Fantasist's Scroll

Fun, Fiction and Strange Things from the Desk of the Fantasist.


Defying Gravity

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Or, at least looking like you do!
I’ve always loved sleight of hand and optical illusions, so plans for a gravity-defying room really tickled my fancy. It’s actually an old trick and not more complicated than attaching things to a wall instead of setting them on the floor, but the pictures alone are cool. And, the author gives you some handy hints for ways to make it look good if you want to try this yourself.
Hmm, an upside down room in my house…. Naw, it’d never sell if I had to get out later. But, the idea sure sounds like fun.


Cheapo Digital Artist

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Dog which is in the evening time.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Watery Canyon Yep, that’d be me.
I did this with a free version of a neat 3-d program called Vue d’Espirit. And, I did it all myself! I’ve really always wanted to do this kind of thing, but, well, personal reasons kept me from getting into it. If I showed too much interest, it was frowned upon by someone I cared about, who saw it as a kind of competition. Which is sad, really, because we could have had fun doing this together. Or, maybe not. In any case, it’s something that has interested me and, when I saw this free version in a magazine, I decided to play around with it. Not bad, considering it took me about an hour and I used nothing but free software.


Exercise: Cliche Titles

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

A working title helps me write.
When I was a kid in grade school, I knew I wanted to be a writer. It was the Fifth Grade, in Mrs. Ploen’s class, that I first started writing creatively and recieving praise for doing so. That was the same year that my older brother got tired of telling me about the science-fiction books he was reading and shoved Ringworld into my hands to read for myself. It was, as you might imagine, a pivotal year.
I still go back to the method of writing that I learned that year. Our teacher would write a title on the board for us and demand a story. I’m sure there were minimum requirements in pages or words or both, though they escape me now. That was our only constraint, however, that title. We could make our story into anything we wanted, as long as it had something to do with the title we’d been given. I managed to take “My Adventure At The Circus” and turn out a fantasy piece about a boy going to an underground kingdom of dwarves where he became the fated saviour of their entire way of life. Not bad for a kid in the Fifth Grade. Heck, there was even a recognizable plot. That’s more than I can say for some of my later work, frankly.
I still go back to that technique because it’s usefull for getting me started. These days, I may change the title when I’m done, but using that kind of working title gets me started, which is often the hardest thing in the world for me. This is a method that can work for you, as well. You can come up with a title in many different ways. You can use my very own Story Starter, or you can simply use a cliche. (Here’s one list of Cliches and Weak Phrases by Jessica Page Morrell to get you started, if you need help.) So, pick a cliched working title and then start to write a story. If nothing else, it will get you started writing something, which is the only way to produce anything. If you’re lucky, it will give you a story that can be worked into something for sale. Just don’t forget to change the cliched title to something that works better before you send it off!

So, what are you waiting for? Get writing!


Free German Phrasebook

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

Why is this fun?
Because, it’s an American military German Phrasebook from World War II and it contains phrases like:
“You will be rewarded”, though they translate it to the German for “I will give you money”.
But it also has, “Don’t try any tricks!”, “Don’t shoot!”, and vocabulary for everything from “goggles” to “undershorts” to “a laxative”.
Yes, indeed, everything that a soldier could need to know in one tidy, little phrasebook.

Where was this when I put together my own conlang phrasebooks? Ah, well, at least it’s out there now. Have fun!


3D Storage

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Dragon which is in the early morning.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

StarTrek tech come to life.
It looks like the promise of “holographic data storage” is coming true. According to this article on ExtremeTech, a company by the name of InPhase is releasing 200GB drives that are based on holographic technology this week. What that means is that instead of using spinning media, they use moving lasers to store data in a fixed matrix. Primarily, this would be Write Once, Read Many data storage, which is used as an ultra-safe backup or for special imaging or archiving applications. The drives which are making their debut this week will be available to customers in early 2006. But, that’s not all….
According to this article on Engadget, they have also been working on rewriteable holographic drives as well. (Okay, I couldn’t find that reference, either, but the original link said it was there somewhere.) And, they’re talking about having a 1.6 TERABYTE drive available by 2009.
Yet another example of how science-fiction is becoming a reality.


Review: Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Snake which is mid-morning.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

I finally finished Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell: A Novel!
Though it was very long and not the kind of thing I usually read, it was atually a very good book. Of course, part of the hold up on my end was all the stress of the divorce, but I’m getting so that is my normal state of affairs, if you’ll pardon the pun. In any case, it was a different sort of book which came to my attention thanks to one of the many “Best of…” lists for fantasy literature. What caught my attention, in this case, was the very unusual setting for a fantasy novel: Great Britain during the Napoleonic Wars. The overall theme of the book centered on the rebirth of magic in England as brought about by the two title characters, Jonathan Strange and his mentor Mr. Gilbert Norrell.
I would be hard pressed to layout a single plot that describes the book, because there really wasn’t a single plot that dominated the action. Instead, it seemed to me that there were several stories going on at once that were interwoven. In fact, it was what I liked least about the work. It seemed to promote style over, well, over virtually anything else. Normally, that would spell disaster for me in a work, and may have been one of the things that made this particular book so hard to read at times, but, in the end, it worked. Among the more interesting sub-plots was one involving a Faerie King who steals away the wives of two characters in the book. As Faeries are wont to do in legend, he enchants them and makes their lives a kind of marzipan hell filled with music and dancing and celebrations of a somewhat inhuman nature.
Another story, if you will, is that of Jonathan Strange’s education and his competition with his mentor Mr. Norrell. At first, these two are the only “practical” magicians left in the world, and they are not even aware of each other. Soon enough, though, their lives become quite intertwined. The author, Susanna Clarke, uses the personalities of these two men to clearly illustrate two very different kinds of scholars and magicians. Each man embodies a different view of magic and how it should work and, of course, they are at odds. It is quite interesting to see the ways in which the two men rub each other the wrong way, but still need each other, as no one else in the world understands the things they each do. It is an interesting study of need, compulsion, desire, and, in a strange way, repulsion.

Though this was a very good book, I certainly would not want to make a steady diet of this sort of writing. There were far too many slow points and sections for my taste, but it was worth wading through them to gather up the gems of description and the pearls of characterization which Ms. Clarke scattered liberally throughout.
I reccomend the book to anyone who has read a lot of fantasy and is looking for a new challenge. But, it is certainly not light Summer reading for the beach!


Japanese Typewriter

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Dragon which is in the early morning.
The moon is a First Quarter Moon

A very geeky Friday Fun Link.
Ever wonder about languages that use something other than alphabets or close analogs to alphabets? Ever wonder how those languages are going to survive in a modern world where technology developed for very different languages dominates? Yeah, me, too. I’ve often tried to imagine what a kanji typewriter-keyboard might look like, for instance. Well, now I don’t need to wonder. Thanks to the website Japanese in the Age of Technology, I know what it looks like! This: Japanese Keyboards.

Well, it might not be as “freaky” as my usual Friday Fun Link fare, but it’s still cool, so click the link!


Running Bats

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning.
The moon is a New Moon

No, this is neither a joke nor a trick.
Vampire bats are actually quite agile and amazingly fleet of foot. You wouldn’t think it to look at them, especially considering the fact that they’re bats, for pity’s sake! Everyone knows that bats fly, not run! WRONG!
Thanks to boinGboinG, I present you with Running Vampire Bats.

Enjoy the Freaky Friday Fun Link!

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