#HugoAwards Follow Up: Dextrous and Sinister

DISCLAIMER: I still know as much as my pal Socrates when it comes to this and anything else. Make your own minds up, neckbeards!

Well, it’s been a month since my babbling about the Sad Puppies controversy was inexplicably noticed and linked to by someone who has an actual voice in the community, and apart from gushing over how much I enjoyed ‘The Three-Body Problem‘, I haven’t done much in the way of that follow-up I talked about. Here’s why.

Firstly, I am lazy.

But more importantly, as I began reading the various short stories associated with the Hugos; on the SP3 slate or on previous years’ nomination lists I realised that from the ruckus that has been stirred up I had actually expected the various works on offer to be filled with political propaganda from whatever side they were supposed to be on.

To make a long story short: they weren’t. Oh, I didn’t read all of them–frankly right now I can’t spare the money to get a hold of all of them, but I think I read enough to realise that–while arguments could certainly be made for some–if there was a political bias going on it was primarily for or against the author, not the work. And I’m sure you can guess what I think of judging a work by its author.

That’s not to say I believe in ‘Death of the Author’ either, but you might have gathered from the title of this post that I wanted to talk about the right/left conflict that’s been attached to this controversy. You’d be wrong, because that’s precisely what I don’t want to talk about. From what I’ve read at least, I don’t think you can attach the values of the right or the left to the works in question to enough of a degree that it bears talking about: to their authors, maybe, but I’m not interested in being the kind of person who wishes to deny a deserved award to someone whose politics I disagree with, nor foist one on an undeserving fellow-believer.

So let’s dispense with the dextrous and the sinister (of which I consider myself very much to be the latter). And–for brevity’s sake–with subjective notions of ‘quality’ as well. I mean, I didn’t like everything I’ve read either, obviously.

What are we left with?

For me, we’re left with two points that will please no one, because I have one for each ‘side’ as it were.

1. I vehemently disagree with rating, promoting, or detracting from books you have not read.

It’s the point I keep harping on about. I don’t know if the people involved in SP3 (not those who put that slate together, their fans I mean) can be said to be guilty of this; maybe some of them were, but I feel like most would be fans enough of SF literature in that they were familiar with Correia or Torgersen to a degree that they got involved; that I don’t think it would be too naive to say they’d read the works that SP3 recommended. But Rabid Puppies? That seems to be another story, and from what I’ve heard that was what really pushed the SP3 slate onto the ballot. Not to say that no one involved in that was on the up and up, just that it seems more suspect to me.

It’s not that these are sins unique to one side; I’ve heard enough of “vote ‘no award’!” without any consideration for the actual merits of the works on offer, but when there’s evidence that this was what got the SP3 short fiction nominated, can it really be said to be ‘fair’? Legal, yes–I’m not disputing that. Deserved? That’s up for discussion. But fair? I don’t think I can say that in good conscience.

However, then there’s point–

2. 2500 people are not representative of the entire SF fandom.

This is the number I’ve been hearing anyway, from various people–the estimate of who, in recent years, was actually submitting and voting on the books in question. And from what I can make out, these people are also mostly made up of the fan clubs of a certain select group of authors; suggesting they are perhaps not particularly diverse in their opinions.

Again, it’s not that anything untoward happened to lead to that–no one was stopping other people from getting involved, the whole event just seemed to have become more obscure in recent times, but the lack of mass involvement in recent years has been telling. Perhaps the event just hasn’t been publicised properly, I mean–it’s supposed to be like the Emmys for SF, right?

How was this ever going to change, but by some ‘radical’ action? I’m not saying it had to happen the way it did–I would have preferred it hadn’t since so many authors have felt the need to disassociate themselves–but for new life to be breathed into the Hugos, someone had to put them in the spotlight again. And I do think they needed new life.

Another thing I’d note, though I don’t think there’s enough evidence to draw any conclusions, is that the slates for the Hugos (popular award) and the Nebulas (elite award) have been similar, in recent years. Some more so than others, but it suggests there isn’t much difference in the tastes of those deciding on the awards, and why that is could be for several reasons. The obvious is that the works in question simply capture the minds of both the ‘elite’ and the wider public. But then, those ‘select’ authors whose fan clubs I mentioned are authors I’m pretty sure are involved with the Nebulas as well.

I’m probably talking irrelevant BS though, I don’t know.

I guess what I’m saying is, I have my doubts about SP, (and certainly dislike RP), but it didn’t form in a vacuum.

As I meander towards my conclusion, I can see why the awards this year have become suspect, and I can certainly see why so many declined their nominations because of the controversy. Maybe more worthy contenders were denied; maybe perfectly worthy contenders will be unfairly blackened by association with all this.


Before Sad Puppies, I had no idea what the Hugos were. Many people I knew, fellow sci-fi fans, either didn’t know or only knew about it in a vague way, didn’t understand that it was open for popular vote or didn’t know it was any different to any other myriad of awards that exist out there.

That’s changed now, and I hope enough attention has been drawn to the awards that if those on either side calling up their fan-mobs to ‘stuff the ballot boxes’ appear next year, the number of true sci-fi aficionados who are now interested enough to get involved will offset those simply following-the-leader, and produce a truly representative ballot.

As a natural cynic, I’m not getting my hopes up, but who knows? Maybe I’ll even be adding my own voice to the mix next year?

Or maybe I’ll just keep reading YA trash and laughing at it.

(Hey, I read ‘The Three-Body Problem‘! Surely I’ve challenged myself enough for one year!)


Article 5: Are You Going To Scarborough Fair? (Part II)

PART TWO of my Article 5 Commentary. Part One is here: https://racheliliffe.wordpress.com/2015/05/28/article-5-are-you-going-to-scarborough-fair-part-i/

Chapter Nine

Half way through!

Chase believes the ratter-outer to be a guy called Tucker Morris, one of the arrester-Embers from Chapter One who she scratched in the face. He explains their history together, how they met in basic training and Tucker was rebellious and a troublemaker; which makes Ember immediately think that she may have had the wrong opinion of him, and start to form a more favourable one of him than she has of Chase!

That’s gratitude for you!

Anyway, Tucker gradually got crazier and crazier, taking his sexual frustrations of not being allowed to see his girlfriend out on everyone else in fighting matches (well, that’s what I inferred anyway) and Scarborough Fair’s administration thought this made him a BRILLIANT prospect for leadership.

No, really.

And so they started torturing him in the hopes that this would help his leadership skills. GREAT PLAN GUYS!

Ember immediately comes to the conclusion that Tucker and Chase were jealous of each other (?!?), weirdness ensues, Chase gets da fuk out, and Ember has another flashback to them talking about how his family got killed in a car accident. She mills about wondering if he’s been faithful to her while being a soldier, and then he returns with some baddies in hot pursuit, of him and their contact!

The contact gets killed while Chase and Ember hide in the closet (symbolism? Chase does get weird when talking about Tucker…) until the baddies leave and Ember blames herself for… existing. What an egomaniac! Chase tells her they may need to consider the reality of the situation, causing Ember to flip out, which apparently makes it the best time for Chase to whine about his problems. Ember is filled with shame—she hadn’t considered that Chase might have problems!

… except for all the times she did…

Then Ember finally remembers Rebecca and Sean, and Chase tells her that Sean’s probably screwed. Maybe Ember forgot about Rebecca after all, because she doesn’t bother asking about her.

Then there’s a huddling together for warmth scene, yay.

Chapter Ten

Chase has a nightmare, which makes Ember feel so sorry for him that she immediately forgives and trusts him completely. What. An. Idiot.

Especially since a second later she wakes him and he tries to strangle her. Like I want to.

Tender moments ensue, and Chase and Ember meander about for a few more days then come across a farmer facing off with some thieves. Ember continues her streak of stupid by getting herself and Chase involved and almost getting a bunch of people shot. She tries to get Chase to stop beating up the thief, until the thief hurts his arm, and then decides to root for Chase instead.

What. An. Idiot.

Anyway, the thieves RUN AWAY, and the farmer invites them inside and Ember complains about the fake name Chase gives because apparently only redheads can be called Elizabeth. I don’t know…

Ember then assumes the family are super-rich because they have a generator. Generators must be the sports cars of Article 5-Land, even though loads of people have them these days and Scarborough Fair is supposedly only like ten years away. Anyway, the farmers say they’ll drive them to where they’re going in the morning, and Ember decides to celebrate her newfound trust in Chase by rifling through his things.

She finds he’s got a ton of cash and a copy of ‘Frankenstein’, which was her favourite novel or something, prompting a flashback to Chase saying ‘Frankenstein’ isn’t girly enough for girls to be reading it. I’d point out that Frankenstein was written by a girl… but I have to agree with Chase’s skepticism in regards to Ember having read it. Or being able to read.

However, instead of the pages of Frankenstein, the book is filled with the deed to Chase’s house and a bunch of love letters from Ember. Wangsting ensues.

Chapter Eleven

Ember gets the feeling that the farmers aren’t as nice as they seem, and we all know how great her intuition is, so she steals some food from them. On the radio they hear about La Resistance, and Ember thinks about how EVIL the government is and how they’d be better off without curfews, and statutes, and no-go zones, and reform schools.

Uh, maybe not without those things entirely, Ember. Just not the ones you have now.

Chase angsts over how if Ember hadn’t gotten them involved he could have just let the farmer’s child get killed, and tells Ember he’s afraid that she’s the only thing keeping him human.

She responds to his soulful confession by saying she’s ‘sorry she’s ruining his fun’.

Ember… just never speak again, okay?

But never mind that, the farmers are turning them into to da fuzz because they heard a random story on the radio that could have been about anyone. Chase tells Ember to go on ahead, giving her the kiss of twu wuv, and Ember decides to turn the generator off to cause a distraction, and they steal the farmer’s bike and escape.


Chapter Twelve

The escape doesn’t last long though, because da fuzz is on their tail (or at least I assume they are, because the last time this happened… well, nothing actually happened).

And sure enough… nothing happens.

Anyway, Chase tells Ember he hit a soldier on his way out, and Ember is worried that this might get them in trouble!


That’s it. I’m coming up with a new shelf for you—we’ve had personality free protagonists in spades, but you are a brain free protagonist. New shelf; make it so!

Anyway, Ember then slaps Chase for no reason, leading to a discussion of their wuv. Chase had been under the impression that Ember had a thing for Sean the soldier, and Ember refuses to tell him otherwise. Chase then thanks her for saving his life by causing that distraction at the farm. What a doormat.

They then come across a pair who Ember knows with her stunning intuition are twins, and the girl twin is ‘at least six months pregnant’ because Ember is apparently also a long-range midwife. Ember immediately dislikes her for looking at Chase, but they kindly point them in the direction of Knoxville; so there’s more of Ember’s intuition at work.

Apparently La Resistance is hanging out in Knoxville, where we learn that Scarborough Fair also hates poor people, because even though he feeds them he makes volunteers distribute the food so he and his boyz don’t have to get too close.

Then there’s a riot and Ember is separated from Chase, and gets picked up by a soldier who knows her name!

(My moneys on the soldier secretly being with La Resistance).

Chapter Thirteen

… and the soldier is Sean!

Huh, didn’t think we’d see him again. Also he’s part of La Resistance now, so I won that bet. He’s in town because it’s where they hold prisoners like Rebecca before trial… right in the middle of the rebels’ stronghold? Wow, they’re dumb.

Sean takes them to a secret hideout, run by a guy called Wallace, so Ember can feel ‘violated’ when she’s patted down for weapons. Wallace has a ‘head shaped like a can’, apparently, so how he hasn’t been caught by now with such distinguishing features I have no idea.

Wallace doesn’t trust them, which bothers Ember, because how dare someone not trust her! She snipes for a few pages and eventually Wallace agrees to send them on to South Carolina, probably just glad to be rid of them. Sean asks after Rebecca and Ember proclaims her a friend, which is rich coming from her, but Sean doesn’t blame Ember for what happened because I guess he’s an idiot too.

Ember feels it’s about time she has a stupid freakout so she and Chase can have a wuvvy duvvy moment, and then she can tell him to piss off as soon as done protecting her. What a bitch!

And somehow this leads to twu wuv again! WTF!?

Then Sean and Wallace reveal that anyone who violates Article 5 is executed, which doesn’t surprise me, but for some reason does surprise Ember, even though she should be used to Scarborough Fair’s crazy ideas.

Chapter Fourteen

Ember throws a hissy fit, and yet it’s only after that that Chase reveals poor old mum has been Dead All Along. What a twist.

It turns out the Scarborough Fair troops graduated from the School of Dumb, and train their men by making them murder their former friends. They wanted to break Chase by bringing him along to the arrest (break him from what I don’t know) and then they ordered him to kill mummy because they didn’t like how he reacted, and said they’d kill Ember if he didn’t.

And even then it was his CO who killed mum, not Chase. Sad tiems.

As you might have guessed, Ember beats Chase up for this, but then realises it’s just what her mother’s abusive boyfriend would have done and stops. Wow—that’s actually a fair comparison in a way. But she still blames him for her mother’s death, what a surprise.

Then Ember leaves the safety of the compound and gets immediately picked up by da real fuzz, who take her off to prison.

What. An. Idiot. I mean, I know she’s in breakdown mode and all, but still, what an idiot.

Tucker randomly shows up to say he’s going to make her clean some floors before they execute her, (the bastard!), and Ember proclaims him ‘even worse than Chase’. Seriously, Ember, after everything Chase has done… you know what, fuck it, this’ll just be a straight recap until the end of the chapter.

Ember and a woman called Delilah clean stuff, until Ember realises part of the prison has adopted the Delirium-Land method of security by way of not having any security, and she may as well leave and give Wallace some info about the prison.

But she’ll need to come up with a cunning plan…

Chapter Fifteen

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Ember and Cunning in the same sentence!

Okay, Tucker has been tortured into insanity and he belongs to the crack troops of Scarborough Fair, so perhaps they’re evenly matched. She asks Tucker if Rebecca’s been executed yet, and he says that under Article 7 of the badly written villains code, that information can only be given if accompanied by sexual assault, and Ember decides she doesn’t care about Rebecca that much.

Then when he locks her in her cell for the night, she realises for no apparent reason that Chase actually isn’t responsible for all the evil in the world, and that she does care about Rebecca that much after all, so Tucker gets a kiss and tells her that Rebecca’s in Chicago, while Ember accuses him of having a thing for Chase, so maybe my earlier remarks were more accurate than I’d intended.

Also, since Tucker’s a moron, he doesn’t notice Ember steal a handgun. But sadly, Ember’s master plan is thwarted by the fact that Chase has now been captured too. Oh noes!

Chapter Sixteen

Well, Chase has been beaten to a pulp, and done so on purpose, ready to sacrifice his life to atone for his many sins of rescuing Ember and protecting her from harm, but since Ember loves him again they can’t do that.

So she pulls her gun out on Delilah, ties her up and walks out the door with Chase. And it was that easy.

Until Tucker comes running up the hill after his one true love, of course. I guess he’s supposed to be the main villain of the book, so that makes this The Final Battle.

Then Tucker reveals it was actually him who shot Ember’s mother, because why not? Are these the shades of Drina and Raven I see before me? Anyway, Ember threatens him with the gun and Tucker caves, letting them go free to join La Resistance without any Battle, what a dumb conclusion.

Chapter Seventeen

An entirely pointless chapter, tacked on to the conclusion for no apparent reason. The End.

Final Thoughts

Well, I’m tallying up the results and it looks like King Dumbass from ToG is still the most competent evil dictator on the show. Scarborough Fair comes in at a close second though, which shouldn’t be all that surprising, given his competition.

Actually, come to think of it, the morons from XIV, while having some really stupid ideas, didn’t do anything that would sabotage themselves nearly as much as Article 5 does, so I guess that puts Scarborough Fair in third. Oh well, at least he can still lord it over the Delirium-landers and ‘Our Saviour Greg’!

Article 5: Are You Going To Scarborough Fair? (Part I)


Condensed Goodreads review here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/739076460

Dystopia, and about time too! I’d come across this one on the lists of several I follow, and a brief overview of some of the shelves it’s been put on marked it as a potential winner! Let’s mosey on down to the Ministry of Love and see what Article 5 is all about!

I only hope I’m not at a disadvantage for not having read the first four ‘Article’ books!

(WARNING: This review contains overuse of a joke referring to the old song ‘Scarborough Fair’, thanks to a tenuous connection with the Big Bad (who never actually appears in the book) ‘s name. The reviewer apologises in advance).

Chapter One

Our heroine Ember is with her homies, Beth and Ryan, who are risking a citation for indecency by holding hands. Ah, it’s one of those dystopian societies.

One which causes the main character to infodump about her unfashionable skirt, apparently, as President Scarboro—henceforth ‘Scarborough Fair’—has decreed by Moral Statute that everyone must wear gender-appropriate clothing, parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme, and without no seams or needlework if they want to be a true love of mine.

… he’ll be another I’m going to be wondering about in regards to how he got into power in the first place, isn’t he?

More of his rules include persecuting the Jews, (always a classic) and other random people, at a rate at which I’m not sure would leave anyone left in the country after a year or so, but it was all because America was getting picked on by…

I don’t know, Canada probably, and installing a ridiculous theocratic dictatorship is mandatory after that. They should have got Our Saviour Greg from The Selection to set them up with a sweet caste system while they were at it.

So, Ember goes home to find her mother reading a cheesy Harlequin Romance of some sort, and the Good Taste Police drop by to arrest her for it. Actually she’s under arrest for having had a child out of wedlock, another thing Scarborough Fair came up with off the top of his head just last week. Mummy tries to protest that she has rights, but unfortunately we were also told that Scarborough Fair scrapped the idea of rights as well.

And what’s worse; the Love Interest is part of the arresting team. Bummer.

Tears and lamentations ensue.

Chapter Two

Ember thinks about the first day she noticed that her Love Interest was hawt, a completely appropriate memory to have as you and your mother are under arrest for you being illegitimate. This is followed by an info-dump about Scarborough Fair banning newspapers and the interwebz, and so Ember can wangst about her love interest, Chase Jennings.

On a bus, she meets up with an acquaintance called Rosa, who demands recognition of their shared English classes and calls her mother a whore. She’s the Bus Expositioner, there to conveniently explain Article 5, and how Ember is now a ward of the state.

This necessitates another flashback of wuvvy duvvy-ness involving Chase and a game of Truth or Dare. The flashback apparently accounts for several hours, after which time the girls end up at a reformatory school, run by a teleporting old woman called Brock who informs her she’ll be staying there at the Pokémon Centre until her eighteenth birthday.

(It’s funny because there was a character called ‘Brock’ in Pokemon).

Rosa tells her not to worry about this, because if you behave badly enough, you can be released early.

Uh, Rosa, this is a world that disappears you for skipping school. The fuck do they do to people who are too bad even for the Pokémon Centre?!

Anywho, Ember then meets Rebecca, who she describes as an ‘android’ because she’s… cheerful? Her parents were missionaries who left her at the Centre when they went abroad just before international travel was banned. Ember assumes they’re dead now, seeing as there was a lot of anti-American sentiment during the war.

Ems, there’s a lot of anti-American sentiment now, it doesn’t mean scary foreigners will kill a yank as soon as look at one!

Then it’s time for breakfast, at which Rosa makes a daring escape attempt!

Chapter Three

Ah, what nice long chapters this book has.

Oh, yeah, Rosa—what’s she up to?

… getting immediately recaptured, that’s what. Well, good, so far Scarborough Fair is beating the other Big Brothers for effectiveness, even if he is a loon. Then she gets the crap beaten out of her, and Our Hero is actually surprised that these soldiers would hit a girl. She also mentions that her mum had an abusive boyfriend called Roy, probably a cousin of Ed from XVI.

But never mind that, it’s time for class, where we learn about all of Scarborough Fair’s crazy rules. Article 1 mandates adherence to the Psychotic Bastard religion (ahem, Church of America, sire, call it Church of America!) Article 2 bans ‘immoral paraphernalia’, which could account for… well, everything. Article 3 says that families have to be one man, one woman, and children, which isn’t really a rule so much as a definition; maybe Scarborough Fair gave up on the Psychotic Bastard religion and started a Psychotic Bastard dictionary?

I’d buy it.

Article 4 says women must be subservient to men, and men must provide for the family. Article 6 outlaws a whole bunch of crap including divorce, gambling, and firearms, because if there’s one thing those ultra-conservative Christians love, it’s gun control!

And Article 5 says citizens must be born within wedlock. Given the skill with which these Articles were developed, I’m surprised they had the brains to count as far as six articles.

Anyway, this exposition is so boring that Ember decides to try her own daring escape attempt, faking the need to go to the loo in order to get access to a phone. But her epic plan fails, due to the phones only dialling within the Pokémon Centre.

Ember is sent to bed without any supper, except instead of being sent to bed she’s punished in front of all the other girls, even though Rebecca points out that that’s against their own rules. Ember sasses, and the ensuing punishment consists of the guard whacking her in the throat and Brock caning her hands.

More importantly, we learn that Brock is actually Judge Dredd.

“My dear Ms Miller, I am the law here.”


So, that night, Rebecca sneaks out of her room, and Ember follows to discover her shacking up with one of the soldiers, so Ember blackmails them to come up with a plan to get her out of dodge. Rebecca tells her she’s a moron, and that the last girl who tried to escape was killed, and it was someone Ember used to know. Dun dun dun!

It’s weird, but I keep forgetting Ember’s name as I write this review… I wonder what I can do to remember, remember, our heroine Ember?


Tell her to speak it with a mynah bird’s caw,

Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme,

And get La Resistance to betray the LAAAAAAAAW!

Then she’ll be a true love of mine…

Chapter Four

Actually, we haven’t run into La Resistance yet, have we? Well, thank Scarborough Fair for small mercies.

Ember harangues Rebecca for more information she doesn’t have, and what with her disbelief that the evil dictatorship is… evil, I suspect anterograde amnesia may be acting up again. Meanwhile Rebecca finds the phrase ‘iron bra’ absolutely hysterical.

The coiner of that shining example of wit, Sean the soldier, takes another two days to figure out a plan of escape rather than doing something sensible, like framing Ember for something and getting her sent to Room 101 (here called ‘The Shack’) like Rosa was. Rosa comes back all zombie-like, and Ember doesn’t even consider trying to help her or any of the other girls. Our Hero!

Eleven days later, Rebecca has taken hold of the Idiot Ball, and insists on accompanying Ember on the first leg of the Great Escape… and then she just doesn’t. Huh. Unfortunately the amazing Randolph, the bad guard, shows up and Sean is forced to resort to the ‘we were just making out’ cliché to avoid detection. Randolph decides to inform Sean that making out is also against the LAAAAAAAAW, and hits him on the head. So much for that subplot.

Rebecca still has that Idiot Ball though, and tries to attack Brock Dredd. She gets knocked out, leading to Ember attacking another guard, leading to both of them being taken to Room 101, where it puts the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again.

Okay, enough with the references! It’s just… this book is so bland so far.

Anyway, before Ember gets the hose, Chase shows up to save her.

Chapter Five

A quarter of the way through!

Chase convinces Brock to let him take Ember out of the Pokémon Centre to be a witness in her mother’s trial. Brock doesn’t bother to check and see whether he’s actually been given this order, as she’d picked up the idiot ball when Rebecca was knocked unconscious. Then when tying restraints around Ember, Chase doesn’t cut off her circulation, making Ember hate him, because how dare he have nuances!?

Later, she sneers at his ability to drive within the speed limit, something apparently only the soldier of a dictatorship could do. But of course, he’s not really working for them because Ember is his fwend. Wow. I totally didn’t see that one coming. What follows is her whining and criticising her rescuer for absolutely everything he put himself through to save her, without even thinking of asking him for an explanation, what a nice person!

Anyway, it looks like mummy’s gone off to South Carolina to find a ‘safe house’, so that’s where our dynamic duo are off to as well, celebrated by a flashback to Chase giving exposition about his backstory, and how a bunch of places were bombed. Still, he got a shiny bike out of it!

Ember continues to snipe at Chase for everything when they stop for supplies, and thinks back on her dumb friends, who I guess won’t actually do anything in the story. Chase turns on the radio so we can get our first mention of La Resistance, who are apparently really shit in this book, and after some more exposition our heroes get chased by the fuzz!

Chapter Six

The fuzz stops them, asks for licence and registration, and then lets them go. Careful there, Article 5, something almost happened!

Chase then teaches Ember how to use a gun, and a flashback ensues. Then some filler. Then another flashback. Then a nonsensical conversation. Then they go to an abandoned department store to stock up on supplies.

Ember, however, was so traumatised just by looking at an enclosed space, that she can’t bear to change in the fitting rooms, prompting Chase to ask what happened to her, and her to start sniping at him that it was all his fault. And Chase is like, ‘whatever, brah’.

I like Chase!

But then disaster strikes, as two guys show up to be a bit rapey and we get a fight scene! They have the power of fire hands, as one of them ‘burns’ Ember’s head by grabbing her hair, but Chase and Ember have the power of being main characters, and manage to fight them off.

Chapter Seven

Ember is upset that Chase looked like he was going to kill one of the would-be rapists. What did you think the whole learning to shoot thing was for in that case, Ems—paintballing practice?

Well, whatever she thought it might be for, she now plans to leave Chase and try to make it on her own in the American dictatorship wilderness. Good luck with that, Ems, were this a paranormal romance I’d have been delighted to find a girl who wouldn’t put up with a Love Interest’s violence towards others, but these people attacked him with a knife!

She thinks she’ll get far, as she has ‘pretty good intuition about people’. Yeah, like Rebecca, Sean and Chase himself. Great intuition. (I notice you haven’t spared much more than a thought for Rebecca and Sean by the way—remember them? The guys you totally screwed over and left at the Pokémon Centre?)

Then she reconsiders, given how sexy Chase is and everything, and flashbacks to how he offered to run away with her but she said no, blaming that for her mother being arrested, because otherwise Scarborough Fair wouldn’t have had any dramatic irony to use against them.

In the end she decides she will RUN AWAY, and comes across an old woman with a dog. Her wonderful intuition tells her she can trust this fine upstanding citizen, but of course it turns out she’s a crazy woman who keeps rotting animal carcasses and thinks Ember’s her long lost daughter. When she says the carcass is called Luke, Ember assumes she’s killed a person, except the carcass is a dog, so I guess Ember couldn’t tell the difference.

Ember kicks the poor woman and makes her cry, and then Chase shows up to save her from this TERRIBLE ENCOUNTER again. Ember yells at Chase that she was trying to run away from him…

Chapter Eight

… and he’s like, ‘whatever, brah.’

I like Chase!

He tries to explain that her plan is stupid, but she brings up him using violence in self-defence, what do you say to that, Chase!?

Well, when he explains that he was defending her, it’s all okay!

He says he’ll never hurt her, and not to do stupid things anymore. I wonder what the chances of that are going to be?

*Spoilers: slim to none, that’s what*

Anyway, they make their way over to a checkpoint, but no one’s there to meet them so they decide to stay a while so Ember can patch up the wounds on Chase’s extremely sexy body, dipping some gauze in peroxide and sticking it on his cut without warning to remind us how well Ember thinks things through.

On the radio they hear about themselves attacking those guys; I guess random scavengers love reporting in to Big Brother, and also that Ember’s been declared missing. But Chase figures that if Brock was too stupid to check whether or not he had orders to take Ember when he showed up, then she must have been too stupid to check after he’d gone, and therefore someone must have ratted him out.

At least, I assume that’s his reasoning, he doesn’t actually seem to use any on-page.


Tools of Procrastination

Hey everyone, this isn’t my usual type of post, I just wanted to share these two test/quiz things with you in case you needed to entertain yourselves for a few minutes.

For my fellow readers: http://www.staples.com/sbd/cre/marketing/technology-research-centers/ereaders/speed-reader/index.html

And for my fellow sci-fi/fantasy nerds: http://www.easydamus.com/alignmenttest.html

Hope the links work, and thank you to the people who brought them to my attention; here are my results–


(Really hope that works. [EDIT: It didn’t, so I re-took the test, screen-capped the image and pasted it. Got a better score the second time too!] By the way, I totally cheated by already knowing the book the sample came from)



(This one didn’t have an ’embed’ button, so I just screen-capped it. Funnily enough, when I looked at my results in full I found my alignment to ‘Chaotic Evil’ was pretty much just as high as my alignment to ‘Chaotic Neutral’. Go figure) XD

A Slightly More Illustrious Illustration (and an Award)

In celebration of me finally finishing the chapter where this character shows up, behold the finished product of my drawing of her, completed with the added bonus of my spelling her name right! (where the hell did that ‘m’ in the pencil version come from, anyway?) If you’d like to see the unfinished version, along with the text from the novel that describes the character and a short explanation of her conception, it was the previous post to this one, so clicking on the ‘previous post’ button at the bottom should get you there.


Somehow the scanner made the contrast a lot sharper than it looks in reality. Oh well.

In other news, I was nominated for an award! The Versatile Blogger Award to be precise, but since I’m too socially awkward to participate properly, all I’m going to do is follow the first 2 steps: thank the person who nominated me; the extremely versatile jabrush, and link to their nomination post here: https://jabrushblog.wordpress.com/2015/05/24/the-versatile-blogger-award/

And share seven facts about myself:

1. I am an extremely uninteresting person.

2. The only thing that is interesting about me is that I write (hopefully) interesting stories (hence attaching these uninteresting facts to an illustration so you don’t get too bored).

3. And that sometimes, I have interesting dreams.

4. Like the one where my dad saved the world from alien invasion of the aliens from ‘Alien’ by challenging them to a game of cricket, and somehow winning.

5. My dad is a pretty interesting person, actually. Though I don’t think his cricket skills are good enough to decide the fate of the world; sorry, Dad. Maybe if the fate of the world depended on knowledge of seventeenth-century science we’d have a better chance.

6. My mum’s pretty interesting too. If the fate of the world depended on knowledge of nineteenth-century natural science, she might be the one to go to. That, or being good at knitting.

7. Also, she’s Canadian. Did you guys know that Canada is the best place in the world at everything and has never done any wrong since its conception? My mum says so. And I still live with her so I have to hear about it all the time–and now you do too!

So, there you have it. Now to move on to writing Chapter Five of the re-written ‘Ritual of DUELS’, and maybe try to go at less of a snail’s pace? (who am I kidding; the snails are outstripping me by miles. I’m sure Gastropod literature is going to be a thing long before any of my books are!)

And thanks again, jabrush! Everyone go read their blog now, they have poetry and stuff.

I mean, I do poetry too sometimes, but… well… I’ll tell you about my thoughts on that some other time.

Another Illustrious (Unfinished) Illustration

Good morning, Writers. Ever suddenly needed a filler character for a scene that should have required about a minute’s thought at most and then ended up spending an entire weekend obsessing over this character’s look and backstory to the point where you’ve bought a book on Amazon for the sole purpose of getting a character who’s in the book for about 500 words at most ‘right’?

Well, obviously I have, or I wouldn’t be writing a post about it, would I?

Well, it would have been a Shyamalan-esque twist if I hadn’t been, I suppose.

Also, I was dead all along.

(Wait, I already did that joke weeks ago…)

Anyway, I spent the last hour and a half doing this drawing–which as you can see is not even finished–of a character who I just made up over the weekend in the course of re-writing ‘The Ritual of DUELS’, who basically serves the function of letting one of my main characters in to see his grandmother so she can deliver plot points to him.

I mean, once I get that book that’s going to give me more information about the legendary creature this character is meant to be based off of, I might need to drastically alter her, or hell, cut her from the book entirely, but I don’t know. I was just so excited coming up with the idea behind her that I wanted to draw a picture of her, and I even looked up some stock poses on Google Images so I could draw her passably well–which is more than I usually do.

(Seriously. Yesterday I streamed an episode of a TV series online–an episode I own on DVD–because I couldn’t be bothered to walk three feet to my bookshelf and take out my own copy. Now that’s laziness.)

All that aside, this is Taawahoya; a Native American Hopi Kachina spirit anthropomorphisation of a Victorian electrical battery. Enjoy being barely able to see her, as she’s still in pencil!


And in case you really can’t see her; don’t worry! I’m going to finish her in pen and coloured-pencil hopefully soon, but for now you can enjoy the current text description as she appears in the book:

(For context; according to legend, the ‘Kachina’ who used to be close to the Hopi tribe either left for the spirit world after a falling out or were killed in battle with another tribe. In the book, other spirits (referred to collectively as ‘Shaedai’) appeared to take their place; some assuming specific identities of old Kachina, some like Taawahoya creating their own, and a lot of people in-book have mixed feelings about that.)


His great-grandmother’s closest Kachina-confidante used to tell him the smoke was from a cauldron his great-grandmother cooked badly-behaved children in, with typical Shaedai morbid humour. Bordered on breaking the Pact now that he thought about it—the first rule of which being that Shaedai must not lie to Custodians, not that he’d have turned in Taawahoya for something like that.

She was a ‘new’ Kachina, meaning she hadn’t assumed the identity of one of the traditional spirits who had left or died. In fact, she was young even among her fellows, as she was meant to represent the concept of an electrical battery—an invention that hadn’t happened ’til the nineteenth century.

Taawahoya sat reading outside the cabin, perched on the sturdy wooden railing around the porch. Her head was encircled by a huge inverted copper cone that rested on the bridge of her nose; the rest of her face white on one side, black on the other—a division that continued on down her neck until it reached her blue over-cloak and reappeared one her long-fingered hands. More circles of alternating copper and zinc overlapped in a chain over her right shoulder; each one with a square of alternating zinc or copper on top of it; each square with a cable running from its centre, tied around her back. Her shoes, in the crow’s-foot shape of gravity cell electrodes kicked absently against the rails as she turned a page.”

Missing Word Stoies: HMS Supercalifragi-etc.

You know what period of history I love? Age of Sail. Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World is one of my very favourite movies ever, and watching it made me pick up the book series in a snap, though I never finished the series. I think it’s nineteen books long after all, and it can be very heavy in places; old Patrick O’Brian put like a zillion times more research into his books than I’ve ever done.

Still, back in ye old days of the summer of 2005 when I was crazy for missing word stories, what better story to take some words out of, I thought, than one of what at the time was one of my favourite series? Unlike my earlier stories, this one is semi-original, in that the ‘plot’ isn’t taken from any of the Aubrey-Maturin books or from the movie–but I think I captured the feel of one of those books.

If that book was only one page long and had about 10% of the words removed and then replaced at random by someone who had no idea what the story was about, of course.

HMS Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious

And, if the story itself wasn’t exciting enough for you, (including the surprise (please no puns, Jack) alien-invasion ending: remember, I was also H.G. Wells-obsessed at the time) behold the illustration; wherein Nack and Stephen are first alerted to the sight of the enemy French tap ‘Unconscious‘, while on the deck of their own ‘HMS Supercalifragilisticexpialidoshus’. Note that part of another illustration is creeping into that one, because I never expected to be showing them separately.

Also note how ‘Nack’ and Stephen are holding hands, because of course I shipped them like crazy.

HMS Illustrated

That’s all the fluff for today,  my dear friends and mortal enemies; hopefully by the weekend I will finally, finally follow up on my Hugo Awards post from last month.