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Dryad Characters: Captain Roger de St Amour

roger de st amour pirateCaptain Roger de St Amour is a gentleman pirate and the scourge of the Spanish colonies. He is very ruthless and devious but also highly educated, which makes him even more ruthless and devious.

He may look something like the fellow pictured to the right, but in fact, he looks exactly like Rodney Love, except he has black hair while Rodney Love is blonde. How can this be?

Interview

What is your occupation?

I am Captain of the Belle Catherine, a two-masted brig. As a flibustier, a privateer of the French navy, I pillage and sink any Spanish ships I come across.

What are your hobbies and interests?

Pillaging, mostly. I also like to read ancient philosophers. I was educated at the Sorbonne, you know. Though right now I have read all the books in my collection and since I have been sailing the waters of the Atlantic round about the coast of South America for the last three years, there has not been a chance to find new books as of late.

Who is your best friend?

Hahaha! Wait, ‘ere you ask another question, I must finish laughing. Hahaha! What say you? “Friend?” I am the Captain! It would not do for me to go around having friends. But I have some loyal crewmen, never fear.

Do you see yourself as the villain of this story?

Nay! Who calls me a villain? Point out the scoundrel that I may dispatch him. I rather see myself as the knights of old. I go on quests and journeys, and sometimes I do some pillaging. How else can one make a name for himself?

What is your opinion of Rodney Love?

That colonial interloper? I think he’s hardly a worthy adversary for me. He claims to be my descendant, but I am ashamed to have such dull offspring. He’s all too easily fooled. In fact, I don’t think he is my descendant at all.

You’ve got to admit he got the best of you once or twice?

I haven’t the time to talk anymore, and I don’t wish to continue this interview! Time for me to go off and do some pillaging.

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Dryad Characters: Rodney Love

rodney-love

This guy only has the same haircut as Rodney Love. The real Rodney Love is much more handsome. He is also more “corporationy.”

I know you don’t see much of yourself in me, father, but I can be a high-stakes player too. – Rodney Love

Rodney Love is the heir to the great Timber Corporation. He’s generally an easygoing and smooth-talking guy who would rather be surfing than sitting through boring business meetings. However, Rodney wants to prove himself as a serious business-savvy corporation leader in order to impress his critical father.

Interview

What is it about surfing that appeals to you?

I grew up in a prep school on the east coast, in Boston, and found it pretty oppressive. I guess I chose surfing it for its laid-back west coast vibe.

How do you feel about your work for the Timber Corporation?

It’s mostly really boring, but it has its moments.

Why did you hire an alligator on your executive team?

Look, I don’t just hire minorities for the sake of hiring minorities. I really believe this alligator has what it takes to promote our business. When it comes to negotiations, he’s got that intimidation factor. And he’s not just “an alligator”: you can call him Tyler, or Mr. Alligator.

Who is your best friend?

I don’t have any friends. I only have admirers, buddies, or pals.

Why is that?

I’m not as stupid as I look: I can tell when people genuinely want to be my friends, and that’s never.

What are you most afraid of?

My father.

What did your father think of your most recent interview for Narcissism Carnival?

He thought it was an embarrassment to him, and that I came across as a hippie. I didn’t expect anything else. Since I didn’t say in my interview that I wanted to ruthlessly quash all competition and cut down every single tree on the planet, my dad would naturally assume I was a hippie.

How do you feel about Solena?

She’s an intriguing woman. I think there’s a mystery about her, and that makes her very attractive!

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Dryad Characters: Solena

dryad character Solena

I’m a DRYAD!

– Solena

At the beginning of our tale, Solena is obsessed with the human world, enchanted with its superficial trappings and tinsel dreams.

Is she a foolish and superficial dryad? Not at all. She is simply attracted to the superficial side of our culture, having not been exposed to anything else.

However, as she journeys into the human world, Solena finds out that it’s not at all as glamorous as she thought…

Interview

What is it that makes you so fascinated with humans?

I think it’s the drama. Humans have such short lives, yet they go through them with much passion and they have so many adventures!

Do you believe in love at first sight?

Definitely! I’m quite the romantic.

You’ve always had a passion for reading, but now you’ve switched from gossip magazines to self help books, primarily by Teddy Goldman. Why is that?

Well, a fortune teller advised me to read Positive Attitude by Teddy Goldman, and I’ve never looked back. Teddy has had remarkable success as a martial artist and as an author, but he still comes across as a humble and down-to-earth person. I find his philosophy so amazingly spiritual and yet practical when applied in the real world.

What makes you happy?

Reading, masquerading as a human, having adventures.

How do you feel about other dryads?

I feel slightly bitter because they have ostracized me, and they constantly mock me. But I would really like to be their friend one day.

You are now on a mission to prevent the humans from destroying your forest. How do you feel?

I have lots of contradictory feelings. I could never pass up the opportunity to live as a human, so I gladly accepted the mission. But it’s very confusing. The prophecy says I will save the forest, but I’m not sure how or when.

Do you think your attraction to Rodney Love, heir to the Timber Corporation, could jeopardize the mission?

Um… I hope not.

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An Ocean Story

This is kind of a blast from the past… I couldn’t decide what to blog about today so I thought I would post this story I wrote one night in 2007 in Dublin, Ireland. I’m usually more comfortable writing novels, the longer the better, but I think this is one of my few good short stories. Have you ever been fascinated by the ocean? What’s your favorite ocean story?

Oceans: A Geographic Fable

fijiIt was midnight over the Atlantic, but the sun was just beginning to rise on the islands of Fiji, a sight that never failed to gladden the lackadaisical Pacific.

“Woo-hee!” it cried, rejoicing in its air-headed way, “Canoe racing galore! Don’t forget to slap on that sunscreen!”

You wouldn’t think that oceans accepted the names humans had given them. After all, since their beginning they were all one mass of water, one entity. Even now, there is no clear boundary between, say, the Atlantic and the Arctic Oceans. And yet, if you are called something for a long enough period of time, you begin to identify yourself with the name and the personality that goes with it.

In the 21st century, it was especially easy to hear human voices. Radio waves snaked their way between continents, cell phone conversations rebounded off the stratosphere, and satellite signals beamed down like so many heavenly decrees. Even now, the Indian Ocean was discussing an episode from a television show.

“I just don’t like the way Seinfeld treated that Pakistani,” it complained.

“Dude, he was only trying to help,” the Pacific soothed.

“Yes, but look how it turned out. That whole episode – no, that whole show just gives me a sinking feeling. It’s like he can never do anything right.”

“That’s because it’s a comedy,” the Mediterranean put in its two cents’ worth, “an ancient form defined by Aristotle. In a comedy, the main character must be morally and intellectually at a lower level than the audience.”

“Seinfeld has no morals at all!” intoned the Atlantic. “I’ve seen that show. It is like a swamp, a fetid sludge filled with iniquities.”

“There is too much demoralising sexual content in today’s television,” boomed Arctic, “It is polluting our culture.”

“No, dude,” the Pacific chimed in, “you’re talking about, like, oil spills and stuff like that. You’ve got too many oil refineries off your shores.”

“I have to agree with the Arctic,” the Atlantic said, “Thirty years ago, they wouldn’t have allowed shows like this on the air.”

The Atlantic always claimed political neutrality but was secretly a Republican and, like the Arctic, a bit of a Bible-thumper. It couldn’t help it: after all, so many people had prayed on its crossing.

“Characters in today’s television shows have no honour!” the Sea of Japan exclaimed.

“You’ve got to chill out,” drawled the Tasmanian Sea.

“Don’t tell me to chill out, you,” the Atlantic roared back, “Don’t even talk to me. You keep sending shitloads of this cheap beer that tastes like piss onto my waterways. It’s embarrassing to me, and it’s unfair to the Europeans.”

“Right, because you are so refined and European,” the Tasmanian mocked. “Tell me, how many Europeans are shitting on you right now? You’re full of shit!”

“We are all full of shit,” the Pacific announced in its sing-song voice, “People piss and shit on us all the time. But who can complain about that when they also surf?” Suddenly, it broke into song, “If everybody had an ocean across the USA, then everybody by surfin’ like Californi-a!”

The Arctic was still ruminating on the subject of failing moral standards. Oceans are often reluctant to let go of a subject. They like to conserve things. That’s easily seen in the way they conserve the warmth of the sun’s rays for much longer than the land does. “Thirty years ago a show like Will and Grace wouldn’t have—”

“According to Aristotelian logic, that’s not a valid argument,” the Mediterranean lectured, “If you say something was not permitted thirty years ago, it does not immediately follow that this same thing should not be permitted in the present.”

“Yeah, well, we’re independent now,” ” the Tasmanian exclaimed, “We don’t need none of that British logic. Britannia don’t rule the waves anymore.”

“Nobody rules the waves,” the Adriatic tossed out happily.

ocean-story-moon“Except the Moon,” the Indian Ocean said softly.

“The moon does have a certain attraction, I’ll admit,” said the Mediterranean. “But does she rule?”

“With how sad steps, O Moon, thou climb’st the sky,” the English Channel began.

“If you think about it, it’s actually not the Moon herself but the force of gravity that pulls the tides towards it,” said the Arctic.

“That’s deep,” the Pacific commented.

The Atlantic had a good view of the full moon at this moment. There she floated, silent, seemingly out of touch with the world around her. She didn’t claim to rule anything.

Drenched in moonlight, the Atlantic decided to have a few hours’ nap before daylight arrived. It zoned out the buzz of human voices and music, and only the distant song of the Pacific lingered in its consciousness.

“Everybody’s gone surfin’, surfin’ USA… ”

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Jack the Giant Killer: the Classic Film

jack-the-giant-slayerWith Jack the Giant Slayer opening in theaters, I was reminded of this 60s film I used to be completely obsessed with as a youngster.

No, I wasn’t born in the 1950s, but I’ve always enjoyed classic films, and there was something about this movie… I’ve been trying to figure out what it was, aside from the obvious swashbuckling factor. Even at my young age, I could tell the special effects were primitive compared to today’s, but there was something that made me re-watch that movie time and time again as a special treat.

It had a very rousing musical score and gorgeous costumes. But it was more than that. It was also the personalities that the actors did such an excellent job portraying. Even the fake-looking giants, monsters, and dragons had personality!

It’s one of the things that separates classic movies from much of today’s bland stuff.

I haven’t seen the Jack and the Giant Slayer remake, but I hope they balance out the special effects with solid characters.

Here is the trailer to the 1962 version… “Such indeed is the glamorous legend of the ancient kingdom of Cornwall…”

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The Princess Bride Cast Reunited

The Princess Bride is one of my favorite movies, and of course a must-see for any self-respecting swashbuckler. It’s great to know it has not been forgotten, and in fact it’s coming out on Blu-Ray. The cast reunited for  the film’s 25th anniversary, and they’re all looking great. Sadly, Peter Falk and Andre the Giant have passed away, but the rest of the cast are looking very much alive (which by the way is the title of one of my books). Thanks, Yahoo news! Though I believe one “cast member” is missing from the group photo…

Rodents of unusual size? I don’t think they exist!

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Fantasy Book Review: Imperative

This is the first in a series of books about a crime-solving wizard named Quinn Larson. The good thing about this book is that Quinn Larson is a lot like Harry Dresden from Jim Butcher’s famous urban fantasy series. The bad thing about this book is that at times it’s too much like the Dresden files. A tall, sarcastic wizard who lives alone in an old house with a lab in his basement, with a summoning circle… sound familiar? Aside from that, I enjoyed the magical goings-on and the fairy politics in this fast-paced urban fantasy.

The magical world P.A. Wilson creates is quite unique. The novel is set right here in beautiful Vancouver and could double as a guidebook to all the city’s hidden supernatural hangouts. For example, the Sidhe court is located in the not-yet-yuppified part of Yaletown (just as I always suspected!) There are different clans of fairies (Rose, Lily, Bulrush, etc), and then there are the Sidhe, kind of like fairies but much more crazy and ambitious. Vampires are extinct because humans had discovered and obliterated them. In fact, the plot hinges on the fact that supernatural creatures must remain hidden from the humans, since we tend to destroy all such things that scare us. So, when Quinn Larson discovers fairies murdering humans with magic potions all over the city, he knows he must put a stop to it before the humans figure out what’s going on.

The entire plot is a race against time to protect the humans so that the humans won’t start killing the fairies. There’s a strong underlying ethos to it all, similar to Buddhism. For instance, Quinn is sworn not to do harm to the Sidhe, or to anyone in general. He must overcome his enemies without killing them. This opens up the potential for some clever spell-making and ingenious plans. Imperative is refreshingly different from most fantasy novels where there is a clear delineation between good creatures and bad creatures. Here, there are no black and white divisions, and if one species suffers, everybody suffers.

On the whole, this is quite a page-turner. The magical world is easy to plunge into, and the plot is complicated and suspenseful. The weakness of the novel is in the character development. We don’t really see who Quinn is for the first few chapters as he walks around discovering things, and as the story is told from the first person point of view, we hardly know who the “I” is. Other times, he transitions too quickly from feeling horrified about the murders to romantic and then to sarcastic moods. There’s a whirlwind of emotions which could have been made more believable.

The similarity with Harry Dresden still bothered me, but as the author herself states, “Harry Dresden is the dark knight of urban fantasy,” and this Quinn Larson novel is definitely not as dark as some of the Dresden ones. There is a comedic tone to the proceedings, which makes Imperative a light and enjoyable read.