Open Thread: Leaf


This leaf was on the ground outside the cemetery I walk by.

It's a leaf.

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We have special open threads set aside for discussing various movies, said discussions including plain text spoilers.  These are they:
   ● Ant-Man and The Wasp
   ● Solo (A Star Wars Story)

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Friday Recommendations!  What have you been reading/writing/listening to/playing/watching lately?  Shamelessly self-promote or boost the signal on something you think we should know about - the weekend’s ahead of us, so give us something new to explore!

And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!

Narnia: Digory Went On

[Narnia Content Note: Child Abuse, Animal Abuse, Ableism, Mental Illness]

Narnia Recap: Uncle Andrew made Polly disappear and then guilt-tripped Digory into following her.

The Magician's Nephew, Chapter 3: The Wood Between The Worlds

Chapter 3 is probably the part people remember the most about this book (well, in addition to the horror that is Charn, but we'll get there) because it really is quite picturesque: we get to see the "Wood Between Worlds". This is a place which is the connecting point, so to speak, between all the worlds in the multiverse.

   UNCLE ANDREW AND HIS STUDY VANISHED instantly. Then, for a moment, everything became muddled. The next thing Digory knew was that there was a soft green light coming down on him from above, and darkness below. He didn’t seem to be standing on anything, or sitting, or lying. Nothing appeared to be touching him. “I believe I’m in water,” said Digory. “Or under water.” This frightened him for a second, but almost at once he could feel that he was rushing upward. Then his head suddenly came out into the air and he found himself scrambling ashore, out on to smooth grassy ground at the edge of a pool.
   As he rose to his feet he noticed that he was neither dripping nor panting for breath as anyone would expect after being under water. His clothes were perfectly dry. He was standing by the edge of a small pool—not more than ten feet from side to side—in a wood. The trees grew close together and were so leafy that he could get no glimpse of the sky. All the light was green light that came through the leaves: but there must have been a very strong sun overhead, for this green daylight was bright and warm. It was the quietest wood you could possibly imagine. There were no birds, no insects, no animals, and no wind. You could almost feel the trees growing. The pool he had just got out of was not the only pool. There were dozens of others—a pool every few yards as far as his eyes could reach. You could almost feel the trees drinking the water up with their roots. This wood was very much alive. When he tried to describe it afterward Digory always said, “It was a rich place: as rich as plumcake.”

Open Thread: Mall Tree Thing


I got myself a new camera.  This is the second test picture I took.

The first was from the same position but pointing in the opposite direction.  It mostly shows a three wheeled two seated motor vehicle, which wouldn't have been a bad open thread picture, but it's also got an absurd number of ads for the contest the vehicle was there to promote (generally speaking, cars and their ilk are not parked inside the mall without reason.) The ads made it a rather less appealing open thread picture.

Thus I give you the second test picture: a fake tree-thing whose trunk is from a real birch.  Picture taken in the Maine Mall, at the benches nearest the Best Buy, the day before Halloween.

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We have special open threads set aside for discussing various movies, said discussions including plain text spoilers.  These are they:
   ● Ant-Man and The Wasp
   ● Solo (A Star Wars Story)

-

Friday Recommendations!  What have you been reading/writing/listening to/playing/watching lately?  Shamelessly self-promote or boost the signal on something you think we should know about - the weekend’s ahead of us, so give us something new to explore!

And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!

Transcending Flesh: Buffet Bodies

Note: This was previously published on my Patreon.

a pink and blue sky with a radio tower

This essay is one in a series which focuses on writing gender in science fiction and fantasy settings that provide body modification options beyond our current level of technology. Note that you can download this collection of essays from my website here.

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Transcending Flesh:
Gender and Body Diversity in Futuristic and Fantastical Settings


Essay #5: Buffet Bodies

~False Binaries~

Human bodies do not conform to a binary model such that there is one "female" body and one "male" body, and everyone aligns neatly to one of those. Any idea of a human body binary is false now; it will be even more so in a world with BodyMod magitech, unless there is an oppressive and immensely powerful authority forcing everyone into line. A setting where everyone is required to have one of two standard approved body types is a dystopia and characters should recognize that and be appropriately discontented.

Humanity's infinite variety is important because it affects everything that follows in your world-building. Let us consider Barbara's world where science fiction technology has provided for easy surgeries which allow people to have any body configuration they please. This sounds perfect for a vibrant and colorful cast of unique individuals, yet all her characters are one of two body types: breasts and vaginas for the ladies; flat pectorals and penises for the gentlemen. No variations, no differences, just cookie-cutter bodies.

Understand that in a world with BodyMod magitech, we should see even more body diversity than we have now. In such a setting, people are going to branch out to change their chins, noses, cheeks (dimples! freckles! blush!), lips, eyes, ears, arms, legs, fingers, toes, body hair (all over!), and every other possible bodily aspect. Even if the magitech is somehow limited only to body parts which we think of as gendered, these will be mixed and matched even more than they are now: there is no reason why breasts would only pair with vaginas, or why a penis couldn't be a fun optional add-on to an existing body of any configuration.

All of these possibilities are going to destroy any lingering concept of a false human body "binary". Genital changes will not be referred to as "opposite" or "reversed" or "flipped", because "opposite" will lose any kind of meaning in this paradigm. How is a penis "opposite" a vagina if magitech can just slap a lab-grown cock on someone in such a way that they now have both? (More fun for everyone!) It'd be like saying an ear is the "opposite" of an eye; there's no correlation between the two! You can have as many eyes and ears as you want! The acquisition of one doesn't preclude the acquisition of the other.

Right out of the gate we see tremendous impacts in how Barbara's characters should look and speak in this setting she's created. If her characters maintain an unnatural body uniformity, and if their language patterns reify the false concept of a human body binary with phrases like "opposite gender", then the reader will observe a mismatch between what Barbara has said about her magitech (i.e., available, cheap, easy, and widespread) versus how her characters act (i.e., behaving as though it does not exist, isn't freely available, or has not widely permeated society enough to challenge speech patterns and assumptions).

"But, wait," Barbara pops up to say. "You're just assuming that people would use BodyMod magitech to diversify their bodies more than nature already provides. Isn't it equally possible that magitech would result in consistent uniformity across all members of society? Couldn't everyone hop into the BodyTron5000 and receive a binary-conforming body the moment the technology became available?" Certainly, that some people will attempt to "standardize" their bodies according to social biases and preferences is within the realm of possibility! We have examples in our own society of people who seek out surgery in order to conform to a social ideal of what, for instance, an "attractive" labia should look like.

Yet in order to justify everyone meekly hopping into the BodyTron5000 for their standard-issue body, Barbara will need to craft a society which supports that behavior. What is causing her humans to accept strictures that her readers would not? Her world will need tremendous amounts of stigma and violence directed at those who do not conform, or a society in which conformity to a singular ideal is considered more desirable than individual expression and creative divergence. In both these cases, there should be people who are unhappy with the situation as it stands, and there will be some who defy society regardless.

Look around at the bodily variety available to us now: different colors of hair (both natural and unnatural), tattoos, piercings, and body customizations like forked tongues and pointed "elf" ears already exist! Many people pursue those alterations, even in spite of social disapproval or anticipated job discrimination. When we are already willing to defy social expectations to explore individual expression for our ears and tongues, why should genital configuration be less prone to customization in a future where potential is unlimited?

Barbara has, I suspect, fallen into the mistake of thinking that most trans people want a "fully transitioned" body and that only the lack of effective magitech holds them back. In her mind, once BodyMod magitech is perfected and widely available, all trans people will use it once to become indistinguishable from cis people in society. But this is not an accurate picture of trans or cis people; in a world where there are no barriers to bodily customization, we will not have anything resembling uniformity. We will have "buffet bodies", where we mix-and-match what appeals to each of us individually.

Here is where I'll confuse some cis readers, because aren't trans people "trapped in the wrong body"? That was a phrase which was used for a long time in order to explain transness to cis people, but while it is still a useful paradigm for many trans people, it's not something that applies to every trans person. Some trans people absolutely do want medical transition to validate their gender and treat dysphoria, but many do not! In a world with BodyMod magitech, some trans people will medically transition, others will not do so at all, others will "pick and mix" a custom body, and yet others will "transition" more than once. (As a genderfluid person, I would love the ability to daily modify my body to better fit my own shifting gender.)

There would not be a rush for everyone in society to immediately conform to one of two body types.

Remember this when we discuss pronouns in a later section. As creator of this fictional world you will need decide how people apply pronouns to strangers. It will be impossible to create a society where "she/her" maps perfectly to vagina-ownership and "he/him" maps onto every penis-haver. People will not be able to look at breasts on a stranger's chest and decide with total accuracy that breasts equal "she/her" pronouns. They may use that paradigm as a starting point, but they will be wrong at times (as we are often wrong when assigning pronouns to strangers in our society), and both you and they will need to recognize this.


~Magitech Access and Square Diagrams~

A quick refresher:

- Being cisgender means being the gender which you were assigned at birth.
- Being transgender means being a gender which is not the one you were assigned at birth.
- Not all trans people want to medically transition all or even some of their body parts.
- Because genitals are not gender, a person (cis or trans!) may modify their genitals to be anything they want without changing their gender, nor without changing their status as cis or trans.

Now I plunk down a square diagram. Row C is cis people; row T is trans people. Column Y is people who say "yes" to body modification and think it is awesome; column N is people who say "no" for whatever reason. As the author, it is important to understand that none of these squares will ever be entirely empty. You can move the ratios of people around by making access to body modification easier or harder, but it's impossible to entirely empty out a square. There will always be people who don't want to modify their bodies, and there will always be people who do and will find a way.


This is important because a lot of cis people incorrectly define cisness as "happy with their genitals" and transness as "unhappy with their genitals". Once someone makes those wrong associations, they often leap onto the idea that in a setting where genital modification is easily available, then every woman will have a vagina and every man will have a penis. Wrong! There are women who want penises. There are men who want vaginas. When you understand that genitals can correlate with gender for some people but not all people, then it's easier to understand that a world with magitech will not have only two body types.

"But at least there's no more dysphoria, right?" is the next question that comes down the line, and I'm sorry to say this is wrong too. The assumption here is that given perfect surgery, universal medical access, and total social acceptance, then everyone in the setting will have modified themselves into a body they're happy with by the time they reach adulthood or soon thereafter. But that assumes medical transition erases dysphoria (it doesn't; it's a treatment, not a cure) and that everyone can be satisfied with one perfect-for-them body. For a lot of genderfluid people like myself, there is no one body that can accurately and forever capture the self-image I have for myself. Why not? Because my image shifts over time! You, as the author, will need to decide whether the magitech is something that takes years, months, weeks, days, or minutes to accomplish, because that detail will affect genderfluid characters in your setting.

Again we see that a world with rapid, easy, perfect, reversible, painless, risk-free, universally-available, and socially-acceptable body modification isn't going to result in a binary system where everyone conforms to one of two body types. Such a setting will be beautiful chaos, with no way to tell gender or pronouns from a glance at someone's body. If you don't want to write a setting with extensive body diversity, then I remind you that you don't have to write that story! But without the reality of body diversity, your setting does not have "rapid, easy, perfect, reversible, painless, risk-free, universally-available, and socially-acceptable body modification". Something is stopping people from accessing the magitech and your job is to figure out what.

Maybe your society isn't as accepting as you thought. It is okay to write a society that has stigma around gender expression, as long as the author doesn't gloss over that reality and understands there are unhappy people in the background! Or perhaps your magitech isn't as rapid or easy or universally-available as you'd imagined. Many societies have contained people for whom healthcare was not freely available. If there are barriers to access, then magitech will be used sparingly and only by the very wealthy or the "deserving" needy who have access to charity or crowd-funding options. Poorer members of society will not have access at all, and people of moderate means will not be able to use magitech for "gratuitous" modifications. There is, in short, a difference between "this is available to treat dysphoria which would otherwise be lethal" and "every second Tuesday you can have fashionable feathers".

Magitech doesn't develop in a vacuum. If you don't want to write a society which values individuality and bodily autonomy and gender acceptance and self-determination, then why did they develop this magitech in the first place and push to make it freely available? As the author, you need to understand the story you want to write, and why, and what body modification as a setting-detail is doing for you. If it's an important part of the plot, then it will take work to seamlessly integrate into society in a way which feels natural. If it's just a gimmick for body-switching shenanigans, then you're risking blowing up all your world-building for a joke that probably won't seem funny or original to your audience.

These are questions I can't answer for you. All I can tell you is that if your magitech setting doesn't show bodies in every possible aesthetic along the gender presentation spectrum, then it's up to you as the creator to explain why. "No one wanted that" doesn't fit human experience. "People wouldn't let them" may suffice, but there needs to be reasons that stand up to examination. It is okay to write oppressive governments, bigoted societies, and dystopian settings, but the author needs to understand that their characters aren't all happily frolicking through meadows. If "buffet bodies" don't exist in their BodyMod setting, something bad has happened to stifle the natural variety of human expression.

Writings: The Lost Last Princess of Ravelin (Part 2)

Previously posted on my Patreon.


This is the second part of a three-part story about disability and living a life in public in order to make ends meet. I hope you enjoy it.

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PART 2: THE SONG

November Newsletter (2018)

October was indeed a month, as predicted. I've had a lot of highs and a few lows. One of the current lows is that I'm sick while writing this and I'm hoping this head-cold clears up in a few days because the constant headache isn't great for writing. Oh, and NaNoWriMo is coming up! If you celebrate that blessed season, take all my good wishes with you. I'm going to try to set a daily word goal for myself which is less ambitious than the usual NaNo amount but hopefully more reachable for me.

First, some free links for free fun!

My Twitter account @DivorceKittens with stories and pictures is here.

My Magician's Nephew Deconstruction: Index to older posts here.

My Wrinkle in Time Deconstruction: Index to older posts here.

My YouTube series on Quest for Glory is here.

Second, some Patreon links stuff for subscribers:

$2+ The Lost Last Princess of Ravelin. Part 4 is going up today!

$5+ Transcending Flesh, another essay for discussion and questions!

$5+ eBook Download Links are here.

$15+ eBook and Audiobook Download Links are here.

$25+ Paper Book Reminder is here.

That's old business. Let's talk new business!

I've crunched some numbers since my husband left and finances are going to be tight. I'm grateful to each and every one of you here, thank you, and I want to be sure that you're happy and getting what you need in order to stay on as a patron. I know I haven't been posting as much since my spouse left and I've lost a few patrons which is understandable! Obviously a lot of folks can't afford to pay something for nothing. I'd like to turn that around and make sure people are getting good value here, and I have some thoughts but I also need your input.

$5 Subscriber December Gift

I have ordered some beautiful custom bookmarks with the No Man of Woman Born cover art on them and would like to send these out to everyone who is signed up for $5 or more as of December. That gives you a month to sign up if you're interested and it gives me a month to pull together mailing materials. If I'm being honest, it'll probably cost a little more than $5 per person to mail these out but I'm being sneaky because some of the new subscribers may decide they like the $5 content and stay on for good. Marketing! ;) So be thinking about if you want to subscribe for December, and what address you'd like me to send to!

$5 WIP Selection

The $5 tier is supposed to grant access to my works-in-progress, such that you're seeing my books as I write them (and before the extensive editing process at the end, lolsob). I was originally posting my Fire Mage WIP because at the time I was able to juggle three projects: my public Fire Mage project, my secretive Earthside project, and my monthly drabbles for the $2 tier. Unfortunately, now that I'm having to pick up more hours at work (for money) and around the house (doing chores), I only have room for two projects at a time. Something has to be set aside for the moment.

I would like to set my Fire Mage project aside (temporarily!) and work my Earthside draft to completion. I have an outline and I know where I'm going and where I want to end up: I can see the clear end of the tunnel and it feels amazing. The Fire Mage project, in contrast, is a muddle to me right now; I'd like to retool it as a clear YA (Young Adult) because several readers have commented that it feels more YA than NA (New Adult) and I agree, but I'm also unsure how to tackle that just yet. I would prefer to set it aside and focus on completing Earthside #3.

The problem I have is that I do not know if the shift from Fire Mage posts to Earthside posts will cause me to lose my $5 patrons. The Fire Mage project was "new" and didn't require any prior reading; the Earthside project is technically a sequel (though the series can be read in any order) and some folks may not be interested if they haven't read Poison Kiss and Survival Rout yet. I don't want to lose patrons, so I'm throwing this open to a poll: If I stop posting Fire Mage updates for a while and post Earthside instead, will that affect your pledge?

Please be honest in your answer! I'm not going to have hurt feelings if you came for Story A and aren't interested in Story B. I just need to gauge level of interest and why people are here so I can post accordingly. Thank you!

In Closing

This month has been emotionally very hard. I'm finding that I'm still in love with my spouse and that his leaving didn't magically make those feelings go away. I don't want him back, but I miss what I thought we had together--if that makes any sense. But I have you here as my friends and I am so terribly grateful. I love you all and I appreciate you so much. ♥

Open Thread: Partially Colored Egg


My rendition of an octopus in the negative space.  Taken in late march of 2016.

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We have special open threads set aside for discussing various movies, said discussions including plain text spoilers.  These are they:
   ● Ant-Man and The Wasp
   ● Solo (A Star Wars Story)

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Friday Recommendations!  What have you been reading/writing/listening to/playing/watching lately?  Shamelessly self-promote or boost the signal on something you think we should know about - the weekend’s ahead of us, so give us something new to explore!

And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!

Open Thread: Tractor and Millstone


Just a Ford tractor, sitting around with a random millstone by it.

Taken in late May 2017, back when the place where it was taken was still my family's farm.

For the record, I have no idea why that millstone is there.  I don't mean there specifically, I can sort of figure that out, I have no idea why it exists.

Based on what I know, it was there specifically because it was in the process of being moved.  Millstones are heavy; when time and conditions allow, breaking up a millstone move over multiple days isn't a bad idea.  After a partial move it must have been left there until it was time to move it the next bit.

The thing is, it was being moved from place-which-is-not-a-mill.  I have no idea why place-which-is-not-a-mill should have had a millstone to move.

-

We have special open threads set aside for discussing various movies, said discussions including plain text spoilers.  These are they:
   ● Ant-Man and The Wasp
   ● Solo (A Star Wars Story)

-

Friday Recommendations!  What have you been reading/writing/listening to/playing/watching lately?  Shamelessly self-promote or boost the signal on something you think we should know about - the weekend’s ahead of us, so give us something new to explore!

And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!

Open Thread: Rhododendron


Picture taken on the side of a road in Portland, Maine in June.

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We have special open threads set aside for discussing various movies, said discussions including plain text spoilers.  These are they:
   ● Ant-Man and The Wasp
   ● Solo (A Star Wars Story)

-

Friday Recommendations!  What have you been reading/writing/listening to/playing/watching lately?  Shamelessly self-promote or boost the signal on something you think we should know about - the weekend’s ahead of us, so give us something new to explore!

And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!

Open Thread: Branches, Bird, and Snow


This is from early February 2017.  The bird was in a tree in a driveway (I think) in a town north of Boston, Mass.

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We have special open threads set aside for discussing various movies, said discussions including plain text spoilers.  These are they:
   ● Ant-Man and The Wasp
   ● Solo (A Star Wars Story)

-

Friday Recommendations!  What have you been reading/writing/listening to/playing/watching lately?  Shamelessly self-promote or boost the signal on something you think we should know about - the weekend’s ahead of us, so give us something new to explore!

And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!

Transcending Flesh: Gender and Stereotypes

Note: This was previously published on my Patreon.

a pink and blue sky with a radio tower

This essay is one in a series which focuses on writing gender in science fiction and fantasy settings that provide body modification options beyond our current level of technology. Note that you can download this collection of essays from my website here.

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Transcending Flesh:
Gender and Body Diversity in Futuristic and Fantastical Settings


Essay #4: Gender and Stereotypes

Let's talk about Alice the Author.

Alice has built an exciting fictional world where magitech can give anyone the body they want and where trans people don't face stigma for being transgender. Anyone who wants to inform the world that they're a girl can just do so and be a girl without facing contradiction or bigotry or gender policing. Excellent! Now Alice is going to populate that world with some trans girl characters who live and move and exist.

...oh no, Alice draped all of them in pink and frills and lace and froth and pearls. What happened?

There is a thing some cis people do where they assume that trans people base our gender on a list of things we like and enjoy, then check that list against gender stereotypes. As though trans boys wrote a list one day that said "cars, leather, hair grease, and Elvis" and went "I guess I'm a boy now!" while the trans girls' lists all said "pink, poodle skirts, lace, and lollipops" and then realized "oh, wow, I'm a girl, better go transition!"

While each of us is unique, that's generally not how trans people find our gender. The thinking here by cis authors like Alice seems to be that since there are so many barriers between one's assigned gender at birth and coming out as trans, then the people who come out as trans are the ones who are the girliest of girls or the boyishest of boys: the "extreme ends" of the gender spectrum who can't closet themselves and so they come out to drape their bodies in pink and blue respectively.

There are problems with that portrayal of trans people.

First, a world-building problem: Alice has established that trans people aren't stigmatized in her fictional setting. That should make it easy for people to come out as trans, or to question their gender, without needing to be a stereotypical representation of a gender in order to justify themselves. Who is demanding trans people adhere to stereotypes in order to "prove" their gender is valid to a judgmental and hostile society? If someone is sending the message that a trans girl who isn't "girly" is invalid, that's social stigma.

Second, a realism problem: In our world which does have stigma, we still have lots of visible trans people who aren't stereotypically girly-girl or boyish-boy. Even in a world with more stigma than in Alice's fictional world, many people still come out and rock their unique, valid, individual personal aesthetic. Where do those real people exist in Alice's world? Why can't we see them?

Third, a bigotry problem: Many bigoted cis people view trans people as embracing and entrenching gender stereotypes, rather than simply navigating them alongside their cis siblings. If the only trans people in Alice's novel are "extreme" examples of gender presentation, does that mean Alice buys into that bigoted idea that trans people are just "acting" their gender? The reader won't know Alice's meaning; all they have to understand Alice's view of trans people is what she writes on the page.

Alice's novel envisions a world with BodyMod magitech where everyone on earth suddenly rushed to one of two "sides" of gender and gender presentation. All her butch women and boyish girls ran to go outfit themselves with a penis so they could be manly men, while all her soft boys and feminine men rushed to install a fancy new vagina so they could be girly women. But that doesn't make any sense! People don't do that now, so why should the ability to easily and painlessly sprout a penis or dig a vagina change that?

There are femme trans women in our world, yes! There are also androgynous trans women and butch trans women. There are trans women who shave their hair off, wear motorcycle leathers, and ride around the world on a sexy bike shooting werewolves with a sawed-off shotgun and kissing ladies on the mouth. Every possible aesthetic of trans woman exists, just as every possible aesthetic of cis woman exists! There is no reason to assume that trans women as a group are more stereotypically "girly" than cis women.

Similarly, there are trans men who love plaid and rock amazing lumberjack beards. There are trans men who look like James Bond and are dressed to kill and know how to toss back a cocktail with just the right amount of smirk. There are trans men who wear gorgeous makeup and skirts and heels. There are trans men who wear pajamas all day and write novels on their couch with Mister Whiskers the cat. Our trans journeys are almost never "well, I like boy clothes and boy hair, so I guess I'm a boy". Exploring our gender presentation can be an important part of our journey, but the styles we each individually end up favoring aren't all aligned to a gender stereotype. Trans characters should have the same variety as cis characters.

Moreover, in Alice's world there shouldn't be just two options. It defies human nature to imagine that, in a world with BodyMod magitech capabilities, everyone would meekly align to one of two gender stereotypes. Alice has written a world in which everyone either signs up for breasts, a uterus, a bag of pink clothes, and a "girl job" or they checked the box for a flat chest, a scrotum, an entire box of blue socket wrenches, and a "boy job". The reader will almost certainly not recognize themselves in this world. Why are there "girl jobs" at all in a world where people can be any gender or body configuration they could ever want? What are "boy jobs" and what would that mean in a world without barriers to transition?

Body modification isn't going to jam our existing beautiful chaos into one of two types: girly-girl and manly-man. It is worth considering what gender looks like in this new fictional world--how many genders are recognized by society? what does it mean to be one gender or another? what sorts of gender stereotypes, if any, exist?--but there will be the same wonderful chaos of people mixing and matching their aesthetics, their interests, their hobbies, and their careers as there is now in our world.

If exploration and variety are disallowed in Alice's world, the setting is a dystopia and both the author and the narrative need to realize that. "You can be any gender you wish, as long as you conform to the rigid gender expectations therein" is a very bad place in which to live! Characters should be unhappy under those strictures, if we are to recognize them as human.

In short: Include trans people in your world with the same variety as cis people. Not all trans girls will be hyper-girly. Not all trans boys will be super-manly. Not all nonbinary people will be perfectly androgynous. Trans people don't fit into perfect neat stereotype boxes any more than cis people do!

Writings: The Lost Last Princess of Ravelin (Part 1)

Previously posted on my Patreon.


It started with an Amazon Prime movie.

Mythica was a fantasy movie with a disabled girl wizard as a protagonist. It wasn't good--the effects were cheesy, the characters were stock, and the writing wasn't always stellar--but it was the closest thing to representation I've ever seen in a fantasy setting. I became obsessed with the damn movie, and its sequels. (#2 is good. #3 is adequate. #4 and #5 made me want to burn my television in the fireplace.)

I began drabbling with my best friend in the whole world, wanting a disabled wizard of my own. Maybe an enby who didn't know yet she was an enby. Polyamorous without shame. ("Well, maybe some initial shame she could work through," I thought, writing myself deeper onto the page.) Maybe an orphan who deals with my own feelings of abandonment after being disowned and homeless at various points in my life. Maybe exactly like me in way too many ways for anyone else to enjoy.

Fun drabbles happened and she met a nice man who was an earl and a bard. He asked about her disability and she lied happily, feeling in a jokey mood. And then it struck me: what if he wrote a song about her but got the details wrong? What if he thrust her onto the public stage in a way she had to straddle, exploiting the attention in order to make enough money to survive but quietly ambivalent about being pushed into a celebrity role?

Maybe, too, I'd done a lot of thinking about Twitter and how high follower counts come with harassment but are necessary if we want to sell our words to a large enough audience to survive. Anyway. This is the story that came out of all those feelings. It's a three-part story that I'd like to someday expand into a full book, but we'll see.

Thank you.


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PART 1: THE GIRL

October Newsletter (2018)

October has been a month for us all, I think. How is everyone doing? Hanging in there, staying alive? I'm trying too. I know we're all trying. Let's talk about some things I created this month that you might have missed or might want to read again.

Free stuff everyone can enjoy:

My Twitter account @DivorceKittens with stories and pictures is here.

My Magician's Nephew Deconstruction: Latest post here. Index to older posts here.

My Wrinkle in Time Deconstruction: Latest post here. Index to older posts here.

My YouTube series on Laura Bow 1, The Colonel's Bequest is here.

My YouTube series on Not Tonight (a Brexit game) is here.

Patreon stuff for subscribers:

$2+ The Lost Last Princess of Ravelin. Some (not all) of Part 3 is going up today. I wanted to finish the story but the month just was not cooperating. Soon, though!

$5+ Transcending Flesh, another essay for discussion and questions!

Lastly and again, thank you. I'm still in such deep mourning for my spouse and it's difficult because I thought I would be "over" this by now. But I am coming to realize this grief will take more time than I imagined. Thank you for sticking with me through this. I am more grateful than words can convey. ♥

Index: Time Quintet


Time Quintet


Source: The Time Quintet
Label: Deconstruction (Time Quintet)

Book 1: A Wrinkle in Time
11-03-2016 - Chapter 1: A Wrinkle in Time
11-04-2016 - Chapter 2: The Unloveable
11-05-2016 - Chapter 2: Different and New
11-15-2016 - Chapter 3: Waiting To Be Contradicted
11-18-2016 - Chapter 4: Give Glory Unto The Lord
11-29-2016 - Chapter 5: Lights For Us To See By
01-01-2017 - Chapter 6: Death of a Star
03-14-2017 - Chapter 6: Fond of Children
03-28-2017 - Chapter 6: Planet Death Bat
04-20-2017 - Chapter 7: Grammar Nazis
05-25-2017 - Chapter 7: Turkey Dinners and Light Promises
03-20-2018 - Chapter 8: Holding Charles Tight
03-22-2018 - Chapter 8: Nobody Suffers Here
04-01-2018 - Chapter 9: Cloven Pines
05-24-2018 - Chapter 9: She Wouldn't Be Able To Hold Out
08-07-2018 - Chapter 9: Equal and Same
09-29-2018 - Chapter 10: Thousands of Centuries

Note: Last updated 09/30/2018.

Time Quintet: Thousands of Centuries

[Wrinkle Content Note: Fascism, Hypnotism, Captivity]

Wrinkle Recap: After their confrontation with IT went badly, Mr Murry teleported himself, Meg, and Calvin away. Charles Wallace was left behind (but we don't know that yet).

A Wrinkle in Time, Chapter 10: Absolute Zero

When we last left our heroes, they were doing badly in the presence of IT and Calvin yelled for Murry to tesser them out of there as an escape. Murry was able to perform under intense pressure, probably because of the boost given by the magical glasses he was still wearing. Which, now that I type that seems odd to me; did Charles/IT just lose interest in those glasses once the plot moved on? I remember Charles lunging for the glasses, and Meg breaking through the prison wall with them and giving them to Murry, and Murry using them to escape with Meg but then... Charles/IT just lost interest?

*double checks* Yeah, that's... strange. I guess Charles/IT only wanted the glasses to keep Meg from Murry and once that ship had sailed IT didn't feel the need to close the barn door? But since the glasses are still infused with divine magic and since they (probably) helped Murry tesser the group off the planet, that was a major tactical error on IT's part. "Oh well, I guess you can keep the magic angel glasses, despite the fact that you're completely at my mercy in a building full of guards I own and it would be trivially easy to remove them from your possession." Chalk that up to villain hubris, I suppose.

Open Thread: Turtle Riding A Triceratops


This weeks open thread is brought to you by second hand toys, three legged dinosaurs, and the fact that my camera doesn't need a working shutter when it's in video mode.

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We have special open threads set aside for discussing various movies, said discussions including plain text spoilers.  These are they:
   ● Ant-Man and The Wasp
   ● Solo (A Star Wars Story)

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Friday Recommendations!  What have you been reading/writing/listening to/playing/watching lately?  Shamelessly self-promote or boost the signal on something you think we should know about - the weekend’s ahead of us, so give us something new to explore!

And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!

Open Thread: Egrets


I can't be sure, but I think the middle one is up to something.  This is actually across the path from where the goats were.  Across the path, a bit to the side, and over a year earlier.  Picture from mid August 2017.

Apparently I used a different photo of this same group for an open thread a few days after I took the pictures.  I didn't realize that until I discovered I already had a picture named "Egrets" in my upload directory, but I'm not surprised.

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We have special open threads set aside for discussing various movies, said discussions including plain text spoilers.  These are they:
   ● Ant-Man and The Wasp
   ● Solo (A Star Wars Story)
   ● Avengers: Infinity War

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Friday Recommendations!  What have you been reading/writing/listening to/playing/watching lately?  Shamelessly self-promote or boost the signal on something you think we should know about - the weekend’s ahead of us, so give us something new to explore!

And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!

Open Thread: Washed Out Goats


Short version:

I know it's a terrible picture, but it might be the last time that the camera that's been getting all of the pictures for these open threads manages to do anything that's not a total white-out, so have some goats.  I think there are three four in picture, but even I can't tell for sure.

For the long version, story time:

It's been death-hot for a long time, which has prevented me from walking to my appointments the way that I usually would.  By Monday the temperature dropped to normal-hot.  While various factors conspired to prevent me from having the time to walk to my appointment, I was able to walk back.

I was surprised by goats.

I have no idea how long they've been there because it's been so long since it was actually safe for me to walk (heat and I don't mix) but there were goats.  Apparently there's a problem with some invasive plant or other in that part of the South Portland near-coast and someone finally decided to reach for the logical solution: goats.

It being late in the day, overcast (I think), and under the shade of trees allowed my camera to take a picture.  Two, actually.  (The other one was worse.)  While one might think that pictures of swans would serve as a more appropriate swan song for the camera, I remind you that swans don't actually have swan songs.  As such, it kind of fits.  (Also there were no swans available.)

This is not the picture the camera took.  This is the digitally-edited less washed out version.

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We have special open threads set aside for discussing various movies, said discussions including plain text spoilers.  These are they:
   ● Ant-Man and The Wasp
   ● Solo (A Star Wars Story)
   ● Avengers: Infinity War

-

Friday Recommendations!  What have you been reading/writing/listening to/playing/watching lately?  Shamelessly self-promote or boost the signal on something you think we should know about - the weekend’s ahead of us, so give us something new to explore!

And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!

Index: Handbook for Mortals


Handbook for Mortals


Source: Jenny's Trout Nation
Label: Handbook for Mortals

» Handbook for Mortals Intro and Chapter 0, “The Fool” or “There Must Be Something More Than This Technicolor Dream Hair Life”
» Handbook For Mortals Chapter 1, “The Magician” or “That’s not how any of this works.”
» Handbook For Mortals Chapter 2, The Hermit or “Cifnaf annataz””
» Handbook For Mortals Chapter 3, The Hierophant or “Nothing Happened.”
» Handbook For Mortals Chapter 4, The Empress or “Star Trek Season 1 Episode 14 ‘Court Martial'”
» Handbook For Mortals Chapter 5, The Emperor or “Dive And Blush And Blush And Dive And Blush And Blush And Blush.”
» Handbook For Mortals Chapter 6, The Moon or “Total Drama High School”
» Handbook For Mortals Chapter 7, Strength (part 1) or “Rebel Without A Clue”
» Handbook For Mortals Chapter 7, Strength (part 2) or “Circus Of The Stars”
» Handbook For Mortals Chapter 8, The Star (part 1) or “If you’re in love, show me! Show me!”
» Handbook For Mortals Chapter 8, The Star (part 2) or “Have you ever noticed how much I say ‘um’? YOU WILL TODAY.”
» Handbook For Mortals Chapter 8, The Star (part three) or “Carrie, but with lemonade”
» Handbook For Mortals Chapter 9, Temperance or “I’m sorry that people are jealous of me…but I can’t help it that I’m popular.”
» Handbook For Mortals Chapter 10, The Hanged Man or “Internalized Misogyny, Rinse, Repeat”
» Handbook For Mortals Chapter 11, “The Devil” or “Readers’ Digest Condensed Boring Parts”
» Handbook For Mortals Chapter 12, “The Sun” or “Art Imitates Life.”
» Handbook For Mortals Chapter 13, The High Priestess or “The Big Skew”
» Handbook For Mortals Chapter 14, Wheel of Fortune or “Fifty Shades of Mac”
» Handbook For Mortals Chapter 15, The Tower (part 1) or “The first time the card in the chapter title was actually applicable to what happens in the plot”
» Handbook For Mortals Chapter 15, The Tower (part 2) or “This is the part where adapting the screenplay into a book got hard”
» Handbook For Mortals Chapter 16, Justice or “Girlfriend in a coma/I know it’s serious”
» Handbook For Mortals Chapter 17, The Lovers or “Shot through the heart/and you’re to blame/darlin’ you give love a bad name”
» Handbook For Mortals Chapter 18, The Chariot (part 1) or “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”
» Handbook For Mortals Chapter 18, The Chariot (part 2) or “No One Is Responsible For Their Actions”
» Interlude: I read the Handbook For Mortals screenplay. It is worse than you could possibly imagine.
» Handbook For Mortals Chapter 19, Death (part one) or “Super easy, barely an inconvenience.”
» Handbook For Mortals Chapter 19, Death (part two) or “THAT’S IT I’M SETTING THIS BLOG AND THEN MYSELF ON FIRE.”
» Handbook For Mortals Chapter 20, Judgement or “Aptly named, considering what I’m about to do to it.”
» Handbook For Mortals Chapter 21, The World or “You’re never going to guess where the plot finally shows up.”

Note: Last updated 09/12/2018.

Narnia: Maximum Villainy for Minimum Efficiency

[Narnia Content Note: Child Abuse, Animal Abuse, Ableism, Mental Illness]

Narnia Recap: Polly and Digory have broken into Uncle Andrew's study. Uncle Andrew gave Polly a ring and she disappeared.

The Magician's Nephew, Chapter 2: Digory and His Uncle

The response to my Chapter 1 post was fascinating because I spent much of the piece outlining how Polly ought to be the protagonist instead of Digory, then named the post "The Magician's Neighbor" (Polly) rather than "The Magician's Nephew" (Digory) in order to drive the point home. I thought it was a nice alliterative bit of wordplay but what felt like the entire internet (but was really probably only three people) poured in to inform me that I'd typed the wrong word in the post title.

This may have been just reflexive "correcting people on the internet" but it struck me as painfully fascinating just how much we aren't accustomed to seeing girls centered as protagonists--it apparently seemed more likely that I confused "nephew" and "neighbor" than that Polly should have a book named for her. And I got to thinking about how the books in this series could have centered girls in the titles but just... didn't. Even The Silver Chair is named for a macguffin that exists for maybe ten pages before being sworded into splinters, rather than being named for the girl protagonist.

Anyway, Polly picks up a ring from Uncle Andrew and disappears in a blink.

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