Tag Archives: Vokhtah

Smithing in Vokhtah – how to forge the links of a chain

The creatures of Vokhtah possess many ‘skills’ that owe more to fantasy than sci-fi, but their world is as real as I can make it, so here is some real blacksmithing that I had to research today:

Those who’ve read the first book about Vokhtah will know that the technology of the iVokh is somewhere between the Bronze Age and the Iron Age of Earth. They have Smiths who work starrock – i.e. rock that falls from the stars – in firepits. Of all the items crafted by the Smiths, two play a vital role in Vokhtan culture – timepieces and shackles.

I introduced the concept of a water-driven timepiece in book 1, and the following is a concept drawing of what such a timepiece [with extra ‘alarm bell’] might look like:

 

In book 2, however, I’ll be introducing the idea of the shackles. Think old convict shackles like these:

If you go searching for images of shackles, please be careful how you word your Google search. I learned some eye-opening things about bondage before I found the above image on Ebay. Apparently you can ‘Buy Now’ for $25.97 USD…

But after all that research, how much actually ended up in the story?

Not much. The one thing that truly hit me from the video was that without that shaped anvil, the calipers and the hammer, the blacksmith would have been struggling to make anything resembling a chain link. So how about my Smiths. Would they have possessed such specialised tools? Probably not, at least to start with. So my research boils down to half a sentence, shown in bold below:

The silence of the small chamber was broken by the clank of starrock as Tatah strained against the shackles that bound her to the cot. Held aloft by her huge, red wings, she thrashed from side to side in a vain attempt to break free, but neither the shackles nor the cot showed any signs of weakening.

Exhausted by her efforts and still not completely recovered from the Cut, she slumped back onto her belly and lay there gasping as her wings slowly deflated.

She was bitterly disappointed at not being able to free herself but was not surprised. She had commissioned the shackles at a time when she thought she could conquer the world, so her Smiths had been ordered to produce nothing but the best. They had taken her at her word, spending a year just to craft the tools they would need to forge the shackles. Then they had spent another year refining the starrock and forging it into a set of bindings strong enough to hold even the strongest Vokh.

Tatah had been delighted. But, of course, she had never dreamt that the shackles would be used against her…

Happy weekend all. 🙂

Meeks

 

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Sometimes I surprise even myself…

Apologies if I’ve been less visible of late, but I’ve started writing again, and that tends to give me tunnel vision. The story I’m writing is the long delayed, next chapter of the Vokhtah saga.

The story of my psychopathic hermaphrodites languished for four years while I wrote Innerscape, but now they’re back, and I’ve had to re-acquaint myself with their world all over again. Part of that process was to do a backwards outline of the original story, and that’s where this post comes in. I’d actually forgotten that I wrote this preface to the Vokhtan to English dictionary:

Due to the radical differences between Vokh and human physiology, this sound guide is an approximation only. Where humans speak by forcing air past their vocal chords and then shape the resultant sound in the mouth, the Vokh and iVokh use their mouths for eating only. Their lungs are located in their wings, and they inhale and exhale through hundreds of small cilia on the leading edges of their wings, by-passing the mouth entirely. Thus the sounds they produce are akin to the multiple sounds produced by a pipe organ. Even pure sounds have a resonance human speakers cannot match.

Adding to the difficulty of accurately representing the Vokhtan language is the native speakers’ habit of deliberately distorting their speech with ‘chords’, in order to convey tone and inflection. Harmonious ‘chords’ – like the major 5th in human music – denote agreement, pleasure, delight etc. Discords, on the other hand, can imply a range of emotions from disbelief to contempt. Yet despite the musical quality of Vokhtan, neither the Vokh nor the iVokh have ever developed the concept of music.

Vokhtan for human speakers is further complicated by the fact that the spoken language also includes an array of scent cues produced in glands at the base of each cilia. These scent cues are aspirated with certain audible sounds to form a combined sound/scent amalgam. For example, in the word ‘Vokh’ the ‘h’ at the end represents both the sound of the aspiration, and the scent denoting respect or admiration, something humans are incapable of reproducing.

Please keep these difficulties in mind when attempting to speak Vokhtan.

lol – I really did spend a lot of time thinking about the Vokh and the iVokh. From 2004 to 2012 to be exact. There was so much to discover about them. I mean, they all have sharp claws, right, even the much smaller, less aggressive iVokh. But sharp, pointed claws tend to get in the way when you’re not killing something, so how were the iVokh supposed to craft anything?

The ladies reading this post will immediately recognize the problem of nails that stick out half an inch past the end of your fingers. So how did the iVokh manage? By doing what we do, of course. They squared off the tips of their claws. But wait…how would they have cut their claws? Clearly they would need tools of some kind. Not scissors, no, but something like a small nail file perhaps. Except that nail files don’t grow on bushes. The iVokh would need Smiths to make the nail files, and the Smiths would need metal of some sort…

And so it went. Every idea came with its own baggage of pre-requisites, and each day of writing revealed some new discovery. It was an exciting time, but that was then. Now, I have to relearn all these tiny, yet important details so I don’t make any horrible mistakes, like saying that one iVokh punched another.

The iVokh certainly fight, but not with a clenched fist. Why? Two physiological reasons:

  1. Even with their claws blunted, striking with a clenched fist would drive the claws into their own palms, and
  2. Both iVokh and Vokh hands are quite weak in comparison to the rest of their bodies. They do have opposable thumbs, but they only have two fingers, and those fingers are long and spindly. A punch would probably break the whole hand.

And these are the little things that I have to learn all over again. If anyone’s interested, I’ve been trying to do a graphic of the hand. Still very much a work-in-progress, but here it is:

cheers

Meeks

 


Science fiction on parade!

meeks-books-small

I’ve never published a print book version of any of my books, but this wonderful graphic by Chris Graham is the next best thing. He just ‘whipped it up’ and sent it to me in an email. I have no idea how he put it together, but I love it. Thank you, Chris!

And while I’m at it, I’d like to thank everyone who left reviews on Amazon for Innerscape. You may not know this, but if you add up all the pages in all the episodes of Innerscape, they total about 1014 pages. I say ‘about’ because Amazon only displays page counts for episodes 2-5, so I had to guesstimate the page number for episode 1. Slight inaccuracies aside, that makes the story of Innerscape about 200 pages longer than George R.R. Martin’s ‘A Game of Thrones’ which comes in at 819 pages. So to all those brave souls who have read all the way through to the end…THANK YOU!

Now, I’m a polite girl, and polite girls don’t crow, but here are the reviews for Episode 1, including the 1 star by Austin Myers. 😀

David Prosser
Can Innerscape really live up to it’s reputation, can Miira live on without her bodily ills and find some happiness. Given an introduction is like watching world building at it’s best. You’re there and can see it but don’t have to cope with all the technical side.
Ms Flory has created characters real enough to evoke emotion in the reader. You’ll like, love and possibly hate too but you won’t want to stop reading.
I was given an advance copy by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Stephanie Briggs
Personal hopes and private fears leap from this writer’s imagination and grab the reader’s attention. Once she piques your interest, the conviction to know more will fuel your desire to read the next Episode. A. C. Flory does for science fiction what sunlight does for soil. She incubates an idea until it flourishes and feeds the deep hunger in us all.

Chris James
Anyone who’s read this author’s first book, Vokhtah, will know that she can deliver when it comes to entertainment. Innerscape part 1 doesn’t disappoint. The story tackles one of the most thought-provoking ideas in science fiction: what if, as your health failed and you approached death, you could effectively download your mind to a virtual reality and live on in the freedom of youth for as long as science could keep your decaying body alive?
We follow the dying Miira as she enters Innerscape and goes through her “orientation” into this virtual paradise. But right from the beginning, Innerscape shows one side to its Residents, while hiding real-world complications behind its pristine veneer of professionalism.
I finished this first part with my curiosity peeked and wanting to know what will happen next. It is a terrific introduction to what promises to be an outstanding series of books.

Candy
I thoroughly enjoyed Episode 1 of Innerscape and just downloaded Episode 2! The alternating perspectives, the vivid characters, and the intriguing vision of the future all work together to create a compelling narrative. Miira and Dr. Wu are sympathetic protagonists and the prospect of futuristic corporate villainy in the next couple of episodes seems likely. A.C. Flory has succeeded in creating a coherent, reasonable, and scary future, where the virtual and real exist side-by-side.

Candace Williams
This is the first episode of a smart, well written sci-fi series with a fascinating premise. I’m looking forward to finding out what’s really going on in both worlds, Kenneth’s real world and Miira’s utopian VR, Innerscape. There’s plenty to think about – a must in sci-fi, imo – within a storyline that captivates. An excellent read!

Dawn
Well. This was a delightful surprise. I’m quite traditional in my thinking- I always say to people I’m more of a crafter than an artist; and I think that shows in my reading. Much as I like to be fully absorbed in a novel, I find that most fantasy is just too fantastic for me to suspend disbelief. Same often goes for science fiction. For example – TV wise – I’m more of a Battlestar Galactica / Caprica girl than Farscape. My favourite authors writing for adults in this genre are Margaret Attwood and Iain Banks.
Having completed Episode One of Innerscape, however I think I might be adding AC Flory to my list.
Really convincing new technology and logic behind it; borderline dystopian; well realised characters; interesting premise throughout. Additionally it’s set in a future just sufficiently distant as to make all these things feel as though they may be about to occur, yet the lead character (a woman – hurrah) is incredibly relevant; especially reading this at the tail end of 2016. Oh – and unusually well written; no typos, no gaps or character name swaps, no odd leaps or discrepancies.
I bought this book, and am looking forward very much to buying all the remaining ones in the series.

EllaDee
A great start, introducing engaging characters who invite you to champion, fall in love with or hate them.

Austin Myers
There may have been a story of some sort but it was taking far too long to get to it.
Note to author: The first few pages / chapter has to grab the reader and pull them into the story. This book failed to do anything of the sort. This was disjointed and boring. I hope your next effort is better.

Penny I Howe
From page one, I could not put the book down. It was simply wonderful. Gripping & excitingly realistic. I’m getting ready to order the next episode (book ) right now. I would highly recommend this book. Excellent and entertaining. Exactly the way I like my Sci-fi!

And thank you to everyone who comes to my blog as well. You’ve made me a ‘very happy, Meeka’.

-hugs-

Meeks

 


A most unexpected gift!

tuktiI published Vokhtah in 2013 and have done little marketing since, so to have one of my favourite reviews resurface out of the blue is gobsmackingly wonderful!

The site is Peer Reviewed and you can find the review here:

Vokhtah

The reviewer is Jonathan Brazee, a fellow sci-fi writer and his review nailed it. 😀

http://www.jonathanbrazee.com/

Happy Tuesday!

Meeks

 


When science meets fiction, and they have a love-child

Vuk picMy thanks to the Passive Guy for highlighting the following article in the Guardian.

http://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2015/jan/21/real-science-science-fiction-sf-scholar

The article talks about the symbiosis that exists between hard science, and the speculative, highly imaginative and sometimes unlikely stories we weave from it.

I count myself as one of the ‘we’ even though most of my formal education was in the humanities – philosophy and languages to be precise. But before I began my arts course, my favourite subject at school was biology. Sadly I was not so fond of math, and no one told me you needed both to take biology past year one level at uni. so… -sigh-

Just because I could no longer study biology did not mean I stopped being interested in it. I continued to read layman’s articles in the area for years [thank you New Scientist!]. And that interest manifested itself in every weird and wonderful creature in Vokhtah, including the Vokh themselves.

Did you know that there is a species of worm that is essentially an hermaphrodite? When these worms mate, they literally duel with their penises to determine which becomes the sperm donor, and which the donee [?].

I swear, I did not make that up! It was one of the many, many things I researched before I created the Vokh. In fact research is the core link between scientists and writers because a world, no matter how imaginative, has to follow rules, plausible rules, otherwise it becomes fantasy not science fiction.

For example, although there are some elements of Vokhtah that are more ‘fantasy’ than anything else, [the power to heal, for example] I did spend months researching what my creatures would see when day changed to night, and one sun followed the other across the sky. I knew very little about binary star systems, and even the scientists could not tell me precisely how two suns would affect things like weather, and the day/night cycle, so the Vokh calendar is very speculative indeed. But I did try.

Other, ‘softer’ areas of knowledge informed my writing as well. Hungarian is my so-called mother tongue, and I studied French and Japanese at uni, along with a smattering of Mandarin and Spanish, so it was almost inevitable that I would get carried away with the Vokh language.

At first, I only wanted a few alien sounding names so I drew on Hungarian for the name ‘Vokh’. The word was based on ‘Vuk’, the name of a popular child’s toy in Hungary. That’s what the cute picture up the top is all about. You were wondering, weren’t you? -smirk-

Once started, however, I could not seem to stop and ended up with a Vokh to English dictionary-slash-encyclopedia.

Yet more research went into cross-over technologies such as blacksmithing and hunting. [Some of you may remember my post about the Poacher’s Knot in which I talked about hunting methods and very simple snares.]

But I digress, badly. My point in all this is that you don’t have to be a scientist to write science fiction, [although many, like Isaac Asimov were]. I believe the only necessary qualification for a science fiction writer is the need to know how things, and people tick.

-cough- Or in my case, how sociopathic, flying hermaphrodites tick. -cough-

Happy Australia Day!

Meeks

P.S.!!!! I just found my 13th review of Vokhtah on Amazon. -dance-


You know someone’s ‘got’ your book when…

…that someone is fellow science fiction writer Chris James, and he compares you to Stanislaw Lem. 🙂 That’s a huge honour in my book, and modesty demands that I demure…but you know I’m dancing, right?

Okay, less of the happy-happy and more of the information. The book is Vokhtah, and the link to the review is :

http://chrisjamesauthor.com/books/book-review-vokhtah-by-a-c-flory/

I plan to write many more books before I become completely senile, but Vokhtah will always remain my special child because it was so hard to write. I’m a fairly passionate, emotional person by nature, but when writing about the Vokh and iVokh I have to keep a very tight rein on all of my softer, human emotions. That is soooooo tiring. But when someone gets what I’m trying to achieve, it feel like Christmas!

Thank you, Chris. Just… thank you.

-hugs to all-

Meeks

 


Frog gives Vokhtah 1.5 out of 4

Some weeks back, I sent Vokhtah off to a reviewer called Frog. I’d found Frog on Goodreads, and was impressed with his reviews. In fact, I was so impressed with one of those reviews I bought the book and really loved it. So I respected Frog’s reviews before sending Vokhtah off, and I still do.

Frog’s review talks quite a bit about the world building in Vokhtah, and that made me happy. The fact that Frog couldn’t get into my characters at all made me sad, but I can understand why he made no emotional connection to them or with them. Every criticism he levels against the excessive otherness of Vokhtah is true, and I truly appreciate those of you who soldiered on through Vokhtah regardless.

But…

I knew all this before I published Vokhtah. It was one reason why I decided to go straight to self-publishing in the first place. Vokhtah is not very accessible, I admit it. Maybe one day I’ll write a watered down story about Vokhtah and its people from the perspective of an outsider, and that story may be more accessible, but it will be a story about that outsider, that human being, and that is not the story I want to write. Not yet, at least.

I’d like to thank Frog formally for a reasoned, scrupulously fair review. No writer wants to get a 1.5 ‘star’ review, but if one is necessary then let it be like this one :

http://blog.jonestales.com/?p=2508

cheers

Meeks


Review no.10 for Vokhtah – Yes!

I have not been doing much promotion at all recently, especially for Vokhtah, so I was delighted to see that it had a new review.

There is always an element of fear in that moment before you start reading a new review, and I admit, I wondered if this would be the one where a reader would tell me how much they hated Vokhtah and its characters. Instead, I found a lovely 4 star review that talked about caring for the characters, despite their difference.

When you write about psychopaths and shades of sociopath, it’s hard to make them lovable.  Or even likable. Yet if a reader can’t care about your characters then no amount of inventiveness is going to keep them reading.

That was always my biggest fear about Vokhtah – could I find enough humanity in the characters to bridge the gap between them and us?

Today I am one happy scribbler. 🙂

cheers

Meeks

P.S.!!!!! Just discovered a 3rd review for the EGG too. 😀 Thanks Candy! This is turning into one of the best Sunday mornings ever. 😀


5 free days start now!

I know everyone’s sick to death of the EGG so I’ll make this quick.

The Vintage Egg is now officially free on Amazon for 5 days – i.e. from July 28 to August 1, 2013.  I wish I could make it permanently free, but failing that, I hope everyone grabs the freebie with my thanks.

http://tinyurl.com/kratzam

For the same period of time I’ve dropped the price on Vokhtah to $1.99. lol Apparently this is a good marketing strategy. I have a funny feeling it won’t work because the two books are so very different, buy hey, a bit of experimentation is never bad.

Once the free days are finished I’ll let you know how the promotion went, however until then I plan on posting about anything and everything except the EGG!

For those whose weekend is ending – commiserations. For those still in weekend mode – enjoy. 🙂

Meeks


Fifty Shades of… typos?

Forgive the blatant grab for attention. No sex toys were harmed in the making of this post. Sadly it’s all about typos. And spell checkers.

I’m so anal about spelling I was sure Vokhtah couldn’t possibly contain any typos. Wrong. I found ‘gawdy’ and ‘tpwards’ over the weekend, and I know how they crept in – during my final polish, that’s how. 😦

We’ve all done it. You correct one thing, for example an awkward sentence structure, and move on, convinced that what is on the page matches what is in your head. Except that your eyes can play tricks on you, especially when you’ve read and re-read the same words about a million times.

So I found typos, which was not happy making. However the way in which I found them really did make me laugh. You see I had to go into Amazon KDP to fix up the categories for Vokhtah. Whilst I was there, I saw a message from the Amazon spell checker[?] saying it had found over FIFTY possible typos!

50?  How on earth was that possible?

What followed was a wee bit of a panic… until I actually looked at the list. And there they were, all the words from my Vokhtan dictionary! And no, that should not be spelled Vokhtahn.

Naturally I went through the whole list, just for fun, and that was when I discovered two genuine typos. I suspect there will be more, not obvious ones perhaps but a missing word is just as much a typo as a misspelled word. So at some point I am going to have to go through Vokhtah again to catch the little mongrels.

But not yet. I really can’t face it. I’m stalled on book 2, and before I do anything else, I will have to take my own advice and wrangle my Muse into submission. Or maybe grovel a lot and try to bribe it with chocolate.

Hmm… yes, that bribery idea ain’t half bad. I can always work on the waistline once the book is finished…

cheers

Meeks


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