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Posts Tagged ‘podcast novel’

No, I’m not hallucinating. I’m just going to step away from folklore for a moment. In the past I’ve talked about the largest flying dinosaurs and birds that we know from fossils. Now I’ll be taking a look at a few living creatures that resemble dragons.

Tuatara are often referred to as “living fossils.” The two species living today are survivors of a reptile family that thrived during the age of dinosaurs, 200 million years ago. Tuatara look a lot like lizards, but they aren’t. Their backbones are rather like those of fish, their legs are rather like those of amphibians, and their back ridges are rather like those of crocodiles. Amazingly, tuatara also have a photo-sensitive area that’s sometimes called a “third eye.” Scientists aren’t sure what it’s for.

These are not the world’s biggest reptiles, but they do reach a respectable 2-1/2 feet. They are long lived, up to 100 years, and they are slow to mature and reproduce. Environmental changes, like hunting by humans and invasive rats, have reduced their range considerably.

Tuatara were once found all over New Zealand. Modern populations can only thrive on small islands were rats are not present. These are mostly around the North Island of New Zealand. Rat extermination does seem to help young tuatara survive, and conservation programs have helped expand their range.

However, research shows that the ambient temperature plays a role in determining whether eggs develop into male or female animals. There’s some concern that, as global warming increases, fewer and fewer female tuatara will hatch. Eventually these ancient survivors may join the rest of their kin in extinction.

Native people in New Zealand had a number of folk beliefs about tuatara. They were believed to be messengers of Whiro, the deity controlling disasters and death. They were also considered to be divine guardians who kept people about of taboo areas. Women did not eat tuatara meat, and evidently some women tattooed images of tuatara on their bodies — presumably to guard their fertility. Today, native people regard tuatara as national treasures and an important part of their heritage.

 

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Swept up in Olympic Fever, I here offer what the Olympics might be like if fantasy creatures were real.

Marksmanship would have two categories. Dragons and other fire-breathers would compete in the Heavy Weapons category, while magi with magic wands would make up the Light Weapons category.

Wizards and witches also would compete in transforming objects or themselves. Transforming other beings is not allowed.

Aerobatic events would include precision flying by dragon formations. Giant eagles would dominate aerial speed racing. Magic carpets and flying brooms would have their own category.

Gymnastics: Gnomes and fairies are heavy favorites, although flyers must somehow contain their wings to avoid having an unfair advantage.

Aquatics: Sea serpents would compete in swimming races and also have their own water polo team. Naiads and water hags would be heavily favored in swimming and diving events.

Equestrian events would be dominated by centaurs and would include physical combat.

Archery: Although humans try hard, elves own the field. It’s only a question whether dark, light or woodland elves take the medals.

Weight lifting is the pride of dwarves. However, they refuse to take part in boxing because nobody bleeds.

So tell me, friends, what fantasy Olympic events would you like to see?

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It’s been a few months since the conclusion of my podcast novel, Masters of Air & Fire. I had fun doing the first one, and I’m contemplating recording another with my free time on summer break. Masters of Air & Fire was a middle grade novel, so I’m thinking this time the grown-ups deserve a turn.

What I’d like to know from you, my followers…

Followers! That makes me feel so dictatorial. But as I was saying…

Let me know what material appeals to you most. 1) classic swords and sorcery novelette, 2) dark urban fantasy novelette, or 3) short stories in the style of the Brothers Grimm. None of these will equal the 16 episodes of Masters of Air & Fire, but perhaps that’s best for time-pinched adults such as ourselves.

So, followers, will it be Door #1, Door #2, or what’s behind the curtain? I look forward to your feedback.

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I’ve been mulling whether to post comments on Robin Hobb’s Dragon Keeper, first in a new trilogy. My feelings are mixed, and I prefer to keep things positive. This blog is about dragons, however, and ultimately it’s the dragons who won out.

Hobb has put together an interesting life cycle for her dragons, who hatch on land but travel down a river and live for a time as sea serpents. When mature, they travel back up the river and build coccoons, in which they metamorphose and ultimately emerge as dragons. One of the most fascinating aspects is that everything in the dragon’s being contains both memory and great magical power. The dragons eat their coccoons and their dead, not out of greed but to preserve those memories and reserve the power to dragonkind.

The main dragon character here begins as the sea serpent Sisarqua and hatches as the dragon Sintara, called Skymaw by the humans she deems unworthy to know her true name. Alas, the sea serpents were held long at sea by forces of nature and war. They are old and weak when they make their migration. Many die when their imperfect coccoons fail to protect them, and those who do live are stunted. Even Sintara, who is among the strongest, has misformed wings that will never allow her to fly.

Yet, having absorbed the memories within her coccoon (and the bodies of the unfortunates who did not survive metamorphosis) Sintara has a vivid image of the magnificent winged creature she was meant to be. She also inherited the arrogance of those born to rule. The clash between ideal and reality gives this character great pathos. I cheered for Sintara, even when her jaws dripped with blood, and I have great hopes for maturity to temper her vanity.

One of the key questions in this series is power, both personal/relationship power and political power. The humans have their power struggles, the dragons have theirs, and between the two kinds is a separate political struggle for dominance. In ancient times, the mighty dragons were in command. They viewed humans as born to serve. Some humans do willingly serve, and even worship, dragons. Yet because these dragons are not as mighty as their ancestors, some humans want to treat them as livestock and harvest their body parts for magical or financial gain.

How these power struggles work out looks to be the heart of the series, and it could be great reading. Except… The human characters frustrated me greatly. It took them forever to say things that seemed pretty obvious, and the plot held no surprises. Interesting as the ideas are, I’ll have to decide whether I have the patience to continue reading Hobb’s series.

Adult readers may enjoy Dragon Keeper, but I do not recommend it for kids. The sentences are too long, the plot moves too slowly, and there is  significant (though not explicit) reference to a gay love affair that some parents may not approve.

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A kind listener informed me that I had uploaded Episode 15 twice, instead of Episode 16. So with sincere apologies, the actual Episode 16 is now available on my web site or Podbean.

I’m embarrassed by the mistake, but I am glad to know someone was listening and wanted to hear my ending. It just goes to show that good things can even come out of goofing up.

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It’s been a long journey, and our three wyrmlings face their final challenge. Can they save Wrotha and earn the right to claim Hot Mountain? Find out in the final episode of Masters of Air & Fire. The episode is available on Podbean or my web site.

This special finale includes chapters 31, 32 and 33, with an approximate run time of 23 minutes.

Now here’s my challenge to you: let me know what you think! The series has been running since January and I haven’t received any feedback at all. (Picture me pouting.) So now that the story is complete, I’d love to receive comments on the whole yarn or any part of it.

I hope you’ve enjoyed Masters of Air & Fire, and I look forward to hearing from you.

Time notes: Chapter 31, 0:53; chapter break, 6:48; chapter 32, 7:19; chapter break, 12:55; chapter 33, 13:48; end credits, 21:08; total run time, 22:25.

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I proudly present the penultimate episode of Masters of Air & Fire! Listen to it on Podbean or my web site.

In this podcast, the wyrmlings try to decide where to go next. Is Hot Mountain safe again? This episode includes chapters 29 and 30 and runs approximately 15 minutes.

Next episode is a special, three-chapter finale. Look for it here on April 29th!

Time notes: Chapter 29, 1:00; Chapter break, 7:09; Chapter 30, 7:37; End credits, 16:54; Total run time, 18:17

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