Beetles and Spiders and Wasps. Oh My!

Studly Doright is tired of hearing me talk about the series of books I just finished reading, but I’m not through talking about them. That’s bad news for my readers, so feel free to tune out any time. If you enjoy the sci-fi/fantasy genres, though, you might want to stick around for just a minute or two.

The series in question is Adrian Tchaikovsky’s epic “Shadows of the Apt” told in ten novels and followed up in three, soon to be four, companion books of short stories.

The first book in the series, Empire in Black and Gold, introduces readers to a world in which humans have evolved not from apes, but from various insects, arachnids, mollusks, and other species. Their evolutionary process is relatively young, and some species are more evolved than others. Indeed, some humans, such as those evolved from beetles and wasps, are apt, in this case meaning that they understand mechanical processes and have developed machines similar to our automobiles and airplanes.

Other humans, or kinden, in this world cannot operate a simple doorknob. These species are inapt. Spider-kinden, moth-kinden, and butterfly-kinden fall into this category.

Individual members of each kinden develop arts inherited from their species. For example, wasp, bee, fly, and moth kinden can all fly. Some kinden have excellent night vision. Spider-kinden are adept at deception, and scorpion-kinden are fierce warriors.

I must admit that at the beginning I was somewhat put off by the kinden tag, but soon it seemed natural as the story and characters developed. And Tchaikovsky is a master at developing a universe of characters and juggling multiple story lines.

Without giving too much away, the wasp-kinden have grand plans to dominate the world, and it falls to a loose coalition of other kinden to attempt to prevent this from happening with varying degrees of success and failure. As one might imagine there are barriers to peaceful coexistence between the varied kinden. Prejudices against, and preconceived notions about different kinden make for delicate negotiations. There are traitors and spies, turncoats and heroes among all the kinden.

Tchaikovsky writes battle scenes that make one feel as if they are right there in the middle of the action, too. I’m not a particularly violence-prone person, but the author made me believe that I might be able to go toe to toe with a wasp, as long as I stayed beyond the range of his vicious sting.

I came to care about so many of these characters: Cheerwell Maker, a young beetle-kinden, and her uncle Stenwold,; Thalric, a conflicted wasp-kinden; and Taki, an amazing fly-kinden. My only complaint is that there aren’t more books in the series.

As I read “Shadows of the Apt” I couldn’t help but wonder which kinden I’d be. A purposeful beetle? Maybe. A sensual spider? Hardly. A graceful butterfly? Hahaha! A war-like wasp? Could be. Chances are, I’d be a slug; although, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. You’ll have to read the series to discover why.

Peace, and happy reading, people.

Long Night

He stood inside the circle of light, hat in hand, a glorious fedora. 

She stumbled in the dark, caught her heel on a paving stone, stifled a giggle.

Crickets and frogs and hoot owls witnessed their coming together.

He dropped his hat, she kicked off her shoes, their lips met unerringly.

“This feels like a movie,” she whispered.

“You feel like a tree,” he sighed.

“CUT!” Called the director. “For the hundredth time, its dream. ‘You feel like a dream!’ Sheesh, it’s gonna be a long night.”

Land of Giants

I was tiny. A speck on a ladybug’s spot. While all about the giants clomped and stomped

Trampling every blade of tender grass in their wide flung paths. Hey oh! They sing as they

Go, trundling hither and yon. And this speck hunkered down behind an oak leaf blown to

Ground by a fierce passing storm. Any port in a tempest, any leaf in a wind. Hide ye sweet

Speckled bairns. And live to breathe yet another sweet day outside of the giants’ bold gaze.

artwork by Fabian Rensch

FrogSong

I never knew I was a fan of frogs’ singing
until I moved into a home by a
lake.
Rough voices color the night while
mingling
with lights dancing off of the water’s
face.

   
In unison the choir stops to admire the
stars,
to imagine the sound of joined voices in
space
A whisper bounces back from galaxy’s
edge
ribbit! ribbit! echoing through the Milky Way.

A Real Prince of a Guy

When I was a little girl

Many years ago

I dreamed of finding

A handsome prince 

And making him my beau.

But I grew into a plain lass

Tall with gangly limbs

And no prince deigned to

Take my hand and

Realize my whims.

So I nurtured imagination

Focused on my brain

Some considered 

Me odd as I grew,

Ever against the grain.

Then Studly came

Into my life and 

Took on the role of prince

And even through our

Ups and downs

I’ve been so happy since. 

 

I’m already missing my Studly who’s holding Doright Manor together in my absence.

He Loves His Damned Old Rodeo

Teen-aged girls are prone to thoughts of romance and forbidden love. I was once a teen-aged girl, so I can say this with some authority. There were several songs from my youth that supported this romanticized notion of defying one’s parents to be with the man of one’s dreams. “Some Day Soon” by Judy Collins certainly fit the bill.

I recall sitting in the backseat of whatever second-hand vehicle my parents had at the time, staring longingly out the window and daringly singing along when this song played on the radio. After all, the word “damned” was right there in the lyrics! Damn! Heady stuff.

I could almost picture my non-existent young cowboy, tall and rugged, confidently striding in his tight Wranglers to sweep me into a passionate embrace. Then one of my younger brothers sitting next to me would burp or fart, and snap! Back to reality.

The video below isn’t one of my favorite arrangements of the song; however, the Smothers Brothers’ introduction is classic.

SomeDay Soon
Song by Judy Collins

There’s a young man that I know
His age is twenty-one
Comes from down
In southern Colorado

Just out of the service
And he’s looking for his fun
Someday soon, going with him
Someday soon

My parents can not stand him
Cause he rides the rodeo
My father says that
He will leave me crying

I would follow him right down
The toughest road I know
Someday soon, going with him
Someday soon

And when he comes to call
My pa ain’t got a good word to say
Guess it’s cause he’s just
As wild in the younger days

So blow, you old Blue Northern
Blow my love to me
He’s driving in tonight
From California

He loves his damned old rodeo
As much as he loves me
Someday soon, going with him
Someday soon

But when he comes to call
My pa ain’t got a word to say
Guess it’s cause he’s just
As wild in the younger days.

IMG_1069

Peace, people!

A Visit with the Truth Fairy

The Truth Fairy flew through
My window last night
Flittered around and
Fumbled beneath my pillow.
Startled, I awakened and
Screamed,
“Who the hell are you?”

“Don’t mind me,
I’m the Truth Fairy,”
The intruder said.
“I’m searching for
Veracity. So far
I am unable to find
Even a trace within the
Confines of your abode.”

“I’ve found exaggerated
Prose, and pious poetry,
Inelegant phraseology, and
Insipid verse, but
Very little in the way of
Truth!”
He continued.

“Oh,” I replied.
“In that case,
Perhaps you are
Looking in all the wrong
Places.
The truth is Boring,
Veracity is dull and you are
Wasting your time.

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