Friday, April 10, 2009

Spaces Open for Worldbuilding

Hey, everyone!

There are still spaces open for the workshop, so if you have something you were thinking of submitting, now's your chance. The discussions will be much more fun if we have a diversity of worlds to look into.

So that you can feel like this is a reasonable possibility, I'm going to extend the deadline by a few days, to April 17th. I don't want to conflict with tax day! I've also been having a hectic week (thus the lack of blog posts), so it will help me too.

I'll try to get some blog posts up in the next few days, and check back for the workshop on the 17th. Thank you again to all the people who have already posted!


  1. Yay! Thanks Juliette. I'll definitely have that revision in by then.

  2. Oh, I hadn't seen that you had extended this. I'd like very much to take part. I'll check to see exactly what you wanted posted and do so.

    I have a situation with language construction that has me at a loss because I have NO background that helps at all.

  3. Here is a sample -- the opening paragraphs of Chapter One:

    Wrai flexed his hands, a shudder going through him. He’d mostly given up window-cracking four years ago after Sharista was born. He couldn’t throw the dice if he lost his hands to an executioner. Every city took a hand for thieving--a few took both. The worst you got for weighting the dice in a game of Hazard was a flogging. But, no one ever won at the table if they didn’t lay the stakes. This was too good a chance to pass up.
    He swapped his leather and homespun for his black tunic and breeches and pulled on his black gloves. Time to collect a debt long past due.

    It was a simple scramble through the window of the inn and a short drop to the ground. He strolled past the trees that lined the road through Shelton. Never draw anyone's eye by a sudden movement.

    The night smelled of wet earth and leaves as he trod through the muddy street. The village was dark except for when the quarter moon found a gap in the rain clouds. Past the wooden huts of the workers, he came to the larger brick houses near the market square. Set back from the road, most had tree dotted lawns. A shaft of light showed through shutters of a garden-set manse. A couple left one of the houses, talking and laughing they darted into a carriage. He stopped under a dripping tree to wait while they passed and then strolled on, keeping an eye out for guards or stray merrymakers.

    His heart sped up with a thrill he had missed. The risk was better than summer wine.

    The manse he was seeking stood above the market square at the top of a hill. Heavy shutters barred the tall front windows on each side of the hickory-wood front door. He slipped through the trees of the lawn toward the back. In the shadow of an oak, he studied the house with its kitchen, scullery and back garden. He’d gambled in enough fancy manses to know how they were set up. Even with the master gone, a junior maid was probably huddled in the kitchen beside the dying warmth of the range. A senior servant or two would be sleeping in the garret where he’d seen a light. He didn’t want in the garret anyway, and he’d circle around to avoid the kitchen.

    The master’s study took up the front of the house. He padded across the wet grass to one of the forward windows. Running a finger over the joint of the shutter, he sucked in a breath. They were tight and well made. But he needed the money, and he liked the idea of getting it from his father. He touched the scar at the corner of his eye. Oh, yes, he liked that idea.

    And a blurb:

    Being a gambler and sometimes thief isn't a bad life, but no way for Wrai to raise a young daughter. Yet there are some gambles you can't pass up. So Wrai joins a traveling mage in an attempt to make the coin for a fresh start, not knowing that the stolen obelisk he wants to sell contains the secret of an ancient magic--magic that some will kill to obtain and others will kill to keep hidden. Wrai steals an obelisk to make his fortune, but instead it leads to a much larger destiny.


    You didn't ask for an email but I'll give you one in case you want it.

    I have some really basic questions about language construction. *grumble grumble* I always swore I'd never make one but the plot calls for it and "they spoke some words in a language Wrai didn't understand" just isn't working the tenth time I write it.

    Thanks much.

  4. Jeanne, can you give me a paragraph to tell me about Wrai, the setting, the main conflict, and something unique about your story? That would really help me orient better for the workshop.

  5. Quick introductory paragraph:

    The POV character is a damaged telepath named Jasmine Knight. We join her on her twenty-first birthday, which is not quite going as planned. She is serving her sentence for crimes against causality as a forced recruit in the VoidWatch, an organisation that tries to police the traffic between alternate realities. To say that she is not cooperating is an understatement. The one part of her telepathy that still works (barely) is the ability to shunt people's perceptions of her into the deepest, darkest parts of their minds. Where they hide all their bad memories. Where they don't want to look. She is rather effectively pretending that she doesn't exist.

    In a time that now seems ancient beyond imagining, I could slip effortlessly into the shadows in other people's heads. When I was a child, I used to hide there all the time. That was for fun, nothing more than a young telepath's game of hide-and-seek. It was totally forbidden, of course, but, hey, that never stopped me. My family knew that if they ever wanted to find me, they just had to follow the sound of breaking rules.
    I had a natural talent for it. In that ancient time. When I was whole. I can still hide in mindshadows, if I'm willing to pay the price. But it stopped being easy a couple of years ago.
    Another day, another futile attempt to drown my pain before it drowns me. I smuggled a full bottle of tequila across the Veil last night, but I was so exhausted that I hadn't needed to seek alcoholic oblivion. And it really was waaay too early today for that sort of thing.
    Hard liquor is for evenings. Beer is for breakfast. But I didn't have any beer.
    Maybe tonight I would drink my fill of the hard stuff, and beyond. But until tequila o'clock rolled around, I would try to drown my pain with music. I tickled the SoundPod coiled around my left ear until my head pulsed with my illicit download of Grown To Nubility, the latest album of broken-hearted rock ballads by the Lingerie Valkyries.
    Hey, when you walk across the rainbow bridge and into Valhalla, you gotta listen to the Valkyries, right?
    The title track just blew me away. Vixen's voice was like honey poured over broken glass. The way she sang, I could almost believe that she had been hurt as badly as I had been. Almost. It helped. A little.
    I'll take all the help I can get.
    According to the unofficial motto, only wounded souls end up in the Voidwatch. Hell, I'm probably over-qualified. Hiding in mindshadows again just opens old wounds, forcing me to face all that I've lost. But I'm damned if I'm going down without a fight.
    Let Cybergirl think she had only four wounded souls to escort; Little Black Riding Hood, Captain Obvious the Masked Wrestler, Cannon Cop, and...Alaric. Four wounded souls, not five. I don't exist, remember?
    I'm lucky they sent a sentient cyber to fetch us, because I can't hide from less-advanced machines. Cybergirl's self-awareness contains shadows that a dumb robot will never know.
    I'll stick to the shadows for as long as I can. I may not be able to avoid it forever, but I'll delay my punishment for as long as I can, thank you very much. Besides, who in their right mind would voluntarily stand on the Thin Red Line between Reality and Chaos? Those who have nothing left to lose, because they have already lost it all.
    Wounded souls. Nothing like me. Nothing like me at all.

  6. Wow, David, you've hooked me. I wanna read the whole story now!

    Thanks for the extension, Juliette. I'll see what I can rustle up.

  7. This is the beginning of the story:

    As the door closed, numbness took possession of my mind along with the dark in that lofty yet not large room that suddenly seemed as claustrophobic as a well shaft. People jostled me, almost knocking me down; but somehow - desperation? Stubborn determination? - I maintained my footing and moved back. No one else was going in that direction, and I mechanically thanked the Lord for positioning me in the rearward reaches of the crowd - the mob as it now was.

    The initial curses and frightened cries had already become snarls and screams of agonized, rending pain as the strong trampled the weak in their attempt to reach the single window. I had glimpsed it as we, some fifty or sixty confused and frightened humans, entered herded by about a score of impassive faced, all but identical Strlinkmr. Now alone in this part of the room, I staggered backward, away from the beasts and worse than beasts that were my fellow colonists. Nauseous and dizzy though I was, my gaze kept returning to the window. It was set near the ceiling, perhaps fifteen feet off the floor. It was no more than two feet across, too small for any human adult to squeeze through, even if it hadn't been barred.

    My heel struck against the wall and I reeled, falling to the softly carpeted floor. Lying there panting, sick in body and in heart, I thought vaguely that if they opened the door the surge would flow this way again. And then, I'd be trampled for sure. So, I crawled along the wall in search of a corner. At last, my groping hands met a wall. With a groan, I huddled into the shelter of the corner, making my body into as compact a bundle as possible. Wrapping my arms over my head, I tried to block my hearing. After a moment, I found that this could be done by withdrawing totally into my mind.

    In the darkness, there was silence.

    I let out a long breath. To my mild surprise, I felt calm and able to think clearly. Though in subjective time it seemed like eons since the door had closed, Reason urged that no more than a few seconds could have past; a minute or two at most. I thought about this. It was probably right. Under the strain of alarm and then horror, my subjective time had stretched like that of one standing on a black hole's event horizon.

    "Black holes" jarred loose and pushed forward a memory, or the remnant of a memory stripped of details. Once upon a time, very long ago on Earth, colonists or imperial citizens from the home world, uh home country, had been trapped by some disgruntled natives in a tiny, airless room with only one small window. The highly sophisticated and civilized colonists - were they British? - immediately became raging, snarling, trampling brutes as they all fought to reach the window. I didn't remember if there had been any survivors. But, I remembered what the place and the incident had been called: The Black Hole of Calcutta. I smiled grimly. The Strlinkmr might never have so much as imagined humans until the colony ships appeared in their skies thirty-five years ago, but they understood human nature as well as the Calcuttans - the, the Indians.

    I dismissed the subject from my mind. I was going to die. The Lord had saved me from death by crushing, praise and bless his name. I paused, throat constricting, to ask his mercy on the souls of those who had already been mortally injured, as I was sure several people had. But, even in this large room I would eventually suffocate, or starve. Sinking further into myself, I summoned up images of Keith and the Girls. If it were any day other than Tuesday, I would have been, not in town, but at home with them on our prosperous little farm. But it was Tuesday, and the strangely impassive, silent Strlinkmr had caught me with one large, clawed hand on my shoulder and drawn me back to the Concourse. A fair sized crowd was assembled there. In a few minutes, our captors had begun marching us toward the spaceport, through deserted passages, and into this now empty equipment bay. And the humans had done just what those long ago humans in Calcutta had done. All except me.

  8. So, here's the scoop. Humans and Strlinkmr have coexisted peacefully on Strlinkmrlad for some twenty-five to thirty years. Indeed, the Strlinkmr are peaceable, largely nonviolent beings, from seven to ten feet tall, furry and teddy bear-like, with antennae on their foreheads. They apparently made no objection to humans arriving and moving into their planet. Before you ask, no, I don't know any details of the arrival, first contact and colonization. All I know, and all I really need to know for the purposes of this tale, is that the two races coexist in overall and indeed remarkable harmony.

    The incident that starts the tale is remarkable, not so much because of its brutality, as because it is totally inconsistent with Strlinkmr psychology and actions. It eventually comes out that those who herded the colonists into the room where many were severely injured and a few died were in fact humans disguised as Strlinkmr. It seems that humans will be humans, even under the civilizing influence of a peaceloving race. There are those who hate the native intelligent lifeform and want to exterminate it. Some bright bulb came up with the idea of manufacturing an atrocity that would mobilize the humans against the Strlinkmr. The tiny group of fanatics that carried out the attack seek to use Cindy, our intrepid narrator, as the face of the movement. She becomes an unwilling mole.

    Exterpationists join forces with radical environmentalists who feel that humans are destroying the planet's ecology and should leave. These elements foment a riot against the humans among a tiny minority of Strlinkmr. Humans and pro-human Strlinkmr are murdered by the human extremists and the murders blamed on Strlinkmr. The tiny anti-human faction stages a coo and assassinates the president while he is on planet wide television appealing for calm. The new extremist government gives all humans and human sympathizers ninety-six hours to get off the planet.

    This is not practical, as the new government knows. They accept the compromise of all humans and human sympathizers retreating to the long-abandoned North Polar station till they can all be evacuated to the orbiting space station and remaining colony ship.

    Hardship at polar station, but resolve. Then Strlinkmr begin to die. Our heroine and her friends must find the murderers before the fragile society is destroyed by fear and suspicion. She returns to her role as mole, hiding her repugnance with increasing difficulty. She gathers some useful info before being caught and tortured, threatened with death if she does not recant her pro-Strlinkmr beliefs. She is resolute, though frightened, as she refuses and the men, taunting and mocking her, prepare to torture her. Her husband and the space station commander burst in to rescue her and arrest the murderers/torturers. They have audio and some video of the whole incident and promise the miscreants grimly that they will have a swift trial and immediate execution. Our heroine argues that they should not be killed but rather forced to live in an integrated society. It is agreed that she is right. Humiliating but non harmful punishments are devised.

    Meanwhile, the extremist anti-human government has quickly fallen into disfavor. An embassy of peace arrives at the polar base just as the trial is being concluded. Many people return, some of each species go to the space station. In time, Strlinkmr venture out on space exploration. On Strlinkmrlad, the species cooperate an live in peace with one another, striving to keep the planet healthy and productive. The nonviolent ways of the Strlinkmr gradually become the ways of the humans as well.

  9. Catreona - I'm glad you liked it.

  10. Okay, super nervous, but finally got the revision done so here goes. Hopefully this one's not too horrible.

    Brief Description:

    Lanuz wanted to make the world a better place and turn the tide of evil that was sweeping the land. To this end he sought the Sword of Power. An ancient blade which legend held could only be wielded by a man who possessed the virtues of might and humility, and be a great leader of men. Yet, just as he held the blade in his hands, Lanuz was transported by an evil warlock into a twisted future that he ruled. Now, Lanuz must traverse this strange new world to seek out the Sword of Power once again and defeat his foe.

    "Keep the drinks coming barkeep," Lanuz said as he took another pull at his beer. "I'm afraid I'll need 'em by the time that kid's done with me. He's no doctor is he?"

    The bartender chuckled, "Allen? No sir. He's a mechanic he is." He wiped out a glass and poured in a brown liquid from a bottle he selected. "Here ya are. This should take the edge off for a bit."

    Lanuz eyed the drink before lifting the glass to his nose. The scent made his eyes burn. He looked questioningly at the barkeep, shrugged and lifted the glass, "To Order," he toasted and downed the whole drink.

    Through watering eyes Lanuz said, "Now that has a bite to it."

    Just then a young boy entered from a side door carrying strange equipment. "Here we are. Let's get to it." He set the metal objects on a nearby table and waved Lanuz over. "I'll make light work of the repairs once I can get that arm off you."

    "Right. No big deal. Probably won't even hurt me a bit. Might even feel good to get all this weight off my shoulder." As Lanuz said this he held his right arm in his left hand. The pain in his shoulder was excruciating but he couldn't imagine removing his arm would make it better.

    "Can't say as it won't hurt sir. I'm bettin' your nerve endings are all mapped into that thing. Can't figure how else it'd work." He looked up from his tinkering. "Course, I get it off you and make those repairs it'll feel better much sooner."

    There was nothing for it. The boy was determined. "Alright then. Let's get this over with." Lanuz sat at the table and looked out the window. A bright spark of light made him flinch. Allen had lit some kind of small torch. Lanuz almost passed out as the boy set the flame against the metal of his arm. He continued staring out the window at the street.

    The sights distracted him. Much of what Lanuz saw was curious to him. A strange man wearing an armored helm rode by on a metal horse. The buildings, he noticed, were constructed of odd materials and were in great disrepair. He shook his head wondering if he would ever see anything familiar again.

    "Listen. Allen, thanks for doing this. I know you didn't need to..."

    "Sir?" Allen paused a moment, turning off the torch.

    "How can I repay you?"

    "Repay me sir?" Allen looked down at the metal arm he was cutting into. "This arm is the most beautiful thing I've yet laid eyes on. No need to repay me, just let me fix it, study it."

    "Right, the arm." Lanuz winced as a particularly sharp pain hit him. "It's just a tool for me. I just need it to work, to help me do what I need to do." He glanced at his sword hung up near the door of the tavern. "No. I'm sorry but I can't take you with me where I'm going. Even if I might need you to help with this arm. It'll be too dangerous."

    Lanuz nearly fell out of his chair when Allen resumed cutting with the flame again.