Under the Influence: RUSH

"In the constellation of Cygnus there lurks/A mysterious, invisible force:/The black hole of Cygnus X-1…"   Many are the rock bands that emerged from the 1970s; few are those who survived the decades since. Even fewer are those that impressed me, not with one or two songs, but with entire ALBUMS that I would collect and listen to most of. My usual music-listening habits involve picking one or two songs out of an entire band's career that I like, which is why I rarely will say I like a given band. But there is one huge exception: the [ Continue reading... ]

Under the Influence: The Black Stallion

When I was young, there were quite a few things that interested me, but aside from reading, I had two personal passions: volcanoes… and horses. I loved horses. I had multiple horse models. I imitated horses. And I read about horses, read stories about horses, fictional horses and real horses, racehorses and wild horses, little prehistoric Eohippus all the way to the many modern breeds that ranged from tiny miniature ponies to the gigantic Shire workhorses. One of the only live shows of any kind that I insisted on attending when I was young [ Continue reading... ]

Why I Write the Way I Do

  All authors develop a style of writing – something that makes their stories theirs. Some of the "signature" is in the way they use language – particular turns of phrase and patterns of prose – while other parts of the signature will show up in the themes they like to revisit, the types of characters they like – or don't like – the things they'll show or hide, and of course the plots they choose to do, or not do. Now that I've been doing this for well over a decade (which seems so strange to me – it doesn't seem that long, unless I [ Continue reading... ]

Under the Influence: Nancy Drew

I have previously mentioned two of the strongest influences in my life that gave me a strong assumption of the essential strength and equality of female characters to male – specifically, the Oz series (in which the most prominent characters are almost always girls/women), and the Little House books told from the point of view of Laura Ingalls (later Laura Ingalls Wilder). But there was a third such influence: Nancy Drew. Dating all the way back to 1930, Nancy Drew in all her incarnations has been a young amateur sleuth, child of a [ Continue reading... ]

Under the Influence: Superman

  "That man won't quit as long as he can still draw a breath. None of my teammates will. Me? I've got a different problem. I feel like I live in a world made of cardboard, always taking constant care not to break something. To break someone. Never allowing myself to lose control, even for a moment, or someone could die. But you can take it, can't you, big man? What we have here is a rare opportunity for me to cut loose, and show you just how powerful I really am!"      The Man of Tomorrow. The Last Son of Krypton. The Man of Steel. [ Continue reading... ]

Under the Influence: H. P. Lovecraft

The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. -- H. P. Lovecraft, The Call of Cthulhu   Howard Phillips Lovecraft was never well-known during his lifetime, and indeed died nearly completely destitute, having gone from a comfortable middle-to-upper-class upbringing to poverty. But following his death, the stories he had written for the various [ Continue reading... ]

Under the Influence: Glinda of Oz

The final volume of the fourteen Oz books written by L. Frank Baum sees Ozma and Dorothy on a visit to Glinda, when Dorothy, idly paging through the Great Book of Records, discovers a cryptic notation that the Flatheads and Skeezers – previously unknown inhabitants of Oz – have begun a war. Ozma is determined not to permit war within her borders, and decides to set out directly for these people in the far north of the Gillikin country and convince them to make peace. Glinda tries to convince her, several times, not to get involved, [ Continue reading... ]

Under the Influence: The Lost Princess of Oz

  Eleventh in the series, The Lost Princess of Oz follows up on Rinkitink in Oz with another excellent tale, one of the best in the canon, and one of those most deeply influential in my writing of Polychrome. Dorothy Gale, going to Ozma's rooms to ask if she and her friends Betsy and Trot could take the Saw-Horse and royal carriage to visit the Munchkin country, discovers that Ozma has disappeared; even more disturbing, her Magic Picture is gone, so they cannot use it to discover where Ozma is. Shortly, they learn that Glinda's [ Continue reading... ]

Under the Influence: Rinkitink in Oz

  With the tenth book of the Oz series, we reach one of the most important books to my writing of Polychrome, and also one of my favorite books in the series. Thus, rather than a mere On My Shelves, this book gets an Under the Influence all to itself It is worth noting that. Rinkitink began existence as another of Baum's non-Oz fantasies, but Baum repurposed it as an Oz novel and that is how it has become known.   On the idyllic tropical island of Pingaree in the Nonestic Ocean (the ocean that surrounds the lands of Faerie) [ Continue reading... ]

Under the Influence: Usenet

  I have previously discussed, in more broad terms, my entry into and participation in the world of online communication, starting when I was only 14, discovering the existence of email and bulletin boards through the local high-school computer network. There were, and are, many different ways of participating in social interaction online – email in its many guises, bulletin boards, IRC, LiveJournal, Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook – but the one that has been the longest-enduring for me, and certainly the most influential on me over the [ Continue reading... ]