Saturday, November 04, 2006

Portrait of a Fictional Friend

Crossposted from the Outpost:

Portrait of a Fictional Friend

Here's the result of my silly project of the evening: a photograph of Ariel Allegra. You may remember her as the interdimensional traveler who brought Black Rose Kate here for a visit on Halloween night. Ariel is the 20-year-old daughter of a wizard and a ghost - at least, that's the short version of who they are. Ariel has black hair like her father, but it's less curly. Her eyes are green, and occasionally they glow a little.

"Yes, yes," Ariel says impatiently. "They can see for themselves that I have black hair and green eyes, even if you didn't catch them glowing. What else are you going to tell them about me?"

"Well, I mentioned your parents."

"They're my parents. I asked what you have to say about me personally."


Ariel sees my hesitation, and pounces on it. "You don't know what to say, do you? You named my fictional counterpart nearly thirty years ago, but you still know practically nothing about me. You mostly think of me as a multidimensional taxi service for your pirate friend, and secondarily as Joshua Wander's only daughter. I think I'm insulted."

"All right, then tell me what you want me to know about you. And while you're at it, tell my readers."

Ariel chuckles. "That's one way to get out of it."

"Fine, we'll do it together, interview style. Fair enough?"

"Right," Ariel says. "Are you interviewing me, or am I interviewing you?"

"Troublemaker. First question: do you really attend something called Croatoan College, as I wrote at the end of Mall of Mâvarin? Or is that apocryphal?"

"No, it's as real as I am, in quite a few universes."

"Meaning you've been to more than one version."

"No. One version, multiple universes. "

"So you can't change which Croatoan College you attend, in case you get a bad grade or something?"

"There's only one Croatoan College. It's kind of hard to explain, but it vibrates through a whole series of similar timelines, so that it's accessible from all of them."

"What do you study there?"

"You mean, do I study potions with Professor Snape? No. There is a series of four courses in Applied Magic, but overall Croatoan has nothing in common with Hogwarts or Mâton or any other fictional school for wizards. We have comparative physics, and biology, and literature, all the normal courses other schools have, except that they take into account the variations among the worlds Croatoan touches."

"But who would go to a school like that? Wouldn't that curriculum be inappropriate for anyone other than a time traveler?"

"You mean an interdimensional traveler. Yes, it's a little weird, but it turns out there are quite a few of us. Plus Croatoan has a very good reputation. A number of heads of state graduated from there."

"Which reminds me. What about Carl and Cathy, the students who almost became Carli and Cathma? I seem to recall your mentioning them in a note to me. Do they really go to Croatoan with you?"

For the first time, Ariel looks a little embarrassed. "Ah, well, that was sort of a joke." I read about them in Mall of Mâvarin."

"So they're not real."

"To say that for sure, I'd have to visit every universe there is. But the Carl and Cathy I go to school with never traveled via shopping mall."

"I see. Is there anything else you'd like to add?"

"Yes. It's five o'clock in the morning. Stop watching the Benson marathon and go to bed."

"Will you still be here tomorrow?"

"Oh, I never know that. Good night, Karen."

"Good night, Ariel."

And good night, gentle reader.


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Thursday, November 02, 2006

Kate and Ariel: Just My Imagination

Crossposted from the Outpost to get the Kate and Ariel entries all in one place:

Just My Imagination

Whenever I write about an encounter with Black Rose Kate, as I did last night, I get a little worried that the casual reader will think I've completely lost touch with reality. You do know better, don't you? Well, don't you?

The odd thing about Kate and Ariel is that they are the only fictional characters I've ever created (aside from childhood, and setting aside for a moment the multiverse view of reality) who know I exist. I've never had a conversation with Rani or Cathma or any of the Mâvarin characters, even as a writing exercise in the privacy of my own head. Despite the fact that Mages of Mâvarin (and the serial Mall of Mâvarin, which probably isn't canonical) depicts characters traveling between different versions of reality, it's important to me that they be completely real within their milieu. To have them interact with me, their creator, would be to cheapen their verisimilitude. They would become like Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, talking back to the camera (or to Leon Schlesinger). "Breaking the fourth wall" is usually pretty amusing, and it works well for cartoon characters, the tv series Moonlighting and so on. But it also means that you can never quite suspend your disbelief in the world of such characters. If Bugs knows he's on a movie screen, then nothing around him can be regarded as real, even to Bugs himself. Mâvarin needs to be completely real to Cathma and Carli and Rani and the rest, so that they can behave naturally and the reader can believe in them. Any interaction between them and me would call that into question. Besides, they just don't have anything to say to me.

But Kate is different, and so is Ariel Allegra. Part of what's interesting about Kate as a character is her ability to be placed in a fish out of water situation (i.e. in another century) and thrive there. She is self-confident, observant and opinionated, which gives her the ability to comment on the modern world with an outsider's perspective. Having her interact with me, her putative creator, doesn't make her less "real" because the interaction is part of her backstory. The whole premise is that somehow an eighteenth-century pirate has managed to travel from a universe in which she's real and I'm not to one in which I'm real and she's not. Ariel, being theoretically the person who caused Kate to "visit" me in the first place, is entitled to pull the same trick. As the daughter of Joshua Wander, a character who travels between universes on a regular basis, Ariel can inhabit almost any version of reality without losing believability, as long as she behaves believably and consistently herself. She's not as effective a commentator as Kate, however, because she's seen too many versions of the modern world to consider ours all that strange.

Do I really believe in this multiverse, infinite timelines idea, the concept that makes it possible for Kate and Ariel to "really" exist in some universe somewhere? The best answer I can give you is that I do and I don't. Apparently there's a fair amount of support in the world of physics for the idea of an infinite multiverse, where every possible variation is played out. But I never took physics in school, and I've never quite been able to grasp the technical explanations. Nor do I really like the idea, taken to its logical extreme. If every single possibility is played out, then every time I do something good, some Karen somewhere is doing something bad (and another one is doing nothing, and one is doing something even better, and one is doing something even worse, and so on). At the macro level, an infinite multiverse is a zero sum game. If every possibility must be played out somewhere, then free will is problematic at best.

Also, "every possibility" does not include impossibilities. If all universes obey the same scientific principles, then none of them contain real wizards, or talking rabbits in planes that stop falling when they run out of gas, or tengremen, or time traveling sports cars. Phooey on that. I prefer a more limited and freeform multiverse, where anything we create as fiction can and does exist in another version of reality, and other possible realities don't necessarily exist. I can't justify this idea scientifically, and I'm not sure I really believe it's true. But my fiction is predicated on it.

So I hope you don't mind if I indulge in this conceit from time to time, and talk to the few fictional characters who know I exist. That is, after all, what they're here for.


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Black Rose Kate: This Year's Werewolf, Questioned

Belatedly cross-posted from Outpost Mâvarin to get the Kate saga all into one blog:

Round Robin: This Year's Werewolf, Questioned

Pat (DesLily) chose "The Creative Side Of You" as the theme for this week's Round Robin Challenge. I've been preoccupied with Halloween the last couple of days, but let's see if this will serve. Tonight, John and I built a haunted forest in front of our house. I proceeded to hang out there with a few entirely fictitious friends. Or are they? Black Rose Katie Specks always gets annoyed with me when I claim that I created her. But according to my research, she never existed in this version of reality. Ariel Allegra is more philosophical about it. "I don't mind your calling me fictional," she says, "as long as you understand that in most of the worlds I move through, you're no more real than I am here."

"Tell me again why you perform this Halloween ritual each year," Black Rose Kate ordered. The eighteenth century pirate scribe has taken to dropping in on me lately, wherever I happen to be, aided by her dimensional vagabond friend, Ariel Allegra, Joshua Wander's daughter. The two of them were hanging out by my front door, eating our mini-Snickers and critiquing the kids' costumes. Except that this year, we weren't getting many kids. "As I understand it, you are not attempting to ward off evil spirits," Kate continued. "If anything, you are inviting them."

"I may have invited you, but you aren't what I would call an evil spirit," I said. "Merely piratical. And hungry."

"Good one," Ariel said.

Kate frowned. "I speak of the spirits of the dead and the undead. Clearly I am neither."

"That's debatable," I said. "Most likely you've been dead for centuries, but you haven't stopped moving yet." Kate started to protest, but I held up my hand. "No, don't get mad. You know it's only a joke. Besides, you're right. This has nothing to do with warding off spirits. Modern Halloween is a celebration of the human imagination."

Ariel, who had just taken my picture for this entry, asked, "Whose imagination? Yours or the children's?"


"So you aren't doing it for the children. At least not entirely."

"No. Mostly I'm doing it for me. And a little bit for John, and a little bit for the kids."

"Then tell me this," Kate said. "For whom did you hold your two imitation bats on strings and prepare to launch them through the air, when I told you there was not a child within a furlong of your house?"

"You could have been wrong," I said. "I thought I heard some."

"Who can hear distant children with any accuracy when your street is so noisy?" Ariel asked.

"Aye," said Kate. "Aside from present company, all I have heard this past half hour is that dreadful music about Jesus, and a man talking about a cake walk."

"Yes, that's all coming from the church on the other side of Wilmot."

"Why do they sing about Jesus, tonight of all nights?" Kate asked.

"They aren't singing. They're just playing a very bad recording," I said. "It's all part of a party that church is throwing, an alternative to Halloween. They want children to think about Jesus instead of ghosts and werewolves. And pirates," I could not resist adding.

"In truth, it is no bad thing to consider God and the state of one's soul," Kate said. This surprised me a little. She certainly didn't act as though she worried about such things.

"Is there something wrong with thinking about werewolves and pirates, ghosts and vampires?" Ariel asked. "In your time and place, nobody believes in those things, do they?"

"Some people still believe in ghosts," I said. "The rest, not so much."

"So none of these children will leave your yard believing in werewolves," Kate concluded. "Do the people in that loud church believe otherwise? Would they say it is a sin for you to don the mask of a monster?"

I shrugged. "Maybe. Some people might. It's wrongheaded, though. As I said, it's not about promoting belief in the supernatural. It's about being creative, and having fun."

"And candy," Ariel added.

"Did you have fun, scattering your toy rats and spiders and snakes?" Kate asked.

"Oh, yes. Yes, I did," I said.

Kate shook her head. "I shall never understand this century," she said.

Round Robin Linking List

DesLily - POSTED!
Here, There and Everywhere 2nd Edition

Carly - POSTED!
Ellipsis...Suddenly Carly


Janet - POSTED!
Fond of Photography

Karen - POSTED!
Outpost Mâvarin

Sara - POSTED!
Animated Seasons

Linda - POSTED!
Blah Blah Blog

Suzanne R - POSTED!
New Suzanne R's Life

Teena - POSTED!
It's all about me!

Steven - POSTED!
(sometimes) photoblog

Marie - POSTED!
Photographs and Memories Too (AOL)
Photographs and Memories Too (Blogger)

Robin - POSTED!
R's Musings

Julie - POSTED!
Julie's Web Journal

Chris - POSTED!
It's all about me...I think!

Sassy - POSTED!
Sassy's EYE

John - POSTED!
Personal Effects

Brad G - POSTED!
We Is

Gattina - POSTED! ***Welcome New Member***
Keyhole Pictures

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Monday, October 23, 2006

Lore Goes to Mâvarin, Part Three

This is the last of the already-typed draft for this prequel, at least in the main Word document. A week from now the real work begins.

To Rule Mâvarin

Fragments from a Work in Progress

by Karen Funk Blocher
© 2006 by KFB

Part Three

The carriage ride from Linmar to Odamas was both tedious and eye-opening. Lore had always known that Mâvarin was bigger than Mâton, but she was not prepared for the kinds of distances the Mâvarinû took for granted. It took three days just to reach the main northbound road, the same amount of time it took to cross Mâton on horseback—not that people used such mundane methods on Mâton very often. The selmûn carriage passed over a seemingly endless succession of rolling hills, broken only by the distant view of blue-grey mountains to the west.

Lore wished that their itinerary would take them somewhere half as interesting as those mountains looked. It did not. The northbound road that the one from Linmar dead-ended into was broader and better traveled, but not especially intriguing. It ran alongside a broad, rather muddy river, intermittently covered with barges. On both sides of the river were more hills and more valleys, covered with forests of maple and beech and sycamore, with cherry and later apple orchards, with cotton and later corn, with cows and with sheep. Occasionally the travelers came to a town or village, but mostly the land was rather empty of people, and very green. Lore wasn’t accustomed to seeing so few people in the course of a day, so many growing things and so few outcroppings of bare rock.

“Is all of Mâvarin like this?” she asked Genva one afternoon. They were riding past a small forest that lay to the west of the river Misis, and acre after acre of wheat fields to the east of it.

Genva looked puzzled. “Is all of Mâvarin like what?”

“Green and growing and empty. Your country seems to have an abundance of food, and hardly anyone to eat it. I doubt that we’ve seen a dozen people all day.”

“Oh! If that is what you mean, then the answer is no. Except for the outskirts of Linmar, you have not seen a real Mâvarin city yet; but we do have some. There are plenty of people to eat the food, I assure you.”

“Is all of your land this conducive to farming and ranching?” Lore asked. “Mâton is mostly rock.”

Genva shrugged. “Well, there are mountains, of course. Nothing grows on those but trees and grasses, and in some places it is bare rock. Even the land elsewhere in Mâvarin is not as good for crops as you may think. The soil to the west is largely clay, and near the sea it is mostly sand. Up around Odamas, the soil is full of stones. Our farmers work very hard to make things grow.”

“No charms?” Jere asked. “No selmûn magic?”

“Selmûn magic can only encourage growth, not make it possible,” Genva said. “The land must still be plowed and seeded, or nothing will happen. Plows do not cut through rock, and charms do not haul away the stones. However, some farmers do use charms to prevent frost damage, or to help a horse and plow cut into the soil more easily.”

“Most farmers cannot afford such things,” Gavin Cados said. Genva’s father had been relatively quiet during the journey, but he spoke up now. “Many would not use magic of any sort, regardless of the cost.”

“Why not?” Jere asked.

“People in this country tend not to trust magic or magicians,” Genva said, “particularly from Mâton.”

“That is especially true when crops and livestock are involved,” Gavin said. “They fear to eat enchanted food, lest they become enchanted themselves.”

“That’s ridiculous,” Lore said. “The enchantment on a plow or a field, or even a bag of seeds, wouldn’t carry over to the harvested crop, let alone the people who ate it.”

“Perhaps not, under normal circumstances,” Gavin said. “Can you swear to me, however, that no mage can, if he or she wishes, place a spell on a farmer’s field that will indeed affect the people who eat the resulting crop?”

Lore had no intention of admitting this was possible—which it was—but Jere was less circumspect. “I suppose it could be done,” she said doubtfully, “but it would be difficult to set up, and impossible to determine ahead of time exactly who the final subjects of the spell would be. Well, maybe if it was a small family garden you’d know, but it would be equally obvious who cast the spell. I can’t see anyone bothering with anything so impractical.”

“I can,” Genva said, “if the magician does not care who gets hurt. You all should know, if you do not know already, that there is great mistrust among the people of Mâvarin toward all magic and its practitioners. Their concerns are somewhat justified,” she added, raising one eyebrow slightly, “given past conflicts and present abuses, but they do not always have a rational basis.”

“In other words, ordinary people fear what they don’t understand,” Lore said. “That doesn’t surprise me. But you said they distrust all magic and magicians. Does that mean they don’t trust selmûnen, either?”

“Not all selmûnen do magic, and all of our magic is benign,” Genva’s father said. “Nevertheless, many of the King’s People do not trust us. We are considered meddlers, even spies. In many communities our people are barely tolerated.”

Lore was surprised by the candid admission. “Then I can see why you might seek an alliance with Mâton,” she said. “You have much to gain politically if this alliance works out.”

Gavin shook his head. “I think you misunderstand. The alliance is to be between Mâton and Mâvarin as a whole, not between Mâton and the selmûnen. We do not seed political gain for ourselves, but peace and security for the country.”

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Sunday, October 15, 2006

Lore Goes to Mâvarin, Part Two

I probably should have posted this last weekend, but you folks know how busy I was. I have a few more installments to post of scenes already written before I have to start adding to them.

To Rule Mâvarin

Fragments from a Work in Progress

by Karen Funk Blocher
© 2006 by KFB

Part Two

As the Mâvarin naval galleon Azure plowed through the last hundred yards of foaming blue water to its dock in Linmar harbor, Lore got her first look at the delegation from Odamas.

Lore leaned forward at the wooden rail, trying to get a better view of the people she had spotted, the ones who didn’t look like sailors or military officers. There were five of them, standing quietly on the wooden planks, watching intently as the Azure slid into its berth: two middle-aged men, a woman of the same vintage, and a girl and a boy on the edge of adulthood. Their faces were impassive. Their tunics and cloaks were grey, and so was their hair, even the teenagers’.

Lore already didn’t like them. Such dour, colorless people made even grumpy Master Morilon seem fun by comparison.

“Is that the selmûn welcoming party?” Jere asked, pointing.

Lore was startled. She hadn’t heard her sister’s arrival beside her. Before she could answer, a series of creaks and groans announced the ship’s arrival at the dock. Sailors jumped from the ship to the dock, and tied half a dozen ropes to half a dozen poles. The Azure came to a sudden halt. Lore and Jere grabbed the rail more tightly to regain their balance. The sailors scurried about, finishing the securing of the ship, reporting to officers on shore, and folding down two gangplanks: a wide one for cargo, and a narrower one for officers and passengers.

The grey delegation didn’t move.

“Yes, that’s them,” Lore said disgustedly. “A duller group of people would be hard to imagine.”

“You haven’t even met them yet,” Jere said. “Give them a chance.”

Sunestri came toward them on his long legs, his curly blond hair and beard waving in the harbor breeze. “They’re ready for us,” he said. “Are you two ready to be diplomatic?”

“Of course,” Jere said.

“As I’ll ever be,” Lore said.

The sisters followed Sunestri down the gangplank. The teenaged selmûn girl started toward them, her face lit with a sudden smile, but was halted by a one-word warning from one of the men. The word was “Genva.” As sunlight caught the girl’s hair, Lore saw that it was actually more blonde than grey.

Time to go be diplomatic, Lore thought. Sidestepping Sunestri, she stood before the selmûn delegation and bowed formally. As she came up, she made eye contact with the blonde girl, and flashed her a friendly smile. The girl smiled back.

“Greetings to you all,” Lore said. “I am Lore Cheneli, eldest daughter of Archmage Marnestri of Mâton. This is my sister, Jere.”

“And I am Sunestri, journeyman adept to Archmage Marnestri,” Sunestri added. “We are honored to meet you all.”

The selmûnen bowed simultaneously—well, almost. The blonde girl was a fraction of a second behind the rest in starting her bow, a fraction of a second ahead of them in finishing it.

“Welcome to Mâvarin,” said the eldest of the men. “I am Lord Arlin Cados, Lord of Odamas by lineage and acclamation. Please allow me to present my wife, Shada (the older woman bowed again), my son Shari (the teenaged boy bobbed his head), my brother Gavin Cados and his daughter Genva.” Genva smiled at Lore. Lore smiled back.

“As Sunestri said, we’re honored and pleased to meet you all,” Jere said.

“How soon are we leaving for Odamas?” Lore asked.

“We shall depart from Linmar immediately,” Lord Arlin said. “We have two coaches waiting.”

“Excellent,” Sunestri said.

“Just let us collect our luggage, first,” Jere said. Lore could hear her sister’s nervousness, and was surprised that she’d spoken at all. Jere didn’t talk to strangers very often, except to say whatever propriety demanded.

“We will help you,” Shari said. He turned back toward the dock, and Lore saw that their luggage was already piled near the cargo plank. Shari and Gavin picked up Lore’s trunk, and Genva helped Jere with hers. Lord Arlin went to speak to the coach drivers. A few minutes later, they were on their way through the city of Linmar. Sunestri rode with Lord Arlin and his wife and son, leaving Lore and Jere to travel in the second coach with Genva and her father.

“How long does it take to get from Linmar to Odamas?” Lore asked.

“It takes five days if you take the Sea Road and don’t make daylight stops,” Genva said. Her father raised one grey eyebrow at her use of a contraction instead of whole words. “Stopping at Mâshelamar or Liftlabeth can add as much as another day.”

“We shall not be stopping at either of those places,” Gavin Cados said.

“Is there any reason we would want to do so?” Lore asked.

“I do not think you would want to visit Liftlabeth,” Genva said. “There is absolutely nothing of interest in that village. Mâshelamar is rather nice, though. It is historically important, of course, and a haven for the arts. My mother grew up there.”

“Where is she now?” Jere asked. “Back in Odamas?“

“No. She is dead,” Genva said. She said it matter-of-factly, as if reporting the demise of a rat or wild bird.

“She died of a fever three years ago,” Gavin added. “Not even our best healers could save her.”

“Oh!” Jere said. “I’m very sorry to hear that.”

Lore was curious about Genva’s mother, but under the circumstances it seemed a bad idea to question Genva directly about her parentage. Instead Lore asked, “Are there many selmûnen in Mâshelamar?”

Genva shook her head. “Hardly any, I think. My mother was not a selmûn, as you may have guessed. She was Lida Percal, a noblewoman of the Twelve Families.”

Lore knew then that she had been right to cultivate Genva’s acquaintance. “I’ve heard of the Percal familty. As I understand it, there is no finer lineage in Mâvarin.”

“The name Selevar is currently far more prominent than the names Percal and Cados,” Lord Arlin said.

“True,” Gavin Cados said. “Furthermore, every name is less important than the character and actions of the person to whom it refers.”

“Meaning that I have a lot to live up to,” Genva said with a smile.

“As do I,” Lore said sincerely. “Nearly every Archmage of Mâton since the Founding was an ancestor of mine. I must be proficient in both magic and politics to follow in their footsteps.”

Lord Arlin frowned. “It is our hope that you and your family embark now on a different path from that of your ancestors. Theirs led to centuries of strife between Mâton and Mâvarin. Yours may well lead to a new era, one in which our countries are finally united in the common cause of peace and understanding.”

Lore wanted to laugh aloud at the selmûn lord’s naïve idealism, but she kept her composure. “Yes, of course,” she said. Unlike her father, Lore had no illusions about the best way to restore peace between Mâton and Mâvarin. The Mâvarinû needed to be taught, by any means necessary, that their country was by rights a colony of Mâton, just as its non-magical inhabitants were meant to serve people of talent. It was a lesson Lore looked forward to teaching.

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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Lore Goes to Mâvarin, Part One

The following is the beginning of To Rule Mâvarin, the prequel to Heirs of Mâvarin. I've only written about eleven pages of it so far, plus notes and possibly some handwritten scenes...somewhere. I'm not going to try to write the whole book online, but I should be able to get a nice little serial out of the opening section of the novel.

I posted this first scene over two years ago, but I'm rerunning it here as a set-up for the weeks to follow.

To Rule Mâvarin

Fragments from a Work in Progress

by Karen Funk Blocher
© 2006 by KFB

Part One

The voyage from Sûtelmar to Linmar took three days. Lore and Jere spent most of it on the aft deck, looking back toward Mâton (not that they could see it, after the first morning) and practicing spells.

“I feel like a hostage,” Lore complained the second afternoon, as she and her sister worked on the final definitions for their illusory dragon. Six feet long, the creature of air and colored light looked almost exactly like the illustration of Londer’s mythical predatory reptile, except that it was three-dimensional and in motion; but they were having trouble adding the right sounds and smells, not to mention the flaming breath. “Look at this thing,” Lore continued. “By the time we’re finished, it will be as good as any illusion Sunestri or Jonono, or even Master Calavica could produce. We should be home getting Robed and Named. Instead we’re going into exile among Mâvarinû singers and sheep ranchers. It’s just not fair. We deserve better, both by birth and by what we’ve accomplished.“

“You’re not a hostage; you’re an emissary, and so am I,” Jere said reasonably. A year younger than Lore and less talented magically, Jere had a tendency to adapt to circumstances rather than try to reshape them, as Lore did. Lore never knew whether to be admiring or infuriated by her sister’s cheerful acceptance of whatever came her way. Usually, Lore was both. “This is an honor, not a punishment,” Jere said. “The future of both Mâton and Mâvarin may be shaped by what we do at Odamas.”

“I doubt that very much,” Lore said. “If we’re emissaries, then why are we being sent to Odamas instead of Thâlemar? Mâvarin isn’t ruled by the selmûnen. It’s ruled by the Selevars, and the rest of the Twelve Families.”

“The selmûnen have blood ties to the Twelve Families, and political power of their own,” Jere pointed out. “They’re also extremely influential all over Mâvarin because of the songs and stories their Wanderers spread throughout the country. If we can win them over, Mâton will have powerful allies.”

“Then we should just mindpush the selmûnen and be done with it,” Lore said. “Why waste time pretending friendship toward normals?”

“It’s not supposed to be a pretense,” Jere scolded. “Father wants Mâton and Mâvarin to be true friends, as they were at the founding, starting with us and the selmûnen. He specifically said no mindpushing. He wants allies, not slaves.”

“I think that’s incredibly soft-hearted of him, not to mention weak-minded. They’re only normals, after all.”

“They’re not all normals. I hear there are nearly as many magicians in this country, of some sort or another, as there are on Mâton. And that’s not counting the mages in their country who are loyal to Mâton, or the selmûnen, who have their own system of magic.”

“It’s not much of a system,” Lore scoffed. “Master Calavica says it’s all healing and protective spells, nothing interesting or useful.”

“You wouldn’t say that if you were sick or injured,” Jere said. She looked over at the dragon, lying neglected and half-forgotten as the sisters argued. “Look at that,” Jere said. “We’re been talking for so long that our dragon’s gone to sleep.”

“That means our third set of definitions is working,” Lore said.

“The dragon was only supposed to go to sleep if we stopped paying attention to the spell—which we did,” Jere said. “So, are we going to keep arguing, or and we going to finish the fourth set of definitions?”

Jere laughed. “Let’s get back to the magic. It’s the only thing that makes this trip bearable for me, and we’re never going to agree about the Mâvarinû, anyway.”

“Fine. How about this for a flame?” The dragon opened its emerald eyes, and spat a nine inch plume of yellow fire.

Lore nodded. “Not bad. Let’s see if we can improve on it, though. I want a good three foot flame at least, by the time we’re finished.”

To be continued...

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Friday, September 29, 2006

Now What?

Last night, after some gentle prodding by Sarah (not Sara), I finally finished writing and posting my serial The Jace Letters. I crammed four emails instead of the usual one or two into the conclusion of this all-email, epistolary story of a godmother who has been kidnapped out of normal space/time, and the goddaughter who teaches herself physics in order to rescue her.

Now I need to figure out what to post next in this blog, preferably something I can post on schedule without too much trauma. So I have a question for you folks who read my fiction: what would you like to see next? Your choices are as follows:

Black Rose Katie Spacks
  1. Black Rose Kate's Own Story - a bit of autobiography Kate left behind in one of my spiral notebooks

  2. Letters from Mâvarin - written by various characters at key moments in their lives

  3. What About the Children? - a Mâvarin prequel that I got stuck on years ago

  4. Joshua Wander. Art by Sherlock.
  5. My Favorite Ghost - a Joshua Wander story I've been holding back to preserve its salability (besides, I'm stuck!)

  6. Something else entirely - the catch is, YOU have to suggest the premise, and I have to like it enough to do it!
Rani Fost. Art by SherlockWhat say you? Shall Katie Specks regale you with the story of her escape from normalcy? Would you like to know about Del and Crel and Rani as children? Are you curious how a reluctant ghost gets a novice wizard off the hook after they're framed for armed robbery? Does the idea of Mâvarin apocrypha appeal to you? Or are you dying to see what I'd do with that fun idea you've been kicking around? Let me know, okay? Rani, Josh, Kate, Jace and I thank you.

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Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Jace Letters, Part Seventeen

Here goes nothin'!

The Jace Letters

by Karen Funk Blocher
© 2006 by KFB

Part Seventeen

Subject: email test

Date: 4/??/??? 09590fh2fy08y
From: JaceFace

test test test... Sent from time bubble 6 hours after the accident.

Don't forget to reply (to younger self?), and to delete this email from Sandy's laptop before she wakes up.

Subject: re: email test

Date: 4/??/??? 0959r22fy08y
From: NotaBeach

Ignore this email, Jace. I'm just testing something. See you soon.

Subject: What I Did on My Summer Vacation

Date: 3/10/13
From: JaceFace

Aunt Sandy -

All right, yes. It's true. I know now for a fact that I'm Gabby, because I've seen you three times now in my role as your "kidnapper." Mostly I was there to make sure everything was set up for your relative comfort, and to make sure the cross-time link between our computers was set up properly. The really tricky part was sneaking into my family's old house in 2005 to install the "time card" on my old Compaq.

I don't know how much the future-Gabby has told you, so let me clarify things a bit:

1. I didn't create the rift between Sedona and Deming. When Ken and I got to 2005 Sedona, it was already there. There's also a side branch that goes to Roswell. I couldn't shut it down completely, but after your accident we planted a couple of trees and put up a No Trespassing sign to try to keep people out.

2. Your accident really was an accident. I saw it. You skidded off the road into the rift. I've spent years thinking about whether I could or should try to prevent that, but I concluded that it's safer to work with the version of the future I remember from the emails than to prevent the entire chain of events.

3. The medical time dilation - the slowing of your body's reaction to the accident - was mostly invented by Ken and me together. It shouldn't have worked, but it did, and I knew it would because it had. Does that make sense?

I'm in college now, obvously. I ended up at the University of Arizona, not because it had the best physics department or the best scholarship, but it's within driving distance of Sedona and the hidden entrance to the time bubble. Also it's where Ken wanted to go. We're back together, but more as friends than because we expect to get married or anything.

Let me know if and when you get out of the time bubble. I started a bank account years ago with the money you left me in your will, so you'll have that to start over with. It's not much, but I'll invest it, once I've have time to "cheat" my way to a few good long-term stock tips.


Subject: Free at Last!
Date: 6/
??/??? 0959rv8q4h8y
From: NotaBeach
To: JaceFace

Jace –

Don't let the usual weird timecoding fool you. I'm actually out of the time bubble, and so far I haven't turned into a skeleton or crumbled into dust. In fact, I'm feeling much better now, and healing at a normal rate. I'm at your future apartment (details of which I won't disclose, just in case), getting my bearings and discussing my options with "Gabby."

We figure that we'll create too much of a paradox if I go back to any of those past years I lost, so any date before 2013 is out of the question. The part we've been trying to work out is whether I should come to your time, or settle with your future self in 2025. I haven't been to those years (except for right now when I'm in 2025), but you came back to see me from there. We've decided that I won't cause any catastrophe by coming to 2013, as long as we make a pact not to discuss your future actions. Actually, I suspect Gabby knows that we already made that pact in her personal past, but I know better than to ask her.

Don't worry about making those investments. I'll do it myself. But do start apartment hunting for me. I'm coming home!


The End

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Sunday, September 17, 2006

The Jace Letters, Part Sixteen

Here comes the big reveal! Have you figured it out already?

The Jace Letters

by Karen Funk Blocher
© 2006 by KFB

Part Sixteen

Subject: I live!

Date: 11/??/??? 0efhhffejf0fje0f08y
From: NotaBeach

Jace (or should I say Gabby?) -

I got through the operation, and obviously I'm awake now. Still a little groggy, but I hope not too groggy to proofread this time. Your Dr. Ken is pretty sure he got all the perforations that were causing the internal bleeding. It's just as well I hadn't been eating much, or I could easily have ended up with peritonitis. As it is, he's pumped me full of antibiotics, just in case. Blecch. I'm pretty nauseated, but I'll live.

Judging from the email I just read, I assume you know that you made this time bubble, and you rescued me from the crash. Thank you. Maybe there was/is/will be a better way to save my life, but this is the way you chose. It's such a chicken and the egg situation, isn't it? Which came first, the idea that these emails gave you, or the emails your idea made possible? Did we ever have a choice in all this? Maybe I emailed you from a future that didn't exist yet, and you are starting to make that future the real one.

I think I'm getting dizzy, thinking about all this.

I'm not going to say any more about all the things you'll be doing over the next decade. I don't want to risk changing my personal history, now that I'm pretty sure I'm getting out of here alive.

Next question is whether 32-year-old you will be able to get me back to normal time without me turning into a skeleton or something. "Gabby" says she's working on it.

Bless you, Jace!


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Sunday, September 10, 2006

The Jace Letters, Part Fifteen

Now comes the scary part for me, where I start to resolve things and wrap this up. Or not.

The Jace Letters

by Karen Funk Blocher
© 2006 by KFB

Part Fifteen

Subject: Re:
Stay Put
Date: 7/??/??? 0efhhffhfhqe0f08y
From: NotaBeach

Jace -

Gabby is back, and so is the doctor. And he brought two friends, and medical equipment. The operation is in half an hour. They've already given me some sedative but not the serious stuff to put me out yet. Dr. K. thinks if he can stop the internal bleeding I will probably survive everything else. The wounds we can see finally seeem to be scabbing istead ofgetting bigger.

Getting ttoo groggy to write this. I know who Gabby is. Sending. Write you if I wakeup.


Subject: Please live!
Date: 6/17/12
From: JaceFace
To: NotaBeach

Aunt Sandy –

Your latest email makes me feel so helpless! You've reached the life-and-death moment we've been worrying about, and 18-year-old me can't do anything but wait for another email to see if you survived.

On second thought, maybe I can do something. I'm done with high school, I have access to a van, and I think my machine will work. Ken and I are driving to Sedona tomorrow. I'm anxious to hear back from you, but that could take months and months. I want to start now. I'll bring my laptop along.

I guess Ken and I are kind of back together, not that that really matters right now. We're not quite boyfriend and girlfriend, but more than just friends. Does that make any sense?

You're going to live. I'm sure of it. Otherwise, you wouldn't be going through what I'm about to make happen. It has to be worth it! It has to!


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Sunday, September 03, 2006

The Jace Letters, Part Fourteen

I have no idea what I'm going to write here tonight, but here I go anyway.

The Jace Letters

by Karen Funk Blocher
© 2006 by KFB

Part Fourteen

Subject: Re:
My Promise
Date: 6/??/??? 0efh40rghfhqe0f08y
From: NotaBeach

Jace -

I was right. The doctor says I'm bleeding internally. He can't operate by himself, obviously. I don't know whether I can get to a hospital - whether it's allowed, whether it's even possible. Maybe Gabby can bring more people in here. I don't know, though, whether she will or can. I don't feel I know much of anything at this point.


Subject: Stay Put
Date: 11/15/11
From: JaceFace
To: NotaBeach

Aunt Sandy –

I'm pretty sure there's no way you would survive a trip to the hospital. If the time bubble or whatever it is is slowing down your physical decline, then the last thing you want to do is leave it. I'm sure that Gabby knows this, and will do everything she can to help you.

My senior year has started here. Ken and I aren't getting along too well right now, but he's promised not to abandon his plans to help me help you, even though we're not dating any more. He's become kind of sarcastic lately, thinks I'm so hung up on your problem and physics in general that I'm not much good for anything else. I guess it's been a while since I was fun to be around, whatever that means. I even had to move my "mad scientist" project out of his basement. Fortunately, my boss at LANL is humoring me by letting me keep it in her garage, which is only two blocks from my house, and then across the park.. She and her husband (another physicist) have even given me a few ideas on how to make it work. I don't think they take it seriously, but they don't treat me like a kid or a crazy person, either.

Tell Gabby that I think it's time for you and her to have a talk. I don't know if she'll listen to me, but if you're dying, it could be her last chance. Maybe I'm overreacting, and I hope I'm wrong. But things are clearly getting kind of desperate over there.

You said that Gabby seemed about thirty years old. How old was she when you first got there?


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Saturday, August 26, 2006

The Jace Letters, Part Thirteen

Yow! I've never slacked off so long before on my "weekly" fiction blog. My current obsession with Wikipedia is part of the problem, but mostly it's because I've reached the part of the story where I get nervous about whether I can wrap it up properly. Let's take Jace and Sandy one step closer to resolution of their problem, shall we?

The Jace Letters

by Karen Funk Blocher
© 2006 by KFB

Part Thirteen

Subject: Re: The Why, If Not the How
11/??/??? 0efh408fy30r1rffy08y
From: NotaBeach

Jace -

I think I must have passed out, or at any rate fallen asleep for a while. I was trying to read Physics for Dummies, which Gabby had brought at my request. But I couldn't concentrate on it. I don't know how long I was unconscious.
There is no day or night here to judge by. But my uneaten apple has gone brown, and my Diet Pepsi is warm and flat.

I'm feeling weak again, and the pain is getting worse. It's not just the wounds, or the headache. There's abdominal pain, too, the worst I've had since my gall bladder came out. That's what woke me.

A few minutes ago, I managed to climb out of bed and go use the restroom. What I saw pretty much settled the question about internal bleeding. Gabby has gone to bring the doctor back in here.

Jace, I'm sorry, but I'm not at all sure I will live long enough for you to find your way to me. How would you even do it?


Subject: My Promise
Date: 5/15/11
From: JaceFace
To: NotaBeach

Aunt Sandy –

I'm terribly worried about you, but time is working in our favor, at least at my end. I'm a couple of weeks away from finishing eleventh grade. They let me take A.P. Physics a year early, doubling up with Chemistry. I've been acing them both, even though Chem is kind of rote and boring. I guess that impressed the people at LANL (Los Alamos National Laboratory), because I just got accepted to their "HS Co-op" program for high school seniors. I start interning there next week. Isn't that great? My parents are both really proud of me, but I still see that worried look in Mom's eye whenever the subject of physics comes up.

I have my driver's license now, too. Ken and I still want to drive to Sedona or Deming, or both, but my parents would freak if I drove so far away, especially with a boy. They like Ken okay, but I don't think they trust him, even after knowing him for years. They're sure that Ken and I have secrets together, but I won't tell them what kind of secrets. I just say that it's nothing to do with sex. To be honest, we've thought about doing it together, but so far he's been pretty understanding when I say I'm not ready. I'm not even sure he's ready, but I'm not going to hurt his ego by saying so.

Anyway, I keep wondering whether Ken and I should make the trip to Sedona now, and face my parents after it's all over. What's more important, me obeying a curfew, or finding and helping you? But that's what stops me. Even if I find you, I'm not ready to help you. I've been working on something in Ken's basement, so that my parents won't know that my obsession with physics has turned me into a crackpot inventor. I've got a long way to go in building the thing, let alone getting it to work. I'm not even sure exactly what it will do when it's finished. Something useful, I hope. Really, I do more than hope. I know it will work eventually. I promise it.

And I promise you will live long enough for me to see you again. Don't give up! Every month that goes by, every book I read, every bit of research I do, every email I get from you, only makes me more sure I know what's happening to you, and what to do about it. I've pretty much figured out how to get to you when the time comes, and I know I will get there. But the time hasn't come yet, and getting there isn't enough. We have to save your life, too.

Meanwhile, I've been looking at colleges to go to. I'm probably going to apply to CalTech, U.C. Riverside, and University of Arizona. You didn't go to the University of Arizona, did you? But you probably know something about it, having lived in Tucson before the accident. I guess which one I go to will depend on where I get the best scholarship. Ken is applying to the same schools, so we've been looking for ones that have a good pre-med program, not just a good physics department.

Hang in there! We can do this!


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Sunday, July 23, 2006

The Jace Letters, Part Twelve

Yes, I'm terribly late in posting this. I think we're going to have to accept that the rest of this serial will be posted on a somewhat irregular basis. Just be grateful that you don't have to wait as long for each letter as Jace does!

The Jace Letters

by Karen Funk Blocher
© 2006 by KFB

Part Twelve

Subject: The Why, If Not the How
Date: 11/17/09
From: JaceFace
To: NotaBeach

Aunt Sandy –

Another year has gone by. I'm in tenth grade now. At this rate, I'll be an adult by the time you get through this one day. But time seems to keep accelerating, so heck, I could be your age by the time your day is over!

I'm starting to suspect a reason for all this - not how it happened, but maybe why it's happening. I probably shouldn't say anything, though. This is the part in time travel stories when someone warns about knowing too much about the future. But I want to tell you anyway, at least this one thing, which could be totally wrong for all I know. I think this is probably about saving your life, or at least preserving it as long as possible. I mean, if you had just died right away in that accident, I wouldn't have gotten to know you as well as I do now, and nobody would have had a chance to try to keep you alive as that doctor is doing. Maybe all this time bubble stuff (if that's what it is) is the equivalent of cryonics, without the nasty side effects of freezing the brain into unusable mush. If you stay alive for another ten years of my time, medicine should get better, until whatever is wrong can be fixed, right? I hope so, anyway.

In case you're wondering, Ken and I are still friends, and still very close. But no, I haven't done anything with him that would shock my parents. We mostly have long, intense conversations, pretty much every day. And yeah, okay, he kissed me, once. I didn't like it much, but I'm not telling him that. He'll be getting his driver's license soon, and he wants to take me to Sedona and Deming, or at least one of the two. But I know my parents won't agree to any such thing, at least until I'm 18 or older. I wish I could just skip forward in time, the way you seem to do. Slogging through my teen years in normal time us dull and frustrating, especially when I know you're waiting for me to finish doing it!


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Friday, July 07, 2006

The Jace Letters, Part Eleven

Yes, this installment is even later than the last couple have been. If you think about it, though, it's entirely appropriate at this stage of Jace and Sandy's story that each new email appears late and unpredictably.

The Jace Letters

by Karen Funk Blocher
© 2006 by KFB

Part Eleven

Subject: Re: Sandy Lives! (I hope)
Date: 11/??/??? 095904r0731rffy08y
From: NotaBeach
To: JaceFace

Jace -

You asked whether Gabby has tried stitching me up. Better still: she's finally brought in a doctor to help me!

I don't know how he got in here, but of course I don't know how Gabby gets in here, either. She seems to be aging about as fast as you are, if not faster. She looks at least thirty as of this morning.

The doctor is about Gabby's age, maybe a little older. When I asked him his name, he said, "I'm not supposed to tell you that now." Isn't that an odd thing to say? But he seems very nice. He did stitch up my wounds, including some new ones that appeared while he was working on the others. He looked a little surprised and worried about this, but not nearly as much as you might expect. I'm sure he knows something about what's going on, but he confined his remarks to my medical condition. Like your friend, he's worried about internal bleeding, but for the moment he says there's little evidence of it. He offered me pain medication, but I need to stay alert so I can answer your emails as they come in. If it turns out I'm going to die soon, I don't want to waste any time being drugged out and drowsy.

Meanwhile, I'm feeling a little better, I think, and Gabby has brought me a fresh supply of food. The first day there was nothing here that could be considered perishable - no fruits or vegetables, no fresh or frozen meat. It was all stuff like Kraft Dinner with powdered milk and no butter, or beans and rice, or SPAM and other canned goods. Now Gabby seems to have have found a way to keep the food from spoiling at the speed of relativity. Today there was some cheddar cheese that didn't look too old, and potatoes, and a slightly squishy apple. Okay, it's not great, but it's something. Too bad I'm not hungry.

In your email you report that the man who disappeared from Sedona to Deming said the "road turned blue." I think I saw that, too. It wasn't just the road, though. It was everything at once. Blue.

I'm not going to try to talk you out of anything from this point forward. You're obviously a determined young woman, and I'm grateful that you care so much about your timelost godmother. All I ask is that you be careful, and try to avoid taking unnecessary chances. Will you do that for me? Please say that you will!


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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Jace Letters, Part Ten

Let's just say the new posting date is Monday nights, shall we?

The Jace Letters

by Karen Funk Blocher
© 2006 by KFB

Part Ten

Subject: Sandy Lives! (I hope)
Date: 9/10/08
From: JaceFace
To: NotaBeach

Dear Aunt Sandy –

Hooray! I finally heard from you! It took over two years, though. I have to wonder whether your faster moving system is starting to accelerate. If it is, that's probably a good thing. It would mean that your time dilation is increasing, slowing you down relative to me. That may buy us some time, so I can grow up, learn what I need to know, and get to you before your injuries have time to kill you. I'm up to ninth grade, but even a high school student with an obsession about quantum theory isn't a whole lot more use to you than the 11-year-old I was when all this started.

I just hope your Gabby can help you to heal instead of your getting worse all the time. Ken says that if you aren't bleeding internally, then it should be possible to stop you from losing more blood. Has Gabby tried stitching you up?

Yes, I told Ken about you. I hope you don't mind. He's going into medicine like his parents, so I thought he might be able to tell me something helpful. We've gotten to be pretty close friends. Maybe more than friends, but it's too soon to say that for sure.

I did email the man who said he was near Sedona, and then suddenly found himself in Deming. I guess this happened right after the fire. Did I tell you about the fire? Well, there was one, near 89A north of Sedona, in June of 2006. Were you south of Sedona just before you disappeared, or north of it?

Anyway, the guy thought at first I was trying to hoax him, but I guess he researched your case online, and found out that I wasn't just making it all up. Then he wrote back to me. But he doesn't remember anything helpful, so it was kind of a dead end. The one thing he said was that the road turned blue, right before it happened. No, I don't know what it means.

Listen, I know you don't want me to worry about you, or to take on the responsibility of trying to save you. But I've already taken it on. I've been working on it for years. If I fail, okay, I'll be really upset. But if I don't even try, then I fail for sure. I have to do this, Aunt Sandy. I have to do everything I can to find you and rescue you, both from this dimensional anomaly you're in and from being slowly killed by a car accident that happened years ago. At least now I have a friend to help me with the second part of that.



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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The Jace Letters, Part Nine

Late again! Sorry!

The Jace Letters

by Karen Funk Blocher
© 2006 by KFB

Part Nine

Subject: As Time Goes By
Date: 12/1/07
From: JaceFace
To: NotaBeach

Dear Aunt Sandy –

It's almost Christmas again, and I still haven't heard from you. I was sure I'd hear from you by summer. I've been trying not to worry about you any more than I do anyway, but it's not working. Every week that goes by, I'm a little more afraid that I'll never hear from you again.

School's okay, I guess. I'm in eighth grade now. Mom thinks it's a little weird that I'm getting As in science and math all the time. It used to be Bs and Cs. I know she thinks I should try out for a school play or something, but I don't have time for that. When I'm not trying to learn physics, I'm trying to write stories, like you used to do. Or I'm doing research online. Since you disappeared, there have been three reports of people turning up in Deming, not knowing how they got there. Nobody really takes in seriously, but one of them said the last thing he remembered was driving on 89A in Arizona.

Oh, and there's a boy I like. His name is Ken, and yes, people ask him "Where's Barbie?" all the time. He just laughs and says, "We broke up." He's not my boyfriend or anything, more like friends. He's a little bit of a computer whiz, and his dad's a doctor.

One of the reasons I'm so worried about you is it sounded in your last email as though you're getting worse and worse. Please tell me I'm wrong about this. Please tell me anything! Just let me know you're alive, and I'm not too late!



Subject: Re:
As Time Goes By
Date: 5/??/??? 24r07098wi98wthw9f
From: NotaBeach
To: JaceFace

Oh, Jace, I'm so sorry to make you worry like that! I wish I could reassure you, but I can't get out of bed this morning. There's a terrible gash down one leg, and my abdomen is bleeding into the fresh bandages Gabby put on. She's made me as comfortable as she can, brought me food and a bedpan (more than you want to know, right?), and even set up my computer on a TV tray for me. But it took a while. That's probably why I'm so "late."

What else did you learn about the man who went from 89A to Deming? Was it just a little news article, or is he someone you can write to and ask questions? I don't know what you'd ask him, but it does sound a lot like my experience. He wasn't injured, was he?

Be careful with the boy who is not your boyfriend. Maybe he will become that, maybe not. Just be sure you don't get pressured into doing more than you are ready to do.

Speaking of feeling pressured, I don't want you to feel you have to save me from whatever is happening to me. No, I don't want to die here, but I'm starting to think maybe I'm going to. Gabby is really doing her best to help me, but it's as if my injuries are appearing slowly, just as I'm living slowly compared to you. They're not healing, either. But THIS IS NOT YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO FIX. You're a teenaged girl, for Heaven's sake, not Sam Beckett. I admire your courage and commitment, and I hope to see you again before I die. I really do. But if that doesn't happen, it won't be your fault or your failure. Please promise me that whatever happens, you won't blame yourself.

Aunt Sandy

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Sunday, June 11, 2006

The Jace Letters, Part Eight

Okay, I'm back on schedule this week. But I reserve the right to change the night I post these in the future.

The Jace Letters

by Karen Funk Blocher
© 2006 by KFB

Part Eight

Subject: Time, Time, Time
Date: 12/24/06
From: JaceFace
To: NotaBeach

Dear Aunt Sandy –

Merry Christmas! I mean, I know we don't know the date where you are, or what date it will be when you get this, or even if time has any meaning in your fast-moving system. That's what I'm guessing you're in. But it's Christmas here, and I was thinking about you, and wishing you could spend the holiday with us. The closest I can get to that is to write to you now, even though I won't hear from you again until next summer probably. I figure that if you can write to me twice in a row, then I can write to you twice in a row, or more. After all, I have a lot more time to do it in. But I'll try not to do it too often, because it still takes time for you to read them!

My parents think my recent interest in physics is something to be encouraged. They've bought me three books on the subject since I last wrote to you, and I'll be surprised if I don't get at least one more for Christmas. I don't tell them why I'm interested, though. They never really believed me about these emails, even though I showed them the first two I got from you. They think it's a hoax. They told me that you're dead, and I shouldn't hold out false hope. So now I keep all this to myself, except for talking to you, of course.

I can't give you anything physical for Christmas, so I decided to write a poem for you:

Sit silent and read
Words of Sandy, lost in Time,
Reaching out to me.

Find a way to help:
I can be a scientist
If I really try.

Years fly by for me
While you drift from day to day
To some future time.

When will we converge?
Will I know all that I need
To rescue my friend?

I know it's just a bunch of haiku put together, and it doesn't have imagery or nature in it or anything like that. But you get the idea. If there's a way to find and rescue you, I'm going to do it. It will probably take me years and years, but at the rate you're going, I guess we have the time. Hang in there, Aunt Sandy! Write me when you can.


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Monday, June 05, 2006

The Jace Letters, Part Seven

Yes, this is two days late. Sorry. I think I'll be shifting to Sunday nights for posting here. I'll let you all know, here and on the Outpost, if and when I change my fiction schedule.

The Jace Letters

by Karen Funk Blocher
© 2006 by KFB

Part Seven

Subject: Re:
Einstein and Stuff
Date: 5/??/??? 24r027098wthw9f
From: NotaBeach
To: JaceFace

Jace –

I forgot to answer one of your questions just now, so I thought I'd better do it before I go to bed and you get older. No, I don't hear any motors. I'm not quite sure whether I feel a little vibration in the floor, or it's just me feeling a little shaky after the accident, and imagining something that's not really there. As I think I said before, there are no windows here. Do you suppose maybe I'm in a TARDIS? ;)

I'm really starting to think there was an accident. I probably wouldn't feel this lousy otherwise.

Aunt Sandy

Subject: Time, Time, Time
Date: 6/6/06
From: JaceFace
To: NotaBeach

Yeah, okay. You're definitely my Aunt Sandy! And yes, "Trophy" is still in my closet.

I'm trying to figure out how long it will be before I get another email from you. A whole year, I bet. Last time a day went by for you, it was at least a year on my end, I think.

Hey! Here's another email from you! You must have sent it really quickly after the last one. I mean really really quickly.

Since I won't hear from you again for a long time, I guess there's not much point in asking for more advice right now. School is getting better, anyway. Those kids who teased me about my name aren't all that bad, and I've made a couple of friends. I'll try to do as you told me, and not get upset at every little thing someone says.

I read both books about physics that were in the school library. They didn't help much. They're kind of written for kids, and I need to know more than that. School is over soon for the summer, and I've already asked my teacher so many questions that he probably thinks I'm crazy. I guess they're tough questions, because he couldn't even answer most of them. Science class next year is Earth Science, so that doesn't really help, either. I'm going to go to the Bradbury tomorrow with Mom, and see what I can find in their bookstore. I want to understand what's happening to you. Maybe I can find a way to rescue you somehow.

Talk to you later - much later, probably!


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Sunday, May 28, 2006

The Jace Letters, Part Six

This installment is a little less centered on the sf/fantasy, a little more on the YA aspect of the older story idea. I make no apology for this. Enjoy (I hope)!

The Jace Letters

by Karen Funk Blocher
© 2006 by KFB

Part Six

Subject: Re:
Einstein and Stuff
Date: 5/??/??? 24r027098wieh
From: NotaBeach
To: JaceFace

Jace –

I was wondering when you would ask for proof, not that I'm exactly in a good position to give you any. How about this?

Birthday Presents from Me to You

* Age 6: a stuffed poodle on a pillow. Do you still have that? Seems to me I remember seeing it in your closet the last time you gave me "the Tour."
* Age 7: Scrabble Junior.
* Age 8: I can't remember...oh, yes. A necklace maker. I must have spent an hour in Toys R Us that time, trying to figure out what you'd like.
* Age 9: a diary with an audio feature and a lock.
* Age 10: a set of acrylic paints and an artist's tablet.
* Age 11: if I'd actually managed to get to Los Alamos, I would have given you a box set of the BBC Narnia movies on DVD. They're here with me. Since you're not likely to get these, I've been watching them. If it's really 2006, that means the Disney version came out. Was it any good?

I trust that establishes my identity.

On the name thing: my goodness, Jace, don't you know how incredibly cool your nickname is? At least it is from my point of view. You may remember that I was there when you told your parents to start calling you Jace instead of Janice. That was a gutsy thing for a seven-year-old to do. I thought your mother would be upset, but then your dad laughed, and I knew they'd go along with it. You have cool parents!

As for "Jace Face the Space Case," I thought you liked Jace Face. That is your screen name, after all. Is it really the "space case" part that bothers you, or is it because these kids are trying to be mean? The heck with them. If there's one thing I regret most about my childhood, junior high and high school years,, it's that I let whatever everyone else said and did hurt my feelings. YOU know you're not a "space case," and these kids probably know it, too. They're just going for the rhyme. You can even come up with a positive interpretation of "space case" if you try.

Heck, it's not remotely as bad as being saddled with the name "Sandy Sheets." "Hey, Sandy! How about washing those sheets?" "What were you doing in those sheets to make them sandy?" I was called Sandy Bottoms, and Sandy Pandy, and Sandy Sh*ts, and Sandy Feets, and even Candy Beets! I didn't handle it very well. Don't make that mistake. You've got a really good name, but absolutely every name can be turned into a joke or insult if you work at it. If some jerks at school try that on you, don't give them the satisfaction of being hurt by it. It's their problem, not yours. And a lot of times, as I learned many years later, teasing isn't meant to hurt. You can choose to enjoy the joke, instead of being scarred by it as I was.

So, it's past midnight by my watch,and I'm tired and sore. If I go to bed, does that mean you'll be 13 or 14 or 22 years old when I wake up in the morning? Gabby came through here a few minutes ago, and I asked her about the Einstein twin paradox and your theory about me. She didn't really answer the question, but she smiled. I think she was genuinely pleased to hear that it was you who came up with that. Make of that what you will: I have no clue.


Aunt Sandy (really!)

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Sunday, May 21, 2006

The Jace Letters, Part Five

Yes, this is a day late. Sorry. Still, I'm not sure that anyone but me cares about that.

The Jace Letters

by Karen Funk Blocher
© 2006 by KFB

Part Five

Subject: Einstein and Stuff
Date: 5/1/06
From: JaceFace
To: NotaBeach

Dear Aunt Sandy (if it's really you),

Well, it hasn't been a year this time. Only about three weeks. I guess maybe if you answer right away, it gets to me sooner.

I've been thinking about a video we saw in school, about Einstein and time and stuff like that. I guess it was explaining relativity, but I don't really understand it all yet, although I'd like to. Anyway, in the video, one twin went out into space and traveled at almost the speed of light. The other twin stayed home. When the astronaut twin came back, he was still young, but the other twin was old. Time slowed down in the spaceship because it was moving so fast.

So what I was wondering is this. Are you sure you're not in an alien spaceship or time machine? Can you feel the room moving, or motors humming,or something like that? I mean, if you are moving really fast, faster than anything this side of Star Trek or whatever, then time really could go slower for you than for me. It would also explain, sort of, why you can't get online. It doesn't explain how we can email each other, though.

You know, I've been believing that you're really my godmother, Sandy Sheets, pretty much just because it's your email account, and your emails sound like something you'd say. But what if it's all a trick, like the police told my parents? Is there some way you can prove you're who you say you are?

If you are Aunt Sandy, I guess maybe I should do what I said I'd do, and ask you for advice. I'm in the regular public school starting this year, and I'm having a little trouble with some of the kids. They like to call me Jace Face the Space Case. They say Jace is a stupid name. I kind of try to ignore them, but that doesn't seem to help. What do you think I should do?

(really Janice)

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