Entrance (free flash story)

(From time to time I participate in an activity at the  Sci-Fi Roundtable Facebook group, where we write flash fiction. This a sample of what I’ve been doing there. As an exercise, it is helpful to keep the imagination strong. This one, in particular, is part of the Tempest Blades Universe. Also, I want to thank Brhi Peres for allowing me to use her art for this story ).

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The Trickster Goddess decided to descend upon the world once more. This was a message that had to be relayed in person. On this occasion though, it would be though as she needed to be really careful. Last time she did it using her true form and full power, she broke the world, leaving it with a scar that held reality warping anomalies. Thus, she opted for creating an avatar as she came down. She first projected her personality and part of her wisdom and power into the world. Around that, using her divine powers, she invoked the Creator’s light. Globules of light coalesced around the spiritual form.

The goddess manipulated matter at the quantum level first, then atomic, then genetic. She built from scratch a -correct anatomically speaking- mortal body, one of a humanoid young woman with long reddish hair and big black eyes. She walked across the Boreal Forest –each step longer than those of the giants- completely naked, while moved her hands, matter shaping around her, making clothes and shoes. It took her a while to readjust to the lessened mortal senses. Only a modicum of cosmic awareness remained, an ironclad thread to her real form tucked in the higher dimensions. That didn’t mean that the goddess could be destroyed in this form. She was still capable of reality warping feats, she still knew how to fight and her body –impervious to anything from the universe- could easily walk into a black hole and torn it asunder with one hand. She had made sure of it. But this form, this mortal coil, wasn’t designed to deal with the sensory input that omnipresence and omniscience caused, even the limited version she inherited from the Creator. It would take time to fine tune that aspect. But she had nothing if time.

She paused for a while, at the side of a blue pool of water, surrounded by mist. She stared at her reflection and liked what she saw.

“Well, the clothes could use more work. I might need to recreate my old armor, from the Fall Time,” she said to himself.

Aside from that, this form should be perfect for interaction with the mortals, interaction of any kind she thought. Her mind had already a few ideas of what sensory experiences she wanted to go through. After all, if she wanted to protect these mortals, she needed to understand them, see the world the way they did. But first, she had to take care of visiting a freefolk girl and giving her a particular mission.

“It’s so weird to have a physical body in this realm. But it feels good to visit the old home. Let’s find that girl Asherah. I have a mission for her. But first, I need a name for this avatar.”

She walked away from the pool, the globules of light still surrounding her, creating a metal armor- while musing on what name she would take. That was the most difficult part of creating an avatar. Not the accessories, the name.

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The world of Theia. Part 1: Ionis.

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Every story, every adventure needs a place to… well, take place. So this is Theia, the world where Tempest Blades takes place. Actually, it’s just one of the continents in Theia, where the story of this particular arc of Tempest Blades takes place.

But first a few data on Theia: it’s a planet similar to Earth, orbiting a sun within the habitable zone. It has two moons: one is round like ours, the other is a smaller, elongated one (no one really knows what the hell it is) that appears only when something on the mystic side takes place. It also has a thick ionosphere, with the result of massive storms rolling over the continents, and affecting the development of telecommunications and high altitude flight. Thus they have developed differently. Weather is mostly the same, but a bit more extreme and has both similar species to Earth (and from two other planets) and endemic ones. It also has a highly stable magick energy field atop the magnetic one.

Ionis is the central east continent of the planet, the most densely populated despite being the second or third ‘colonized’. It’s part of a larger landmass, divided by mountain ranges such as the Jagged Mountains and inner seas on the south. The Grasslands is where the most eastern continent starts. Nowadays the continent is organized under the rule of the Free Alliance, a coalition of city-states and small kingdoms and republics that formed after the Great War took down the Old Kingdoms. There are no nominal borders within its territory, although each city-state has under its protection the smaller ones, as well as towns.

The freefolk nations shares space with humans with relative peace and their settlements rule themselves but in an alliance with the city-states as formal members of the Alliance. Freefolk and human intermingle with such frequency that it’s almost impossible to distinguish one from another (unless someone uses magick). Samoharos are a rare sight in the continent, only visiting ports such as Portis, Saint Lucy or the Seven Watersnakes.

Weather and vegetation are similar to that of British Columbia. There are still cultural, economic and sports-related rivalries within its regions, which sometimes can spill into minor conflicts. But for the most part, Ionis has endured a century of peace since the war ended. Think the European Union or the Carolingian Empire.

The map, for the sake and brevity, only depicts places that are mentioned in the actual story or are really important (such as the three main cities). There are more places there, but it would have been madness to fit all in that space. So this is a primer on the places marked there. In alphabetical order.

Belfrost: the short name of Belger’s Frost, in honor of Belger, the famous explorer that mapped most of the continent and founded the city as last stop before going into the Grasslands, where he would get lost forever. Now is considered the “city of spies”.

Carffadon: important commercial and touristic town in the Emerald Island due to its key location on the banks of the river Breen. Home of artists, poets, merchants, and pubs.

Emerald Island: the major power of the region, it coalesced into a single rule under King Castlemartell the leader of the Alliance during the war and now ruled by his daughter, Queen Brenda ‘The Long-Lived’. It has the largest overall population of freefolk outside the regions neighboring the World’s Scar.

Lemast: tiny town in the shadows of the Jagged Mountains. Only memorable for their particular architecture, the strange mausoleum in the middle of a cemetery and the regiment posted there to guard it.

Longhorn Valley: the place where the war was won by the Alliance and where the Light Explosion took place.

Manfeld: the oldest city in the continent is now a major commercial, cultural and industrial center. Its high walls, location upon a hill and easy access to water made it the perfect defensive spot and was the only mainland city to don’t fall during the war, although the siege that took place did a number on the city. It also has the largest population of city freefolks.

Maze, The: a  most peculiar region of the World’s Scar. It is said that it’s the exact spot where a certain goddess entered the world the first time. As such, is a place with reality warping properties, gravitational waves and endless roads that can get you lost. Also, it has dangerous predators there. It is the most important place for the freefolk nations as it is considered the location of the birth of their culture and where they discovered how to use magick. Visiting the place at least once in their lives is a significant goal of every freefolk on the planet.

Mercia University: one of the many universities on the continent. Recognized by its advanced programs in arcanotech –first of its kind-, design & engineering and freefolk-human relationships. It has an exchange program with Ravenstone.

Portis: the merchant city. It controls all the islands and maritime trade routes from and to the continent (think Venetia during the Renaissance). Famous for its legendary swordsmen and swashbuckling escapades that inspired hundreds of novels. Rumored to be founded by sailors that worshipped a strange sea deity. Most megacorps such as that from the Galfano Family have their main offices there.

Ravenstone: THE place to learn magick. It’s a mostly an only-freefolk school, although it does take human students with an aptitude for magick. Reaching it’s hard, but that’s on purpose, given that housed students of all ages, it needs to be a safe place for them. Located deep into the Maze region of the World’s Scar, it’s the perfect place to practice magick without blowing up the neighborhood.

Saint Lucy: capital of the Emerald Island and one of the three main cities. Founded on the remains of an ancient capital by King Castlemartell and named in honor of his deceased wife. It’s also known as the ‘city of blinding lights’. Queen Brenda rules from there.

Samheil Mountain: tallest peak in the Emerald Island. It is said to be haunted by fey –will-o-wisp creatures- and it’s the place where Fionn decided to settle after his return.

Sandtown: Its original freefolk name is lost, but it is believed that it was the location of the capital of the freefolk Kingdom of Umo (or Ulmo, spelling varies from tribe to tribe), before its fall almost a millennia ago due to a terrible catastrophe. Nowadays it’s a small town that houses Queen Brenda’s secret retreat and the nominal seat of the Free Alliance ruling council. Although nowadays the council rotates location between the Three major cities (Portis, Manfeld, and Saint Lucy).

Seven Watersnakes: a most fertile region on the continent, home of farms, cities, and ports. The region was in ancient times home to three quarreling kingdoms whose inhabitants’ exploits formed the basis for the Romances of Monstegur, a popular series of books, movies, and video games.

Skarabear: town located in the extreme north of the Emerald Island. Hometown of Fionn, it is the prime example of human-freefolk friendly coexistence, thanks to its legendary daughter and son and their exploits during and after the Great War. While part of the Emerald Island, it’s a town that tends to consider itself independent of the main rule from Saint Lucy and while friendly to outcasts, its inhabitants keep to themselves for a mysterious reason.

Thunder Pass: the nominal south-eastern border of the continent. Known for the endless thunderstorms that take place there. Currently the home of the power farms that provide energy to the continent.

World’s Scar: it’s a canyon… that crosses the whole planet (yes even under the ocean it’s rumored to have walkable spots. The place with most magick energy. In older times it was considered the geographical northern border of Ionis, but with the inclusion of the northern freefolk settlements of the Boreal Forests & the Mistlands, that became part of the past, with now the start of the Tundric lands the new frontier. Legend says that it was created when a certain goddess entered the world in her full form.

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Creating the map of your setting is not an easy task. Coming with shapes, names and geologically coherent structure is an intricate work of love. Thankfully I have a great illustrator -who is also a science buff- on my corner: Mr. Marco García.

He usually draws dinosaurs, cryptozoologist guides, and storyboards, but he agreed to help me with this, providing we stuck to geology and geography rules, with one exception (which is a magical place that violates the laws of nature on purpose). His input has been invaluable and even helped me to reexamine how some bits of my worldbuilding should go on.

The image above is the result of such collaboration. It is the location where the adventures of my characters from Tempest Blades takes place (at least the first novel-arc) It is not a complete map of the world (there are like 3 more continents still on the works) and of course the places pointed in the map are not the only ones in existence, just the ones used in the novel.

I have to say, I love the little details and the coherence between rivers, marshes, and mountains. Even the little, unnamed islands and the waves. As a first approach to this, I can’t be any happier. And if you want to see more of Marco’s work, go to his DeviantArt page.

I have some news for you.

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I should have posted this before, but workload got in the proceedings. As of a few weeks, my novel, Tempest Blades has a home! *Cue celebrations and embarrassing dance moves*

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Artemesia Publishing has agreed to publish the book under their Shadow Dragon Press imprint. They loved it, which is always a good sign. Now, the book won’t be out. As with anything related to the publishing industry, it will take time to get to the dead tree/dead e-reader I mean print and ebook final evolution. Edits have to be done, cover has to be designed and all of the marketing ideas have to be, well, planned. That takes time. When I talked about the timeline with the fine folks from Artemesia, we agreed that the reasonable launch date will be around the summer of 2019, this with the idea of ensuring a quality product.  As long as it is published before my birthday that year, I’m happy.

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The bright side of the somewhat long wait is that it gives me time to annoy you with pleads to buy the book as well as start writing the sequel. Because oh yes, there will be a sequel and hopefully a threequel and a quadroquel or whatever is said, with more electric boogalooness. Writing the sequel was not exactly in the cards and it takes me time to get a decent draft, between six months and a year, given my peculiar plotting & writing system. But that means that you will have time to wait for the book and re-read it. The Final Countdown begins.

So please keep an eye in this space for more news on Tempest Blades and thanks again to the people of Artemesia for this opportunity.

*Cue more embarrassing dance moves for several weeks*

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The Trickster Goddess.

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The Trickster Goddess from the Tempest Blades universe is an odd creature. Yes I know, is a deity and is bound to be inscrutable. But as the author, I’m privy to what goes behind the curtain regarding my characters. And yet, she does honor her sobriquet in a way, because no matter the story I write in that setting, she finds a way to get in it. She doesn’t appear that much in my novel or related stories… yet. But the very question of how to create a somewhat relatable deity without resorting in a deus ex machina was on my mind when I created the backstory of my setting and the character of the Trickster Goddess. While her character doesn’t appear per se, she has a considerable impact on the world.

I won’t reveal the name she goes by these days as it would be a spoiler for the novel, (I’m still working on publishing it). But I can reveal a few tidbits on her and if you read the novel you will understand who she is right away.

-She is a deity (obviously), but not a creator deity. She works for one and is related in a way that’s not entirely clear.

-Time runs differently for her than for a mortal. Not necessarily at an accelerated pace (e.g. a year for us is a day for her), nor she can see what’s in the future (she has visions of multiple futures though).

-She is older than THIS universe (the Tempest Blades ones) but not necessarily older than the entire creation.

-She was part of an ancient civilization of deities.

-Being as old as the universe (even if time works differently for her kind) tends to make one a tad unhinged so she (or at least her avatar that is the one doing the rounds in the novel) relies on a few tricks to remain relatable to the mortals she is watching over

-She likes technology, but prefer to do things by hand.

She keeps a library with the records of all that happens in the world and replicas of all inventions, but instead of a highly advanced computational system to keep track of everything (which she could create with ease), she likes to do it by hand, painstakingly classifying every bit on her own. After all, she has all the time in the world.

-She can’t enter directly into the mortal world or Realspace in her full form as the mere presence of her kind in that form is liable to break things: glasses, mountains, planets. The Wolrd’s Scar is the prime example of her doing that. I took her a few planets to learn not doing it. So now she uses an avatar -a female girl-, that’s part of her but not entirely her. The avatar has most of her memories (the rest are tucked in her library which is an avatar of sorts too) and a decent chunk of her power, but most of it and her true conscience is kept at the Overspace. That doesn’t mean the avatar is independent. It’s actually her without being her. You know, metaphysics. It also means that the avatar is indestructible.

-She likes to take the form of a red and black Raven. Mostly because the feeling of the wind caressing her feathers feels nice. Also because she likes to gossip and a raven used to go unnoticed.

-She likes to make the same pilgrimage that a whole of the Freefolk does from one point of the planet to another once in their lives (it was her idea originally). But she does in her avatar form and on foot every decade or so.

-She likes the company of mortals, mostly Freefolk.

-Once she fell in love with a human, during the Dawn Age of Theia. From that love she had two children, twins that are the ones forging the Tempest Blades from their hideout, so she is trying to emulate a family. They are still alive (they are demigods) but no one has seen them and have to follow some strict rules. Nothing is known about her partner.

-She finds mortals inspiring in a way. That’s why she aids those that become heroes. In a way.

-She doesn’t like to intervene. She can fight, but won’t do it. Don’t ask her for miracles. She expects mortals to be able to do their thing and only helps in indirect ways. And only when she is in the mood. She is a Trickster after all.

-Which means that her aid will be indirect and in the form of a pep talk, or scolding someone. Only a universal level of threat might compel her to act directly. And any favor she does to you will have to be paid back with interest. She is the strict teacher of the school.

-She likes to take on a student of the magical arts from time to time, mostly to have someone to talk about and go to the cinema. The said student might know the true identity of her avatar, but that won’t help him/her. There is a reason behind their selection.

-And she likes to annoy the hell out of a hero or two (mainly Fionn these days) under her several disguises, living different lives through her avatar.

-She had one mortal friend once, Asherah of the Freefolk, the First Magi and the first DragonQueen (that was back then when the Freefolk were still humanoid shapeshifters without a defined appearance).

-She has at least six other known siblings, but she doesn’t see eye to eye with them since she is the one taking a bigger interest in mortals and the Realspace. The rest are usually busy keeping eldritch beings (such as the Golden Emperor and the Crawling Chaos) away from creation.

-However, she argues that their duty would be better fulfilled if her siblings took the time actually know what they are fighting for rather than just following an ancient order. The point she makes to her siblings is this: how can you claim to be a guardian of the mortal world if you don’t experience it to understand it. So far the only one that has followed her advice is her older brother the Jailer.*

-As result of the above, the Jailer is, ironically and given their opposite functions, purviews, and points of view, the sibling she actually gets along. In a way. Their arguments about philosophy can be epic and last for centuries.

-She doesn’t demand worship. She doesn’t care and certainly doesn’t need it. In reality, finds it embarrassing. And yet she is the patron of Freefolk, magi, rogues, babies, and heroes. She is the one having faith in mortals.

-Used to play the bagpipe, but she lost hers.

-She hates being called a Goddess because she doesn’t feel she is divine, just is what she is. It’s complicated. But most mortals will call her that way rather than her one of her actual names, so after a while, it doesn’t bother her as much. She just ignores it.

-And she likes candies.

*Only when he can escape his job of keeping the evilest beings trapped in Hell, known as the Infinity Pits. He is the equivalent to Lucifer in the sense of being a punisher of evildoers, rather than the source of evil.

The Strange Ship (free flash story)

(From time to time I participate in an activity at the  Sci-Fi Roundtable Facebook group, where we write flash fiction. This a sample of what I’ve been doing there. As an exercise, it is helpful to keep the imagination strong).

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The Strange Ship

By Ricardo Victoria

When the Strange Ship appeared in their solar system, the untested early warning systems blared off. It threw the population of the blue planet into chaos, except for the Guard, as they had been ready for decades. The invaders transmitted a message, asking for surrender. But if the invaders expected an easy ride with this seemingly primitive planet, they were in for a nasty surprise. For its inhabitants had created a warrior culture and the idea of a planetary invasion was a theme explored by their media to the point it became part of their collective psyche. They were prepared for this and the Guard was their hope. Their smaller ships launched into space and intercepted the Black Ship.

The battle raged for hours, the damages to the outer planet’s colonies were many, the death toll too high. But they prevailed. The smaller ships damaged so bad the humongous invader that it barely escaped into hyperspace, leaving behind debris and dead corpses floating on the outer planets’ orbits.

When two pilots maneuvered their ships closer to the debris for better examination of the bodies of the dead, one couldn’t but wonder about the nature of their enemies with his fellow pilot.

“What the hell are these monsters?”

“If the translations of their message are right, I think they call themselves ‘humans’.”

Farewell to Rebels

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To be honest, I’ve had some shitty days (mostly at work, some part as a writer), so I really needed something to cheer me up. Somehow, the Force listened and provided and I managed to watch the ending of Rebels. I could wax lyrical about it, but a) that would be too spoilerish for those that haven’t watched it and b) I don’t think my words can make it justice.

Suffice to say that the final episode was a masterclass in closing up. Every beat was earned, it fitted continuity (for those inclined to nitpick about that) and it leaves you with a sense of closure mixed with hopes for the new adventure hinted at the end of it. Plus hearing the classic soundtrack from the OT at the end made me tear up a bit.

While Rebels, in general, had a slow start and a few clunkers among its episodes, the whole show is proof of tight plotting, endearing characters, intelligent villains and serious work behind scenes. This is how Star Wars should be done, this is how the magic of the Force, what the Jedi originally stood up for and the true power of the Rebels are about. This is Star Wars well done, pure and simple. With this ending, Rebels has cemented its place in SW canon and in my personal Top 5 tv shows (I might write about this later on). If you are an aspiring writing (like me) or an SW fan (like me), then you MUST have to watch the show. It’s a tour de force (pun intended) on how to plot a series (given that it is the most common objective for an SFF author) and make it a rewarding experience. I know once it is in a box set or complete at Mexico’s Netflix I will binge-watch again and will be taking notes.

And while I liked TFA and TLJ, I wish Filoni had been the one writing the New Trilogy story instead of each individual director. Because he gets it. He really understands the core essence of Star Wars. I can’t wait for his next SW related project (which I really hope involves that ending teaser).

A quick note on magic users in Tempest Blades

shamanI saw a post on a writer’s FB group asking how members call magic users in their stories. Well here it is how it works in my setting. It’s a really brief explanation:

Magus (plural Magi) is the title I use for learned magic users. Freefolk is the name of the near-human species in my setting that can use magic as a second nature as it is their innate ability. Freefolk can or can’t become magus, depending of whether they actually have the ability to do more than a few simple tricks or have gone to an actual magic college. Given than raw magic energies are dangerous by themselves, learning how to use it is a necessity, even for those with innate talent. Otherwise they just blow up. It makes a mess with the walls… Roughly 2 in 10 freefolk can use magic.

Humans can become magus, but it takes twice as long, need more preparations and they rarely reach the same level of power. It’s not impossible, but requieres quite a cultural and paradigm shift that most humans rarely get. That’s why the created arcanotech. Most humans just call magic users wizards because it is easier for them. Roughly 1 in 10, 000 can use magic.

Shaman/Shujenga are the really rare humans with innate magic abilities on par of a freefolk, although they usually get it after learning how to commute with the spiritual world. Roughly 1 in 100,000 humans can become a shaman. Roughly 1 in 100 freefolk can become shaman.

Priests are the samoharo magic users/religious leaders as for them magic has faith based connotations. Of particular mention are the Pathfinders and Dreamwalkers that can go into the spiritual world or navigate the stars. Their magic is not exactly magic but it is neither science. It’s something… weirder for lack of a better word.

It all comes to the cultural paradigms of each species. Freefolk live in communion with the land for most of the part and draw power from it. Humans tend to be a bit more… materialistic and rational when it comes to these things, they are more systematic, thus Shamans are the ones that have broken that paradigm. Samoharo believe in symbiosis with the Universe itself and that everything is connected with higher dimensions.

So there you have. I might expand onto this later on.

Random Chat #2

Here is the latest in the mayhem of thoughts that’s my head:

-I had planned to write a lengthy entry on why I liked The Last Jedi, why is a good way to break with the fan pandering and a possible reason of why the detractors hated it -which reminds me of the vitriol spewed online after the prequels. But so much has been written that I would hardly add anything meaningful to the conversation. I will just say that this is not a movie for my generation but a Star Wars for the new one and that the thing that weighs heavily in fans minds is that is a movie that, for us that grew up with Luke Skywalker, confronts is with our mortality and with what legacy we are leaving behind. I suspect that some detractors are having troubles to come to terms with that.

-I got a new rejection, this time for a short story that mixes alternate history and fantasy. I did get a personalised letter explaining what they liked and what not. I resubmitted it to another market.

-I just finished two fantasy stories and I’m working on finishing a science fiction one, this later for an indie publisher planning to release its second anthology. My story has dogs, so you know it will be awesome.

-I’m also working on a horror story aimed to be submitted to a SFWA market before the end of the year.

-There is no current movie me and my wife wanna see this month. We will wait till Black Panther.

-Talking about movies, ‘The Greatest Showman’ is a pretty good musical with a strong cast and good songs. But to enjoy it you have to forget for 105 min what a piece of shit was the real P.T. Barnum and how he mistreated animals (which by the way in the movie are all CGI.

-If I have to recommend a series to binge watch on Netflix is Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood. It’s highly addictive and has it all: action, mystery, intrigue, great world building, main characters that fight with their smarts as much as with the fists, secondary and tertiary characters with defined history and a plot where everyone collaborated to save the day. Everyone. And what’s more important and an oddity these days: an ending that feels entirely earned and justified.

-I really need to start writing my novel’s sequel or it will take another decade. G.R.R. Martin I’m not. Sadly something called da job tends to mess with said plan. Bills have to be paid and I’m not a famous author to live from it. J.K. Rowling I’m not.

-My wife got me several action figures I was looking for as Christmas presents. She knows me so well and I love her so much. And this Turtle additional expression is perfect to portray my usual mood with life:

Life is a tower of jenga. It tends to collapse on you. And you have to start anew. You are allowed to yell.

Vancouver

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Gastown by night.

Coming back to the blog, after the holidays, I thought in talking about my most recent travel. A few weeks ago, just before Christmas, my wife and I spent a whole week at Vancouver. It was our second wedding anniversary (we celebrated the first going to Disneyworld, I might talk about it in a later post). When we got married one of our personal vows was trying to travel as much as possible since my wife had never traveled abroad before that, while I have been lucky to visit my decent share of countries. In this case, we chose Vancouver with the hopes of seeing snow but not freeze to death like in Toronto. Originally we planned to go and watch the Northern Lights, but it was way out of our budget (the Mexican peso being what it is, means that we have to save a lot for these trips).

Vancouver didn’t disappoint. It has to be one of the best trips I’ve had (alongside Disneyworld). Even with the cold and rainy days. Good thing that our hometown has similar weather at certain times of the year.

The city is beautiful, peaceful and very friendly. Especially for photography aficionados such as my wife that took pictures of anything and everything. If you want to see better pics of the trip, visit my wife’s Instagram, she will be uploading them in the forthcoming days. The ones you see here are the ones I took (and I’m still learning to use a DSLR camera).

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My wife, photographer extraordinaire.

 

Aside the sushi, we had the opportunity to taste a wide range of food: poutine, Greek pitas, taco bowls -one of them at a great restaurant at Granville Market, ‘La Tortilleria’, founded and supervised by a Mexican lady from Michoacán- massive bowls of ramen near Chinatown, fresh salmon with cheese… But the best one by far was the Korean Barbecue. I don’t think I have eaten that much besides Christmas’ dinner. If you find yourself in Downtown Vancouver be sure to go to Shabusen Yakiniku House, there might be a bit of w wait to sit and enjoy the food, but the wait is worthwhile when there is the ‘All you can eat’ menu.

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Delicious Food!!!

One of the best things about traveling with my wife -opposed to alone as I used to do- is that she has this friendly aura around her that makes not only the trip an enjoyable experience but also allows us to meet interesting people. There were several occasions when, while we were eating in a crowded market or waiting for transport, people approached us to talk: a retired man was waiting for his wife telling us his life history, a fellow Mexican traveling back to Mexico for the first time in years or a fellow photographer who shared tips with my wife -the photographer of the family-. With my wife around there is never a dull moment during a trip.

We visited several -one would say obligated- spots that kept our days -and nights- busy. While we didn’t see much in terms of a nightlife, given that it was Christmas time and night fell around 4:00 pm, Vancouver still offers plenty of places to see:

Granville Market: diverse food, diverse shops and a two-story toy market, where my wife and I bought a couple of board games. Be sure to visit ‘La Tortillería’ for real Mexican flavor.

Vancouver Christmas Market: near Canada Place, this is a traditional European-style market with food, wooden Christmas decoration, and warm vine. They offer the option of a return pass that allows you to come back several times for a single payment.

Museum of Anthropology: deep inside the University of British Columbia, lies one of the most eye-catching collections of totems and First Nations art. The tour guide that gave us the explanation of the place opened my eyes to the rich culture of the First Nations. I will be sure to research more about them in the next days. Just a caution note, be sure to be on time to catch the bus back to Downtown. During holidays the campus is empty and there are no other means of transportation back (the walk back is too long to do it after dusk).

Gastown/Chinatown/Downtown Vancouver: the main place to visit for the historical side of Vancouver, with a wide range of restaurants, souvenir shops -try the maple cookies, they are addictive- all in a relatively small area to walk around.

Golden Age Comics: if you are a comic book/manga/toy collector like me and my wife, this is the place to go. Wide selection of books, board games, t-shirts, Japanese figures and everything the geek needs.

Flyover Canada: it’s a nice 4XD ride, similar to the Soaring at Epcot Center, but focused only on Canada and it’s natural beauties. During Christmas time they add a bit, visiting Santa’s workshop. It is a cool ride, but really short for the size of the queue and kinda expensive the overall cost.

Capilano Suspension Bridge: if you are more nature persuasion but don’t want to travel far from the city, you should go to the north and visit the Capilano Suspension Bridge. It’s cozy, you can breathe clean air and during Christmas time it is decorated with lights. It is one of the most romantic places we visited.

Vancouver Aquarium: inside Stanley Park and not far from the Totem Poles, the Aquarium is a beautiful collection of fauna from British Columbia. Otters, seals, sea lions, penguins, dolphins and the occasional wandering raven among others make for a wonderful family time.

If you are of a photographer inclination, I would recommend you to take this Night Photography tour. Suzanne, the instructor was amicable, patient and fun, teaching us a few tricks of night photography. It will be worth your time and money.

The visit to the city -and the MoA in particular- inspired me to revisit some parts of the Tempest Blades world building, particularly the map, a few cities and the inner works of the freefolk people. The First Nations cultures and the meaning of the totems part were really inspiring.

In the last day, Vancouver didn’t disappoint. It bid us farewell with snowfall all the way back to the airport. This was one of the items on the bucket list of my wife, so in that regard we can say: mission accomplished. This is a trip my wife and I found so wonderful that we wish to return to Vancouver.

 

granville con amorcito

Happy travellers.

 

Random chat #1

I’m testing a new ‘section’ on the blog. I realized that not every entry has to be a deep discussion on a given topic. Sometimes it’s just as good to let random thoughts out of your head. Or in this case, my head. So it will be a semi-regular feature here for what’s good to have a blog if you can’t talk about whatever you want.

-I was talking with Brent about who would play our novel characters in a hypothetical film if money and time weren’t an objection (he wants Richard Armitage for Washington, I say that Jason Issacs would be a good Benedict Arnold and Lin-Manuel Miranda should do the soundtrack). Now considering the setting of my story, I think more than live action it would be an animated film so these picks could be the Voice Actors. Nonetheless here is my hypothetical cast:

  • Fionn: Chris Evans (Brent and my wife say that it should be Chris Hemsworth)
  • Gaby: Natalie Dormer or perhaps Daisy Ridley
  • Alex: Diego Luna (the accent is key)
  • Sam: Auli’i Cravalho or perhaps Caity Lotz
  • Harland: Peter Dinklage
  • Sid: Ryan Reynolds (I need someone that can portray sarcastic and hysteric with a hight pitch at the same time).

Wild dreams man!

-I will be traveling with my wife next week to the city of Vancouver for well-earned rest. As a side effect, I won’t be on the web as much as usual and I won’t be watching Star Wars: The Last of Us the Jedi until later this month, so please try to spare me the spoilers (I know, an impossible task, but had to ask).

-My wife asked me to watch Cherry Pop with her the other night, as it features alumni from RuPaul’s Dragrace. It has to be the second most weird, random movie I’ve ever seen, because nothing has surpassed so far the weirdness that was watching Jackie Chan singing about the friendship between Roman and Chinese soldiers alongside John Cusack -in eyeliner- in his action/musical/comedy/drama movie.

-I’m dashing to get a few pitches for the last PitMad tweet contest of the year. A good take could mean getting noticed by literary agents. Fingers crossed.

-On the topic of querying agents, I sent four queries, three haven’t replied, the one that did ask for a partial sample of 50 pages. Good sign I hope.

-On the final querying news: I sent my alt-history/steampunk/fantasy story about Romans, Greeks and trains ‘Steel Serpents’ to an SFWA magazine: ‘Beneath Ceaseless Skies’. Let’s hope it gets in.

-And finally, with the news of Disney buying 20th Century Fox film division (and all its properties), most people are talking about a potential return of the Fantastic Four to the MCU. But am I the only one that would actually prefer a Deadpool v. Spidey crossover? Just picture it:

eFDztBV.gif

Santa Mickey, please make it so.

See ya in a couple of weeks and happy holidays.

The soundtrack of the day: