Reading project, week ending 25 Jul 2021

What have I read this week?

Dr Tatiana’s Sex Advice to All Creation by Olivia Judson

This is a nonfiction book about the many and varied ways in which life on earth reproduces, told in the form of a sex advice column. I found it really interesting, and very accessible to read. I would definitely read more by this author.

Even If We Break by Marieke Nijkamp

This is a YA novel about a group of five friends going to a cabin in the woods to play their roleplaying game for the last time. I enjoyed this; the characters are all interesting, and the plot kept me engrossed the whole way through. I would definitely read more by this author.

I Wish You All The Best by Mason Deaver

This is a YA novel about Ben, a young non-binary person, who comes out to their parents and is thrown out of the house. I liked this; Ben is an interesting character, and I really felt for him. I would definitely read more by this author.

The Effigy Engine by Scott Lynch

This is a short story about a group of wizard mercenaries who encounter their world’s version of a tank. This was fun; I liked the world and the characters. I would definitely read more by this author.

© bardofupton 2021

Reading project, week ending 18 Jul 2021

What have I read this week?

The Spider King’s Daughter by Chibundu Onuzo

This is a novel about two teenagers, Abike and Runner G, living in Lagos. I quite liked this. The world was really interesting, even if I didn’t particularly like either of the main characters. I would probably read more by this author.

In The Stacks by Scott Lynch

This is a short story about Laszlo, a young wizard taking part in his fifth-year exam: returning a library book. This was fun, if a little predictable. I enjoyed it, though, and would definitely read more by this author.

© bardofupton 2021

Reading project, week ending 11 Jul 2021

What have I read this week?

The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Killing Vampires by Grady Hendrix

This is a novel about Patricia, a Southern housewife who belongs to a book club. I really enjoyed this; it’s an interesting take on vampires, and the characters were interesting. I would definitely read more by this author.

The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson

This is a science fiction novel about Cara, a young woman who travels between parallel universes. I really enjoyed this. The characters are fascinating, the world-building is interesting, and the plot kept me hooked. I would definitely read more by this author.

© bardofupton 2021

Reading project, week ending 4 Jul 2021

What have I read this week? Sorry, I wrote this and then forgot to post!

Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender

This is a YA novel about a trans teenager named Felix who is attending a summer art school. I really enjoyed this. Felix is a great main character, and it was lovely to have so many trans and queer characters intn the story. I would definitely read more by this author.

Gilded Ashes: A Cruel Beauty Novella by Rosamund Hodge

This is a novella set in the same world as Cruel Beauty. It is about a young woman named Maia who lives with her stepmother and two stepsisters. I really enjoyed this. Maia is a great character, and the plot is interesting. I’d definitely read more stories set in this world

Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain by Oliver Sacks

This is a nonfiction book about neurological conditions involving music, and the effects music can have on people. I enjoyed this; the cases discussed are varied and fascinating and I learned a lot. I would definitely read more by this author.

© bardofupton 2021

Inkwarriors, part 7 (Fiction)

People who weren’t wizards often wondered how they reproduced. After all, you nearly always saw wizards alone, and if you did see two together, they were always mentor and student. One teaching the other, or introducing them to important people, or recommending them for a particular task. You never saw a couple, and somehow it was both ludicrous and disturbing to think of them dating or even married.

People who were wizards didn’t think about it at all. At some point, a baby would appear, and a wizard, or two, or even three or four, would adopt it. (Very few wizards ever stopped to wonder where exactly the babies came from. Those who did were discouraged from pursuing that line of thought.* Babies arrived, new wizards were produced, and that was all anyone needed to know.)

This is one of the reasons that a wizard’s parentage is a complicated topic. Fortunately, no normal person would enquire about it.

Meril, of course, was no normal person, and wondered about it. A lot. Partly this was because she was still obsessed with her wizard, and partly this was to distract herself from the fact that she was still locked in her room. How, and whether, wizards dated or married was occupying a great deal of her thoughts at the present time.

***********

The wizard for their part had not gained any particularly useful advice from their mentor.

“Well, you can’t kill her, she’s an inkwarrior, and that could cause problems. You’ll just have to wait for her to forget you.”

“Don’t you mean them? Not her?”

“No, inkwarriors use he and she. And the way they dress tells you which. You said she was wearing green?”

The wizard nodded, confused once again as to why inkwarriors (and other people in general) wasted their time with different genders. Far more efficient to just have one.

“Green is for unmarried girls and women.”

The wizard sniffed.

“She, then. But they… she’s been thinking about me for years! It might never stop! I get woken up by it! I just want it to stop!” the wizard said wildly.

Their mentor shook their head.

“Perhaps an official complaint. To the head of the Inkwarriors Guild.”

The wizard sighed. How humiliating. They thanked their mentor, and plodded home, mentally composing the complaint as they went. They’d have to involve a priest, as they themself couldn’t write, and the complaint had to be in writing.

Is it really worth it? They… she’s bound to get bored with me eventually, isn’t she? I don’t want to embarrass myself. On the other hand, it’s been a long time and they… she’s still thinking about me, so maybe I should. Or… They said I couldn’t kill th… her, but what about magic? Could I make her forget me?

The wizard resolved to research that last point, because it did not escape them that one possible result of a complaint was that Meril would think about them even more, not to mention anyone else who was involved in the complaints procedure, and, probably, Meril’s family, and maybe the entire Inkwarriors Guild.

The wizard shuddered at the thought. No, magic would definitely be a better solution than the possibility of all those minds thinking about them.

*nothing nefarious. The wizards have an arrangement with distant kingdoms to take in orphans. People think it’s to train as servants, because it is an extremely closely guarded secret that anyone with the right training can become a wizard. It is not, in any way, hereditary. This would be dangerous in the kingdom of Azoudar, were it not for the fact that no living wizard is aware of the facts of human reproduction, and how babies actually come into the world. It’s simply not a concern for them, since something about doing magic seems to take the place of romantic and/or sexual interest – or perhaps they are somehow very skilled at choosing babies who will never be interested in that kind of thing. They therefore accept any child that comes into their life as their own, and so the child officially is. It helps, naturally, that all wizards are extremely secretive.
© bardofupton 2021

Writing project, June 2021

This month’s word is inside, meaning “on the inner side or part of; within”.

It’s a little late, sorry.

————–

I’ve never been inside it. I’ve been up close, wandered around the outside, close enough to peer in its windows, if it had windows, but I’ve never been inside.

Neither has anyone else, of course.

That’s the whole point of it, that you can’t get in. There’s no door, no windows, no skylight or air vent or even drainpipe; there’s just the smooth fluorescing metal of the walls and the peculiar stippled fabric (or what looks like fabric) of the roof.

It just appeared overnight. Nobody claimed responsibility for its appearance, so of course conspiracy theories abounded.

My personal favourite was that it was an intelligence test for humanity. Once we got inside, we’d gain access to the rest of the galaxy, or even the universe.

That would be nice, but I don’t believe it. I’m too cynical to believe in benevolent aliens carefully testing us for worthiness. I think if there were aliens they’d just destroy us to be on the safe side.

My belief is that some rich bastard is messing with us, using their high-tech top-secret inventions to create a buzz. In a year, or less, there’ll be some product on the market using those materials. Or possibly it’s a test of new equipment by the military, but it seems a little public for that.

Of course, it’s turned into a huge tourist attraction. Little stalls have popped up around it, selling food, drinks and a variety of merch of varying quality – everything from keyrings to clothing to plushies. Although I still maintain that a plushie of a building is just weird.

People have tried to force their way in, by drilling or cutting into the walls or roof, occasionally with explosives. Some even tried tunnelling under and then inside.

All of them failed, some spectacularly.

The House still stands, inviolate, taunting. Maybe one day we’ll learn its secrets, but not today, and not me.

I take a final photo, catching it silhouetted against the sunset, and walk away, leaving mystery behind.

© bardofupton 2021

Reading project, week ending 20 Jun 2021

What have I read this week?

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

This is a fantasy novel about a young woman named Nyx, who has been brought up to be the bride of the demon prince who rules her land. I really enjoyed this; I loved the characters and the world, and I liked the way that even though I predicted some of the plot points, it still managed to surprise me. I will definitely read more by this author.

Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee

This is a YA novel about Tash, an asexual teenager who is filming a web series based on Anna Karenina with her best friend. I quite enjoyed this; I found the character of Tash a little annoying, but the book was very readable. I also liked the fact that Tash was asexual; it’s good to see representation for our community. I would probably read more by this author.

© bardofupton 2021

Writing project, May 2021

This month’s word is tall, meaning “having a relatively great height; of more than average stature”, “large in amount or degree; considerable” or “extravagant; difficult to believe”.

This is late also, sorry. So it’s very short.

————–

I always wanted to be tall, to tower over my peers. I thought it would make me feel powerful.

Well I got my wish. It was the usual thing, find an old lamp, help an old woman, the usual nonsense where they turn out to be magical and you get a wish.

And my wish was to be taller than anyone else I knew. Taller than any human had ever been. So they turned me into a giraffe.

And that’s why you should never accept wishes.

© bardofupton 2021