Archive for January, 2013


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Food

World Building logoAs a purely practical matter, food is very important to R’il’noids using their esper talents. These talents are not used without effort. In particular, the laws of conservation of energy, conservation of momentum, and conservation of angular momentum apply to levitation, telekinesis, and teleportation. Although much can be accomplished by counterweighting (moving an external mass in such a way that the net change in energy, momentum and angular momentum are zero) the energy required for esper work is considerable and R’il’noids and the R’il’nai are notorious for always being hungry. This is particularly true of Healing, where the energy used cannot be offset by counterweighting. The rule is “carbohydrates before intense esper work; protein after.” Failure to comply can lead to hypoglycemia (insulin shock) and loss of consciousness. Espers normally carry tubes of honey.

NGC7027Physical meetings of the Inner Council are always accompanied by high-calorie finger food. Tastes vary, but the food usually has plenty of sugar or honey, often combined with fruit, cream and pastry. After a meeting, some kind of rich soup is in order.

Most food preparation is automated, but there are restaurants with human-prepared food, and experts who develop new dishes and the programs to prepare them.

Individual planets vary greatly in their cuisine and the ingredients available. Marna on Riya lived mostly on wild fruit and nuts, fish, and the produce of her garden. Several of those plants (tika berries, haro nuts, pala fruit, frostberries) were later introduced to Central. Falaron (Terraformed form Earth during the Pleistocene) offered auroch steak and roast peccary. Ethnic restaurants from all over the Confederation abound on Central, while the people of Eversummer, where all imported animals died off very early and the native animals are toxic, live mostly on yams, legumes, cassava, fruits, nuts and grains. (They also eat their dead as a religious rite, and Marna suspects that this developed partly because their diet lacks complete proteins.)

Drink

NGC3021, photo credit Hubble GalleryNon-alcoholic beverages include a wide variety of fruit juices and herbal infusions, some with considerable caffeine. (This includes what we would call coffee and tea, both imported from Earth.) Chocolate was imported from Earth quite early, and is used in a variety of beverages. (I know, chocolate is not native to Africa, but the people who followed Jarn found possible food plants on a number of continents.) Milk and cream from a variety of mammals is used in beverages as well as sweets. Of course water is drunk almost everywhere, though in some places (such as Eversummer) pretreatment is needed.

Alcoholic beverages are even more varied. Just about anything with carbohydrates can be used to make an alcoholic beverage, and is on some planet or other. Wine from grapes is probably the most popular among the R’il’noids, and here a peculiarity of their metabolism must be mentioned.

Most R’il’noids have an enzyme in their saliva that breaks down alcohol even before it can be swallowed. Alcohol taken by mouth literally cannot intoxicate them, though most enjoy the complex flavors and aromas of fine wine. In fact, alcohol serves as an excellent fast energy source.

At the opposite extreme some ethnic groups completely lack the ability to metabolize alcohol. One such is the Clan, a starship-based culture spending their entire lives on starships, and making a living by trade. Clan members are notorious for having no head for drink, and can become addicted to alcohol very easily. I have one character from this group, and his taste for alcohol is part of the plot of Tourist Trap.

Quotes from Tolkien

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The first six of these quotes, tweeted from @sueannbowling between January 24 and January 30, are from The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien. Note that the quotes and contexts are from the book, not the movie.

Book Cover, The Hobbit“No dragon can resist the fascination of riddling talk and of wasting time trying to understand it.” Bilbo is trying to avoid answering Smaug’s questions without angering him.

“Never laugh at live dragons.” Bilbo’s thought after he makes a parting joke at Smaug’s expense, and barely escapes with his life.

“It is difficult not to slip in talking to a dragon.” Balin trying to comfort Bilbo.

“The heart is bold that looks on gold.” Part of a dwarvish song. I actually prefer a later verse that lacked twitter-length quotes:

On silver necklaces they strung
The light of stars, on crowns they hung
The dragon-fire, from twisted wire
The melody of harps they wrung.

“Defeat seems very uncomfortable, not to say distressing.” Bilbo’s thought at the Battle of Five Armies, just before he sees the eagles.

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” Thorin’s dying words to Bilbo.

“Don’t. I’d have to do something about it, and I can’t get along without you.” Sue Ann Bowling, Homecoming. Lai to Derik, after Derik has muttered that he’s going to kill Zhaim.

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Religion

World Building logoThe R’il’nian religion is based on “do no harm to other sentient beings, and cause no pain to non-sentient living beings”–and their definition of “sentient” is “intelligent enough to recognize consciously that some day they will die.”

There is no one religion in the Jarnian Confederation, though there are certainly planets which could only be described as theocracies. Many of the religions are based to some extent on Jarn’s Journal, but the priestly interpretations of that journal vary enormously. A fair percentage of the interplanetary disagreements that the Confederation is called on to mediate are based on religious differences.

For instance, quoting Lai (R’il’nian) in Tourist Trap, when he is asking his R’il’noid son Roi (telepathically) if he wants to go along and observe:

from http://hubblesite.org/gallery/album/nebula/pr1996038b/web/   Remember the problems we’ve been having with the Kablukolelli cluster?
   Roi had to stop and think for a moment. Kablukolelli was a cluster of stars, four of which had inhabited planets, within a few light years of each other. For some reason he had never fully understood, the cluster had proven a magnet for extremist groups. Each of the four inhabited systems had been settled and entered the Confederation separately, so Lai had the right to force arbitration of their differences—which were considerable.
At least you can do something, he thought. Not like Goodnews, where it’s all internal affairs. What’s the problem this time?
Funeral customs, his father replied wearily.
Like the people on Eversummer eating their dead? Roi asked. Marna said they’re very reverent about it; they just figure that something’s going to eat the body, and the most honorable stomachs are those of the family. Cremation’s next best, but they do not like it. He remembered what Marna had told him of the token funerals for the epidemic victims.
Right, Lai said. The Kailonites do that, too. The J’koan consider that the only reverent way to treat the bodies of the dead is to give them back to the soil of the planet, the Folaanni go for cremation and the Lirrilo feed the flesh to a local water animal, tan the skins, and mount the skins and skeletons to keep in their homes. They all treat the bodies with reverence, and mourn for their departed friends and relatives. But the residents of each planet look at the other three planets and think sacrilege, abomination, and disrespect for the dead. Traders and embassies have been attacked, and it’ll turn into a holy war if it isn’t stopped. So I’m going to have to go out there physically and force a little sense into their heads.”

Star-forming region, s106 (Hubble)(The R’il’nai, by the way, teleported the dead bodies of their people into the local sun.)

Goodnews? That’s a group that entered the Confederation as a single entity, so the Confederation can not force them to accept Confederation arbitration. Religious disagreements are rapidly escalating toward civil war.

Culture

Again, there is a great deal of variation from planet to planet, and the variation of cultures (and particularly of sexual mores) provides some of the tension in my fiction. One of the requirements for acceptance into the Confederation is that any free person is free to emigrate. However, planets may set any limits they want on immigration. There are generally several new colonies eager to take immigrants, but the more desirable ones may require substantial premiums. Planets are encouraged to set limits to population, the limit depending on the ecology of the planet. For most planets, the limit is around a billion. They’d consider the Earth’s population totally unsustainable on a time scale of millennia.

V838Central, the administrative capitol of the Confederation, has a society in which slavery is accepted, but slaves are entertainment rather than labor. (Computer extensions provide most of the labor.) Anything goes sexually as long as pregnancy is impossible (and most citizens and all slaves are reversibly sterilized before puberty.) However, before the sterilization can be reversed, the couple planning pregnancy must demonstrate that they can and will care properly for the child. Citizenship is not automatic, but depends on the demonstration of a useful skill, and only citizens can reproduce. Although there is no legal protection for slaves, there is also no prejudice against freed slaves, who can become citizens.

The rules are a little different for R’il’noids (those with more than half of their active genetic material R’il’nian-derived) or those with enough latent genetic material of R’il’nian derivation that they could produce R’il’noid offspring. R’il’noids are relatively rare and desperately needed, and the Genetics Board exists to encourage matings that might produce R’il’noids with the needed traits (primarily conditional precognition and the ability to recognize Maung parasitisation.) Unfortunately they tend to rely on an objective measure, the Çeren index, which measures the raw fraction of active R’il’nian genes, but not what they code for.

At any rate, they can and do encourage matings that they feel are genetically desirable regardless of whether the people involved like each other. Many children of these matings are reared by foster parents, but these are carefully selected and generally have demonstrated ability to rear children successfully. The majority of R’il’noids are sterile or have very low fertility, so there is generally no shortage of foster parents. In other cases one or both parents assist in rearing the child. In any event there is no financial hardship in rearing a R’il’noid child; the costs are assumed by the Confederation.

Hubble1Roi’s friend Coryn is a good example of this. His mother, Vara, really wanted no part of his father, Derik, but the genetics Board insisted. Derik was nearly sterile and is very fond of Coryn, but Coryn rarely gets a chance to see both parents at the same time. In this case he feels loved by both and they are careful not to fight over him, but he wishes they’d get together.

Pure R’il’nian women were generally fertile at a far longer interval than the time necessary to rear a child to adulthood, and actually considered it immoral to have more than one child by the same father. But a couple normally stayed together long enough to rear their child to full independence. Part of the sexual mores of Central are derived from this pattern, and both serial monogamy (the R’il’nian pattern) and group marriage are common, as are short-term liaisons strictly to produce a child and test-tube fertilization.  (At least prior to Marna’s work.)

One peculiarity of Central society may be noted: ideas of modesty revolve around the perception that hiding a part of the body (for reasons other than protection) draws attention to it. Thus they would regard our swimming suits, for instance, as being extremely indecent, while nudity is quite acceptable for swimming unless the water is cold enough that some thermal protection is needed..

Even a relatively small fraction of R’il’nian genes is enough to prohibit slavery, and the abolition of slavery is a hotly debated topic. By the time Roi is grown, the Inner Council for the Jarnian Confederation is generally against slavery, but they have absolutely no authority over the rest of Central. It is the elected representatives of Central who must make that decision.

Holidays

There are an enormous number of religious holidays, but these vary with religion. There are, however, secular celebrations tied to the calendars.

Both Riya and Central use calendars that start with the northward equinox. The lengths of their years and days were similar but not identical in length to Earth’s or to each other’s. The Central year was slightly more than 364 Central days, and was made up of 12 30-day months plus four days outside the months: Yearday (northward equinox), Northday (northern solstice), Feastday (southward equinox) and Southday (southern solstice.) Of these, only Yearday was tied firmly to the solar calendar, and an intercalary day was inserted as needed at the end of the year to keep Yearday at the longitude of the Confederation administrative complex on the northward equinox (vernal equinox in the northern hemisphere.) All of these days outside the calendar were planetary holidays

Each 30-day month was broken into six fivedays. One day of each fiveday was a rest day, but which day varies widely. Probably the first day of a fiveday was most often used as a rest day, as was the case at Tyndall. The school year started the first day of the fifth month, 1 month after Northday. The two school vacations started with Southday and Northday and ran for a month each.

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Species

World Building logoIn order to understand the history of the Jarnian Confederation, we need to be introduced to three different species: the R’il’nai, Humans, and Maungs.

The R’il’nai are very human-like in appearance and environmental requirements, the major differences being that their facial features are set somewhat lower than ours, and their eyes have metallic veining. Most have well-developed esper abilities (teleportation, telekinesis, telepathy, and conditional precognition being the most important) as well as empathic ability (ability to actually feel what another is feeling, including sensory input.) They have an advanced science and an inherited language, but tend to be lacking in creativity. Artists, poets and musicians are very rare, but highly valued. Less obvious is the fact that they do not age, and have an extremely slow reproductive rate. (Women are fertile a few hours per century.)

Veil Nebula, hubbleHumans, at the time of the early history of the Confederation, were using learned language and living in hunter-gatherer groups, really extended families. They had developed a great deal of creativity, mostly expressed at that stage by personal adornment, which they regarded as what set them apart from animals. (This was about 125,000 years ago, our time.)

Maungs were a symbiosis, adapted to much higher gravity, denser air and somewhat different atmospheric composition than Humans or R’il’nians. They were not in competition for living space; a Maung would find Death Valley chilly and with the air far too thin, while a Human would find a mountaintop on a Maung planet a little warm for comfort. They were valuable trading partners to the R’il’nai, with the main items of trade being “spices” (often medical) which grew in the conditions preferred by one species or the other.

Physically, the Maungs were around the same mass as Humans, but much different in shape. The simplest description is an animated six-legged footstool with tentacles arising from a stripe down the middle and between the legs. Some of these tentacles carried eyes, others were grasping organs. Communication was via changes in skin color and pattern, and the central nervous system was within the body, not in a separate head.

There were other star-faring species, but they come into history only through a general agreement: intelligent species were to be left strictly alone until and unless they developed interstellar flight on their own. Aggressive species almost always destroyed themselves in the process of getting to the level of science needed.

Jarn

Starburst Cluster, HubbleA young and rather impatient R’il’nian starship designer, Jarn, designed a new ship and took it out for testing. Being young and thinking he knew better than his teachers, he neglected a few basic safety features. The result? A crash landing on Earth, during the penultimate interglacial, with Jarn managing to get to Africa alive. (His story is being blogged on Fridays, and accumulating on my author site.)

Jarn met early humans, and eventually yielded to the requests of their leaders to share his godlike powers by sexual congress with their female leaders and the mates of the male leaders. He resisted at first, but finally gave in as by everything he knew, there would be no offspring.

Wrong.

They were rare, and many were sterile, but a very few of the People (as they called themselves) began showing unmistakable R’il’nian traits. Jarn had with him a major computer library and by that time was very homesick – could he teach his descendants enough that they could build a starship that would get him back home?

It took over a thousand years, yet not one, but a fleet of starships eventually followed Jarn back to the planet, Kentra, that he called home. By then all Humans carried some of Jarn’s genes, and those who chose not to go with him became our ancestors. Those who followed Jarn were granted a planet by the R’il’nai who, however annoyed they were with Jarn, held the Humans blameless. They did, however, promise the other starfaring species that they would be responsible for the new species that had not really reached the stars on their own.

Early Confederation

Star birth in the Carina nebula, credit Hubble GalleryHumans accepted this guardianship of the R’il’nai for two reasons. First, the R’il’nai resolved disputes between planets. Second, it turned out that the Maung reproductive cycle was potentially deadly to Humans. The Maungs were a symbiosis of an insect-like, highly intelligent nervous system and a mammal-like body with an incomplete nervous system which required the insect-like symbiote to develop intelligence. Death of the mammalian body released the next generation of insect-like symbiotes. Maungs already complete gave off a signal that prevented them from being infected by the insect-like symbiote, and R’il’nians gave the same signal. Humans did not, and the symbiote acted as a true parasite in Humans, eventually taking over the brain. The R’il’nai could detect and cure infections if they were caught early enough, and agreed to do so if the Humans would allow them to mediate disputes

Kharfun Epidemic

Infant Stars, HubbleThe Humans, with their high reproductive rate, began to colonize many more planets, but the system worked until about 10,000 years ago, when a flu-like disease in Humans proved deadly to R’il’nians and many of the early hybrids that were often leaders in Human society. A treatment and a method of immunization were found, but there was a drastic reduction of the already low R’il’nian population and virtually complete death of the early-generation hybrids who often took leadership roles on the Human planets.. There simply were not enough left to act as mediators and protect the Human planets from the Maungs. At the request of some Humans, Human-R’il’nian hybridization was again tried, this time deliberately. The successful hybrids, called R’il’noids, took over the guardianship duties. A governing system developed with two Councils of R’il’noids taking over much of the day-to-day running of what was now called the Jarnian Confederation, though the R’il’nai retained veto power. Individual planetary systems were left strictly alone unless they asked for help (mostly medical or natural disaster related) or attempted to attack a neighbor, and a wide variety of planetary governments developed.

By the time of my first novel, Homecoming, there was only one surviving R’il’nian.

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ice fog

Ice fog. (This photo was taken in the 60’s. That’s my thesis adviser taking microphotographs of ice fog crystals.)

The sun will rise at 9:48 this morning, and set 6 hrs 33 minutes later at 4:21. We’re gaining over 6 ½ minutes a day, now, and the sun’s almost 15 times its diameter above the horizon at noon. The trees out my north window are illuminated almost down to the snow.

January started as a warm month, with an average temperature above zero – tropical for Fairbanks in January. That changed over the weekend, though. I got up Saturday to LL digital temperatures, and the dial thermometer read -50°F. Sunday was the same, except I never caught the digital thermometer reading anything but LL. The weekend was ice fog weather, and I stayed home. The dial thermometer read -50°F at 10 pm last night. As of 8:10 this morning, it was LL and -52°F. The weather forecast was calling for warming today, but I’ll believe it when I see it.

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Since my fiction is set on a number of planets of the Jarnian Confederation, no two quite alike, I’ll describe the most important ones for the stories I’ve published. Two others, Horizon and Rakal, will be in my upcoming trilogy, and T’Kun and Mava are in a barely-started book on the first Kharfun epidamic.

Central

Central, the administrative capital of the Confederation, is an Earth-sized planet circling a very sun-like star. There are two major continental masses, both extending from above the Arctic circle to below the Antarctic circle. Axial tilt is about 24°. The broad climate zones are similar to Earth’s: equator wet flanked by seasonal rain belts, deserts along the tropic of Cancer and Capricorn, rain shadow deserts on the lee of mountain ranges, prevailing winds easterly near the equator and westerly at higher latitudes. Mid-latitude continental climates are highly seasonal. There are no polar ice caps as neither pole is isolated from the oceanic circulation, though there is considerable permanent ice on the higher mountains.

Map of Central

Crude Lat-Long map of Central. Numbers are: 1.Lai’s home 2. Derik’s home 3. Seabid island 4. Rollover Archipelago 5. Tyndal school 6. Jelarik’s home 7. Zhaim’s home 8 Trade City

Central was originally a R’il’nian planet called Kentra. As the R’il’nai dwindled in numbers the larger continent, and then the northern part of the smaller one, were increasingly given over to humans and some R’il’noids. In theory the southern extension of the smaller continent is owned by the R’il’nai, but in fact many R’il’noids have homes there.

One thing the R’il’nai insisted on: a large fraction of each ecosystem must remain natural. Thus Central is largely a natural world, though there are very advanced cities. Most of the action in my novels takes place outside of the cities.

The flora and fauna make up a very mixed ecology. The planet was Terraformed (or rather R’il’n formed) a couple of hundred thousand years ago. Since then many species from Earth have been added, along with a large number from other planets, including Riya. The R’il’nian ability of conditional precognition has managed to keep out those species that would be disruptive. One species, the Akeda, is modeled on the terror bird that was a major predator at one time in South America. These are six foot non-flying birds which are the top predators in some areas.

I drew the rather crude map some twenty years ago.

Riya

Riya, like Central, is an Earth-like planet with Earth-like climate zones. Most of the action takes place on a subtropical volcanic hot spot island, Windhome. (Think Hawaii.) The main peculiarity of this planet is that there are no mountains of any significant height in the southern hemisphere, but there is a continental extension into the extreme north with mountains that are snow-covered year round.

The biota differs from Earth’s. The local fauna have evolved from six-limbed ancestors, with the extra pair of legs evolving into anything from wings to feeding arms. Flora often gives the appearance of branching down into the ground. However, this native flora and fauna has been blended with species imported from R’il’n. (Homecoming.)

One species imported as pets, and surviving in the wild only on isolated islands without predators, are the tinerals. They have a vague resemblance to feathered monkeys with wings. They grow throughout their lives: flying in their youth, but the wings acting only as a weather cloak as they become larger. They are singers with voices much like our musical instruments, and an instinct to harmonize.

Mirror

This planet is in the very early stages of evolving land life. In contrast to most planets, where living things are either all dependent on left-handed proteins or all dependent on right-handed ones, Mirror developed two totally independent ecosystems, one right handed and one left handed. When Marna and Lai are forced to land there, they go to a great deal of trouble to avoid contaminating the planet. (Homecoming.) There are animals in the oceans, including a mass of tentacles with threefold symmetry that Marna identifies as a possible food source, but the land (or more accurately the shore) has been colonized only by algae and land corals in the spray zone.

Falaron

Falaron was Terraformed as a vacation planet around 75,000 years ago, with most of the ecology transplanted from Earth in the Pleistocene. The action takes place around 45° North latitude, from coast to coast of a continent spanning several time zones. From West to East, the terrain is coastal forest, forest-clad mountains, more rugged mountains, a high plateau, more mountains with an apron down to a high scarp, plains with a climate ameliorating from rain-shadow near-desert to open woodland as the travelers move east, a fault scarp damming the river the party is following, a canyon cut by the river through the higher ground, and finally forest with open meadows to the east coast. (Tourist Trap.) Animals include mammoths, mastodon, longhorn bison, small wild horses, a miniature variety of horses in small canyons, and flat-headed peccaries, all real animals which left fossils during the Pleistocene ice ages.

Eversummer

Named (as Marna correctly deduced) by a publicity agent, this planet, though Earthlike in many ways, has no axial tilt and a very low-eccentricity orbit, thus no seasons. To quote from Tourist Trap:

“The planet, with its rotational axis almost perpendicular to its orbital plane, had no seasons.  The poles were bitterly cold, glaciated wastelands where the sun forever rolled around the horizon.  The equatorial belt was an unchanging steam bath, the permanent home of daily tropical thunderstorms, varied by hurricanes along its poleward borders.  The desert belts, inevitable result of the conflict between the planet’s rotation and its unequal heating by its sun, were broad and sharply defined, with no transition zones where the rains came seasonally.  The temperate zones, between desert and polar ice, were swept year round by equinoctial storms, varied only by occasional droughts.  No monsoons, no seasonal blanket of snow to protect the dormant land, no regular alternation of wet and dry seasons.”

Native animals are toxic, and Marna must determine why.

Horizon

Horizon was introduced in Horse Power as a planet recently terraformed from bare rock for stock rearing, specifically for silkies. This made-up species is a blend of cattle and sheep, producing both gourmet meat and a fleece that makes a luxury cloth. They are sensitive to ultraviolet, but Horizon is a low UV planet. For the same reason it has attracted colonists with fair skin, who are also UV-sensitive. The ecology was planned for stock rearing, with no large predators (foxes are about as large as they come) and few native herbivores beyond the rabbits introduced as an emergency food source. Gravity is slightly slightly less than or Earth or Central.

I’m still working on the Horizon War trilogy, but one of the plot points is the disaster that could be created by the introduction of pumas on land and great white sharks in the oceans.

Rakal

This planet will be mentioned several times in the first two books of the Horizon War trilogy, but is only visited in the third book. It is a steam-bath planet, especially near the equator where the action takes place, with jungle, part of which is prone to seasonal flooding. (Parts of the Amazon basin, but warmer.) Sample native animal? A predator the castaways call a One-arm and others call a Kraken. It has a flattened, bulbous body with a mouth and a single long tentacle with poison hairs, and attacks by attaching the body to a tree and grabbing prey with the tentacle. I’ll probably post its attack on January 10, as part of the Year of the Snake blogfest. I may also use a character’s first view of the planet as my excerpt Friday, but I’m still waffling on that.

Mava

This planet is mostly ocean, with only a small land area. Because the settlers realized early that only a limited population could be supported, production of babies was never a priority and a matrilineal culture developed with extended family structure. Recently at war with T’Kun. This planet is a home planet of a character in the Kharfun epidemic story, but all the action takes place elsewhere.

T’Kun

Physically, T’Kun is the opposite of Mava, with 90% land, and only a few saline lakes. It is a very harsh world, and many of the males die young. Partly as a result of this, a strongly patriarchal culture has developed with multiple wives and an idea that every woman should be nursing or pregnant — necessary to keep the population up, as most children die young. Again, only a very brief part of the action actually takes place on this world, but it is important in forming the character of one of the protagonists.

NGC7027This is the last Six Sentence Sunday, but I’ll keep on posting, and link from the new group if it gets going. (Just found another new group with 8 sentence snippets at http://www.wewriwa.com/) Otherwise, follow this blog. We’re in Coralie’s head, and she’s not at all sure about the alien that was on the ship with them.

A Maung?  Maungs on Horizon were bogeymen to scare children.  The creature she’d barely noticed on the ship looked more like an oversized animated footstool with eyes–at least she thought they were eyes–on several sides and on some of the tentacles that rose from the center.  She moved a little way into the jungle, and saw it following Bounce.  It looked terribly vulnerable, with its naked skin shifting colors constantly.  But more dangerous dead than alive?

Not exactly your usual alien.

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Splashed white is another spotting gene in horses. It resembles tobiano in that the pattern is usually crisp-edged, and there is no tendency for the kind of uneven roaning often seen in sabino. Splashed white is more common in Europe than in North America, but is becoming common in Paints.

The best description of splashed white is that the horse looks as if it had been dipped feet-first in white paint with its head lowered. Minimal white markings may not be recognized as due to a spotting gene. The next stage includes a blaze that widens toward the muzzle and may extend up the sides of the head, white extending above the knees and hocks, and possibly a belly spot. With stronger grades of spotting the entire head is often white, as well as the entire underbody, and eventually only the ears may retain pigment. Eyes are usually blue or have blue chips. Splashed white can be confused with very crisp sabino markings without roaning, but sabino-1, at least, can be identified through genetic testing.

I am sorry I have no photographs of this pattern, but it is rare in North America. Even Sponenberg’s photos are of Icelandic horses. Splashed white can be very difficult to tell from a crisply marked sabino without roaning. The amount of head white would be unusual for a tobiano. In general tobiano markings look as if white paint was dripped over the horse from the top, while the white in splashed white gives more the appearance of coming up from the bottom. The pattern occurs and is being selected for in Paints, and is known in Icelandic horses,  Welsh Ponies, and Finnish Draft Horses. It also is known in the Appaloosa.

Splashed white appears to be associated with deafness in horses, though many splashed whites have normal hearing.

Splashed white is believed to be due to a dominant or incompletely dominant gene, though the wide range of patterns produced by this gene makes genetic studies difficult. There is evidence of at least one white horse being homozygous for splashed white. At the present time, a DNA test for this gene is not available. There is conflicting evidence as to whether this pattern is associated in any way with the KIT locus.

Year 5 Day 20

Lake Malawi (NASA image.)The shape of the continent I’m on is interesting, but I have time – altogether too much of it, to be honest – and it seems just as reasonable to study the area around the gather lake. Besides, I might spot some of the People coming to the gather. So that’s what I’ve been doing the last few days, and I’ve spotted three groups coming in. I think one is Lion’s, though I was not sure of the other two.

It’s a long lake, oriented north and south, with uplands on either side. Some of them look volcanic, and I suspect the lake is part of a rift valley. It’s quite a distance northeast of my initial landing site, and even of the waterfall that first allowed me to use its energy to counterbalance levitation. The distance these people cover in their migrations is astonishing.

Today I found a fourth group – Rain Cloud’s. They saw me flying, and started waving and jumping in excitement. So I came to earth and assured them that the three who had stayed behind with me were doing well and that I was well cared for. I debated telling them of WildDog, but at last decided that Songbird and Giraffe should have that pleasure. One of the older men was no longer with them, and there was a child I do not remember, about the same size as WildDog. I assume that means about the same age.

It’s easy enough to teleport to any of the areas I’ve mapped, and I have gathered sweet-smelling sap from trees near the long, salty sea and a rich purple-red dye from shellfish I found in the tideless sea. I have plans other than gifts for those!

Jarn’s Journal is part of the back story of the Jarnian Confederation, the universe in which my science fiction stories are set. The journal to date is posted on my author site.

We’re well south of Barrow, but when the sun rises there we know the Earth is really tilting more toward the sun. A video was taken by the FAA last Sunday, and to quote from the Weather Service Facebook page:

“Residents of Barrow, Alaska watched the sun climb above the horizon for the first time in 65 days, after it set on November 18, 2012. The sun skirted along the southern horizon for about 43 minutes today. Tomorrow it will remain above the horizon for 1 hour and 27 minutes. The amount of sunlight will rapidly increase in Barrow until May 10th, at which point the sun will remain above the horizon for 24 hours a day for nearly 3 months.”

I can’t seem to get the video to show on the page, but click here and you can see the Barrow sunrise.