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.)
Worry and irritation mingled in Sylvie's mind. Ayu-Asra, the two-headed pet dragon she could not get rid of, had gotten her thrown out of an inn, and she had really looked forward to not having to sleep outside.
Not that she could blame the landlord. A glance at the animal trailing her by alternately running along the top of the fence next to the street and gliding a short distance showed her that its chest was still glowing faintly. Maybe she should have claimed this was normal and harmless, rather than admitting he had never done that before. The dragon didn't seem bothered, so maybe it was harmless, but what could it be? He was able to breathe fire, so maybe something going wrong there? Trying to remember if she'd ever heard of a dragon overheating and exploding, Sylvie flinched as Ayu-Asra whistled shrilly and veered off towards an orchard.
After a furtive look around, Sylvie followed to see what had him so excited, or what damage she would have to apologise for.
She found him chasing insects, his heads occasionally fighting each other for the fattest bugs.
Luminous fluid sprayed from the fat glow-worm corpses.
A while ago I posted short reviews of stories M.C.A. Hogarth collected under the headline "The Pelted SF". Today's the turn for another setting and culture she invented.
The Jokka are an alien species with three sexes, going through two puberties during each of which an individual's sex may change, at random. The stories take place in a pre-industrial age and do not feature humans or other aliens, so I guess if you file these as "fantasy" or "science fiction" is a matter of your personal definition of the genres.
Freedom, Spiced and Drunk, a story about a female who turns neuter at first puberty, is a good introduction to the biology that shapes the Jokkas' culture, and a poignant tale. (available for free at Smashwords and B&N)
New Stories involves an attempt to change traditions to changing traditions and getting over preconceptions.
It feels mostly like a puzzle piece to me; I think it works way better if you get the stories before and after than on its own.
(Smashwords | Amazon | B&N)
A Trifold Spiral Knot involves a Jokkad who h had been considered the chosen of a god, and whose sex-changes had been interpreted as signs. This story contains the most in-depth description of the sex changes themselves, and one of the Jokka's religions, as well as a jJokkad's musings on colour.
I find this story hard to pin down, but find the descriptions transporting.
(Smashwords | Amazon | B&N)
Money for Sorrow, Made Joy shows us a trading caravan of neuters planning to go exploring uncharted areas, but circumstances make it more difficult than expected.
As usual the descriptions are charming, but this one does not speak to me as much as most of the others.
(Available for free at Smashwords | B&N)
Unspeakable follows a male getting involved with a story teller who spreads taboo works. The short summaries of the stories cast interesting little spotlights on facets of the culture. (One of those taboos is loving someone not your own sex.)
This is one of my favourite stories by the author.
(available for free at Smashwords | B&N)
His Neuter Face is told by a female turned neuter. Not as physically capable as someone born neuter, and not salable like a female, it is thrown out by its clan, and must find a new place, and new confidence. Luckily there is a newcomer in town taking a liking to it.
While the previous stories about neuter characters focussed on their physical resilience, and often their role as hunters or workers, this story casts a greater focus of how the social lives of Jokka work. I really like the narrator's character development in this story. (At a bit over 12,000 words, this might pass as a novella rather than short story, depending on your definition.)
(Smashwords | Amazon | B&N)
The narator/viewpoint-character of Fire in the Void has made posing as an oracle to sell vague or common sense answers to people a lucrative business - but with his latest customer asking for help in matters of love, things turn more serious.
Usually I have trouble with present tense fiction, but M.C.A. Hogarth's attention to detail and all senses makes up for it. A slightly eerie story.
(Smashwords | Amazon | B&N)
I really recommend anyone who's interested in fiction about alien species to give at least the free ones a try. For me, the ones with a pricetag were worth it, too.
M.C.A. Hogarth is also working on a collected volume in print, to be titled Clays Beneath the Skies. She is looking for sponsors for the project, and the goodies on offer go up to the original illustrations she created for the collection.
You'd like to hear a fairy tale from me? Really? Well, all right.
Many generations ago in a village in Kandral was a boy who thought he was smarter than he was. He went out into the woods without telling anyone, wanting to prove he could hunt on his own. Instead he got lost. His parents thought he was with his cousins, his cousins thought he was with his parents, so nobody missed him until night fell.
In the dark and with no idea where he was, he became very afraid. He called for help.
Someone arrived, a figure with skin and hair shining like a moon. It talked sweetly to the boy, until he was not afraid any more. The fae asked the boy to tell it about his family, in exchange for being led to a street, and got a lot of complaints how his parents liked his brothers and sisters, who he said picked on him, more, and no-one took him as seriously as he deserved.
"Ah, this is sad," said the fae, and nothing more.
They walked in silence until they reached a path. The boy recognised it after a moment.
"Here, take this," said the fae, and handed him a seed, big as a nut and shimmering golden. "Plant it somewhere near your pastures. It will grow into something wonderful. It will bring joy to your life."
The boy thanked the fae and ran home. He hid the seed, and it was a week later, after all the anger, relief and excitement about his disappearance and reappearance had worn off, that he snuck off and buried the seed in a hedge, a bit hidden. He did not want it out in the open, so he could be the one to "find" whatever would sprout.
He never saw the plant, because it grew much faster than he had thought, but much more hidden. Roots spread far, sending up shoots that the goats liked to eat. It did not harm the goats, but their milk turned to slow poison. Soon the boy's parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, and many of their neighbours fell sick, and died. The fae's poison never harmed the boy who had received the gift of getting rid of those he maligned.
When the story came out, the remaining people of the village decided they had to cleanse the area with fire to get rid of the plant. The boy, mad with grief and guilt, jumped into the flames, and burned to ashes.
What, you don't like it? So leave me alone about fairy tales. That's the kind of story about fairies that I know.
The Sharing Knife is a series of four books by Lois McMaster Bujold, which from what I've seen is more "love it or hate it" than the rest of her work, so, just some info to help people decide if it sounds interesting.
Let's look at the blurb of the first volume, for an impression:
Troubled young Fawn Bluefield seeks a life beyond her family's farm. But en route to the city she encounters a patrol of Lakewalkers nomadic soldier-sorcerers from the northern woodlands. Feared necromancers armed with mysterious knives made of human bone they wage a secret ongoing war against the scourge of the "malices", immortal entities that draw the life out of their victims, enslaving human and animal alike. It is Dag—a Lakewalker patroller weighed down by past sorrows and onerous present responsibilities—who must come to Fawn's aid when she is taken captive by a malice. They prevail at a devastating cost—unexpectedly binding their fates as they embark upon a remarkable journey into danger and delight, prejudice and partnership . . . and perhaps even love.
This gives a decent impression of Lakewalkers seen from Farmer eyes. I don't think the "feared" and "mysterious" bits hold hold up from reader side, since Dag is also a viewpoint character.
This is not a story about monster-hunting. It's a romance that starts with Dag saving Fawn from a monster, but that's over in the first quarter or so of the book. The rest is them falling for each other Dag introducing Fawn to the joys of sex, and cultures clashing, a lot of the latter as Dag tries to win his future in-laws over. Good if you like romance, not good if you don't, and start the book expecting mostly adventure with a little romance added.
There is also some potential squick involved... Dag and Fawn fall hard for each other, but, well, Dag... we're talking about a man falling for a girl who's a third his age, and the first appreciative mental comment on the shape of her breasts from him comes when he interrupts some bandit attempting to rape her. In addition, as a Lakewalker he has "groundsense" that Fawn as a Farmer doesn't, which includes that he always has a pretty good idea what she feels, leaving her with rather less mental privacy than he has.
All things considered, Dag comes out this side of decent, and he cares deeply about Fawn, and she falls hard for him, too, but some things I try not to dwell on too much.
The focus of the series shifts in later volumes, particularly in the third and fourth books, which include Dag and Fawn dealing with a life neither of them was prepared for, and trying to tackle the big problem of that world by talking to people.
It's slow-paced and focuses on people and their interactions, with a big side of culture clash. Violent threats are usually a surprise rather than long prepared for; there is no "big bad" that our protagonists overcome with epic heroics. I love that. I've seen reviews complain that the "the world would be better if people just talked to each other more"-approach was naive, but I loved it. Changing the world one opinion at a time, by talking, is a nice change from hack and slash.
I got the first book of this series "warned" by negative reviews and halfway expecting to hate it. It involved more sex than I'm used to, but I enjoyed the humour and other parts of the book so much I was very glad I couldd get the ebook version of the rest of the series (particularly since it really is the first half of a story that got too long for one book), without having to wait for shipping. For me, definitely something for the list of things to re-read.
Nico had the vague impression that the impact crater was too small for the body that had caused it. She also had the distinct impression that the molten mass at the bottom, deep iridescent green like beetle wings, was not a meteorite, particularly when it started moving.
It flowed together and rose, like a slime mold attempting to take on a humanoid form.
A psychic message flooded Nico's mind, which put it in words as "Fear not!"
After a moment's pause, she answered, "If you're going to tell me I'm pregnant, there will be trouble."
I've been meaning to try air layering - a method to propagate plants that seems to me less risky than cuttings - and now that circumstances suggested to me it would be a good time, I thought I'd document my attempt, so it might serve as a sort of how-to.
First, let me introduce you properly to one of my Japanese maples.
This is the one that went feral. It was a grafted one with leaves that had white edges, but that graft died either last summer, or the summer before that, presumably because I too often neglected to water it.
Wish List by John Locke is a novel available as an ebook for less than $1. Last time Kobo ran a "$1 off" coupon code promotion, I snapped it up.
Then I tried to read it.
Somebody, for some reason I can't fathom, thought it would be a good idea to put SEVEN BLOODY PAGES OF ADULATION in the front of this book - review outtakes, including "five star" reviews. In a small font. Preceded by a relatively lengthy copyright note, and followed by a page with a dedication, and a page with acknowledgements. The book had no working table of contents to skip that cruft and just get to the story. That left me pretty irritated even before the prologue started.
Seriously, why would you do that?
I can kinda see how those comments might be considered potentially useful in paper books, because in a bookshop there is no display with reviews, but downloadable ebooks? Online, reviews are easy to find - usually on the page where you download the book in question. So they strike me as superfluous in ebooks.
And those reviews have a better chance of being balanced than whatever is included in the book. Since I've seen one author quoted on a book with "a fabulous book, I wouldn't want to miss a line" and on the later added sequel with "a fabulous series, I wouldn't want to miss a line", I assume those endorsements are fake, or at least dishonest. And even if they all were genuine, obviously only 100% positive bits of reviews get into the book itself. It's advertising.
If I had looked at a sample to decide if I wanted to buy, I'd have dismissed it before reaching the end of the adulation, because with going through that much hyping being "required" before I can read it, the book probably isn't any good speaking for itself. It reminds me a bit of the unskippable advertisments in some DVDs, only this is even more pointless, because if I already have the book, I don't need convincing to get it. And it bears repeating: SEVEN BLOODY PAGES! AAAARGH!
I've got to say, it makes HarperCollins ebooks I've seen so far look better by comparison. They include stuff often found at the front of print books - other books by this author, or the copyright page - at the back of the book, after the story.
In my opinion, there should not be more between the reader and the story than neccessary, because anything beyond that will bore, annoy and put off some prospective readers.
Eh, yeah, enough rant, back to Wish List.
The prologue involved a date between a man and a woman, from the viewpoint of the man. He wants sex, she doesn't, but he talks her into it (not that he has a hard time). While they're in bed getting started, his mobile phone rings, he pulls a knife from below his cushion and stabs the phone. Then he's disgruntled because his date is freaked out by his behaviour, rather than impressed.
From the style I guess it's supposed to be funny. I found it extremely creepy.
I decided to not read the rest of this book. It's rather unlikely I'll ever pick up any other book by John Locke.
The chants rose slowly, shaping sounds not part of any human language. The acrid smoke of incense swirled as the air in the closed chamber started to move. Only when the candle flames changed from their natural colour to a dim midnight blue the glow of the diagram drawn on the floor with unsavoury substances became apparent. It brightened, spitting sparks as the chants crescendoed. A flash of light and a thunder strike, then silence, broken by genteel coughing.
A strange figure stood in the summoning circle, short, and with a fringe of hair framing its properly bald head.
"William Aloysius Coltrane."
"You have been summoned and bound to our service."
"What?" The man in the circle straightened his glasses and peered up at the speaker. His opposite was about nine foot tall. The horns and goat's legs and all seemed to be way too realistic for a mask used in a prank.
"You will serve as our accountant for a year and a day."
A glance at the even more disturbing other figures around the cavernous room decided William against protesting.
"What does the job entail?"
It had to be a dream. He blamed the cheese sandwich.