Archive for March, 2014


For the A to Z Theme Reveal scroll down.

Year 10 Day 1

My instruments (those that survived) told me that this planet has a magnetic field, and those same instruments told me that its sun is mildly active. I knew that at least in theory those were the elements needed for auroras. I hadn’t really thought much about it; one hardly expects to see auroras at the latitude where I was living, and I hadn’t been that impressed when others told me about these moving lights in the sky.

Last night I saw them.

It’s the northward equinox, and the People will be here for the Gather before long. I’ve continued to explore the northern continent, though I never know what weather I’m going to teleport into. It’s now half day and half night, and I thought I’d have a look and see whether the animals behave the same way during a normal night as they do during the long polar darkness. I took the bearskin as well as my winter clothes, and wrapped up to watch.

I knew the moon would be a late crescent by now, but I arrived in a clear evening. The stars brightened slowly as my eyes adjusted to the dimming light, and I began to worry about keeping awake.

Then the lights began.

Just a flicker of something that was not stars, at first. Then a green curtain, waving over my head and showing other colors as it brightened. I watched open-mouthed as it came and went, constantly changing color and form.

How can anyone describe this? I wondered at first that I had been so unimpressed when I heard of this phenomenon, and then decided that those who told me of it could no more put words to it than can I.

I wonder how long it will be before other intelligent eyes see this?

This is the wrong place ( Alaska) and the wrong time period (try to ignore the cars, planes, and telephone poles.) And it’s time-lapse, which means the aurora appears to be moving a little fast. But there are times when it does appear to dance across the sky. Jarn’s Journal to date is on my author site.

AZ Theme Reveal

It’s not exactly a reveal, as I said what I would be doing when I signed up. But this blog has themed days: Monday for local weather here in Interior Alaska, including gardening notes when gardens become possible; Wednesday for contexts of the quotes I have tweeted daily over the last week; Friday for Jarn’s Journal, the journal of a human-like alien stranded in Africa some 125,000 years ago and the remote background for my science fiction books. I’m going to keep those, but tie them in with the letter for that day. Saturday I post a short excerpt from my writing (and I’ve finally figured out how to use all of the letters needed) for the Science Fiction Romance Brigade. Tuesdays and Thursdays will be free-form, but can generally be expected to have something to do with science, technology, or my life here in Alaska. Sunday will as usual be a snippet from my books, published and unpublished, for Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday.

For other participants’ theme reveals, click the logo above. I hope you enjoy it.

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Quotes from Andre Norton

All the quotes below were tweeted and put on my facebook pages over the last week. The first six are from Andre Norton.

Keplian cover“Warriors never knew when they would eat next.” Andre Norton and Lyn McConchie, The Key of the Keplian.  Eleeri, eating well before setting out on the attempt to rescue Romar.

“What is within may be greater than what is without.” Andre Norton and Lyn McConchie, The Key of the Keplian. Sometimes places of Power have his peculiarity.

“If there is nothing you can do, do nothing. Fretting wastes strength.” Andre Norton and Lyn McConchie, The Key of the Keplian. Romar, helpless but saving his strength to act, remembers the advice of his arms-master.

Magestone cover“Can we not work together to resist this threat?” Andre Norton and Mary H Schaub, The Magestone. Kasarion (the Alizon Lord) in his first meeting with the scholars of Lormt.

“May these night hours bring us wisdom.” Andre Norton and Mary H Schaub, The Magestone. Kasarion, evidently quoting an old Alizon ‘good night’.”

“Silent meditation in the dark should be free from observation or intrusion.” Andre Norton and Mary H Schaub, The Magestone. Kasarion is convincing himself that his thoughts could not be observed.

“Computers did not have emotions.” Marna is telling herself this about the planetary compute, but it certainly acts as if it were glad to have a living person back on Riya.

Ice Art: 2nd and 3rd place Multi-block

These are the second and third place multi-block winners at the World Ice Art Championships.

Second Pace Realistic: Soul of the Moon. Sculptors Jinichi Nakamura, Japan; Shinichi Sawamura, Japan, Todd Dawson, and Ara Hidenobu, Japan.

Soul of the Moon

Soul of the Moon

Second Place Abstract and Artist’s Choice award: Gone With The Wind. Sculptors Ivan Zuev, Russia; Eduard Ponomarenki, Russia; Aleksei Tugarinov, Russia and Julio Martinez, Mexico.

Gone With The Wind

Gone With The Wind

Third Place Realistic and Artists’ Choice Award: Adventure Book. Sculptors Tsagaan Munkh-Erdene, Altankhuu Khishigdalai, and Enkherdene Ganbataar, all from Mongolia.

Adventure Book

Adventure Book

Third Place Abstract: Emotion. Sculptors Manu Spmgsro, Sithichai Sutapan and Anusorn Sjongsri, all from Thailand.

Emotion

Emotion

The sun will rise this morning at 8:02, and set 11 hours 57 minutes later at 7:52 this evening. Since we’re now gaining 6 min 43 seconds a day, by tomorrow we’ll have more day than night.

But the equinox won’t be until 8:57 am Thursday the 20th! Why do we have equal day and night lengths before the equinox?

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I’ll explain again. The equinox is defined by true sunrise and sunset, when the center of the sun would line up exactly with the horizon if light rays traveled in straight lines and your eyes were right on the ground. None of these assumptions are true.

In the first place, sunrise and sunset are defined by the first (and last) appearance of the top edge of the sun. At the equator, this differs by about a minute from the time as defined by the center of the sun. Where I live it is closer to 2 minutes.

The position of your eye doesn’t matter much normally, but I’ve seen the midnight sun (not normally visible at Fairbanks) from a small plane.

Finally, the atmosphere bends light, especially near sunrise and sunset. Exactly how much depends on the density structure of the atmosphere, which up here tends to produce a lot of bending. The numbers above are based on a standard atmosphere, so it is possible that the day length today is even longer than calculated.

At any rate, it is beginning to feel like spring. We had several thawing days last week, and I am sorry to say that some of the ice sculptures are beginning to melt, especially those with delicate parts. I went out again Friday to get some photos with the sun in a better position, and found a group of school buses unloading children! Luckily most were far more interested in the slides than the sculptures, so I was able to get some good shots. Some still looked pristine; some were slightly melted; some were partly collapsed. Here’s a pair of photos showing some of the damage wrought by the warm weather. Both photos are of “Guardian of the Deep” sculpted by Chris Foltz, Dean Murray, Jillian Howell and Amela Rombach, all of the USA. If you compare the two, you can see that Neptune has lost his trident, and the seahorse has lost a hoof and part of his mane.

Guardian of the Deep coldGuardian of the Deep 3:14:14Final comment: the warm weather seems to have ended. The coming week is forecast to be about normal: partly cloudy, no precipitation, highs in the 20’s and lows zero or a little below.

logo WWW Vet

Sunday again, and time for Weekend Writing Warriors (click the logo above) and Snippet Sunday (click the logo below.) I’m still posting from Tourist Trap, my second published book, and Roi as just told his father that if he doesn’t make the Company quite riding herd on him, he’ll make sure they can’t. The conversation is mental, hence the italics.

I mean it, Father. This trip may not seem like much to you, but it’s important to me. He wasn’t even sure why it had become so important, except that he’d never in his life had the opportunity to do something he wanted on his own.

A long moment of silence, as his shadow shrank on the ground below. If I ask the Company not to shadow you, will you promise to contact me or Kyrie the way you did just now if anything happens that you need help? We can’t afford to lose you, son.

There was a sense of surprise from the craft shadowing his, and it suddenly accelerated and turned away. Thanks, he thought as he broke the connection.

A vacation with his three best friends from slavery and a manhood challenge: Roi is given the graduation present he has dreamed of. Dogsledding, hang gliding, a chance to see Pleistocene animals transplanted to a Terraformed vacation world, horseback riding, sailing … all the sports he has returned to with his recovery from paralysis, and a few new ones to learn.

They’re prepared for danger from weather, wild animals and extreme sports. But none of them realize that Roi’s half brother Zhaim, determined to recover his old position as Lai’s heir, intends to kill them if he can—and he’s decided that the dangers of the trip will make a perfect cover for his schemes.

How long will it take them to realize that the “accidents” they keep running into are more than just accidents?

Tourist Trap, the second novel of the Jarnian Confederation, won first place in science fiction and fiction book of the year in the 2011 Reader Views contest.

Reviewers say:

“Fans of Sue Ann Bowling’s novel Homecoming will not be disappointed with its sequel. Tourist Trap returns the reader to the world of the Jarnian Confederation—to Roi, Lai, Marna, and all of their friends and relations. The author does a stellar job of bringing these characters to life, allowing the reader to not only see their actions but to understand the culture and politics that motivate them. (ForeWord Clarion review)

“Tourist Trap” is a great read for anyone that wants motivation and feeling to accompany the action in their sci-fi adventure. Alien beings and super powers are an integral part of Roi’s story but what makes this novel really shine is the heart. Nobody is good or evil just because that’s their assigned role. Just like in real life, everyone has their own motivations and desires, and Bowling does a great job of letting the reader see what it would be like to walk in the shoes of Roi, Xazhar, and even madman Zhaim. (ReaderViews review)

Tourist Trap (iUniverse, 2011) is available from: Barnes and Noble, iUniverse, and Amazon in dust jacket, trade paper, and e-book formats.

Snippet Sunday logo

SFR Presents logo

Homecoming coverClick on the logo above for information on the Science Fiction Romance Brigade Presents and a list of links to this week’s posts.

I’m continuing with a passage from Homecoming, my first published book. Marna, preparing to meet the last surviving male of her species, has just realized that Humans have the appearance of being “in heat” all the time.

What effect would living with such a species have had on Lai? Marna glanced down at her own narrow-hipped, breastless body, then looked cross-eyed at a strand of wet hair hanging in front of her eyes. Since that first visit to the city, she had simply lopped off strands of hair that got in her way. There was a mirror in the personal care room, but it had been a long time since she had used it for anything but checking for dirt smudges. If the only male of her species was coming to meet her that afternoon, perhaps she ought at least to even up her hair and find something to wear that was a little more flattering than her usual shorts and ragged tunic. She lay back in the scented water, trying not to think, until Cinda finished her gathering. Then she followed the young Human to the house, where she found herself telling the girl how to use her cooking equipment.

“What’s he like?” she finally asked Cinda, over lunch.

Homecoming is available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble and iUniverse.

Year 9 Day 295

I finally have clothes suited for a cold climate!

Between Rainbow’s experience, Songbird’s observations of the clothing of the northern hunters, and a painfully small amount of information I managed to get out of the computer, the two women managed to combine the reindeer hide and a number of the smaller hides I’ve traded for to make me a fitted, furred pullover and a sort of trousers made of furs wrapped and tied around my legs. The major problem with what Rainbow was doing was bulk under the arms; use of the smaller, thinner skins in those areas has given me a tunic that is warm but lets me move freely.

I’ve tested them out with a short trip to the far north – only a short one, because at this time of year, fifteen days after the southern solstice, there is no daylight. Animals are active. I heard wolves howling, and in the moonlight saw a fox, its ears turning like radar dishes, ghosting over the snow. After a moment it gathered itself, dived headfirst into the snow, and came up crunching something. Feeling with my mind through the snow, I found a number of small, active rodents tunneling under the snow, just as the ones I know tunnel under the earth.

It’s far too cold to stay there for any length of time, but if I wrapped myself in the bearskin I could watch how the animals deal with the Arctic night.

Those familiar with anthropology will have noticed that I have assumed that the Neanderthals of Europe wore fitted clothing, in contrast to the wrapped and tied skins assumed by Jean Auel. Well, the Neanderthals were adapted physically to a cold climate. Further, anthropologists are now beginning to consider that homo sapiens sapiens may well have borrowed some technology, especially in preparing skins, from their Neanderthal cousins. I’ve assumed that the Neanderthals were adapted culturally as well as physically to the cold, and that part of that adaptation was fitted fur clothing (at least in winter.) Such clothing would not have been needed in much of Africa, especially during daytime. Clothing would probably have been for adornment and protection from the sun, if used at all, and any need for warmth at night would have been better served by fire, huddling together, or whole hides.

Ice Sculpture

Here’s the first place abstract in the multi-block competition in this year’s World Ice Art Championship. Sculptors are Vitally Lednev, Russia; Marlo Amegee, Monaco, Robert Sparks, USA and Bradley Groszkiewicz, USA.

Heavy Duty Dream

Heavy Duty Dream

And first place in the realistic category. Sculptors are:  Victor Dagatan, James Duggan, Jess Parrish and Angelito Baban, all from the USA.

Maidens of Birch Tree

Maidens of Birch Tree

Quotes from Jane Austen

Here are the contexts of the quotes tweeted  (and placed on facebook) between March 6 and 12, 2014. All but the last are from Mansfield Park, by Jane Austin, which is 200 years old this year.

Mansfield Park Cover“Every thing will turn to account when love is once set going, even the sandwich tray.” Edmond is captivated by Mary Crawford playing the harp, and it seems everything in the room is adding to the enchantment.

“Selfishness must always be forgiven, you know, for there is no hope of a cure.” Part of Mary Crawford’s apology to Fanny when she knows she has kept Fanny’s horse too long.

“A young party is always provided with a shady lane.” A somewhat tongue-in-cheek comment by the narrator on the fact that hot weather is not going to spoil the pleasure of the young people.

“To whose happy lot was it to fall?” Maria and Julia are rivals for Henry Crawford, and both want to sit with him on the barouche box.

“A whole family assembling regularly for the purpose of prayer, is fine.” Fanny’s comment (which brings a good deal of satire from the rest) on the old custom of daily household prayers.

“Every body likes to go their own way.” Mary is arguing for freedom of choice where religion is concerned.

“I think now I made the wrong choice.” Sue Ann Bowling, Tourist Trap. Xazhar is beginning to think that his grandfather is wiser than his father.

Matters at Mansfield coverMansfield Park probably has fewer spin-offs than almost any other novel by Jane Austin, so during this 200th anniversary of its publication I’m going to be pushed to find one a month. This one, however, was already on my TBR shelf and I’m glad I decided to go ahead with it.

The full title is The Matters at Mansfield (Or the Crawford Affair) a Mr. and Mrs. Darcy Mystery, and to be honest there is more Pride and Prejudice than Mansfield Park in it. Edmond barely appears (as a local pastor) and Fanny is only mentioned as his wife. Henry Crawford, Mrs. Norris, Sir Thomas, Maria and the dowager Mrs. Rushworth appear, but the main characters (aside from the Darcys) are Lady Catherine de Bourgh and her daughter Anne, for whom she is seeking a husband since Darcy has married elsewhere.

I’m not sure what the word is for someone who is forced into invalidism by an over-protective parent, but that’s the way Anne is portrayed here. Understandably desperate to get away from her controlling mother, she meets Henry Crawford. From there, the book is a tale of bigamy, elopements to Scotland (3!) murders (multiple) which fall in Sir Thomas Bertram’s duty as local magistrate, duels and general confusion. But my favorite moments are those involving the three controlling harridans: Lady Catherine de Burgh, Mrs. Norris, and the dowager Mrs. Rushworth.

I’ve read two of the other Bebris books (Pride and Prescience and Suspense and Sensibility) and left this one on the shelf because I was turned off by the conjunction of mystery and the paranormal in these two. Half the fun of a good mystery is trying to figure out the clues, and the paranormal adds a deus ex machina feel to the books. This one, I am happy to report, does not fall into that trap and I really enjoyed reading it.

Next month I’ll be doing the A to Z blogfest, and will be reviewing another DVD of Mansfield Park for M.