Saturday, May 25, 2013

On magic and artificial scarcity (also politics)

Came across two interesting articles today. The first is about the world's oldest clove tree, and how the first multinational company (the East India Company) deliberately limited the market.
"All clove trees not controlled by the Voc were uprooted and burned.
Anyone caught growing, stealing or possessing clove plants without authorisation faced the death penalty."
And then I came across how "according to the Canadian federal Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, 75 percent of the world’s mining companies are headquartered in Canada", and how said companies have sued publishers out of existence for trying to print books on the subject. On this, the internet becomes quite awesome.

It did get me to wondering about how one regulates and controls multinational corporations and at what point their existence clashes with ideas of democracy (though arguably not capitalism, if one defines it as profits before people). And also how interesting such situations can be in fantasy and alternate history/sci fi novels. Trade is important and making such things the cornerstone of a novel could prove interesting, if handled right.

Makes me consider a fantasy world were magic is a minable/renewable resource, corporations and artificial scarcity ....

Sunday, May 19, 2013


The female ogre turned from the fire, tossing the rest of her half-burnt meal to her mate and surveyed Boy with more cunning than malice, which worried him all the more. “The other meal is a feisty one,” she said in a voice twin to her mates. “You will make a better meal while hunger and thirst soften that one up.”
Boy made a scared sound at that, unable not to.
“You didn’t think we’d eat you?” the ogre said, quite baffled.
“I don’t know what you are,” said Boy.
“We are ogres,” she said, though she named them without a morsel of pride.
The male ogre looked up from peeling charred flesh from bone and bristled, tossing the remains of their food into a fire and raising his voice in a terrible wailing chant.

”Oh, an ogre is a monster made of shadow, made of spite
Always in pairs of him and her yet only one is ever right!
An ogre is a creature that slow-hunts and stalks their prey
And among their many features is a desire (cruel!) to play!
Far and wide the ogre wander to seek prey with claws and teeth
If up to you an ogre saunters, death is something of relief!
For an ogre is a nasty beast, steeped in hunger, born of bile
But if made an ogre’s feast you’ll be cooked with vim and style!”

“Must you?” the female ogre said.
“It is our song, my darling,” he said, and Boy was certain the ogre had made it himself, so deep was his wounded pride.
“And if you sing it again today, I may have to kill you.”
“It is my fondest hope, poppet,” he said and they shared a ghastly smile.
“You’re going to eat me?” Boy said, more concerned with that than even how bad the ogre’s song had been.
“Of course!” The female ogre looked considerably surprised. “What else are humans for if not eating? You don’t even have any pesky fur to remove at all.”

“Are you a hero?”
“I don’t think so,” Boy said. “You have me tied to a chair,” he added.
“Real heroes are always in traps. That’s how you know they are heroes,” the other ogre said.
“Well said.” His wife smiled, and her husband drew himself up and smiled back in turn, the moment strange and private, as though smiles devoid of nastiness were foreign to them.
They were monsters, and they were going to eat him, but there was something so sad about them that Boy couldn’t bring himself to hate them. They were ugly, and they knew it even more so than he did and it is awfully hard to hate someone more than they hate themselves.
“Do you want a hero?” he said.
“Well.” The male ogre coughed. “We wouldn’t mind, as a rule. Heroes are good eating. Unless they kill us,” she added as offhandedly as they’d mentioned eating Boy.
The female – Poppet, as Boy decided to call her – let go of his chin and then tugged at the ropes binding his hands, loosening them a little. “You could be a magician,” she said. “We’d never have caught a witch, but a magician can work magic with their hands free.”
“I don’t even know what a magician can do.”
The ogre blinked a few times. “Excuse us?”
“I don’t.”
“It might not be worth eating his brain, Poppet: it seems to be very empty indeed,” the other ogre said with a sniff.
“Quite so. Quite so, indeed. But it wouldn’t matter: a magician is hardly a hero, but it would have been something. The other one just shouts a lot and claims that she is a hero, if you’ve ever heard of such a thing!” Poppet snapped her fingers. “Are you sure you didn’t drop a sword?”
“I had a fox,” Boy said.
“A fox is hardly a weapon,” she said with a sniff. “It was barely even a morsel of food.”
“Scarely an apetizer,” the male said, waving a hand to the remains of what Boy had assumed to be cooked bird.
“What?” he said again.
“Oh, dear.” The female ogre rubbed her hands together. “Maybe you’ll be a hero now? There are so few heroes out this way, you know.”
Boy said nothing. They had cooked and eaten Mr. Fox and the knowledge sank into his stomach like lead. Whatever magic was in his clothing did nothing at all in response to ropes or chairs or ogres. It was hard to hate them more than they hated themselves, to be sure, but in that moment Boy was quite determined to try.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

And then there was today ....

The current version of Boy & Fox is at almost 17K now as Bess, Boy and Reynard Fox reach the outer borders of the Kingdom. The last two major characters -- the king and his son -- will come into play soon and from there? From there we shall see where it all goes. 

I know how the story ends, or at least some beats of it. I don't know how it gets there and I know there's some plot things I need to change but so far the story is holding together. The only thing really slowing it down is that the scenes were Reynard (or Bess) offer up stories about him tend to lead to two days of not writing as I try and make up a story-within-the-story fairy tale. There have been two: I think there will be a third near the novel's end.

Aside from that, I have been able to make use of a little of the 66 pages I hand-wrote in Italy.  From it, a poem-thing I will not be able to use:
I have not walked beneath the hills
Where man nor iron dwells,
Nor seen the clash of sun-drenched wills
Twixt angels fair and fell.
I have not seen a dream lord's snare
Hold fast a night-borne bane,
Nor seen a sword of blood rent bare
Or felt a mist-gods tears as rain.
But I have followed the empty songs
Of nameless children in the Waste,
And held to duty weighted of wrongs
And truth still bitter to the taste.
I have walked paths long left untrod
To tame a dragon's searing flame,
And followed dreams and death where led
To shoulder love – and loss – and blame.
... and yes, even in that version of the story, I have no clue why I put it in :p