Tag Archives: fantasy

A review, and a challenge, by a master

This post is shown in its entirely as published by David Gerrold on Facebook along with my comments. If you are not familiar with the name, perhaps you will recall the Trouble with Tribbles, a Star Trek episode. Or, The Martian Child. David knows how to spin a tale and has made a career of building worlds, and dissecting this one. First, my comments.

“Absolutely and unequivocally on point. While in college I talked a professor into letting me write a term paper on science fiction. Not literature in her opinion – but I wrote well enough to make my point and she conceded. In fiction, sometimes most effectively in science fiction or fantasy, we have the freedom to take a social or civil issue and put it far enough away from the reader we can challenge the person without being confrontational. It is a way to engender thought by leading. David Gerrold points this out beautifully below. Hopefully he won’t mind if I publish this, with credit, on my blog.”

I think Sarah Pinsker is a marvelous writer. I admire her ability to paint a picture in words. Most of all, I admire her ambition.

In the current issue of Asimov’s, she has a story called, “The Ones Who Know Where They Are Going.” It’s a beautiful piece of work and I would not be surprised to see it ending up on various award ballots.

It’s intended to be read as a sequel to Ursula K. LeGuin’s “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas.”

If you have not read the LeGuin story, go do that now. I’ll wait.

If I had to pick one story to represent the entire SF genre, possibly the most memorable of all tales anyone has ever written, it would be “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas.”

Omelas is a beautiful city, filled with joyous people living joyous lives. But … its serenity and splendor depend on the eternal misery of an unfortunate chld, kept in perpetual filth, darkness, and misery.

When citizens are old enough to know the truth of Omelas’ success, they are shown the true price of the city’s glory — that this single child must be locked away in a cruel dungeon. Most of the city’s citizens accept this as necessary to the continuing elegance of Omelas. But every so often, a few citizens cannot. They walk quietly away from the city. The last line of the story: “The place they go towards is a place even less imaginable to most of us than the city of happiness. I cannot describe it at all. It is possible it does not exist. But they seem to know where they are going, the ones who walk away from Omelas.”

What occurred to me immediately, the first time I read this story was that the wealth and success of the United States depends on foreign labor — child labor, peasant labor, and in some places even slave labor. The braceros who pick our vegetables, the Chinese factory workers who assemble our iPhones, the children in Bangladesh who sew our clothes. We don’t think about them. We simply accept that the low prices of goods at Walmart are a sign of our national success, our splendor, our wealth — but in truth, our denial of the facts about the world we live in is a sign of our cultural sickness.

The trap — the real trap — is that we cannot walk away from our own Omelas. We don’t know how. We can’t survive without the technology we’ve constructed and all the hard work it takes from so many people to keep that technology functioning and to keep us fed and clothed and amused with electronic toys.

Never mind that for the moment — the point of the story, as I see it, is that we as humans always have a choice: whether to accept injustice and live with it or reject it and refuse to participate in it further. And this is why I think it is one of the greatest stories ever written — because it isn’t about Omelas, it’s about the reader.

And that brings me to Sarah Pinsker’s marvelous tale.

I hated it.

Not because it’s a bad story, not because it’s badly written, not because it’s wrong — but because it is a philosophical and emotional reversal of LeGuin’s story. Where LeGuin leaves us troubled, Pinsker wants to let us be okay.

SPOILER ALERT.

If you haven’t read Pinsker’s story, go do so now.

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In Pinsker’s story, someone has left the door to the dungeon ajar. The child, bruised and hurting, laboriously climbs the steps toward the dazzling daylight, wondering about the beauty that lies above, and speculating on how long it will take the city to collapse after the escape.

But by the time the child reaches the tenth stair, he or she (never specified) stops and turns around and heads back down to the dungeon. And we are told that this is not the first time that the child has made this journey toward dazzling freedom and then returned to the sanctity of the darkness.

Now, if the point to be made here is that the child cannot deal with freedom, is afraid of freedom, that’s horrifying enough — but that’s not Pinsker’s point. No.

Instead, this child is acting out of altruism, nobility — returning to the dungeon so that no other child will have to suffer the same fate. And again, this is not the first time this child has made this great moral choice.

And as a reader, I can feel good, I can feel proud of this child for willingly martyring herself/himself for the good of —

No. I can’t.

There’s an old joke. “How many Jewish mothers does it take to change a light bulb.” “None. Don’t worry about me. I can sit here alone in the dark.” That’s also the short version of this story.

And this is why I take issue with this story. Both philosophically and emotionally.

Philosophically: Where LeGuin was saying underneath the glory of this civilization, its foundation rests on a crime, an act of profound cruelty and injustice to another human being — where LeGuin was making a profound plea, Pinsker is now excusing the cruelty and injustice. It’s all right, because the child is there willingly, the child is making a noble sacrifice.

And emotionally — it’s all right, you don’t have to feel bad. The child is doing a good thing. He/she wants to be there.

Um, no.

There’s this thing called “the victim racket.” It’s where you give away your power to others so you can feel good about never getting what you want. It’s about being right about being miserable. It plays out a lot of different ways, “I have to sacrifice for my children,” or “I’m not good enough,” or “It’s okay, I didn’t want dessert anyway.” (Or even, “I deserved the award, but the vote was rigged.”) The victim racket is about excusing injustice.

Now that might not be what Sarah Pinsker intended. Unfortunately, that’s how I read it. And as much as I try to find another interpretation, I’m stumped.

I’m not against sacrifice — every good parent makes sacrifices so his/her children can grow up to have a life they love living. But that’s an informed consent. The child of Omelas isn’t there because he or she has consented, isn’t there because of a higher purpose, isn’t enduring a noble imprisonment — the child of Omelas is there because the people of Omelas prize their splendor too much to give up the injustice.

Still with me?

Do I think Pinsker was wrong for writing this story? Hell, no. I’m glad she wrote it — because it will start the kind of discussion that all good stories must start. It invites the readers to argue about the nature of Omelas as well as the plight of the child. It invites us to consider the very real implications for our own society.

I’ll add this — the LeGuin story is necessarily incomplete. It invites the reader to decide for himself/herself about the morality of this situation.

In the hands of another writer — not me, not today — a sequel to “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas” would be about those who walk away.

Those who stay are accepting responsibility for the injustice, they’re owning it the same way the Germans who profited in the days of the Third Reich owned their atrocities. They decided not to care.

But those who are walking away, they’re rejecting responsibility. They’re leaving without trying to change anything. They’re fleeing the responsibility of rescuing the child. They’re unwilling to trigger the revolution that would surely occur if the city’s success were threatened. They’re unwilling to take a stand, unwilling to say, “I cannot be a part of a civilization founded on injustice. We must find another way. We must bring that child up into the light.” By walking away, they are running away.

And to my mind, the ones who walk away are just as detestable, maybe even more so than the ones who stay.

Whatever the case, I believe it is wrong to ascribe nobility to the child. It’s wrong to assume nobility among the oppressed. That’s a convenient fiction — that torture and oppression, discrimination and victimization somehow confer wisdom on the sufferers. Hell no. Torture and oppression mostly inspire outrage and hatred and counter-violence. Gandhi and Mandela and King and Frankel and Weisel are exceptions. Everybody else likely has a lifetime battle with PTSD.

That assumption of nobility through oppression — that’s why we have “the magic Negro” and the wise old native American and the sassy black lady and the insightful old Jew and the noble Asian and the spontaneously clever drag queen in American movies — because we’re afraid to acknowledge the real hurt and bitterness that our own Omelas has created, not in a single child, but in whole populations.

Perhaps there is a worthwhile sequel to be written to “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas.” I applaud Sarah Pinsker’s ambition in this effort. And I wish I could celebrate this story as a worthwhile sequel. Any writer this ambitious deserves applause.

But … I wonder if LeGuin’s original tale has left us with an unsolvable challenge. We are damned if we stay, we are damned if we leave. I can’t walk away — but I have no idea how to get that child out of that dungeon either.

That’s the story I want to see someone tackle.

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The Art of Subtle Communication

Something different today, primarily because I promised a dear friend of mine, Stacy J. Garrett, to support her project, “The Door.” Stacy has an amazing talent to draw her audience into the magic she sees through her camera lens. The Door is a project that shows us the hidden world, the one we forget as we grow older; even though we may need it even more.

Door

Stacy has created a game as part of her fundraiser. A scavenger hunt, if you will, where words are tucked away on various blogs which, once found, may lead you to the password that unlocks a secret door on her website. You can also find the location of the other clues for this week’s contest there.

As for my part, the clue is fairly obvious within this bit of prose, but here’s another hint; the whole piece can help you figure out what mischief she’s up to this week.

Recent fanfare on social media has led me to ponder a bit on the art of communication. More specifically, how we communicate when we think that saying things plainly will not be, well, fully communicated. When plain speech does not penetrate the white noise, we resort to methods that can be effective, or total disasters. This, of course, was part of the fanfare. As it happens, I suffer from a rather dry sense of humor. I find it soothing, and it works a bit like a code. Not everyone “gets it,” so they leave you alone. This is sad, however, because being able to get your point across without executing a direct hit, so to speak, can have a more lasting effect. Let’s start with a couple definitions.

Sarcasm: the use of words that mean the opposite of what you really want to say especially in order to insult someone, to show irritation, or to be funny. (remember the funny part)

Satire: the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.

Ah, there it is, in order to expose and criticize people’s, um, well, you get the picture. I call this form of communication an art for a very good reason. In most of human history, speaking to power required subterfuge; it required things like the plays of Voltaire, the traveling minstrels of the middle ages, the stereo-typical parts that any audience would recognize, saying things no one dared to say “in plain text.”

One excellent example of the development of this art form was the Commedia dell’arte, or the full name translated from the Italian: Comedy of the craft of improvisation. The characters of the commedia were fixed characters, roles every audience would know and recognize. However, the actors would improvise freely within that character. Some of the players became so famous in their ability to move within the role, that they became the representation of that role.

One of the favorites, if you will, was a joker of sorts. A fellow that seemed to always be derailing the plans of his master, falling in love with his master’s maid, and making a general mess of things. But, while everyone was laughing at his antics, he delivered solid satire on the people, places, and foibles of the world he lived in.

This is the art, the ability to draw people out so that, while they are laughing, something of import slips into the thinking side of the brain. The art of delivering food for thought to an audience laughing, perhaps, because they do not want to accept that the actor is truly serious, whatever his, or her, expression or attitude.

For a taste of some masters at the art try a few of these:

A Modest Proposal, Jonathon Swift
The Lottery, Susan Jackson
Screwtape Letters, C. S. Lewis
Candide, Voltaire
Tartuffe, Moliere

Go visit Stacy – you’ll be glad you did.

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Filed under General Comments, Humanties for the Unbound Mind, Personal Journeys

Guest Post ~ Faith in Fiction

I’ve been really, really busy trying to push through a major portion of my manuscript on Job. It is going quite well. That means, of course, less time to spend here. But I have a plan! This week I have a guest blogger, Cindy Keopp. She is an author of science fiction/fantasy. As it happens, I am one of her beta readers. Recently, one of her novels has become available for preorder, Like Herding the Wind, Urushalon I. It is a lovely tale and I highly recommend it.

Faith is something that winds its way throughout Cindy’s tales. It is a part of her and her journey, and so it finds its way into her novels. I asked her to tell us about that.

Like Herding

Cindy Koepp:

I was tempted to write an analysis of all the reasons why writers are told to avoid explicit mentions of Christianity in their writing followed by an explanation of why I ignore those suggestions. The prohibition of faith in writing would have made an interesting addition to my blog series on the Hugo and Nebula winners, but I’ll keep that topic for another time.

Instead, I’d rather have a look at the reasons why faith features so prominently in so many of my stories. The most overtly Christian of my books, Remnant in the Stars, even has a character convert to Christianity partway through the tale.

Leaving out the matters of faith would have made some things much easier. I’ve gotten into intense “discussions” with a publishing expert on the issue, been accused of trying to shove my religion up everyone’s nose, and had folks who offered to review the book later refuse because of the religion issue. Had I kept religion out of it, I would have avoided that mess altogether, but I can’t do that.

Some writers eschew the anti-religion advice because they “write for the audience of One.” In other words, they say that they don’t care what other people think because they’re writing only to please God. That’s not me. I’m not half arrogant enough to think a perfect God is interested in what I wrote. The best I can do is hope He’s not majorly offended.

Likewise, I don’t believe my writing is inspired by God. I’m not simply His scribe, and this isn’t a new Gospel I’m working on. If God were writing these tales, they’d be much more perfect than anything I come up with on my own. I wouldn’t need an editor because God doesn’t make mistakes. Trust me. I need an editor.

I write to communicate what I think and feel. Often these stories help me work through difficult things I’ve had to face. Sometimes the stories help me relate funny things that have happened. My tales contain goofy jokes and a weird sense of humor because I have a weird sense of humor and tell goofy jokes. The stories deal with complex characters and situations because life is rarely simple. All the characters are dealing with their own problems and their own joys. They have their own goals, so most of the characters in my stories have their own character arcs.

Most importantly, they have their own beliefs. People are predisposed to believe in something. In my own personal adventures, I’ve found that people put their faith and confidence in something or someone, even if that someone is found in the mirror every morning. To leave faith out of the story is to create a character that is woefully lacking in a critical element.

That’s not to say that all my stories have strong religious tendencies. One, Mindstorm: Parley at Ologo, has only one reference to God in passing toward the end. Are those characters missing something critical? No, but the details about their personal beliefs were not necessary, so rather than clutter up the work with unneeded detail, I kept the info about the characters’ religions in my notes along with other factoids. At critical points in the story, though, the religious background of the character influenced the choices the character made even if the reader never got to know the motivation for the choice.

More frequently, though, the characters’ religion plays a more active role in the story. For some characters, their faith becomes a source of strength for them in adversity, a cause for hope when practical answers are elusive, a solace in the maelstrom of family and international politics, and a comfort in times of grief.

In my personal life, faith is all these things, and I’ve only just begun to explore what faith in God can bring.

Like Herding the Wind — A Mystery. A wounded path. An alien society with centuries of work to coexistent with humans, but someone isn’t happy with the progress made. Will the human-alien team find those responsible before another human dies? In the 1600s, an Eshuvani generation ship crash-landed in a farmer’s field in Germany. Unable to find the resources on Earth to fix their ship, the Eshuvani built enclaves and tried to let the humans develop without interference. Three hundred fifty years later, Eshuvani criminals start a crime wave in the Texas coastal town of Las Palomas. With police officers being injured and killed in the efforts to stop them, Sergeant Ed Osborn attempts to use his ties to the Eshuvani community to get help for his men, but the local leadership wants nothing to do with humans. Ed contacts his urushalon, Amaya Ulonya, the Eshuvani mother he adopted when he was a boy, and seeks her help. After the death of her partner, Amaya, the captain of a police and rescue team, finds more grief than joy in her current assignment. Amidst controversy, she arranges to spearhead the new Buffer Zone station between Las Palomas and the nearby Eshuvani enclave of Woran Oldue. She hopes the opportunity to help Ed train his people will help her bury the past. The indifference of the local administration leaves her with Ill-functioning equipment and inexperienced staff. It only gets worse when the attacks of an Eshuvani criminal grow personal. Amaya must get control of her grief to help Las Palomas or risk losing someone even more dear to her than her last partner.

Cindy Koepp is originally from Michigan. She moved to Texas as a child and later received a degree in Wildlife Sciences and teaching certification in Elementary Education from rival universities. Her recently concluded adventures in education involved pursuing a master’s degree in Adult Learning with a specialization in Training and Performance Improvement. Cindy has three published science fiction and fantasy novels, a serial published online, short stories in five anthologies, and a few self-published teacher resource books. When she isn’t reading or writing, Cindy spends time whistling with a crazy African Grey. Cindy is currently an editor with PDMI Publishing and Barking Rain Press as well as an optician at monster-sized retail store.

Cindy can be found — and further enjoyed at:

http://ckoepp.com
http://cindykoepp.wordpress.com
http://www.amazon.com/Cindy-Koepp/e/B008QXR2QI

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Guest Post ~ Why do we love Fantasy?

Dragon

A 9′ by 3′ original oil by Dianne used for the covers of her trilogy.

My friend and colleague, Dianne Lynn Gardner agreed to visit today.  She is deep a project that will bring her beloved Realm to the screen. It has been quite a journey.  After writing Ian’s Realm, a trilogy, and then expanding the story to include two more books due to be published, she fell in love with the idea of bringing the Realm to the screen. To have something worthwhile to show, you have to know how to build a world other people want to visit!

Please welcome Dianne Lynn Gardner during one of her short stays here with us in the reality of the the Pacific Northwest.

From Dianne:

It’s not enough to lay on the grass, dandelions by your ear bouncing under the weight of a bumble bee, clover blossoms tickling your toes, as you stare at the white puffs of moisture changing shapes against the blue. No. It’s not enough to just lay there and listen to the breeze as you absorb the warmth of the day. You aren’t satisfied until you squint at the clouds and see the shape of a giant lizard morph into a dragon, and then as moments pass the formation becomes a butterfly stretching its wings over you, hovering between you and that burning star you call the sun. Soon it dissipates into nothing again. A cloud again. The shadow that had shielded you, gone.

Your imagination took you into a portal of time. For a few moments you weren’t really on your front lawn. Cars didn’t drive by, airplanes didn’t fly over your house. The phone didn’t ring. In fact, in the fantasy world you just left those things didn’t exist. Your stay was ever so brief. Completely harmless. But you were there.

Some people choose to stay longer.

Though it’s my opinion that all fiction is fantasy because it was made up in the mind of the author, the genre has a skeleton more exclusively defined. Speak the word fantasy and castles and battles fought with broadswords and bow manifest in the mind’s eye.

 

There are other kinds of worlds and the more imaginative author will seek to find different scenery to entertain the reader.

Two questions. How and Why?

“How” is left to the artist who paints a dream. It could be a combination of places the author loves. Maybe there were fields where he once walked. Perhaps in his childhood he remembers a house at the end of the street that had a basement unexplored. Sometimes a forest is so dark and deep he might remember hearing voices screaming from its core. Many memories and imaginings can dream up a fantasy world, and to build that universe in detail is an art. An exciting journey, with endless possibilities. All one needs to do is squint a little as though looking at the clouds, and pretend.

Why?

Stories such as Through the Looking Glass, the Wizard of Oz, Narnia, Lord of the Rings and many other fantasies take their main characters into worlds with incredible obstacles to overcome. Those obstacles represent trials common to us here in the real world. Good- versus-evil-type trials. In a fantasy story, magnifying the consequences of wrong choices, and glorifying the triumphs of perseverance, loyalty, courage and honor prompts the reader to consider issues they are facing in reality. In some way, those prompts can help to influence decision making — hopefully for the better.

This is why we love fairy tales, dragons, castles, princesses and knights. It takes us away from this world, if only for a while. And the really good stories give us something to bring back.

Dianne has just released the third in the Ian’s Realm Trilogy, Rubies and Robbers. 

Also check out Deception Peak (book 1) and Dragon Shield (book 2)

Visit her at her website http://www.gardnersart.com/ where all things Realm are explored!

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Guardians of our Lives ~ in Fiction and in Thought

It is time, dear readers, to return to the world of “Humanities Unbound.” Although there will always be a place in my writing and my life for my husband and for the caregiver in all of us, there is a time when we must return to the world at large. For this gentle shift back into that world, I have chosen to invite a friend to tell us about her book. It is a book about angels.  Not just any angels! Angels as something different and apart from demands placed on them by human legend and religion.

Please welcome, Etta Jean as she tells us about her new release, Shadow on the Sea.

SotS Cover

The concept of angels has always fascinated me. Even for those who are non-religious or unorthodox in religion, angels are an interesting concept that permeates our everyday society and culture. Coming at this from a more unorthodox point-of-view, I started wondering what sorts of beings might angels be if they were not religious in overtone. What if they were just a different race? Better, what if that race had somehow inspired our mythos around angels to begin with?

And, thus, Shadow on the Sea was born.

Scattered through my Lightling and Darkling races are plenty of tips of the hat to the legends they inspired and were inspired by. To fit such a rich history of a new race into a novelette is not easy, and I came at it by deciding to follow the life of a very special angel as she goes from birth, to her stages of evolution, to her final maturity. She brings you on her journey of growth, and I think you might just find yourself growing along with her.

Ceres is a world of angels, and love is their greatest heaven of all. We should all be so lucky.

The world of Ceres has been ruled for millennia by the winged race known as Lightlings. When the Chalice Kingdom celebrates the birth of the next crown princess, they have no idea just what events have been set into motion. The beautiful angel has a special, shadowy, gift, and only by learning to control it will she be able to claim the lover rightfully hers by destiny, and save her world from an evil bent on consuming them all.

Shadow on the Sea can be found on Amazon at:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00WDEMR6Q and http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00WDEMR6Q

Etta Jean was made in England but born in Sacramento, California. Her destiny as a bard was somewhat inevitable. Little else can explain how she constantly told her mother tall tales so outlandish that she couldn’t even get grounded for them. A love of worlds created by others eventually brought out the desire to create her own, and she has never looked back. She has seen both good and evil in her life, and her stories, like life, have no half measures. Her happy endings never come without cost, though, for she truly believes we can’t appreciate the good and the joy without the bad and the pain along the way.

Her current haunt is a comfy house in her beloved Sacramento where she wrangles three feline fur-kids and consumes peppermints like mana in order to balance a calendar filled with more creative venues than a sane person should realistically undertake. If she’s not chained to her desk, she’s stomping through the scenery in search of equally fantastical photographs.

Etta Jean can be located on the web at: http://www.ettajeanfantasy.com/ and ettajeanfantasy.wordpress.com

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30 Cubed – The Sketcher

header slim

There is a tradition that seems something from a different age, and one I never experienced when I was young, the family vacation. I have reached a point in my life when things are different and I can afford to take the traditional sabbatical.  I choose to do so at the lake. I find the parenthetical pause useful in a life flooded with too much to do. Here, things slow down. In Brigadoon-style, life is lived in episodes.

I visited the lake in September and I always stayed the full month. Though not quite deserted, the population of the tiny town was certainly much reduced. Dinner did not require reservations, and the lake was not crowded with water sports, barking dogs and screaming children. It was quiet. And I loved the feel of fall creeping into the early morning air. It was my time. You see, I am a writer. For one month I was free of marketing, editors, illustrators and all the other paraphernalia of life. Just me and my laptop in a lakeside cabin in the fall.

I was not completely oblivious to the other inhabitants of the town. After all, the place had a wealth of character material among the locals and the visitors. When writing seemed to come slowly I would tap out short cameo sketches of the people I met. Describing them and creating short story threads around them as I saw them that fall. I was having lunch on the deck at the local restaurant and searching for a subject when I noticed her.

She sat on a small stool with an artist pad on her lap. I wasn’t close enough to be sure, but it appeared that she was sketching something with charcoal or pencil. Her subject sat on a bench before her apparently lost in thought. Soon, the artist tore a sheet from her pad and handed it to her subject. The man stood, holding the sketch before him and started laughing. Pulling his wallet out he offered her some currency and I saw her shake her head. He shrugged and, still laughing, walked away.

As the days passed I saw the sketcher here and there, always with her stool, always sketching. Some of her clients appeared quite happy, some very sad. One even tore the sheet to tiny shreds and watched as the confetti floated on the wind to the water. The day came when it seemed time to visit the artist myself.

I found her not far from my cabin and near the public dock where my boat was moored. She wore a large straw hat that kept the sun from her eyes. It also kept her face in shadow making it difficult to estimate her age. She wore a long skirt and a blousy top reminiscent of another time. He hands were suntanned, rather delicate, and very nimble with her tools. She smiled at me as though she were expecting me and motioned toward the seat on the sunny side of the boat house.

She sat and began to draw. Time seemed to slow in the mid-day sun. I found myself lost in contemplation of life in general. I drifted to a state of might-have-been. Would life have been different if I had known this person sooner, never met that one, had children, a different career, a different childhood? What was it that made me who I was? Would any other life had changed that? I forgot the artist and drifted on a gently rolling sea of thought.

With a start I realized how far the sun had slid across the sky. Wondering if I had actually fallen asleep I shook myself and noticed the patiently waiting sketcher. She smiled and handed me the torn sheet from her pad. Taking it from her hand I looked at what she had created. I still don’t know if it is a good thing to know with certainty what your future holds or what it is that makes you you.

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Filed under My Fiction - Very Short Fiction

An Interview ~ With Etta Jean on Chronicles of Summer

summerFrequently in the Alcove, we take the time to wander off into the world of fiction to see what the process of telling a tale does to enlighten the many facets of learning, thinking, exploring the universe.  Both the one we find within and the one we find without. A fundamental question in the quest relates to creativity.  Who does, what is it, how does it contribute to the history and future of the universe and to us as human beings.  From our most ancient legends and faiths, we hear that we were created in the image of one of more gods. That what sets us apart from all other life on this planet is the ability, the skill, the imagination to create.

One of my new friends from the world of writing and publishing is Etta Jean. Other than being a just plan delightful person to know, I find her artistic eye fascinating.  She will be releasing Chronicle of Summer, the second volume in her series this month.  I wanted to know how the heart and eye of the artist impacted her writing, her characters, and special kind of storytelling.  Here is Etta Jean on Chronicle of Summer, due out on Amazon on February 14, 2014.  (Such symmetry in that date; that should mean something very special)!

Etta Jean:

The ability to create is something that is deeply treasured by me. I’m the person who has to be careful trying new outlets because I’m sure to love it enough to want to keep doing it, and I have too much on my plate already. (There are only so many hours in a day.) That longing to create, I think, is something that often sloughs over into most any character I write. In SUMMER alone, there are three master artisans and there are others who are mentioned to love art as well.

Kelsey. Well, what can I say about Kelsey? She is a Master Weaponsmith who creates weapons so beautiful that they are works of art. She’ll stand over a forge for hours upon hours until she is satisfied, and like her surrogate brothers, she often forgets about time entirely. To me, the creation of weapons—despite their eventual use for bloody acts—is still an art. If you research old-school smithing techniques online, you will see people who have dedicated their entire lives to learning what machines cannot do—and that is an art.

C.J. is a weaver, and unlike his brethren in SUMMER, his power is only of the arts. Where Kelsey can use her fire to forge or fight, C.J. at best can create quakes to disrupt balance. Where he truly shines is when he takes sand into his hands and weaves clothworks of color and light. Blankets that keep a family warm. Tapestries so stunning they hang in a palace. His art is how he shares his heart with others when he simply can’t bear a city comfortably in person.

Roman is the most like me, I think. His art is not his career; he is a farmer who runs a windmill. Instead, he uses his art as an escape from the mundane. He etches glass with lightning to bring the tiniest details to brilliant life. He wakes in the morning and goes to his mill and then he returns to craft. It is his sanctuary.

That isn’t to say their artistic side has their downfalls. Poor C.J. is left without defenses short of throwing cloth at people, and Roman’s temperamental nature means he isn’t a happy Air Chronicle when one of his works gets smashed. Kelsey gets herself into the stickiest mess of all when her skills have her working for the Militia right as everything is going to hell. Their ability to create makes them, I think, more real, and it has a way to reach out universally so that a human on Earth can look at these Chronicles on another world and think ‘I get you. I know how you feel.’

Art is the great communicator in the end.

Bio:

Etta Jean was born in Sacramento, California and destined from birth to be a bard. She told tall tales while devouring the creative worlds of others until she finally had to create her own. She has seen both good and evil in her life, and her stories, like life, have no half measures. Her happy endings never come without cost, though, for she truly believes we can’t appreciate the good and the joy without the bad and the pain along the way. Her current haunt is a comfy house in her beloved hometown where she wrangles three feline fur-kids while constantly overbooking her calendar. If she’s not chained to her desk, she’s stomping through the scenery in search of equally fantastical photographs.

Info:

CHRONICLE OF SUMMER will be available from Amazon on February 14, 2014. Etta’s Summer Fest blog tour continues through February, and there are prizes to be won by commenting on the stops along the way.

CHRONICLE OF DESTINY, the original Chronicle tale, can be purchased from Amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/Chronicle-Destiny-Book/dp/1940938104/

Stop by and check out her fascinating website. www.ettajeanfantasy.com

 

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Filed under Humanties for the Unbound Mind, My Bookshelf ~ Fiction