The Longevity Thesis Book Video

Monday, March 31, 2008

Dear Tante Marianne

Dear Tante Marianne,

It hasn't hit me until today. I'm sorry for what's happened to you. I hope you're not in any pain, or won't be for much longer.

I just needed to say, thank you for making so many Christmases wonderful, you were one of the good things in my childhood.

Thank you for being proud of me.

I miss you already. Safe journey.



Saturday, March 29, 2008

Wicked Initiations - Drawing Kyril

OK, that title is still tentative, but I'm starting to like it more and more.

The first draft of Wicked Initiations, which is the prequel to The Longevity Thesis, was finished a few weeks ago, and has been sent out to the first round of test readers. So far, one of them tells me it's "superior" to LT, and other described it as "much better".

This is encouraging, especially since it's only the first draft. I'm hoping to add about 30k words, and still think I could polish it up a bit more. Anyway, while I wait for the critiques to trickle in, I've been indulging in one of my favourite activities, which is to make some little graphics to promote the novel later on.

The first one I've done is of the character named Kyril. She is an Aragoth who does not die in the surface-underground war, and becomes a central player in the formation of events that eventually lead up to the "birth" of Antronos, who is of course the protagonist in The Longevity Thesis. Aragoths are not natural creatures, having been created in the Desert using a mysterious animation process for generating disposable and intensely loyal soldiers. As such, Kyril "eats" only on the surface, and has to absorb the elements of wind, water and Earth, in order to continue existing. This activity ties into one of the underlying themes of the novel, which is the proper direction of one's Qi (life energy) in order to attain a worthy state of existence that is relatively pain-free.

Of course, I'm using The GIMP graphics program and the Wacom graphics tablet my brother gave me last year.

I started off with a base sketch - pencil and paper - which I photographed and loaded up as a digital image. From there, I used separate layers for the base colours, light and dark shades, and the light that is supposed to represent the elements Kyril is absorbing. I'll eventually use this image in promotional bookmarks and on the webpage, once the novel is finished.

I think I might redo her hand around the light bubble (which is actually another character in itself - won't tell you which!) so that the fingers bend around it a bit. I'd also like to change the background to a Desert scene and maybe put another character standing in the background. But the learning curve is steep, and that will take me some time.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

My Opinion on The Golden Compass

I've finally finished reading The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman. I had bought a copy on sale a while ago, curious about it because of the controversy, and doubly determined to read it after a friend of mine had said to me, "I've finished reading your book, Jen. I'm reading a really good book now. The Golden Compass. It's very engaging."


Of course, it's an extremely well written book . . . but I don't see why it got banned for being anti-Church of all things, and I'm not so sure I'd want anyone younger than 13 reading it. Perhaps the younger set would simply not pick up on some of the rather "racy" concepts that are introduced in the book, and it would be just fine to let them pore through it.

Here are a few things that made me raise my eyebrows in surprise, having not expected to come across such things in a children's book:

1) A child being hurt by a family member she has loving feelings towards. The "he" refers to Lord Asriel, who is first introduced as her uncle, but is later revealed to be her father:

*He seized her wrist and twisted hard.

"Lyra! What the hell are you doing?"

"Let go of me and I'll tell you!"

"I'll break your arm first. How dare you come in here?"*

2) Advocating narcotics use:

*The Master lit the spirit lamp under the little silver chaffing dish and heated some butter before cutting half a dozen poppy heads open and tossing them in. Poppy was always served after a feast: it clarified the mind and stimulated the tongue, and made for rich conversation.*

3) Hinting at different sexual orientations. This one may be a bit of a stretch, but why did the author choose to emphasize the point?

*Bernie was a kind, solitary man, one of those rare people whose daemon was the same sex as himself.*

4) Adultery:

It turns out that Lord Asriel had an affair with Mrs. Coulter in order to conceive Lyra, the story's protagonist. He also killed her husband, which is why there is no Mr. Coulter in the movie.

There are some statements in the book that seem to be anti-Church, but I found that there were others which were strongly validating of traditional beliefs. For the most part the anti-Church views are held by Lord Asriel, who turns out to be not a very nice person in the first place. And if the Church is being condemned for putting their own political interests first and using propaganda to support it, Asriel seems equally guilty of the same.

My conclusion: Mr. Pullman has dealt with several interesting concepts in a carefully neutral manner. He may show certain factions in a bad light, but he doesn't seem to be overly biased in doing so. Perhaps the humans involved look bad, but for all the attention being put on his being an atheist, he doesn't seem to rule out the possibility of there being higher powers that work on the universe.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

The Promotional Talents of Mike Bennett

w00t! Mike Bennett, podcaster and performer, has done an excellent voice-over for me to help promote the podcast of my novel. The little widget off to the right will play the promo if you'd like to hear it.

I previously interviewed Mike for this blog, and more information about him is available on his website.