K is for Kitsune

K

K is for Kitsune: Japanese folklore in origin, Kitsune is the nickname of one of the protagonists in “Wyrm Bait”, the cyber-mystery set against the MMORPG set in the world of Gossamer Steel,.

Kitsune are Japanese foxes, which are common in their folklore. There are two types of Kitsune: the zenko, who are benevolent, celestial foxes associated with the god Inari; and there are the mischievous yako, who sometimes are malicious as well. In some stories Kitsune’s intelligence and magical abilities increase with age. Foremost among these abilities is that of assuming human form, sometimes to trick people but more often featuring as guardians, friends, lovers and wives.

Kitsune can have up to nine tails, as they become older, wiser and more powerful. In some legends one tail is dominant and only by removing this tail, can a Kitsune be subdued. Because of their potential power and influence, some people make offerings to them as to a deity.

Inari and its fox spirits help the blacksmith Munechika forge the blade kogitsune-maru (Little Fox) at the end of the 10th century. The legend is the subject of the noh drama Sanjō Kokaji. By Ogata Gekkō

Inari and its fox spirits help the blacksmith Munechika forge the blade kogitsune-maru (Little Fox) at the end of the 10th century. The legend is the subject of the noh drama Sanjō Kokaji. By Ogata Gekkō

Kitsune feature in art down the ages, including modern art forms like mangas and video games.  They are the basis for the venomancer class in Perfect World, characters who are a woman with a few fox-like features including ears and a tail, but they can turn into a fox while fighting.

K is for two other creatures from folklore, the korrigan and the kornblock. In Breton folklore, a Korrigan is a fairy or dwarf-like spirit, while in Germany and Scandinavia the kornblockes are goat-bodied creatures that are said to help grow grain and corn, but will steal or spoil it if given a reason.

K is also for the Kainga, the corporation behind the solar array that triggers the apocalypse in Gossamer Steel.

PREVIOUS A TO Z POSTS:

A is for Array ~ B is for the Blood-Marked ~ C is for Corylus Avellana ~ D is for Duskweald ~ E is for Energy ~ F is for Feeniks ~ G is for Garuda ~ H is for Herders ~ I is for Ithaka ~ J is for Junk

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The brainchild of Arlee Bird, at Tossing it Out, the A to Z Challenge is posting every day in April except Sundays (we get those off for good behaviour.) And since there are 26 days, that matches the 26 letters of the alphabet. On April 1, blog about something that begins with the letter “A.” April 2 is “B,” April 3 is “C,” and so on. Please visit other challenge writers.

My theme is ‘The World of Gossamer Steel, the SF-fantasy setting for a series of short stories and novellas that portray the tales behind the MMORPG that is central to my crime novel ‘Wyrm Bait’.

A2Z-BADGE-000 [2014] (1)

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Forty Days & Forty Nights without Internet

Could you survive without your internet connection for 40 days and 40 nights? What about your phone?

Okay, it’s not like living without food or water or shelter as too many people do in this unjust world. But for those of us that have been pampered by modern technology it’s a big ask. One that BT aka British Telecom seems to feel is reasonable, or do they mean excusable. My multiple sclerosis disability has little if no bearing.

As I type this, on Saturday February 22nd, we will be sans broadband and sans phone from Friday February 28th to Thursday April 10th.

The outlook is bleak. The meaning stark and troubling. The portents are… okay I’m exaggerating but I’m still worried. Whinge warning.

Imagine no emails, or rather over 50 a day piling up in my AOL inbox = 200 plus by the time we get back online. Forget about sending out review copies of ‘Spiral of Hooves’ or promoting the novel. Surfing social media like Facebook and Twitter will be abandoned, as will any appearances in the cyber-world.

“Get a dongle”, I hear you shout in mass cacophony, and I know that you are right. With a dongle, and a signal, we can check our emails at least. If the charges are not too massive we can do a little more… others do from their iPods, Androids etcetera, from all kinds of locations, including Internet cafes. But going out to find the right place is not the same as working from our new office in our new home, where the desktops will be, with all the software. At least I don’t have to be online to create using Scrivener… just to back the work up on Dropbox or OneDrive.

In fact blog posts, either mine or anyone else’s are a non-starter. This one will have to be posted in advance, set for public consumption on Wednesday March 5th as part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. Whether anything will appear in April is a prediction that I cannot make… the crystal ball is dim. I’m meant to be taking part in the 2014 A to Z Challenge in April, but it could be hard.

If I find time in the midst of packing, I might attempt to write the first ten posts – A to J – and schedule them to appear on time. At least I know the theme – the World of Gossamer Steel.

With that reference I know that my alter-egos will suffer too. No gaming for 40 nights is almost worse than no surfing. How will I live if my avatar is unable to stop monsters pouring through Rifts or perverting Good in Middle Earth? The Sith Empire will conquer the galaxy in my absence and Conan will be deposed.

Oh wait, they’re not real and there are others to continue the struggle.

But ordering groceries and other goods is essential. There are local shops crying out for our custom, but being disabled there are advantages in having things delivered. Maybe we can do that by dongle as well. Reminds me, have I downloaded enough books onto my Kindle?

I envisage a problem occurring when we begin ordering from a dongle – the security guys at our bank will query the purchase in their diligent way. I’m pretty sure that online banking will be tough, although not impossible. But sending money to my wife’s kids in the US will be very hard, The only consolation is that my accounts package is offline.

As a writer I have some worries but know that I can continue to scribble without the internet. In fact removing it might lead to more productive days, as well as more days exploring the real world and making useful observations. Time to bring out the parchment and quill notebook and pen. So my scribbling life will be okay, if I ignore my other insecurities…

However, for my wife there is a more real problem. All her family are in the States and staying in touch with the USA by mobile/cell phone will be extremely difficult. Her mother is elderly and poorly. She keeps falling down and she would be unable to ring. It will be very expensive phoning the States on a cell phone, even with an international service.

Ultimately life with only a cell phone becomes a major problem in an emergency. We can call for help, if there is a signal. Being disabled I feel vulnerable, but that doesn’t seem to make any difference to British Telecom; any more than it does to the British government who sees us as a drain on the system, along with other scroungers.

Whinge over. Our situation is not dire. In retrospect there are others with far greater issues. Ours are just frustrating and grrrr.

Wife says we’ll live off the land and be sending smoke signals. Maybe the pigeon can come out of retirement along with the pony. The positives outweigh the negatives. New home, bespoke design to meet our needs, fabulous location, wonderful neighbourhood. I can feel another post coming, once we have explored the immediate area and have some great pictures. Just need to find a means to post it. But here’s a taster:

22_PantMawr

22 Pant Mawr Park, Harlech, Wales

If all goes to plan, this will be my third posting of 2014 for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. This is when we release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the logo and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. Visit at least a dozen new blogs and leave a comment. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs.

The awesome co-hosts today are MJ Joachim, Elsie, Elizabeth Seckman, and Julie Flanders! Many thanks to all you co-hosts for your time and effort towards making all IWSG members feel welcome.

Lord of the Lists

At the end of August, as part of the Indy Block Party, I posted my Top 5 Books – in fact Top 6 as the Infinite Improbability Drive was playing up as usual.  I had a feeling that another Blog was creeping up on me and here it is – Four more Top 5 or let’s stick with the Hitchhiking theme and go with Top 6 lists. Of course there is a common theme, if you notice.

A Matter of Life and Death (film)

Top 6 Movies: Should this be in order of favourite or chronological from when they were made or random? You tell me…

  1. A Matter of Life & Death or Stairway to Heaven in US (1946) – my favourite Powell & Pressburger movie.
  2. Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001-03) – the books reimagined and echoing the world I was transported to by the Professor back in 1970.
  3. Cinema Paradiso (1988) – a moving tribute and evocation of the magic of cinema in Italian.
  4. Shawshank Redemption (1994) – full of wonderful moments and brilliant acting from Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins.
  5. Pan’s Labyrinth (2206) – Guillermo de Toro’s Spanish language amazing and captivating fantasy set during the Spanish Civil War.
  6. Blade Runner (1982) – maybe not a sci-fi classic but there are classic scenes and lines, including the speech by Rutger Hauer’s character at the end.

 ScreenShot00051

Top 6 MMORPGS: As video gaming has now been around for 40 odd years, I am probably missing out the early classics that got me hooked. So these are the Top 6 from recent years – ones that I’ve got engrossed in and got characters to respectable levels. Currently I’m even taking a course linking two key areas in my life fiction and gaming – Online Games: Literature, New Media,and Narrative.

  1. Perfect World – this will always be No 1 as my elf archer asked a beautiful warrior if he could fly with her. And now we’re happily married in real life.
  2. LOTRO or Lord of the Rings Online – where I got to visit Middle Earth and meet Elrond. What more can I say but I keep going back.
  3. SWTOR or Star Wars: The Old Republic – set before the Star Wars movies but still a chance to wield a light-sabre and follow a narrative which you can change through your actions. Currently on the run….
  4. Age of Conan Unchained – based in Hyboria, the world created by Robert E Howard. Adult themes mean semi-naked characters, blood everywhere and challenging gameplay.
  5. Cabal – a fantasy world with unique armour and weapons. And great dance routines. Wished I had stayed longer.
  6. Runes of Magic – called by some a clone of the most popular MMORPG, World of Warcraft, but personally found it had better character creation and liked the dual class skill track using parallel areas. Great houses too.

Deutsch: Pjotr I. Tschaikowski

Top 6 Music: this will be far-ranging as music has been around since our distant ancestors expressed themselves on a piece of wood or by singing. Not going back that far but far enough.

  1. Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin – one of the first operas that I ever saw (at Glyndebourne) and which moved me and still continues too. Wonderful arias.
  2. Edward Elgar’s Cello Concerto in E Minor – very personal as well as moving music. One of the classic recordings being by Jacqueline du Pre, who tragically suffered and died from multiple sclerosis.
  3. Igor Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring – ballet music that evokes so many images from the primitive to those from Disney’s Fantasia.
  4. The Doors’ L.A Woman album – included the track Riders On The Storm which is my favourite Doors’ song as well as the name of my guild in LOTRO.
  5. Queen’s A Night at the Opera – favourite track is of course the classic Bohemian Rhapsody But there are other great hits on this album such as You’re My Best Friend and Love of My Life.
  6. Howard Shore’s Lord Of The Rings Symphony – last but not least has to be this symphony edited down from the soundtrack to the Peter Jackson movies. Full of familiar themes and leitmotifs that continue to send tingles up my spine. Essential element of movies that works on its own too.

The artist and poet William Blake, who lived i...

Top 6 Poems: probably as old as music so the choice is extensive. I have to admit that my interest in poetry has lagged behind other art forms, but there are ones that stand out either individually or as collections.

  1. Thomas Babington Macaulay’s Horatius at the Bridge – a part of my education that still lives with me as it had such a fundamental effect.
  2. Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner – another classic poem that caught my imagination while growing up. The words are so powerful and often lines come to mind like:   Water, water, every where, And all the boards did shrink; Water, water, every where,Nor any drop to drink.
  3. William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and of Experience – a collection of poems that I studied for English Literature and loved, especially as Blake even illustrated with richly illuminated plates.
  4. Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven – a poem with dark images and wonderful use of words. Another classic.
  5. Percy Bysshe Shelley’s Ozymandias – far briefer than most of the other poems but in its few short lines as evocative and epic, stirring thoughts as endless as the sands.
  6. Beowulfthe longest and for many one of the greatest epic poems, but with no specific source for this Old English masterpiece. Yet so much derives from this amazing work including much of our great literature. I read it in English, not Old English, when I was 17 and it was and still is an emotional experience of unbelievable depth.

The Old English epic poem Beowulf is written i...

There is a notable absence of Lord of the Rings from the last list. An oversight, perhaps? I could have cheated and included one of the many verses that J.R.R Tolkien included in his great work, many of which are fine works of poetry. In fact there is a crucial poem at 6 – Beowulf. The Professor wrote an essay “Beowulf and the Critics” – which I have incorrectly in the past inserted the word monster in with Grendel in mind. I read the essay before I had even heard of Lord of the Rings, but it was the turning point, the beginning of my journey down an unbelievable road… a road which goes ever on.

 

Inspirational Links that might lead to more lists being created:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muse

http://www.greekmythology.com/Other_Gods/The_Muses/the_muses.html