The Daily Scroll was created for visitors who want to learn more about all three. It’s bursting with imaginative micro-articles, cartoons & passages from the writings of authors & artists.

Fantasizing,Fotos,Fridays offer pictures chosen to stimulate our imaginations, awaken inspiration & allow creativity free rein to invent theories or micro-stories based on what we see. Imagination-Exercising entries--which appear on whatever day they feel like--provide a few words as inspiration for our creativity. Both are fun!

Please comment below when inspired by ideas, suggestions or reactions!

Or email me at,

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Review of Mariah's Dream by Grace Bridges

Cover of "Mariah's Dream" (The Vortex of Éire, 1) by Grace Bridges

Mariah's Dream (The Vortex of Éire, 1) by Grace Bridges  (Author)
Paperback: 290 pages
Publisher: Splashdown Books (July 15, 2015)
Paperback 13.98; ebook 2.99

I became familiar with Kiwi author and publisher (Splashdown Press), Grace Bridges, almost a decade ago when I was invited to join the online authors group, Lost Genre Guild. I read extracts of Aqua-Synthesis (a series of interconnected SF stories) all written by LGG members including Grace.

She began writing a near-future SF novel titled Cyber-Dublin in about 2009-10. I read the manuscript before its publication and enjoyed it--chiefly because of her characters and one particularly cool setting near the ocean. I bought the paperback and I’m very glad that I did since it appears to be out of print. (Maybe there will be a revised edition?)

Grace sent me the antepenultimate (next to next to last   ;-D) pdf version of "Mariah’s Dream" well over a month ago. As much as I wanted to begin reading as soon as I opened the file, "life" intervened.

I began reading "Mariah's Dream" in the worst possible way--snatching five or ten minutes and spending half that time looking for where I'd left off. I have a Kindle and I read news and nonfiction online sometimes for hours but I'm old-fashioned when it comes to reading fiction. Quality fiction is best read offline in the comfy chair next to a reading lamp. And coffee. And chocolate. Or outside amidst the rustling shade of trees.

Was the paperback edition of "Mariah's Dream" out yet?

What happened next would Grace’s fault. This claim may be difficult to describe much less defend.

Five years ago I began reading "Cyber-Dublin". After reading just a few pages of it, I knew I could relax and let Grace's characters draw me along into their lives and even their thoughts. With Grace, I’m no longer part reader and part manuscript editor—a frame of mind authors have to battle whenever we read for pleasure. I can trust this author to tell an interesting story--free of plot gaps and sloppy characterization. 

I stopped reading (again) and opened Amazon-US. Mariah's Dream was out in paperback. For some reason, only one copy was available. I ordered it at once lest it escape me. When my c/o/p/y storyteller arrived I offered her the other comfy chair and settled in for what I already knew would be an absorbing character-driven story.



I read more fantasy than I do SF so when reading the latter I prefer stories set in the near-future like Mariah’s Dream. However, I tend to dislike dystopia. I get depressed enough without reading entire books where every scene is set against a dystopic background. Either the characters need to escape from their nightmare life or I need to escape from the book.

Mariah’s Dream appeals to me in spite of the dystopic environment thanks in part to several characters I’ll describe later. And thanks to a variety of settings featuring the Irish countryside, its ancient paths and stone works, quaint villages and, above all, scenes in which water is more than a stage setting. Grace “does” water very well probably because she’s enamored of it.  

To be clear, not every setting in Mariah's Dream made me wish I had a bayside cottage in Balmar. I blame the World Parliament for that not Grace. Well, mostly not Grace. 

This near-future version of Earth is about as dystopian as they get. Horrifying human-created settings lurk along Belfast/Bangor waterfronts, have taken up habitation in the suburbs, and poisoned the surrounding countryside of Ireland. The first few “Mariah” chapters each begin in places populated by people in the grip of terror, despair or rage--whether near city hall, downtown workplaces, or in outlying prison-farms. Haunting fear and hopelessness have invisible roles in nearly every scene.




How did everything get this way? In the recent past and for reasons unknown, members of the “World Parliament” sowed the soil of Ireland with the “termination gene".  The Irish and the peoples of other lands were not told the WP’s objective. The gene killed every plant and effectively prevented the germination of any remaining seeds. Sterile soil and mud replaced expanses of thriving green plants not just in Ireland but throughout Europe and beyond.

Forgive the understatement but whatever those in power expected, this wasn’t it.

“Mariah’s Dream” begins some time after this disastrous decision. Scientists may be working to develop terminator-resistant fertilizers. Agricultural workers held captive on experimental farms may be using these compounds and other methods to restore vital food crops. It’s not going well, as evidenced by strict food rationing.

Once this eco-disaster have been established as universally endemic, the author adds a new level of horror in the form of a plague which kills most of the surviving population and eventually adapts to natural forms of resistance in the survivors.  



I feel the graphic details of each plague death parallel previous and subsequent deaths too closely. I learned soon enough and more than enough about how this disease progresses so I began to skim paragraphs when I saw what might be a death scene developing. 
To be blunt, I wanted more about the human reactions and less about how much vomit or blood was on the ground.

And to be fair, we see the horrified reactions of new victims, the selfless efforts of others trying to ease their suffering, and cruelly drawn-out grief of friends from the first signs of infection until the last breath. 

Even when death is not an immediate concern to the characters, empty houses, abandoned cars and starving farm animals remind them, and the reader of the devastation since the sowing of the termination gene.

The one "good thing" you can say about a plague during a famine is, once it roars in, the spectre of famine seems less terrifying.

I've thought a lot about this plague--from back when I read scenes describing the first deaths to this moment. All I'll say for now is, read the book and see what you think. Maybe later we can discuss our theories in the Comments section or elsewhere. You were going to read "Mariah's Dream"anyway, right?



Two Irish women take turns as point-of-view characters and the chapter titles reflect this. For example Chapter 1 is, “Mariah, June 2079”. The next chapter features “Faith”. The name “Mariah” appears in the book title and in the title of the first chapter. That was enough to establish Mariah as a major character, perhaps the central character. Likewise her dream must be important to her--and to the reader.

Mariah’s chapters tend to be longer than Faith’s so we see more scenes through her adult eyes than we do from teenaged Faith’s point-of-view. Mariah also serves as narrator or journal keeper. I engaged with Mariah more than any other character, except one. Maybe this is an age thing--I’m older than most of the characters.

I had other reasons for not wanting to identify with Faith. She is the victim of bullying  many times in her life. Some scenes can be painful to read. For the most part, she gives into the wishes of the other person. 

At least until she doesn’t.

Finally, Faith's story takes place half a decade before Mariah’s initial chapter begins. Could any event from that long ago in Faith's life be essential to the plot? Even the “terminator disaster” occurred more recently than the events in Faith's story. When I began reading, I worried that Faith would turn up in the last chapter as a character even older than I am. Spoiler alert: she doesn't.

Sometimes I would forget this discrepancy in years between chapters, in spite of every chapter title reminding us of the year. This was confusing. Don't do this.

My attention perked up once Faith was a bit older and able to put all those negative experiences behind her. It was like the “Kick Me” sign had fallen off her back. She proved to be remarkably resilient. I became a fan.

Perhaps halfway through the book I began to feel that something odd was going on. “Something odd.” Oh, that helps. I told myself I was either imagining this something or I should have identified what it was by now. At least I had the sense to let it go and get back to the story.

As I wrote to a friend and fellow author, Mike Dunne,

“…as to what I'm going to say review-wise... I know some of it. Wow! This is good writing! So good that I'm managing to enjoy a dystopian near-future scenario!  The characters are richly developed and mostly very likeable--except the ones that aren't supposed to be. You already know how important good characterization is to me.

"But there's something else going on under the surface which I'd like to figure out real soon now. I mean before Grace provides the answer. I just hope it's not something devastating but then that's not Grace. (I hope.)”

"When you read Mariah’s Dream, take care that no one spoils the plot for you. I think, I hope, that you will enjoy being puzzled as much as I was."

Where was I? Oh, characters. My other human favorites were Darian and Peter—both because of their romantic attachments. You may enjoy getting to know Peter particularly in the way the author introduces him. Unlike Faith, I took an interest in Darian as soon as his character was introduced because of the cruelties he experienced.

I didn’t know what to make of Lzu until I realized that her emotional outbursts were just those of a young teen saying what she felt. I admired Naomi for her idealism and because she is so at one with her little bit of the world—almost to the point of being its mother. But Naomi is no barely human “nature goddess” incapable of making bad choices. When she makes a mistake, we can count on it to have repercussions.

My favorite character is Rufus, a stray dog, perhaps the last dog living anywhere in Ireland. Rufus is a sympathetic character from his first scene to his last. I wonder if Grace gave Rufus more scenes than she originally intended to. In the beginning, she uses him as an independent observer to actions that no human character witnesses--a plot device more than a character, introduced to aid readers.

Because of his unique role, Grace gives Rufus human skills like seeming to understand human speech. Even dog-lovers might be reluctant to claim that skill for their furry friends. In time, Rufus breaks out of this restrictive role. He finds a home with some characters in service to the plot, but Rufus develops into a (full) character in his own right. 

No question. Rufus is my favorite character. I was more invested in his welfare than anyone else.

The sheer number of characters in Mariah’s Dream would challenge the casts of some Russian novels. As the vendors say at sporting events, “Programs! Can’t tell the players without a program!” As soon as I finished reading the story, I went through Grace’s novel a second time, intending to gather up and write down every name I saw together with a couple of key words to remind me who they were. I was less than halfway through the book when I gave up on my cast of thousands list and switched to rereading the rest. I'm so glad I did this! I caught on to things the second time though that I hadn't noticed the first time. 

What's better than a good book? A good book that invites a second reading.



In lieu of discussing the plot.

I’m always fascinated by the fiddly details in survival stories which involve people grappling to gather the basic essentials of food and shelter. I cheer with them each time they make a discovery and hurt with them when a promising find turns out to be useless. Once the survivors secure the essentials needed to live, Grace refocuses the action on the slow acquisition of "creature comforts" sometimes discovered by accident, other times searching a likely place looking for a particular thing.

In the world of “Mariah's Dream” these moments are no Saturday afternoon treasure hunt meant for the amusement of neighborhood children. Most characters are still in potential deadly danger. Established characters do die, sometimes without much warning to friends or the reader.

Some of these searches subtly drive the plot in ways you may not expect.


I recommend Grace Bridge's "Mariah's Dream" (The Vortex of Eire, 1) to readers who enjoy near-future dystopia SF ; to those who are interested in Ireland's geography, history and customs; to those concerned about sustainable agriculture, world hunger, conservation and ecology. Recommended for adults and very mature young adults: violence, graphic images of deaths mostly from disease, gruesome imagery. Language and sexual situations sometimes drift into the US film industry's PG-13 range.

Mariah's Dream (The Vortex of Éire, 1) by Grace Bridges  (Author)
Paperback: 290 pages
Publisher: Splashdown Books (July 15, 2015) 

Mariah's Prologues 1-4: The Dog with No Name, Mothers of Belfast, Rue the Night, Strawberry Dreaming (The Vortex...Jul 16, 2015
by Grace Bridges

Monday, August 3, 2015

2015 Mythopoeic Awards: Winners & Finalists

2015 Mythopoeic Awards in Literature

Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature

      Winner !

Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature--FINALISTS

Sarah Avery, Tales from Rugosa Coven (Dark Quest)

Stephanie Feldman, The Angel of Losses (Ecco)

Theodora Goss, Songs for Ophelia (Papaveria Press)

Joanne M. Harris, The Gospel of Loki (Gollancz)

Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez, Locke & Key series, consisting of Vol. 1: Welcome to Lovecraft; Vol. 2: Head Games; Vol. 3: Crown of Shadow; Vol.4: Keys to the Kingdom; Vol. 5: Clockworks; and Vol. 6: Alpha & Omega IDW Publishing


Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature

 Winner !

Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature--FINALISTS

Jonathan Auxier, The Night Gardener (Harry N. Abrams)

Merrie Haskell, The Castle Behind Thorns (Katherine Tegan Books)

Diana Wynne Jones and Ursula Jones, The Islands of Chaldea (Greenwillow)

Robin LaFevers, His Fair Assassin series, consisting of Grave Mercy; Dark Triumph; and Mortal Heart (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Natalie Lloyd, A Snicker of Magic (Scholastic)


Mythopoeic Scholarship Awards

Scholarship Awards: Inklings Studies

Winner !

Mythopoeic Scholarship Award in Inklings Studies--FINALISTS

Robert Boenig, C.S.Lewis and the Middle Ages (Kent State Univ. Press, 2012)

Monika B. Hilder, C.S. Lewis and gender series, consisting of The Feminine Ethos in C. S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia (Peter Lang, 2012); The Gender Dance: Ironic Subversion in C. S. Lewis’s Cosmic Trilogy (Peter Lang, 2013); and Surprised by the Feminine: A Rereading of C. S. Lewis and Gender (Peter Lang, 2013)

John Wm. Houghton, Janet Brennan Croft, Nancy Martsch, John D. Rateliff, and Robin Anne Reid, eds., Tolkien in the New Century: Essays in Honor of Tom Shippey (McFarland, 2014)

Christopher Tolkien, ed., Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary, Together with Sellic Spell, by J. R. R. Tolkien (Houghton Mifflin, 2014)


Mythopoeic Scholarship Awards

Scholarship Awards: Myth & Fantasy Studies

      Winner !

Mythopoeic Scholarship Award in Myth and Fantasy Studies

Mythopoeic Scholarship Award in Myth and Fantasy Studies--FINALISTS

Brian Attebery, Stories About Stories: Fantasy and theRemaking of Myth (Oxford Univ. Press, 2014)

Daniel Gabelman, George MacDonald: Divine Carelessness andFairytale Levity (Baylor Univ. Press, 2013)

Sara Maitland, From the Forest: The Hidden Roots of ourFairy Tales (Counterpoint, 2012)

Michael Saler, As If: Modern Enchantment and the LiteraryPrehistory of Virtual Reality (Oxford Univ. Press, 2012)

Kristen Stirling, Peter Pan’s Shadows in the Modern LiteraryImagination (Routledge, 2012)


Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Last Battle. Cover #4. Extract.

My latest FB entry:

With even greater trepidation than earlier, I present my latest (and probably last) effort, "The Last Battle" cover, version 4.  By the way, my 13,000 word fantasy novelette "The Last Battle" will be somewhere inside the cover. 

Freshly stolen from the January 23 "Daily Scroll" entry, here are the first few pages of "The Last Battle".

The Last Battle

The Old Woman

Everyone was passing me by on the dirt road, gifting me with dust and the stinks of sweat and animal droppings. I was so tired, I woke now and again from a nap the length of a single stride. My feet hurt. It was all I could do to dodge the obstacles on the path.

I stopped and drew a breath through cupped hands, chiefly to look behind and then ahead of me. In the seconds before someone grumbled and elbowed my back, I glimpsed massive sandstone walls proclaiming the proximity of the king’s summer citadel. Only the weekly market booths stood between me and the twenty ell high bronze-braced entry doors. Just before dusk, praise to the One!

The light of the setting sun caught on the armor of warriors pacing high above us across the parapet or circling slowly behind the machicolation in the closest towers. Peddlers, customers, gawkers, beggars and weary travelers were shifting into the restless shadows cast by surrounding trees and a handful of outlying merchant tents. Soon, the market would begin its slow plunge into the denser dim of the great edifice.

I limped as quickly as I could into the midst of the market, dodging others where possible or waiting impatiently for a way to clear. Sweaty filthy bodies, bodies choking in a miasma of drink or cloying perfume surrounded me.

A single trumpet sang one golden note. The first of three warnings, or so I’d been told, before guards and draft animals began closing the gates. Already within sight of the gates and hearing only the first warning. I grinned, the movement of facial muscles puffing caked dust into my nostrils.

Hawkers cried out to me whenever I slowed my pace.

“My lady! My lady! Fresh! Strong as iron! Savory… Precious… A bargain…” Their claims blurred into the common plea for a full day’s profit.

Lady. My lips curved at the word, tugging at skin where splashed mud had dried hours ago. A word only a flattering hawker would use, clad as I was in a mended cape & the piebald patched clothing of a spent fighter.

I blinked and drew a breath.

Cobbler. I was looking for a cobbler.

Would a cobbler have a booth out here on market day? Those with imported satin slippers and tooled leather boots did. Importers, crafters of fine shoes meant for nobles would likely live as close to the courtiers’ manses and the royal palace as they could afford. One who lived by repairing shoes and boots might expect his custom to seek him out somewhere in the narrow interlacing streets just within the walls.

I stopped, realized I’d done so again, and limped forward lest the second warning trumpet find me this far from the gates. Newly-massed peddlers and beggars shoved others aside to clutch at me and gabble meaningless words. Buzzards shrieking a warning to any who might disturb their feast.

I grumbled and clutched at the haft of my smaller dagger. Street patter laced with flattery transformed into curses and a couple half-hearted kicks. I snarled and pulled the dagger free. The buzzard-spawn scattered.

Now to get through the gates lest lingering catch me hungry and without shelter. Merchants were thrusting small objects into lined bags. Others, their eyes on the crowds, reached beneath their tables and carts fumbling out folds of rough canvas sacks, even as they kept up a steady patter for one last customer.

I turned and took a few more painful steps toward the gates.

“A moment, my lady!” whispered near in the soft cracked voice of an old woman.

Not a peddler—unless her voice had given way from a day of hawking.

Reluctant to hang back from the gate, I glanced over my shoulder without stopping.

Somewhere bundled within a clashing collection of tunics, trousers, a skirt far too short, a hood and two shawls each claiming a shoulder was a small dark woman. Her black eyes--reflecting light borrowed from the setting sun—were a compass to her features. Too thin, cheekbones too prominent but she was smiling like a doting granny.

I offered the briefest of nods.

Like quiet water reflecting paired stars, the sparkle of her eyes greeted my gaze.

A breeze crept through the torn patches of my tunic. I shivered and shifted a step backward with my good foot. My hand froze between dagger and sword hilts, echoing my thoughts torn between pity and terror.

The woman’s face crinkled into a smile. “No danger here, my lady. But peril lies within if you are not careful. I have something for you.”

Just another peddler. I allowed my hand to drop.

“Something you will need. Alas, my granddaughter refused my gift and my protection. But you won’t, will you?”

My head shook of its own—making a decision in which my thoughts had no part. Already dismayed at making one choice before considering it, I held out my hand. My sword hand. Fool!

She smiled--the smile showing the gap of a missing tooth—and lifted the strap of a small bag from one shoulder. Surely only the russet shawl had been there a moment before.

Blended dirt and old sweat obliterated what once might have been intertwined flowers on the bag’s padded strap. Wandering past where the strap ended and the bag began, the intricate design laid gentle claim to the ovoid surface of the silk bag.

The flowers—if they were flowers—were varied in hue, bright then shadowed as if caught in turn by noon rays or misted moonlight. No light varied near us except when vendors and beasts passed with their heavy packs.

The woman turned about and scurried away. Yet her voice came clear. “Open it when they think you sleep…”

A growl and a grunt warned of a brawl about to start. I stepped away from the sound but kept my gaze fixed down the twisting empty path beyond the crowds hurrying toward the gate. Shorn of the sun’s light, the garish hues of her clothing deepened into evergreen, violet and the midnight inkiness of the sea on a moonless night. Then nothing.

The second warning rang out over the babbling crowds and the protests of donkeys and oxen.

I hurried toward the city gates, one person caught up in the slow jostling of a multitude. A man clutched my left elbow and forced his way through a gap barely big enough for a child. Had he had a mind to steal the old woman’s gift he might have succeeded. I slung the lightweight bag up on my left shoulder, clenching its strap between my arm and side.

A whisper echoed by many whispers crept within my ears. “The cobbler lives in the third street. Turn right at the shrine. Look for a thicket of sticks once a fence and a green light in a window.” 

The Cobbler

Once past the well-lighted gates and guard posts, night took possession of the thoroughfare. Wary of any cutpurses, I adjusted my grip on the gifted bag the better to use it as a shield. I probably appeared more threatening than the travelers searching for shelter or the city people hurrying from workplace to a beckoning meal and sleep.

In spite of my new grip on the strap, the silken bag swayed and bounced on its shortened tether in rhythm with my uneven steps. I knew nothing of its value but then neither did any would-be thief. Perhaps small loss if it were taken. Perhaps not. Thieves were sometimes known to incapacitate their targets before they knew what prize they might gain.

No longer in the midst of a crowd, I took note of those behind me and to either side.

Many had taken advantage of the first inn we had passed and departed from the group. I should have joined them. The corner of a common room beckoned in my thoughts. Dozing. Warmed by even the scant fire a tin-pinching goodman would permit. Filled with something warm and soothed by the inn’s best brew.

I faltered a step, and blessings that I did! The shrine’s roof peeped over a crumbling stone wall on my right. Just beyond it lurked smoky chapel candles in three arched windows. Gentle song—accompanied by the familiar lilt of a pipe—sounded from the darkened yard. I saw no one.

I looked as far as I could see around the corner. Those still hurrying up and down the crossing street could scarce be deemed a crowd. Had I left all the shops and inns behind?

With a second glance about, more careful than the first, I turned right as instructed. Suppose the shop were no longer open? Had all the city’s proprietors given up on further profit for tonight? Not worth staying open for custom intent on an inn, tavern or brothel.

Just to my left, firelight flared and heavy boots clattered. I spun toward them. My attacker cried out and backed up, sprawling half in the road and half on the shallow steps he had just descended.

A shadow blocked out most of the light. A woman screamed, “Don’t hurt him, I pray you!”

My sword was out. I didn’t remember drawing it. Instinct rarely left memory. I took a backward step. Two. And finally remembered to sheathe my sword.

Amidst a flood of imprecations, the man heaved himself back to his feet. The woman, likely his wife, asked if she should run for the watch.

He shook his head. “Back inside! Just a misunderstanding.” He didn’t look me in the face. Too intent on seeing if my hand would keep its distance from my hilt?

“My apologies, sir! I…”

“…came from the wars recently.” He finished for me. “Where were you?”

Scattered memories of our last battle lurked behind clenched teeth. I shook my head.

“Well, we were in Itera…”

“…the peninsula battle? I was up-river. Thanks for keeping them downwind.”

The man chuckled. “Wilderness Ward, huh? Actually, I missed it.” He lifted a cane and briefly pointed the end at me like a sword.

I thought his leg was intact but the dark and his cape left me unsure. We both drew back another pace—beyond the range of bladed weapons. Twin apologies echoed between us. Why he offered one I couldn’t guess. Then he hurried on the way I had come...   SNIP 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Fantasizing Fotos Not-a-Friday #4

Fantasizing,Fotos,Fridays offer pictures chosen to stimulate our imaginations, awaken inspiration & allow creativity free rein to invent theories or micro-stories based on what we see

I just found this photograph by way of a Huffington post.  The URL will be all the way at the bottom of this entry.


Remember to think about the picture and imagine what is going on
before looking at what I wrote. No two people will imagine the same thing.

That would be weird.


I'm still trying to decide if my brain gets an A in Imagination today, or a reminder to do its homework before blathering on for 16 paragraphs. Here's why.

I haven't been thinking much about Fantasizing Fotos entries recently--being focused instead on a series of trial book covers for The Last Battle.  The thumbnail with the link leading to this photograph was too small to make out details. And the title made no sense.

"The Plan" was to click over, click back, and close the original email. How many times have you assured yourself that that's The Plan, only to come out of a twenty minute reverie with no idea how--or why--you've traveled from wherever you started to where you are now. Assuming you remember where you started. Or why you were there to begin with.

A word of advice for those who use Chrome. Never try to satisfy your curiosity about your more random internet trips by holding down the left-pointing arrow up in the top left corner of your screen. One twenty minute reverie an hour is enough.

(Chrome, upper left corner, left-pointing arrow, hold down)

Anyway... I looked at Jovell Rennie's photograph and knew at once what had happened.

The largest (lowest) part of the structure was built by the oldest family members. Maybe they are still living there or maybe they died a century of more ago. I'm betting on the latter.

Descendants continued living here until the lowest floor was becoming uncomfortably cramped. No one had much privacy unless they went outside and began walking. You noticed how thin and straight these trees are, right? Look at the numerous small clearings. This is un-forest-like tree behavior if the trees have been left to their own devices. Anyone who has ever walking in a forest-- especially those who have gotten themselves a bit lost--are familiar with the dense growth. Just plain walking in your intended direction can be a challenge. Soon you're resigned to taking detours to find a way through and then maybe detours from the detours.

But I'm d/e/t/o/u/r/i/n/g/ digressing. What I intended to say next (several paragraphs above), is the over-crowded members of this extended family would naturally yearn for a bit of privacy now and again. Privacy that's impossible to find in their house. Privacy that's impossible to find outdoors because anyone can find you in minutes by looking through the trees.

What to do? First, climb a tree for your guaranteed alone time. Someone in the family was the first to practice tree-climbing. When they came home a few hours later, a worried grandpa or great-grandma asked where the wanderer had been. The next thing anyone knew, nearly everyone in the family took some alone time in a tree.

In the meantime, the more practical members added a wing to the house. Or rather a full attic. More room! More family--because there was now room for more family. Except there wasn't, so nearly everyone continued to tree-sit.

But this was no ordinary forest. How could it be when these were no ordinary trees. Look again at that photograph. Every tree stretching straight up as if reaching for the sky.

No ordinary trees those, as the family discovered about the time that the attic had become as cramped as the original house. The family had a meeting. Not inside but with several people perched in each of dozens of trees, barely close enough for everyone to hear everyone else.

The meeting wasn't really necessary: build a super-attic members outnumbered build a true wing members ten to one.  For the first time, family members left permanently rather than on a mission to find a spouse.

Losing poor-loser members (if you will) proved to have little impact on overpopulation and under privacy. The super super attic was no more than three months old when the family thought it best to get a bit ahead of the overpopulation curve and add a super-duper attic.

No one thought much about it but the old house itself no longer held its quota of inhabitants. Everyone wanted to live on the highest available floor. Tree-sitting for privacy was as popular as ever. Perhaps more so after one ingenious parent suggested that each couple in turn should go off to the trees for some shared privacy while the other parents and the grandparents watched their children.

Couple privacy was very popular of course. And hard to maintain since everyone in the f/l/o/c/k still wanted to sit in a tree at least once a day. Couples soon learned to call out a warning if someone began climbing "their" tree. They had no desire to be rude. Everyone understood the situation. So couples learned to sing out a warning, lest they hear about how disagreeable they had been when they came back inside.

No one thought much about it but over time the trees were not only affecting everyone's behavior but also their bodies. Especially their skin. The older family members were troubled about this but who didn't love a new baby covered in soft down?

Not so long ago--perhaps in your mother's father's mother's father's time--the family stopped adding to the house. You see, each generation of younger children were becoming more uncomfortable than the last when they were confined indoors. Finally, in your mother's father's mother's time, some children outright panicked indoors!

That was the end of that. The building stopped. Probably it would have stopped soon anyway. Over time building permits became the norm in the outside world. Their house had been rapidly doing the opposite. Why even pretend that they still enjoyed living in their

"100 Birdhouses in the Sky! 
Two tours every day! 
Tweet for times!" 

as they named it.


Link to the original article:     House in Willow, Alaska

If you enjoyed reading this, please check out an older entry with the first two scenes from my fantasy novelette, "The Last Battle" The full novelette will be available on Amazon as soon as we have a consensus on the cover. Maybe next year.   ;-P