tagged Cats Science fiction

Three Kintaran Stories by Elizabeth McCoy

"Leaping Lizards", "The Best Revenge", and "What Really Matters" are three science fiction short stories published as separate ebooks. They take place in the same universe, and mostly follow Kinahran, a young cat-centaur growing up on a clan-ship of her people.

I've read and listed them in publishing order, starting with the freebie introductory story. (Covers below link to Smashwords sites.)

Leaping Lizards cover, showing two white cat-centaurs in front of storage boxes and a circuit-like design The Best Revenge cover, showing a white cat-centaur child with a hindleg in a cast sitting on the back of a grown black and white, in the background a brown tabby climbing on storage boxes What Really Matters cover, showing a group of cat-centaurs of different fur colours running from a spliced-in snapshop of a spaceship interior to an area with grass and trees
Decent tale, worth a try.
Jump to review
Not my cup of tea
Jump to review
Nice mix, recommended
Jump to review

As a general note I'd like to say: Elizabeth McCoy Obviously is obviously big on worldbuilding, including conlanging. The second in my eyes is a bit problematic. It's mostly that something like leaving "khih" and "nih" ("yes" and "no") and other words in the original Kintaran when translating a line of dialogue seems illogical to me, and makes reading less smooth than it could be. (The vocabulary is given in a glossary up front in each story.)

On the plus side, I think that she does a very good job of working in information about her universe in small, natural-feeling bits—in these stories I never had the feeling of being stuck in an unneccessary infodump. Aspects of Kintaran culture are shown organically through actions or thoughts of the characters in the stories.

On to the individual tales:

Important tip if you use image backgrounds on your website

We all agree that having someone wait 10, 20, 30 seconds for a website to load if that can be easily avoided is a bad idea, right?

Yet if you are using a big graphic as your backround, it might be what's happening: Depending on the background colour, the text may be unreadable while the background graphic is loading. The solution is to define both a background image, and a background colour that is similar to the colour of the image.

I've made a quick mock-up to demonstrate the effect.

Blog tags: Resources Websites
tagged Science fiction

Finished by C. A. Young

Finished is a science fiction adventure short story (~4800 words) published as ebook at Smashwords

Official blurb:

A life of larceny in a half-wrong body isn't what Aldin hoped for, but right now it's all he's got and he's making the best of it. When an unwelcome surprise sends him running, his prospects hinge entirely on his wits and an unlikely ally.

Aldin (our viewpoint character) is an art thief one job away from retiring and getting his sex reassignment surgery finished. When needing to evade authorities, borrowing transportation including driver at gunpoint seemed like a good idea...

Suspense, action, and a little commentary on gender change.

Content "warning": Starts off with a short section of pillow talk shading into foreplay, before that's interrupted.

There were no spelling, grammar or similar issues that jumped out at me.

My verdict: Worth a read.

Available at Smashwords for 99 cents.

Quick chocolate cake recipe

From the "good things need to be shared" section, a recipe that's been floating around my mother's side of the family, for some really delicious chocolate cake. While rich in sugar and fat, it doesn't involve flour, so it should be suitable for people looking for gluten-free recipes.

200g are 7.05 ounces.
If I'm reading a cups-to-grammes conversion list correctly, we're talking
8/9 cup butter
1 1/3 cups ground almonds
8/9 cup sugar
I presume 1 packet vanilla sugar would be 4 teaspoons; the brand we have says 1 packet is "for 500g of flour", 500g being 1.1 pounds. You could probably replace it with a little vanilla aroma, or leave it out entirely.

200g butter
200g dark chocolate (60% cocoa content)
200g ground almonds
200g sugar
1 packet vanilla sugar (meant for 500g flour)
1/2 packet (2 teaspoons) baking soda
4 eggs



Melt the butter and chocolate.

Add almonds, sugar, vanilla sugar and baking soda, and mix.

Whisk in eggs one by one.

Put into a round pan and bake for 40 minutes at 160° C (320 F) upper and lower heat.

The original recipe I got called for sifting powdered sugar on top after letting it cool, but I don't think that's neccessary. It's plenty rich as it is.

Blog tags: Resources
tagged Fantasy

The Sheepfarmer's Daughter

I had heard the name Elizabeth Moon in author recommendations, so when I saw one of her novels available for free at BAEN, I gave it a shot. It's the first volume in a fantasy series.

The prologue tells us of a written account of Paksenarrion's (here not specified) deeds being delivered to her humble family. It amazes them. Since chapter one jumps back to when she ran away from home, that prologue smells to me like a cheap ploy to build interest.

In the following, we get rather a lot of detail about basic training in a mercenary army. While we hear how to handle a spear, what the food's like, and what the unit marches past on the way to their first campaign, we don't see much character interaction beyond orders and some bullying from a fellow recruit. Paks making friends is covered with "Despite having little time to talk, she knew that Saben, Arñe, Vik, Jorti, and Coben were going to be her friends". The occasional conversation seems to be designed primarily to lay out worldbuilding details (gods, elves and dwarves, geography).

The only point which is not that boring is a sort of investigation after an offstage fight involving Paks and two fellow mercenaries, in which she is initially accused. The thing is, this has her locked up, and the interesting part is someone else showing initiative.

About a quarter of the way into the book, Paks is still a cipher to me, rather than someone I care about, and she's supposed to be the protagonist. I read too character-centered to be interested in this, and couldn't be bothered to finish.

Might might be interesting for military aficionados (Elizabeth Moon was in the US Marine Corps, so presumably it's not too far-fetched), but the more military-centered stories I read, the more I think I just should stay away from the topic/genre.

Blog tags: Reviews Books

New art, sketchbook trawl, and looking for feedback

Hey folks! There are two new finished images in here, as well as some rough sketches. If you see one you'd particularly like to see finished, do speak up. :)

Blog tags: Gallery updates

Migration Done

The change from Wordpress to Drupal is done.

But I think I said that.

There is no new content at the moment, but hopefully the new site will make things easier to find.

That means Friday Flash should be back here in a few days, and other content should show up more frequently, too.

Blog tags: Site news

On hiatus

Thought I'd drop a line... I'm revamping the website to a system that better integrates art and other content, and that takes up so much brainspace not much is left for drawing. I'll pick it up again soon.

Blog tags: Site news
tagged Plants

Emergency Experiments in Gardening

About a month ago I started air layering a branch of one of my Japanese maples.

I had no idea how long that'd take, and didn't know how long to wait before I could peek, but it got taken out of my hands.

Yesterday we had rain and wind, and apparently that made the top of the shoot too heavy, and it broke. Now, it broke where I'd cut into the wood and would have cut the top part off - after there'd been enough roots to plant it somewhere.

So, well, time to check how it's doing.

That's some callus there, and one little white root poking to the right. Though there were the beginnings of a few more just visible. (That's my thumbnail at the bottom, for scale.)

So I cut it back a good deal so there aren't so many leaves from which water evaporates, stuck it into a pot with more of the seed and cutting soil (the end is a way under the surface, so the poor little stick won't fall over), and wait.

I put a freezer bag over the whole thing to keep the air around it humid, and put it in a place without direct sun so in its mini greenhouse it won't burn up. I figure the chances are better than with a plain cutting, since there are already roots starting to grow, whose tips presumably can absorb water and nutrients as they should, but we'll see.

Anyway, the principle works, so one of those days I'll start on one of the dissectum varieties. (wikipedia photo, for the curious.)

Blog tags: Plants
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