Gaming, a Personal Perspective Part 3

This week I wrap up the 3 part series on “gaming, a personal perspective”. If one thinks about it, there was a time in the past where this form of entertainment almost died. Yet, it has become a very big part of the entertainment industry and continues to grow. And now here is that final post of this series:

Every once in a while I’ll look at comments made by other gamers about a particular game, and here you can find either praises or criticisms. Of course this (criticisms) applies to any type of entertainment that is out in the public view. We’ve all been drawn into what appears to be a good book, a good movie, or a good game, only to be disappointed when the hype didn’t match what we discovered. And with the advent of the internet it doesn’t take long for these comments to make an appearance and become widely known.

So when there are complaints about poor ports (moving a game from one gaming system to another), that the mechanics are bad, there’s a poor translation of the story, the NPC’s within the story are not remaining “in character”, the AI (artificial intelligence) is so poor that the characters are walking off of cliffs or into fires, or the game crashes or locks up all the time – these types of complaints I can understand. These deal with issues from the result of poor programing and testing, or a poor interpretation of the storyline. And when a game, or a poorly written book, or a badly edited or acted movie hits the public in this condition it deserves exactly what it gets – bad reviews.

Yet, if one doesn’t hear of these issues but instead complaints dealing with aspects of the story (I’m not talking about the actual story, which may be well done within the universe that it was created.), while ignoring other factors within that world, it makes me wonder where the ones who criticize are coming from. First off, most of what we watch, read in our favorite genre, or game, is fiction. And we enjoy immersing ourselves into these fictional worlds, living through the characters and their adventures. And I guess this is the key – all of these worlds are just that – fictional.

This means that if magic is what the world is based upon, then magic will be the controlling factor, as in fantasies. In science fiction it is based partially on the projected direction that science could take, but not necessarily where it will actually go. And to make these stories work then there must be some stretch of the imagination to allow us to travel the vast distances in interstellar space. None of this technology exists, and the theories are in their infancy, so even what we are guessing is possible and thusly reflected in those fictional stories, may in the end, prove to be impossible. Yet, when we read, or watch, or game, and the writer, or director, or gaming company, has done a good job, we become completely immersed in that fictional world and all the laws that control it.

So when I see complaints or statements about the holes in the physics (Referring to the scientific aspect, and not a broken aspect of the gameplay.) of these story lines, or the fact that there’s too many unanswered questions as to how this came about, it almost makes me smile and shake my head. After all, any of these worlds are just a moment in fictional time. And we do not necessarily know what brought things to the point of where they are presently (in that fictional world), nor will we know where it will go after the moment in time, which is this story, is over. After all, in the real world such is the case for all of us. We only can comment on what we have seen in our own lives. What has gone on before, and will go on after we pass from this world is beyond us.

And where am I going with this? A very good question. Not long ago I enjoyed the game Bioshock Infinite. This is the swan song for Irrational Games, as the owner is downsizing and wanting to head off into a new direction. For any who have played games in the Bioshock universe, know that we are dealing with many impossibilities within the story. Looking over the whole universe and the times that they were taking place immediately makes one realize that there is no way that any of these worlds could exist in our own time line. The technology or the money wasn’t available in those times to create these worlds. Immediately it means that for it to have happened, it would have been an alternate past, an alternate time, in other words a place where the existing laws could be the same and yet at the same time different.

After all Andrew Ryan, the builder of Rapture (The original Bioshock), couldn’t truly accomplish what he had in the 1950’s just as much as Comstock (Bioshock Infinite) couldn’t have created a floating city by using quantum mechanics in the early 1900’s. Yet, in these alternate realities both did, and somewhere along these alternate realities, when you, as the player, enter the story, as you try to solve what happened in Bioshock and as Rapture continues around you in ruins, you really don’t think about these inconsistencies. And when you arrive, you begin to learn a little about the world, for example, in Bioshock Infinite, as you work your way across the city and its history is revealed to you through discoveries, and the recording left by citizens.

I read complaints about how wrong the creators of Bioshock Infinite were in using the multiple worlds theory, and all the holes that exist as to the way that it was applied within that world – that universe. Or the way they use quantum mechanics within this fictional world isn’t even close to correct, plus so many other complaints, which I consider minor opinions on what was wrong with this game. Yet, here they gloss over the greatest impossibility and that is the successful use of a science that is now, in this present time, in its infancy. And while there is some understanding of what this sub-atomic world is like, it is still little understood overall.

So they get sucked into the world that is impossible in the first place, being fully immersed in the story and world,  and then put forth complaints or criticisms about these minor inconsistencies to the real world. Well, first off this is not the real world. And because it isn’t, means that the laws that govern that universe do not have to be the same as ours. Thusly Elisabeth can do what she does, and the multi-world theory as presented works. Again it’s because it all exists in that alternate universe or reality where laws are similar but not necessarily the same as ours. It is not real for heaven sake. It’s entertainment, there for our enjoyment.

While each and every one of us have a right to our opinion, and the right to express it, sometimes it is more important to stand back for a moment. Really look over that world that you are about to comment on, realize that your real world is not the fictional world, see where you’ve accepted the reality of this world that you’ve immersed yourself in, and realize that if you’ve accepted it to this point, then the ones who have created it have done their job. All of us can nitpick, and we do at times, almost any fictional world out there. Yet, if the result of the work put forth, have brought you to the point that you have enjoyed the storyline, even with its warts and flaws, and are anticipating a DLC (downloadable content), or a sequel, it is really all you can ask. The story has done its job of leaving you with the nostalgic view of your personal enjoyment of what has been presented.

After all, every story, every movie, every book, and every game out there stretches reality. It is the ability of the ones who create these worlds to bring us along for the ride inside of these fictional worlds, to enjoy that ride, and at the end to leave us wanting more. So please make your comments, add your criticisms, because, at times, it is important to see how others see one’s work, but at the same time acknowledge the amount of work that went into this to give you that chance to escape the real world for a while. A chance to take a journey through imaginary worlds that would have never existed had it not been created by some author so you could do something you cannot do in your lives, and probably wouldn’t want to. And remember that all of us, each and every one have our blind spots, our lack of expertise, and sometimes it does arrive in those fictional stories.

We all require entertainment in our lives that allows us to escape the reality that is life. Within in this modern society the need for escapism seems to grow as the world continues to grow and becomes more complicated. In the end it comes down to you personally as what you use to escape reality. Is it that good book, or that blockbuster movie? Is it quiet time at night listening to your favorite music, or experimenting with some new recipe? Is it gaming with friends, or exploring that new fictional world within that game world by yourself? Or so many other directions we can travel to refresh our minds and spirits that allow us to return to our daily lives and push on. For me part of that even at this time of my life is gaming, and those interactive fictional worlds still out there to be explored, even though I have been and continue to be an avid reader. After all, each has their own appeal at different times. Yet, if one really thought about it, there are similarities between gaming and reading. So for all of you out there in this real complicated world, enjoy the times that you can escape and enjoy an adventure from the safety of your home. And when we must return to reality and face another workday, remember that these fictional worlds are there always waiting, giving you a chance to once again experience the wonder that such can present.

Parts 1 and 2 of this series can be found in the right column under May 2014. Next week we take a trip through time. Maybe not the way you would expect it, since this will not be a nostalgic trip through my past. The title of next week’s post is, Time Travel – Really? Please have a safe week, and for many it is a short week. I have to admit that personally it seemed that these short weeks were longer than a regular week. Maybe it is because we are having to do more in a shorter time, or it just seemed that way. Again however this week goes I hope to see you here next Saturday.

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Memorial Day – Remembering

Each year at this time, we look back (or should be looking back) and think about those who have given everything that they had so that you can do as you please on what has become a 3-day weekend for many. These soldiers who have died for your right to remain free and not conquered by some other nation, to do their bidding, trailing back into our history to the very beginnings where we were no more than a colony of England, should be remembered. The French and the Spanish were also fighting for a portion of this great land that seemed ripe for the taking. In the end, through great personal sacrifice of too many, we became the nation that we are today. Although with the weak government filled with lies and corruption that now rule this country, and their excessive spending of monies that do not exist, there is a great possibility that we may not exist for too much longer.

We would not have become the greatest nation on earth if it wasn’t for the sacrifice of those men and women of the military that guaranteed that we would be here. And because of distance and time, there is a tendency to trivialize and sometimes make their deaths a negative by harassing the families as they try to put their family members to rest. Those who protest, and harass these families fail to realize that if that particular person hadn’t died for what they believed in, and had let things happen as they can in this world filled with hate, evil, and ones wanting all the power they can grab, then their right to do this protesting wouldn’t exist. Yet, it is tough to see what is being done to the ones who are trying to deal with the tragedy that has entered their lives. After all they expected their son or daughter, husband or wife, father or mother, to return home unharmed.

Another tragedy that comes out of this is the number of deaths during those conflicts with nations who, at the time, were enemies, but now are allies. How different would the world be if there hadn’t been the loss of life because someone decided that they wanted more power, and that next door nation could be added making them stronger? Vietnam (a country divided at the time of the conflict) comes to mind immediately. Here we fought a losing war, because politicians micro-managed the war, not allowing the military to do what they needed to do. (I’m not advocating having the military rule. Only that each deal with what they know and leave the other alone.) Then with the fall of Saigon, the country became communist, and hundreds of thousands were murdered by their new government. But now after all that loss of the many lives plus the deaths within our own military, we trade with them (Vietnam) as if nothing ever happened. We could, in a similar fashion, say the same thing about Japan, Italy, and Germany. Since during the World Wars they were enemies, but now are considered allies. And we are still dealing with Russia, the middle east, and so many other hotspots all over this world showing us that we are a very long way away from being able to achieve an everlasting peace.

If we wanted to go back to the beginnings of this country we would have to consider England an enemy, and even after winning this country from them, they returned in 1812 to try again. Now, as the nations mentioned above, they are a strong ally. Still this doesn’t recount the deaths caused on all sides by these conflicts. It has been said that war is civilized man’s way of controlling population. And when you look at the deaths, the suffering, and the fact that wars continue unabated, it could be easy to come to that same conclusion. Yet it is the ones who have sworn allegiance to protect this country that ultimately pay the highest price. It isn’t the politicians who can hide behind their protected walls, who give words and platitudes about these sacrifices, but the everyday men and women that made those sacrifices that made the difference. If they (words and platitudes) were real and heartfelt, and if they ( the policy makers and politicians) were impacted directly, maybe, just maybe, there would be a reluctance to enter into such  conflicts in the first place. Or if it must be, to allow the military to do what they are trained to do, and keep out of it. Ultimately it would mean less lives lost, and a shorter conflict.

War is never pretty, never glorious, and never nice. In fact it can be down right nasty. It is about taking land and the ability to take warmongering from an enemy. And the only way this can be done is by the cost of lives. It has always been that way, and it will always be that way. We, as a species are a warlike species, plain and simple. And if you do not believe this then you haven’t studied history at all. From the very beginnings of man, there has always been conflicts. And these thousands of years later we haven’t changed at all.  I myself am a Vietnam vet. I have seen the horrors of war, and the tragedies that it brings to many. I would prefer that there be no more wars, but I’m also a realist and know that this is an empty hope. It is the way of man, and because it is, we as a nation must remain strong militarily to prevent others in this world from having thoughts of conquering us.

So, on this memorial day, think about what this is really about. Remember that for you to have this 3-day weekend that too many have died. To be able to complain, to protest, to freely move about, is all because of their personal sacrifice, and their willingness to give up their very lives for family, for friends, and for the nation where they lived. It is because of them and the many who still serve that we can continue to be who we are. So please honor the many who died for you personally, even though they did not know you. And understand that there are many who still are putting their lives on the line everyday so you can continue to have your freedoms. It isn’t the politicians that make this happen, but veterans both living and dead who made it a reality. And especially those who still wear that uniform making a statement that they are here to protect and to give their very lives if necessary, as the many before them. So please honor our dead who defended and gave all. And I am proud to be counted among the veterans, and like me the many veterans of foreign wars. In a world filled with hatred and fear, it is only through strength can one or a nation survive. May God Bless each and every one of us and our honored dead.

In a way after closing this post I feel that there should be nothing added. After all wherever anyone is in this world they have faced the same losses, same tragedies, same understanding of those who have sacrificed all. Yet, at least for now, life goes on, and so does time. If we were to disappear tomorrow time would not stop. There might not be anyone around who could track it, but that wouldn’t change the forward flow. So next week, next Saturday when you return I’ll be wrapping up the 3-part series on gaming. If you are visiting this blog for the first time you can find the earlier parts under the May 2014 subtitle in the right column. Please have a safe weekend, and I’ll see you here next week.

Published in: on May 24, 2014 at 7:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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Gaming, a Personal Perspective Part 2

Yes, when you first enter the world of a new game you face the challenges, the learning curve, the puzzles, and the overwhelming enemies that just happen to be a bit more powerful than you. It means that initially you are scrambling to keep that avatar alive in the world where he or she exists. And in the first play through you are seeing the world new, and somewhere along the line you reach a comfort level as you understand how this fictional world is going to act and react to you as you work your way through. Many times it becomes like an old friend, where you can enjoy their company when you meet.

Of course this is just a fictional world with its own rules, and you find that your avatar dies a lot. Immediately we find the difference between real life and the avatar or gaming. Healing is almost instant – if only in real life – death is not fatal – wow what a concept – it is generally, but not always, easy to know who your enemy is – again, this is a very long way from real life. So while this fictional world that you are living in, through your avatar, is harsh and dangerous, at the same time because you have these other aspects it is more forgiving. I have played games where once you die, within the game universe, your avatar is dead. This can be very frustrating because of the time that you have invested in this character. And to have lost him or her and to have to start over can be enough to make one abandon the game. After all you do become attached to them and the progress you’ve made within that storyline.

Truthfully one of my favorite parts of these game worlds is discovering what is there. I have to admit that I really enjoy exploring these game worlds, attempting to locate everything that’s there. And generally there is much that is hidden purposely for people like me. Plus I enjoy running the boundaries of the maps and see if I can break them. While most games it is impossible to do,  I have found ways beyond the maps in a few. (Map? What is a map? It is the area where you move within the game world. Generally when you go through a portal of some kind you are moving to a new map.) When you do, you learn a little about the environment that is programming. We, in our own world look around and know the rules that make it all work, even if we do not understand the science or natural laws behind it. So when we enter a game world we expect much of the same rules to exist. Now I’m not speaking of the gaming environment here since the fictional world that you may enter has rules that allow magic, or teleportation, or phase shifting, or so many other impossible capabilities that do not exist in our real universe. Here I’m referring to the ground, the trees, the buildings, the lighting, water, and so many other things that we take for granted.

If we are able to step beyond the created world in these games, get beyond the map boundaries, we can see what it takes to bring this game world alive. And it is vastly different from what we imagine. Absolutely everything has to be created, and because it must then be rendered, it takes computing power to do so. So wherever possible things are cut so that what is seen or touched does not slow down the system to a crawl or cause a scene to freeze. It is a delicate balancing act to bring this about even with the power of the modern computer (If one wants to be honest, consoles are specialized computers.). And if you look at the credits that run at the end of the game the list there would be as long if not longer than any movie credits you have seen.

Back to what can be seen from outside of a map for a moment. First off what is called collision is turned off, other than for the surface that you walk, although, even here there can be areas where it is. And for most of us, through actions within the game, we have been pushed through this collision to fall to our deaths outside the actual map. Simply stated collision allows an object to feel solid and real, like the dirt, that building, the doors, and vehicles. Without it everything becomes untouchable. You walk through walls, you fall through the floor or ground, and even the weapons you may want to use cannot be picked up as they have no substance.

Outside of the map you see walls of buildings that cannot be seen from within the map, becoming invisible because it is unimportant that they remain visible, saving CPU cycles, and the vegetation, trees and such are what is called 2D sprites. From within the world they appear to be real, but once out and among them you can see the truth. And from this different perspective you might find buildings floating in the air with no apparent support, yet from the game world they are on a hillside or cliff. Oh that bridge over there outside of the map is also 2D and has the collision turned off. And as that hillside drops away from the game world, where it cannot be seen, it becomes a simple texture, and here you can see the base that the whole physical game world is built upon.

Find a way within the map to an area you are not supposed to be able to get to and even here you can see the savings in CPU cycles. An example of this is where an enemy sniper stood. Find a way to his location and because this character is an NPC (non playable character) and while he acts as if he’s real, the truth is he is not, and all is in the programming, the AI (artificial intelligence), and he only does what he is programmed to do. Yet when you find a way to his perch you find that there is no floor in that building – that he was literally standing on air, and other parts of the hidden game world become visible since it was never meant to be seen by the avatar or you since you are the one controlling that avatar.

For most of us that game we do not consider any of this and this is true of much of what is in the real world. We take things for granted unless they do not do what they are supposed to do. And this is true even here in these fictional worlds. Glitches happen, games lock up, and exploits are discovered. Each having to be corrected once the game is released. And with the advent of the internet, it doesn’t take long for the gaming community to learn of these problems and mistakes or finding ways to take advantage of an exploit.

But, bottom line, these games are a form of entertainment, and, as I said earlier, I enjoy exploring these worlds, the stories and sub-stories that exist in these worlds. And sometimes they do surprise by the depth of story, the strength of character, the atmosphere that is created. And when that happens, like when you discover that special author who writes in such a way that you can hardly wait until his or her next book comes out, it is magical, and it can leave you thinking. And yes, while there can be a mindless side to all of this, including a way to get out your frustrations in a fictional world instead of the real one, if one spends the time, and works through these worlds more than once, to take your time and have the patience, you can discover a hidden gem, one that can leave you in awe to the power of a good story. And I, as long as I can do so, will continue to enjoy these worlds, enjoy the exploration, enjoy the infinite variety of stories, the interactions between these fictional characters, the societies created, and know, just as exists on the big or small screen, or in that great novel, what is there can be quite deep, but one must look. Yes, one must have the desire to look beyond the eye candy and find what is truly there.

Next week we break from this series as Memorial Day weekend is upon us. I am a veteran of foreign wars – spent 2 years in Vietnam in my youth. So I understand much that ones who have never had to face such challenges never will. This next post will be my Memorial Day post. Again a reflection from my perspective and the understanding of why we should honor those who have given everything that they had so we can continue to be safe, and enjoy the life we have. God bless and may this be a good week for all of you, and that you have a chance to take advantage of this up and coming weekend.

For those first visiting, part 1 of this series is in the sidebar under May 2014.

Gaming, a Personal Perspective Part 1

If any have dug into the archives, they would have discovered a 3-part series dealing with this very subject (gaming). This time around I want to look at this from my personal perspective as both a gamer, and as a writer. Many who do not game, write this whole thing off as no more than something to entertain males and their egos. I see it differently and will put forth different and obviously personal thoughts on this. After all much could be said ( negatively) about the wasteland that we call TV – hundreds of channels and absolutely nothing of value to watch and enjoy.

Of course, even I, who do not watch much TV, have a few (very few) favorite programs that I watch. My guilty pleasure lies in NCIS, and the spinoff NCIS LA. Add to this Haven on the SYFY channel and you have it. Oh I enjoy Aerial America, and many of the programs that deal with allowing the layman to understand the world of science. And in the crime front we watch the First 48, when it is new. But when you count the hours spent either on the computer or watching TV, the computer wins hands down. Of course I write my blog posts, short stories, and my books on the computer and that takes more than half my time that I spend on the machine.

Gaming fills part of the remaining time, as well as researching, and I spend more time gaming than I do watching TV. Yet, when we do get on this subject of gaming one must become a little more specific than just the generalities. Because we can deal with almost as many genres in the gaming world as we can in fiction writing. Just as there are those many genres in stories, because of the differences in each and every one of us, the writing style, or subject matter, it applies exactly the same way to gaming. Some like the puzzle games like Bejeweled, others adventure games like Syberia, where you point and click to solve the mystery of the story, and you work your way through in a leisurely fashion (These are considered casual.). We can get hard-core with the flight sims, RPG’s (Role Playing Games), and FPS’s (First Person Shooters), or go more casual as in the Sim’s.

The one thing that most of these have in common, and that includes books, is there is a story in there somewhere. The difference is the illusion, in gaming, that somehow you are influencing the outcome of that storyline. And because it’s interactive it requires a lot of work by the creators, in the background where it is never seen, to pull this off. These fictional worlds can be very linear just as your favorite book or series, or, as in RPG’s, cover a world and the many stories, sub-stories and subplots that are existing, and that you as the player have a chance to become a part of. While there is usually a main quest within the RPG worlds, generally these worlds are open allowing the player to go where they please. And if you decide not to follow the main quest line – so be it.

Unlike that movie, you, through your avatar, are adventuring throughout these fictional worlds, and yes, according to the genre, you can see it from the 3rd person view, or the first person up close and personal view, where you are literally looking out through the eyes of the protagonist. And, for you who do not game, these stories, and back-stories can be as deep as any novel out there, and, here’s the best part, you are a part of it. You live it, of course, in the comfort of your home, but if the game has been well constructed such as F.E.A.R. and the sequels, you can have the same chills, surprises, as if you were watching an Alfred Hitchcock movie or some other thriller. And it is so much more difficult to pull off that kind of timing within a game where you can never guarantee how the gamer is going to move through your fictional world. A movie is a static universe, while the game world is constantly changing and adjusting to the player’s style.

One of the games that became the defining game for FPS’s is Half Life (an old game). And here is a science fiction story told through the eyes of Gordon Freeman as the world he knows goes to hell. So instead of reading the story, you act it out, making it so much deeper than just the words on a page. Yet, as we move through the many series of games out there, for me some have become my favorite, which is no different from favorite movies, TV series, or book series. Yet, when I try to identify why, I find that I have different reasons for the different games.

For example: If I were to look at a series that is both intellectual, a tragedy, as far as the story line, well written, and a great fictional world created, I would have to put Bioshock on the top of my list. Much of the story is based on ideas that Ann Ryn had put forth in her books, including Atlas Shrugged. One of the main characters that you deal with indirectly is Andrew Ryan (Ayn Rand is possibly where the name came from) who is responsible for Rapture, a city at the bottom of the ocean. The story is deep and well written with many twists and turns, filled with wreckage that is the people of this world, and an unexpected ending. Of course there are many of the standard elements of a first person shooter as you fight your way through this broken world, raising the bar the deeper you go and the more you learn or think you know.

This was followed by Bioshock II, and Bioshock Infinite, both great games in their own right. Bioshock II looking to the past of Rapture, as well as the future after the time you spent there in the first Bioshock. While Infinite is another well written fictional world that exists in the clouds. As in the other two it is deep, with many twists and turns before the tragic end.

Then one could look at Borderlands, and Borderlands II, both classic FPS’s, yet at the same time adding elements of the RPG (Role Playing Game) – there is much adult and dark humor included. Here they successfully meld the 2 genres – FPS and RPG – which are normally separate and far apart requiring their own style of game play. The series having a background story to bring you along through the world of Pandora. Both would be considered science fiction if they were books instead of games. And if we were to look at most RPG’s (role playing games)  the storylines would be medieval, definitely dungeons and dragons in style or maybe along the lines of middle earth in the Tolkien universe. The worlds are huge, and the quests epic in nature. And as is always the case in these worlds, one must succeed to prevent the fictional world from falling into the hands of evil, or chaos. Most MMO’s (massive multiplayer online) are of this gaming genre. An example of one of these MMO’s would be WOW.

As one can get sucked into a good book, losing track of time, it is the same for a well crafted game and the world that awaits the player. The one difference being, the world created by the gaming company is there for you to see, while the worlds created from that book are completely within your mind, within your imagination. So whether it is to save mankind from extinction, sometime in the distance future, as in The Wing Commander Universe, or to look to an alternate past as in the Bioshock series, there are as many directions one can find here in these gaming worlds, as there are in literature, be it novels or short stories. And if one will leave their prejudices behind, one might be surprised at the depth that awaits one in these fictional interactive worlds that is known as gaming. Finding that one can ride the emotional roller coaster that many books bring to the reader is truly available in many of these modern games. And interestingly something that has been trending for a while is the world of co-op. A world of fiction where you explore with your friends, adding to the depth and fun. And with the internet your partner in this game world could be anywhere in the world – and thusly here I end part 1, an overview of gaming, and a taste of the worlds out there.

Next week will be part 2 in this present series. As always I hope that what I write is something that will hold your interest and a place that you’ll want to return. This is a  place of many subjects, and many ideas. In a way by reading what is here you know me, who I am, the way I feel. So while you may never have a chance to meet me personally, in a sense you already have. And for all of you mothers out there tomorrow is a day set aside to honor you. It is an honor that you aptly deserve – Happy Mother’s Day. Have a good week and I’ll see you here next Saturday.

Discovery – An Additional Taste

After running a 4 part series on emergency preparedness, I felt it was time for a change of pace, and one of the reasons for the existence of this blog is, of course, my novels, and the promotion of my writing. So for this week I’m presenting the 2nd excerpt from book 2 of the Discovery series. If things remain on schedule (and good luck with that one) I hope to have it released by mid-year along with book 1 in this series.

Sometimes when you revisit a story parts come out sharp and clear that may have only been vague in your mind as you remember it. And, at times, it is these parts that begin to define that novel, and those important characters within the story. It is what makes them human, vulnerable, touchable – possibly someone that you would love to meet personally. As a writer I really cannot tell you from where my characters originate. Sometimes, and very rarely I have a real person in mind when I create a character. (As in the character Keenan from the Survival series.) But to be honest, many times it is the environment where my characters live that makes them who they become, and Lauma is a prime example. She is one of the 6 protagonists in this story, and I find that she would be an interesting person to meet. In many ways it is too bad that these fictitious characters are just that. Because, at times, it would be interesting to just sit down and listen to what they had to say, to begin to see their personal insights. Again this is an early draft and things could change. In this excerpt we start with a little background as she sees what is about to transpire, before we actually follow Lauma,who at this moment is alone at the shelter. She has lost her sires in the past and is now realizing another aspect of that loss that she had never considered until now. So for your reading enjoyment, the 2nd excerpt from Discovery:

Fauul would be leaving shortly to return to the township and take care of many things. He had also said that he would spend time with his immediate family there to inform them of the upcoming event. Fauul was sure that his mother would especially like to attend the ceremony even though it was not close to where his family lived. He had told her that he would try talking her out of it but knowing his mother he thought that would be next to impossible.

Most likely she would drag his father, sister, and brother down for the ceremony at the major gather – or not, he really couldn’t be sure. While his siblings were as grown as he, they still lived in the shelter with their sires. It helped all on the upkeep and expenses. Both of his siblings were still attending the higher learning center, and could only work part time. Of course their only excuse for being able to avoid the trip down to the remote village was attending the learning center. That would probably work for them but his father would not be so lucky. While Fauul was sure that his male sire would not mind, attending these functions as a guest, it was more to the females’ liking than the males. While the gatherings after the ceremony were great for all, the actual ceremony was most important only to those who were directly involved.

At least for her it would be easier, although it would have been wonderful to have her mother here at this important time in her life. She thought that her mother would have been proud of her choice. Again, she found that now, at this present time in her life, she was missing her more. It was during this critical time in a female’s life that the wisdom of the past generation was often passed on. There would be no one to ask those important questions. This almost brought her to tears. She had always known that the mother-daughter relationship could be a close and special one, and it was one she would never have.

The shelter shook from a gust of wind and she heard something pushed across the yard by the wind and then a crash. Distracted, she got up and peered out to see if anything had been damaged, but could see nothing other than the dust and swirls raised by the wind. Looking at the dust swirls she could remember, as a whelp, laughing and running through them, dreaming that they had the strength to lift her high in the air so she could look down from the sky as a flyer. In her mind’s eye she would feel free and turn around and see that her mother would be standing on the porch watching her and smiling.

Yeah, those carefree days of youth, of being a whelp, with what you thought were great responsibilities that, of course, you wanted nothing to do with and preferred the imagination and freedom to play those games. This brought a smile to her face as she recalled those events. It was a sad smile all the same since her sire would never be around. All these thoughts were starting to put her in a melancholy mood. She found herself being both happy and sad at the same time. She also felt herself being very nervous with the unknown future that was beginning to present itself.

Now she found herself starting to second guess herself, to question everything, and to wonder if it was right. It was at that moment she remembered her father saying, “You can ‘what if’ yourself to death and that doesn’t change anything. Worry most of the time leads to nothing but problems for the worrier. So once you have honestly weighed everything that you could, then trust in your answer or solution. If things change, then at that time ,make the adjustments.” He was right, but it’s hard not to worry. This was one of those decisions that would have a major influence on her for the rest of her life.

Life in many ways is not fair. When one is young and without experience, one, many times, is required to make decisions that will have a major impact on the rest of one’s life, be it positive or negative. Because of that lack of experience and many times no one to discuss it with, who has any more experience, the choice you make can be wrong. Yet, at the time of that decision it seems right. Then after turns have passed and one has gained the necessary experience one can then look back and see the error. Which, at this time, is much too late to be able to correct it, or change the path in the direction one really had a desire to go in the first place.

She thought that indeed she was in that situation now. She had weighed all and hoped her decision was right, but at the same time having little experience in life as of yet, she hoped she would not be blind sided by something that would have been obvious to someone who had much more experience in life. She had looked briefly to her friends from her youth, and while not being able to really talk with them about it, had observed what was happening in their lives.

From the outside they both appeared to be happy with their mates and what life was giving them now. Still outward appearances could be so deceiving. What was presented to the public could be so different from what actually happened behind closed doors. And on that note – right now she was happy that she had a half-day to herself. While normally they could take a down day now and then, most of the time they were unable to make it a complete one.

Again hearing the wind gusting and the shelter shaking, it continued to take her back. It seemed that the winds, from her perspective as a whelp, were exhilarating. Again she would see herself running and giggling in the shear joy of the moment. Such a different picture of herself than the one she now saw in the looking glass. She wondered what she herself would think from a whelp’s point of view looking at her now. Would she approve or just go off running and laughing? Really not appreciating the seriousness of the near future, and its implications.

Could she ever reconcile the two of them? Herself in her youth, before the accident, running and loving what life and her imagination allowed, and the grown female about to take a mate. The one who had known so much tragedy, and in many ways, while projecting a strong façade, knew that deep down she had many doubts and weaknesses. Many that she even tried to hide from herself.

On a whim she got up and went outside to the porch, while it was still mid-spring the winds held some heat. Now from here she again traveled back in time. Only this time she became her mother watching the daughter playing and laughing in the winds. Again that sad smile came to her, and then choked up with emotion from the images in her mind she ran back into the shelter to her sleeping area and cried once again. She knew, as she had back then, that nothing would ever be the same. “Oh mother, why can’t you be here now? Now, when I really need you, and your ways,” She whispered. But, in truth she already knew the answer. Still it did not comfort the hurt she felt in her heart.

Next week I begin a new 3 part series. As the subtitle of this blog states, the posts here will be on any subject, and will reflect anything from promotion of my novels, presenting short stories for your enjoyment, and other thoughts and ideas that happen to cross my mind. Have a great weekend all!

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