An origin story and series discoveries, anime edition

As I mentioned last week, I’m on Gabriela Pereira’s DIYMFA launch team (yes, the book is coming out shortly). In preparation for the launch, Gabriela has been asking us weekly questions related to DIYMFA (the site, the newsletter, the course, and the book).

This week’s question is: What is your origin story?

How this ties into DIYMFA: Gabriela has recently asked what our writerly superpower was. For the record, mine is character, which I consider to be the well-spring of all things story. In keeping with that theme, all superheroes have origin stories.

Here’s mine.

Author origins

Even pre-origin, I was a creative wee bug. Read, I was a big fibber. The other kids were more honest. They called me a liar.

It wasn’t anything big or flashy. When I was a kid, in grade one (five years old), I really wanted a pet. I was obsessed with cats and took those books out of the library to read, well, gaze at longingly. I was just learning to read.

In show and tell every day (practically) I’d tell the tale of the latest stray cat I’d found and taken in. When the other kids (and teacher) asked me about the last cat, it invariably, and conveniently, had run away.

By the time I was in grade three, I wrote a little essay (well, I was seven), on my puppy, Friskey. I named her and misspelled her name. I’d like to say it was purposeful, but I rather think I just didn’t know how to spell.

Also in grade three, there was a special presentation by the grade five students. They’d all written and illustrated story books.

The moment I saw Siobhan Riddell’s version of St. George and the Dragon, I was hooked. Hard. I made my first submission, to the CBC’s “Pencil Box,” later that year.

And that was it. I’ve been writing—and in love with writing—ever since.

Series discoveries: Anime update

Series Discoveries

Phil and I have eased off on the anime, but we still watch Fairy Tail, and now World Trigger, as they are released (weekly). Actually, they are both now in hiatus as the animators work on the next seasons.

Fairy Tail went through some backstory in this season with Fairy Tail: Zer0. It is the tale of how a young Mavis met with some intrepid treasure hunters and through a series of adventures founded the wizard guild, Fairy Tail. Zeref even makes an appearance.

Next season promises to be about the rebuilding of the guild, which, after the Tartaros arc, had disbanded and all of its members departed for parts unknown.

The storytelling is decent, but, as with most anime, there are gaps in logic or plot that irritate. It’s still all about the power of friendship, though.

World Trigger focused mostly on rank wars, which is where the manga dwells these days as well. Osamu, Kuga, and Chika are trying to make it to A-rank so they can go on away missions to the neighbour worlds in the hope of rescuing Chika’s brother and friend, who disappeared and are assumed abducted. They’re also in search of Kuga’s companion, Replica, an autonomous trion soldier, who’d sacrificed himself to save Osamu and Chika when Aftokrator, a neighbour world, attacked.

As the season ended, not one, but two other neighbour worlds would be coming into contact with Mideen, where World Trigger takes place. Rank wars were to continue, but the A-rank Border teams  would have to defend against the neighbours.

Osamu and his team of three are in a bit of a crisis as well. Osamu, though a good strategist, has very little trion, the energy that allows Border agents to use the neighbour triggers. He also has very little experience and has come up against a wall. He is struggling, and holding his team back.

Chika, though she has an amazing amount of trion, is young and kind enough that she can’t bear to target people.

Kuga, a neighbour himself, has lots of trion and lots of experience and so the team’s success has rested largely on his shoulders.

Osamu has tried to recruit a fourth member for their team, but has so far been unsuccessful.

Log Horizon has still not returned.

We watched the second season of RWBY and the story is getting darker. The huntresses in training have watched their academy, and their world, come tumbling down around them.

At the end, Yang had her hand cut off and she and Ruby were recovering at home with their father after the attack that destroyed their academy. Blake had run away after her confrontation with her former boyfriend and his terrorist faction ended disastrously. Weiss had been recalled to her family’s estate in the city.

The enemy, still a little too amorphous and mysterious for my liking, controls the beasts of Grimm and has stolen the powers of one of the four maidens, Spring.

Ruby, unwilling to let the enemy’s apparent victory go unanswered, takes off with two other former students from the academy to try to set things right.

We’ll see if the third season appears and if it answers any of the outstanding questions the series has so far left viewers with.

A new addition to our viewing line-up has been God Eater.

Post-apocalyptic Japan has been overrun by the Aragami, fearsome beasts that seem to revel in mindless destruction. With the exception of a few huge, very powerful Aragami, they don’t exhibit much intelligence.

To combat these fearsome beasts, scientists isolated the genetic material that mutated animals into Aragami in the first place. Though early experiments were disastrous, they eventually figured out that there were certain humans who would be enhanced by this genetic material rather than be taken over by it.

Lenka Utsugi is one of these humans, a God Eater. He is trained and given a weapon called a God Arc, which bonds with the wielder.

When an Aragami is killed, its ‘core’ is harvested. These cores can be used to power God Arcs, but are more important in the construction of Aegis, a domed settlement in which the remnants of the human race are to shelter.

There’s a lot more to it than that. Suffice it to say that Phil and I are enjoying it and watching the show while we wait for the others to return. We’re getting a little deeper into backstory, but the conspiracies in this series are still a little hazy for my liking.

And that’s it for this week.

I’ll see what the next DIYMFA question of the week is, but I may tackle that and midseason follies (to date). The week following is Ad Astra, and so I probably won’t blog that weekend. I’ll be too busy taking notes of the sessions I attend so that I’ll have lots of reportage ready to go after April’s next chapter update.

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Review of Jane Ann McLachlan’s The Salarian Desert Game

SalarianDesertGame

What Amazon says:

What if someone you love gambled on her life?

Games are serious business on Salaria, and the stakes are high. When Kia’s older sister, in a desperate bid to erase their family debt, loses the game and forfeits her freedom, Kia is determined to rescue her.

Disguised as a Salarian, Kia becomes Idaro in order to move freely in this dangerous new culture. When she arrives on Salaria, she learns it’s a world where a few key players control the board, and the pawns are ready to revolt. Kia joins the conflict, risking everything to save her sister. As if she doesn’t already have enough to handle, Agatha, the maddeningly calm and unpredictable Select who lives life both by-the-book and off-the-cuff shows up to help, along with handsome Norio, a strong-willed desert girl with her own agenda, and a group of Salarian teens earning their rite of passage in the treacherous desert game.

What can an interpreter and former thief possibly do in the midst of all this to keep the people she loves alive?

Edge’s video intro, by Jane Ann McLachlan:

 

 

 

My thoughts:

In my review of Jane Ann’s first Kia and Agatha novel, The Occasional Diamond Thief, I said that Kia learns the truth about herself by learning the truth about others.

This trend continues in The Salarian Desert Game.

Kia, not long returned from her adventures on Malem, is translating at The Salarian Night Games, a form of high stakes gambling, in which losers agree to indentured servitude in the Salarian crystal mines until their debt is paid.

Her sister plays, and loses, and Kia, though prevented by doing anything in the moment but protesting because of her role as translator, determines to travel to Salaria and free her sister.

As she is preparing to depart, she is summoned by the OUB, the interplanetary religious authority. Yes, she must go to Salaria, but as translator for the Select Agatha, and she is forbidden from attempting to save her sister. The mission is all. It was foreseen in a vision and cannot be denied or abandoned.

Worse, Kia will not only have to travel in disguise, but the OUB asks her to surgically erase her identity and assume that of Idaro, a half-Salarian girl who died years earlier.

When Agatha and Kia, sorry Idaro, arrive on Salaria, they are separated and everything falls apart. Alone, Idaro visits her estranged grandmother, Matriarch Ryo, and tries to figure out what she can do to find and help Agatha and get back on her mission to save her sister.

To maintain her cover, though, Idaro must join the Salarian Desert Games, a coming of age ceremony which pits fifteen year old girls against the desert of Salaria and its poisonous denizens. It’s survival of the fittest, and Idaro must survive more than the desert’s snakes and scorpions and the distrust and schemes of her fellow candidates.

The scope of this novel is on a grand societal scale, addressing racism, slavery, misandrogy (Salaria is a Matriarchy), terrorism, and the other consequences these institutionalized practices.

In discovering this alien world, Kia, and the reader, must reflect on the evils of our societies, reflected in the mirror of the novel.

When she first emerges from the surgery that will change her into Idaro, Kia hardly recognizes herself. By the end of the novel, she’s not only learned who Idaro is, but who Kia is, and how far she’s willing to go to save those she loves.

Once again, Jane Ann has written an amazing novel.

My highest recommendation.

My rating:

Five out of five stars!

About the Author:Jane Ann McLachlan

J.A. McLachlan was born in Toronto, Canada. She is the author of a short story collection, CONNECTIONS, published by Pandora Press and two College textbooks on Professional Ethics, published by Pearson-Prentice Hall. But science fiction is her first love, a genre she has been reading all her life, and Walls of Wind is her first published Science Fiction novel. Her new science fiction novel is The Occasional Diamond Thief. She is represented by Carrie Pestritto at Prospect Agency.

Robert J. Sawyer reviewed The Walls of Wind and had this to say:
“Look out, C. J. Cherryh! Step aside, Hal Clement! There’s a new master of truly alien SF, and her name is J. A. McLachlan. THE WALLS OF WIND is doubtless THE debut novel of the year.”
— Robert J. Sawyer, Hugo Award-winning science fiction author

You can learn more about J. A. McLachlan and her books on her website at: http://www.janeannmclachlan.com

Connect with Jane Ann on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/janeann.mclachlan

What others are saying about her:

“In ways SF readers can favorably compare with icons of the genre, such as Ursula K. Le Guin, James Tiptree Jr. and Robert J. Sawyer, WALLS OF WIND boldly weaves anthropology, psychology, drama, future history, even meteorology, into a tapestry of viewpoints and epiphanies that propel McLachlan’s characters toward a necessary and illuminating change in their collective relationship. … If you read no other “alien” authors this year, don’t miss WALLS OF WIND.”
– Bookreporter

Read the full review:
http://www.bookreporter.com/reviews/walls-of-wind-a-science-fiction-novel

“I loved it from the first page and couldn’t put it down!!”
Domenico Maniscalco

“The writing is excellent and never gets in the way of the story (which is very important to me); The characters are well drawn and believable.”
Peter Barron

“I loved the writing style of the author; her characters are diverse and very real.” Steve