Writing project, August 2019

This month’s word is pocket, meaning “a shaped piece of fabric attached inside or outside a garment and forming a pouch used especially for carrying small articles” or “any pouchlike receptacle, compartment, hollow, or cavity”.

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[start of file]

I put pockets in everything. Not just clothes, but in the sofa, in my mattress, in the curtains. I’m obsessed with them. It’s kind of like a magic trick: anything could be in there.

I like to fill them with random objects that I come across. Right now I have the following items in my right sofa pocket: a small pair of scissors, a penny, and two packs of chewing gum.

I spend a lot of time on my pockets: perfecting the size and shape, experimenting with different materials, trying out different types of closures. My favourite pocket at the moment is big enough to get my entire hand in up to the wrist, made of suede, and closes with a popper. It’s a curtain pocket, so I have to be careful what I put in it, otherwise it drags the curtain down on that side.

I spend a lot of time thinking about pockets, is what I’m saying. So it was inevitable that once I heard about the concept of pocket dimensions I would become obsessed with them. I kept wondering if it would be possible to put one into an actual pocket, so that you had infinite storage. Retrieval would be an issue, of course, but consider the possibilities!

I had many sleepless nights thinking about it. I repeatedly contacted cosmologists, astronomers and physicists with queries, to the extent that I’m banned from every university in the country. I tried, and failed, to create one on my own, but I did successfully cause a massive explosion, and that is why I’m now writing you from a secret government facility. It turns out that I somehow invented a new kind of explosive. Not as cool as a new pocket, or a workable pocket dimension, of course, but pretty good for someone who is entirely self-taught.

I will put this note in the portable waterproof, fireproof, unshreddable pocket and drop it in the bin so you can retrieve it from the incinerator, as arranged. This message will be the last; they’re moving me elsewhere tomorrow.

I hope all is well with you, and say hi to everyone for me. Don’t worry, I’ll be fine. After all, they need me.

[end of file: text found on desk of [redacted] at [redacted] after sudden cardiac arrest. “pocket” referenced could not be found.]

© bardofupton 2019

Reading project, week ending 25 Aug 2019

What have I read this week?

The Flowers of Vashnoi by Lois McMaster Bujold

This is a science fiction novella about a woman named Ekaterin, who is working on a project to use insects to decontaminate a radioactive zone. This is part of the Vorkosigan series. I enjoyed this; I thought it was a good addition to the series.

Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

This is a fantasy novel about a girl called Amani who lives in a poor desert town and is desperate to escape. I quite enjoyed this. I liked the characters, and the story and world are interesting.

© bardofupton 2019

Reading project, week ending 18 Aug 2019

What have I read this week?

Sorry for late posting!

Prudence and Imprudence by Gail Carriger

These are the first two books of The Custard Protocol. They follow the adventures of a young woman called Prudence, and it’s set during the Victorian era, but with vampires, werewolves and steampunk. I liked the characters and the stories were interesting. I enjoyed this and would definitely read more in this series.

The Prisoner of Limnos by Lois McMaster Bujold

This is a fantasy novella, the sixth book in the Penric and Desdemona series. It follows Penric, a sorceror and priest, and Nikys, the woman he’s in love with. I enjoyed this. I like the characters and the world. I would definitely read more in the series.

Vox by Christina Dalcher

This is a science fiction novel about a woman named Jean living in an America where fundamentalist Christians have taken over and women are restricted to speaking no more than 100 words a day. I found this kind of horrifying, because it goes into a lot of detail about exactly how it could happen. I did think it was a good book, though.

© bardofupton 2019

Reading project, week ending 11 Aug 2019

What have I read this week?

Everless by Sara Holland

This is a fantasy novel about a young woman called Jules who lives in a kingdom where people can sell or buy time by giving or taking blood. I quite enjoyed this, although it was fairly obvious that Jules was trusting all the wrong people and jumping to all the wrong conclusions quite early on. I do want to read the next one, though.

Small World by Matt Beaumont

This is a novel following many different people who are all connected in some way. I didn’t like it and didn’t finish it. I found all the characters pretty unpleasant and didn’t really care about them.

Junkyard (a Fractured Stars novella) by Lindsay Buroker

This is a science fiction novella about a woman named McCall who is a ship’s captain and skip tracer. I enjoyed this: the characters are interesting and the story was good. I’d definitely read more in this series.

Run by Kody Keplinger

This is a YA novel about Bo and Agnes, two teenage girls who become friends. I enjoyed this: I liked the characters, and the fact that the story is about friendship rather than romance.

© bardofupton 2019

Inkwarriors, part 5 (Fiction)

Meril moped around her home for a few days, mourning the loss of her wizard, but then had a sudden, inspiring thought. What if they were interested? After all, they hadn’t said no; they’d just pointed out the difficulty of a relationship between the two of them. Maybe she did stand a chance – if she could find a way to contact them again.

She began to keep a lookout for them, once again. She wondered if they were thinking about her. She hoped so, because she couldn’t stop thinking about them.

***********

In the wizard district, behind its high walls, a certain young wizard was thinking about Meril, but not in the way she hoped. They had thought, after their encounter and Meril’s confession of love, that she would forget them. And she had, briefly.

One of a wizard’s powers was to know when someone was thinking of them. Because a wizard’s true name was a secret even from themself, this feeling was usually a vague background mutter wherein someone was just thinking of wizards in general, but sometimes there would be a spike, usually when another wizard was thinking of them. Meril’s obsession had been annoying before she’d met them, causing large surges of attention. This had only intensified since.

The wizard was unsure what to do. The obvious solution would be to change their route, but the path they took through the city was part of the spell they were in the process of casting, and to change it would destroy the work of many months. Also, thought the irritated wizard, why should they have to change their habits for an inkwarrior, of all things?

The origin of the animosity between wizard and inkwarrior was lost in history, but the essential point was that their aims and methods were opposed. Everyone knew that wizards and inkwarriors did not mix, and indeed could be thought of as two opposing forces.

Both wizards and inkwarriors learned the same catechism as children:

What is an inkwarrior?

An inkwarrior writes the real to keep it safe from chaos.

What is a wizard?

A wizard uses words to bend the real to their will.

This chant was the only known point of commonality between the two groups. There were a few who claimed that this spoke to a shared ancestry, but that was fiercely denied by the elders of both groups.

The wizard decided to take the Meril problem to the wisest person they knew, their mentor. Perhaps they would be able to unravel this tangle. Even if they couldn’t, it would be a relief to talk to someone about it.

***********

Meril knew she should be studying, or practicing her glyphs, or doing anything but obsessing over her wizard. She was fully aware of this, but nevertheless she had not opened any of the books stacked in front of her, nor had she picked up her chalk. She had already taken, and almost certainly failed, nearly all of her exams. There was only the most important one left, the final test of an inkwarrior’s skill: mending the real.

She knew she’d fail it. Probably everyone in the house, down to the youngest child, knew she’d fail, but she had to take it nonetheless. After all, she couldn’t make the glyphs, and if you can’t write the symbols you can’t mend the real.

“I wish I could just quit,” Meril said to herself. But she knew it was impossible. There was nowhere she could go, and in any case she had no other skills. She would be an inkwarrior til she died, and she would never get to be with her wizard.

She buried her face in her hands and cried softly. She might as well resign herself to being the unwanted failure living in her family’s house.

© bardofupton 2019

Reading project, week ending 4 Aug 2019

What have I read this week?

Lincoln’s Dreams/Passage by Connie Willis

This is a two-novel collection consisting of Lincoln’s Dreams and Passage. Lincoln’s Dreams is about a man called Jeff who is a researcher for an author who writes books set during the American Civil War. I found it pretty slow, and didn’t really enjoy it.

Passage is about a woman named Dr Joanna Lander who is researching near-death experiences. I found it interesting; I really liked the characters although not much really happens considering the length of the book.

A Map of Days by Ransom Riggs

This is a fantasy novel, the fourth in the Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children series. It follows Jacob Portman, a peculiar as he reunites with his friends and tries to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps. I quite enjoyed this, apart from the ending, which I found a little annoying. I’ll probably read the next one, however.

Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz

This is a whodunnit in a book within a book format. It follows a woman named Susan Ryeland who is the editor for an author of detective novels. I found this a little irritating, to be honest – it felt like it was trying too hard to be clever. I’ve enjoyed some of Horowitz’s other books, but I wouldn’t recommend this one.

© bardofupton 2019