Tag Archives: Melia

Courtship in the Swamp

So what, exactly, gave our Crandal the idea that the neighboring lord’s daughter would want to marry him? Was it merely that he and the girl’s father were on the same side in the civil war and they were neighbors, in a display of lordly oblivion to the actual wishes of the young woman in question? Did she lead him on, flirting with the neighbor boy for practice while waiting for bigger fish to fry? Would she have been surprised, even horrified, that Crandal had the expectation that she would marry him, or would she have known all about it and viewed it with amusement and disdain?

Since Sashira needs to be an incredibly horrible and heartless individual to support plot points, I’m leaning towards making her a heartless flirt with a distinctly mercenary bent. How obvious should it be to others? How oblivious should Crandal be? I think he should be completely oblivious and in full-on courtly love with the girl. It’s just a nastier thing to do to the poor boy. He’s going to be having an irredeemably awful time of it in Smuggler’s Pursuit, though, so why not throw something else at him?

I sometimes think that half of writing this novel is finding nasty things to do to already-benighted characters. The charm of that is in allowing my overactive and evil imagination to run wild. It’s a far safer occupation for that particular beast than setting it free in public, of course, a service for which all the world should likely thank fiction most heartily.

Speaking of the sort of things my diseased imagination has in store for these characters, how crazy will the convoluted form of feudalism on this swampy world make our Melia? Worse, she’s an Amazon, how will she react to women being even potentially traded around like currency in some sort of land-grabbing board game? What reaction will she have to the concept of droit de seigneur? Just in being from Amazon the concept of ‘women’s liberation’ won’t have crossed her mind any more than an American middle-class white man from 1930 would grasp the concept of ‘men’s liberation’ that is just beginning to really take root on Amazon. She would certainly have roughly the same reaction as any American to feudalism, though I do note that some of my fellow Americans don’t seem to have nearly that level of psychic dissonance with other versions of totalitarianism, even though in practical application those forms of totalitarianism have certainly led to essential serfdom for the largest part of the population so afflicted.

Sophocles, and of course Maggie, having had first-hand experience with the American government as a totalitarian system as well as with many and varied other forms of totalitarianism in their long lives won’t be particularly all that shocked by feudalism. While it’s somewhat Trekkie and Whovian of me, they may actually be more offended by arms dealers interfering with the development of the society on its own.

Naturally, Sophocles hates the idea of the serfs being defenseless against the depredations of the nobility, but Melia may not be as horrified since it is only in the last hundred years on Amazon that people other than the Warrior Caste were allowed to own weaponry, as the Warrior Caste served as both army and police force until the Annexation. Having this to look back on in her own world’s history, particularly the essential serfdom – though not direct connection to any one Warrior – of large swaths of her own world’s population, would she disapprove of much about feudalism other than the actual ownership of the serfs and the abuses directed toward women? After all, her grandmother, aunt, and cousin are Warrior Caste and she could have been herself if she’d cared to take that path. I think, given Melia’s choice to refuse the honor, that she would disapprove of the feudal system setting up the nobility as protectors of the serfs even in ideal conditions.

How will Melia react to Crandal’s courtship of Sashira? How patient will she be with his reactions once the full-scale of his humiliation is revealed to him? Melia is a bluff and hearty individual with little time for – or inclination toward – sentimentality. She has a driving urge towards justice, of course, but not out of a sentimental sense of what is ‘fair’ by any means. In practical terms, she has a very set idea of the rights of human beings (and, with a nod to our Maggie, the rights of ‘derivative beings’), and will fiercely defend those rights, but she doesn’t much care for touchy-feely ‘well it’s only fair’. She firmly believes in equality under the law rather than preferential treatment under the law. Feudalism is going to tick her off for that alone, but she certainly has no time for Crandal’s moaning that the girl he’s formed a tendre for doesn’t love him back, nor for his concepts of courtly love. I imagine her reaction to his fumbling attempts to compose a ballad to his lost lady to be more Simon Cowell than second-grade music teacher.

On the home front –

Little Man goes back to school today, and while he was deeply displeased with the idea of waking up at the normal time and getting dressed in school clothes instead of play clothes (easily distinguishable by the presence of ankle-foot orthotics), he does seem to be pleased at the prospect of going to see his friends, particularly since Wednesday is ‘farm day’. Nearly anything can be made palatable by a visit with bunnies and llamas and cows (oh my!).

Teenager actually did his chores. I haven’t noticed any news flashes claiming that hell has actually frozen over.

Himself is still on vacation, so he’ll be at loose ends today without Little Man to play with. I’m guessing he’ll have a nice day watching the Roku – and be bored out of his mind by the time the afternoon rolls around, if not before.

As for me, two days of work coming right up, so I’m hoping for better weather than is currently being predicted!



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Helluva Bang

I started the new year by corralling all my menfolk and lecturing them for a couple of hours. My temper and patience went off like fireworks – with a helluva bang.

Speaking of explosions, I’ve been thinking about weapons systems on my swampy world from Smuggler’s Pursuit. First, it started off as a colony world, so thankfully they wouldn’t be stymied by trying to develop weapons systems from scratch. Naturally, gunpowder would be impractical on a very swampy world, but electric-based energy weapons, a standard in science fiction, would be even more so. A missed shot with a taser-type weapon in inch-deep water might well be disastrous. A flame-based weapon system would be significantly better than that, upon reflection. On the other hand, the weapons of the middle ages would be admirably suited for everyday use, despite the difficulties with metalworking.

Upon consideration, I may have to go with a plasma-based weapons system, though those are as standard sci-fi as electrically-based systems. That said, as in any feudal society, the truly effective weapons would be limited to the nobility and the overall government. It’s surprisingly difficult to successfully hold serfs (or slaves, for that matter) unless that population has no way of retaliating or otherwise rising up against the government, hence our own Second Amendment. Conversely, tyranny doesn’t work very well when the population is armed and can stand up for themselves. That said, men at arms for the varied nobility would be armed, if not so well as the nobility, otherwise the interminable little wars wouldn’t work. This is looking more and more like sword fighting in the street and a lot of oil for preventing rust, with occasional charging dragon knight with a plasma lance. As interesting as that is for a scene or two, it doesn’t work for a civil war that Melia and Sophocles would need to take seriously, but space traders, particularly the arms dealer my Smuggler’s Guild pair are hunting, would certainly take care of the level of technology available for both sides.

I’ve still got to figure out what the ‘bang’ was that set off the fireworks between the two sides of this civil war. Is it a disagreement about how far those genetic modification should go? Is it a normal feudal war about royal succession? I’m preferring a combination of the two. The House Saurian vs. the House Draconis, a War of the Roses, as it were. Now, will our Crandal be young Henry Tudor and Electra (book 3 or 4 in case you’re wondering) Elizabeth of York? I don’t know yet! In any case, if the Saurians are supporters of genetic modification only to the point of a lizardman appearance and the Draconis are in favor of much more extreme bipedal dragon-like modifications there would be an outward appearance differences by means of which adherents could determine sides.

On the editing front, the cover for Wendy S. Russo’s January Black has been revealed and it’s gorgeous and set to be released in January!

January Black Cover Revealed

January Black Cover Revealed

Isn’t it pretty? I’m excited for her!

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DNA and Trickle Down Economics

I’ve been thinking about the dynamics of self-modification, DNA, and genetic trickle down economics. We live in a society that encourages modification of one’s self. If those modifications were made on the genetic level, and those modifications happened to be dominant, what would the population look like in 100 years? 500? 1,000? For the sake of Smuggler’s Pursuit I’m taking a look at that. Granted that the world in question is hot and  swampy with large, nasty predators, what kind of modifications would be most popular in the wealthy segments of the population that would be able to afford to have them done?

Yes, I’m headed off in the lizard man direction. Mammalian apex predator-based modifications would still have fur and nasty dampness to cope with, and exoskeletons are impractical on a wet world.  On this world, considering the feudal system of government, it’s quite likely that only the Lords and their families would be able to afford to be directly modified, so the nobility would tend to be most reptilian, perhaps even to the extreme degrees that I’m positing for the civil war. However, if those modifications are genetic and dominant, we would run into the spread of those modifications through the serf population by means of lordly indiscretions, droit de seigneur, and youngest sons marrying higher-ranking serfs or skilled laborers in guilds.

Naturally, the nobility would keep the much more extreme levels of the modifications, but the genes would spread, particularly over an extended length of time on an isolated colony world. In some demesnes the serfs would be much closer to ‘pure’ unadulterated human, if the lords were particularly moral about taking advantage of them for many generations, in other demesnes the serfs might be nearly identical to the nobility in cases where the nobility’s depredations were pervasive for many generations.

Throwing Melia and Sophocles – 100% pure human Amazon and 100% pure antique human stock with a huge dash of metal enhancements – into this scaly society should prove interesting. Since Amazons are violently opposed to any enhancements or modifications whatsoever, what will Melia think of the relentless ‘self-improvement’ of the nobility and its spread to the serfs? What will Sophocles think of serfs at all, considering his views on the evils of government with too much power over the populace?

In other news –

I have at least one more Beta reader; thank God for volunteers! I may have another, but I haven’t heard back yet. I’m honestly surprised by the difficulty I’ve had in finding Beta readers. I’ve immersed myself in reading science fiction and fantasy since I was 7 or so and discovered J.R.R. Tolkien, Ray Bradbury, and Isaac Asimov, so I’m pretty firmly attached to speculative fiction, which may explain why it never occurred to me that so many people don’t like the kind of fiction I like.  I really want informative reactions, though, so I’ll keep trying!

On the home front –

Little man pulled out another tooth, but he wasn’t upset about it this time. Now, Himself freaked out when Little Man was giggling happily while spitting out blood, but at least it wasn’t the huge trauma the last three teeth to come out were. We still haven’t found the tooth, though!


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Feudalism and a Space Race

I’m working on concepts for the setting for Smuggler’s Pursuit and mulling over the interaction of a Feudalistic society with space travel and trade. It seems to me that it could work quite well, particularly if you look at how modern totalitarian regimes manage.  It would work very well indeed for a Lord with a space station – no run-away serf problem at all.  I’m envisioning the Lords in rural areas using serfs traditionally as farm labor, but those in urban and manufacturing areas using them as assembly line workers, construction workers, and so forth. The usual little wars between Lords would still work even in the cities, as gang warfare if nothing else. That said, I’m wondering if my nasty civil war is between the Lords and the serfs or if I’m going to stick with the genocidal war I had been planning.

I’ll need to make a decision on that fairly soon, as Melia and Sophocles are walking into the middle of this civil war on page one. I’m leaning towards genocidal Lord vs. Lord, since both sides are going to need comparable firepower for several plot points to work correctly. Melia really needs to be just as concerned about one side wanting her dead as she is about the other side wanting her dead. If it’s serfs vs. Lords, she would be considerably less likely to take the rebellious serfs as a serious threat.

I think real feudalism will give Crandal the arrogance, interest in apparently frivolous pursuits, and the lack of experience in some ‘normal’ things that he needs as a character as well. I’m envisioning him as a young Viscount trying  to marry the very pretty daughter of a neighboring Marquess. This helps to shape her character as well, as she’s quite vain and feels that she can make a much better match. Her father is a land-grabber, so marrying a daughter off to a lower-ranking neighbor might serve his purposes.


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