Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Paradise Spring - Creating a world

My last post talked a little about my latest story, Paradise Spring. Now I will elaborate on the setting. Some of these concepts are referenced directly from the story itself. Others are infered but not clearly stated.

What makes elves and humans in this world different from each other? There are the obvious ones like pointed ears and round ears, eternal elves and mortal humans. So the cliche things. So what else makes them different?

The elves I pictured in this setting were magical in nature, using song to weave their magic in the world. To go with the musical magic, I needed a musical language. I pictured the elves like Melaana speaking and singing in a very melodic nature. I pictured tonal and pitch variations as means of differentiating words, simillar to Chinese. Unlike Chinese, however, I also pictured the elven tongue to speak/sing only in vowels and soft consonants. Any consonant that could not be held out for a whole note or more was not used. Melaana would use consonants like L, M, N, Sh, S, etc. and avoid using T, P, K, etc.

The human language on the other hand I pictured to be more free in the hard consonants and much less melodic as the humans cannot use the song magic of the elves. I imagined the humans having a more germanic style language and hence the frequency of names with hard consonants in them, Torrin, Gretchin, Clara, Yvette, etc.

If Torrin asked Melaana to pronounce the word Montanha (mountain in portuguese), she would probably pronounce it like Monyana. She would say the english word mountain like Utahns by swollowing the T in mountain and say moun'an. Elves would have a very rich accent among the humans and likewise the humans would likely sound flat and off key to the elves.

Cultural differences would also exist. As the elves musical magic is centered around a musical rythm possessed by all living things, the heartsong, they thrive on being surrounded by life. Gardens and even homes are made of living materials. Trees are grown and shaped to make houses and shops. They are not killed or cut. Paths and roads are made of grasses rather than dirt or rock. A stone or cut timber structure to the elves would be considered dead and lifeless, a place only fit for a fort or prison.

The humans on the other hand cannot hear their own heartsongs, let alone anything else's. To them building materials are building materials. Wood is wood, stone is stone, straw is straw. Building materials cannot be shaped by magic but by ax, saw, or chisel. The elves find the idea of living in a lifeless, heartsongless home to be appalling. Humans can comfortably live in anything and often mistake elven distaste for human style dwellings as arrogance or prejudice.

How do immortals keep from overrunning the local environment? Humans live short lives and have many short lived children. The natural world easily accomodates their presence. Elves however live very long and if they bore children at the same rate as humans would quickly overwhelm the local ecology. Nature builds into the elves a variable fertility depending on the amount of death and life around them. If a lot of elves die in a short time (natural disaster, war, disease, etc), the sudden drop in elven heartsongs triggers physical changes which significantly increases fertility among the surviving members of the population. If the presence of many elven heartsongs is felt (ie stable healthy population), then the fertility rate drops significantly and few or no births occure.

That also brings up the perspectives on death. To the humans death is natural and an expected part of the cycle of life. They tend to be more fatalistic than their elven counterparts. The elves , in general, are more risk averse. All death to elves is sudden and violent. They can live forever if nothing ever happens to them but the longer one lives, the longer the dice of chance has to roll some kind of fatal accident or calamity.

Those are just a few of my thoughts surrounding the setting of the Paradise Seasons stories. I have other ideas but they can be saved for another time.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Paradise Spring

I have posted yet another story to the Library of Alexandrea. The story is called Paradise Spring which is actually a 33 page prequal to my short story (also posted in the library) called Paradise Winter.

I do have ideas for a Paradise Summer and a Paradise Fall. I am currently working on another Paradise Season story which has the working title Paradise Spring - Anya's story. But it might get turned into Paradise Summer and the story I intended for Paradise Summer might get moved to Paradise Fall.

Paradise Spring follows the story of an elven princess banished from her own kingdom. She struggles to find and redefine herself in a human world filled with prejudices. Elements of the story include tragic love (Melaana and Torrin), sacrifice (Melaana's father), mortality vs immortality (the changing seasons), broken families (Melaana & her mother), fear and hatred (King Wesmier & Yvette), loyalty (Clara, Torrin, & Warren), depression (Melaana's inner demons), hope (The old jewler), perserverance (the cobblestone road), and acceptance (the spring shrine).

Excerpt from Paradise Spring:

The feast was large and boisterous. Loud music filled the torch lit hall. Several women doted on the newly returned princes. Melaana noted that the younger brother, Warren delighted in the attention. Torrin, on the other hand seemed distracted and annoyed by the girls.

He looked at her with pleading puppy dog eyes. She sighed, neither of them wanted to be there. She stood and walked over to him, slipping her arm in his, smiling falsely at the young women.

He kissed her on the cheek and she blushed wondering if it was real or part of the charade.

The women backed off as planned. As Torrin led her toward the courtyard outside, she glanced back to the stony faces of the other women. One of them in particular looked rather livid. She wondered if she had just made enemies with the wrong women.

Whatever joy she hoped to have outside away from the crowded hall was sucked away by her worry. Palace politics had caused her exile. She didn’t want to be outcast yet again.

“You okay?” he asked as they walked along the courtyard.

“Yes,” she lied. “And you?”

“Now I am.”

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Planetariums, Roller Coasters, and Sidewalk Chalk

I took the boy to the Clark Planetarium today. We watched the Cardboard Rocket and the Black Holes films in the star theater. There was a new exhibit/art thingy/contraption that was really nice. The boy liked turning the levers that directed which way the balls rolled down the ramps. The balls would also bounce off little bells and chimes and things making it a very musical (and noisy) contraption.

It reminded me of a little marble roller coaster I had when I was a kid. I also used to make larger roller coasters out of garden hose and tennis balls. Those were the good old days! I could entertain myself for hours with the simplest things lying around the house.

As we left the Gateway complex, we stumbled on a sidewalk chalk art thing going on. Professional artists were putting their art to the sidewalk of the Gateway. Some of the pictures were very detailed and fantastic. I hope that it doesn't rain for a few days so lots of other people can admire the art.

Saturday, June 10, 2006


Last night, Ben and I saw the new Pixar film, Cars. It was very good as are every other Pixar film to date. Ben really liked it.

Before the film began there were the obvious previews of other films and I saw one very interesting fact. All of the other animation studios have no originality. I saw three previews from three studios that were all basically Over the Hedge rip offs which I think is actually a Madagascar rip off.

Cars shows yet again that Pixar can create an original film. Time and time again they put out an original concept while everyone else puts out a "me too" film.

The plot of cars will be familliar to any sports film enthusiast. Cocky rooky gets humbled and learns that wining isn't everything and picks up new friends along the way. The way Pixar took that classic plot and wrapped it into a world populated entirely by cars was well done. The pace of the story dragged a little in places but over all a very fine film.

One of the key symbolic elements of the story was the old highways vs the new interstate system. The classic roads like route 66 fell into disuse so that people could save ten or fifteen minutes on the interstate, passing by the heart of the country.

Out of respect to the old roads that knit America together, I drove us home from the theater in Salt Lake along Highway 89, trying to imagine what that road must have been like before I-15 and I-80 came through the Salt Lake Valley. Kinda thought provoking.