Posted in Liked It, Sci-Fi Friday, Star Wars

Coruscant Nights III: Patterns of Force

We have what is probably the final installment of this series.

The group is approached by a man who essentially betrayed Loran’s father. The man wants the droid to assassinate the Emporer. Strangely enough I-Five agrees to consider it. This fractures the group. Some feel the droid would be perfect as he cannot be read in the Force. The others-including Jax- are afraid Five will be destroyed.

Meanwhile there are the Inquistors roaming the streets looking for Force sensitives to capture. One gets the attention of the Inquisitors as well as Jac and Laranth. This kid is powerful and untrained. Despite his lack if training this kid could give even Vader a run for his money if not beat him out right.

The kid easily defeats the Inquisitor using techniques no one had ever seen before. Jax and Laranth befriend the boy (Kajin) and decide to train him as a Jedi. This presents a problem because the Kajin is so powerful that Force dreams and the like can be dangerous due to his lack of control.

Vader has everyone looking for this boy-even the local police! In fact the Inspector pays Jax a visit and reveals he knows that he is a Jedi. He wants Jac to trust him, but one can’t be too careful where Vader is concerned.

The groups finds an intersting way to shield the boy. Dejah’s former artistic lover made light sculptures using a substance that most beings utilize fir their neurosystem. This crystal blocks the ability to sense the Force. So they transfer Kajin to a warehouse full of these light sculptures so that he can be trained in safety. This discovery proves to be quite damaging to Dejah who belongs to a species that feeds off of the emotions of others. She realizes that her deceased lover was hiding from her emotionally.

More disturbing still about Dejah is that she has been using her pheromones to influence Jax. It appears the Force isn’t enough to block the phermones. In fact Jax realizes that Dejure used her pheromones to keep him from developing a romantic relationship with Laranth. He misread Laranth as shutting him out. As you can imagine he’s not too happy.

In addition to all this, Rhinnan is growing quite obsessive with his desire for the bota. He tries desperately to discover who has it. His plan is to use it to try to become Force Sensitive. He enlists (covertly) Dejah into helping find out what happened to the bota.

Back to the assassination plot. The group decides to to forward with it. Jax has major reservations about the whole thing because he discover that Five has enough self-awareness to make him readable in the Force.

Shortly before the assassination attempt, Laranth and Kajin are kidnapped. As the Inquisitors knew exactly where to find the pair there is a traitor.

The remainder of the group decide that the assassination attempt is the only hope they have of finding the pair. Well they get caught. Jax discovers that Vadet has had Kajin brainwashed into thinking that he is a Sith and that the Jedi captured him. It turns out that Dejah is more duplicious than anyone realized. She betrayed them to Vader. Dejah could sense the Force in a manner of speaking. She disliked the fact that Jax denied her this emotional feast by cloaking his use of the Force. Of course neither Vader nor the Inquisitos did any such thing so she was completely entranced and would do anything to feed off the power.

In hopes of freeing everyone or most of everyone, Jax gives Vader two of the three things he wants- the bota and the polonium. The third the was the Sith holocron.

Vader although a Sith could never reach his full potential because he was not a whole human. To augment his ability he needed the bota (which grants oneness with the Force) plus he needed the plolnium which is an unlimited though somewhat unstable power source. The Sith holocron would teach him how to use Sith alchemy to achieve this power.

Oh Laranth had the bota. But the bota had an unintended affect on Vader- it made him and his usage of the Force unstable. The bota as it turned out magnifies the flaws as well. Vader ended up destroying all of his Inquisitors except for Kajin and he inadvertantly killed Dejah as well. By this point Rhinnan snapped and attacked Vader. As revenge for nor having got a taste of the bota he jumped out the window taking Vader with him.

The rest of the group with Kajin who was unconscious at this point escaped. Jax did realize after being around Vader that Vader’s pattern in the Force was identical to Anakin. No two individuals has the same pattern.

Vader’s loss of control damaged Kajin to the point that they had to send him off planet to the care of the Silent Ones. They are Force users who specialize in healing.

Jax and Laranth begin a relationship and they look for the next person to help.

This was interesting. I didn’t see the twist and turns coming- like Dejah for instance. The way the story ended they could easily write more adventures with the pair. I’d really like to see what happens with Kajin.

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Posted in Mystery

The Tale of Holly How

This is the second book in this series. Ms. Potter is fully established as the rightful owner of Hill Top Farm. Now she is determined to set up shop. So she is buying her livestock, much to the amazement of the town. She decides to buy some sheep from Ben Hornby who is known for his superior lambs. The day she is to inspect her lambs, she finds Ben Hornby dead in his pasture. It appears that Ben did not die by accident. He has had a series of misfortunes. Just the year before, his barn burned down, and it looked like arson. Well all the humans and all the animals decide to find out what happened to old Ben.

In addition to all this, Lady Longford, a meddlesome old aristocrat, has decided that she want one Dr. Harrison Gainwell to be the headmaster of the local school. Of course, everyone in the town expects that Miss Nash, who has been teaching for years, will become the headmistress. In addition, her Ladyships granddaughter Caroline is coming to live with her after the dead of her parents. It seems her father and grandmother had a falling out when the dad decided not to marry the grandmother’s choice for a bride. The girl is in the care of a Miss Maribel Martine, who is Lady Longford’s companion. Miss Martine is rather cruel to the girl and constantly informs everyone that the girl is obstinate.

As it transpires there are two mysteries in this town.
Spoiler Alert!!
Old Ben Hornby was firmly against the sport of badger baiting as being cruel to animals. In fact, this sport (if it could be called that) was illegal. He would never let people onto his land in order to trap badgers. He made quite a few enemies. One man in particular got into a verbal altercation with Ben and struck him across the back with badger tongs in anger. This blow knocked Ben down the hill to his death.

Maribel Martine is a thief and a murderer. Dr. Gainwell is her brother. The plan had been to ingratiate herself with her Ladyship to influence her to change her will. Meanwhile she was poisoning the old lady with the substance off fly paper. She tipped her hand because she was firing all the old staff. In addition she was running the house as though she owned it instead of as a domestic. She saw the granddaughter Caroline as a threat to her plans because the old lady was actually growing fond of the girl despite Martine’s slandering the child. It was Martine pressuring Lady Longford to recommend Dr. Gainwell. In fact her Ladyship had never met the man. By the end of the book, we see the Lady Longford begin to lose patience with Martine. As for Gainwell, he left once he realized his sister intended to kill Caroline. He didn’t mind swindling or knocking off an old lady, but murdering a child was beyond the limit for him.

I liked this book. It was more of the typical mystery. I like the fact that the animals have a part to play and that they reveal additional facts of which the humans are unaware. This book definitely redeemed this series for me.

Posted in Uncategorized

Asininity in C minor

This past Saturday, I attended a concert at church. It was a cello concert to be exact featuring cellist Anne Martindale Williams. If you were not aware, Anne is the Principal Cellist of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra since 1979. I won’t give you her biography as that’s not stranger than fiction.

The concert is open to the public. In the city of Philadelphia, many people are always on the alert for free entertainment. So there were casual passers by who decided to pop in for the concert. I did mention that this concert is in the church building right?

So anyway, I sat in the balcony as I usually do during a concert. I’m short so sitting on the ground floor means I can’t see a blessed thing. As the concert began, a college aged couple walked into the balcony. I didn’t pay them any attention. During the first half they listened quite attentively. But during the intermission, I think the guy must have been acting up, because I overheard another young man (whom I believe is a regular church attender) tell the usher about some “guy with blond hair.” But it could have been anyone, so I didn’t pay it any attention.

The second half started, and this couple changed seats. So now they were in my line of vision. Well they giggled and talked through the second half. As you can well imagine, I was a little pissed. So I began constructing a torpedo launcher out of my bulletin and prepared to launch one of the pew Bibles at their heads. I jest. I was about to go over their and teach them some “tough” love. Before I could do so, the man in front of them had had enough. Oh I forgot to mention, there are two tiers of seating in the balcony- a lower level and a set of box seats. These ignoramuses were sitting in the box. So the gentleman stood up and faced them. He was tall, really tall. He was able to put his face and arms on the edge of the box. (You can barely see my head if I were to do that; I’m 5’4”)It took the “love birds” a bit to pick up on the fact that they were being stared down. The man was nice about it. He told them to knock it off with a smile (which is not what I would have done). So he turned around and sat back down. The couple continued to giggle soundless. Then the guy, who is without a doubt the biggest jackass to walk the earth, gave the man the finger. Of course, he was too much of a coward to do it to the man’s face. They left shortly thereafter.

I could only sit there in amazement. First off who goes to a classical concert and giggles and talks their way through it? Come on, you had to know from the way that people were dressed it wasn’t a Grateful Dead concert! Second, you flipped someone off in the House of God. What are you asking to be struck by lightening? Perhaps you’d like a side of leprosy to go with that? What idiots! I really wondered at the scruples of that girl. Why on earth would anyone find a guy that is that much of a nitwit cute? It never ceases to amaze me how many people my and younger have no manners, no couth, and absolutely no sense of propriety whatsoever. Fortunately for them, they didn’t visit for church on Sunday; I may not have been able to bite my tongue.

So tell me about a time you attended a nice function only to have a jerk act out.

P.S. Asininity is the noun form of the word “asinine” which means extremely stupid or foolish.

Posted in Fantasy, Rated D

Inkspell

A year has passed since the events in Inkheart. Meggie has become obsessed with everything from that world. She has recorded everything her mother has told her about the world. Mo is quite concerned.

Meanwhile Dustfinger is trying desperately to find someone to read him into the book. That person is Orpheus. What Dustfinger doesn’t realize is that Orpheus is working with two of the bad guys, Mortola and Basta from the first book. Orpheus has figured out many of the mysteries of reading people (who don’t belong) into stories. Unfortunately he cannot read himself into the story. Mortola and Basta intend to have Orpheus read them into the story so that they can finish off Dustfinger. Farid goes to Elinor’s house to ask Meggie to read him into the story so he can warn Dustfinger. Meggie agrees, but she reads herself into the story as well.

Meanwhile Mortola and Basta show up at Elinor’s house and have Orpheus read Mortola, Basta, and Mo into the story. Resa jumps on Mo at the last minute and ends up back in Inkworld. Elinor and Darius remain Orpheus’ prisoner.

The story jumps to Fenoglio. Ever since Mo read out the three characters everything in Inkworld has changed. Characters who were to have lived in the original book have died. Characters that Fenoglio never created in the original work exist. Fenoglio is a poet for the Laughing Prince, who is now the Sighing Prince due to the unwritten death of his son Cosimo. One of Fenoglio’s creations is the story of the Robin Hood like character the Bluejay. Unfortunately the character seems to take life of its own. There are various reports of the rich being robbed. Adderhead, anothe villian, is determined to have the Bluejay’s head.

Meggie and Farid do find Dustfinger and Fenoglio. Meggie stays with Fenoglio. Due to the celebration at the castle, he is not able to tell her that he needs her help to restore Inkworld to the way he had written it.

Soon after Resa, Mo, Mortola, and Basta arrived Mortola shoots Mo with a shotgun. Resa regains her voice scream for Mo. The husband and wife are taken in by the strolling players. Everything seems to be going well, but for some strange reason the strolling players believe that Mo is the Bluejay. Of course word gets back to Adderhead. While in the camp, Resa discovers that Dustfinger is back and sends him world to bring Meggie to them. Once Meggie and Fenoglio realize that Mo is hurt, Fenoglio writes a new section of the book and has Meggie read it. Meggie is successful in partially healing her father.

Meggie, Dustfinger, and Farid set off to find Resa and Mo. Meanwhile, Fenoglio has already written a new section for the book and has had Meggie read into existence a new Cosimo. So Fenoglio, who has now been made the court poet, is left to deal with a Prince who is determined to destroy the unjust Adderhead. This ends disasterously

Meggie, Dustfinger, and Farid aren’t able to successfully free Mo and Resa who are imprisoned in Adderhead’s prison. And they seem to be losing allies left, right, and center as Adderhead has spies everywhere. Fenoglio, who has received word of what has been going on, writes and ending to destroy Adderhead and has Roxanne, Dustfinger’s wife, take the story to Meggie. Unfortunately Meggie is unable to read the new story in its entirety before she is captured by Adderhead. According to the story she offers Adderhead immortality with a double edged sword. Mo will make a book of 500 pages. Once Adderhead writes his name in it, he will be immortal. What Adderhead does not know is that if the the three words hear, spell, and death are written in the book he will die instantaneously. In addition, he is immortal as long as the book is not destroyed (this is not part of the story). In addition, the story says that Cosimo is successful in battle. Before Meggie is able to finish reading the passage, Mortola has her searched and the papers are taken to Adderhead who now knows about the three words. In exchange for immortality Adderhead agrees to release all his prisoners. Of course there is the catch of his unmarked soldiers waiting to slaughter them outside the castle. A battle ensues, and Mo shows he is worth of being the Bluejay. Oh did I mention that Fenoglio based his character on Mo? In the battle Farid is killed. Dustfinger calls the White Women (like Valkyries) and exchanges his soul for Farid’s. Meanwhile, Cosimo is slaughtered because Meggie didn’t finish the story. This completely demoralizes Fenoglio who is unable to write. The story needs to be corrected and there is only one man to do it-Orpheus. It seems that Orpheus has discovered that the way other people are read into books is by using the words contained in the book to change the book. Meggie reads Orpheus in the book. But things are too smooth, Orpheus does not want to believe that Meggie has abilities that he does not. He’s starting to act very lordly.

The book was ok, it just seemed to drag on and on. Maybe the problem is that a new world was introduced yet again, so you had to start all over again learning what was going on in the story.

Posted in Uncategorized

It was $6.99

I drive an SUV- a compact one to be sure, but nevertheless an SUV. It’s a Mazda Tribute if you must know. On one hand SUV’s make you a lot more visible on the road. But the downside is that it has some blind spots-serious blind spots. For instance when you are backing, if a relatively short person or child is behind the car, you won’t be able to see them. It’s my greatest fear that I will back over someone. So any time I go to the store or mall, I look for a pull-through parking space or I go ahead and back in the space.

Several months ago I was getting my 3,000 mile oil change at this quick lube place, and I noticed that they had this little “back up” noise thingamabob for $6.99. Basically, you stick it to one of your backing lights. The sound is light activated. So when you put the car in reverse, the backing light causes it to start beeping. Oddly enough, I didn’t buy it until a couple of weeks ago.

So I slapped that baby on the back of my car and prepared to feel all powerful. Oh! It was sweet. I gave it a test go in my driveway. I sighed in relief knowing that I wouldn’t have to fear backing over a pedestrian.

The next day, I drove to church. As I can to a stop light, I thought I heard high pitched beeping like that thingamabob on my car. I looked around, but I didn’t see anyone else out (I have to leave for church 8 am; I’m one of the Sunday school teachers in the 2 year old room). So I rolled down my window and sure enough it was beeping. It was really cold out, so I thought maybe the freezing temperatures were messing with it. So I pulled into a parking lot I was passing. The noise stopped. I got out and inspected, but no noise. So I got back on the road. It started beeping again. Later on down the road I stopped at Panera to get my usual pre-church breakfast and the noise stopped.

But when I got back in the car, I noticed something odd. The thingamabob started beeping when I drove in sunlight. Anytime I passed through shadow, it stopped. Surely not, I thought. But, it surely was. I don’t know if you’ve ever looked at the lights on the back of the car, but there is this reflective material around the bulb. So as the sun shone on my car’s derriere, it was bouncing off that reflective material and through the little hole on the thingamabob and therefore activating it. Oh I don’t think I mentioned it but I live 29 miles away from my church–due west. So in the morning my car’s backside is to the sun the whole way there. Yes, other drivers could indeed here this beeping. On the way back from church, the sun has travelled to the point that my car’s backside is still exposed to the sun. So I just beep.

It was quite embarrassing. Did I mention my job is due west of my house. It was a mess. Every time I came to a stop light, I kept pretending that I couldn’t here it. Additionally, it got confusing since it beeps when I was backing (like it should). So February 1st, I yanked it off my car. These days when I back, I just keep honking my horn. Well- it was only $6.99. I guess I really couldn’t expect more.

So what about all of you. Have any of you bought a cheap contraption that had some unforeseen issues? Let’s here it. Oh, if this post inspires you to write your own post, put the link in the comments so I can visit. Oh html doesn’t work. Just type the url, iWeb can handle longer strands without breaking.

Posted in Guest Post

What I Learned from Reading Fantasy

By Anne Cordwainer

Terry Pratchett once said that fantasy is like an exercise
bicycle. It may not get us anywhere, but it tones up the
muscles which can.

Hmm.

Here are some things I’ve learned from reading fantasy:

1. Any organization with a name like the High Council, the
Council of Elders, etc., is made of useless. Don’t even
bother with them.

2. If someone informs me that I am the Chosen One, I should ask what the job entails. If there’s a great deal of
hardship and danger, I might as well start training so I
can get it over with. On the other hand, if it involves
a lot of pampering, I should probably start thinking
about my last will and testament.

3. If someone informs me that I am absolutely and definitely not the Chosen One, I am. Nobody ever gets told that unless they have some kind of epic destiny.

4. If a member of some scorned group–beggars, madwomen, a low social caste–keeps popping up for no apparent reason, I should make every effort to be kind to that person. He or she is either royalty in disguise or something even bigger.

5. Anyone with irresistible sex appeal is probably a
vampire. Or worse.

Nyuk nyuk. Take that, Terry.

On the other hand . . . .

1. When an emergency calls for immediate action outside of the usual scope of government, government often isn’t the quickest way to address the problem.

2. If I’m stuck with a tough job, it’s more effective to
begin it than to complain about it. And if something
sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

3. If someone tells me I’m nothing, why should I believe
that person over someone who tells me I’m wonderful? Or over my own self-evaluation? I’ll create my own
“destiny,” thank you.

4. If I dismiss someone utterly because his hair isn’t
combed, because she smokes, because he carries a Bible,
because she’s overweight, then I’m dismissing an entire
human being based on a single characteristic. That’s not
only wrong; it’s dumb. An astonishing number of
successful and wealthy adults were high school outcasts,
and some of them still look the part.

5. If someone shows me beauty, charm, and charisma, but
never lets me see the human being inside, caution is
wise. When my judgment is clouded by an appealing
facade, that’s when I should rely on reason the most.
That person may or may not have a good heart under the
charming exterior–the charm neither guarantees it nor
rules it out.

Gee. It sounds a lot more sensible in real-world terms.

Thank you, Mr. Pratchett.

The Interview with Anne is up!!

Posted in Fantasy, Urban fantasy

Modern Magic

This story starts off with a bang. Liz Prospero, the only non-magical person in a long line of sorcerers, goes to her brother John’s graduation from Alton a sorcerous university. While there, the graduation speaker turns out to be a madman hell bent on killing all the attendees. Little do the Prospero siblings realize that this attempt at violence is the beginning of a very difficult and dangerous time in magical society. Both siblings are forced to shoulder responsibility ahead of their time and become stronger people as a result.

In her first novel, Anne Cordwainer introduces the reader to a world of “modern” magic. The Sorcerer community is not caught in the medieval time warp common to this genre. You will find no old men wearing long flowing robes, or ladies with pointed hats running about in this novel. Gone too are potions lessons with frog entrails, bezoars, and broom lessons. No these sorcerers carry cell phone and will use taxis and the subway for short trips. In this world, magic is more like science. These days no one (except isolationist sorcerers) carries around wands. They have ovaths for shielding, a scrying screen, a shont, and a mentarch for mind reading. This magical society progresses with the rest of the “Mundane” society. In addition, the magical community is largely integrated with the mundane society and does take some responsibility for keeping regular people safe when necessary.

However, this society is somewhat backward in terms of hierarchical structure. There is no magical authority. There are no police, no parliaments, or ministers of magic. Sorcerer society depends heavily on the family to police themselves. Each family has a head. That head is responsible for major magical decisions like punishment. Basically the family head keeps everyone on the straight and narrow. If problems arise that are too large for the family to handle, they ask other families (usually relatives) to help. As a result, the old fashion community is very strong. However, there are things that are beyond a small community’s ability to handle and lack of central government sets the stage for all the terrible things that occur.

This society does have one real downside- mental instability. Yes, magic gives the sorcerers many benefits, but it comes at a cost. Irrational behavior is not something sorcerers take lightly. As you will see from the book, mental instability is becoming a much bigger much more common problem. During the 10 year span over which the novel takes place, John and Liz (surprisingly) have to battle more and more unstable sorcerers. As the amount of attacks increase, and the death toll rise, hysteria sets in the magical community. Surprisingly, fewer and fewer people are willing to take on renegade sorcerers. So, Liz and John as well as their comrades in arms must unravel the mystery of who is terrorizing the magical community and must come to terms with the fact that their previous way of life needs to change if they are to survive.

I thought this was a fantastic read. It is very difficult in a post-Harry Potter world to find a fantasy story that is very unique. Well this book is such a story. The publisher, Cloth Press) described this book as being urban fantasy. I understand what they meant now. It does take place in various cities. Also it deals with widespread chaos (terrorism) in the magical community. This book is definitely not a cutesy story with an innocent protagonist and an archetypical bad guy. They characters are very real and very flawed. There were moments that the characters (and reader) begin to have doubts as to the motives of other characters. This book is also written in a “story cycle,” which is something Anne and I will discuss during the podcast. This is different from a story like Harry Potter where the reader tags a long for the ride for 7 years. You get glimpses of the characters lives. These glimpses do create an interesting yet different kind of character study. So if you are interested in leaving the unicorns, broomsticks, and potions behind, then this is the book for you.

P.S. As the book does not answer the question “what causes mental instability in sorcerers,” I’m fully expecting that there will be a second novel.

Posted in author bio

Anne Cordwainer

Here is the bio Anne gave me. Just so you know, she doesn’t think she’s interesting. Of course her bio suggests otherwise.

Anne Cordwainer has been writing fiction since the age of
eight, when she began a series of closet dramas. These
starred her collection of teddy bears as cute, furry
extraterrestrials with anger management problems. She
produced seven space operas in this series, as well as one
Western spin-off, before abandoning the spacefaring teddy
bear genre in favor of dreadful Pern fanfic.

She continued writing fiction as an adult, but never showed
it to anyone outside her family until an overpowering need
for intellectual stimulation led her to institute “Story
Time” as a daily feature on a social forum. Other forum
members became accustomed to the entertainment, even relying
on it to help them get through tough days. Anne eventually
ran out of fables and fairy tales, but hated to disappoint,
so she finally allowed others to see her original work.

Reaction was so strongly positive that Anne reconsidered her
amateur status and began offering full-length stories to
magazines. Soon an editor gave her the kiss of the crown,
confirming that she really was good enough, and she’s never
looked back.

Well, hardly ever.

My review of the book will be up tomorrow. Anne’s post as well as the podcast will be up on Monday. Oh Anne has a page on Facebook which can be found here.

Posted in Liked It, Star Trek

Star Trek A Singular Destiny

This book follows Star Trek Destiny Book III Lost Souls. All major powers of the Alpha Quadrant are trying to put the pieces of their worlds back together. The amount of traumatic fallout is immense. Resources are stretched to the limit. Each world in the Federation must take a certain number of refugees for their sector.

The first indication that the reader gets that something is wrong is when a refugee ship is turned away from the the world Zalda. As a result the refugees end up being taken in by Cestus III the home world of President Nanietta Bacco. Of course when the representative from Zalda is informed of the incident they storm out and as a result leave the Federation.

Then there are problems with the already fractured Romulan Empire. The portion of the Empire led by Tal’Aura needs desperate aid. The Aventiss Captained by Jadzia Dax is sent to Donatra who leads the Senate to convince them to help their fellow Romulans. To ensure that this goes smoothly, Bacco sends Sonak Pran to negotiate. Pran had been an advisor to former President Zife until the start of the Dominion War. He has the ability to talk to anyone. He can also see patterns.

He successfully convinces Donatra to offer aid to Tal’Aura. Strangely enough, Tal’Aura refuses both the Federation’s aid as well as Donatra’s aid even though it is clear to everyone that her people badly need supplies. In fact one Centurior (Romulan soldier) tells them that if it were up to him he would accept help. Pran begins to suspect something.

Meanwhile on the Klingon front, the Kinshaya have once again reared their ugly heads. It appears that the Kinshaya have conquered one world but also it seems that they are using Breen weapons. They have taken over one worthless world on the Klingon/Federation border. This world is a valuable trade route.

Meanwhile on Capella, the home world of Admiral Aktaar, a private group is trying to upgrade Capella’s mining operation. But someone has attacked the mine. It appears that is a rogue group on Capella that are anti- Federation. The Aventiss is sent to investigate this. When Pran learns of the other events (the Kinshaya and the Zaldans) her starts doing some research. He realizes that something is afoot. He gets permission from Dax to go to Zalda to talk the former federation representative who is a friend. It turns out that the footage showing the Zaldans refusing refugees was fabricated.

As Pran, Dax, and S.C.E. (Starfeet Corp of Engineers) continue to investigate they discover that there is a group working to subvert the Federation. Once the group is outed, the Tholian ambassador goes to Bacco and informs her that the Tholians, Kinshaya, Tal’Aura’s Romulan contingent, and the Breen have formed an alliance called the Typhon Pact.

So as you can well imagine this Typhon Pact is about to cause trouble for the Federation and its allies. I’m wondering who is in a better position right now. In the Destiny books we see that both Romulan contingents, the Klingons, and the Federation suffered a great deal at the hands of the Borg. With this Pact, it is unknown what they suffered. At the end of the story, the news of this new pact gets out. Everyone panics and declares the formation of the Typhon Pact an “Act of Agression.” Pran is the one voice of reason. He opines that the Typhon pact is similar to the alliance that Earth, Vulcan, Andor, and Tellerus made during the days of Archer. He reminds us that although history accords this step as peaceful, any onlookers during that time might have interpreted this action as “aggressive.” I think Pran’s insight is right.. I also think that very few people will listen to what he says. In the end I think the Federation and allies might create a self-fulfilling prophesy so to speak. They may end up causing another war because they’ve decided without further evidence that this group is aggressive. So the fun begins.

Next week we will return to A Time to Be Born series.

Posted in Uncategorized

I’ve Been Conscripted

I’d been thinking of doing a series of just plain odd things that happen in everyday life. You know fiction has to make sense. There are all these rules and regulations about what can and can’t happen in a given story. There must be a certain amount of logic. If there isn’t than people will not read your book.

Life is a horse of a different color. There is no rhyme, reason, or logic behind some of the things that happen. You know what I’m talking about- those times when things happen, and you wonder whether or not you’re being punked! This will most likely not be a weekly thing. I will post the stories on a Wednesday, but I’ll post them as they happen. So on to the story.

No doubt you are all aware of social networking sites like Facebook and Myspace- not unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past several years. You know the drill. You sign up for an account, have the site email everyone you know, then friend people, change your status, add photos (that have no business being anywhere on the internet), message your friends, etc. Of course on Facebook, you have all the annoying applications that your friends keep sending you.

For good or ill, these sites are here to stay. The one redeeming quality about these sites is that they are VOLUNTARY. Even if your friend has Facebook send you an invite, it is still up to you whether you want to join. Neither application signs you up.

But there’s a new kid on the block who apparently thinks that they are so important that they have the right to not only sign you up with an account, but choose at least one friend for you. Who would dare, you ask. None other than the Leaky Cauldron.

So Harry Potter, as much as I enjoyed the series, was a fad- a lucrative one- but still a fad. Some fansites made a boat load of money by being super fans. Mugglenet and the Leaky Cauldron being two of the largest. Emerson Spartz, the webmaster of Mugglenet, was quoted in a magazine article as saying that he made six figures off his website. I’m not sure if this was per year or not. I can only imagine that Leaky Cauldron was equally lucrative. These sites may have had sponsors, but they primarily made their money through Pay Per Impression Ads. So basically, you didn’t have to click on the ad, they made a certain percentage for each page load.

Anyway, since Deathly Hallows has been published, the Harry Potter fandom has been drying up. So profits have been steadily declining on both sites. Oh the WB/JKR vs. RDR books probably gave the sites a boost, but once that was done there really isn’t much else to talk about. In an effort to stave off the inevitable, the Leaky Cauldron created MyLeaky, which is basically Harry Potter myspace. Here’s the kicker, instead of Ms. Anelli announcing it and letting people register, she in her “wisdom” hath seen fit to create accounts for the hapless fans who created accounts in years past without their permission. She’s also rigged it so that she is your friend. Oh did I mention that you can’t un-friend her. Yeah, I tried- repeatedly. The worst bit is that since she is your “friend” if you have the great misfortune to log into your site, you have to read about her daily exploits on MyLeaky. Allow me to subject you to illustrate the Purgatory delights to which I am daily treated.

“HI MOMMY!”

“OK, mom, you just made a parchment post without my help. I am loving this.”

Melissa Anelli just added her wand to her profile. You should too!

“This is my sister, everyone. :D”

“Now everyone tell me John and Frak didn’t do something amazing work right here. LOL. I busted a gut this morning laughing. “

“How can it be cheating when there was never a rule in place.” The ones who sent it to themselves were cheating; the ones who sent out the invites legitimately were not. However, to make it fair to the 99.999999% of people who use the site, who DID NOT cheat, “everyone” was limited to their 10 invites. If it affects everyone, then the very real cheating that did go on doesn’t disadvantage anyone. If no one had cheated, we wouldn’t have had to do anything, but it’s far more unfair for one out of thousands to benefit, than for an even rule to unfortunately deduce some points from those who didn’t. In the future we’re going to have a better way of measuring referrals, and will be able to take off the limit.”

I’ll stop there. If I had her life, I’d kill myself. I’m sorry, I know that it’s mean. But I didn’t ask to be given an account; I didn’t ask to be friended. I know on Facebook you have to read about the minutae of other people’s lives, but I chose that.

I am upset. Just because I signed up to participate in a discussion forum does not me that I consent to have the forum create a glorified Myspace account in my name. What, are we in a Communist state where we are forced to do someone’s bidding? Just because a website is desperate for more traffic doesn’t give those running it the right to invade people’s privacy in this fashion.

Worse still, Ms. Anelli claims on http://www.leakynews.com when she announced the unveiling of this misery, that there were already 75,000 members. Of course she failed to mention that she conscripted greater than 90% of the membership. Oh did I mention that Pay Per Impression Ads generally require that you have a certain amount of web traffic? Did I mention that Harry Potter fandom is bleeding members? Yup that 75,000 looks a lot better than the 100 or so die hards who actually hang around the site.

Clearly Ms. Anelli is not familiar with the works of Aesop. There’s a fable entitled “The Butcher and His Customers.” The moral of that fable is that prevarication often amounts to lying.

So wish me luck. I’m trying to find out a way to delete this unwanted account. I will let you know if and when I succeed.

So what about you? Has anyone signed you up for an unwanted social networking account?