Old “Alloland” Draft — “Greenhouse Gases” Scene #3

“They follow the orcas following the whales,” Gane finished. “Do we know how far behind they’ll be?”

“Dol says no one’s sure. It’s never happened before, and communication isn’t easy when visitors can’t speak.”

“Mmm,” Gane hummed. “Tell everyone we’ll be staying here until the Cambians arrive. Forage and hunt, but on the seaward side of the mountains.”

“Gane, what about the girl? Shouldn’t we keep searching for her?”

“If the girl escapes, we can manage. But if we allow the Cambians to reach the town? Unequivocal disaster.” … More Old “Alloland” Draft — “Greenhouse Gases” Scene #3

Old “Alloland” Draft — “Greenhouse Gases” Scene #2

“We are gathered here to make history,” the woman announced, stepping forward. “I don’t need to remind you all what this graduation, and the graduates’ journey, entails, but it is our duty to keep you always mindful of the consequences.

“Being the first people to sail the sea in a thousand years was no small feat, nor was being the first civilization to make contact and establish relations with the endless others out there. But we paid a price for our openness with others, and now we aim to pay our debt and stave off the threat of the March. What will be truly impressive is finding the solution out at sea. Allies willing to defend, hosts willing to take settlers, scientists willing to share technology…” She let the words hang in the air. “The possibilities are limitless, but urgent.” … More Old “Alloland” Draft — “Greenhouse Gases” Scene #2

Old “Alloland” Draft — “Greenhouse Gases” #1

  Long ago, our ancestors used the stars of the night sky to voyage across the vast oceans. But when the stars disappeared, our islands were separated. The peoples of each island have drifted in different directions, each culture developing different technologies, each society using the power of the Sperk plant to grant them different abilities. Once the people of our island, Cambia, united under one queen, our sights turned beyond our shores. We learned how to follow the orcas in their travels across the depths of the vast ocean, and began exploring the innumerable islands of our world. We traded technologies with our strange but friendly neighbors. We shared the secrets of voyaging with everyone we met, hoping to create a better world. But then, we stumbled across the island of Mara, which was eternally locked in an arms race…until they met us. When we told the March of the vast world beyond their small island, their hungry eyes looked past the horizon. Using weapons capable of destroying entire civilizations, the March attacked us and began using our secrets of voyaging in their conquest of the seas. We send these voyagers to you to share our discoveries and establish an alliance for the coming war. We are the people of Cambia, and we come in peace. … More Old “Alloland” Draft — “Greenhouse Gases” #1

Which sex is the default?

This small topic has taken up a surprising amount of my mental energy over the past few months. It all started when I sat in on a history class called “Women in Sickness and in Health,” which focuses on gender perceptions throughout western history. The first day of class covered the topic of a “default sex.”

In humans, science suggests, it is default to be female. Add testosterone to a person and they begin to show male secondary sex characteristics (deeper voices, facial hair, extra muscles, etc.). Add a Y chromosome to an embryo and you get a male. Though the norm is two, females can have any number of X chromosomes (see “trisomy X”) without ever showing any sign of being male. But so long as someone has a Y chromosome, that person is transformed into something different. 

As a biology major, I was well familiar with these facts. But I wasn’t aware that some people interpreted these results as being sexist. The history class asked, “Can’t we also say that being male is a lack of having two X chromosomes? Or a lack of estrogen? Why are women the ones who are ‘missing’ something? Missing a penis, missing testosterone, missing a Y chromosome, always ‘missing,’ always ‘lesser.'” 

As I mention in the last section, this answer is complicated but mostly “no.” But that’s not what I’m here to talk about. I’m here to talk about “defaults.” Why does equating “female” with “default” mean that they are inferior? In fact, I’m used to the exact opposite: … More Which sex is the default?

Danish Food Review #2 – Sweets

Now we’re getting into the candy section! Denmark is flooded with American candies like Skittles and Twix, and with German sweets like Kinder eggs and Haribo gummies, but several Danish sweets are very common — and working hard to earn them a place in the top three happiest countries on the planet. How well are those sweets working?

Pretty darn well. … More Danish Food Review #2 – Sweets

Danish Food Review #1 – Traditional Dishes

This will be news to most of you, but my dad recently moved to Denmark for his work, which means I’m going to be spending a lot of time with the Danes! For New Years 2019, I spent two weeks in Lyngby — a small town just north of Copenhagen. Which means I had plenty of time to try traditional Danish foods, as well as the Danish incarnations of many American and International foods… … More Danish Food Review #1 – Traditional Dishes

Is sexism in high fantasy “just being realistic?”

My friends and I play Dungeons and Dragons, and we all normally play characters of our own gender. I barely remember what the situation was, but a situation once arose during a D&D session where my character wanted to do something, and another player said that the NPC wouldn’t allow it because I was a woman and the middle ages were sexist. 

I was completely taken aback. We weren’t including plague, infant mortality, or suicide in our campaign — in fact, there wasn’t even any gore, sex, or curse words unless the players specified it. The DM was PG at its finest. We were obviously including medieval elements that made things fun, like swords and tyrant kings, but omitting things that would make it less fun, like weight limits and bestiality. So why would sexism be built in to the world?  … More Is sexism in high fantasy “just being realistic?”

Creativity Inc. by Amy Wallace with Ed Catmull (2014)

I hate anyone who tries to tell other writers how to write, who pretends to know the exact elements that a story “must” have. Anyone who thinks that there is a clear formula or clear method of creating a story is diluted.

Creativity Inc. was recommended to me by a good friend years ago, but I only got around to reading it this holiday season because of my New Year’s resolution to read and watch things that people recommended to me (as opposed to putting it off for weeks, months, or years). And hey, the title was about unleashing creativity, not work-shopping a story. How bad could it be?

It was phenomenal.  … More Creativity Inc. by Amy Wallace with Ed Catmull (2014)