Friday, May 8, 2009

Janice Hardy's new website

Here's some fun news: my friend Janice Hardy has just launched her new website, where you can find out all kinds of great stuff about her, about her forthcoming debut novel, The Shifter (known as The Pain Merchants in the UK), and even about chickens! Seriously, the hidden chicken factoids are awesome.

Here it is:


  1. Qs 5-7 & 9

    5. Who is in charge here? Do I respect them, fear them, both?
    The planet as a whole is governed by Strlinkmr. The regional governments are built on the representative democracy model. Plenty of humans have no trouble voting for Strlinkmr and plenty of Strlinkmr have no trouble voting for humans. So, these governments are pretty thoroughly mixed. Like most people, I have confidence in both the regional and planetary governments. A tiny faction of humans viscerally hates Strlinkmr and wants to exterminate them. A still tinier faction of Strlinkmr viscerally hate humans and want to exterminate them. Neither faction has political power, or so it would seem…

    6. How do I show who I am in the way I dress? What is comfortable? Will I endure discomfort for the sake of looking good or looking powerful?
    I'm a farmer. Don't have much time or energy to spare for fashion. Back on Earth there's an outfit called L.L. Bean. Shortly after the first settlement was established from the colony ships, someone established a similar enterprise. Practical, durable clothing, comfortable and attractive but definitely not for gentry.

    7. Where do the things I own come from? Do I worry about getting more?
    Many people make their own clothes. I don't have ability that way. We make what we can, trade for or buy what we can't. We're not wealthy but well enough off; better off than some. We can give our girls the occasional little luxury.

    9. What are my most prized possessions? Do I hoard anything? Do I have so much of anything that I care little if I must give it away?
    You don't hoard in a farming community. You help your neighbors one year and they help you the next. As for giving things away, it's not a question of having so much surplus that you don't care. It's a question of who needs it more than you do?

  2. 8. What is delicious to me? What do I consider unworthy of consumption?
    I don't eat raw meat or fish. I understand some humans consider these, certain species at least, to be a delicacy. The very idea gives me the creeping horrors. Other than that, I'm pretty flexible. My preference is for Earth heritage foods (I love raspberries and white chocolate!); but I grew up eating Strlinkmr foods as well, and could quite happily subsist on them for several days at a time. My particular weakness is fizzy pop beans. These are kernels about the size and shape of shelled almonds that come in a pod about six inches long. The pod is inedible but can be processed into a strong, hemp-like fiber. You put the kernel in your mouth and suck gently. The kernel explodes, ejecting a fizzy fluid (not carbonated. No one knows how it works), about the consistency of maple syrup and with a vaguely citrus flavor. They have a high nutritional value and a low caloric value which is fortunate, since most residents of Strlinkmrlad, human and Strlinkmr alike, eat them almost compulsively.

  3. Qs 10 & 11

    10. Whom do I consider to be unlike me? Are their differences charming or alarming?
    The Strlinkmr are physically unlike me. Typically five to seven feet tall, they look like nothing so much as large, furry teddy bears with antennae on their foreheads. They are pacific; I understand wars have been exceptionally rare in their history. They accepted humans with a good deal more equanimity than, I fear, humans would have displayed if the Strlinkmr had shown up on earth. They tend to be firm, though neither dictatorial nor stern, and can be flexible when needed. They cooperate well with one another and with humans. By contrast humans, especially those older than myself who grew up on the ships, tend to be quarrelsome and often work together only grumblingly. I'm glad the good influence of the Strlinkmr is already having a beneficial effect on us. The two species will never be able to interbreed, of course. Still, I hope that within a few generations we will have melded into one gentle, kind, cooperative people.

    11. Am I in control of my own actions and the happenings around me? What or whom do I believe in?
    I believe in the Lord, Creator of the universe and of all things in it. I am, all created things are, in his hand. At the same time, he is not a micromanager. I have free will and am largely responsible for and in control of my own life. Or, so I have always believed…

  4. Juliette,

    I've run into a major problem I hadn't spotted before.

    If the attack, the capture of a group of humans, takes place in a mixed town there would be real Strlinkmr around who would interfere. If the attack takes place in a human town, a squad of Strlinkmr would be strange and alarming, putting the humans on their guard. The captors can't overcome the real Strlinkmr; though they are on a human scale, Strlinkmr are stronger and may well have other advantages I haven't yet discovered in detail. In any case, a human can't overpower a Strlinkmr. And, there would be many more than there are captors.

    Eek! How am I going to get out of this one?

  5. Catreona,

    I'm wondering how well you know the Strlinkmr. You say they are participating in government, that they are peaceful, that they would interfere in the attack if they could. However, I've never really understood much about them. How do they live? Where do they live? Why, adaptively, do they look the way they do? What do their family units look like? How do they resolve disputes when they arise?

    Until you understand the motives of the real Strlinkmr as well as you understand the motives of the humans, this is likely to feel like half a story. The fact that you've run into trouble with a small but key detail of your plot is probably an indication, not that you have a problem with your plot, but that you have left a key player out of the party.

    I know you have told me that you don't want me to ask about human colonization, but I think that's where you need to go next in your thoughts. Try to answer the following questions for me.

    1. How did the Strlinkmr live before humans arrived?

    2. How did the Strlinkmr understand/categorize humans when they did arrive, and how did they react to the humans' desire for land and resources? Why?

    3. How do the Strlinkmr live now, and how has human presence influenced them?

    I think you'll help your story most if you try to answer these questions first.

  6. I have another thought for you Catreona. What makes the Strlinkmr attack plausible to the human colonists. If, like you've mentioned, everyone or most people know that the Strlinkmr are pacific, why wouldn't everyone's reaction to the attack just be, "Eh, had to have been a fake." rather than, "Oh my God. The Strlinkmr have gone mad. Let's kill 'em all!" Or something of the like. Considering these people had the technology to make the Strlinkmr disguises, it shouldn't be a stretch that a lot of people might assume that's exactly what happened. What would cause them to think that it wasn't? Well, aside from the main character. Obviously she, along with probably other like minded people, will put two and two together and realize it was a fake.

    Oh, and by the way, been meaning to tell you for a while, I very much enjoyed reading your Bronte Sinclair story on your blog. Can't wait for you to finish it.

  7. From Khajidu:

    OK, here's the revised version. Hope it's better.

    "Gods, Xodull, will you stop it?"
    We were going back home from our last concert and Xodull was acting silly again. I was starting to wonder why I was still hanging with him. Maybe the rest of the band did as well. After more than thirty-two years, he was still acting like my patients in the asylum. And he wasn't a patient. He was the Sky-Hierarch Elect's husband.
    This time he was climbing down the canal bank to get something he claimed to see there. It was all the more foolish that the bank was slippery due to the storm last night.
    "Don't worry, Tsumw, I'm being careful this time. Ah, here you are." He pulled something from the weeds below. Something that looked like a sailor's necklace, the kind they used to talk to their ships, but it was too dirty to tell. Xodull climbed back up. I couldn't believe he made it without a scratch. At least nobody was there to see us.
    "Looks nice, hey? Well, after I clean it, of course. Don't look at me like that."
    We went to a nearby fountain, and Xodull cleaned the necklace, not without pouring water everywhere, including on me. After that, the necklace looked much nicer. Xodull showed me. "Well, I don't know who made this but they have my congratulations. Look, it seems genuine, don't you agree?"
    "It's very well done, yes, but I don't think it's genuine. They're so rare and I don't tend to believe sailors are the type of people who dispose of these like this. Even if they had very bad relationships with their ships." In fact, I merely hoped it would be a fake. Even if it was inappropriate for Xodull to wear it, it was much better than a real one. Someone could think we stole it, and I didn't want any of that. And what about the ship?
    "Well, I didn't hear anything about this lately. You're right, it must be a fake. But very well done indeed." Xodull had an interesting point. If it was a real sailor's necklace, why didn't we hear about a sailor looking for his?
    "Did you look if the jeweler put their mark or something? They have to, if I remember correctly."
    "No, I didn't find anything like that. But maybe you could also check, you have better eyesight."
    "I'm not touching that." I didn't know if it was cleaned properly, and I didn't want to be seen holding a real necklace. If it was one. I hoped not, but the absence of a mark wasn't in favor of it being fake.
    "Oh, stop that. I could almost hear Zhebvu, I don't need another one like him." Xodull wore the necklace. "It looks nice on me, right?"
    I couldn't believe he was wearing it. Well, I admit it looked nice on him, but it did indeed need a little more cleaning first. And I didn't know Xodull to yield so easily to fads. "Before wearing it, maybe you should check with the jewelers in the city to see if they made the necklace."
    "Are you just telling me I'll have to ask all the jewelers in the whole city of Orlêzh if by chance one of them made this?" Xodull said. This guy was annoying. Always avoiding doing something when he could.
    "Yes. Maybe I can take you tomorrow before I go to the hospital. And please remove that. You may not want to be seen with it. What if it was genuine? I don't think you could get away with wearing one."
    "Maybe you're right. Good, we'll go to the jewelers tomorrow then." Xodull removed the necklace, but I was sure he would wear it again when I wasn't looking. I knew him.

  8. Khajidu,

    This is much improved from the first version, especially right at the front. I think Xodull and Tsumw still spend a lot of time arguing, and they might not need to for such a long time, but I'm impressed by the improvement in focus. I encourage you to take a look at some opening hooks in your favorite science fiction/fantasy stories and consider how each author carries out the hook and establishes momentum. Not all of them do it the same way.

    Thanks for all your work in the workshop.