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         In the morning, Chess was up early. Nervously, he wandered around the small apartment, picking up his link-phone and putting it down again. He pulled on his suit jacket and then removed it so many times that his mother warned him not to wrinkle it.
         She walked over and clasped his hand in hers. “Don’t worry so much,” she told him.
         He looked down at her: she seemed so small and her hands were so tiny. “I’m just nervous about answering the questions. I’m not really good... with people,” he sighed.
         “You’ll be great,” his sister reassured him with a grin. “You’re my brother, after all. Hey, don’t forget your pin!” She hurried over and pinned a tiny metal American flag to his lapel. Under the flag were the words, “Support the troops.”
         “Thanks,” he breathed. Then he blinked and looked at her again. Somehow, he still thought of her as his little kid sister, but she looked so damn adult, these days. Her light brown hair was pulled back severely from her still rounded, child-like face. Her eyes still sparkled with some of the old mischief that made him so fond of her... but she seemed to be growing up way too fast.
         “Yeah, well, it’s especially important to wear that pin today,” his sister answered, stepping back from him and crossing her arms. “Three guys got killed at the city gate last night. Did you hear that?”
         “I heard something about it,” Chess answered honestly. He touched the flag pin thoughtfully. “Okay, so, I support the troops who are out fighting the war, of course... whatever ‘support’ means...”
         His sister flashed him a sharp warning look. “Don’t even start with that today.”
         “But the guys at the gate -- I mean, what exactly are they guarding?” He spread his hands in the air, perplexed. “The only things that get attacked these days are... well, them. And the attacks come from inside – not outside the gate. What’s up with that?”
         “I went on the computer the other day,” his mom said, breaking in before his sister had a chance to speak. “Well, I tried to go on the computer. These new things are not the computers I remember...” She shook her head in seeming bewilderment. “They said something about the history of them, on a program I was watching... and it was different from what I remembered... so I --”
         Chess stared at his mother. She had a faraway look in her eyes that he saw all too frequently lately. He realized that his sister was staring at her, too.
         “What, mom?” his sister asked, and Chess heard a forced patience in her voice. “The history of what?” she pressed.
         His mother looked confused. “Well... the history of the gates,” she said slowly. “Isn’t that what we were talking about?”
         “Oh,” his sister sighed. “Right. Mom, I can show you how to look up the Chronicles later.”
         Once again, Chess marveled at how mature his sister sounded, and how capable she seemed to be... at everything. He turned toward the mirror on the wall and began fussing with his tie.
         His mother absently picked a stray cup off the coffee table. “Okay, honey,” she murmured. “Because I remember... something different.” Then she shrugged. “Well, I’m getting old. Maybe my memory is going.”
         Chess exchanged a brief glance with his sister. Then he went over to his mother and gave her a quick hug. “You’ll never be old to us, mom.”
         She patted his hand. “Have a good day at school, honey,” she said warmly, and left the room.
         His sister handed his link-phone to him and then laid a hand on his arm momentarily. “Just do your best,” she said, with what seemed to him like a brave smile.

         His heart was pounding. He wanted so badly to be elsewhere right now: at the game or walking to the game or actually being a thief in some foreign magical land. Strategies, stories, running and hiding. Those were things he was pretty good at, he thought. Interviews... life... he was not very good at those. Feeling sick to his stomach, Chess headed out the door.

Continued next page...


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A Blog With Far Too Many Footnotes

“If your wish is to become really a man of science… I should advise you to apply to every branch of natural philosophy”
Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft (Godwin) Shelley

…a generalist like myself, sees something over here that he has learned from one specialist, something over there that he has learned from another specialist – and neither of them has considered the problem of why this occurs here and also there.
The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell

“The world has too many specialists. We need more generalists who can see all the connections and possibilities.”
Gaviotas: A Village to Reinvent the World by Alan Weisman

         Going back to the subject of possible influences on Fantasy fiction: it’s impossible to be certain because the same themes are repeated in history, mythology, sociology, and literature of past eras. “There is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9, NIV) really, because all writing comes from the same place: human analysis of human experience. But, of course, interpretations vary!
         A fun experiment is to read different genres of books that deal with similar subjects. Not too long ago, I was listening, during my commute, to a Jared Diamond book (I can’t remember which one - likely it was Guns, Germs and Steel) and reading Masks of God: Primitive Mythology by Joseph Campbell at my lunch break, and I ran across two very similar accounts of Spanish explorers conquering parts of “The New World.” Diamond writes pretty entertaining books, but they are non-fiction, based on history that he has studied. Campbell’s writings are based on what was known of ancient mythology in his generation. Each author gives a different perspective on a similar historical event. And both authors have, at times, stirred up controversy with their conclusions.
         Which brings me to the next problem with research: the mere fact that it’s been written and reviewed does not mean that it’s necessarily “true” for everyone.



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