Fantasist's Scroll

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


J.K. Rowling’s Birthday

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

If you don’t know who J. K. Rowling is, well, you certainly haven’t been paying attention. She is, in short, the creator of Harry Potter and crew. As a divorced, single mother struggling to scrape by on public assistance, aka “the Dole”, in the UK, she wrote Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone which she sold astonishingly quickly for a first time author. The book went on to become a wonderfully popular hit with adults and kids alike. At the same time she wrote the first book, she plotted out the rest of the series and started drafts of those books as well. Each year after that first release a new book in the series has come out, for a total of six, so far, with the seventh on it’s way.
I know many people who dislike the books for their simplicity or how they handle magic or any of a number of reasons, but, as far as I’m concerned, anything that can get so many kids reading books again, instead of suckling at the glass teat, is okay with me.
And, yes, I just recently finished Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, but you can find a review at my other site, and I eagerly await the seventh, and last, installation of this series.
I was resistant at first, but once I started reading these books, I was hooked. I hope Ms. Rowling will keep writing after the series is done. She’s a good one, even if she does write kids books!
Happy Birthday, Ms. Rowling!


Chocalypse Now

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

Ever wonder what happened to Charlie?
You know, after the whole Chocolate Factory incident? Well, wonder no more! Behold, through the wonders of web-based Wonkavision, Chocalypse Now! A web-comic based on a mashup of the aftermath of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with Apocalypse Now. Surreal and chocolatey at the same time. What more can you ask for on a Friday?

Go ahead, no one’s looking, click the link!


Bionic Arm

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

“We can rebuild him.”
Researchers have hit the Next Big Thing in prosthetics: a bionic arm that feels. According to this article on the Chicago Tribune website, biomedical researchers have come up with an artificial arm that has sensors built in which allow its user to feel. The “fellings” are actually relayed to a tiny computer, which in turn relays the signals to “plungers” in the prosthetic’s harness. These “plungers” stimulate nerves which are interpreted by the brain as being attached to the hand. It allowed an experimental patient to “feel” someone touching the back of his “hand”. The sensors and relays are sensitive and accurate enough to let the patient identify individual fingers and tell researchers which one was being stimulated.
An amazing development that, to me, reads like science-fiction. No wonder William Gibson has all but given up writing science-fiction and slid into general fiction with Pattern Recognition. Everyday life has become science-fiction!


The Island Project

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

This is cute!
While looking for water gardening resources, or an old t-shirt that I can only half remember, or something, I found a fifth grade class’ creative writing assignment called The Island Project. The project was for the kids to imagine themselves stranded on an island and to describe the island on which they found themselves. Many of them also drew maps of their island. The project is from 1995-96, but, somehow, is still up on the web. It’s fun, actually.
And, not a bad way to get some creative juices flowing for a story setting, either. I have often gotten ideas for things to write by drawing maps first. So do Orson Scott Card and Holly Lisle, both successful writers, so it’s not just a fluke or a gimmick. It’s also a bit of fun.
So, if you’re stuck for something to write about, why not draw a map? Or, heck, if you’re not too full of yourself, why not just do the same exercise that the fifth-graders did? You might just be surprised at the results!


Happy Birthday, Papa!

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

Today is Ernest “Papa” Hemingway’s birthday.
He was born in Oak Park, Illinois in 1899. Hemingway snuck off to fight in World War I when he was just 17. He had bad eyesight, so he volunteered as an ambulance driver for the American Red Cross in Italy. Just about a month after he got to Italy, he was hit by shrapnel from an exploding shell. He spent weeks in the hospital and then came back home to his parents in Oak Park.
After his parents got tired of him hanging around, he started writing stories for Chicago newspapers and magazines, and then got a job as a foreign correspondent for the Toronto Daily Star and went off to Paris with his wife Hadley. He became friends with a lot of writers who were in Paris at the time, including Fitzgerald and Joyce and Pound and Gertrude Stein. And he wrote every day, sometimes in his apartment, sometimes in caf├ęs, but he wrote every day.

His first collection of short stories, In Our Time, came out in 1925 and the following year, his first big success, Sun Also Rises. Three years later, Farewell To Arms came out. By the 1930s, he was one of the best-known writers alive. He developed cancer and, in true “Hemingway hero” fashion, killed himself with a shotgun in 1961. But, by then, he was one of the most recognizable people on the planet.


The Write Stuff

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

Here’s a little inspiration from The Writer’s Almanac.
Of course, most of us have heard about the release of the newest Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and the fact that J. K. Rowling made a huge amount of money the first day the book started selling. But, today that, in 1954, the first part of The Lord of the Rings Trilogy came out, The Fellowship of the Ring. It was the sequel to J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, which came out in 1937. Tolkien had written The Hobbit for his own amusement and didn’t expect it to sell well. But, the Hobbit sold well, partly because C.S. Lewis gave it a big review when it came out. And so Tolkien’s publisher asked for a sequel.
Tolkien spent the next 17 years working on The Lord of the Rings. And, since he was a professor at Oxford, he had to write in his spare time, usually at night. His book became increasingly more complicated and, with the outbreak of World War II, he began to write in parallels to current events of the day. Middle-Earth’s enemies were in the East, just like England’s enemies during the War. Eventually, he complicated charts to keep track of everything and his son, Christopher, drew a very detailed map of Middle-Earth.
Finally, in the fall of 1949, he finished his manuscript. He typed the final copy himself sitting on a bed in his attic, typewriter on his lap, tapping it out with two fingers. It turned out to be more than a half million words long, and the publisher agreed to bring it out in three volumes. The first came out on this day in 1954. The publisher printed just 3,500 copies, but it turned out to be incredibly popular. It went into a second printing in just six weeks. Today more than 30 million copies have been sold around the world.
And, according to legend, it all started with stories to flesh out a people and history for some of the languages that Tolkien was developing. Rowling may be the latest “hot ticket”, but Tolkien’s been around for a long enough to withstand the test of time. She may or may not, only time will tell, but, either way, I thought the parallel success stories were interesting. I hope it provides inspiration to young writers out there debating about making the attempt. Not everyone succeeds the way these two authors did, but, if you work hard enough and dedicate yourself enough to your craft, you might just be next.


Microbial Nanowire

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

Amazingly, that’s not science-fiction.
At least, not according to this article on the UMass Amherst News site. Researchers there have found a bacteria that excretes nanowire. Apparently, these are actually natural conductive materials that help explain how these microbes clean up ground water, among other things. Note that the scientists didn’t induce this behavior, but simply discovered it. Still, it’s pretty revolutionary. Could this be the begining of fully organic computers? Maybe bringing us one step closer to a living, self-repairing robot or android? The possibilities are endless.
Especially if you’re a science-fiction writer who’s a little fuzzy on the details.


Reanimator, For Real?

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

Geez, don’t these guys watch B-movies?
Apparently, the scientists at Pittsburgh’s Safar Centre for Resuscitation Research have succcessfully brought technically dead dogs back to life. According to the article on News.Com.AU, the scientists replaced the dogs’ blood with a very cold saline solution of unknown properties, though I suspect it was more than just saline. Three hours later, they put the blood back and gave the dog an electric shock to restart its heart. Apparently, they were quite successful and the dog showed no ill effects. They eventually plan to try this on humans.
I realize this is all about getting a process for suspended animation, but the idea of bringing something back from the dead… Well, I’m sure I’m not alone when I find this a little disturbing. And, seriously, I wonder if they’ve seen Reanimator. Maybe they should be require to before they get human test subjects.

Think about that this weekend and enjoy your freaky Fun Friday Link!

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