The Hundred Foot Drop of Klima — Scene 9

The last rope bridge sloped downward, but not enough to bring it all the way to the forest floor. Instead, it sloped downward just enough to rest among the branches of a tree as wide as it was tall. The diameter from the northernmost to the southernmost leaves must have matched that of a small town. The massive tree formed an expansive clearing beneath it, holding back competing trees and blocking sunlight to the plants below.

Between its boughs, countless meshes of planks and organic matter formed platforms where people lounged, worked, and played. The central crook of the tree was in sight, and had been partially hollowed out and lined with stones to form a large fire pit, above with hung a collection of spits as long as a hull of the Gladiator.

The color orange was everywhere: in the watercups that grew along the branches of the tree; in the paint coating the wood and various wooden bowls, toys, and instruments of Klima; in every single person’s clothing; and in the large banners hanging from the side of each bridge leading to the town.  … More The Hundred Foot Drop of Klima — Scene 9

The Hundred Foot Drop of Klima — Scene 7

Emerging one by one from the large mouth of the cave, they stood on the inward side of the mountain. As Klyra and Chroma blinked repeatedly, desperately, the scene unfolded in front of them. Like a rolling sea, a homogenous sea of treetops stretched just below them. The clouds spilling over the lower mountain pass to their right were letting a curtain of rain fall even as they watched, making it look like the gray bodies were smearing downwards. A few rainbows caught the yellowing light of the afternoon from behind the tips of the mountains, forming colorful bridges down into the treetops. A flock of birds took flight from just beyond the storm, and the girls watched as they began making their way around the gigantic bowl as large as their entire home island.

“The bridge is down there,” Yim said, starting her trek down a steep, grass-coated path towards a decrepit, fallen tree that was connecting the middle of the canopy to their mountainside.

“I kind of wish Flor was here to see this,” Klyra breathed.

“Yeah, if she was here we’d have time to stop and see it,” Chroma agreed, beginning to follow Yim down the less-dense path that was evidently too steep for anything to grow.

“I — I can’t believe my eyes,” Klyra said, not budging from where she was.

Chroma glanced behind her, and then back at the view of the entire inner island of Klima. “Yes, it’s far better than the sketches my uncle used to bring me. Our journey’s going to be full of sights like this.”

“Aren’t you the least bit impressed?” Klyra demanded, half-laughing. There were tears in her eyes.

Chroma glanced away. “Like I said, I’ve seen sketches before. Being a princess has its perks. Now come on, we’ve got a teammate to save, and we’ve got plenty of time to come back here. You need to watch where you put your feet.” … More The Hundred Foot Drop of Klima — Scene 7

The Hundred Foot Drop of Klima — Scene 6

When they rounded the trunk, they found themselves at the maw of a brown-stoned cave. A few lichens were creeping partway to the entrance, and a few vines draped over rocks near the inside, but the place seemed otherwise devoid of sunlight and life. It was as if someone had taken a torch, shoved it into the plants, and burned a hole in the jungle.

“Some of these tunnels lead directly to town,” Yim told them.

“We’re going through the gaping dark hole instead of the well-known pass with a lovely river?” Chroma asked emotionlessly.

“The Greens are likely waiting for you there. But when they figure out we’re taking the tunnels, they won’t know which one I lead you down. That’s why we’re not using torches.”

“I wasn’t complaining,” Chroma responded. “I’m just glad that if we get separated we’ll be in a dark labyrinth with no idea where the light of day is.” … More The Hundred Foot Drop of Klima — Scene 6

The Hundred Foot Drop of Klima — Scene #4

I’ve dedicated nearly my whole life to becoming a voyager, and in the last few years it looked like I could even be on the First Contact voyage. Sailing uncharted waters with a competent group of adventurers. But no, apparently the system doesn’t work like that. They didn’t put the best travelers out there first. No, they put the princess and the translator who can’t even show up on time. Do you honestly think you were in the advanced class because of your skills? Or that you’re here because you deserve it? No. You’re here because you just so happened to be born into the family that violently conquered all of Cambia. … More The Hundred Foot Drop of Klima — Scene #4

Old “Alloland” Draft — “The Hundred Foot Drop of Klima” 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 — “The Hundred Foot Drop of Klima” Scene #3

Velocity and The Sleeper (2018)

“Dad?”

“Yes, Christie?”

“Tony says that Velocity is bad because he never helps people.”

Jalek sighed. When he’d volunteered to be one of the chaperones for the school field trip to Velocity Hall, he’d anticipated getting pelted with accusations like this — though he hadn’t been expecting it from his own daughter. He’d told her a thousand times at home, and the tour guide had just told her a thousand times for the past hour, but her attention disorder made her a horse led to water.

Maybe now that she’s asking the question, she’ll listen, he reassured himself as he prepared to tell the whole story again. … More Velocity and The Sleeper (2018)

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?

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?”

Rhetorical Analysis of a Comment, Written in the Style of High School English Timed Write

It’s been a long time since I’ve written in the style of a timed writing from high school English class, and I’m not entirely sure what compelled me to return to this format. Either way, here I am, writing a rhetorical analysis on the one comment I received in all my months of writing for … More Rhetorical Analysis of a Comment, Written in the Style of High School English Timed Write