New Worlds: Disaster Relief

Because fantasy in particular is full of tyrannical rulers and terrible governments, I suspect there are many readers who assume the reaction of a historical king or queen to a flood, fire, famine, or other disaster was “suck it up — and yes, you still have to pay your taxes.”

I’m not going to say that never happened, but it was less common than you might think. Telling the peasantry to suck it up and still pay taxes is a fantastic way to get revolts — and even if those revolts don’t threaten to topple the throne, every farmer marching against you is a farmer not growing the crops your economy relies on. While you did get the occasional ruler both cruel enough and shortsighted enough to shrug off that danger, most of them at least made some attempt to deal with the underlying problem, however ineffectively.


A belated Yuletide post

Finishing the draft of the third Rook and Rose book and then turning right back around to dive in on revisions means I never got around to posting about Yuletide until now!

But I definitely need to post, because the prize for going above and beyond the call of duty goes to LookingForOctober. I knew before the authors were revealed that someone had written me a Howl’s Moving Castle fic, “A Wizard of Wales,” followed by a sequel fic, “A Wizard in Ingary” — but not until reveals did I discover that the same person had also written me a THIRD story, this one for the Gabriel Knight series of video games: “Fate of the Children.” Three fics from one writer! And as if that weren’t bonanza enough, someone else wrote me a Howl fic, “In Which a Thesis Is Not Written.”

It makes me feel embarrassed that I didn’t have the time or energy to write treats the way I used to, in the misty past when I had more leisure. My assignment this year was “Gammer’s Garden,” a Chrestomanci fic for a prompt that made use of the decision to allow “Worldbuilding” as a character-style tag this year. No canon characters appear in the story, but it explores the history of the Pinhoe family and their dwimmer magic, with a connection to a detail of canon I’ve always found interesting.

Hopefully next Yuletide I’ll be able to pay it all forward!

New Worlds: Fire Prevention (the essay)

(I failed to repost this essay here like I intended to. Apologies to anyone who tried and failed to reach the BVC site! We are working like mad to have the new site up soon.)

As I said in last week’s essay, it’s in the public interests of a society to keep fires from spreading. It’s even more in those interests to keep them from starting in the first place — and because of that, government regulations designed to prevent, spot, and slow down fires go back a very long way.


New Worlds: Fighting Fire

(We are getting very close to BVC being up and running again! But we aren’t there yet, so once again, this week’s New Worlds Patreon essay is hosted here on my site.)

As devastating as fires can be nowadays, we have ways of dealing with them. In my kitchen there sits a canister of fire-suppressing chemicals; on my ceilings perch little disks that scream bloody murder when they smell smoke or carbon monoxide; if something goes wrong, a big truck will roll up and hook itself up to a hydrant that will spew out all the water I might need, at high enough pressures to reach upper floors with ease.

But rewind the clock, and things get ugly fast.


New Worlds: Emergency Medical Services

(We have great hopes that the Book View Cafe website will be back up and running soon! Until then, I will continue to post my Patreon essays here.)

If something goes wrong — a fire; a home intruder; but especially for the purpose of this essay, a medical emergency — I know exactly what to do. I’ll pick up my phone and call 9-1-1, the emergency number for the United States. Someone on the other end will send an ambulance full of trained medical personnel, who will administer some aid on-site and then (if necessary) take the patient to the hospital, siren blaring all the way.

There are many reasons to be glad I live in the twenty-first century, but it’s startling to me that if I rewind the clock just fifty-five years — to 1966 — this seemingly obvious and sensible concept would not have been available to me.


New Worlds December essay, redux

On request, I’m reposting the next-to-last non-theory essay from the New Worlds Patreon, since the downing of the Book View Cafe website has rendered it inaccessible. Also, for those of you wondering what happened at over BVC, the short form is: we’re gearing up to give the site a major and long-awaited overhaul . . . and in the course of the gearing up, it, uh, went belly-up. >_< But the good news is that we’re on track to roll out the new! improved! site! very soon, and it’s going to be so much better once we do.


The year’s publications

One last post, to close out the year.

I published an ABSURD amount this year, y’all. Six short stories, which is quite a respectable number for me these days . . . and thanks to the vagaries of publishing schedules, THREE novels in the same calendar year. That isn’t normal, yo. But yeah, 2021 saw the release of The Mask of Mirrors in January, The Night Parade of 100 Demons just two weeks later in February, and then The Liar’s Knot here at the end of the year. Ooof.

As for the short fiction:

. . . plus five reprints in various places.

2022 will not look the same, because it can’t. But here’s hoping for a good year, regardless.

Rook and Rose Book 3, Chapter 27 et alia — DONE

Despite Alyc’s encouragement, I don’t think I have it in me to make three progress posts today, one for Chapter 27, and one apiece for the prologue and the epilogue. 😛 Yes, the prologue to this book was one of the last things we wrote: third from the end, to be precise, followed by the last scene of Chapter 27 and the epilogue. That last being, of course, a thing the previous two books didn’t have, but here it helps a lot to show some longer-term effects that would feel very shoehorned into the final chapter.

Alyc and I each have a traditional quote associated with having finished a book. Mine comes from The Unstrung Harp; or, Mr. Earbrass Writes a Novel by Edward Gorey: “The next day Mr. Earbrass is conscious, but very little more.” Alyc’s comes from a Gilbert & Sullivan musical (Patience, I think): “Finished! At last, finished! The book is finished, and my soul has gone out into it. That was all. It was nothing worth mentioning. It occurs three times a day.”

We may not do this three times a day, but yeah. Soul gone out. Conscious. Very little more. Ima go flop now.

Word count: 198,360 — we undershot in our zeal to not go over, and will be fleshing out things we short-changed during revisions.
Authorial sadism: Alyc is right that a certain departure needed to happen . . . but it still hurts. Us as well as the characters.
Authorial amusement: The introduction Ren gets in the epilogue.
BLR quotient: Love is healing the wounds, and the turbulent waters of rhetoric are calming. It won’t be smooth sailing from here into eternity, but the storm has passed.

New Worlds: The Subtle Art of Naming

(Because Book View Cafe is still having technical difficulties, I am posting this week’s Patreon essay here.)

The last few theory essays have discussed language on the page. For the final one of both this calendar year and Year Five of my Patreon, I’d like to offer some concrete advice on how to create words and names that support the feeling of a plausible secondary world.

This isn’t about the phonology and orthography, the sounds and spellings used in a name. (We already discussed that way back in Year One.) Instead it’s about structure, about the underlying patterns and quirks that will make names come to life. In the real world, we don’t name things randomly, so following a few patterns in your story creates verisimilitude.