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Re: FFBB: Favourite Sidekick - R32 - Bronn vs Min Farshaw Having just finished WoT, Min is an easy choice for me. :)
September 30, 2016, 02:14:43 PM
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Re: UGH... self-promotion I feel you, bro. I released a short story collection on amazon, smashwords, etc a few years ago to test the waters for a self published novel later on... Found out fast that I suck at self promotion and have no interest at all to create and maintain a blog and twitter network, spamming continuously advertising my stuff. Sooo yeah, I never self published that novel...
October 20, 2016, 09:18:28 PM
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Re: Openings Bradley, it occurs to me here and thinking of your other recent posts, that the KIND of story you're writing is more important than the milieu setting. Is it a quest? Revenge? Mystery (not whodunit, but a quest for solution, information)? Romance? Because that drives everything else far more forcefully than anything else, imho.
November 11, 2016, 06:34:22 AM
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Re: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Ha. Everyone's different, plus I have low standards. I had a great time.  ;D

I have found that when I go to the movies or open a book, and expect bubble gum, I am not as disappointed. If I stumble across a steak dinner, I am pleasantly surprised. But if I head in expecting steak, when I find bubble gum I get irritated :)

November 27, 2016, 09:50:29 PM
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Re: Do we recommend enough female authors when asked for recommendations
Thinking that women (or men) are under represented in certain genres only because of bias, sexism, bigotry and etc is an extremely biased and unhealthy view on the world.

Absolutely. But asserting that gender bias, whether conscious or unconscious, has absolutely nothing to do with the representation of genders in any genre seems naive. And while there are many, many factors at play that we can do nothing or very little about, we can think about and gently challenge gender bias in ourselves and other readers.

So do we throw up our hands, say "Oh well, too many things that I can't control, why bother?" Or do we do what little we can to make the world just a tiny bit fairer?

I was 99% sure before I went to sleep that someone was gonna put that into my mouth.

OK. So: why aren't we seeing more female authors on recommendation lists of speculative fiction?

it *ought* to be irrelevant, i agree. But I find that if there's a list of say, ten best fantasy books of 2016 and you ask the author of that list why it's ten male authors on the list, he'll say "I don't think about gender". Which is why we still need to talk about gender. :)

I'm amazed how far people go to defend the tower from falling.

Using the list on GR, there's actually 9 female and 1 male on the final round (technically 2 since Ilona are a couple).
Oh no, it's not equal! Such disparity can only be because of gender bias, sexism, misandry, etc etc, it can't be because of sales, quality or reader enjoyment!
There are plenty of lists with all kinds of female authors and writing styles.

*Sigh*

Information and events keep passing by, but they don't see it - or refuse to see it - as what they really want to do is keep staring at their massive echo chamber going on above the clouds.
That's what they want to see and to keep believing.

Even during the 70s and 80s, when SF/F was considered "stuff for children", there was still Ursula LeGuin, Elizabeth Moon, Octavia Butler and many others who had audiences, won awards and didn't hide their names.

But there's still people who despite seeing those examples, still think they always have a dark cloud over their heads.

Again, the reason is simple: if they, or what they believe (or are led to believe) is hurt or insulted, or if they feel like victims, then they have someone else to blame, and in their view, they are no longer responsible for their failures or poor achievements.
So if they fail or do poorly,  it can't be because of the quality, of if the readers enjoyed, or anything else. It can only be because of bias, sexism, past prejudice, be some of it real or imaginary.

And they are no longer responsible for their job performance, for wanting to improve and to be the best they can be, and ultimately that will result in their overall failure (which they will, of course, blame on others), and this feeling is used to justify wrong-doings and to rationalize double standards.

November 30, 2016, 04:15:36 PM
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Re: Do we recommend enough female authors when asked for recommendations
@tebakutis
Quote
I don't see anyone saying "Recommend authors just because they are female".

Not  "just because " certainly, but the title of the thread implies that we should be going out of our way to ensure we do and that was not a view I would endorse and agreed with most of @Nora and @Lanko  thoughts about that.

My reasoning here is that if you insist on some kind of 'quota' on people's choices, be it  five vegetables in a day's meals, walking 30 minutes every day, or female authors in a recommendation list, it can discourage participation or people view it as a chore rather than a pleasure. It becomes a rule you have to follow rather than something you choose to do naturally and to some extent devalues the particular aim or object of the quota.




December 01, 2016, 06:25:46 AM
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Re: Do we recommend enough female authors when asked for recommendations I've read Margaret Weis solo works and the one with her various co authors. I would recommend both Hickman &  Weis.
December 02, 2016, 07:56:43 AM
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Re: [DEC 2016] - Dragons! - Submission Thread Tickling the Dragon's Tale

(1500 words excluding the title)

Spoiler for Hiden:
“It’s too dangerous, Shedmaster. It would violate all the protocols.” Dag paused. “It scares me.”

Sloti looked away at his subordinate’s frank admission, glancing through the thick lead-glass window that separated the control room from the cavernous bleeding chamber.  He supressed a shiver. A decade of working the sheds had still not inured him to the experience of being eye to eye with a dragon, albeit a chained and dormant one. Cherna lay immobile on the tempered steel lattice atop stone columns towering four storeys above the shed floor. Even through the glass he could feel her heat, fancied he could sense the invisible rays emitted by the activated blood coursing through her veins. Here lay a creature who could kill a man in her sleep. Maybe Dag was right to be afraid.

He shivered away the momentary doubt. A half-dozen technicians beetled across the shed floor pushing trolleys from the curing bay towards the delivery room.  He had been one of them once, weighed down by a white suit lined with lead plates as he wheeled seasoned power rods across the shed floor - long dark cylinders of solidified dragon’s blood which the technicians laughingly called black puddings.

The grim humour masked everybody’s nerves. The precious rods needed such careful handling, hot to the touch even through the asbestos gloves. Brought together in a precise array, they could amplify each other’s heat to instantly boil water.  Sloti’s father had said, give an engineer enough steam and he could make anything happen.  King Andreas the Dragontamer had understood that maxim well, a whole empire built on the miracle of unlimited steam, driving engines of every description. Steam generated by the heat from dragons’ blood.

Dag came up beside him, watching the routine spectacle. He leant suddenly across to haul on the alarm klaxon, a single blaring note that froze all activity in the shed. Men turned expectantly towards the control room where Dag was already growling into the speaking tube. “Technician  Feynma, watch your separation. Keep those rods at least four cents apart. D’you want to trigger a flashover?”

The distant Feynma acknowledged the command with a gloved salute. Dag ran a palm over his balding head, hair long since pushed out by the worry of his responsibilities. “Isn’t what we do dangerous enough?” he asked.

Sloti looked back at the dragon. Cherna, second surviving daughter of the broodmother Alba.  Since he had taken command, Shed C had been the most reliable of the half-dozen dragon sheds, regularly meeting every production quota and deadline.  But Cherna could never be as big or productive as her mother.  When the dragontamer had first harnessed the blood of dragons, Alba had been an ancient wyrm too large, in truth, for comfortable handling. Committees of engineers had decreed the optimum size for her offspring and the subsequent sheds had been built to those dimensions. The organic portion of Cherna's feed carefully calculated to allow her to grow into her cage and now each measured meal of cattle and sheep was just sufficient to precisely replenish the blood they drew from her every fourth day.

Of course it was rock, not food that energised the lizards’ lives. A unique metabolism refining ore to fill their blood with activated neptunium.   The radiation it emitted could supplying the heat and energy to keep a dragon alive even in a dormant state for decades, centuries even. 

“We do well enough.” Dag’s observation stirred Sloti from his reverie.

“Six sheds, six dragons, that’s all we have and - as of last week - it is all we ever will.”

“There will be other males. The hunters will find one in the wild.”

Sloti rounded on him. “No they won’t. Zarin wasn’t just the last male dragon in captivity. He was the last male dragon anywhere. Poachers who don’t know any better have found and drained the corpses of every dragon. There will be no more males, no more eggs to hatch.”

Dag looked down at the hemispherical incubation pit on the shed floor, directly beneath the dragon’s belly. The dragontamer had imagined breeding dragons would be easy – boy meets girl, a few years later out pops an egg.  However, there had been several accidents of incubation. Getting the egg precisely placed was no mean feat, balancing its need for warmth from its mother’s body against its need for protection from her radiation.   

At last the engineers had understood the creatures’ fascination with a dense but highly conductive metal and why male dragons brought gold as a courting gift, when male birds just built nests. Lead, steel, copper or poured stone, all had been tried and failed as a substitute for gold.

So, whenever a dragon was pregnant the royal treasury was emptied, gold piled and shaped in a gleaming hoard between the mother on high and the egg’s resting place.  Cherna had laid just one egg long ago. Some misalignment of the gold or the necessity of being inseminated with her own father’s seed had produced a hatchling too weak to break out of its own shell. Only Alba had been bred from successfully - five daughters from seventeen attempts.

“There will be no more dragons, Dag. We must make the most of those we have.”

“But to lace the ore grindings with spent dragon blood?”

“It will enhance the enrichment process. The new blood will be half again as potent as the old. We can draw the power of nine dragons from just six sheds.” Sloti grabbed his deputy’s arm, eyes bright with enthusiasm. “We will be heroes of the empire.”
 
Dag said nothing and Sloti heard agreement in his silence.

***

“See!” Sloti waved a sheet of technical data in Dag’s face. “It is better even than I expected. Nearly 60% enhancement in the fuel yield.”

Dag stared out of the viewing port at the dragon, watching the flaring of its nostrils with each inward breath. A pebble of niggling thought triggered a sudden avalanche of understanding. “Shedmaster, if the blood we draw out has a higher yield, then so does the blood we left in her!”

“What?” In one short syllable Slotin went from irritation to horror. A crashing snap sounded through the glass, a sundered chain that had held Cherna’s forelimb for centuries. “Oh Gods. What have we done?”

The dragon stirred. At the far end of the shed its tail swept a lazy arc through a dozen technicians. A century long balance of feeding and bleeding to keep the creature on the cusp of dormancy abruptly undone by their irresponsible experiment. Driven by the enhanced blood, Cherna woke from slumber.

“The control rod!” Dag leapt for the red lever – the fail-safe system to release a massive steel rod poised above Cherna’s chained head. Explosive charges would drive it through her skull into instant euthanasia.   

“No!” Sloti pulled him back. “We must draw off more blood to compensate.”

“It’s too late for that you fool.”

And it was. The lead lined window shattered at the tap of Chenya’s claw. The dragon raised its head, maw opening to breathe into the control room. Dag saw it all, the two ducts in the corners of her mouth squirting jets of black blood, shaped into a ball by her forked tongue. He flung himself behind the console. Sloti stood transfixed by the terror he had unleashed. And then the blood-ball went super-critical. With a blinding blue flash, a tsunami of heat washed through the control room.

Dag struggled upright beside the melted smouldering console. His hands were already blistering, he wanted to vomit. There was nothing left of Sloti but a thin shadow of dust on the far wall. With agonised steps Dag staggered to the red lever. In the shed beyond the dragon was writhing effortlessly free of its chains. He pulled at the half-melted lever and it finally yielded just as the dragon’s attention lunged back towards the smoking man in the tiny room.

The control rod fell with the force of a mountain behind it, puncturing Cherna’s neck. The dragon railed in agony, widening the wound as black blood poured from her throat, cascading from the gantry to the shed floor.

Those technicians not already dead ran from the staccato bursts of flashovers as pooling blood collected in critical puddles.

“Oh shit,” Dag muttered through melted lips. The copious quantities of dragon blood were draining towards the incubation pit, a perfect receptacle to collect a super-critical mass of fluid. A charge beside which the lethal flashovers were mere sparks. Power enough to flatten everything in a two mile radius, everything apart from the dragons.

He stumbled to the windows at the far side of the control room. Bylla’s shedmaster looked up from within a panicked crowd rushing in random directions at the sounds of disaster.

“Save yourselves,” Dag called. “Bury us in poured stone.” It was the only way, but even as he said it, Dag knew it would not be enough.

December 04, 2016, 07:28:01 PM
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Re: [DEC 2016] - Dragons! - Discussion Thread
Lordoftheword[/member]]@Lordoftheword thank you.  I'm glad you liked it. I started by trying to write the story of Alba and shed A, but realised there was no way I could get that one down to the 1500 word limit, so I took the idea in this direction instead. 


I'm sure it will be a great month - possibly a record. 


I mean Dragons! what could possibly go wrong?

December 05, 2016, 10:02:02 PM
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Re: [DEC 2016] - Dragons! - Submission Thread Anne's Words
1499 words
Spoiler for Hiden:

In a remote valley, news of an approaching army sparks panic. A small mountain town is caught between the dragon to their north and invaders from the south. During their frenzied preparations for hopeless battle, a willowy young girl makes secret plans.

   In the dark before dawn, she hefts her bag and takes the chilly mountain paths up towards the dragon’s lair high in the crags in the upper valley, where the pines end, and the winds moan.

   She comes to the yawning cavern at dusk. The lifeless earth and stones are scorched black from the heat and worn smooth by the creature’s passing. She calls out and peers into the darkness, waiting for the golden glow. It comes, and the ground shakes. She kneels, forehead pressed to the earth.

   The rumbling rasp is sword-edged and stinks of sulfur: “What brings you, mortal?” The words come slow and hateful.

   “Great need, Most Glorious.”

   “Squeak!” the dragon laughs. “Make your pleas.”

   The girl looks up. The dragon’s fiery, gold-red glory makes her seem tinier still. Each scale is like a burnished bronze shield, rimmed with ruby. The folded golden wings glimmer with fire-red tinges. Long, curving horns sweep from the back of the sharp-snouted head. The dragon’s great eyes, green and fixed upon her, glint with their own light.

   “An army comes to destroy our town,” she says, her voice small in the dragon’s terrible presence.
   
   “My larder, you mean.” The laughter rolls like boulders. “What of it? Your people or the next, it makes no difference.”

   “I come to make an offering: I will give you what you do not have if you will save my people.”

   A tremor runs from the snout up the frilled neck, across the scaled shoulders, and down the long, coiling tail that sways this way and that, while the unblinking emerald eyes hover. The dragon sniffs her. The voice falls to a hateful, hissing whisper. “What can a girl who smells of goat shit offer, that I would ever want?”

   Before she can answer, the dragon lifts its head, and a gout of orange flames roils across the cavern’s ceiling. “What do I lack,” the dragon roars, “that I could not take from anyone, anywhere, anytime I choose? That I could not wring from your dead body?”

   The dragon opens a handful of talons, each longer than the girl is tall.
   
   “Words!” the girl cries as she cowers from the dragon’s heat behind her upraised arm.

   The dragon’s black, forked tongue lashes out between scorch-stained teeth the size of swords. “What need have I for mortal words? Weakling thoughts! Mutterings of sheep! Even your kings whine like dogs.”

   “Not mortal words!” the girl shouts shrilly over the dragon’s rumbling. “Your words – the words of your life, of the world as only you have seen it.”

   The dragon pauses and turns its mighty head.

   “If you will tell me the tale of your life,” the girl says, “I will fashion for you a story the likes of which no mortal has ever known or dreamt of: the movements of a greater soul, one that has tasted the promise of a thousand dawns…”

  “Fifty-thousand, and more,” the dragon hisses. “But this has been tried before. Another fool girl came to me once, who thought her voice fair enough to woo me.”

   “Yes,” the girl says. “My grandmother’s mother.”

   “Ah! I see the resemblance, but I don’t smell it. You’ve the stink of your fathers’ line,” the dragon croons and grins a grin of a thousand teeth. “I found her screams sweeter than her singing. Would your dying words not sound sweeter, too?”

   “My words will give you something sweeter than anything you have,” says the girl, cocking her head.

   The golden head swings to face her. “I have more gold than you can imagine. I could rain wealth on your town for a season.”

   “But why have it?”
 
   “Because it is craved by men,” the dragon snarls. “They want what I have, and I have what they want just to have it, the wergild of a hundred generations of your kind. More precious than treasure is their longing for it!”

   “Surely you have your own desires.”

   “The only thing I desire I have even more of than gold – fear.” The dragon rends the earth with its claws, growling like a landslide. “All things are my prey. Eagles flee like moths before my flames. Men a hundred leagues away watch the sky with dread. The bravest warriors fall silent at the rumor of my passing. The mightiest kings despair at my approach.”

  “Th-that is so,” the girl stammers. “You have terror and treasure. But not envy. Not yet. But there is something else you have mortals might come to covet - with my help.”

   “What?” laughs the dragon, gnashing its teeth with a ringing snap.

   “Now, people look on you like a dangerous beast - one possessed of a great treasure, but a beast nonetheless. They wish you would die and leave what you have behind. But any miserly man can say the same.”

   The green eyes burn brighter, and their slits narrow intently.

   “But if you will help me, Archmaldegon, I will give you something new. I will craft a tale where you are the hero, noble and triumphant over challenges beyond the reckoning of mortals. I will make them envy you and covet your ageless life, the power of your strength, the joy of burning eagles from the sky. In the shadow of your magnificence, the drab lives of men shall seem even shabbier.”

   The dragon leans close, its vast eye looming down as broad as an apple barrel. The slit of the iris widens as it takes her in. “Go on.”

   From her bag, the girl draws a piece of parchment, a small jar of ink, and a quill. She sits on a stone and makes ready. “Tell me how your life began.”

  The dragon lays its head on the ground before the girl. Tendrils of smoke curl from the nostrils. “I hatched five and a half thousand years ago, the only gold in a clutch of four hatchlings. My siblings were Dersenian, who was icy-blue, Helcanar, who was red, and Charontrix, a lovely, long-necked green.” The line of its enormous jaws curls into a grin. The eyes roll closed, and the dragon’s tongue runs the circuit of its jaws, wet and swift. “While my mother hunted in the hills, one by one I killed and devoured them. How she screamed! But she loved me all the more – the strongest and fiercest. There is no love greater than a dragon’s for its young.” The dragon’s eyes snap open. “Nobler than any love your human heart might hold.”

   The girl nods and writes while the dragon stares.

   After a few minutes, the dragon snorts sooty sulfur fumes that billow the girl’s hair. The girl looks up. “I thought a dragon would be more patient.”

   The dragon’s eyes flare. “Have a care. You have aroused my curiosity.” A thudding growl echoes from deep within. “Nothing more.”

   With a final flourish of her quill, the girl stands straight and proud and holds her parchment before her. In a clear voice that rings off the rocks she reads:
   “‘For five and fifty centuries have I, Archmaldegon the Golden Dragon, tasted the winds of this life. It was I that slew Dersenian, mighty azure dragon of noble lineage and bearing. It was I that brought death to Helcanar’s crimson majesty and took the light from Charontrix’s emerald eyes. While men toiled in the mud and stacked their bricks of cow shit and straw, I soared the paths of the wind and rode the whispering ways of twilight. Singing whales of distant seas dive and drown themselves in the terror of my shadow.’”
   The echoes die. The girl kneels and presses her forehead to the earth, parchment held tight in her fist.
 
   “More,” hisses the dragon.

   “Save my people,” the girl says without looking up.

   A silent moment passes, measured in scores of fluttering heartbeats.

   The dragon rears up on golden-scaled legs thicker than the greatest trees and issues from the cavern. The ground shakes at its passing. Pebbles and stones fall from the roof.

  Outside, Archmaldegon turns to face the girl and fans its mighty wings like golden sails. “Have you a name?”

   “Anne.”

   Tension ripples beneath the gilded scales as Archmaldegon coils for a leap. “I will slay this army, Anne, and devour its captains like so many sheep. When I return, so shall you, or I will burn your town and people to cinders. And then you will give me more words to stoke the vanities of men.”

  Anne bows her chin to her chest. “As you say.”

  With a thunderous rush of wings, Archmaldegon mounts the sky.

  Anne watches in silence until the dragon dwindles into the distance. She shudders in terror, breathes deep and slow, and then begins her long walk home.

December 10, 2016, 08:30:03 PM
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