Friday, January 8, 2021

Art Strategies: Leafy Ground


I'll briefly pause the space opera for some new art ideas. This wouldn't do for a stand-alone work, but shows how detail areas of a picture can be handled. It would be a small area of the total work, so not much detail is called for. Create a patchwork ground with multiple earth tones, then stipple in some leaves and grassy areas. Shadows can be done with a thin wash of black, which some painters would be aghast at; but as a side area of the picture, it doesn't draw a lot of attention, aside from making its mark on the whole. You can even toss in some thread as handy curved twigs. Note how leaves in shady areas don't show much color.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Pwyll Prince of Dyved — summary

 The proposed readings will be in three parts: a summary, followed later by cultural/historical context, finally, criticism. This is not my field, if I have one, but I expect to learn from the exercise.


During a hunt Pwyll meets King Arawn from Annwvyn, or the Underworld, in an hostile encounter; but they make up, and agree to exchange placed, as well as physical features, and meet again in a year. At the end of the year Pwyll overthrows Arawn’s foe, with the result that two kingdoms are under his control. He then goes to meet Arawn; and they resume their original identity; but Pwyll receives the name Chief of Annwvyn. The people of both lands are pleased with the events of the previous year.

Back in his land, Pwyll goes to a mound, where he sees a woman on a horse past by. He has someone go find out who she is; but whether or foot or on horse, this and the following day, she rides further and further away from the pursuer though she goes at a moderate pace. On the third day, Pwyll goes, with the same result; but he calls out to her, and she stops. She tells him she has been searching for him. She is expected to marry someone, but will marry only him if he does not refuse. He accepts, but when he goes to her father’s castle a year later he is tricked by Gwawl, her former suitor, before the court into relinquishing her. Pwyll attempts to get out of his pledge, but she, Rhiannon, refuses. She gives him a small bag that never fills, and a year later, dressed in rags, he tricks Gwawl into it; and after being kicked about, he relinquishes Rhiannon.

After three years of marriage no child is born to Pwyll and Rhiannon, and the people are worried. They want Pwyll to take another woman, but he asks for time. Within a year an infant is born and named Gwri Wallt Euryn because of his golden hair. The women who are to watch the child fell asleep, and the infant disappears during the night. To protect themselves, the women smear blood on Rhiannon, and claim she ate her baby. For penance, she is to remain in the castle of Narberth for seven years, most of the time near a horse-block without gate.

Elsewhere, the mare of a lord, Teirnyon Twrvy Vliant, produces a colt every first of May; but the colt quickly disappears. So one night he stays up, and sees a giant arm and claw come through the window to snatch the colt. He cuts off the arm at the elbow, and goes out to pursue the monster; but remembering the colt left behind, returns. He finds a boy wrapped in satin. He and his wife believe he noble. Each year he grows bigger than a child of his age would, and he is often around horses. As the child grows older, Teirnyon sees the likeness of Pwyll in him; a reunion is held; and Teirnyon is rewarded. The tale ends with Pwyll death; the rule being held by his son, now called Prydrei; the increase of lands; and Pryderi’s progeny.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Twilight of the Eridanis


Pluto Station lay beyond its namesake, a moon-size hollow sphere not intended for discovery until man had ventured out this far. Its vast interior floated hundreds of ships vying for riches via one of the thousands of portal hubs. For the first time, something had come through from the other side; a sort of ark sheltering the last 2,642 representatives of their race. 

Commander Donny Moast entered the op center and scanned the four faces at the table. Portly Admiral Jacobs and First Officer Kyra Preston flanked a pair who were remarkably humanoid, save for nose ridges, deepset eyes, and only four fingers. Jacobs introed them as Captain Doinhu of the Covectis, and his science chief Vreemid, a woman similar enough to be related. Unless they all looked the same.

"Sorry I'm late," Moast said, taking the seat next to Kyra. "The new phase induction laser took longer to calibrate than we thought."

The admiral smirked. "More weaponry? Your AI has amassed enough to blow us all to Andromeda. She's paranoid, I tell you." Both visitors appeared heartened by this. 

"My apologies," Jacobs said to them, activating the viewer to display a star chart. "Doinhu, let's get your story again for Moast's benefit. He's taking Orchidia in search of your persecutors. They sound like people we don't want showing up here."

"A hundred and ten of your years ago," the shaggy-haired Doinhu began, "our world was destroyed by kinetic weapons that came from nowhere. Our colonies were wiped out, our sun turned nova. We alone escaped in that old ship."

Blonde Kyra paused entering notes. "Your numbers haven't increased much in all that time."

"On purpose," the equally shaggy Vreemid put in. "We found a gas giant to mine for resources, but never settled on a planet; we could have been caught the same way and annihilated."

"Rough," Moast agreed. He followed their gaze out the wide window where Orchidia floated serenely amid a dozen supply and refit shuttles.

"It is quite a ship," Doinhu said to Vreemid. "Like a krakul ready to strike." The translator device lagged briefly, settled on swooping dragon.

Kyra made another entry. "You've no idea who this race is, where they came from, or their motive?" 

"That last," Doinhu said, "I can answer. A survey ship orbiting our own gas giant transmitted that information to us after receiving it from the aliens, as the survey ship was disintegrating. The aliens consider all other life a threat." 

Jacobs drummed fingers in thought. "What happened to that ship?"

"The transmission itself," Vreemid said. "The photons reassembled into nanobots that devour all matter."

Moast crossed arms in a show of confidence he didn't feel. "Then we'll avoid that mistake. It's why I'm hoping you'll come along as advisors." The visitors nodded enthusiastically. "It's time to consult the fastest quantum-shift computer in existence. Orchidia: findings."

"Visitor origin is constellation Eridanus, solar system of stars Achenar A and B. Data on Alpha Eridani A: blue main sequence star of magnitude 0.46. Right ascension: 3.25. Declination: minus 29. Radial velocity plus 16, which flattens the poles. Parallax: 23.39. Absolute magnitude: minus 1.46. Luminosity: 3,150."

"More specific to the problem," Moast prompted. 

"Proximity to the Eridanus Supervoid."

Jacobs slapped the table. "There it is. I don't know how, but where else could an attack come from nowhere?"

"But. . . ." Vreemid looked perplexed. "Nothing exists there; no stars, not even dust."

"The void is conjectured to be a quantum entanglement of universes. If the problem originates there, capture of an attacker is mandated to isolate their home system."

"Capture one?" Vreemid went paler than her normal shade of light violet. "We don't even know what they look like--only that their ships are the same design, a sort of black wedge."

"Shock troops," the admiral decided. "They'll have battle wagons somewhere if needed."

Moast idly knuckled his chin. "Orchidia: analysis of Covectis data."

"Enemy wedges display hyperlight drive, but are not known to hyperjump. Weaponry is comparable to ours, yet quickly expended, necessitating mass formations. Vector trace of kinetic weapons leads to the void." 

Jacobs had heard enough. "Find their home system, Moast. You know the rest."

"At last," Doinhu said dreamily. "Vengeance."