There is a drawer, every house has one,
where the old keys gather.
They huddle in their camps,
telling of the lost door, valise, or drawer
that they can open, if only they can find it again.
Some are seconds, or thirds, copies of copies,
but still they remember in their teeth
that there is a lock for them out there.

The Year that GenCon Went Virtual

There is a magical world where elves, androids, Jedi Knights, and superheroes hang around together and where fantasy and science fiction stories play out all day long. Normally, that world is in Indianapolis around the start of August each year, and it’s called GenCon, the largest board game convention in the US. Around 60,000 people attend each year.

Review: Terraforming Mars

The year is 2400. Over the next several thousand years, players lead large corporations who are working together to transform Mars from a barren landscape into a living, breathing world. Still, only one will prove the most successful and win the game. Over time they carry out projects to adjust the temperature, oxygen, and ocean levels, plant forests, build cities and carry out activities represented by over 200 unique project cards to make Mars ever more habitable. With the game maker’s attention to scientific detail, the game also provides a reasonably realistic high-level view of what a real-life terraforming effort might look like on the Red Planet.

Characters come to life in different ways during story development. Some characters tell me their stories as I write them, much as Gilwyr did in Sellenria. An orphan, raised by the Kir Leth with their unique color-based language, and trained as an assassin. I could hear her cocky, quirky voice from the first scene. As I wrote her in different situations, I realized that she would be hiding some insecurities. She was neither Kir Leth nor Human but caught between the two. It was fortunate that she had good friends who helped her see that as a strength instead of a weakness. She is summed up well in the line with which she starts the sequel I am writing: “The sky ship drew a sword across the night, as blue as chance.”