November 25, 2020

The Bronze Devil

A thief is on the loose in Tokyo, a smash and grab artist that targets high-end jewelry stores. The identity of this burglar is no mystery. It's a metal robot, dubbed the "Bronze Devil" by the press. With its almost magical ability to appear and disappear out of nowhere, the police are powerless to stop the theft after the other.

That can only mean it's time to put master sleuth Kogoro Akechi and the Boy Detectives Club on the case.

The Kindle and paperback editions can be purchased from Amazon, and the ePub version from Smashwords and Google Play. Please visit the website for more details and to read the novel online. Check out Kate's interview (and here, here, and here) with me about the translation process.

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November 21, 2020

Hills of Silver Ruins (26)

I've posted chapter 26 (book 1) of Hills of Silver Ruins, a Pitch Black Moon.

The Taiho is also the province lord of the capital province, hence his close connection to the provincial Rikkan. The Rei'in (令尹) is the Chief Cabinet Secretary of the Provincial Rikkan.

The Chousai (冢宰) serves as the Chief Cabinet Secretary of the Rikkan. In the governments of dynastic China, the Chousai was the Minister of Heaven and served as the minister-in-chief or prime minister. But in the Twelve Kingdoms, the Chousai need not be a member of the Rikkan. And there is the Taiho.

I think the Taiho better fits the literal meaning of prime minister. In Japan, the Chief Cabinet Secretary "coordinates the policies of ministries and agencies in the executive branch," a good description of the Chousai. Though in many kingdoms, the Chousai ends up running the government on a day-to-day basis.

I can imagine Keiki and even Youko being actively involved with the Rikkan while Shouryuu and Enki delegate most of their bureaucratic responsibilities. With the right people in charge, both approaches work.

In Japanese politics, the portfolio of the Chief Cabinet Secretary includes the duties of both the White House press secretary and the American vice-president. When Shinzo Abe resigned earlier this year, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga was elected prime minister by a large margin.

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November 18, 2020

The Path of Dreams

Although they've met only once, at a train station in Japan, Elaine Chieko Packard and Connor McKenzie have been haunted ever since by passionate dreams they cannot control. They determine to resolve the tension between the moral strictures of their faith and their own overpowering emotions by eloping, a decision that triggers an entirely unexpected series of events.

In the days and months that follow, they find themselves reliving, in both dreams and reality, many of the same conflicts their parents and grandparents once did. They won't be able to move forward with their lives until they have addressed the unsettled obligations of the past, "turning the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers."

The Kindle and paperback editions can be purchased from Amazon, and the ePub version from Smashwords, iBooks, and Google Play. Please visit the website for more details and to read the novel online.

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November 14, 2020

Hills of Silver Ruins (25)

I've posted chapter 25 (book 1) of Hills of Silver Ruins, a Pitch Black Moon.

This chapter begins with a good example of how pronouns in Japanese reflect social relationships. Shouwa uses the honorific –dono with Heichuu, even while bossing him around. She always refers to Taiki by his title, Taiho, and never a pronoun. But she addresses Kouryou as anata, the plain pronoun "you," which presumes a lower social status than herself.

The Taisai (太宰) heads the Ministry of Heaven.

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November 11, 2020

Angel Falling Softly

Rachel Forsythe's once perfect life is now anything but. The younger of her two daughters is dying of cancer, and neither God nor medical science can offer her a cure.

Milada Daranyi, chief investment officer at Daranyi Enterprises International, has come to Utah to acquire a medical technology company. Bored with her downtown hotel accommodations, she rents a house in the Salt Lake City suburbs.

Then the welcome wagon shows up. To the neighbors, Milada is a beautiful and intelligent young woman. But Rachel suspects something more about her, and makes an unexpected and dangerous discovery: Milada is a vampire. Fallen.

And the only person in the world who can save her daughter's life.

The Kindle and paperback editions can be purchased from Amazon, and the ePub version from Smashwords, iBooks, and Google Play. Please visit the website for more details and to read the novel online.

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November 07, 2020

Hills of Silver Ruins (24)

I've posted chapter 24 (book 1) of Hills of Silver Ruins, a Pitch Black Moon.

The traditional Chinese calendar is a lunisolar calendar. Days begin and end at midnight, and months begin on the day of the new moon. Years begin on the second or third new moon after the winter solstice. As a result, the Chinese New Year falls between January 21 and February 20.

In terms of the weather, Taiki is referring to central Japan around Tokyo and Osaka, where most of the population lives. The Tohoku (northeast) region totals up some of the heaviest snowfalls in the world. Hokkaido is basically Minnesota with volcanos and earthquakes.

A hanjuu (半獣) is literally a "half beast." The other half is human. Like kirin, they can switch between human and animal forms.

The treatment of hanjuu varies throughout the Twelve Kingdoms. In Kou, hanjuu are harshly discriminated against, one reason Rakushun travels with Youko to En, where he can attend university. Youko abolished the anti-hanjuu laws in Kei and promoted Kantai, a hanjuu bear, to general in the Palace Guard.

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November 04, 2020

Tales of the Quest

Ah, the Quest! The sight of noble knights setting forth on heroic tasks to win the hand of the fair princess stirs any heart. Here are the medieval heroes who once donned clanking suits of armor to fence, joust, and battle fire-breathing dragons for honor and acclaim.

That is, until the tasks got too messy, too inconvenient, too strange. And the armor way too heavy. To be sure, talent and determination still count. But the Quest just as often becomes a tool of trade and diplomacy, with fortunes and royal reputations weighing in the balance.

Immerse yourself in chronicles of desperate princes, strong-willed princesses, and romantic beasts. This fourth installment in the Roesia series pulls together new and previously published stories of questing daring-do updated for the modern age.

Amidst all the politics and game playing, can true love still triumph? Therein lies quite the tale.

Tales of the Quest is book four in the Roesia series (though it mostly takes place outside the borders of the Kingdom of Roesia).

Paperback
Kindle
Smashwords
iBooks
Google Play
Nook
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The Roesia Series

Tales of the Quest
Lord Simon: The Dispossession of Hannah
Richard: The Ethics of Affection
Aubrey: Remnants of Transformation

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October 31, 2020

Hills of Silver Ruins (23)

I've posted chapter 23 (book 1) of Hills of Silver Ruins, a Pitch Black Moon.

Although Kouryou and Taiki walked from the ground almost to the Sea of Clouds, they got a little help along the way. The Imperial Palace is equipped with magical escalators that shorten the actual distance traveled. You can climb a flight of stairs and cover a hundred times the actual distance traveled.

Without these conveniences, getting to the top of a Ryou'un Mountain would be like climbing the Matterhorn. That's why Taiki and Risai couldn't just land on any Ryou'un Mountain when they flew from Kei to Tai above the Sea of Clouds. They fortunately found one that had been previously occupied.

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October 28, 2020

The Real Darcy

Besides the badness of the writing, my sister Kate argues that the biggest problem with Pride and Prejudice fan fiction (commercially published or otherwise) is that it inevitably makes Darcy out to be the stereotypical alpha male of Regency romances.

Austen simply wasn't capable of being that simple and obvious, and nothing in the text justifies it. As Kate explains:

I go along with Phyllis Ferguson Bottomer's argument in So Odd a Mixture that Darcy is borderline autistic. Her delineation of Darcy's character is one of the most accurate and delightful on record. She recognizes what few interpretations do, namely, Darcy is accused of pride in Hertfordshire for reasons that have nothing to do with familial or class pride.

Most tributes to Pride and Prejudice fail to acknowledge that all of Darcy's problems in Hertfordshire stem from his behavior, not from his beliefs about himself. He is perceived as proud because he won't dance or talk, not because he boasts about his position or even because he gives anyone the "cut direct." He doesn't even cut poor Mr. Collins.

To correct this problem, she penned A Man of Few Words, an addendum to Pride and Prejudice that relates Darcy's perspective on the important events in the novel.

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(See here for the perfect Japanese Darcy.)

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October 24, 2020

Hills of Silver Ruins (22)

I've posted chapter 22 (book 1) of Hills of Silver Ruins, a Pitch Black Moon.

The way I read the political theology of the Twelve Kingdoms, the Divine Will (天命) is communicated directly to the kirin alone. When the kirin makes the Divine Will known to others through his words or actions, that is the Word of Heaven (天啓).

In Old Testament terms, a kirin is like the prophet Samuel when God tells him to choose a successor to King Saul. "I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king." After rejecting all of Jesse's other sons, Samuel settles on David and God gives him the go-ahead. "So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers" (1 Samuel 16:1-13 NIV).

The private revelation expresses the Divine Will. The public pronouncement reveals the Word of Heaven.

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October 21, 2020

Tokyo South

In this largely autobiographical account of the author's two-year proselyting mission to Japan during the late 1970s, a Mormon missionary confronts an overzealous religious bureaucracy and his own growing doubts as the work of preaching the gospel is turned into a cynical game of numbers and spiritual one-upmanship.

The Kindle and paperback editions can be purchased from Amazon, and the ePub version from Smashwords, iBooks, and Google Play. Please visit the website for more details and to read the novel online.

Related posts

The evolution
The truth is worse
Tokyo South is alive
The weirdest two years
The problem with projections

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October 17, 2020

Hills of Silver Ruins (21)

I've posted chapter 21 (book 1) of Hills of Silver Ruins, a Pitch Black Moon.

The Shore in Twilight begins at Hakkei Palace (白圭宮), Taiki's home in the Imperial Palace.

Large cities are castle towns surrounded by a loop road accessible through twelve gates. Each gate is identified by a member of the Chinese zodiac: rat (子門), ox (丑門), tiger (寅門), hare (卯門), dragon (辰門), serpent (巳門), horse (午門), ram (未門), monkey (申門), rooster (酉門), dog (戌門), boar (亥門).

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October 14, 2020

Lord Simon: The Dispossession of Hannah

To save a young woman from a band of marauding students, Lord Simon bespelled her into the walls of his house, powerful magic he later discovers he cannot undo.

Determined to free her from this prison of wood and stone, Lord Simon consorts with grave robbers and physicians, politicians and priests, twisting the arms of the powerful and the profane in every profession. As his reputation and his house crumble around him, his obsession to save a woman long thought dead threatens to drive him mad.

The third installment in the Roesia series, Lord Simon: The Dispossession of Hannah encompasses the events in Richard: The Ethics of Affection and Aubrey: Remnants of Transformation.

Paperback
Kindle
Smashwords
iBooks
Google Play
Nook
Kobo

The Roesia Series

Tales of the Quest
Lord Simon: The Dispossession of Hannah
Richard: The Ethics of Affection
Aubrey: Remnants of Transformation

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October 10, 2020

Back to the AT future

I don't get nostalgic about high school or college. For me, it's the decade from 1985 to 1995, the heyday of the personal computer. By 1985, the clone wars were over (and IBM lost). By 1995, the GUI wars were over (and IBM lost again).

During those ten years when the PC came of age, the computer was truly personal. You simply couldn't live a life online at a few thousand baud. Even in 1995, soon-to-be online colossus AOL only had around three million active users.

Ah, an era now gone for good. For a stroll down memory lane, it's enough for me to browse though old issues of PC Magazine. But then there are those dedicated Dr. Frankensteins devoted to bringing hardware long thought dead back to life.

As his YouTube channel title suggests, 8-Bit Guy focuses more on the Stone Age. Clint Basinger takes us up to the Medieval Period. In the two videos below, he unboxes and upgrades an IBM AT from 1988, still sealed in its original packaging.



As Crocodile Dundee would put it (there's another 1980s reference for you), "Now that's a PC."

Clint Basinger paid $500 for the AT on eBay. The IBM AT cost five times that in 1988, ten times as much when adjusted for inflation. By contrast, a thirty dollar Roku today has orders of magnitude more memory and computing power.

In the following episode, Basinger plays Indiana Jones exploring a warehouse crammed full of computer equipment dating back to the 1970s.


Call it the excavation of a PC Pompeii, a look back at a once thriving past now relegated to landfills, museums, and our memories.

Related posts

The future that wasn't
The accidental standard
MS-DOS at 30
The grandfathers of DOS

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