Valley #writephoto

Valley

mist-at-sunrise

 

Soon all will be shrouded in darkness, or is her sense of light and shadow, of day and night now irremediably confused? After so long in space this would not be surprising, and what did they say on the training range? “When you’re landed, don’t expect to adjust without pain!” Slowly, the navigator removes the oxygen mask, then her helmet. Her long red hair is still held back, before she can relax she will have to wait and feel how she bears gravity on this planet. Her suit’s instruments said that the atmosphere was breathable. Perhaps the radioactivity level is on the high side for a planet with so few people around…

At least that is what her briefing said. She looks at the star sinking into the luminous clouds, on the horizon. “Earth sunsets can be stunning,” said the brief, “their atmosphere is saturated with thin particles of dust. It is not known if this is the result of volcanic eruptions, or of a human-made disaster, which may also explain the sparsely inhabited continents…”

The triangle #fivewords

Weekly Writing Prompt #132

Monastery_Garments-Cistercian

 

Francis wanted to capture the dream: for the third night, he had read the name of a place he had known, and, now, wanted to build into the story. There were three, at equal distance from each other, the monk had said. The last day, his stare fixed on some old manuscript he had dug out from the loot of a raid, years back, he’d looked for clues. In the morning, like today, he could not recall the names. Long ago, he had travelled, feverish, and briefly lived there, at the vortices of the triangle, carried away by the rage to discover the truth.

Where he was now, near the small park, in the city he loved, was one of those places, he was certain of it. He tried to lift his arm, and discovered he was almost unable to move: he would have to go back to his therapist. He had to work, look again at the archives.

In the park, he had met the shadow of an old monk, one night. That was before the first dream. The monk had spoken in an old, forgotten, language, and Francis had only understood a few words. Where were the other two places?

Picture source: Monastery Garments

Her key… #fivewords

Weekly Writing Prompt #116 

female_assassin_by_ecezio-d46ek8n

 

 

Acknowledgement: ecezio.deviantart.com

She thought she ought to check the address before she went down the high street. She had the key, and would see the colour sign, the code.

Her mission was simple, she was paid to kill him.

He knew, and was waiting. He was accepting death. His time had come, and he made sure the sign was at his door. It would be painless, she was such an artist, he knew: he had trained her.

 

Image: Female Assassin by Ecezio on deviantART

Tower #writephoto

Today’s photo prompt by Sue Vincent

up-north-060

 

She crouched behind a short spiky bush, and waited for a sound. There was none, not even the usual discrete footfall of small creatures in the dark. A hawk could be seen, circling silently around the dark silhouette of the tower.

“So,”she thought,”This is where you died, so long ago even the stones have forgotten your name, the colour of your hair, the strength of your arms…” She relaxed her grip on the sword: there was no-one there, perhaps not even the spirit of the hero, who, in eons past, had died defending her ancestors, in this forsaken and deserted place, alone against multitudes of demons.

But she had to find out. Cautiously she started moving toward the ruin, one step at a time, a fluid and silent motion that only supernatural eyes could have observed.

Yet she sensed some presence, somewhere, closer to the tower, cloaked in darkness. Now she heard the voice of an owl hunting.

First published on May 5, 2016 #writephoto

Enchantment

Weekly Writing Prompt #100

tumblr_otylnygu321rv2dfko1_540

 

He found her story enchanting, and the way she was telling it to him a real treat. The fire in his mind was a mere flicker, for the predator within him had long given up: his life was now just about beauty, art, and good stories. So he would write, what he heard, and what had inspired him.

She, in turn, was playing with his mind, yet another victim of the wicked witch.

Picture: Fisherwoman, Odilon Redon, via fleurdulysfleurdulys.tumblr.com

Bridge #Writephoto

Thursday Photoprompt

beneath-the-bridge

 

From her hideout she could see that the water had receded: the shadow of the bridge was playing in the morning sunshine, the world was silent. Did the horror come from the sea, as in a Lovecraft story? Or did it wait for the high tide to reach its victims?

She knew she could not stay where she was, for it had been safe just for one night, but soon she would have to leave, and resume her journey. Was she on her own, or was there any other survivor? The walk from the wreckage had taken the whole previous day, till late in the night. She’d seen no-one, just heard the horror, the shrieks of agony.

Then the hideous shadow appeared, reflected by the water, approaching slowly, across the bridge…

T-Rain, and a girl named Zula: a reading of Neal Stephenson’s Reamde #amreading

Neil Stephenson 77f9262fbf.jpg

Every other thing that he had done for the company – networking with money launderers, stringing Ethernet cable, recruiting fantasy authors, managing Pluto – could be done better and more cheaply by someone who could be recruited by a state-of-the-art head-hunting firm. His role, in the end, had been reduced to this one thing: sitting in the corner of meeting rooms or lurking on corporate email lists, seeming not to pay attention, growing ever more restless and surly until he blurted something out that offended a lot of people and caused the company to change course. Only later did they see the shoals on which they would have run aground if not for Richard’s startling and grumpy intervention.”

Reamde is a tough, long, and interesting novel. I had to interrupt my reading several times during this year, and this made following the plot as hazardous as the story itself. I acquired Reamde initially as an e-book. The version I had was poorly edited, and after some four hundred pages I could no longer find my way through the various geographies and characters. Finally I purchased the paperback (in the Atlantic Books edition available in the UK.) This helped me to come back on tracks, as the good ones were getting deeper into serious trouble, and the bad ones were… getting more horrible than ever.
Richard Forthrast is a wealthy entrepreneur, and the soul at the core of T-Rain, a world-class multiplayer (MMORPG) game and metaverse, that transcends all predecessors. Richard is the head of the Forthrast clan, an expanded family of gun-totting characters who include his adopted niece, the beautiful Zula, a refugee from Erithrea. The world of T-Rain is, one day, disrupted by the double event of an internal war – the Wor – and the advent of what turns out to be a deadly virus, Reamde. The plot then develops into two parallel, but eventually convergent, lines: what happens in T-Rain, and what happens in “reality”: much of the book’s interest arises, in this reader’s view, from this double narrative, the journey in T-Rain, and the journey in this world, from Idaho to the Philippines, via China and various airfields and oil tankers, and back again, as Bilbo Baggins used to say. Both are rich in deadly traps, of the explosive and other varieties, such as magic spells.
A good first tier of the book is devoted to a description of T-Rain, its design, history and creators, a medley of British and US genial weirdos, recruited by, and under Richard’s influence. I must admit having lost the thread more than once (a fuller understanding would require a second reading, at least.) The real world’s thread centres on Zula and her companions, and their odyssey. For Reamde, the virus, cuts across the machinations of a criminal gang from the East, whose extortion racket is disrupted by the virus. The consequences of the gang’s brutal intervention, and a chance meeting with a bunch of jihadists, make up the second half of the novel, as the separate trails slowly converge back to the US-Canadian border, and Richard’s eagle nest.
There are hints of Snow Crash, Stephenson’s earlier novel that introduced a proto-virtual world, and multiple references to the world of hacking and virus developers. There are peripheral characters, some roughly inspired by the “war on terror”, and of course, the very nasty, and yet noble jihadist, the infamous Jones.
I only caught up with the female characters, all three of them, once I had acquired the paperback, having to backtrack through the 1044 pages! I think, now, that sometime I will re-read Reamde, when I have some uninterrupted three or four weeks of quiet vacation (maybe when we visit Seattle?) Stephenson lives in Seattle and his geographical knowledge of the region is evidently vast. I struggled with the trails through the mountainous area above Richard’s Schloss! A map would be as useful to the reader as it would be to Zula and her friends.
Reamde is, in turn, hilarious and tragic, a great read, and a milestone for Stephenson’s aficionados.

Photo: [By Ryan Somma – https://www.flickr.com/photos/ideonexus/6191024454, CC BY 2.0, Link]

My reading of Cryptonomicon

The Tower… #writephoto

This week, the photo prompt is a tower, stark against a clear blue sky… what secrets does it hold…and what mysteries might it conceal?

scotland-trip-jan-15-107

She crouched behind a short spiky bush, and waited for a sound. There was none, not even the usual discrete footfall of small creatures in the dark. A hawk could be seen, circling silently around the dark silhouette of the tower.

“So,”she thought,”This is where you died, so long ago even the stones have forgotten your name, the colour of your hair, the strength of your arms…” She relaxed her grip on the sword: there was no-one there, perhaps not even the spirit of the hero, who, in eons past, had died defending her ancestors, in this forsaken and deserted place, alone against multitudes of demons.

But she had to find out. Cautiously she started moving toward the ruin, one step at a time, a fluid and silent motion that only supernatural eyes could have observed.

Yet she sensed some presence, somewhere, closer to the tower, cloaked in darkness. Now she heard the voice of an owl hunting.

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