Excerpts from the Rag & Muffin Lexicon

Acharya: Master, guru.

Alta: A red dye used to paint the edges of a woman’s feet during some religious ceremonies.

Angithi: A brazier made from a clay-lined container in which coals or other fuels are placed.

Antavasin: Pupil, student.

Arx Ciceronis: A large, walled fortress on Godtown’s west end. Home of the city’s more well-to-do Elysian expatriates.

Drug Doll: Slang, a disparaging term for a HYBRID.

Elysian Empire: A resurrected Roman Empire ruling approximately half the globe. The Elysian Empire formed out of the Holy League following the defeat of the Ottoman Empire at the Battle of Lepanto, but did not attain worldwide significance until the late eighteenth century.

Heaven Seed: A potent entheogen produced in a gland attached to the visual cortex of a HYBRID.

Hybrid: One who is half human and half MARJARA. Hybrids are always female and have a maximum lifespan of approximately sixteen years. Frequently installed in temples as KUMARIS.

Kumari: Literally, “virgin.” A polite form of address for an unmarried girl or woman, equivalent to “Miss” in English. Alternatively, a HYBRID installed in a temple as a living goddess. Alternatively, a specific goddess, Kanya Kumari.

Lakh: A hundred thousand.

Marjara: Earth’s second sapient race besides the human. Unlike a human, who has an “invisible caste,” a marjara has distinct physical traits determined by his VARNA and JATI.

Paan: a stimulant created from a combination of betel leaf and areca nut. Produces a characteristic orange stain in the mouth.

Pishacha: A shapeshifting demon that haunts cremation grounds and feeds on the living.

Runearmor: An armor suit created with RUNETECH. Its operator must be temporarily dead in order to communicate with the unclean spirits trapped in the suit’s runes.

Sammohana: The power of a HYBRID to deliver mystical visions via her eyes.

Seed Sucker: Slang, a criminal who extracts HEAVEN SEED from HYBRIDS.

Skull-bit: A drill used to penetrate the back of a HYBRID’s skull to reach her HEAVEN SEED gland.

Tuaoi Stone: A magical crystal. Tuaoi Stones are found primarily in the Vindhya Mountains west of Godtown. They are vital in both YOGA and RUNETECH.

Varna: “Color.” The varnas are the four major caste groupings into which marjaras and humans traditionally fall: BRAHMIN, KSHATRIYA, VAISHYA, or SUDRA. The corresponding colors are white, red, yellow, and black, respectively.

R&M Begins!

I haven’t had much time to post lately, but I will step into say that, now that the first volume of Jake and the Dynamo is out of my hands, my next project is to roll up my sleeves and put Rag & Muffin into a form that is presentable.

I’ve learned a lot about the craft since I started this project an embarrassing number of years ago, so I think it is finally time to get it shipshape. To that end, I’ve dusted off my copy of the Hobson-Jobson and begun to re-immerse myself in the seedy, dirty world of Indian dungeonpunk I first conceived of … well, a long time ago.

Fortunately, at some point, I had the foresight to attach a rather extensive glossary to the existing draft. That’s good, because I’ve forgotten half the words I’d discovered or made up for this thing. Following the lead of Rudyard Kipling, I never give the native language’s name, but most of it is Hindi with a smattering of Sanskrit and the Hindi-English slang sometimes called Hinglish.

The Origins of Superheroes (and Magical Girls)

This is showing up on blogs I frequent, and I think it’s relevant here. Alexander Macris has divided superhero origin stories into three types:

1. Ordinary person accidentally becomes extraordinary through chance.
2. Determined person becomes extraordinary through dedication and will.
3. A person born with extraordinary gifts lives up to his birthright.

 He describes these three origin stories as “proletariat, bourgeoise, and aristocratic.” The examples he gives are interesting but not unassailable. For example, he holds Superman to be “aristocratic,” since he has superpowers on account of being an alien, but Superman is also a farm boy who learned values of honesty, honor, and hard work before moving to the big city, which would put him more-or-less into the “bourgeoise” category—and yet calling a farm boy “bourgeoise” sounds decidedly strange.

I wanted to add a fourth type of origin story, but John C. Wright beat me to it:

4. Ordinary person is selected to become extraordinary through the intervention of a higher power.

This is the origin story typical of magical girl warriors. Generally, they are ordinary schoolgirls selected by talking animals from space or from fairyland. They are frequently reluctant and would rather be ordinary girls, though there are exceptions.

Even those of the “deconstructive” brand of magical girl fall mostly into this category: Phantom Thief Jeanne, Revolutionary Girl Utena, Princess Tutu, and the girls of Magical Girl Raising Project are all selected by godlike powers, and even Madoka is harassed into a Faustian bargain, which is almost but not quite the same thing. What makes these girls different is simply that the powers who’ve selected them turn out to be infernal rather than higher.

By contrast, the typical cute witch falls into Macris’s third category: cute witches usually come to Earth from space or from fairyland and use their powers to help mankind.

Of course, some titles will change things up. Some magical girl warriors are also cute witches from fairyland, such as the Fairy Musketeers. And Sailor Moon falls into both categories, since she is an ordinary schoolgirl who receives her powers from a talking cat, but is also a reincarnated space princess and rightful ruler of the Solar System.

It Is Finished.

I have just put the last touches on the final draft of Jake and the Dynamo. It took me longer than it should have, admittedly, partly because of some procrastination.

After I made all the major alterations Lamplighter requested, I went back through the entire thing to make sure it flowed smoothly and that the new additions didn’t introduce any problems. While I was at it, I took the opportunity to improve several word choices, remove some wayward commas, and fix a few previously undiscovered typos. Three days and half a bottle of bourbon later, I’m satisfied that it’s reasonably well polished.

The process was painful, but it is, after all, my first novel, so I hope I can be more efficient in the future. Maybe I should go cry into a bowl of noodles like that chick in Whispers of the Heart or something.

Anyhow, it so happens that I have also got all of Roffles Lowell’s illustrations. He apologized for being tardy, but from my point of view, his timing was impeccable, as he finished at the same time I did.

I’ve a lot of other things going on. I’m back in school, of course, and I’ve kind of been letting my studies slide while I’ve been finishing this up. Also, I just picked up a new job directly relevant to my educational training, so that’s exciting.

As busy as I am, I can’t promise that posting here will become more regular, at least for a few days. But the book, at least, can go sit on someone else’s desk instead of mine. That’s a relief.

Kai Wai Cheah Goes Magical Girl

I’m going to have no serious content here until I FINISH MY BOOK (which might be today!), but I am pausing momentarily to note something that showed up in my Twitter feed:

This is from the Twitter account of Kai Wai Cheah, the author of No Gods, Only Daimons. He’s a seriously skilled author of military sf and fantasy. He’s also in my writer’s group, where he’s given some additional details about this project, but since he hasn’t posted them in a public forum, I won’t repeat them.

miko, in case you don’t know, is a Shinto shrine maiden. That’s a picture of his new character up at the top there …  nah, I’m kidding. I grabbed that off Pinterest.

Anyway, let’s just say that I’m very interested in seeing what a knowledgeable military sf writer does with magical girls.

Rawle Nyanzi on ‘Pretty Cure’

Rawle Nyanzi, who blogs both on anime and on Appendix N (that is, those fantasy works that inspired Dungeons & Dragons), noticed that I was preparing to review Glitter Force, which I will seriously get to after I’ve cleared some other things off my plate, so he tried his hand at watching the original Futari wa Pretty Cure.

His comments are amusing. He writes, Continue reading “Rawle Nyanzi on ‘Pretty Cure’”