Reality Bites

March 4, 2020

I’ve been pretty quiet lately. I spend almost no time on social media anymore, and even less time on the various writing projects I’ve got sitting in the fire, of which there are four.

I suppose the reason I write weird fiction is because reality is tough and doesn’t really  give a toss.

So, this all goes back around ten years or so. We all began to notice that Dad wasn’t quite right. He put his beloved, well-used golf clubs in the shed and began sitting in the dark. He was even more irritable than normal. He was neglecting his household chores–something he was always quite anal about. He’d have a thought and open his mouth to say something, and then the thought would drop out of his head and be gone as quickly as it came.

And then mom got sick, low blood sugar, and was hospitalized. That’s when things truly hit home. Mom sent dad to the house to get his insulin so he’d have it there when he needed it, along with a change of clothes. Home is about five miles from the hospital, with only one turn the entire way. What should have taken twenty minutes at most ended up taking five hours.

Dad had vanished.

We were all pacing about mom’s hospital room when the call from the police came in. Dad had been in an accident south of Lima, Ohio. His truck was totaled–fortunately, nobody had been hurt, except for a cistern and a church sign.

Lima, Ohio is about a hundred miles from their house. Dad had gotten lost, and just kept driving in the dark until he wrecked his truck in somebody’s backyard. The next day, I went to Lima to pick dad up from the emergency room. I remember seeing the long line of little rooms all lit up in a long curve of sterile lighting, except for one room plunked in the middle, which was dark and lonely like an island of gloom. That’s where my Dad was. He was sitting there in the dark, deactivated, like R2D2. He was fine except for a few cuts on his face. When I asked him if he knew where he was, he had no idea.

Dementia had come over him fast and hard. As I drove him back home, he peed on my seats.

And then, a few months later, my older sister died. It was a blood clot.

Sudden Death. She basically dropped dead. I think it was for the best. I think she was on the verge of a long slow decline in health. I wouldn’t have wanted to see that.

Cori1As we readied to go to my sister’s funeral, Dad sat there on the bed holding his tie. He said he didn’t know how to put in on, so I did for him what he once did for me when I was a kid. I put my arms around his neck and did his tie for him, situating it under his collar. At that moment, it was like all his power and authority passed from him into me, and I didn’t want it, truly I didn’t. Suddenly I had to be the authority, the man of the house. I had to be the strong one, to manage my mother’s wracking grief, as well as my own. I had to make the decisions.

I had to lead the family.

So, that’s where I’ve been lately, learning to live without my father and my sister. Things are ok. Sometimes Dad comes downstairs without his pants. Some times he’ll eat weird things (like a handful of 22 caliber bullets the other day), and everywhere he goes he leaves a trail of flooded toilets in his wake. We just laugh and try to get on as well as we can. The worst thing is when he asks if my sisters is dead–that’s the hardest thing. It’s always hard.

But, time does in fact march on. Things are getting better. Mom fully recovered and is doing well. I’ve actually started writing again. It’s crap–it’s all crap, but it’s a start. It’ll get better.

It always does.

It always does.

We’ve been at this for what–over ten years now?? In that time, we’ve commissioned a literal ton of artwork from amazing artists all over the world. I created a short YouTube video  presenting some (but not nearly all) of the amazing pieces that have helped make The League of Elder what it is today, a deep, ever-growing mythology of words and pictures.

Enjoy!

 

Bowl Naked: RDG

copyright 2019, Ren Garcia

I’ve created another podcast, this time I tackle one of my favorite films of all time: 1978’s Coma, directed by Michael Crichton (pre-Jurassic Park).

I’ve discovered how much I love to talk–and podcasting give my silver tongue a place to roost, so to speak.

copyright 2018, Ren Garcia

The Hospitalers

October 2, 2017

Hospitaler Logo

Seal of the Grand Order of Hospitalers

The Warrior/Healers of the League, the Hospitalers are an old sect, second only to the Sisterhood of Light in age. They are also the only non-Vith sect to achieve a very high position of power in the League. Originating on Onaris centuries ago, they started as group of fighting valets. They served their Blue Vith lords and were their trusty companions. Powerful fighters, the Hospitallers earned a reputation for their speed and fierceness in battle, they using a strange silver weapon called a Jet Staff instead of usual swords, pistols or axes.

 

At some point, on the forgotten wastelands of some battlefield, the Hospitallers began trying to attend to their master’s wounds. The Elder-Kind having been Gifted with youth and no disease had little need for medical knowledge and almost nothing was known about basic first aid. The Hospitalers, through persistence and practice, perfected techniques in binding wounds, clearing blood poisoning, re-attaching fallen limbs and so on. Their knowledge grew so great that even the mighty Sisterhood of Light turned to them for medical help when it was needed, sharing with them some of their most guarded secrets that the Hospitalers have never divulged. The Hospitalers have always worn black and silver.

There are a number of Hospitaler Sects that may or may not be well-known outside of the Order:

Hospitaler HopkinsThe Hopkins: General practitioners of the medical arts, often inhabiting healing sanctums in cities all over the League. The Hopkins are the most commonly seen Hospitalers. They are expert at most medical needs the general populace might present to them. They are well-versed at healing maladies of the flesh, blood poisoning, limb replacement, dental/orthodontics, hair transplantation and hair colorations, eye myopia corrections, tattooing, 4-D tattooing, and various exorcisms.

Throughout their history, the Hopkins have been targeted by a number of Xaphan Warlords hoping to impress them into service, as the Hopkins are vastly superior in knowledge and skill than the Xaphan Cabalists, who are widely regarded as quacks.

BoblytesThe Boblytes: The most warlike of all the Hospitaler sects, the Boblytes often serve on the battlefield, both in a fighting capacity and administering medical care while the battle is in progress. The Boblytes are well-known and prized for their martial skill. A small force of Boblytes can often defeat much larger fighting groups. Occasionally, their presence alone can prevent or postpone a battle.

Though mostly regarded as the military wing of the Hospitalers, the Boblytes have contributed a number of technical innovations, including the Troutman scanner for measuring blood poisoning and the Veltromax used to keep terminal patients alive until more comprehensive medical care can be administered. They also invented 4-D tattooing as a method for triaging casualties on the battlefield.

KnickerbaumsThe Knickerbaums: Knickerbaums are adventurous and outgoing, seeking to expand the Hospitalers’ medical knowledge through quest and adventure. Knickerbaums are often found serving aboard Fleet vessels, hoping to discover new knowledge and medical techniques.

Second only to the Hopkins, the Knickerbaums are the most well-known sect outside of the Hospitaler order. Their black and silver uniforms and winged silver helmets are often thought to be the standard wear for the sect as a whole, but that is not correct. Their martial skills are also considered to be second only to the Boblytes. The most mercurial of all sects, the Knickerbaums are known to be a bit temperamental to work with, often giving Fleet commanders fits.

EphysiansThe Ephysians: A mysterious sect within the Hospitalers seeking to expand their knowledge by means other than those allowed by the Sisterhood of Light. They are the most reclusive and least seen/understood Hospitaler sect. They are often tasked to test and validate new sciences, including Mentralysis, Anthecary, Bodism and Time Apparent.

The Ephysians are not known to travel much, except in rare situations, and their fighting skills are next to nil.

In their quest for knowledge, they are often said to share information and collaborate with unconventional parties, such as the Hertogs, the Ming Moorlands, the Black Hats and the Xaphan Cabalists.

The JonesThe Jones: A branch of the Hospitalers located on the world of Bazz, The Jones in the modern sense barely resemble the main branch of the sect. They were assembled by the Boblytes in the early days of Bazz after it had been terraformed into a Type 1 world. They are named after a hero of Bazz lore: Darius Jones. With the passage of time, they have diverged away from the Hospitalers.  Their appearance is bizarre, looking nothing like other sects. They are deadly in battle and are masters of fast hypnosis.

It is said The Jones seek a being called Bellathauser, a creature whom they believe to be the pinnacle of human perfection.

copyright 2017, Ren Garcia and Carol Phillips

STENIBELLE–A MARY-SUE??

January 1, 2017

stennibellecoverfinalmockup (2) Front Cropped

Front Cover of LoE Book 9 (artwork by Carol Phillips)

It was bound to happen. Somebody called Stenibelle a Mary Sue.

It’s been over a year since we released  LoE Book 9: Stenibelle. Stenibelle is unique in the LoE series, it’s by far the shortest book of all, ringing in at around 54 thousand words–much shorter than my usual average of 125 thousand (Hey, I write until I’m done, then I stop. I conducted the story I wanted to tell, which happened to be 54k). It’s also the first book in the series told entirely from a female protagonist’s point of view, all of the other stories tend to be  male/female ensembles.

I really don’t like pitting one gender against another, highlighting one while denigrating the other, which seems to often be the case in many books. That approach tends to be extremely polarizing, and, for me, rather annoying. I like Humanist stories featuring positive cooperation and teamwork between the sexes.

 

mary-sue

The original artwork of Mary Sue accompanying Paula Smith’s  “A Trekkies Tale”

A new term has popped up lately, and, like most things people catch wind of, everybody wants to bust it out and make  bold use of it. The term has gotten batted around the Sociosphere like a piñata. The term in question: Mary Sue, mostly in regards to the character Rey in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

 

What is a Mary Sue? The term is loosely defined and can mean different things to different people. Mary Sue first came from a piece of parody Star Trek fan fiction by Paula Smith entitled: A Trekkies Tale, where a 15 year old girl named Mary Sue graduates as the youngest person ever from the academy, joins the Enterprise and quickly outperforms Kirk, Spock, McCoy and Scotty,  takes command of the Enterprise, captures Kirk’s heart, out-Vulcans Spock, and dies a hero for which a holiday in her name is remembered ever after.

So, with that in mind, a Mary Sue is:

–A female character who outperforms all other characters in a given platform.

–A female character who has skills and abilities that are out-of-joint with her backstory.

–A female character who exhibits near flawless traits.

With Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the Rey character seems to exhibit all three of these criteria, though her full backstory isn’t known at this point, and, there’s always the wildcard of “The Force” to explain away pretty much everything she does: Rey could just be the greatest Force user …ever. When reading a book or watching a movie, you usually expect the characters you’re watching to grow and change in some way. With a Mary Sue (or as in her male counterpart, the Gary Stu) there’s no room for her to grow–she’s already perfect in every way. Such a character tends to be a product of lazy or just plain bad writing. In any event, such a character tends to be annoying, difficult to relate to and tends to make some people think that the film has a singular Feminist Agenda, and thus the conversation and frequent use of the term “Mary Sue” today when examining strong female characters.

So, back to my original thought–somebody read Book 9 and thinks Stenibelle, the female protagonist of the story, is a Mary Sue. Let’s take a look at the facts and see if that is the case or not.

A Mary Sue is a female character who outperforms all other characters in a given platform.

I honestly can’t see how Stenibelle outperforms anybody in the story. At the beginning Stenibelle is in prison, for failure and malfeasance of command during the Seeker Affair. She was captured in space, clapped in irons, frog-marched off her own ship by Lt. Gwendolyn and thrown in jail. She is saddled with self-doubt, self-loathing, is full of angst, full of self-pity and, though she, as a fully trained Tyrolese Sorceress, has the skills to escape from her imprisonment, she chooses not to as she wishes to hide from her problems.

It takes a monumental amount of tenacity and self-growth to not simply triumph in the end and conquer her personal demons, but to simply survive. Along every step of the way, her skills are put to the test and she fails as often as she succeeds. She also needs timely assistance from her allies around her, otherwise, she might nearly have been either killed or enslaved. Stenibelle does triumph, but it’s no day at the beach.

A Mary Sue is a female character whose skills and abilities are out-of-joint with her backstory.

S3.jpg

The VUNKULA , provided by her benefactor, Hannah-Ben Shurlamp, is one of Stenibelle’s most trusty weapons

Stenibelle has quite a few abilities that a common person about the League probably does not have, but, these abilities are all consistent with her backstory. She has the exact same training as Paymaster Stenstrom, thus, she was trained for nine years by her mother, Lady Jubilee of Tyrol, in the ways of Tyrol Sorcery. As such, she is able to Fade into the Shadows, essentially, to  turn invisible. She is highly skilled at picking various types of locks. She is a skilled herbalist and chemist, well-versed at creating and using Holystones for a variety of effects and can conjure them at will out of thin air, along with her deadly MARZABLE throwing daggers. Stenibelle is also highly proficient at using the VUNKULA of the House of Grenville, which is a powerful weapon she makes use of quite a bit. A former lover, Lord Geryron of Grenville, taught her how to use it.

 

Given all that, nothing Stenibelle does in the  story is out-of-the-blue or unexpected and is perfectly in-line with her background and training.

And finally:

A Mary Sue is a female character who exhibits near flawless traits.

stenbreaksdoor

An unused piece of concept artwork, by Carol Phillips 

Essentially, this point means the character in question is nigh invincible, needs no help, and has no defects. As I mentioned before, Stenibelle is far from flawless. She is highly skilled, but is hampered by considerable self-doubt and inexperience that must be dealt with during the course of the story. She is crippled mentally and spiritually by past failures, and she needs lots of help along the way to discover herself, clinging to her friends, Lord A-Ram and Lady Alesta, for strength and guidance, and to her benefactor Hannah-Ben Shurlamp for financing and the exotic tools she needs for success. Even Bunged Up into a ruthless, heartless person by over-reliance on bolabungs, Stenibelle loses a brief fight with Lady Alesta–who is a monk, a Pilgrim of Merian. By the end of the story, Stenibelle discovers her confidence and her courage to become a truly formidable and seasoned adventurer, but it takes a long time and a lot of assistance to get her to that point.

 

So, given all of that, I’m not certain what story that person read to come up with the notion that Stenibelle is a Mary Sue. Perhaps he didn’t properly understand the term and simply busted it out in a review to sound current.

Who knows.

Stenibelle is a fully-developed human character exhibiting all the flaws, weaknesses, foibles, skills, potential, endurance and capacity for self-growth that we all have … she just happens to be a girl.

Bowl Naked
copyright 2017, Ren Garcia, Eve Ventrue and Carol Phillips

 

pizzaI was sitting with my wife at our favorite pizza place a few days ago. My wife was bored; I was regaling her with my thoughts for upcoming book projects. She’s not much of a reader, and when I start talking books, she tends to tune out. Happens every time. Finally, after several minutes of fruitless babbling, my wife asked me a seemingly innocent question:

“Where do you get your ideas from?”

And I had to sit there and think about it. Where does creativity come from? Where do ideas and concepts, characters and distant places originate??

After several minutes contemplation, I had to admit I really had no idea or a ready answer for my wife.

THE BUTTERCHURN

LTKILOS2-bloodstein-color-web

Magistrate Kilos of Blanchefort danced in my thoughts for years (Carol Phillips)

Creativity is a very personal thing. Where a person draws inspiration from will differ. I suppose, for me, creativity is a result of everything I’ve ever seen, read, watched, smelt, tasted and felt. For those with a creative persuasion these things stay in your head; you dream and ponder about them. It’s also based in all the things you love, you’ve hated, been confused by, been afraid of … everything sort of stirred together over time like a vat of hot butter in the basin of your brain continuously churned, and then recycled into something sort of like what you’ve experienced, but different. Sometimes these images linger in my head for years, slowly evolving over time before I insert them into my books. Lt. Kilos was one such character. I saw her in my thoughts for a long time, initially a banana blonde, in a colonial uniform holding a gun. Eventually the rough-and-tumble lady from Tusck spilled out onto the page, though quite a bit different than what I’d dreamed of. Things always turn out different once you get to writing.

Other thoughts site in head for only a day or two. That’s just how it works out.

THE WUMALAAR

As an example of the creative process for my wife, I used the Wumalaar. The Wumalaar, in my book series, is a mythical beast that the Sisterhood of Light believe in. They believe that, on the last day of the League, the Wumalaar will come, break through their defenses and reveal all the Sisters’ secrets. The Wumalaar is the one thing the Sisters are afraid of.

I came up with the name “Wumalaar” from a movie that I loved as a boy. I never forgot the name, let it twist around in the back end of my head for about twenty years, modified it a little bit, and wham! I had the name Wumalaar. For me, that’s how creativity works.

Can you guess what movie I got the name from, and what it was called before I modified it?? If you do know, you have one of two choices. A: You should give yourself a rousing pat on the back for having such minute knowledge of `80’s pop cuture. Or, B: You should check yourself into an insane asylum for having such minute knowledge of `80’s pop culture.

Here’s where I got the name from:

 

 

Bowl Naked

copyright 2016, Ren Garcia

 

The League and Fake Sciences

September 7, 2015

Over nine books, I’ve introduced a number of sciences delving into all sorts of odd things.  Of course, I’m not a scientist, and therefore, all the sciences I introduce are pure fantasy. As they are fantasy, I don’t hesitate to make these made-up sciences as bizarre and off the chain as I can.

Here they are in no particular order:

 

GYNOLOGY:

Lady Vendra of Cone, who spent time in a convent on Carina 7, was a suspected Gynologist. (Eve Ventrue)

Lady Vendra of Cone, who spent time in a convent on Carina 7, was a suspected Gynologist. (Eve Ventrue)

The science of maiming, enslaving and killing men is practiced on the dark, remote world of Carina 7. The ladies inhabiting Carina 7 are the descendants of the haremites of the Emperor King of Ming-Moorland. After centuries of being tormented by the Emperor, the ladies of Carina decided to turn the tables to some extent and created a whole science dedicated to enslaving, fighting and killing men. Any lone man who happened to make his way to the stony surface of Carina often found himself an unwilling victim and test subject as they refined their techniques.

Eventually, Gynology became a well-honed and proved science. A trained Gynologist, armed with a host of man-killing weapons, could effectively control men using various scents and an insidious device known as “The Barb”. A “Barbed” male would be enthralled to the Gynologist for the rest of his life, however long that lasted.

The Sisterhood of Light took a secretive interest in Gynology and managed to replicate some of its various tenets. What the Sisters do with this incorporated knowledge is currently unknown.

 

ANTHECARY:

Anthecary is a mind/body enhancement technique practiced on Onaris, particularly in the south Calverland region. Onaris’ majestic Lone Rider Mountain is the home of the Stoutback, a huge, six-legged lizard the locals have (somewhat) domesticated. Those herding the creature, known as Stoutback Shepherds, must do so in the near vertical pastures dotting the mountain’s face. Unable to afford technology to assist them in getting around in this grueling and dangerous environment, the shepherds developed a mind technique called Anthecary which would allow them to “stick” to the vertical surface of the mountain using their minds.  Anthecary also “hardens” their bodies, allowing them to stand upright without having to brace themselves. When the League Stellar Marines adopted the giant S/K pistol as their standard-issue firearm, they adopted the use of Anthecary to combat the deadly recoil of the weapon. “Hardened” in an Anthecary state, the S/K can be safely and accurately fired.

 

CABALISM:

Xaphan Cabalism is a veritable mixed-bag of herbology, home-remedies, quack medicine, folklore, arcane investigation, machine science and religion all rolled into one. Cabalism was the Xaphans answer to the Hospitalers in the League, attempted to treat wounds and other medical maladies using pieced-together knowledge from various sources. Though rightly considered to be horrendous quacks and frauds, the Cabalists did managed to gather some practical knowledge, primarily through seducing and or abducting Hospitalers.

 

MENTRALYSIS:

In the burgeoning field of communicating with unconscious and comatose persons, Mentralysis is in the forefront. Using sophisticated computerized devices known as Mentralysis Decks, one may speak with a sleeping or comatose person as if they were awake. The Gold Coast of Hoban is the home and major research center of Mentralysis.

Mentralysis Archetype chart.

Mentralysis Archetype chart.

A major breakthrough with this science came when it was discovered that within all people is a Sleeping Self (SS) which takes control while asleep. The SS has a unique and independent personality, and may be very similar to the Waking Self (WS) or may be radically different. Mentralysists, through analysis, have determined there are seven types of Archetypical people, depending on how different the SS is from the WS.

Mentralysists have determined that various neurosis due to incompatibility between the WS and the SS can be treated, and oftentimes cured, using Mentralysis techniques.

 

CYBERLITICA:

Given the fact the League is full of people with an excess of spare time, a number of novel fads have come and gone through the years. One fad that took hold and has continued to grow is Cyberlitica, where one fabricates a completely different persona of either a fictitious person or, in some cases, of themselves. Using Cyberlitica, the fabricated “Changling” has a birth-date, public records of their passing, receipts, diplomas from various universities, have taken husbands or wives, and may have criminal records. The overriding goal of Cyberlitica is to create a completely convincing persona. If a Changling happens to make the posts, that is an added benefit. One man, a Lord Sharper of Stillville, divorced his wife after he learned most if not all of her glamorous wealth and exploits were fabricated via Cyberlitica. The Sisterhood of Light doggedly investigates Cyberlitica, and those who have been found to have created a Changling face heavy fines and or imprisonment.

 

BONDARISM:

The city of Waam with an assortment of Bondar-inspired vehicles moving across the sky (Carol Phillips)

The city of Waam with an assortment of Bondar-inspired vehicles moving across the sky (Carol Phillips)

Never underestimate the Xaphans for coming up with crazy sciences. Bondarism, practiced in the city of Waam, is no exception. Bondarism is the notion that the human body can experience accelerated evolution if the body is rigorously stressed by placing it into unusual and uncomfortable situations. Buildings and various vehicles built with Bondarism in mind, have little to no ergonomic considerations, are suicidally unsafe and are impractical in the extreme. However, the people of Waam do appear to exhibit a number of advanced abilities, including the ability to fly and walk up walls. Perhaps there is something to Bondarism after all.

 

TA (Time Apparent)

TA is a form of Time Travel being studied by the Hospitalers. Time travel is a very difficult thing to achieve, though the mechanics of it are fairly well understood. Temporal Gravity  (TG) is the most difficult aspect to overcome, as your TG ceaselessly attempts to pull you back into your proper place in time. Perception is also a very confounding thing to deal with, as time travelers will “forget” what they’ve come to do. (A legendary machine is said to have overcome all these problems, though its existence is in dispute)

An odd solution to the various issues with time travel is called Time Apparent by the Hospitalers. With TA, instead of sending your physical body ahead in time, only one’s consciousness goes. Once in the future, your consciousness will inhabit your body, in whatever condition your body happens to be in. You could appear as an animated corpse, a skeleton, a cloud of dust, or, in some cases, as a group of people if your material has been reincorporated into new life forms.

TA is only effective going forward from your apparent place in time. It has yet to be approved for general use by the Sisterhood of Light.

 

copyright 2015, Ren Garcia

 

 

The Gender Reversal in Fandom

September 29, 2014

I’m not quite certain when it came into my head.

Stenibelle, by Eve Ventrue

Stenibelle, by Eve Ventrue

I think it was about four years ago. I had been thinking about ways to spice up my character Paymaster Stenstrom, the Lord of Belmont. Oh, I liked him well-enough, I was simply looking for ways alter the mood, to change him up a little and create some cool stories. I hit upon the idea of alternate realities and creating differing versions of him inhabiting differing realities. I allowed my thoughts to percolate, I imagined him as a rogue, a robot, a spirit creature of sort some, as an animal, and … as a woman.

A female Paymaster Stenstrom??

Eventually, I jettisoned most of the alternate ideas, focusing mostly on Paymaster Stenstrom with differing female companions, however, the thought of him as a woman stayed with me and I commissioned Eve Ventrue to paint a portrait of her. The portrait was amazing, and with that, I began writing. Three years and a pot-full of re-imaging later, I’m done and Book 9 of the League of Elder series, Stenibelle, is finished and under post-production.

A female Green Hornet and Kato at the Nashville Comic Con

A female Green Hornet and Kato at the Nashville Comic Con

I’d thought that changing the gender of my already established character was a pretty original thought, however, I might be mistaken. Going to all the Cons that I do across the Mid-West (GenCon, various Comic Cons) I see people Cosplaying characters of another gender all the time. The trend seems to have picked up steam in the last few years.

Mostly, you see ladies wearing “female-lized” versions of male costumes. You see lots of ladies dressed up like Captain America, Iron Man, Spiderman, Superman and a host of others, all customized to be tastefully feminine. Some of the female-lized costumes rolling around the cons are quite striking. Occasionally, but not as often, you see men wearing female costumes, the big difference being the men do not usually attempt to “Masculine” the female costume much.

I take this trend to be an embodiment of a new boldness and freedom that I see all over, that these characters (mine included) are for everyone with the drive and inclination to embrace. Did I come up with the idea of a female Stenstrom all on my own, or I did see something at a Con or on the streets and unconsciously build upon it into a realized work??

Book 9 Cover Concept (Carol Phillips)

Book 9 Cover Concept (Carol Phillips)

Who knows. Doesn’t make a difference. I just think it’s really cool.

Bowl naked

RG

LoE Book 9 “Stenibelle” will be available in mid-2015 from Loconeal Publishing.

copyright 2014, Ren Garcia, Eve Ventrue and Carol Phillips

Vive la France

September 9, 2014

French flag

I tend to get a lot of hits on my blog from France. Visitors originating in France rank second only to my home country of the United States in quantity of hits, with Germany being third. Germany makes sense, as I work with a number of immensely talented German artists. But France?? I often wonder if these hits are actual people looking at the artwork, or if the hits are simply products of spam.

I’d like to hope something of my work has touched somebody in France.

So please, if you’re from France, or anywhere else in the world, and you’re a real, living person, I invite you to leave a comment. Say “Hey” or “Bonjour” or whatever else comes to your mind.

Fingers Crossed

RG

Sorry I’ve been away–the Con Season has been a pill.

"Tree of Life" by Ewelina Dolzycka.  The plot of Book II is told in this mural, with Carahil in the center as protector, the Planet Xandarr the object of his protection, and, in the wings, a weeping Maiax.

“Tree of Life” by Ewelina Dolzycka. The plot of Book II is told in this mural, with Carahil in the center as protector, the Planet Xandarr the object of his protection, and, in the wings, a weeping Maiax.

Book II, “The Hazards of the Old Ones” is the tale of Carahil and his quest to save the planet Xandarr. Running throughout the book in the background is the story of the god-turned-demon Maiax and the House of Bodice and the terrible tragedy that befalls them. The story is intended to be a parable of sorts, illustrating what happens when the gods interfere too much in the doings of mortal man. Carahil himself makes frequent reference to the story, using it as a cautionary tale in his own efforts to save Xandarr.

The story goes like this:

In 099989EX, the House of Bodice found themselves beset by demons. Their land in the northern Hala region of Kana went bad and they heard never-ceasing drums in the night. They went to the Sisterhood of Light for help, but were politely turned away. The Sisters did not believe their lurid tales–certainly they were over-exaggerating. (As it turns out, the Bodice’ land was sitting directly over the terrible Temple of the Exploding Head, and the demons they saw were the comings and goings of the Killanjo, the skinless servants of the Horned God who lived there.)

"Maiax Deceives the Bodice", by Justine Marie Hedman

“Maiax Deceives the Bodice”, by Justine Marie Hedman

Eventually, the demons became bold and tried to capture the Bodice and drag them below to the Temple where they could be offered up as sacrifice. Just as the Bodice were being carried off to their fate, a great creature came from the sky. It was Maiax, a god in the form of a gigantic elephant. He had seen the Bodice’ misfortune and had taken pity on them. Fierce and terrible, the demons rightly feared Maiax and they fled. Maiax became the patron god of the Bodice and he defended them faithfully for years. The LosCapricos weapon of the House of Bodice became the MAIAX, a little soapstone carving of an elephant that would summon Maiax himself when needed.

"Maiax in Flames" by Ewelina Dolzycka  Storytellers eventually cast Maiax as a liar and deceiver who personally oversaw the death of the Bodice

“Maiax in Flames” by Ewelina Dolzycka. Storytellers eventually cast Maiax as a liar and deceiver who personally oversaw the death of the Bodice

The problem with this arrangement was that Maiax was violating the Universal Rule of Balance. The gods cannot directly intervene on behalf of man. As a god, Maiax should have inspired the Bodice, provided leadership and offered advice, not directly defended them. In doing so, he brought a fearsome fate down upon their House, and they were all eventually burned alive in the Temple after first having been made to slowly starve and go mad in the cold emptiness of space. Once the Bodice were all dead, Maiax himself was punished by the Celestial Arborium. He was turned into a demon and sent to the Windage of Kind–the hell of the gods.

The Sisterhood of Light realized they failed the House of Bodice. They erected a statue in the ruins of their manor and created the holiday St. Porter's Day in their honor (art by Carol Phillips)

The Sisterhood of Light realized they failed the House of Bodice and erected a statue in the ruins of their manor. They created the holiday St. Porter’s Day in their honor (art by Carol Phillips)

In time, Maiax’ role in the death of the Bodice changed. Over three thousand years of telling and retelling the story, Maiax became not a protector of the House, but a deceiver, a liar, a demon revealing in their destruction who personally oversaw their deaths in the temple. When the Sisterhood of Light created St. Porter’s Day in their honor, they placed it at the extreme opposite end of the calendar as Maiax’ traditional feast day, to separate them as far as possible from their “destroyer”.

Eventually, Maiax escaped the Windage, along with Barr, the monkey god, Ibilex the crane and Mabsornath, the cat goddess. The foursome dogged Carahil as he attempted to save Xandarr and even tried to tempt him into becoming a demon himself. Carahil soon turned the tables on them and reminded Maiax of the tragedy of the Bodice. Still feeling the weight of their deaths, Maiax collapsed in misery. Carahil eventually forced the Celestial Arborium to forgive Maiax and the rest, to give them a second chance. Maiax though, was unable to forgive himself.

The story has a happy ending. Gathering his courage, Maiax goes to the spirits of the Bodice in Paradise to beg them for forgiveness (something he was forbidden to do as a demon). To his surprise, they are overjoyed to see him. They surround him and sing his name. They tell Maiax the one thing they lacked in paradise was him, and that they had missed him. He joins them in celebration forever.

copyright 2013, Ren Garcia, Ewelina Dolzycka, Justine Marie Hedman, Carol Phillips