Mornings With the Seer: Simple Warnings and Thoughts

Here I am, coming to you on the New Hotness, my first new computer in ten years.  Picked it up about four in the afternoon, started in on it about fifteen minutes later, and by about seven I had just about everything I want to have and need in the system–including about six thousand pictures I’ve taken over the years–but since this computer has a 1 terabyte drive, I’ve about eight hundred and thirty terabytes to play with.  It’ll be a while before I fill it up.

In comes the new, out goes the old.

In comes the new, out goes the old.

Honestly, when I packed the old computer up I cried, because it’s really been my companion for just a few weeks short of a decade now, and you build attachment.  But there are still things on there I can used, and who knows?  I may pull it out once in a while and give it a spin just for old times sake.

The biggest changes, besides the keyboard being slightly off-center, are the way the programs appear.  Everything is just a little larger, which sort of makes everything look as if I’m back on my old nineteen inch monitor back in Indiana, but it’s livable.  The biggest change is the way Blender looks; it sort of pre-renders everything for me.  Before everything looked like this:

And for your viewing enjoyment, follow Kerry's route along the line from left to right.

Can you handle all the green?

And now it looks like this:

With shadows and everything!

With shadows and everything!

So much different.  I think I can get used to this.

Oh, and it has a built-in camera which I just had to try out–

The writer as a thirteen year old girl getting a new selfie.

The writer as a thirteen year old girl getting a new selfie.

By the way, that’s how I normally look when I’m home from work.  Now you know.

What this all means is that everything from here on out is written on the new machine, and I even made a note in Scrivener of the first paragraph written using this computer.  Because that’s what I do.

And speaking of new . . .  What is up with Isis?  Well, since I wrote over six hundred words last night and finished the scene, you’ll find out.  Like right away.

 

All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015, 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)

They both bounded up the stairs to the first floor and hurried over to where Isis waited. Annie spoke for them both. “Good morning, Director.”

“Morning to you both.” She nodded in the direction of the transept alcove leading to the security offices. “Let’s get out of the open, shall we?” They wandered over into the alcove above the ground floor of the West Transept and were well out of sight before Isis spoke. “Before I say anything else, I want you to know you’re not in any trouble.”

Both children appeared slightly confused for a moment, casting glances with each. Kerry eventually turned to the security director. “So if we’re not in trouble—?”

“It must be something else, yeah?” Isis’ smile was bright in the gloom of the security area. “It is: Deanna wants to see you.”

“About?” One of Annie’s eyebrows arched high as she forwarded the question.

“She didn’t say. All I was told was to wait for you to enter the Hall and stop you before you got to breakfast.”

Kerry joined Annie in the arching eyebrow column. “And she knew what time we’d come through because—”

Isis snorted loudly. “You don’t have to be a seer to know your schedules. You’re both like clockwork when it comes to getting to the Dinning Hall: six on the weekdays, six-thirty on Sunday, and between six forty-five and seven on Saturday.” She shook her head. “You guys shouldn’t be so predictable: if someone wanted to take you down, they’d know when and where to wait. Maybe not now, but . . .” She gave a shrugged that was nearly nonexistent. “It’s something to keep in mind later on in life.”

Annie knew what Isis was referencing: that they needed to watch their routines when they were members of the Guardians so that they not become vulnerable to attack by Deconstructors, or those witches who may be working with them. It wasn’t something she’d considered before, but now that Isis had brought the matter to her attention— “Thank you. We’ll keep that in mind.”

 

Sometimes the Seer sees what you’re doing, and sometimes the Chief of Security knows your schedule ’cause you do everything like clockwork and that can be a dangerous thing. The kids are on a schedule here at school so there’s little one can do about that, but Isis is letting them know that doing that once you’re out of school isn’t always a good thing.  It’s even a worse thing when you’re job involves spying and hunting down Deconstructors, ’cause someone may just come after your ass one day while you’re sitting in your favorite cafe having lunch ’cause they know you hang there every day between eleven and twelve-thirty.  Keep changing up that routine, kids, because it can save your life.

Now, the important question is:  what does Deanna what?  And . . .

 

Kerry’s mind was working along the same lines. “Yep. But about Deanna: what time did she want to see us?”

Isis hooked her thumbs in the pockets of her jeans. Like many of the other instructors and staff she adopted a more casual feel during the weekends. “She said she wanted you out to the tower by nine.”

“The tower?” Annie almost did a double take. “She doesn’t want to see us at Memory’s End?”

“Nope. She told me to tell you to come out to Åsgårdsreia Tower and meet her in her office.” Isis took a step back from the children. “And that’s all I have to tell you.” He nodded back towards the Rotunda. “You should get going: whatever Deanna wants, it must be important, so I wouldn’t be late.”

Kerry gave a knowing nod. “We won’t.”

“Thank you, Isis.” Annie took Kerry’s hand and led him towards the the stairs. She said nothing until they were three steps down from the first floor landing. “This can’t be Guardian stuff.” She stopped after two more steps, careful to keep her voice muted. “She’s not involved.”

Kerry looked down and sighed. “You think this has something to do with our visions?”

“Perhaps. It’s just—” She looked down the flight of stairs. “Why is she being so secretive?”

“Because she knew if she contacted us directly we’d start asking question.” His chuckle came off sounding particularly grim. “So if Isis tells us—”

“She knows we won’t get anything from her.” Annie turned and descended the staircase slowly. “It has to be about the visions. I can’t imagine her discussing anything else with us.”

“True. Unless—”

Annie stopped half-way down. “What?”

“What if—” His face twisted into a thoughtful grimace. “—there’s something we haven’t thought about?”

 

Yeah, kids:  there’s always something you haven’t thought about, and this is probably one of them.  The thing here is when Deanna wants to meet you in Memory’s End, she’s usually doing so as a friend and adviser, but when she’s meeting you in her office in the tower, where she does all her official Coven Leader stuff, it’s often an indication something important is about to get said.  We’ll see, won’t we?

And you'll see it right here, I promise.

And you’ll see it right here, I promise.

One last thing:  as I gave a shout out to Yuri Gagarin, today I give a shout out to Al Shepard, who today became the first American to fly into space aboard Freedom 7, aka Mercury-Redstone 3.  The flight lasted only fifteen minutes, and due to the publication of The Right Stuff we know Al flew with a spacesuit full of pee, so think about that the next time you’re bitching about having to get in the car and drive a couple of blocks down to the local convenience store to pick up a few quick items but you don’t like the fact you have to throw on pants.

Though we never had any astronauts attacked by wolves.  Yet.  There’s still time for that to happen . . .

Mornings With the Seer: Before Breakfast

This is going to be kinda a short post today.  Maybe, I don’t know, not yet.  See, there’s stuff going on behind the scenes, things you haven’t seen . . . and there, my stuff and things are out of  the way and I can move on.

But seriously:  I have a problem, and probably will for the rest of the week.  Here’s what happened.

Now, a lot of things happened this weekend, most of the sucky.  And to add to the suckiness, the fingers of my right hand hurt for some reasons.  Like I slept on them funny, or something.  But that’s something else.  The main thing started with the except below, which isn’t long or sweet:

 

All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015, 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)

With the school year and classes winding down, Annie discovered that suddenly having lots of free time to spend with Kerry was far more enjoyable that she could imagine. With the end of racing three weeks before, this left the whole of their Saturdays open to hang out around the school grounds and take excursions off-campus. Last Saturday they went into Boston with Jessica, Madeline Palmescoff, and Professor Polly Grünbach, and while Deanna and Ramona were taking some students into Salem after lunch, Annie had heard from Helena yesterday afternoon that Erywin, Harpreet, Wednesday, Isis, and she were planing on taking about thirty students into New York City for most of the day.

Though she’d seen most of the world’s large cities she’d never visited New York City, and she was eager to see Times Square and spend time in Central Park with Kerry. It wasn’t that she never had the opportunity to spend time with him in a park-like environment, but having seen so many romantic pictures that part particular park in the spring, her mind’s eye allowed her to imagine the two of them there taking their own springtime pictures.

For now, however, they kept to the grounds, and their plan for the day was to have breakfast and spend a part of the morning in their lab, they heading up to Observatory Tower to finalize their end-of-the-year project in Astrophysics One. After that it was back to the Dining Hall for a quick lunch before—well, Annie had ideas for this afternoon . . .

 

Then disaster struck:  I broke a key on my keyboard.

"Now how am I gonna be brilliant?"

“Now how am I gonna be brilliant?”

Yep.  flat out broke off the “Y” on my keyboard.  Now, you will notices that I’m still typing a number of words that have “Y” in them, but I kinda haveta look at the keyboard when I hit that key because there’s just a little green stop there now, the pressure pad.  It still works, but it really slows me up when I’m doing stuff.  Like writing.

My beast of a laptop is just a couple of months short of ten years old.  That’s a lot of time to get out of a computer these days.  I’ve stated before that I would hate to give up my computer because we’ve been through so much together, but if I wanna keep being productive on my home system, and I can’t do it with a busted-ass system.

Last night I ordered a new laptop:  17 inches, Windows 10.  I did not get the 2-in-1 because I don’t really need anything like that, so a system with eight gig of memory and a one terabyte drive will do the trick for me.  Even after pulling the trigger and ordering it I was still a bit sad about having to replace my computer–

And then, right in the middle of the climax of Fear the Walking Dead last night, when I’m trying to take notes for the recap I’ll right tonight, the damn computer locked up on me.  For about ten minutes.  Needless to say, after that I was more like, “Okay, having a new computer won’t be that bad.”

The new system arrives later in the week, which means I’ll likely spend part of the upcoming weekend getting everything set up on that machine.

Here we go:  I’m finally stepping into the future.

Seeing Down Into the Past

Today there isn’t any writing to show, because you got it all yesterday morning.  The rest of the day involved being out almost the whole day, and once I was safely back in the confines of Casa Burg, I didn’t feel like starting on a scene that will be difficult to write.  Not to mention I have to start getting ready for work in about twenty minutes, because while it’s a holiday for state employees, as a contractor I only get paid when I work, so I need to roll in about eight and put in at least four hours.  Those bills don’t give a shit if I get a day off or not.

Walking around the city yesterday gave me plenty of time to think about where my kids are going.  Not that I don’t already know, but still, sometimes you want to get things down in your head a little clearer, while at the same time you go back over events that have occurred and you put a different eye on those matters.  Like last night I was reading an excerpt where Kerry said something, and for a few moments I had to think, “Okay, what was he saying there?” and then it came to me because I’ve been living in their heads for way too long.

Also, I have their Timelines.

The timelines for these stories have become almost mythical, at least to my thinking.  They’ve been in place for about a year and a half, and I’m still adding to them whenever I get an idea.  It’s my way of keeping track of things, like when they did meet, when did they have their first dream together, when does Annie have her first little witch–oh, wait.  I shouldn’t talk about that.  Spoilers!

Well, guess what?  I’m far enough along on this trip that I can now show some of things of which I’ve discussed.  Because why not?  You’ve already ridden with my kids for a year and a half, so why not see how they arrived at where they are today?

It’s funny how I’ve had to keep these hidden and secret, because there are things on here that do give away a lot of the what’s coming.  At the same time I’ve really wanted to bring them out in the open, because putting them together was great fun, and I’ve always wanted to share.  With the A Levels behind me, and a good chunk of the B Levels, too, it’s time to show you how it got to where I am.

First with Aeon Timeline, it’s possible to segment things into different groupings.  So you can have a “Global” area showing events that affect your world and everything in it, and then you can create little areas that show events for that particular section.  What I did, besides having a global event, is set up sections for Annie and Kerry individually, so if there is something particular to them, it stands alone.

Like this:

As you can see, each kid is special to me.

As you can see, each kid is special to me.

There you see Annie’s Story and Kerry’s Story, going back to when they not only started school, but they were first introduced.  “Annie and the Tree” and “Kerry Gets Picked” were the first two scenes in the first chapter of the first part of the first act, and it only went from there.  If you’re watching the points you see they start in 2011, but end in 2013, which is where we’re at now in the second novel.

But don’t I have things they do together?  And what about the school?  Glad you asked:

Because here they are.

Because here they are.

Here are all the things they do together, and below that are all the normal school events, like the duration of racing season, the beginning of classes, when the first and last Madnesses occur, and the dates for Samhain and Ostara celebrations.  You also see the duration of each Level:  A you see from start to finish, and B is still on-going.  You can see the start of their loving one another, Kerry’s trip to the hospital in what turned out to be their first night together, and while you don’t see the timeline for the attack on the school, you see a little mark next to the point, “Kansas City”, and clicking on that opens up another time line showing what they did there.

When you look at the top and bottom pictures–which, in Aeon, are directly above and below each other as illustrated–you may see some points above matching up with those below.  That’s because I’ve pointed out individual things that happen within something that happened to both kids:  Kerry’s Fifth Time in the Hospital and Annie Goes After Lisa is one example of that.  There’s also some detail in some points that doesn’t show up here, but I can access it if I open up the segment in the program’s Inspector.

Here’s one of my guides, and you finally get to see a small segment of this.  Believe me when I say it goes back in time several hundred years, and also forward in time about the same distance.  I’ve used this for a long time, and you have no idea what I have set up ahead–or some of the things I need to add.  It’s all so very strange.

And speaking of strange, this afternoon I’m going to try something that I haven’t done in a long time–and it may just be the strangest thing I’ve attempted yet.

Pulling the Strings

With things getting back into a normal routine and the transphobic jerks tossed into a nearby star–if only–it was time to write.  And while it was only about only eight hundred words, that’s good enough for me to get back into things.  Because sometimes you need to walk slow back into things.

Also, I’m making up stuff as I go along more or less.  See, some of this process is coming to me as I write, because I have an outline, but I don’t have it all well-developed.  I don’t get everything figured out in my head ahead of time, regardless of what some people think, and I gotta work this out with words as I go along.  And that was what I did last night:  workin’ it out and writin’ it down.

And what I came up is a couple of kids ready to rock–

 

(All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015 by Cassidy Frazee)

“At least we’ll have a good connection.” Helena approached the rigs. “How are you feeling?”

Kerry leaned forward into his harness. “I’m good.” He rested his head against the cushion and pushed his face through. “I’ve been looking forward to this since last night.”

“I can see.” Helena turned to Annie, who was rolling her shoulders before completing getting into her rig. “And you? Not too nervous, are you?”

“Not at all; I can’t wait to start.” Annie was aware what they were about to do was something that wasn’t normally taught at school, but rather was something explored during Salem’s Continuing Education Program. For the Guardians to have us train like this only a year after we came to their notice is incredible—I wonder if this means there’s more to come? “This isn’t something anyone else at school is doing—”

“This isn’t something anyone at school is doing—” Ramona punched something on her tablet. “Period. Marionette training usually takes place at a Guardian facility.”

“Which one?”

Helena chuckled. “One of them.” She touched Annie’s rig. “Come on, Sunshine: your better half is waiting on you.”

 

Annie is wondering what is going on, and it could be something, it might be nothing.  The Guardians work in strange ways, though the interesting thing here is Ramona not questioning a thing.  One has to figure that Helena gave her an overview of what’s happening and then told her not to say a word, which is likely:  after all, just about all the instructors in the heavy magic classes–as well as martial arts and probably some of the science stuff–have to come in contact with both the Protectors and Guardians at some point.  Or, as in Helena’s and Isis’ positions, a lot of points.

 

Kerry’s blush was bright against the dull cream color of the face padding. “Sorry, I’m just—”

“Excited. I know.” Annie finished getting into rig and pressed her face into the padding before giving the overhead straps a tug. “I’m ready.”

“Starting elevation.” Ramona moved her fingers over something on her tablet surface and a second later the marionette rigs began to rise off the floor as they slowly pitched forward.

As soon as the kid’s feet were off the ground Helena unfastened the rigs from their ceiling straps. “How they looking?”

“I’m getting good feedback on their auras.” Ramona looked up from the tablet. “I’ve got a connection: we’re ready to move to the next step.”

“Sounds good.” Helena stepped between the two floating children. “Okay, guys, just relax and let your arms hang down.”

Kerry almost nodded. “Do we need to close our eyes or anything?”

“No—that will happened as soon as we enact the enchantment.” Helena ran her fingers over the contours of Annie’s rig. “When your eyes close, you’ll feel like you’re floating under water and there’s a line nearby stretching away from you. Grab that line and imagine pulling yourself towards the surface.” She nodded at Ramona. “Let’s kick it.”

 

Yo, Ramona, let’s kick this bitch!  Once more, something you’ll never hear anyone at other magical schools say.  Before you know it, Helena and Ramona will be kicked back with a couple of Sam Adams reflecting on all the magical fun they had with the kids.  Probably with a Pandora stream in the background.

So what is puppeteering like?  Well . . .

 

Annie’s eyes closed and after what felt like perhaps ten seconds she sensed the line she was supposed to take only a meter from where her consciousness resided. She reached out with what felt like a hand, took the line, and began to pull herself towards a lightened area above. The light grew brighter, and in a matter of seconds she felt herself breaking the surface of some unknown pool—

—She opened her eyes and let out a gasp as she drew in a breath. Everything felt different: she was on her back in a reclining position, the light was different, the room felt larger—and Helena was sanding next to her, looking down.

The sorceress held out her hand and placed it close to the semi-confused girl. “Okay, just relax.” Helena’s voice was soft and filed with calm. “Don’t try to talk, just nodded when I ask if things are good or if you understand, and don’t do anything if they’re not good or your unsure.” She smiled. “We’ll get to talking once you start getting the feel of your puppet, but first we gotta get you used to the body. You got all that?”

Annie nodded and followed Helena’s instructions as she learned how to control the homunculus. She worked on opening and closing her eyes and slowly turning her head before starting to flex her legs and arms. The first real look she had of her puppet was when she raised her right hand. Immediately she saw the forearm was completely hairless and there wasn’t a single line anywhere: not at the wrist, not on the fingers or the palm of the hand. And the honunculus didn’t have fingernails: when she turned her hand over to look at the back, her thumb and fingers were smooth flesh all the way to the tips.

In time Helena put her hand behind Annie’s head as she felt whatever she was lying upon move her upright. “Okay, Annie: it’s time. We’re going to walk, and I don’t want you to try anything fancy: just one foot in front of the other, nice and slow.” She gave her a smile. “You can try talking; you’ve wanted to for the last ten minutes.”

Annie took a breath and formed the words in her mind before releasing them from the homunculus mouth. “Uoka.” She chuckled softly. “Iii fells su strigue.”

Helena nodded. “Like your mouth is numb?”

“Yuus.” Annie gave slow nod. “Mue toong wunt mooov ruit.”

“That will get better.” Helen had the almost completely upright Puppet Annie by the left arm. “You got your weight on your legs okay?”

Annie looked down for a second. “Yuus.”

“Okay then—” Helena took a short step back. “Follow me.”

 

There you have it:  at least Annie is a puppeteer:

No, not this kind of puppeteers.

No, not this kind of puppeteer.

She’s in the homunculus and she’s moving, she’s up, she’s even sort of talking.  That means I can take it forward from here–

Tonight.  For sure I’ll get to it tonight, because even though I know what’s going to happen, I want you to see it as well.

I think it’s gonna be fun.

Rigging the Strings

Here we go, getting into the next scene, and this is where I start mixing magic with technology.  And see, this is one of the reasons that The Foundation totally wanted to get down on that magic thing, because everything’s better with magic–like, you know, making clones.  Which The Foundation doesn’t do a lot of, by the way, because someone who’s been a witch all their life doesn’t want to spend their next life as a meat puppet.  Right?  You know it.

Now it’s S.A.T.U.R.D.A.Y. Morning, and here we have these kids flying off around the school when they are in a hurry to get somewhere . . .

 

(All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015 by Cassidy Frazee)

Upon landing outside Gwydion Manor after Saturday breakfast Annie and Kerry found Professor Chai was waiting in the main entrance, ready to start the day. After calibrating the rigs the afternoon before, Annie knew what would soon follow: they’d head into the back to change out of their normal clothes and into a uniform, then head down to the lower levels and get into the marionette rigs.

It was going to come after step two that things would change considerably.

The uniforms were a bit like Kerry’s racing outfit, but with a few changes. For one, it was light blue instead of black. Gloves and socks weren’t separate items; rather, they were part of the suit. The suit didn’t zip up, but magically sealed up the back once an enchantment was activated. And instead of a helmet, a hood went over the head. While it wasn’t skintight, Kerry remarked suit it wasn’t nearly as loose as his racing uniform, and that it reminded me a bit of what he’d seen of motion capture suits.

 

The suits described above are really a lot more like a zenti suit–you can look that one up on your own, because most of the images are pervy–but think of it this way:  if there’s a skin-tight suit worn by a superhero in a comic, it’s a lot like what the kids have on.  Kerry is right in a way:  the suit is capturing something from them, which is mentioned below, and that information gets transmitted to the puppet.

And then you can pretend you're a dragon, but only on your own time.

And then you can pretend you’re a dragon, but only on your own time.

Now that we have them suited up, time for the rigs.

 

The marionette rigs were kept in a room in the north end of the lower level, just off the staircase. They were little more than a harness that pulled up around their torso, leaving arms and legs protruding from the sides while the user rested their head against a padded cushion that encircled their face. Once secure in the rig it levitated the user about a half-meter above the floor and tilted slightly forward to help spread the weight to a large part of the torso, the hips, and the thighs.

Heading down the stairs behind Ramona and Helena, Annie focused on what they did yesterday to get the rigs sized properly around their bodies, and to key the rig’s enchantment to their auras. When Kerry asked why the magic didn’t key on their brain waves, Professor Chai remarked that their auras were not only attuned to their brains, but to everything in their body, which is what was needed if they hoped to puppet a homunculus.

Like they’d done the day before as soon as they entered the room Kerry moved to the rig on his left as Annie took the one to her right. As they were getting the rigs—which were hanging from straps attached to the ceiling—into place around their bodies, Ramona pulled up data each of the rigs on a tablet. Helena, who hadn’t been present during yesterday’s calibration, stood to one side and watched the activity.

 

The rigs are pretty simple, though they levitate and do other cool things:

Though around Salem you don't need one to pretend your Peter Pan.

Though around Salem you don’t need one to pretend your Peter Pan.

As we see, however, the suits and the rigs together help pull information from your aura and that’s what gets transmitted to the homunculus.  Which means your aura is a pretty important part of your body, when you think about it.  But my kids don’t seem to worry about this because they’re getting ready to go big time on this marionette thing–

 

Annie slipped her legs into the rig and pulled it up around her hips. “Everything look good, Professor?”

“Ramona.” She glanced up as she examined data on the screen. “When we’re alone like this, you can call me by my given name.”

“Okay, Ramona.” Annie activated the suit’s enchantment. The moment it was firm against her body she slipped the hood over her head and tucked in her hair as she was shown the day before. “Question still stands.”

“The rigs look good, both your signals are strong.” Ramona nodded to Helena. “Both signals are over the red line.”

“At least we’ll have a good connection.” Helena approached the rigs. “How are you feeling?”

 

Because there was so much happening yesterday I didn’t get any further than Helena asking her question, because that’s going to lead to the kids getting ready to do their think, and that requires my full attention, not just Sunday night stuff.  So keep your fingers crossed, ’cause I know I can get to part of that tonight.

We’re almost ready to start pulling those strings . . .

Getting Science All Up In Here

I don’t get out my these days–that’s sort of clear to a lot of people.  And one of the things I don’t get out to do is see movies.  Most of that is due to having sort of a high standard when it comes to seeing a movie, and that’s to be entertained without having too much of my intelligence insulted.  That’s why I’d only seen Mad Max:  Fury Road this year of 2015 and nothing else.  I’m just a cranky bitch when it comes to film.

Yesterday, however, not long after posted on my blog, I headed out to see The Martian, the movie based upon Andy Weir’s 2011 novel of the same name.  One reason I wanted to see the movie was because it was science fiction, and from everything I’d read of the novel, pretty accurate science fiction, with the emphases on science.  I will say now that I have not read the novel, but I’m probably going to pick it up and give it a read just to see the differences between the printed and visual versions.

The interesting thing about the novel is how it came about.  Weir wanted the novel as scientifically accurate as possible, and did a lot of research on the surface of Mars, on botany, astrophysics, space craft design, and orbital mechanics, going so far as to write is own program so he could track the orbits of the ships in his novel.

Which is something only a few crazy people do for, say, a game.

Which is something only a few crazy people–like the one who wrote this a few years ago–kinda sorta do for games.   Crazy.

Weir had been writing since his twenties, and The Martian was his first novel.  He shopped it around, and when none of the publishing houses showed interested, he started publishing the book for free on his website, going thought chapter by chapter.

That's insane.  What sort of nut does that?

That’s insane. What sort of nut does that?

After a while people asked him to put out a Kindle version of the story, and he did, and he sold the book for $.99, the lowest price one can offer for a work on Amazon.  After he sold thirty-five thousand copies in one month, Crown Publishing Group approached him and asked if he’d like a sweet deal for his book.  The deal made him another one hundred thousand dollars and got him a movie, so it sounds like he got what he was looking for.

If you’re asking, “What’s this about?”, it’s about a guy who, through no fault of anyone, gets stranded on Mars and has to find a way to stay alive until he’ rescued.

If nothing else, fall back on a meme that says the same thing through Apature.

If nothing else, fall back on a meme that makes you wonder if Aperture Science runs the space program.

That’s the story in a nutshell, and without going into a lot of detail, it’s what the movies shows.  What I loved was the attention to detail and how everything was so . . . sciencry.  As I indicated I haven’t read the book, but there were things in the movie that because of my knowledge of Mars and space stuff in general, I got right away.  (There was a scene in the movie where the main character was looking at a map, and the minute he realizes something and was hit with a light bulb moment, so was I.  Geeks, I know.)

The movie is magnificent in appearance.  The Mars stand-in was Wadi Rum in Jordan, which has stood in for Mars in a couple of movies, and one of the locations used in Laurence of Arabia.  With the help of a little CGI you feel like you could be there on the Red Planet.  All the tech looks workable and has an authentic feel.  And the spaceship Hermes and the Mars HABs . . . Oi.

Magnificent spaceship porn, yo!

Magnificent spaceship porn, yo!

I can look at the ship above and see stuff that’s supposed to be there on a real spacecraft, and that makes me happy.  There are things I saw happening in the movie that shouldn’t have happened (when you decelerate in space, your engine is supposed to be pointed towards the forward edge of your orbit, thank you), but they were minor and nitpicky.  Even Weir admits that he made the storms on Mars more visually impressive than they would be in real life because, you know, sometimes you have to do that.

The characters are good, though I think NASA in the middle of the 21st Century would be a tad more diverse than shown, and in one major instance, a character was completely whitewashed. The moment I saw the character’s name I thought “Shouldn’t she be Korean?”  This, again, came without reading the novel, and after a little investigation last night I discovered I was correct.  It isn’t impossible to find an actress of the proper ethnicity these days,  so Hollywood, you need to stop that shit right now.

There is one scene in the movie that got a huge laugh out of the audience I was with–and with me as well–and without going into detail:

When you see the scene, you'll get this completely.

When you see the scene, you’ll get this completely.

I came out really happy, not only because I saw what I’d say was a real science fiction movie, but because there was a scene involving engineering that was done while ABBA’s Waterloo played on the soundtrack.  I mean, come on:  that’s something I’d do in my stories, so you know I was smiling like crazy and bouncing in my seat as the scene played out.  And in a moment of disclosure, in a game I was running some twenty years ago, I’d planed to use Waterloo as a song-over during a scene were some people were preparing in invade a planet.

See?  Great minds think alike.  And so do those who know what makes science fun.

Ready for Overnight Flight

So, here we are, sitting around waiting.  In my case I’m waiting for my laundry to finish, because I’ve run out of unmentionables to wear, and a girl’s gotta have clean unmentionables.

And I got my nails done yesterday, too.

And I got my nails done yesterday, too.

Once laundry is finished I’ll need to run out and pick up a few things, and I figure I’ll get out about eleven or so.  Once all that’s done, I’ll start on the next scene, which sees Kerry heading off to go camping.  And, believe it or not, I’ve been getting ready for this moment . . .

First off, I’ve worked on the route my group is going to take.  As was sort of mentioned in the prior scene Friday–the day after the camp out–there will be a lot of flying.  The reason for that will get covered another scene, but it’s all over the place.  Love my maps, you know, because it really helps to know where my students are at certain times, and that also means I can check on weather conditions for those areas.  Because, you know, it’s gonna be cold, and there may be snow.

You’ve seen the brooms they’ll fly–everyone’s on Class 1s–and you’re kinda seen the camp site–

Right here.

When it’s not cold and gloomy and dark.

Which is easier to see from above–

North of the mountains and just south of the Allagash.

North of the mountains and just south of the Allagash.

Now, since there is a line heading off the top of the map, it’s pretty much a given that my fliers are heading off in that direction come Friday morning.  More of that will come out as I write not the next scene, but the scene after.

Now, gear.  There are tents, cots, and sleeping bags, not to mention food and hydration systems.  Let’s get this out of the way right now:  these are not TARDIS tents.  They are not bigger on the inside and decked out with all the comforts of home.    Nope, these tents are simple two-person, four season, cabin tents with a vestibule, just like Normal people use.

Though most of overnight tents will be combinations of black and white.

Just like this, though most of overnight tents will be combinations of black and white for tundra conditions.

The reason for having a vestibule is simple:  it’s a place where brooms and backpacks can be stored for the evening and remain out of the elements.  When the vestibule is zipped closed, it makes it easier to get things needed without having to worry about letting in wind and, in the case of these campers, maybe snow.

The cots are ultra light and remain close to the ground.  This way while they fill up the floor of the tent, they’re not so impossibly large that it makes it difficult to move around.  You can be assured that the sleeping bags will be able to handle the cold, either in the middle of Maine in mid-December, or somewhere in Canada in the middle of January.

It looks so cozy in there, doesn't it?

It looks so cozy in there, doesn’t it?

How are they going to carry all this stuff?  Thirty-six liter backpacks, that’s how.

Like these, only without the scenery.

Like these, only without the scenery.

Everything they’re gonna carry–save for their brooms–goes in the packs, and I know what you’re thinking:  how do they get everything in there?  Well, you’re gonna find out about the Compression and Expansion spells soon enough, and for the advanced fliers not in Advanced Spells–*cougheveryonebutonekidcough*–those are two spells they have to know by the end of their B Levels or they’re not gonna be allowed off the school grounds to go camping alone.  Does this mean Kerry knows these spells?  Well . . . you’ll have to see, won’t you?

It should also go without saying that the material is enchanted so it’s stronger, more resistant to cold and wind and rain, even a little lighter.  Now, that doesn’t means that the cold stays out completely–after all, what if you’re stuck with nothing but Normal equipment?  You may just have to rough it, or know how to craft the right spells to keep yourself nice and comfy.

Like I say quite often, writing isn’t always writing.  You want to get little details like these down, then you do your research and get everything together.  This is why getting scenes written don’t always go as smoothly as expected.  Sometimes you really do have to find the things you need to make the things you say sound a little more convincing.