest. “It’s the best they have, but it’s made with water. Sorry.”

The kid leaned back in his chair as he opened his notebook. He frowned thoughtfully as he looked up at the living legend across the table, trying not to seem intimidated.

“Go ahead,” the commander told him. “Ask what’s on your mind.”

“It’s just…you don’t seem like…in your book,” he said.

The commander glanced again at the copy of New World Brave the wide-eyed boy had dragged along, his own face staring back at him from the cover was less like a mirror and struck him as more akin to some other version from an alternate universe.

“If you’re planning to hold me up to some sort of chapter and verse scrutiny from that thing,” the commander said, “you should probably know…I didn’t write it.”

“What?” the youth asked, clearly dazed by the revelation. “You…but…”

“Something you read in there inspired you, didn’t it?” the commander asked.

“Yeah,” he said, his eyes drifting to the book on the table as though it had become some alien thing he had never seen before. “I want to be a pilot…like you, maybe even on one of the starships that comes out of here.”

The commander stared into the boy’s sincere eyes and reached out a hand as he said, “Give me your recorder.”

The boy surrendered the handheld device, sliding it across the table.

“And the pen and notebook,” the commander said, taking up the pen and starting to scribble in the notebook immediately. “I’m going to tell you some things, things you probably won’t get to repeat to anyone while I’m still alive. Think you can handle that?”

“I…Yes, sir.”

“Good,” the commander said, returning the notebook and pen, “that’s what I wanted to hear. You guard that. It’s top secret. When we’re done, if you think you still want to ride one of the big command chairs, we can probably get you there together.”

“Uh…OK,” the student said, puzzled as he deciphered the scribbles. “Like wingmen?”

“Yeah, like wingmen. Take these,” the commander told him, handing him the silver wings pin from his own uniform, “and we can talk pilot-to-pilot.”

As if the wings weren’t enough, even the suggestion that he was about to have a conversation with his hero on some level where they acted like equals was enough to make the young student’s mind reel. The best thing he could think to say in response was nothing because he was sure that anything he had to say would make him sound stupid.

“You’re what…twelve?”


“So you’ve probably seen movies based on a true story,” the pepper-haired commander said, “when you’ve known the true story was way, way different.”

“You’re saying that’s what happened with your book?”

“That steaming crap pile they massaged into the shape of a book tells little of the life I remember going through,” he said. “They spelled my name right and I’m a pilot. Beyond that…Hell, they even messed with the picture on the cover. I think they used some kind of focus group to decide on changes.”

“You keep saying ‘they’,” the boy said. “Who did all this? Is that a secret, too?”

“Part of a government project,” the commander said. “Specifically, the damned politicians. They wanted to create a perfect PR hero.”

“What’s that?” the boy asked.

“Public relations,” came the answer. “A neat package, planned, manufactured and sold to the people like a boy band.”

“A what?” the boy asked, sounding even more confused by the obscure reference.

“Before your time,” the commander said. “The point is, New World Brave was just a piece of a larger plan. I’m getting ahead of myself, though. First truth: I love to fly more than almost anything. I fly in my dreams and if I could go without food or rest, I’d never stop flying. I started in private planes, which became military aircraft in an eye blink. Before long, people were calling me a war hero everywhere I went and expecting me to smile about it. The only way I saw to get real distance from it was to keep flying. By my third Mars mission, they were trying to talk me into this assignment. I, naturally, flew the first manned recon team to Titan instead. If I could’ve mustered up just a bit more selfishness, you’d be at this table with someone else.”

“The book never explained that part well,” the junior pilot said. “Why’d you give up flying? How could you when you love it so much?”

“Let me tell you, I’d have kept fighting it,” the commander replied, “if not for the Titan mission. After that, it was impossible for me to ignore any longer how important it was for us that we expand our presence beyond this planet as fast as possible. Politicians or not, even with most of this job being nothing like what it seems to be--”

“You really don’t like politicians, do you?”

“They lie as easily as breathing comes to most people,” the commander said, “and complicate absolutely every issue they touch. I’m supposed to be heading this project. Thanks to them, though, the work’s been scattered across half the country and it’s been turned into a PR job to keep everyone excited about having jobs.”

“My mom says we’d barely have enough to eat if not for coming here.”

“You and a lot of others,” the commander said. “Same for a lot of folks in the couple of dozen places that support this one. Most of my job ends up being coordinating parts shipments.”

“That’s a long way from flying,” the boy said sympathetically.

“Tell me about it.”

“Well, why couldn’t they have gotten…anybody else to come here and do this?”

“They needed the right name,” the commander said, “and the right face to be associated with the project.”

“Oh, a hero.”

“Still not comfortable with that,” he sighed, “but, yeah. They needed to make sure our big baby gets off the ground.”

“Our hope for the future,” the boy said. “You’ll get to go up with it, then, right?”

“At my age?” he laughed. “I’ll be dead before that ship ever flies, probably when my head explodes from screaming at some clown in Congress.”

“Why is it so important to them that we get the new ship out there?” the boy asked. “I mean, really?”

“Ah, you’re catching on,” the commander smiled slyly. “Yes, they’ve got a lot of great stories about all the wonderful benefits that justify us rushing off into space, but none of them are anything more than half-truths.”

“Because politicians lie.”

“Smart kid,” the commander said. “That Titan recon…”

“You found something out there. You did, didn’t you?”

“Hey, keep your voice down,” the commander said.

“You did.”

“Something, yes,” the commander confirmed quietly. “We’re still not sure what. All we do know is that it distorted our instrument readings and…that I was the only one to make it back alive. I cared more about flying circles around Titan than about going down to the surface. We lost comms during my second orbit. When I flew over, my cameras got pictures of…I don’t know what. It was nothing anyone could’ve been alive in.”

“So you broke orbit?”

“Mission orders,” the commander said. “Always keep flying, kid.”

“Y-Yes, sir.”

“Anyway, after I got back,” the living legend went on, “they made up a cover story and I realized there was no way they were going to let me take another team back out there. They watch me, study me. I think they’re waiting to see if I grow another eye.”

The boy laughed, till he realized the commander was not.

“OK, wait, sir,” the lieutenant commander insisted.  “Stop there.  Let’s say I believe you: you really knew him, were mentored by a legend, and his book that inspired a generation was a load of…*ahem*  Why, sir, may I ask, do you have a metal cylinder strapped into my chair?”

“He liked the feel of that chair. He said he never wanted to get used to this one, since he wasn’t going to get to fly her.  Don’t worry about it, though,” the captain said, taking the canister from the navigator’s seat.  “The bottom’s magnetized.  It’ll attach to the deck plate.  Taking the commander along as ashes, though, is the only way I’m getting him back up there.”

“Since we’re sharing, captain,” the navigator said, “what was the secret he wrote in your notebook? Was it about the recon mission?”

“Secret hot chocolate recipe,” he said. “I’ll make us some before we get near Titan and open the sealed mission orders.”

“I’m not going to like what’s in there, am I?”

“Probably not as much as the hot chocolate,” the answer came, “but we’re going in with the best possible crew and a lot of great training. Whatever we find out there, the three of us will do our best to keep this beauty flying. Can we count on you?”

“I’m your wingman, sir.”

Monday, July 28, 2014

17491--Guesswork and Bloodletting

The assassins had failed again.

I was in ICU, enduring incorrect meal orders, bouts of tedious questioning about how I was feeling (often including the assurance that I had been in great health before whatever they'd done to me during my toe repair surgery), breathing exercises and blood draws.

"No, I came here to get my broken toes fixed," I said, "not for symptoms of respiratory problems that I didn't have before the anesthesia procedure I asked not to be done."

Let's see, broke toes Tuesday night, surgery Wednesday evening, awake again Thursday, so it was Thursday when the orthopedist showed up in my ICU room.  I liked him.  He was an entertaining mix and usually managed to find a smile.

"Hey, you were one hundred percent right," he told me.  "I heard about what happened after the surgery.  We should not have put you under."

Did he know how to bring an apology, or what?  Granted, not so hard when you're not to blame, but still a great apology.

"I'm sorry you're having trouble," he said, "but on the bright side, our part went great.  How do your toes feel?"

For the toes, hey, no problem.  There was no pain, no tingling, no numbness, and no discoloration.  There was (and at this writing remain) a long steel pin extending from beyond the tip through to the base of each toe (the little piggy that had roast beef and the little piggy that had none;  weeweewee is fine), but no pain.  Based on people's poorly hidden reactions, I'm going to assume it's supposed to hurt.  I'm quite content with not having that part of the experience.  I'm not sure If that costs me experience points in this game, but I'm sure I took that into consideration when I created the character and I'm not going to start second-guessing myself this far into things.

I really felt like most of my inability to take a deep breath was more connected to the irritated feeling in my throat.  It was less like a sore throat and more akin to sprinting in cold weather.  Trying to breathe deeply would set off coughing after a couple of seconds.  If that was due to the double intubation, it should heal, right.  Of course, I was also coughing up bloody phlegm.  No, I hadn't been doing that before.  Someone actually asked me about how I normally dealt with these symptoms I was--Hey!  Stop.  Wearing a white coat doesn't make you smart.  I don't normally deal with any of these things or have a primary care provider because I normally feel freaking awesome.  I pay attention to what I eat, drink more than a gallon of water a day, exercise daily, and don't have to listen to doctors who make me feel worse than when I came to see them for a simple mechanical fix.

This patient's humors are out of balance!  Time for another bloodletting!

There were a few bright spots to my stay in the hospital, with doctors, nurses, nurse assistants and even volunteers among them.  There were also idiots who, sadly, probably don't know who they are because they failed to register either my sarcasm or my blunt honesty.

Saturday, my oxygen saturation maintaining at an acceptable level with supplemental oxygen, I was moved from ICU to a normal patient room.  I was still being given antibiotics, a blood thinner, and not enough food.  The hospital's idea of a normal diet was something I really wanted to use some of my free time to discuss with whoever was in charge of nutrition for the place.  It consisted of far too many carbohydrates and not enough protein and so many things that I just wasn't going to eat.

The attending anesthesiologist came for a visit a few hours after I'd gotten to my new room.  She claimed to be sympathetic, but also maintained that she would make the same decisions again.  She also expressed one theory that I might have experienced a negative pressure pulmonary embolism, something that was known to occur in higher mass patients.  I failed to see the logic in insisting on a procedure that was a known risk for a patient because of his body type when another options was available and requested.  We failed to reach a point of agreement.

Sunday, I stopped using the supplemental oxygen.  My tongue was still half-numb, which I found as bizarre as the fact that over two weeks later it still hasn't fully recovered all sensation.  Regardless, I was and remain very dedicated to deep breathing.  Blame it on all the years of martial arts training.  It meant enduring a lot of coughing, but I was forcing more breath after each coughing fit so I persisted.  I think I mentioned lots of free time, so I was back to notebook scribblings interrupted by bouts of exercise.  I received a visit from another orthopedic doctor.  I'd seen different people from orthopedics every day.  This one seemed nervous.  His voice was shaky and so was his handshake.  The nurse and I decided he must've been one of the eight men who'd had to wrestle me after surgery.

My vital sign readings had gotten back to normal, for me, and there were rumors I might be discharged.  Hooray!  There was also talk of a chest CT scan.  Much of Sunday was  spent waiting on word of which event was going to happen.  The scan won out and happened late that afternoon.  *sigh*  Chest X-rays before and after I was awake hadn't shown them anything conclusive, the doctor claiming that there was too much muscle to see through well, but that he didn't see anything of concern.

From the CT scan, they decided that I'd been left with a pulmonary embolism, blood clotting in each lung.  I'd progressed to exclusively dry coughs, no blood, but the next step in the plan then was to be blood thinning therapy, dissolving the clots over the course of several months.  That was also going to mean ongoing doctor visits for monitoring to make sure that my blood to poison ratio was kept at an appropriate level.  To begin the process, it was also going to mean keeping me in the hospital where they could monitor me until they managed to achieve the desired level before releasing me back into the wild.  That resulted in another week in the hospital, feeling well but trapped, futile pokings by people hunting for blood vessels, and a doctor who learned to deliver updates with an apology and on the run.

Nice guy, but he liked to stay out of arm's reach.

Now, home again and being mindful of my skewered toes, I've begun dealing with the inefficiencies and stupid questions of a primary care physician and waiting on lab work.  I've yet to encounter any part of all this that's made me unhappy about having as little interaction with the medical profession as possible over the years, nor to make me think I won't resume that practice ASAP.  It always seems to come back to bloodletting, doesn't it?  The trappings have gotten prettier over the last seven hundred years, but a hospital's still a gilded cage at best and there's still so much guessing going on in there.  I'm waiting for somebody to come at me with stone knives and bear skins, realizing that my theory about a voodoo doll likeness of me out there somewhere with sharp pains in its foot may not be so far fetched.

There's no place like home.

Friday, July 25, 2014

17488--Avoid Waking Up with a Crowd Around You

"Shattered" was the word they kept using. 
Left: Fragmented and askew / Right: Steel pins added

The toes I thought I'd dislocated and probably broken, X-ray images showed to be shattered.  They still didn't hurt.  Straighten them out, splint them, and I'd be on my way.  That was my plan.  It had a simplicity I liked and I trusted my body, as usual, to heal the damage I'd done to it.  The doctors had something more complicated in mind.

Their plan involved pins.  They wanted to insert long, steel pins into my toes.  My smiling orthopedist apparently had a secondary specialty in witch doctoring.

"Oh, you need surgery," they said.  "We need to set the bones properly and insert pins to hold the toes straight.  Plus, you've broken the skin, so we need to open that wound and disinfect it."

Twelve hours and suddenly somebody's concerned that I had been bleeding.  At this point, my priorities were pushing food and water back to the top spot and toe yanking was starting to sound pretty good again.

"Oh, no, you were right not to yank them," the orthopedist said.  "That would've been bad."

That from the medical professional whose first impulse had been to grab my toes and start trying to move them.  That part was something I knew would happen and that, when it did, it would be an orthopedist doing it.  When I called him on it, he laughed like he'd been caught in the cookie jar.

"We're going to get you scheduled for surgery right away," he said.

"Well, can we just do a local anesthetic?" I asked.  "Numb it, fix it, and I can be out of here?"

"We'll probably do a general anesthesia and just put you out."

"I don't mind being awake," I said.  "Just do a local and we can be done that much faster and I can be on my way."

"Well, you'll have to talk with the anesthesiologist about that," the orthopedist said.  "Have you had problems with anesthesia or surgery before?"

"No, I just think it would speed things along to not have to put me under and wake me up," I explained.  "One less complication."

"You'll see the anesthesia team before surgery," the doctor said.  "Talk with them about it during prep."

"Oh, I will."

From the emergency department examining room, I was taken to a patient room to await my turn on the day's surgical schedule.  It was becoming late afternoon and nurses would bring up food and water a few more times, then tell me it was good that I hadn't had anything.  My stomach remained unconvinced, but stomachs are like that.  In lieu of sustenance, I continued a steady regimen of vital sign checks and the quiz about my name and birthday.  Yes, I only have one name.  No, it wasn't the day for cake.  Mmmmm...cake.

Appropriately gowned and finally transported to OR prep, I had a chance to talk with an anesthesiologist about staying awake.  Now, they're all about keeping you alive while you're asleep.  My desire to remain conscious was taken as an odd choice to be stubborn about.

I suppose as a resident, her response of "I'll need to get my attending," didn't come as much of a surprise.  When both doctors came in, we did our dance again, but the attending was much more insistent that general anesthesia was the only viable path because of the very involved procedure I was about to undergo.  For my part, I just needed to stay still.  Honestly, with just a local, the comfy bed, and nothing else to do, I'd probably have dozed off on my own.

They wheeled me into the OR and the ortho guys decided that my heavyweight status made me a great candidate for doing surgery right on the transport bed rather than having to move me before and after.  Like I said, comfy bed, so no argument from me.  The logic seemed sound and we engaged in witty banter and trivia quizzing until...Well, until whatever the anesthesia team did to put me to sleep.  Apparently, it also interfered with short-term to long-term memory transfer.  I have no recollection of the anesthesia being started.

My first recollection of new memories began the next morning through the cloying fog of half-sleep.  I'd been lashed to the bed.  The railings felt different.  I couldn't really open my eyes, but it was a different bed.  I had a hazy memory of a prior dream about being a superhero doing the man dance with a gang of villains.  There was a tube in my mouth and throat.  It was irritating so I tried to bite through it while working on breaking my restraints.  When I felt somebody come near enough, I grabbed his wrist.  The communication process had begun.

There was some blather about asking me if I knew where I was and remaining calm as becoming agitated again might result in keeping the breathing tube in longer.  I guess I'd been strapped to the bed for a reason.  I was also told I had to stop trying to chew through the tube.  So many rules that would've been unnecessary if they'd just removed the tube.  I let the first nurse go and got the next pair to understand that I wanted something with which to write.  That bit of communication seemed a lot harder than it should've been.  They weren't impressing me.

Going unheeded once more, I was told that they were waiting for doctors to arrive on rounds to make the decision to remove the breathing tube.  That was as irritating as the tube itself.  The story I was given was that I was uncooperative with the nose mask, so I was intubated (a breathing tube was stuck down my throat).  While the orthopedic surgery went well (the fix I came for), extubating (removing the damned tube) and reawakening did not.  Bloody phlegm came out with the tube and my oxygen saturation level was dropping.  They said they also tried to wake me during this, but whether that was before or after removing the tube wasn't made clear.  Whatever the sequence, in my sleep, I fought whoever was around me.  Ultimately, this became eight guys struggling to hold me down while I was re-sedated and re-intubated.  At least that made the vague memory of my superhero dream make sense.  And why I'd been strapped to the bed.

Waking up in ICU wasn't part of the plan.  Awake, though, I was able to convince the docs to remove the tube.  Then, I was able to get back to answering the endless cycle of tedious questions and finding my way back to taking deep breaths again.  Still, the question of what had gone wrong lingered.  I wasn't supposed to feel worse than when I'd arrived and more than a day had gone by without food, water or writing.  All that needed correction.  Priorities.

NEXT: Guesswork and Bloodletting

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

17485--Back in Action

Or How I Spent My Impromptu Summer Vacation.  I've been away for a bit.  To say the least, far longer than I wished to be.  That part's over now and, back at my keyboard once again, I can share a little.

Growing up on copious amounts of heroic fiction, long ago added "avoid being strapped to a lab table" to my guidelines in life.  Who needs that sort of headache?  No one.  That's who.  Still, medical captivity can descend with blinding swiftness.

I didn't see it coming any more than I did the fall.  Just after 11 on a Tuesday night, I meandered from my lair to take the dog out.  He likes it, I prefer that he does certain things outside, and hanging out with him keeps me from acting like a hermit.  Routine became less smooth upon my return to seclusion.  So I took a fall.  Big deal.  I've fallen before.  I'm not perfect, after all, though blessedly resilient.  As usual, I felt undamaged as I picked myself up and laughed about my momentary clumsiness.  Part of life.  This time, though, I noticed something a little different: a couple of my toes were...askew.  That explained the metal *clink* I'd heard.  My bare foot had managed to kick one of my dumbbells as I passed from vertical to horizontal.  Between being distracted and my own curious pain tolerance, I didn't realize I'd made contact.

"Well, Hell," I said, "that's not right.  I probably need to get those checked out."

There was no pain so I was still mostly annoyed, but the logical part of my brain was being pretty persuasive.  It even managed to talk me out of yanking and straightening the maligned digits myself.  Bother.  Off to the ER.  So much for a night of writing punctuated by other interruptions of activity.

Thus began the latest of my rare interactions with medical practitioners.  This toe mishap seemed like something that needed to be dropped in their laps.  Though I resigned myself to this and the ensuing tedium, even with the emergency room visit exceeding all reasonable expectations of duration, those first twelve hours of waiting would soon be fond memories.  My dip in the maddening waters of surreality was only beginning.

NEXT: Avoid Waking up with a Crowd Around You

Monday, June 30, 2014

17463--Child of Fire and Blood (Ch. 37)

The trouble starts over on the Theobroma page. I've decided to continue it out here with a few chapters for your perusal. Enjoy a taste of Tarakk prior to indulging in the novels. This particular morsel is a sampling from Part Two, available soon.  Feedback or questions on the world, its people, their gods or whatever are equally welcome.



“How far to the exposition site?” Endo Tamm asked.
“Thirteen blocks,” Aveline responded. “Morning traffic is very dense in this part of the city.”
“Thank you, Aveline,” Taril Bont said, taking the drink she handed to him. “You should try some, Tamm. It’s quite good and mostly fruit juice.”
“My water will be sufficient,” Endo Tamm told him, his attention trained on the bustling city beyond the limousine window. “My discipline demands that I maintain focus. You spend a lot of time here in Azirta?”
“When my role demands it,” Bont said. “I’ve yet to grow as accustomed to the bitter air as most of the people who dwell here, but there are many times when it can’t be avoided. This persona demands unusual maintenance.”
“So I’ve seen,” Tamm said. “While not unprecedented, celebrity is an uncommon demand to be put on a kalen-ter. You’ve done well to not allow it to consume you and your…team. That includes you, Aveline.”
“It is our duty to serve,” Aveline said, “even here. Ozone is merely an additional burden of the assignment.”
“Just be prepared to adapt further,” Tamm said. “Our master has warned me that the emperor’s plans may yet call for many changes to this land and its decadent people.”
“Does that mean we should prepare for more nuclear detonations?” Bont asked.
“There’ll be no one left to rule if he continues on that path,” Aveline said. “Not to overstep my bounds, but that’s insanity.”
“Nothing so extreme,” Tamm said. “Recall the Orfoli, their mighty nation overwhelmed by the Berel.”
“The Berel?” Bont asked. “I thought the Orfoli were killed off by plague.”
“It was so long ago,” Aveline said, “I thought it was an ancient mystery.”
“The Berel were a conquered people whom the Orfoli found to be useful servants,” Tamm said. “The Berel were efficient to the point of allowing their masters to become so reliant on them that they couldn’t do anything for themselves. Uselessness and complacency defeated the Orfoli, weapons wielded by the very people the Orfoli thought themselves powerful and clever in taking into their homes. Peaceful though they were, the Berel hated the Orfoli. No matter how much they served the Orfoli, they never stopped hating them. They knew they were killing them the best way they could.”
“You think the Etinen will destroy Zadiasam in this manner?” Aveline asked.
“Their science has a far more firm stranglehold on these people,” Bont said. “I don’t think they realize just how dangerous a servant it is.”
“They do love their electricity, don’t they?” Tamm asked. “Flying cars, slidewalks, mechanized pet care…in fact, since I arrived, I’ve heard that they were even developing robotic animals to replace their pets. It seems that they’re determined to have every possible aspect of their lives made more convenient by their technology. We’ll soon find this land peopled by chair-bound husks of atrophied meat kept alive by machines that have replaced every last vital organ.”
“Yes, slaves of their own inventiveness,” Bont agreed. “Is there a specific manner in which we should pressure them next?”
“I would say penetrating the government’s computer security,” Tamm said, “but that seems to be beyond our capacity somehow.”
“My apologies,” Aveline said. “The failure is mine. I didn’t anticipate the complexity of their electronic shield. I’ll need to devise a much more thorough spell to get past its frequencies.”
“If you can manage it. Meanwhile, the exposition will allow us to deal them enough of a blow prior to feeling the full impact of war,” Tamm said, “that they’ll easily succumb to our coming economic plans. In fact, their people should be clamoring for the Parliament to take what we have for them.”
“I suppose part of me might find it sad that Alban must suffer as it does,” Bont said, “were we unaware of the larger destiny it serves.”
“Alban’s people have been shaped,” Tamm said, “as will any others that need to be to suit the plans of our masters. How much farther to the expo site?”
“Eleven blocks,” Aveline said.
Tamm sighed and said, “If only to clear this traffic, I will be happy to watch this city burn.”
“Well, we don’t want to go too fast,” Bont told him, “or we’ll have front-row seats. We’ll get there soon enough.”

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

17400--Are They Lobbying for a Revolution?

Why do I seem to be asking that question so often?

You know those people who seem to inspire the query "Are you trying to start something?" almost every time they speak.  For me, those voices usually come from government.

The Supreme Court is said to be contemplating whether the search of an individual's phone should require a warrant or not.  I don't understand the controversy.  It sounds more to me like we're being lied to again and people are trying to screw with our rights...again.  Last I'd checked, there was already a law covering this issue.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Fourth Amendment: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Let's not pretend it's unclear just because it seems inconvenient or some people want to claim that new technology creates an unconsidered loophole.  My stuff is mine and I have the right to share it or not as I choose.  The Fourth Amendment was created to protect that right.  In that regard, my smartphone is no different than a briefcase.  It certainly offers no personal information in plain sight to be picked up and perused.

Just to be clear, stepping on my rights is picking a fight.  No, I'm not consenting to a search and you don't have a right to see my receipt.  If you have legitimate probable cause, get a warrant.  I'm not volunteering to bear witness against myself.  That doesn't mean I'm guilty or that I have anything to hide.  It means I value my rights and insist that others treat them with all the respect they are due.

Laws are intended to create a just code of conduct to protect us from abuses.  They are not meant to serve as weapons, nor inconveniences to be circumvented.  I can easily imagine the chaos that must erupt when government employees take part in family game nights.  I'd bet there are a lot of unresolved board games out there ending in angry frustration.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

17363--Must We See Eye-to-Eye?

Do you have anyone whom you consider close to you whose views on life and politics differ wildly from your own?


How about a fictional character?  Are there any you find you enjoy immensely yet you realize you might feel conflicted about their goals or methods of achieving them?

Varying views on how our lives should be lived have probably been around since before we invented words to use to argue with each other.  As Colonel Hunter Gathers once said, "The minute God crapped out the third caveman there was a conspiracy formed against one of them."  Some people play it off as needless drama, but conflict is the friction that motivates action.  In fiction, that conflict may be portrayed as anything that gives the protagonist difficulty in reaching his goal, even if it's the protagonist himself.

Two politically charged science fiction TV shows that have distinguished themselves with their writing over the last few years are Person of Interest and Continuum.  In the latter, the primary goal of the protagonists is to make use of information provided by an independent artificial intelligence to save the lives of people it perceives to be in imminent danger.  Their secondary goal is protecting the technology from being abused by government and corporate operatives who seek to control the AI's omniscience (it constantly gathers information by all-pervasive monitoring of surveillance and telecommunication systems) and is willing to kill anyone their ranks who even knows about the AI's existence.  The AI doesn't share what it learns, so people's secrets are secure.  The Machine (as they call it) merely points its virtual finger, leaving the humans to determine whether they're being pointed at someone who needs to be helped or stopped.  Additionally, another threat to the protagonists and the Machine has been introduced in the form of a citizens' rights group called Vigilance which is militantly opposed to any invasions of privacy.  Vigilance wants the Machine and its human contacts stopped by any means necessary.  They're all operating in the shadows.

I appreciate the show's writing, offering heroes who attempt to mask pain with wit and work to save lives even if they belong to people they don't like or if they have to do things they'd rather not.  No shortage of emotional conflicts here.  Am I opposed to ubiquitous surveillance?  Definitely.  I also understand that the show's ongoing conflicts regarding the Machine exist because each faction believes that their position is the right one.  It's like a televised debate out of current news, but with violence, plots and some advocacy for individual rights.  Of course, everyone fighting for the people would be labeled a terrorist by the government.
The other show gets more complicated.  Continuum has plenty of advanced technology, but the pivot point of this program is time travel.  The protagonist is a protector (law enforcement officer) displaced from sixty-five years in the future.  She wants to return to her husband and child, but she can't even consider that until stopping the escaped criminals who've also come back in time intending to change the course of history.  It seems that the antagonists don't like the corporatocratic, oligarchic dystopia of the North American Union and its Corporate Congress.  Wait, did I describe the future or the present?  Just kidding, although their future sure looks like it could be woven from a tapestry already in the works today.  In 2077, the high-surveillance police state is so firmly in control that the criminal freedom fighters have decided that killing it in its infancy is their only chance at changing their world.

Well, doesn't that put us in an interesting position?  We have a heroine struggling to protect lives until she can return to her family and job in a future where debtors can be consigned to life at mindless slave labor.  We have outlaws organizing radical citizens' rights groups and killing seemingly harmless people to thwart the construction of a future they've already changed.  It's especially hard to cheer the protector on when most of the glimpses we're shown of the future involve the state killing or otherwise oppressing people.  In fact, while it initially seems that her trip to the present was accidental, it's revealed that it was engineered by the future's chief architect and corporate mogul who also wants a different version of the future than the one he has had a great hand in crafting (though his means of effecting that change involves making alterations in his younger self).  From what we've seen of him in the future, he seems a far gentler soul than the dark world around him.

Like I said, it's a bit more complicated.  The likable heroine is fighting for a future I would detest.  Her redeeming virtue comes in that she's not doing it because she's a stiff-necked fascist, she just loves her family.  The harsh antagonists are using terrorist tactics in ruthlessly championing a cause I'd support.  And they all come off believably, so I'd say they've crafted the twisting of methods and goals effectively.

[Spoiler: The start of season 3 explains that a even a short trip back in time basically unravels the timeline one has left in favor of the creation of a new one.  The new one may resemble the old, but there's no guarantee as to how much.]

For me, I'm going to say we don't have to agree with every aspect of characters to appreciate them.  They merely need to be well-crafted.  Disagreements can be educational, thought-provoking, and perhaps even enlightening.  A little challenge to our normal way of thinking may help us see things from a different point-of-view.

How do you feel?

Saturday, April 12, 2014

17353--Being Careful What You Wish For

He stood over the cluttered yard sale table with his rescued treasure.  Holding the tarnished brass oil lamp, he turned and studied it as his imagination ran wild with thoughts of wish fulfillment. The lamp was heavier than he had thought it would be before picking it up.  Still fighting a growing urge to rub its metal skin, his eyes darted all about to see if anyone was watching without giving away that he cared whether or not anyone was watching.  Only after forcing open the lamp's lid did he notice it was completely filled with a clear glass-like substance, which could not be removed without destroying the lamp itself.  On the reverse of the $2.00 price tag dangling from the handle was scrawled the word "Deactivated".

Who doesn't like the occasional bit of wish fulfillment?  How about ass-biting, ironic, Twilight Zoney, you-didn't-really-think-that-through-did-you wish fulfillment?  Hands?  OK, just you in the back?  Get out.

For the rest of us, whether we're watching I Dream of Jeannie or reading "Arabian Nights", this stuff is just bloody entertaining.  Usually not literally, but I think we all know that a character who treats the gift of a wish too carelessly is going to end up regretting it.  That's OK, though.  We're also usually taught that comeuppances have educational potential.  Failing that, we're still left with horror or comedy.  Sometimes both.

In the oldest djinn lore, they are perceived as malefic beings bound into service by King Solomon through the power of his magic ring.  Over the many years since, they've come to occupy their own special place in literature and popular culture.  With them, the concept of being granted or making deals for wishes through some supernatural agent has grown into an almost ubiquitous part of our collective psyche.

In my own take on them, djinn are beings forged of the fire and smoke who come in three distinct flavors: marid, ifrit, and imp.  They refer to themselves collectively as either Djinn or Shaitan, the Children of the Adversary.  While they possess both Free Will and potentially staggering multi-dimensional power, their lack of imagination limits their drive.  This aspect of their nature makes them good minions.  There is a belief among their kind, though, that if they ignore their own desires and serve others enough, then an individual might know inspiration.  The djinn recognize such a development is a rare, even legendary, occurrence and more go mad than realize that precious spark.  Some of these zealot Searchers have been bound to containers by others, mortal and immortal.  Binding them to a physical object allows that container to act as a pandimensional, hypertime anchor, inhibiting roaming.  A Searcher is more likely a convert--evolving from disrespecting mortals and plotting their temptation into self-destruction, with some taking on a genuine liking for mortals either specifically or generally--than one bound into service unwillingly.  One bound unwillingly may still serve others as a means to enlightenment, but should still be considered cunning and dangerous.  Still, there are some djinn who are curious to study mortals and learn about them.  This curiosity has resulted in wish-granting experiments, spontaneous human combustion and the occasional inside-out cow.

The least regarded Children of the Adversary are shaita-imp, mortal offspring of djinn and mortal flesh, that possess only a fraction of the power potential of even an imp (imps may seem quite potent to the limited perceptions of mortals, but the majority of changes wrought by an imp‘s efforts will be undone should they so much as leave the dimension).  They’re encouraged to perpetrate corruption against all that is Bright or Balanced, to stand opposed to all things of the light.  While they have some ambition, they tend to be undisciplined and of limited imagination.

I have yet to introduce the shaita-imp characters created for the Theobroma series, so no spoilers there.  Over in the City of Magick, though, Brick Stone's sexy assistant, Jonni Berlin, has been revealed to be a shaita-imp.  Though he has been able to make use of her arcane knowledge, the beleaguered detective has yet to realize the implications of having her in his life.  Do be there as things unfold.

In case I haven't been completely clear, I love this stuff.  Whether you're someone who can't get enough or looking for something new, follow a link below and experience a sexy twist on the djinn.  Rub the lamp and get your personal copy of "Summoned", an urban fantasy from author Rainy Kaye.

In a magical nutshell:
Twenty-three year old Dimitri has to do what he is told—literally. Controlled by a paranormal bond, he is forced to use his wits to fulfill unlimited deadly wishes made by multimillionaire Karl Walker.

Dimitri has no idea how his family line became trapped in the genie bond. He just knows resisting has never ended well. When he meets Syd—assertive, sexy, intelligent Syd—he becomes determined to make her his own. Except Karl has ensured Dimitri can't tell anyone about the bond, and Syd isn't the type to tolerate secrets.
Then Karl starts sending him away on back-to-back wishes. Unable to balance love and lies, Dimitri sets out to uncover Karl's ultimate plan and put it to an end. But doing so forces him to confront the one wish he never saw coming—the wish that will destroy him.


Or follow the dark criminal out to steal your heart over at Amazon

 Rainy Kaye is an aspiring overlord. In the mean time, she blogs at RainyoftheDark and writes paranormal novels from her lair somewhere in Phoenix, Arizona. When not plotting world domination, she enjoys getting lost around the globe, studying music so she can sing along with symphonic metal bands, and becoming distracted by Twitter (@rainyofthedark). She is represented by Rossano Trentin of TZLA.