pre technology

Explaining Vikings And Other Barbaric Badasses

Now I’m a huge fan of the show Vikings, and my heritage comes from all over the world including that particular line. But my mother repeatedly expressed her pride on 3 of her ancestors, Native American’s, Germans, and the fuck mothering Vikings. It got me thinking… How the hell would we politely inform an alien that our past ancestors not only excelled at torture and bloodshed, but some cultures like Vikings took it to an unbelievable level. I imagine it would go something like so: 

“Human-Erica, I have a question regarding something we had discussed in our,” Grek’laz cleared his throat and moved one of his elongated arms to cover his mouth, a human like movement he had adopted while attempted to gather his thoughts upon speaking to one of the six humans aboard their ship. “Our um,” he tried to find the right words to discuss what he had learned, “Our Human Cultural Class. It was a brief history detailing the predatory and hearty nature of humans.” 

Erica brushed her hair behind her ear, raising a brow curiously. Grek’laz among many other species had often come to her and the other humans with questions regarding their Death World up bringing, it was rather fun seeing them learn something new about their species. “Grek you can ask anything, I told you all before. What’d you learn today?” 

Grek’laz pointed to above Erica’s bed with two of his tendril like fingers. The tall alien creature easily dwarfed the human before him, but the stories they had heard made him instinctively hunch forward, a method his species used to appear non-hostile. It didn’t help the humans had told him the smaller of their species could be the more violently inclined, a claim he hadn’t yet learned was a joke or serious.  Where he pointed at, there lay a blade behind some ancient and primitive symbol. The blade had strange yet simply carvings, and was rusted by the thousands of years it had been handled by the family. “That weapon, the… You claimed it was a sword, if my words are correct. We learned those symbols belonged to a tribe of warrior humans from you pre-technological era. Called ‘Vi-kin-gs’,” he slowly pulled the words out as he expressed it with the upmost respect. 

Erica kept her brow raised and nodded slowly, “Yes, and?” she encouraged him to continue. 

“We heard that these… Vikings… Were some of the most concerning warriors of their time? But that they… Revealed in battle? Craved it even?” He asked with hope that it was not true. He knew humans were seen as a military force not to be trifled with, but the ones he had known were peaceful, to think there use to be a clan that craved nothing more than battle was, to him, terrifying. 

Erica merely nodded, “Yep, my ancestors were Norse, or viking as they were called as well. They were some crazy bastards, the old beliefs they held said that to enter the highest of the heavens with honor meant you had to die bravely in battle. Only true warriors did. This lead them to be pretty creative, to say the least, in areas of hurting.” 

Grek’laz gulped, rubbing the back of its neck nervously, “I… I do not understand?” He questioned. He was morbidly curious. Though part of him did not wish to know. 

“The Blood Eagle, was something one of my ancestors went through if you want to believe the old tale.” 

“B-Blood Eagle?” He gulped again, “That sounds terrifying alone, dare I ask what it was?” 

“Do you dare?” She smirked, showing off the dense and wicked teeth all humans possessed. He nodded, much to his own dismay. “It was a fascinating process, though admittedly brutal beyond all standards. One of my ancestors had made a grave offense and attempted to steal the land of a Jarl, a ruler of such, and this Jarl was brothers to the King of all the land. My ancestor was punished with the Blood Eagle. It was said if you could take the pain without wincing, you would enter the heavens called Valhalla. But if you winced or cried out, you be damned.” She cleared her throat, hoping to spare Grek some of the details. The Elorians were more pacifist than most species. “They started by cutting your back open with a knife,” she could already see him flinch and look more and more nervous. “They then break open the back of the ribs, sometimes hammering them open. Then finally they pull the lungs out and rest them on your shoulders to look like the folded wings of an eagle.” 

Grek’laz looked as though he was about to vomit, just imaging the process made him sick. “Your ancestor … I weep for the torture, he must’ve been in such pain.” 

“Who knows? Stories say he never even made a sound, other then to scream to the Gods they believed in that he was coming very soon.” She chuckled softly. This was funny to her? Grek was truly terrified.

“Your world truly faced a monster, no offense, Human-Erica.” Grek gulped again in a panic. 

“Oh those were just the Vikings, humans all over the world were doing stuff on that level.” 


“Oh Grek … I really hope they tell you about the Spanish Inquisition,” Erica laughed before patting his side, for his shoulder was at least 2 feet higher than her. “I’m heading to the mess hall, join me if you want,” she nodded before making her way out. 

“I believe… I have lost my appetite,” he grumbled quietly. Humans… They were terrifying because they remembered these practices, whose to say they didn’t plan to use them if their enemies deserved it?

❤  Masterlist ❤

P.S: These might have to be opened in safari. I apologize for my lack of technological knowledge!


Tom Riddle 

Whispers in the Dark

♡ ☯ MARAUDERS ☯ ♡ 

Being Best Friends with the Marauders would Include

Sirius Black

Not Your Girlfriend [Part 1]

Not Your Girlfriend [Part 2]

Not Your Girlfriend [Part 3]

Not Your Girlfriend [Part 4]

Not Your Girlfriend [Part 5]

Not Your Girlfriend [Part 6]

Not Your Girlfriend [Part 7]

Mr. Smooth

Being in Love with Sirius Orion Black Would Include

Remus Lupin

Imagine: Y/N Never Leaving Your Side After a Full Moon

A Werewolf’s Comfort

Wannabe Cupid

You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch

Marlene Mckinnon

Bound in Blood

♡ ☯  GOLDEN TRIO ☯ ♡

It’s a Twin Thing [Lee/Fred, Angelina/George]

Harry Potter

Harry x Reader [Snippet]

I Will Never Be Satisfied [Part 1]

I Will Never Be Satisfied [Part 2]

Fred Weasley

Hogsmeade, Yeah?

His Tears

All I Want for Christmas is You!

George Weasley 

2 and 9


Quidditch Bets

Black Honey [Part 1]

Black Honey [Part 2]

anonymous asked:

This is a big question I'm still trying to wrap my brain around, but I'll try to word it as well as I can... How do you deal with it when the gods do terrible things? By which I mean - the myths seem to be full of awful stuff. The world being created through murder, war, etcetera. "Odin & Billing's daughter" reads like something written by some angry white guy who reblogs 'manly Vikings' and swastikas. Do you interpret texts as being representative of the god(s) character? *shrugs helplessly*

All texts and experiences of the gods are, necessarily interpreted through the perceptions and biases  of humans. All perceptions perceived by humans are also filtered through cultural and social biases of the perceiver.

This means that all texts and by extension all experiences are interpretations.

Thusly, there is naught we can say, do or experience without bias.

We, as moderns, are not unbiased. We immediately class things such as gender ambiguity/fluidity as queer. We read certain relationships as hetero or homosexual.

We immediately look at a story which has been given the English title, in a painting as The Rape of Persephone and some of us immediately cast Persephone as powerless victim of sexual assault. However, Persephone is a powerful goddess, acknowledged by the ancient Greeks as Queen of the Underworld. The interpretation of her as ‘rape-victim’ comes from an English title, and takes little account of Ancient Greek marriage customs.

The modern categorization of ancient texts and myths is just that - modern. The categories we use today may not even have existed in the time when the myths originated. This is to say, that while there are people who might fit our definitions of queer, gay or straight, those individuals would not necessarily identify that way.

Now, regarding the behaviour of the gods in Norse lore, several things must be considered:

1. The majority (if not all) of the texts we have are post-conversion, which is to say, they were written down by Christians. Snorri himself indulges in the practice of Euhemerism  - he casts the gods as powerful mortals, rather than gods. Even if he were copying them down from oral sources, there is a gap of several centuries - and hence those sources would have been raised in a Christianized worldview which may not have been entirely friendly to the Heathen figures and events found in the myths.

2. Gods are gods. In the same way governments do terrible things in order to preserve ‘order’, so may gods. The morality itself is almost secondary - the key is doing what needs to be done to keep the universe running. Some might argue that it is the gods behaviour which brings about Ragnarok, in that they mess things up and the contracts, oaths and practices which hold society (and hence the kosmos) together get broken. It is this breakage, some may argue which brings about the end of the world and the beginning of something else. Thus the myths might be said to be ‘cautionary tales’. Exemplars of societal issues and dilemmas writ large.

3. Perhaps a more esoteric angle: myths depict a different kind of reality, one where symbols and actions have multiple layered meanings. The gods themselves, while depicted as human are not, in fact so. The relationship between a symbol and its audience-perceiver could be described as ‘charged’. Meaning emerges from the symbol’s interaction with the mind of the perceiver. Metaphorically speaking, it is a hieros gamos - a divine marriage. The imagery of the gods meets the mind of humans, evokes memory, emotion, thought, physical sensation.

The feelings regarding murder, the sensations regarding the thing we consider ‘horrible’, these are different sensations and reactions perhaps, than those of the original audience. Bear in mind, the creation of the world being murder is our interpretation. It may very well be that for the ancient Icelanders, Ymir and the thurses fate was not murder but mere killing. This putative distinction might exist because murder could be seen as specifically killing another who has committed no crime against you, whereas, the thurses, seen as a threat to all life and order, were not capable of being murdered because they were not human/existed outside the walls of the garth.

As regards Billing’s daughter: If we regard this as simply a tale wherein Odin sets his eyes on a pretty girl and pushes things when she turns it down, ignoring her consent, this is reprehensible.

If we regarded it as something with multiple layers, then could not we see this as an illustration that even the master of magic can be bested, his lusts thwarted? Or that the maid in question is somewhat akin to Scherezade - able to bewitch (in a non pejorative sense) and prevail against a powerful male figure through cunning? Does she not then become an exemplar of women not to submit to unwanted attentions? Or could the story be a warning to those young men who seek to have their way with women against their consent? 

A kind of, do this, and not only will you get shat on by the woman in question but strung up by her fathers, brothers and friends?

I’m not defending any of these actions, merely offering alternative ways of looking at them. Myth is multivalent - that is its beauty and its terror. An evocative realm that provides access to fundamental truths, no not often straightforwardly, particularly not to those who have a distance of nearly a thousand years from the original audience.

There is no doubt that Odin was seen as an oathbreaker - a dark and shadowy figure, and yet a being of immense power. In this he accords with many ancient culture figures the world over - powerful precisely because of his ability to break and operate outside of, the rules. Powerful because he has his own rules which he sticks to.

The numinous rarely has time for human morality, even if human morality develops out of contact with it. - and in some sense defence against it. After all, what is following the will of the gods but a) trying not to piss them off, b) doing as they say because it is beneficial for you and your people and they want to help,  c) trying to preserve your people by having some powerful entities onside to protect you - or some combination thereof?

(The above is intentionally reductionist - of course. It’s different in every culture, and is far more nuanced.)

Perhaps it’s useful to think of things in terms of survival? Today we foolishly believe that not much can touch our culture. We have technology, medical advances and weather prediction which make life fairly stable and smooth for a good chunk of the Western world.

We have, in a sense, lost the idea that the universe is bigger than us. It’s only when we face significant disruption that we begin to realise just how perilous life is. In December, my city lost power due to flooding, for four days. No light at night save for candles, streets pitch black, stars so very bright. No frozen food. No hot water - or even water at all for those of us in my block of flats because it’s pumped electrically. No cell phones. Just emergency broadcasts on the radio for where people could gather if their homes were flooded or without power. Friends walking between houses in the dark to carry messages and bottled water between hubs of people huddled by candlelight, cooking on camping stoves.

Small things that needed to be done, so as to look out for the vulnerable, to strengthen ties of friendship tight, to avoid people preying on those rendered defenceless and alone in their homes.

The ties that bind, strengthened by hospitality and kindness to strangers. The things needed to  be done, to help you survive - old rules straight out of the Havamal and other wisdom from pre-technological cultures. Humans are very small, the universe is big and we are not were not the masters we thought we were.

That was for four days. Imagine months of that darkness. Imagine life without technology. How long would this veneer we call ‘civilisation’ last before the pragmatism of survival meant a whole other kind of morality, a new-old way of living. A morality where you were kinder to strangers, to travellers, and where those who banded together with you were the reason you were alive. 

No faux bullshit Innagard - just your kith and kin, helping each other live, survive and prosper. Bound together by the threads of wyrd, reinforcing, generation after generation, the need to help each other.

Cautionary tales of what happens if you don’t. Recognition that you are not the mightiest thing, that there are unknown lands beyond the boundary, things on the edge of the firelight, as powerful as shining stars and running rivers.

Things that, if you’re lucky, you might want to look on you kindly, or at the very least leave you alone.

As an experiment, read the myths in that context - in a world of strange and wonderful forms of being, where things are far more fluid and the night is alive.

Gods and men, wights and ancestors, all together throughout an endless flame-flickering star-filled eternity, stretching right back to the beginning.

Be well, anon. That’s the only answer I have

Defunct German Car Brands: Trabant

Trabant was an East German car brand deeply rooted in the pre-war car industry of Saxony.

Before world war II, Saxony was one of the centers of the German car industry, featuring brands such as Wanderer, DKW, Horch, and Audi, which together formed the Auto Union. After the war, the production facilities were in ruins, and what was left was seized by the Russians. The carmakers had a difficult start, which was not eased by the fact that they were immediately socialized and directly controlled by the government. Many engineers went to West Germany, where they were either hired by Borgward, where they went on to produce the tiny Lloyd microcars. Others went to Ingolstadt, where DKW had a central warehouse for spare parts, to form a company independent of the East German roots. (That company later became Audi.)

The remaining engineers struggled to set up a production line for the pre-war models DKW F8 and DKW F9. Of the latter model, only prototypes had been built before the war, but it had never been put into in production in favor of war-related vehicles.

Others developed a stylish, expensive luxury sedan in the tradition of Audi and Horch, named Sachsenring P 240 featuring a 2400 cc straight-six engine.

However, both cars proved to be too expensive and unsuitable for mass motorization, which the government believed could only be achieved with a unified cheap small car. They ordered the engineers in Zwickau, Saxony, to develop a microcar using as much as possible existing pre-war technology. Bubble cars like in West Germany were deemed unsuitable from the very start; instead, a proper little car was aimed for.

The first result was ready in 1955, but it was not yet called Trabant, but AWZ P70. It was based on a shortened chassis of the 1939 DKW F8. It had the same water-cooled longitudinally mounted 700 cc two-cylinder two-stroke engine, which produced 22 hp. However, the water cooling was of a thermosiphon type and the placement of the radiator behind the engine instead of its usual place in the front caused the engine to overheat frequently. This triggered the development of an air-cooled variant of the engine used in the later Trabant.

The body was also a novelty: A wooden space frame was covered with a newly developed plastic made from recycled material. This material called Duroplast was a phenol resin reinforced with waste cotton fibers from Russia. The engineers had to come up with such an exotic and novel solution because high-quality sheet metal from Western Europe was embargoed, the Russian steel was unsuitable, and own East German steel production capacities were not yet existing. This emergency solution made the AWZ P70 the first car using recycled plastic. The roof was made from plywood covered in leatherette, as the Duroplast technology was not yet developed far enough to produce parts of that size.

The spartan equipment made the car unattractive. All windows were fixed, the trunk did not have a lid and had to be accessed by removing the backrest of the rear seat. These issues were later corrected.

A station wagon popular for its huge capacity and a coupe with all-steel body, which was internationally acclaimed for its sporty design, were added in 1956 and 1957, respectively.

The car turned out to be too costly in production and to be plagued with too many issues to be the basis for mass-motorization. Production was stopped in 1959. The experiences made with this car went into the development of the Trabant P50, which appeared in 1957.

Duroplast technology was improved, and a new 500 cc 18 hp air-cooled teo-cylinder two-stroke engine was developed to avoid trouble with the water cooling of the predecessor. The wooden space frame was replaced by a steel unibody. By the time the car made it to the market, it was among the most advanced microcars, providing relatively comfortable seating for four adults and a large trunk with a usable size of 415 liters (110 gal). This was enabled by a clever arrangement of a transversially-mounted engine and gearbox unit over the front axle, which required minimal space for the driving unit.

A station wagon was introduced shortly after the sedan.

In 1962, the engine was enlarged to 600 cc, resulting in an increas in power to 23 hp. The bodywork remained unchanged. The car was renamed to Trabant 600.

The last big change for a long time came in 1694, when a new body replaced the dated 1950s design for the model Trabant 601. The outer panels were still made from Duroplast, earning the car the nickname “Rennpappe” (”racing cardboard”).

The station wagon was also redesigned.

In this shape, the car was produced with only minimal changes and improvement for the next 26 years. Over the years, power outpot was increased from 23 to 26 hp. Design and technology, which were apart from the two-stroke engine still contemporary or even advanced by the time the model appeared, became more and more outdated, and although the car was reliable, it acquired a bad reputation and became an icon of the backwardness of the socialist economic model.

The engineers in Zwickau designed several potential replacements, experimented with Wankel engines, built prototypes, but all in vain. The political leaders personally stopped all plans, fearing unnecessary investments as the car was working well and the socialist citizen did not need luxury.

Despite all shortcomings, and weaknesses of the ageing construction, production never met the demand, and potential buers had to wait for up to 20 years to get a new car. It was common that parents signed a contract for a child right after it was born, expecting the car to be delivered well after its 18th birthday. This was mostly due to the cumbersome and slow production process of the Duroplast body panels.

In the late 1980s, East Germany acquired a license to produce engines for Volkswagen, who expected a cost advantage from the cheap production in East Germany. Part of the agreement was that a certain contingent of the engines produced would be for the local cars, Trabant and Wartburg. However, investments for the new production line exploded, so no money was left to develop a new body for the car. Using many makeshift solutions, the old body was adapted to accomodate the 1100 cc version of the new, much bigger four-cylinder four-stroke engine. The result was an excessively expensive small car with an outdated body that was probably even more unpopular than the original in its final years. In 1989, when the car was introduced, the peaceful revolution in East Germany and the reas of Eastern Europe was in full swing. Production started in 1990 and ended already on April 30, 1991, after only 12 months. With the financial, economic and social revolution in July 1990, western cars became affordable for the East Germans, and the Trabant had no chance for survival. Even price dumping, offering the car for only 6,000 DM (instead of 16,000 DM) did not help sales.

Many Trabant cars were abandoned after the owners had acquired a new western model. They created a major waste problem as the Duroplast was almost impossible to recycle.

Today, Volkswagen is present in Zwickau with a factory, and many suppliers are also producing there. However, they do not require as much workforce as the cumbersome and labor-intense production of the Trabant did, creating an unemployment problem in the region and a massive decrease in population.

Today, the car has achieved a kind of cult status. It has become a symbol of the German reunion, when tens of thousands of little Trabants were flooding into West Germany the days after the wall fell.

In East Asia, rice was used not just for food, but the grains could be made into candies or fermented to make vinegar or alcohol; the husks provided padding for clothes and pillows; the straw is made into hats, shoes, and construction material, or used as insulation in the winter months.

The uses of coconut trees in Polynesia were even more versatile: not only did the coconuts provide food, water, and oil, but hollowed-out coconuts were used as water-tight containers, tools, or musical instruments; the fibers covering its husk were made into ropes, mats, and baskets; the trees provided wood and the leaves were used for thatching, brooms, and baskets.

Today, we use petroleum to make plastics, fuel, fertilizer, and asphalt. The idea is the same: making use of (technically) naturally-occuring resources to produce goods that are useful to civilization. Our use of petroleum is ‘technology.’ The vast usefulness of different parts of a staple crop, however, is a quaint and rather stereotypical example of “scrappy natives making do with what they had.”

That is to say, in its modern usage, the idea of 'technology’ is something that began only in the industrial revolution. 'Technology’ is only chemistry labs and manufactories – yet it isn’t, since massive workshops existed everywhere from China to Inca millenia before the Industrial Revolution, and herbalists since the beginning of humanity have experimented with different plants to observe their effects in a manner not dissimilar to the study of chemistry.

Then it seems to me that 'Technology’ is first and foremost a term used to refer to the ingroup of the modern west, often as a justification for cruelty and racism. How did the Spanish kill and enslave millions of pre-Columbian Americans? 'Technology.’ How did Britain put entire sub-continents under their thumb for over a century? 'Technology.’ Why do we say Europe and America are the shining, brilliant makers of history while the rest of the world is full of unimportant backwards natives? 'Technology.’


A Grand Day Out

You’ll have to excuse the poor quality of the images, they were taken many years ago and dropped onto my old computer. These images are screenshots hence the lines and poor focus.

My wife, daughter and mother clubbed together to get me a balloon ride many moons ago, pre smartphone technology. I was using an old Canon point and shoot digital camera at the time.

The flight was fantastic, near silence, apart from the burner every now and again.
We took off from Trentham Gardens and the wind did the rest. I didn’t want to take photographs as the views were stunning but I managed to tear myself away and get off a couple of shots.
We flew for about 40 mins and came down in a field ( with the farmers permission previously attained we found out ), and we all did our bit to fold up the balloon and help load it and the basket onto a trailer. The land rover had been tracking us and wasn’t far away.
The people who run the balloons have a list of farms in the area where it is safe to land.

One scene I will always remember was silently drifting over a field and below us an owl was quartering. We watched as it zig zagged below us never aware of its audience above.
A fantastic birthday present, one that I would thoroughly recommend.

((I got two asks for the same thing, so here we go! Now, note: I did write something similar to this already. This link goes to a post I made about Sole’s spouse being made into a Courser, but that’s not quite the same thing as a synth, so I chose to write something new. But feel free to check out the previous post!))

Some time after Sole made it into the Institute, Father informed them of a… new project, that he had been working on. After creating the child synth version of himself, he’d sent agents to the surface, to recover some of his dead parent’s DNA. Using that, he managed to have a synth version of them created, memories intact and all.

Father insisted on having Sole and their companion present for the synth’s ‘awakening,’ when he otherwise refused to have Sole’s friends in the Institute at all. He wanted to show off, or so it seemed. Pressing a button, the intercom buzzed, and he sent for the synth. Soon, Sole’s spouse walked into the room, dressed in an Institute jumpsuit with a hesitant expression on their face. “Sole…” They synth took a slow step forward. “It’s really you?”

Cait: She had to physically bite her tongue, a sour expression on her face as she observed the meeting. She hated the Institute. Hated every damn bit of it. Hated the snobbish, educated voices of the scientists, the yellow eyes of the Gen 2s, the subservient words of the Gen 3s mopping the floors. She hated how fucking clean it was, how any speck of dirt or dust was cleaned away before you could spit. Were these people not human? To not have dirt or profanity or laziness - it was unnatural. As Sole’s spouse stepped into the room, she grit her teeth, her right hand curling into a white-knuckled fist. She couldn’t help the glower she gave Father, nor the rising anger heating her blood. How could anyone do this to someone? To their damn parent? Cait had no love lost for her own parents, but Sole… Sole deserved better. Better than Shaun, who just kept smiling and watching, observing the meeting without a word. If Sole weren’t here, if they didn’t need her… She’d show ‘Father’ just how they did it up in the Commonwealth, and wouldn’t stop until either she or he was dead.

Codsworth: Oh… Oh no. What? How could-? What-? Words failed the Mr. Handy, who only watched in stunned silence as Sole reached forward to greet their spouse. Their spouse who wasn’t their spouse, and yet… They had their memories, didn’t they? But they were a synth! They were made, in, in a- in a factory. Made by computers, by robots, by other synths. He saw the looks of want, of need, of desperation and uncertainty that passed over his employer’s face. What a conundrum. He could only imagine the suffering Sole must being enduring that moment, no doubt reliving all the traumas, the moments of their spouse’s death. He just- If only- A thousand wordless feelings plagued him, all crashing together in a storm of code and commands. The line between programming and genuine emotion blurred, and Codsworth trembled when the synth approached him. He couldn’t bring himself to say hello, and turned away when they met his eyes.

Curie: At first, she was overwhelmed by the cleanliness and advanced technology of the Institute. She knew all about technology Pre-War, and the Commonwealth as it was now lacked most modern luxuries. But the Institute… Why, it had everything! Everything and anything you could imagine. But her mood turned solemn as she remembered why she and Sole had come. Ah, yes, the synth. She observed them curiously as they emerged, taking in every aspect of their appearance. So this was the individual that Sole had married! Interesting. And so sad, too. Her sympathy soon drowned out her curiosity as she watched the tense, pained interactions between Sole and synth. A strange sense of guilt washed over her. She was a synth. The body she inhabited now had been made by the same man who created the person standing before them. Confusion and uncertainty made her stand off to the side, lingering in a corner with her hands clutched to her chest. For the first time, she questioned if in this case, science had gone too far.

Danse: Sole’s friend or not, the only chance of him entering the Institute would be after his exile from the Brotherhood. He tries not to look impressed when they enter the Institute, but on the inside, he in awe, in a grudging sort of way. Though that feeling leaves him when the scientists introduce themselves. Ah, the synth! they say, and their eyes run over him in a way that sends shivers down his spine. In the Brotherhood, he was reviled, but this…? This sensation of being… subhuman? At least Maxson valued him enough that his true identity warranted a violent reaction. But here, to these scientists, he wasn’t worth the air he breathed. He felt Father’s eyes on him as Sole’s spouse entered the room, the man’s clinical gaze gauging his reaction. He stared Father down, refusing to give him the satisfaction. Shaun soon averted his eyes. During Sole’s introduction to the… other, synth, Danse felt more uncomfortable than anything, standing awkwardly off to the side. The love in the other synth’s eyes, the pain emanating from Sole… how could he compete with that? What could he do?

Deacon: He took careful note of everything inside the Institute, mentally writing up a report for Des. His stomach twisted in knots at the sight of so many poor Gen 3s, forced into acting as virtual slaves for creators that threatened recall at any small misstep or act of disobedience. Stay calm, Deacon. Gotta stay cool. He gave Father a pleasant smile as they entered his office, leaning against the wall in the corner and staying out of the way. He played the part of faceless companion as Sole and the synth made their awkward introductions. Dull, aching pains pulsed in his chest as sorrow struck both Sole and their spouse. No witty comment rose to his lips, no glib remark designed to ease the tension. He couldn’t bring himself to touch such a sacred moment. No, instead he just lingered in the corner, watching Father from behind the dark lenses of his sunglasses. Sole would ask him for his opinion when it was safe to talk. What his opinion was, he honestly didn’t know. But in the meantime, he’d get as much information as he could. Fuck that Father guy, by the way. Total jerk.

Dogmeat: It smelled funny in here. Smelled wrong. After a lifetime growing up in the Commonwealth, where almost everything reeked, all the new smells bombarding his nostrils confused him. The Institute smelled like antiseptic, and chemicals, and laundry detergent. Of metal and oil, and fresh-cut grass. He didn’t like the strange, probing glances of the scientists. And when Sole went up to an office, and someone new entered the room, Sole got all tense and unhappy and upset. Dogmeat looked up with a whine, snuffling his nose into their hand. He didn’t like being ignored by everyone. Who were all these weird people? Why did everything smell funny? Why was Sole sad?

Hancock: He stuffed his hands into the pockets of his coat, giving the passing Institute scientists a toothy grin. They recoiled at the sight of his burned, peeling flesh and yellowed, half-rotted teeth. A sick, venomous pleasure burned up his spine, heating up the back of his neck as he took out his frustration on the nosy scientists. Maybe this wasn’t the best time to be picking fights, but he’d at least get a kick out of seeing them gag. Better to laugh than get angry. As Sole’s synth-spouse stepped into the room, he stood proud and strong at Sole’s side, offering his wordless presence as comfort. Father did not take to Hancock, but he ignored the old man’s narrow-eyed look, keeping a faint smirk on his lips as Sole met the synth. It was all real touching, that was for sure. But Hancock didn’t trust a lick of it. The only reason you’d made a thing like that, a synth like that, was if Father wanted to manipulate Sole. And he wasn’t gonna let that happen. Shaun can do and say and make whatever the fuck he wanted. John Hancock would take him on without hesitation, if push came to shove.

Nick Valentine: For once, Nick appreciated the wear and tear of his body, appreciated the battered coat and hat he wore out of modesty. It set him apart from the emotionless, full-bodied synths manning the service stations, with soulless eyes that made him shiver. All those years, loathing his differences… and now he treasured them. Dropping sharp, cutting comments whenever he could, he made sure to draw as much of a reaction as he dared. He wanted to see them squirm, as something - someone they’d discarded so easily, came back to haunt them. He stood aside, letting Sole face their spouse without a word. He waited for them to look to him, if they did, and then he’d cross his arms and offer a single nod. I’m here, said the nod. And I’m not going anywhere. Nick Valentine was a detective. He’d find out why Father was making this synth, he’d find out why he’d been made in the first place, and… he’d help Sole. Whether they needed him or not, he’d always be ready to lend a hand.

MacCready: The whole place creeped him the hell out. The weird slave synths, the ones with yellow eyes, all the scientists that… acted weird…? It send chills sparking across his skin. He wanted to leave as soon as he arrived. Hell, he didn’t even want to come here! But Sole needed him. Sole needed him. And say what you will about Robert Joseph MacCready - he might be an asshole, but he paid his debts, and he owed Sole a whole helluva lot. So much so he might never be able to pay it all back. Thus, he followed them into the Institute, and kept his trap shut under the curious gaze of the scientists and synths. And when Sole’s spouse came staggering into the office, and Sole looked like they were on the verge of goddamn tears… He kept his mouth shut then, too. What was he gonna say? He wanted to tell Sole, they’re not real! They’re not who you loved! But he kept quiet. He’d give them a piece of his mind afterwards. Instead, he just kept glaring at Father, and trying to avoid the gaze of the two people in front of him.

Piper: Teleporting into the Institute aroused all of her reporter’s instincts. A thousand questions bubbled up on her lips, and her fingers itched for her camera, her notepad and pencil. But they’d all been confiscated as soon as they arrived in the facility, and it drove her crazy. Everyone she passed, she had to resist the urge to lunge over and bombard them with questions. What’s with all the white? Do you guys not like dark colors? Why do you make the synths? Why haven’t you guys come up to the surface? Why kidnap people? Why not tell anyone who you are? Why not help people instead of ignoring them, instead of taking from them? But as soon as she and Sole entered that office, and the synth emerged, her brain fell silent. She could only stare in fascinated horror, in horrified fascination, as Sole and the synth greeted each other. Closing her mouth, she made sure Father wasn’t looking, and reached into her pocket for her concealed holotape recorder. She’d get something out of this, damn it.

Preston: Out of all the companions, out of everyone Sole could’ve brought, he was the only one to question the Institute. The only one not commanded by fear, or respect for Sole. He had respect for Sole, of course, but he also spoke for a small army, and worked to represent the interests of the Commonwealth. He stood by Sole as they greeted their dead(?) spouse, but the meeting only cemented his feelings about the Institute. They weren’t good people. Good people wouldn’t force such traumas on someone, wouldn’t make a good person like Sole suffer for no good reason. As soon as he had a moment, he squeezed Sole’s hand, patted them on the back and promised to talk about it when they had a moment. But he had to do his duty first. Taking Father aside, he raised his chin, calling on all the people he represented and the morals in his heart, and demanded answers. Come hell or high water, Preston Garvey wanted to do the right thing, but he’d at least give the Institute a chance to explain itself first. It wouldn’t be just, otherwise.

Strong: Something… tickled, in the back of his brain, when he and Sole teleported into the Institute. Mutants weren’t always in the Commonwealth, you know, weren’t made there Pre-War like in the Capital Wasteland. No, the Institute made the Commonwealth mutants, pumped them full of FEV virus and released them to watch their havoc from a safe distance. Sole may or may not have known this, and Strong had mostly forgotten, but something about re-entered the place of his rebirth triggered memories buried deep in his mutated conscious. He let Sole meet their spouse alone, not really understanding what it was all about. Instead, he wandered around the Institute under the watchful eyes of some Coursers. And for a moment, for a moment, he thought he recognized one of the scientists. An animal roar tore from his throat, and he lunged forward, clawing a thick hand at the person’s throat. It took four Coursers to subdue him, and Sole had to quickly convince Father not to have him killed on the spot.

X6-88: Father didn’t bother acknowledging him as he followed in behind Sole. He clasped his hands behind his back, taking his place beside the door, no different than a trained animal or piece of furniture. But no one had told him what exactly this meeting was about. So when the synth emerged from the other door of the office, and he realized who they were, who they represent, he fights to keep his expression neutral. A synth? But… It conflicts with everything he’s been trained to think. Why make a synth a… a person? Why make them human? Everything Father has ever said affirms the idea that synths are not human, that they are anything but. But then why make a synth like this one? What makes them different from the ones sweeping the floors, or the Coursers like himself that serve as mindless security. He doesn’t understand, and it frustrates him, but he doesn’t let it show. Can’t let it show, not until he’s sure he’s safe to do so.

Palatine Blades

Warcry: “For Honor! For Victory! For Redemption!”

Founding: 41st Millenium (Possible part of the Ultima Founding)

Successor of: Emperor’s Children

Number: Over 1000 (at the time of founding)

Primarch: Fulgrim

Chapter Master: Prince Raphael Carion

Homeworld: Chemos System as a Spiritual Center. Fleet based Chapter centered on the Phoenix Roost.

Allegiance: Imperium of Man.

Colors: Amethyst and Platinum.

“Our enemies have given us a warm welcome, brothers! Let’s repay them in kind!”
- Palatine Blade Champion Jidaar, at the Battle of Bescore.

The Palatine Blades is an unknown founding Space Marine Chapter derived from a lost company of Emperor’s Children. Their origins can be traced back to the time of the Great Crusade. They are a newly founded Chapter, but possess weapons and technology that predate the Horus Heresy with the knowledge how to maintain and create more due to the diligence of their Tech-Marines. They are not a Codex Astartes-compliant Chapter, though they follow the structure of the Chapter they maintain a culture that is not the norm amongst most Astartes Chapters.

During the Great Crusade, Fulgrim, who was already under the influence of the Laer Sword, had sent his Fourth Company under Lord Commander Raphael Carion away to fight the Xenos species known as the Water Dogs. Though they accepted their Primarch’s request, they did they know of the vanity and depravity that was slowly consuming their Legion. Within transit in the Warp, the Fleet’s navigators fell into a deep trans and soon became trapped. Though it may have seemed that a few months had passed, in reality over ten-thousands years had passed in real-space. When they had reemergence, the Astartes knew little of the Great Treachery and millennia that had followed. Now they fight for the Emperor as they did during the Crusade, aiming to rekindle the Emperor’s vision for humanity and finding redemption in the eyes of greater Imperium.

The Astartes of the Palatine Blades are known primarily for their skills with a highly skilled in bladed weapons (namely their signature Charnable Sabers) and hand-to-hand combat, though they more than adept with ranged weapons as well. As a benefit of being from another time, they have a plethora of technology that pre-dates the Horus Heresy and fortunate to have Tech-Marines that have the know how to maintain, repair and replace any damaged equipment. These include full suits of Mark IV Maximus Armor, Charnable Sabers, Barrage Plasma Guns, and many other artifacts thought to be lost to history. All of their equipment is decorated in the way that only an Astartes from the Emperor’s Children knows how being beautiful master pieces yet no less dangerous. Their beliefs resemble closely of their Emperor’s Children - the pursuit of martial perfection and the acquiring of art - but learning of their Legion’s fate at the hands of Chaos they have adopted a more simple, subtle, and unobtrusive belief.

Though the Palatine Blades are structured in the style of standard Astartes Chapter, they are very opinionated when it comes to matters outside their own Chapter. They found it ridiculous that nearly every created Chapter was following the Codex Astartes as if it was holy scripture, were vocal about the inclusion of Chaplains who preached the Imperial Creed amongst their ranks, and recently have been openly hostile against the inclusion of Primaris Space Marines. Their defiance of the decree had escalated to the point where Inquisitorial intervention would be necessary to sanctify the matter, however, Prince Raphael Carion agreed to go through the procedures before any actions could take place. Most of his Astartes followed suit out of solidarity with their Prince who had led them so far. The only Astartes who had refused the transformation into Primaris is the Chapter’s Champion, Jidaar Ecaz.

The Palatine Blades heraldry consist of two platinum blades - Charnable Sabers - on an amethyst field. However, the iconography of their past can still be found within their Fortress Monastery and tattooed onto the Astartes themselves. This has drawn the Eire and superstition of other Chapters, such as the Iron Hands, however, those who have fought at their sides state that there are no more loyal a Chapter than the Palatine Blades.

Tags: @a-40k-author, @fuukonomiko, @crysdrawsthings, @neshtasplace, @sisterofsilence, @melody-chii, @possiblyhereticalultramarine, @mrsdorn, @flunkyofmalcador.

Companions react to Sole finding a working piano and knowing how to play

Pianos are just about the only instrument I know anything about, so this was fun. Very, very minor spoilers for the main quest regarding Classical Radio, but if you already have X6, then you probably know what’s what anyway.  -Moss

CAIT- Cait acts like she doesn’t care much for music, but she secretly enjoys listening to the radio on her off hours. She’s more of a Diamond City type than a Classical type, but mostly she just likes the noise. She thinks Sole is wasting time when they say they want to play, but finds herself getting dragged into the rhythm anyway. By the end, Cait is swaying along with the tune. 

CODSWORTH- Sole didn’t have a piano in Sanctuary, so Codsworth might not know that Sole can play. He’s programmed with an appreciation for music, but after 200 years alone in the Commonwealth, hearing someone familiar play something pre-war is comforting. He tells Sole that they play beautifully and that they should see about getting the piano back to their home base. It would be nice to have music that isn’t coming out of a speaker for a change. 

CURIE- Music was always something that came out of a speaker for Curie- logically she knew that there must have been people playing it at some point, but she had never experienced music like this before. Curie finds herself humming along to whatever Sole plays. As a Nurse Handy she always loved music, but she never knew how much of an emotional experience it could be. Sole stops when she starts crying, but Curie pushes them to continue, saying that they’re tears of happiness. 

DANSE- “Why bother? It’s just an old piece of junk. The Brotherhood has far better examples of pre-war musical technology.” But Danse can’t faze Sole, who sits down, cracks their knuckles, and starts playing. Danse doesn’t know anyone who can play a musical instrument, so the fact that Sole is making this ‘piece of junk’ sing like that surprises him. After they finish, Danse admits that he may have been wrong before, and asks Sole if they know how to play anything else. 

DEACON- Deacon knows the Classical radio station is owned by the Institute, but that doesn’t stop him from enjoying the old-world music. He’s curious when he sees the piano and muses about what it must have been like to listen to music live back in the day. Sole offers to play him something, and even though he’s concerned about the noise drawing unwanted attention, he’s not about to pass the offer up. He’s never been the type to hold back compliments, so when Sole finishes the song, he lets them know just how great it was. 

DOGMEAT- Because Dogmeat is so attentive to Sole, he would be able to tell that playing the piano is something they enjoy, and he would want to enjoy it with them. Sometimes he might try to join in with some musical stylings of his own. Howling is cute, but it doesn’t really go with Beethoven. 

HANCOCK- Hancock’s seen pianos before but never heard anyone play them. Usually they got scrapped for parts before anyone had the chance. When he hears Sole playing, he’s wide-eyed and appreciative. If they stop, he encourages them to keep playing. On his own time, he might try the thing out for himself, which is how Sole discovers that he has an ear for music. If they push him hard enough, he might even sing something while Sole plays. 

MACCREADY- At first, MacCready secretly thinks that he’d rather pull the piano apart and sell the ivory keys and steel wire for a nice profit. But then Sole sits down and starts playing, and MacCready is sure he’s never heard anything quite like it before. It shuts him up for once and he sits next to them to listen and watch their hands move across the keys. When they finish, he says, “Wow, I didn’t know anyone actually knew how to play these things anymore,” and forgets that he ever wanted to sell it in the first place. 

NICK- Pre-war Nick took lessons as a kid, but all his Commonwealth counterpart can play is a moving rendition of the Jaws theme. It’s nice to see that the art wasn’t completely lost to the war. He asks if Sole can play “anything but what I’ve been hearing on those radio stations for the past century” and settles in as Sole performs, listening with a little smile on his face. 

PIPER- Piper’s vocally excited when she sees the piano. It’s a miracle that it could have survived for so long in the condition that it’s in, and she’s probably the first one to test it out. At first she doesn’t believe Sole when they say they can play, so she convinces them to play something for her. She applauds at the end of the song, happy to be proven wrong. 

PRESTON- Preston recognises the piano from the old comics and advertisements, but he’d never connected the sound to the instrument. He’s not sure what he expects when Sole hits that first key, but he certainly doesn’t expect them to be able to play. He’s impressed that Sole could learn how to do something that looks so complicated. He’s never had any particular skill in music, so he’s also a little jealous, but as long as Sole enjoys playing, he enjoys listening. 

STRONG- Music is just one more thing Strong doesn’t see a need for. Rex tried to teach him why humans find music important, but he claims it doesn’t calm him in the same way that it calms and comforts humans. Still, when Sole starts playing, he stays quiet. 

X6- The Institute owns the Classical Radio station, so X6 is programmed with an appreciation for music. It’s not something he gets to take part in though- coursers fight and retrieve, they don’t listen to music. Still, he knows talent when he hears it, and he tells Sole that they should speak to Father about making a real piano to play on, not this antiquated, keyless pre-war scrap heap.

Radiohead’s new Man of War video speaks to me very deeply

Radiohead have always had an odd relationship to vehicles. Most vehicles are modern, and so they don’t sit in essential categories. Walking, running, maybe swimming, are essential categories because you don’t need anything to do them, just your human body. You need to be at a point in history where the vehicle in question has been created, however, to drive, to ride a train, even to ride a bike. This is important to Radiohead because OK Computer, which “Man of War” was left off of originally, defined an era because it felt (and I can’t quite know this, but it felt) like computer-dominance and technological paranoia stopped being categories and started being what most modern people were feeling at all times. So crashing in one machine (a car), and being saved by another (a seatbelt), became something weird because it felt like man being bounced around by machines had become an essential category.

And yet, not quite, because the pre-requisite for dystopian-technological-urban fictions, like OK Computer, is that the knowledge lingers that we have done this to ourselves. So it’s an album made in an age of transition, and things like neon signs and trains and cars hover around the lyrics. Essentially, Radiohead are not nearly being as simple as saying “break away from trains because they put you on tracks, man, be individual and fuck the machine”, it’s more like “this technology makes me feel just a little more emotionally disconnected”. Radiohead tend to use bleeps and bloops and tech sounds in their songs not as enemies to the narrator, but as proxies for human emotional disconnection. In a rough sense technology is impersonal and inhuman, but that’s more a symptom of increasing inhumanity post 1995 as Thom Yorke may have seen it. Man vs the Machine, much like Man vs Fascism, tellingly, is not entirely black and white across Radiohead.

So what happens in the Man of War video? A man walks around some London looking streets, and as the scene flips from day to night he gets chased by a group of people to some train tracks, where he collapses, then gets up when they catch up to him, and ambiguously continues walking along the train tracks with them. Is this a basic “fall in line or be hunted down by the Karma Police” sort of narrative? To me it’s more about paranoia and the ambiguity of paranoia. As good as any Radiohead song from the OKC era it makes the point that paranoia very often means being scared of nothing. Before the threat is overt this is communicated brilliantly because we have no idea what’s going on, and neither does the man. We are all a little bit more scared walking at night, but not for any good reason. Then he reaches the point of highest panic, as we all do, in a rhythmic kind of way, and then he, and us, sort of have to move on. Are they taking him down the line to kill him? In a fatalist sense, yes, but isn’t he more happy and less panicked for not running? The video poses the question of whether technological paranoia is all in our heads or not, or whether this is not technology’s fault, but yours, whether or not your contrarianism is genuine or paranoid. 

I think that’s why Radiohead were never really punk, and why their personal commentary feels like social commentary, and why that social commentary doesn’t tire. It’s never as simple as “watch your back”, even on Hail to the Thief. The overtly punk songs like 2+2=5 get gaslighted by the calmer songs on the same album, as if it can never be all that bad. There’s a question of excess and overreaction, there’s a dampening of the punkness. Why it speaks to me, and the rest of this is all a personal point, is because I often feel that kind of flitting from the day feeling to the night feeling, as portrayed in the video, and I often feel like I don’t want to be told to calm down, or be told that my morning commute doesn’t mean anything because everyone has a morning commute. No one, me included, likes to have their personal narrative taken away from them. In the opening shot the man is calmly writing a crossword, then in the night shot of the same thing, it’s like he’s figuring out a code, like he knows that everyone is coming to get him, like he knows that the events of his life have transpired to have people chase him.

I never feel like anyone is ever coming to get me. I feel pretty calm all the time. But looking out the window coming into Victoria Station every morning, and seeing all the other tracks that all meet up at the Station, while listening to OK Computer, I often felt like there was some way in which trains did and didn’t speak to the lyrics and to the experience of the album, like it would make sense that it would all come together on the train tracks, with the vague threat of a train running you over from behind, the vague idea of everyone being cattle-carted to work, while knowing full well that none of that was true, that it was just a bunch of people going to work. There’s a kind of flitting effect created by that sort of self narrative, like the flitting between day and night in the video- paranoia, simple narratives of totalitarianism and resistance in daily life and being chased, are all weighed against their realities: the relative safety of modern life, the truth of choosing a career which imprisons you, the seeing of shadows. For me those oppositions, which may have to eventually be thrown away as childish things, or perhaps not, are all at the heart of OKC. 

Being told to calm down is more scary, more ambiguous and more enduring than a resistance narrative. Walking along in the day, feeling like you’re walking at night, wondering if any of it is real, but not being affected strongly enough to point out a problem, and not having enough potency to attack a vague idea. I do think I’m right about this, but maybe I don’t quite have the words to describe the OKC feeling. It’s not sleepwalking or daydreaming, but it’s like waking up into an imperfect future, but it being half your fault and half not-so-bad, and therefore being unable to do anything about it. There are no matrix-pods to smash, because it’s real life, but you might just get hit by a car, and then saved by the machine in that car, and then realise that we have all come too far, but also that there is no sense in going back, that something weird is happening and a huge price has been paid, the glimpsed sense that an enormous eternal category has been shifted, that life itself as a human has changed, but only really being able to gesture at how you feel, to feel more disconnected without gaining potency. That’s not how you have to feel about modern life to enjoy or to agree with the album, it’s not what anyone but silly people fully believe, but it’s the glimpsed sense that the album arises from, and I think that’s where Vaporwave as a genre comes from as well. Vaporwave is so distant and weird and posits so many alternate realities because there was always a sense garnered from Windows 98/ME, and from old graphic design programs, and from Muzac, that new and whole utopian realities for humans, like the ideal of the modern technological utopia which we are notionally moving towards, had been created too inhumanly. 

I like the Man of War video so much because 20 years after the album release it seems to match my feelings about listening to the album while staring out of a train window, the same train window as hundreds of times before, and knowing that other people both do and don’t get it, that you are and aren’t special, that maybe falling into line is pretty good, that there’s something weird and non-essential about iron lines being welded into the ground which carriages of people pass over, but then you share that idea and someone either entertains it or laughs at you, and then you move on again. 

You know if you subscribe to any kind of ‘troll computers are brains / brainlike / compatible with troll brains’ ideology, you could probably see chucklevoodoos as having applications almost similar to automatic administrator privileges, even just from what we’ve seen in canon; the ability to read and exploit weaknesses, spawn in items and remotely override and puppet the system are all pretty examples.

Basically what I’m saying is, chucklevoodoo users are basically biotech hackers and I’m ashamed the idea didn’t come to me sooner.

YA Reads with POC-Centric Romances

A compilation of YA books that feature interracial POC/POC romances:

A Moment Comes by Jennifer Bradbury - As the partition of India nears in 1947 bringing violence even to Jalandhar, Tariq, a Muslim, finds himself caught between his forbidden interest in Anupreet, a Sikh girl, and Margaret, a British girl whose affection for him might help with his dream of studying at Oxford.

A Time To Dance by Padma Venkatraman - Veda, a classical dance prodigy in India, lives and breathes dance—so when an accident leaves her a below-knee amputee, her dreams are shattered. But Veda refuses to let her disability rob her of her dreams, and she starts all over again, with a prosthetic leg. Then Veda meets Govinda, a young man who approaches dance as a spiritual pursuit. As their relationship deepens, Veda reconnects with the world around her, and begins to discover who she is and what dance truly means to her.

Alpha Goddess by Amalie Howard - A retelling of Ramayana, the epic Indian love story of Rama and Sita. Sera is Lakshmi reborn, a human avatar of the immortal Indian goddess. Marked by the, magic symbols of both heaven and hell, Sera’s avatar is meant to bring balance to the mortal world. Torn between her present life and her previous incarnation as Sita — the wife of an Indian god — Sera is the key to an epic battle between good and evil.

Angel De La Luna and the 5th Glorious Mystery by Evalina Galang - As a baby in her mother’s womb, as a schoolgirl in Manilla, and as a reluctant immigrant to Chicago at age sixteen, Angel burns with a desire to be an activist, but learning truths about her mother and grandmother help her find peace.

Aristotle and Dante Discover The Secrets Of The Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz - Fifteen-year-old Ari Mendoza is an angry loner with a brother in prison, but when he meets Dante Quintana and they become friends, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.

The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler - Jude Hernandez has learned a lot from her older sisters, but the most important thing is this: The Vargas brothers are notorious heartbreakers. But as Jude begins to fall for Emilio Vargas, she begins to wonder if her sisters were wrong. 

Drift by M.K. Hutchins - Tenjat lives on the shores of Hell, an ocean filled with ravenous naga monsters. His island, a massive Turtle, is slowed by the people living on its back. Against his sister’s wishes, Tenjat joins the Handlers. And just in time: the Handlers are ramping up for a dangerous battle against the naga monsters. As the naga battle approaches, Tenjat’s training intensifies, but a long-hidden family secret—not to mention his own growing feelings for Avi—put his plans in jeopardy, and might threaten the very survival of his island.

Dualed by Elsie Chapman - West Grayer lives in a world where every person has a twin, or Alt. Only one can survive to adulthood, and West has just received her notice to kill her Alt. But then a tragic misstep leaves West questioning: Is she the best version of herself, the version worthy of a future? 

Fake ID by Lamar Giles - African-American teen Nick Pearson, under the Witness Protection Program moves to a new town and finds himself trying to solve a murder mystery when his first friend, Eli Cruz, is found dead, with the help of Eli’s sister, Reya. 

Girl Overboard by Justina Chen - After a snowboarding accident, Syrah Cheng, a billionaire’s daughter, must rehabilitate both her knee and her self-esteem while forging relationships with those who accept her for who she is.

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Defunct German Car Brands: DKW

DKW was a brand that was founded in Chemnitz, Saxony, in 1904. The original plan to develop steam cars (Dampfkraftwagen) never materialized.

Instead, they mass-produced a toy engine developed by Hugo Ruppe, a brilliant engineer with no sense for business. DKW developed a successful advertising campaign, naming the engine “Des Knaben Wunsch” (”The Boy’s Desire”). It was a hit-seller.

Simultaneously, they developed, enlarged and improved the little two-stroke engine to make it suitable to be mounted on a bicycle as an auxiliary engine. The DKW marketing experts worked out a catchy slogan utilizing the three letters DKW once again: “DKW, das kleine Wunder, / fährt bergauf wie andere runter” (”DKW, the little wonder, drives uphill like others do downhill”). The engine became another success.

Encouraged, the company started to develop proper motorcycles, which, with good help from the marketing department, sold well. The model RT 125 was particularly successful and was copied worldwide by other manufacturers. It is still today the motorcycle with the highest production numbers.

As the demand shifted more and more from motorcycles to cars, the company began to develop small, light-bodied cars, which could be powered by the enhanced two-stroke motorcycle engines. The resulting F1, first introduced in 1930, became the first mass-produced car with front wheel drive. From there, a straight line of development began until after world war II. In 1932, DKW merged with Wanderer, Audi, and Horch, all in financial struggles from the world economic crisis, to form the Auto Union group, symbolized by the four rings.

When Germany was divided, many engineers from the Saxony-based Auto Union went to West Germany. Some were hired by Borgward, where they developed the superminis under the Lloyd brand, which were stunningly similar to the East German Trabant. Others formed a new West German Auto Union company based on the central spare parts depot in Ingolstadt, Bavaria. Full production was started in a former arms factory in Düsseldorf.

The first model called F89 Meisterklasse was entirely based on pre-war technology. The bodywork was from a never mass-produced 1940 prototype called F9. The frame, drivetrain, and suspension came from the tried-and-tested F8. It featured a transversally mounted water-cooled two-cylinder two-stroke engine driving the front wheels. Performance was meagre as the heavy bodywork was designed to be propelled by a more powerful three-cylinder engine.

The upgrade to a longitudinally-mounted three-cylinder engine finally came in 1953 with the F91 Sonderklasse, using more or less the same body, but the more advanced frame and suspension of the dropped F9 project. To boost sales, the DKW marketing department sprang into action. They changed the name from “F91 Sonderklasse” to “3=6″, claiming that the three-cylinder two-stroke engine would run as smooth as a six-cylinder four-stroke engine. This claim was hammered into the carbuyer’s brain in a massive year-long advertising campaign, so it was still present in the collective memory decades after the brand (and two-stroke engines) had disappeared from the West German market.

In 1955, the bodywork was slightly revised and the engine enlarged. The car was now marketed as “Der große DKW 3=6″ (”The big DKW 3=6″) with the internal model number F93. However, it became more and more obvious that the car with its pre-war design and smoky two-stroke engine was dated. Against all ad campaigns, the car did not sell well, and Auto Union was unable to generate enough financial resources to develop a new model. In 1958, Daimler-Benz acquired the company and marketed the car as Auto Union 900 (F94).

As a first measure to improve the car, the engine was enlarged once again to 1000 cc, the old body received a stylish panoramic windshield and abendoned the former suicide doors, the interior design was upgraded to match contemporary Mercedes-Benz standards, and rigorous quality control improved reliability. To improve the horrible emissions mainly caused by the need to mix the oil with the fuel, which was then left unburned and part of the exhaust gases, the cars received a separate oil tank with a dosage pump that mixed the oil with the fuel directly in the carburetor. This measure reduced oil consumption significantly, improving the emissions to some degree. The car was now sold as Auto Union 1000, but sales continued to drop. In 1960, not many people wanted to buy a new car that looked as if it was from the 1930s.

Around the same time, a rakish variants of the Auto Union 1000, a coupe and convertible in Baby-Ford-Thunderbird style were introduced. They were desirable cars screaming “Rock’nRoll” from every angle. But instead of having a powerful V8, it suffered from the dated two-stroke engine.

In 1959, the long-awaited new body was available, but first only with the low-power 750 cc engines. It was called DKW Junior. Once again, a heavy ad campaign promoting the contemporary aspects of the car helped boosting sales. However, the new oil-mixing apparatus proved to be unreliable. Especially in the winter, when the oil became thick, the engine was starved from lubrication, resulting in piston seizure. Expensive repairs on warranty further the reputation of the brand.

When the Auto Union 1000 with its pre-war body was finally discontinued in 1963, the new (slightly revised) body received the stonger 1000 cc engine and was called F11 and F12 for two levels of trim. The fact that these small cars were of Mercedes-Benz-like build quality, which was heavily advertised, certainly helped sales, but the outdated drivetrain technology meant that they were not a big success.

The final model, a mid-sized sedan called F102 was introduced in 1964. The old-fasioned frame-and-body construction was finally replaced by a contemporary unibody construction. But it still featured a three-cylinder two-stroke engine with a capacity of 1200 cc producing 60 hp. A 1300 cc two-stroke V6 engine with 80 hp was available on special request, but rarely ordered. Both engines were noted for their excessive fuel consumption and smelly exhaust. DKW tried to counteract the fuel consumption by installing additional springs onto the accelerator pedal, making it heavier to push down (a measure later copied by the East German carmakers Trabant and Wartburg). All advertising did no longer help; the time for two-stroke engines was over, and despite the fashionable, sleek design and exceptional build quality, the cars were almost impossible to sell. Production was discontinued by the end of 1965, less than two years after the model was introduced.

Auto Union was sold to the Volkswagen Group in 1964, who installed a four-cylinder four-stroke engine developed by Mercedes-Benz, which required slight alterations to the front of the car. To get rid of the old-fashioned image, the DKW brand was dropped, and the revised car was marketed from 1966 on as Audi 60, Audi 72, and Audi 75, depending on the power output of the engine. It became a good success and was the start of today’s successful upmarket Audi brand.

DKW had a small delivery van (Schnellaster) in its portfolio, which was also available as a mini van. Initially, it was powered by a 2-cylinder two-stroke engine producing 20 hp, allowing for a top speed of 60 km/h (37 mph). Power was upgraded over the years, and finally the van received the 900 cc 32 hp three-cylinder two-stroke engine for 80 km/h (50 mph). The improved chassis of the DKW delivery van, which had been the basis of the Mercedes-Benz MB100, is still in production in China, providing the underpinnings of the SAIC Istana.

Net neutrality

Here’s the body of the email I sent in complaint against ISPs’ attempts to dismantle the neutrality protections currently set in place. This issue that might not seem important now, but over the course of the next decade will be instrumental in dictating how we engage with a *very* important aspect of our lives. 

Please be aware of what is going on with it, and speak up to fight it.

An internet connection should be officially deemed a utility because it has become a requirement in our modern world, as ubiquitous and necessary as electricity and heat (oil/gas/etc.).  Yes, we ‘can’ live without the internet, but so too 'can’ we live without electricity and heat from a provider… *if* we wish to return to the pre-industrial era for our lifestyles. Similarly, to do without an internet connection in this day and age is to be forced to live in the pre-technological era, a highly unfeasible situation.

So much of life has become dependent on a stable, permanent internet connection that it is almost impossible to function, anymore, without one. We must have one to find and perform our jobs/careers, to manage our healthcare and salaries and investments, to interface with our and our children’s teachers/professors. And this dependence on the internet will only be increasing and deepening with time.

I am concerned not only at the increased expense that will trickle down to consumers if internet-based companies are charged more for reasonable speeds, but also the future, when ISPs decide to throttle amounts of data transfers in addition to speeds, because there is no doubt this too will become an issue of contention in near years to come.

To force us to be at the mercy of whatever rates the provider chooses, without alternative, will result in the populace being gouged and extorted into paying exorbitant fees without recourse. This is why electric and fuel companies are regulated: to prevent these abuses. We need the same limitations on ISPs for the same reason.

Anonymous asked you:

Do you have any tips about creating an education system in a fantasy world? 3 of my characters are from entirely different regions and they’re childhood friends. I don’t know where to begin with creating some sort of school for them to meet.

Education is present in every culture in one way or another, but not all settings have formal schools or places for learning. When creating a new world, you’ll want to think about how your character receive their education.


Your characters come from different places, but you seem like you want them to meet up at a single school. Schools that bring people who live in different regions are often boarding schools, universities, or specialty schools.

Home School:

If your setting is in an area that does not have a lot of children, your characters will probably be home schooled. This does not have to be throughout a person’s entire education. In Harry Potter, many witches and wizards are home schooled until they are old enough to go to Hogwarts. Some attend muggle schools.

If your characters are home schools, what they learn will come from parents, guardians, older siblings, other family members, or private tutors. Think about what is important to your character’s family, as this will affect what they learn.

Local School:

Local schools can be public or private. Private schools often allow students who live farther away, such as in another town or county, while public schools might only allow students who hold residence in a certain area.

Private schools are not supported by the government, but through tuition and donation. If you decide to create a private school, you can have more reasons for why it is private. Is it affiliated with a religion? Are certain subjects (like magic) taught there? Are certain subjects banned (like magic)?

You’ll need to place your local school somewhere. It could be a single room in a religious building, a building on its own, or even a sunken and room with an open ceiling in a dry climate where rain would rarely come down upon them. This school doesn’t even need to be within the confines of a building or a room. It can be as simple as a tent or as a seating area around a big tree. Think about what is important to the people you are writing.

Boarding School:

Boarding schools are convenient for writers. They’re able to bring far away characters together for long periods of time while also fulfilling education for teen characters.

If you are writing a boarding school, you’ll need a reason for why people travel far to go to this school. Is it famous? Is it prestigious? Is it the only school for 200 miles? Is it the only school that teaches a certain subject? Is it a traditional for many generations in a family to attend this school?

The setting is up to you. You can place it in or near a city for convenience or you can isolate the school for various reasons. There could be a history to its placement, if you can come up with this history. Perhaps it used to be a fort in an important war or maybe, in a world with magic, the first magic users could have settled in that spot.

The appearance of the boarding school is important. Draw out a basic map of the school and its grounds. Do the students have a large campus to roam? Are there various buildings that are spread out? Or is everyone in one place? What is the climate? What landmarks are present? If you need a forest for any reason, put a forest nearby. If you need water, place the school near an ocean, a lake, a pond, or a river.

Since going to boarding school involves traveling, you’ll need to come up with ways for students to get there. In a fantasy or sci-fi world, you can do pretty much anything.

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