Rationalist, Feminist, and Beautiful: The Steerswoman Series by Rosemary Kirstein


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If you ask, she must answer. A steerswoman’s knowledge is shared with any who request it; no steerswoman may refuse a question, and no steerswoman may answer with anything but the truth.

And if she asks, you must answer. It is the other side of tradition’s contract — and if you refuse the question, or lie, no steerswoman will ever again answer even your most casual question.

The Steerswoman is an extraordinary speculative fiction series by Rosemary Kirstein. So far, it exists in the form of four novels: The Steerswoman (1989), The Outskirter’s Secret (1992), The Lost Steersman (2003), and The Language of Power (2004). She’s promised two more novels, with the fifth volume starting its Kickstarter next year, in 2015. As of this writing, I’m most of the way through The Lost Steersman.

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Crunch All the Babies


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“Are you dark?” asked Soosee.

Puckerup nodded.

Soosee looked behind her: only one couple ahead of them in line, both talking on their phones. If the spooks suspected her, they could listen through the couple’s phones even if Puckerup’s was dark. She selected an innocuous topic. “I got pretty drunk last night.” She jived to Puck, right hand’s fingers dancing on her chest, out of view of any phones. You see my feed?

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Quetzalcoatlus Leaps Into the Air

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That last drawing I did of the Quetzalcoatlus was a ton of fun, but I drew it directly over a skeletal reconstruction. The result was that it was kind of staid; paleontologists use that kind of reconstruction — from one side, because it shows you the majority of the structural bones; facing left because that’s how left-brained image recognition prefers it.

But the action it’s taking — launching itself into the air — has major physical contraints. It has to be able to put its muscles where they belong. It has to line its wings up to both form an airfoil and generate thrust.

I wanted to to a more naturalistic picture. The result is this guy! They’re still facing left, because that impulse is pretty hard to deny, but I hope I’ve given them at least a little bit of desire about getting in the air.

I also gave them green ground to run across. I couldn’t help myself.



The Quetzalcoatlus Northropi

Quetzalcoatlus Eyeball
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We might see a lot of dinosaurs and associated paleocritters around here for a while. After all, the past is an alien world to which we cannot go, and from which we get brief, weird glimpses that we must use to furiously speculate. And, unlike most alien worlds, it’s something that actually happened!

We can see here, for instance, a Quetzalcoatlus Northropi. Scientists have speculated about whether it could muster the strength to make powered flight at all because of its enormous size.

The Quetzlacoatlus Northropi

Note the human-shaped smudge by this guy’s knee. That’s about the size of a human.

The Quetzalcoatlus was a big-ass animal. With a wingspan somewhere around 54 feet, it’s bigger than many aircraft. Current thinking is that it probably ate on land like a stork, since grabbing fish on the wing would have caused too much drag, crashing it into the water.
I’m speculating here that it doesn’t want its prey (really, you-and-me-sized dinosaurs) to see it up in the air, so it has a white underside to disguise it against the sky. From above, though, it’s got bold stripes that, from a distance, break up its profile against the ground: in an air rivalry, whoever’s got the greatest altitude wins. I’m also speculating, though, that these guys are so big and consume so many calories that they’re territorial; once you’re actually up close, the bold stripes are a bit of a “come at me, bro!” They’re a bold warning; “I can have stripes THIS BIG and you still can’t take me down!” Sort of the equivalent of a fiddler crab’s claw, where it’s gotten so big, it’s not actually useful for claw-based activities other than display.
I’ve also given it a big nasal passage. It’s got a crest of bone over its head that most artists use as a display. I’m speculating that it’s a support for the giant jet intake that such a prodigious consumer of oxygen must have had.
In this image, it’s making a run to launch itself into the air. Though the wings are foreshortened by the traditional side-on perspective of this drawing, its wingspan is twice the whole length of its body. The ground is sloping away because it’s moving into slope lift. It’ll pull up its feet as soon as it’s got just enough airspeed to catch some lift, and then suddenly, like the Northrop flying wing it’s named after, it will be a sleek, low-drag flying wing. With no long tail like its early ancestors, its shape is extremely unstable; just turning its head dramatically changes the forces on its body, making it terrifyingly maneuverable for such a huge creature.
An interesting note: I started to paint the ground green. Grass, though, had just evolved when this guy was coming into existence, so I don’t know what weird form it had. So I made the background a blue-grey, as though it’s on a rocky cliff.
To give you an idea of the size, I’ve added a humanoid glob to its shadow. By its knee, you can see roughly how big I would be standing there. But I gotta say, I don’t think I’d stand there.

Intellectual Property and the Newly Professional Creator

This is the first intellectual property law in history. Note its reasoning.

This is the first intellectual property law in history. Note its reasoning.

If you’re a backer of the Mobile Frame Zero 002: Alpha Bandit Kickstarter, you know that I changed the name mid-campaign Intercept Orbit. I changed the name as a part of a surprisingly functional trademark agreement with a surprisingly awesome guy named Matthew Rivaldi of Wiggity Bang Games, who was about to launch a campaign for his own, near-identically-named game.

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The Kchkkhc People of Ekrfu 5

Kckkhc teaser

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.7 deciyears ago, the contactor Probably Not Who You Were Expecting entered orbit around Ekrfu 5. The contactor’s constituents have made initial contact with hominins living here, and present this abstract of our findings. For more detail on their economic and familial structures, see the work of Utshfishr and Katshrzjn.

Ekrfu 5 occupies an orbit at the very outside edge of the habitable zone from its main-sequence, G-type star Ekrfu. The surface of the planet appeared at first to Probably Not Who You Were Expecting as an uninhabitable, ammonia-blanketed, rocky sphere, but closer analysis revealed a series of geometrically-placed vents leading below. The contactor has not yet determined if the ammonia atmosphere, caustic and toxic to organic life, is caused by or merely supplemented by these exhaust vents. Continue reading