The Tower in the Mist: Review

This is a review of The Tower in the Mist (Minstrels of Skaythe Book 1) by Deby Fredericks.

On one level, this is an exciting fantasy adventure story. But I found it significantly more than that.

Keilos, a mage and minstrel, understands that to survive he must “know the enemy.” In spite of being insulted and punched and injured by the group of female guards who capture him, and in spite of facing a very likely death, he doesn’t fight them. Instead, the song mage practices non-violent resistance–and finds it very, very difficult. But as a result, the seemingly “nameless thug guards” begin to reveal themselves as what they really are, people.

Author Deby Fredericks avoids the stereotype of the “all noble” hero, and shows instead a frightened man struggling both against his circumstances and himself. But his goal, and that of the members of his minstrel troupe which had separated for their mutual protection, is not just for them to escape the oppression of an overwhelming, hope-destroying society. It is for the people of the society themselves to escape–one person and one small group at a time.

This tale follows one small group, Keilos and his seven captors Zathi and her squad of Jaxynne, Razzeet, Keerin, Giniver, Sethamis, and Thersa. The book moves through eerie foreshadowing, a grippingly-detailed battle scene between the squad and a deadly towering and overpowering creature, a chance at escape, the dragon that’s not a dragon, the impending and awakening threat of death, the chilling discoveries in the tower itself and more. All these make for a gripping read. I had intended to glance at the first page or two, then go back and read it later. But I didn’t want to put it down, so read it all the way through in one sitting.

But there’s something deeper here. Too many people have a tendency in fiction and, tragically, in real life, of characterizing the people of a particular group as “bad guys.” It could be a nation, a political party, a religious group, an ethnicity, a sexual orientation. But in real life, the group that’s seen by its enemies as evil may include a loving parent, a kind animal caregiver, and a very good neighbor. And that’s even if members of that group do indeed abuse and torture and even deliver innocent people to their deaths. This story faces that head on. In real life, wars and battles have been fought–and lost–because people did not understand this principle: seeing people as monsters too often leads to failure and unnecessary tragedy. It is a critical principle that the prisoner Keilos well understands, as obviously does the author of this tale.

So for all the initial impression of the “nameless bad guy” guards, after a short while we begin to learn about and understand and feel for Zathi and Jaxynne, Razzeet, Keerin, Giniver, Sethamis, and Thersa. We learn that Keilos and his fellow minstrels and listeners are not the only victims; the oppressors are themselves oppressed.

The title The Tower in the Mist is both accurate and misleading; it is no ordinary tower and no ordinary mist. While this is an adventure story, like a well-written mystery, Fredericks foreshadows the story’s events and climax with a number of clues that both guide and misdirect the reader. (One small hint: look for the circles.)

On a blog, Fredericks wrote that she had reversed the genders of what she originally planned for her main characters; the prisoner became a man instead of a woman, and the guards became women instead of men. She said the story became much richer because of it.

This richly-written fantasy tale is worth reading as an adventure alone. But deeper than that, it can help open the mind to see the “bad guys” in real life as what they really are: people.

By Deby Fredericks (Author), Tithi Luadthong (Illustrator)

An opinion of an individual member of The Loveshade Family does not necessarily reflect the views of the whole family.

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Loveshade Sockpuppet Purge

We are very sorry and want to apologize to all those targeted in The Loveshade Sockpuppet Purge on Fandom/Wikia and other websites. We don’t know how many people have been blocked from editing two versions of Uncyclopedia and other websites. We don’t know how many are now being targeted for a system-wide ban from Fandom/Wikia and other hosts (as of right now the number keeps increasing), but we sincerely apologize to all of you. We never intended anyone else to get targeted because of us.

We are going to be very frank about how this likely got going.

1) We write controversial stuff. We openly challenge social norms that we believe mistakenly assert that late 2oth century and early 21st century American and closely-related social standards are the only acceptable standards for human beings. We reject the notion that the majority of societies throughout human history were “evil” because they didn’t fit the way “we all know” things should be done. We frequently recall this observation of Lazarus Long (allegedly Robert Heinlein): “If ‘everybody knows’ such-and-such, then it ain’t so, by at least ten thousand to one.”

2) We admit we were investigated by local, state, and federal authorities shortly after 11 September 2001. There were a number of searches and seizures in various parts of the United States and possibly other countries. It involved at least a dozen agencies including the American Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), reportedly the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and possibly Homeland Security (we haven’t verified the latter). Several people were questioned, and at least three people were arrested. After a period of years, according to a signed statement from the FBI, all seized material in their possession was returned. No one was convicted, except for one person who was convicted on a possession of marijuana charge which was apparently incidental to the main investigation (the marijuana, which was seized by a local agency and not given to the FBI, was not returned).

3) Some of us were involved in an admittedly unwise trolling/infiltration/sockpuppet exercise that successfully infiltrated and, for a short while at least, fooled members of a group known for trolling/computer hacking/harassment. That was years ago, but they’ve been going after us ever since. Advice: don’t try to out-master the masters.

4) An associate of The Loveshade Family started editing a wiki at Fandom, then called Wikia, and a friend applied to adopt it. An administrator who had made very few edits and who hadn’t edited that site in a long time came back. They made repeated demands that violated Fandom policy. Fandom approved the adoption, and the administrative status of the troublesome editor was removed. In addition, Fandom, by their standard policy, removed the admin status of the site’s inactive founder who hadn’t edited in years.  That got mistakenly blamed on the adopter, which got the site targeted by over a dozen people who vandalized and threatened people both there and on other websites, and got people associated with the Fandom wiki blocked from other sites and groups. After years, members of that group are still going after The Loveshade Family and its associates.

5) We have filed cease and desist orders, DMCA take down orders, and even a couple of restraining orders because of various violations and threats against us including death threats.

We accept full responsibility for our own actions. Again, we are very sorry to the innocent people who have been hurt by all of this.

We also understand that, while some people behind this almost certainly know what they’re doing, others may be sincere but misinformed.

To all these people, we ask, no we plead, that those who are spreading rumors and reports and slander and libel and blocking actions against a number of people they claim are us to stop and think if maybe, just maybe, somebody they’re hurting may be an innocent, and even underage, victim.  Some of them we don’t know about at all, but some of them are.

Wikipedia has a bit of what happened here. We have more of it here. The image that appears at top is listed on Uncyclopedia as being in the public domain.

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Orange Sun, Grey Sky

Orange Sun, Grey Sky

I just learned a short story I submitted for an anthology was accepted.

The collection will include science fiction, fantasy, and/or horror all under a theme. My story, “Orange Sun, Grey Sky,” follows a young woman named Ostra starting a new school year at a college campus on a genderless world where she’s the only female….

An opinion of an individual member of The Loveshade Family does not necessarily reflect the views of the whole family.

The photo was identified by its source as being in the public domain.

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No Executions in California

Governor Gavin Newsom

This is from the ACLU:

Governor Gavin Newsom just made history: this morning, he announced that California will not carry out executions on his watch. This announcement marks a watershed moment in the fight for racial equity and equal justice for all.

For far too long, California has propped up a costly, flawed death penalty system that is racially biased and puts the lives of innocent people at risk.

Just last April, Vicente Benavides of Kern County was freed after spending 25 years on death row in California for a crime he did not commit. His conviction was based on false medical testimony by doctors who recanted many years later. We don’t know how many more innocent people are still on death row.

We do know that race plays a dangerous and inappropriate role in decisions about who is sentenced to death in California. A Santa Clara University study, for example, found that people were more than three times as likely to be sentenced to death in cases where the victim was white than in cases where the victim was Black.

Write a thank you message to the governor for his leadership.

California’s death penalty is racially biased and broken beyond repair. Today’s announcement is a historic step to ensure that our state’s justice system is fair, racially equitable, and truly just!

Sincerely,

Hector Villagra
Executive Director, ACLU of Southern California

No threat to copyright is intended by this posting of this email sent to many; this is intended to spread the word.

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King of the Internet

Michael Lee Viviano, creator of the Trynser Wiki, already declared me King of the Wiki.

Now Sannse, who’s Staff at Fandom (formerly Wikia), has named me King of the Internet!

Does this mean I get to tax everybody online?

Crown image is listed as public domain.

An opinion of an individual member of The Loveshade Family does not necessarily reflect the views of the whole family.

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Donald Trump Declares War Against News

President Donald Trump has long lashed out at the media, specifically any medium that says or prints anything negative about him. “Fake news” has become his catchphrase perhaps even more than one he tried and failed to trademark: “You’re fired.”

Now, he has tweeted

     The New York Times reporting is false. They are a true ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE!

     — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) 20 February 2019

This is more than another angry, misguided, and out-of-control tweet from a man from whom we’ve come to expect angry, misguided, and out-of-control statements.  When the leader of a nation declares an entity to be an enemy of the people (with or without using ALL CAPS), this is a borderline declaration of war.

Image of Donald Trump linked from https://news.yahoo.com/donald-trump-calls-york-times-160043787.html

An opinion of an individual members of The Loveshade Family does not necessarily reflect the views of the whole family.

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Order of the Pineapple 2019: Brenton Clutterbuck

Pat Pineapple as drawn by Toby Bruno.

It is time once again to announce the winner of the Order of the Pineapple. (This is only awarded once a year on January 18 aka Pat Pineapple Day).

The honoree for 2019: Brenton Clutterbuck.

Brenton Clutterbuck, self-proclaimed gonzo anthropologist, traveled around the world interviewing Discordians for Chasing Eris, perhaps the broadest view of Discordians of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. He also wrote Me and My Hair and Babble, and edited two issues of Intermittens (one of them a story collection) not to mention being interviewed in another issue of the magazine.

The Order of the Pineapple is also called the DisOrder of the Pineapple and the Pineapple DisOrder, but it’s usually abbreviated O.P.  (The award has also been called Patus Pineappleus Bromeliadic and the winners The P.P. Bromeliadics or Bromedliaddicts). It honors those who have given extraordinary service to “the participatorial study of comedic attitudes and eccentric tendencies.”  The O.P. is awarded to very few people, those who are especially servicey.  It’s presented on only one day a year, January 18 CE, which is 18 Chaos of the Discordian calendar.  That date is recognized as Pat Pineapple Day.  Pat is the Mascot of the Ĕk-sĕn-trĭks Cluborguild which began the order, and the Patron Saint of the Discordian Division of the Ek-sen-triks CluborGuild which revived it after a 13-year hiatus.  It is absolutely required that members of the Order eat something containing or resembling pineapple on January 18–unless of course they don’t feel like it.

Congratulations to Brenton Clutterbuck!

Order of the Pineapple (official site)

Order of the Pineapple Wiki (unofficial site)

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Donald Trump is Losing His Wheels

Some really astonishing things have happened in American politics in the past two or three years. But things are moving from the unexpected to the predicted.

1) Donald Trump was named the Republican Party nominee. When he announced his candidacy, almost nobody in politics or in the serious media thought that would happen.

2) Donald Trump won as president of the United States. A few years ago, very few would have thought that would happen.

3) In spite of the Republican Party having the Executive Branch, the Senate, and the House of Representatives, it’s been able to pass very little, even failing to avoid a partial government shutdown which is the longest in American history. Some of us thought that would happen.

4) Members of the Republican Party who are obviously smart enough to know Donald Trump is not capable of handling the presidency publicly supported him. A fair number of people thought that would happen.

5) Donald Trump insulted some of his most loyal supporters, fired the person who investigated him as being a possible Russian agent, and his presidency is crumbling. He’s losing his wheels. Many of us expected that to happen.

The Wheels are Coming Off the Trump Bus

Trump Actually Had to Deny He is a Foreign Agent

An opinion of an individual member of The Loveshade Family does not necessarily reflect the views of the whole family.

The image of Donald Trump was identified by a news service as being in the public domain, but did not identify the photographer.

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Alden Loveshade End of the Year Letter 2018

Sometimes the ending is like the beginning.

First month of year: Crazy chickens.  They had plenty of room to roost at night on nice perches in their own chicken house.  But while most of them perched on the perches, others insisted on perching in the most uncomfortable places possible.  They’d be in the midst of wires, twine, and hanging plastic bags intended to keep them out of areas where they could barely fit without cramming themselves in or even getting themselves stuck.

Last month of year: With new chickens, repeat above.  Fortunately, I got advice to block them out of those areas altogether, and chicken wire did the trick so perfectly so that…wait, what’s that chicken doing?  Hold on….

I discovered my particularly special plumbing talent.  When it comes to indoor plumbing, I excel at calling a plumber.  And I’m talented at calling someone to fix a buried-but-leaking outside pipe too.  Aren’t you impressed?

Speaking of plumbing, I passed my first (and hopefully last) kidney stone during a visit to the emergency room.  Fortunately, though, this year when I had a threatening encounter with a copperhead snake at the O.K. Corral–OK, barn–I wasn’t the one who had the emergency.  Most snakes I find I distribute around the edges of the property to eat mice.  But then I keep my pet mice protected from snakes.  Go figure.

I faced a possible flooding disaster that–see the piece here.

I visited with in state friends and out of state friends.  For one of them, I edited 935,000 words of material.  Hint: that’s a lot.  By comparison, a news service reported the exactly average length book is Brave New World at 64,531 words.  Do the math.

Speaking of writing, I learned that David Gerrold, science fiction author of many things including the classic Star Trek episode “The Trouble with Tribbles,” was inspired to base a character on me.  Of course I had to pay him to be inspired.  (Actually, it was a donation to a worthy cause and I got free e-books too; check the link.  I didn’t have to pay for this letter’s graphics, though, which I created myself).

Happy Christmas, Great Kwanzaa, Merry Chanukah, Wonderful Yule, Fine Winter/Summer Solstice, Terrific New Year!

— Alden Loveshade

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The Statue of Liberty

The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
MOTHER OF EXILES. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” The statue of liberty.

Emma Lazarus

Any American politician who doesn’t support that Statue of Liberty poem might want to seriously think about looking for another job.

An opinion of an individual member of The Loveshade Family does not necessarily reflect the views of the whole family.

Photo of the Statue of Liberty by Dietmar Rabich is under a Creative Commons License “Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International” (CC BY-SA 4.0) license.

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