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Messages - JMack

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Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Re: Abebooks top 50 Fantasy Book List
« on: September 13, 2018, 06:52:03 PM »
26 if I did my count correctly.
As others have said, a bunch I haven’t read.
And a bunch I should have read, but may have to,wait for retirement.  ;)

General Discussion / Re: Politics and other ailments of the real world
« on: September 11, 2018, 06:04:22 PM »

Does this article have the facts right? What do my English friends think about this?

[SEP 2018] Meetings / Re: [Sep 2018] - Meetings - Submission Thread
« on: September 10, 2018, 04:38:10 PM »
1,500 words, including the title, which is:


Spoiler for Hiden:
Marya pu Nova came to the ancient city of Lankoor alone, with only her imperial citizenship and a trunk she’d packed in bare minutes. Her servants had been shocked; her family had tried to stop her.  But when the news came that her husband’s ship was lost, she took passage herself that very afternoon and sailed to Lankoor, the final port he’d visited.

Lankoor had a long history of widows. It had nearly been put to the sword entirely when the empire swallowed it a generation before. But that, at least, had brought years of peace and wealth. As long as Lankoor obeyed the emperor, the empire was content to leave it to its internal squabbles, its labyrinthine alleys, and the troops of monkeys that roamed the city’s rooftops.

Marya lodged in Tenth Independent House, taking an attic room with a view of the sea, from where she could watch for her husband’s unlikely return.

She woke from grief slowly. Tea with the old widow who owned Tenth House drew her back to the society of others. The morning calls of the water-sellers grew familiar, and the slow rhythm of the sun-baked city brought her peace. She taught Cook how to season her favorite stew. She learned the names of the lodgers who came and went. But every dawn and every eve she returned to her rooms to watch the far horizon.

One morning over tea and between morsels of gossip, the proprietor of Tenth House died. Marya caught her as she slid from her couch, gently lowering the old widow to the tiled floor.

“You gotta tell the Widows Guild.” Cook rubbed away tears with her apron. Her  accent was difficult, but Marya prided herself on knowing the Koori language.

“I?” she said. She set two coins over the widow’s eyes, Koori silvers, since the old woman wouldn't have preferred Imperials.

“She’d have wanted it to be you. Besides, you're a citizen.”

“Which means?”

“They’ll listen to you. We want a good widow to buy the Tenth, not one of those rich women that play at running a House. They bring in their own servants, and none of them have any idea what it means to be a proper Independent House.”

Marya folded the widow’s hands over her breast. “She brought you with her when she bought Tenth House, didn't she?”

“That was different” sniffed Cook. “We learned. We listened.”

Marya let that go. Yes, her friend had worried about the right kind of woman buying her House after she died, but she’d smiled and said that day was years off.  How the fates laughed. Marya shook herself mentally. “Well, if the staff want me to take a message to these widows, I’ll need to know more about them.”

Cook showed Marya where the old woman kept her scrolls and the engraved deed to Tenth House. Marya pieced them together with what she already knew.

Five centuries before, a Koori king named Ralkabar, filled with regret over the waste of life from his father’s wars, wanted to help the many widows of the city. He established the Independent Houses as a means for bereaved women to own their own businesses, dedicated to hospitality and the care of travelers. What he didn't anticipate was their take-over by a guild of powerful women, nor the direct means some took to achieve their husbandless and independent state.

While she read, Marya answered questions from the household staff and  ordered a room made up for a new lodger. She’d run her husband’s house in the capital and their estates in the country. Command came naturally. She hardly gave it a thought.

She sent a request to meet with the Widow’s Guild while the staff labored over their message. An invitation came back for an appointment that afternoon.

From her traveling trunk, Marya retrieved the formal white kattan she’d not yet needed in Lankoor. She’d have to take a palanquin or see the gown turned orange by the sand that powdered every city street.

One of the city monkeys that visited her rooms regularly took a corner of the gauze-like cotton between his leathery fingers.

“Leave that be,” Marya admonished gently. The monkeys came and went from her attic, and as long as they were well-behaved and did their business elsewhere she found them little bother. Many Lankoori chased and cursed them. For her, they were a welcome distraction.

As she left for the guild house, Cook pressed a small, sealed scroll into her hands. “Private. For the guild,” she said, ducking her head apologetically.

 Marya shut tight the curtains of the palanquin, though the heat was dreadful. The bearers huffed with effort as they shouldered her up Lankoor’s steep hills.

“Get away,” said one bearer, answered by a monkey’s teasing chatter. Her attic visitor must have joined them on their way. “Damned nuisances.”

The Widow’s Guild met at First Independent House, the grand manse built by King Ralkabar’s own widow, who retired from public life to avoid being poisoned by her son. It was fit for a queen, with four-story wings centered on a great hall fronted by wide marble steps. The bearers lowered the litter, and Marya stepped out. Her simian companion disappeared up a column of the portico.

She was conducted to a chamber where fourteen well-dressed women waited at a table set with fifteen golden bells, one draped in black. Marya studied their faces and found a mix of pride, vague interest, and disdain.

A woman wearing a heavy gold chain rose at the center of the table. “Greetings, Citizen Widow pu Nova,” she said in a self-important voice. “Welcome to First Independent House. I am Purnater Koohba, of the ancient Koohbani lineage, proprietor and elected guild head.”

As an imperial citizen, Marya had no obligation to bow, but she gave a respectful nod. She handed Cook’s scroll to a servant, who presented it to the guild head.

Marya spoke. “Thank you, Widow Koohba. You know of Widow Kranti’s sad passing this morning. This scroll is from the staff at Tenth House. With your gracious permission, I am here to speak for them about the future of the House.”

“You are an imperial,” interrupted a fat widow to the guild head’s right. “Why should we sell Tenth House to a foreigner?”

Marya reined in a flash of anger. She’d endured much more in Lankoor than sour looks and high prices in the marketplace. “You mistake me, Widow. I’m here on behalf of the staff at Tenth House, who have sent a request about their future.”

“Which appears to be,” said Widow Koohba, “that we sell Tenth House to you.” She’d snapped the seal on the scroll and held it in front of her, reading.

Surprise rendered Marya speechless.

“It might be useful for us to have an imperial citizen in the guild,” mused another of the widows. “She needn’t take poor Kranti’s seat on the council.”

“I did not know,” Marya protested, though she should have suspected. “I have no interest in owning Tenth House or joining your council.” She said this last while looking at the fat widow who'd called her foreigner. “I simply wished to give a voice to —”

“Yes, yes,” said Widow Koohba. “And so you have.” She tossed the scroll onto the table. “You are new to Lankoor. It takes years, if not generations, for this city to accept strangers. You do not know our ways, our manners. But no matter. If, as you say, you have no interest in Tenth House, then accept our thanks for attending us on such a hot day.”

The dismissal was so rude that Marya found her pride rebelling. Why shouldn’t she buy Tenth House? Why shouldn't she take a place among these Lankooris? She’d teach them manners!

Something flew down from the ceiling of the chamber, landing with a brown slap on the floor.  Widow Koohba gasped, then grunted with disgust at the pile of feces by her feet. The women craned their necks to stare into the recess above. Ranks of monkeys crowded every rafter and clung to every crack and ledge. How they'd gotten there was anyone’s guess. Their silence was almost as discomfiting as their very presence.

Marya’s attic visitor dropped to the floor and took her hand. He was joined by another and another.

“I think Lankoor has already accepted you,” said the widow who’d thought a citizen might be good for the guild. She raised her bell and rang it firmly. Another widow rang hers, and then ten more.

Marya moved to the old widow’s rooms the next day. She gave the horizon a long look, thinking how strange it was to be giving up so much for the confines of a foreign city and the burden of Tenth House. With a parting glance at the monkeys, who had reclaimed the attic, she wondered if they’d really desired that she stay or only wanted the room back.

@JMack - Hope you can bounce back soon. It's okay if you're not happy all the time. Life has a lot of ups and downs.

@ScarletBea - sorry to hear. Life is complicated, but I'm encouraged by people like you and others here who have faced such difficulties, survived, conquered and are doing the best they can despite everything going on.

I just popped in here to give what encouragement I can and see how everyone's doing. My life's been up and down, doing a lot of self reflecting. Some real highs and some real lows.

So glad to hear from you, @SugoiMe!
As you say, life isn’t happy all the time. Highs and lows are all good.
As longs as there are highs.  ;D

Backlash?  You mean the people whining about Henry Cavill?

Ah, no, more about this
Henry Cavill seemed pretty nice for any role.

Meh. Changing racial identity of characters is pretty non-problematic for me. I like, for instance, that in opera, it’s the voice that matters not the skin tone. In Shakespeare plays these days, it’s frequently the same thing: performance over skin and even (though more rarely) over gender. Unless race and tribe are the point of a piece, I’ve got no interest in this as a thing.

Nor am I implying that anyone here cares, either. Inky is only reporting “backlash”, not judging it.

[JUL + AUG 2018] Games / Re: [Jul+Aug 2018] - Games - Voting Thread
« on: September 09, 2018, 03:19:32 PM »
I’m about to vote, but before I do, I want to say how awesome this month’s stories are. I could easily vote for five or six and enjoyed all of them. Really. The best month of stories in a while, IMHO.


[SEP 2018] Meetings / Re: [Sep 2018] - Meetings - Discussion Thread
« on: September 08, 2018, 01:10:42 PM »
I’ve got a first idea, but first often doesn’t get written.
Hoping I can start writing today.

General Discussion / Re: All about Inky
« on: September 04, 2018, 11:59:57 PM »
Wait a second, isn’t this thread supposed to be all about inky?  :o

So, S. K. Inkslinger, what are your sports or other hobbies, excepting writing?
Inquiring minds want to know.

General Discussion / Re: All about Inky
« on: September 02, 2018, 11:39:52 PM »
Ping pong?

General Discussion / Re: All about Inky
« on: September 01, 2018, 05:18:31 PM »
Which sport does @Eclipse play in a club?

Spoiler for Hiden:
badminton, of course!


A total, complete suck day.
My super-power of “always cheerful” is being hit by kryptonite between changes at work and yet another day when my left lung has decided to get in the way of things.
Feeling angry, frustrated, and self-pitying.

Sorry to dump.
I’m just wrung out.

[JUL + AUG 2018] Games / Re: [Jul+Aug 2018] - Games - Submission Thread
« on: August 27, 2018, 01:31:03 AM »
1,497 words.
Edited and ready.


Spoiler for Hiden:


One hundred muskets wavered, muzzles drifting about like leaves in a breeze.

One hundred muskets discharged in a ragged series of cracks and fizzles before a last gun spat out its ramrod in a desultory arc. Silence and smoke drifted over the line of soldiers, broken by the occasional cough, and salted with curses.

“Well!” commented Captain Ooton Garrig, “That left a lot to be desired, eh?” The 10th Punishment Company laughed along with their odd new commander. “I don’t think they really felt that, do you?” This stopped the laughter as the men peered at the strange targets crowding the cliff the captain had chosen for shooting practice.

The high cliff before them was jammed with painted coffins stacked, nailed, roped and tottering one atop another in weaving columns from twice the height of a man to a hundred feet up. The hanging graveyard rambled to the west in raucous color: red coffins with yellow markings; white and blue coffins, red on green, black on orange and more; in sizes from infant to nearly giant; all covered in the swirling decorations that also tattooed the native men and women of this conquered land.

The men of the 10th, one hundred hard criminals, sloppy drunks, and inveterate lay-abouts, had been shooting at the gathered dead of the local tribes, and they were having superstitious second thoughts.

“The point, gentlemen,” said Captain Garrig, cheerfully, “is hitting the coffins. There are a lot of them. It should be difficult to miss. Let’s try again.”

Garrig’s staff lieutenant, Sarad Carnaway, stepped close to the captain and directed his attention to the rear, behind the company. A group of locals were gathered at the top of a low hill, watching the proceedings with studied calm.

The captain faced his men with a smile. “It appears we have an audience.” He strolled down the line holding every eye, his bright red uniform in brilliant contrast to the khaki of his men. In the few weeks since Colonel Markin had appointed him, the 10th had dubbed him “Mad Garrig”, and learned to watch him closely. There were rumors he’d been sent from the capital to spy on the colonel. There were rumors he might even be some sort of wizard. “Right then! The natives have come to watch our game, so a game we will give them.”

“Private Apcott!” he called.

An acne-riddled youth risked a meager step forward, looking vainly back at his mates for encouragement. He saluted weakly.

“All the way over here, lad. Leave your musket.” Garrig clapped Apcott on the shoulder. He pointed halfway up the cliff. “See that bright red and yellow coffin up there?” Apcott gave a strangled response. “Here, take this scarf and start climbing.” He sighed at Apcott’s aghast look. “Yes, up there. Be quick about it.”

He addressed the men again. “The game, gentlemen, is to blast that lovely red coffin, which Private Apcott will helpfully mark for us, to smithereens. Without hitting Mr. Apcott, of course.”

The young private reached the base of the cliff and began to climb, one hesitant foot above another. He glanced back and found ninety-nine pair of enlisted eyes watching him, along with the lieutenants and the captain; and behind them, more tattooed locals joined the crowd on the hill every minute.

“Far enough!” the captain called as Apcott reached the red coffin. “Now then, men. Our game today is called Wake the Dead.” This got a scattering of nervous laughter. “By platoon, gentlemen, you will line up, aim, and fire – at the target. And at the command of your lieutenants, of course. The first platoon to drop the honored dead from its aerial grave wins the day.”

He surveyed the men, but saw little interest. He tried another tack. “Colonel Markin doesn't think much of your abilities or your mettle. In fact, he’d much prefer we weren't attached to his regiment at all. Shall we prove him wrong?” There was even less enthusiasm for this call to arms.

“Very well. I will personally host the winning platoon at the tavern of your choice. Open bar from sunset to midnight.” With a roar and cheer, the 10th rushed forward, and the game began.

After a short brawl, it was decided that the platoons would compete in numerical order. Over the terrified protests of Private Apcott, each twenty-five-man team took its turn. The prospect of free liquor had a positive impact on their aim, and splinters of wood spun in every direction from the mass of bullets, though only some of them were from the targeted red coffin. Private Apcott, with the luck of the feeble minded, somehow emerged unscathed from the first round.

As the 10th reloaded for another go, the mob of natives on the hill behind began to boil with murderous anger. Captain Garrig took a dispatch from his uniform and passed it quietly to Lieutenant Carnaway. “Present this to Colonel Markin with my complements. Quickly now.” The lieutenant slipped away, threading past the mob, and feeling it was a very near thing.

The third platoon won the game on its second try. The red coffin finally disintegrated under the hail of lead ball, dropping its cargo of dried and moldering corpse onto the next coffin below. The winners danced around Captain Garrig like revelers round a May pole, while the losers shouted accusations of cheating, buggery, and blatant favoritism.

With the firing done, Private Apcott began to climb down, orders or no orders, when the infant-sized box under his foot suddenly gave way. Apcott and the coffin tumbled down the cliff together, colliding with every sharp corner and rock until they hit bottom in a cloud of wood, bone, meat, blood, and gold.

Gold. It flashed in the sun as it spilled from the shattered coffin. The 10th Punishment Company fell into stunned, greedy silence.

“Gold,” mused Captain Garrig. “That wasn’t in the plan. But this will certainly stir things up nicely.”

Ninety-nine men took three entranced steps toward the fallen private and the scattered gold, ignoring the commands of their lieutenants, and then the rush was on. Some fought over the coins that decorated the ground. Others scrambled up the cliff, ripping at any coffin in reach and spilling out their contents. When they discovered another golden trove, the 10th’s madness was complete.

Only Captain Garrig noticed as a thousand screaming, tattooed men brandished clubs and knives and charged down the hill. He muttered a quick spell, and the mob parted around him harmlessly even as they tore into the unsuspecting soldiers below.

As Garrig moved to a safe distance from the bloodbath, Lieutenant Carnaway jogged back over the hill from the direction of the regimental HQ. “They’re on their way, sir. The colonel himself and the entire regiment.” His eyes widened at the slaughter below.

Garrig grinned with satisfaction. “I’m sure the colonel was none too pleased to be called on to rescue us.”

Carnaway gave a wry laugh. “Shall I quote him, sir?”

“Please do.”

“He asked what exactly your game is, sir. ‘Whatever his game is, lieutenant,’ he said, ‘he’s gone too far this time.’ He threatened you with physical punishment. Sir.”

“I’m sure he did. I will have to disappoint him.”

The sounds of drums and marching drifted from the other side of the hill. Meanwhile, the carnage below was almost complete, with just a few members of the 10th left to entertain the enraged tribesmen.

“If I may, sir,” said Carnaway, feeling the madness of the day and going beyond his normal reserve. “What exactly is your game? I’d rather like to know myself.”

The captain’s bemused expression took on an edge that sent a chill down the lieutenant’s spine. “War,” he said. “My game is war, Mr. Carnaway. His glorious majesty our king has been none too pleased with the peace in this region, and sent orders to our esteemed Colonel Markin that should have resulted in renewed hostilities with the tribes here. But Markin proved to be an honorable man, and peace continued. Therefore, they sent me. The colonel, not liking having a wizard foisted on him by the grandees back in the capital, assigned me to the 10th, thinking I'd have my hands full with all of you. Well, I get results, Lieutenant, even if I have the meanest material with which to work. Results, I’ve found, keep one’s head on one’s shoulders.”

The first rank of regulars crested the hill and marched on the mob below.

“I can use a man like you, lieutenant,” said Garrig.

“Like me?”

“If you can stomach how I play this game.”

Carnaway looked away from the massacre unfolding below. “I don’t think I want to play by your rules. Sir.”

Garrig whispered another spell and began to fade from view. ‘Think on it,” he said. “But don’t take too long. I’m certain the colonel will be looking for someone to blame for this mess.”

I will re-read LotR at least twice more before I die, even if I know see flaws and think that Malayan, Soong of Ice & Fire ne others may actually be better reads. It’s just got an unassailable place in my heart.

Suck fairy? Some Heinlein, maybe Asimov. I won’t re-read Fiyndation, etc. simply for fear of the suck fairy. Sconah, I think. Definitely Edgar Rice Burroughs. I was addicted to ERB as a teen; can still read him if I’m in a particular mood for sexist cultural imperialism- which is rare and getting rarer.

Just watched “Ready Player One.”
Forget the book, which I liked a bunch, when you watch the movie and you'll have a really fun time.
Great way to spend two hours.

But it’s on Hulu only?i can’t do another subscription.  >:(

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