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The Big Empty: Chapter Three - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
The Big Empty: Chapter Three
They are traveling south along the river (the Monongahela, though they don't know the name), and after five days, they come across ruins.


Chapter Three
The railroad track bed has stayed by the river, and now and then, we go up the hills to the west to try and get a better view, climbing a tree every few hours to check out the river's path. Until now, this has mostly taken us into more forest, with nothing else to be seen for miles around, but on the morning of the fifth day, Misty gives a shout.

"Are you nuts?" Duronda asks when she comes down. "On the off-chance that anyone's around here, you just gave them a great big sign of where we are."

"I didn't see anybody," Misty says dismissively, grinning. "But you're right -- yesterday, when you said you thought the river might be forking. It is. And right where the fork starts, there are buildings."

"Buildings or ruins?" I ask.

"I'm not sure. I mean, there are some ruins, but I think there are some actual standing buildings."

Duronda frowns. "If there are buildings, someone's been doing maintenance. The forest eats everything we don't take care of. We better be careful. There could be raiders."

We stop talking the first time we see a sign of a town, though as far as I can tell there isn't anyone to hear us.

What we see is, itself, a ruin -- great rusted hulks, many crashed down, that used to be a bridge over the river. Vines have twined through the metal latticework, and moss has left parts of it as nothing but indistinct lumps in the landscape, but it's easy to tell what it was, just from the regularity of them, marching in a line across the river, allowing our path to come under one of the arches. Misty points up at something. It takes me a minute to understand her, but I finally see it -- a cutaway in the earth just above us, a flat surface cut into (or built out of) the hillside. There was a road running parallel to the track here. An uneven path leads down to us. The road that led to the train.

From town.

I grab Duronda's shoulder and point at the path.

She frowns, thinks about it for a long time, then nods.

The three of us go up the path to what was once a road. It's a flat surface in the forest now, overgrown with weeds and grasses. A bit of a rusted rail sticks up here and there. I wonder how fast things needed to be moving if they needed a rail to keep them from falling off a road this wide. You could fit the Justice Building in Twelve in the middle of this path.

There's still forest cover here, but there's not as much of a place to run. One side of the path drops down sharply toward the track, the other was cut into the living hill. Without needing to talk about it, we all drift toward the side that goes down -- better facing a steep, out of control run to the river than being trapped against an earthen wall.

After the bridge the road splits in two. The buildings Misty saw were inland a little bit, so we follow the branch that goes west, up the hill. Here, we can start to see signs of work, maybe not recent, but certainly not dating back hundreds of years. There are metal spikes pushed into the ground at regular intervals, just the right height to hold onto, and Misty realizes that they make it easier to climb up the steep hill, though I'm a little leery of how rusty they look. I don't need tetanus in the middle of this.

Another road crosses ours at a strange angle. The sharper angle takes us north, where we can now see the "buildings." Most are ruins -- a few skeletal beams poking up in the forest, sometimes with mounds of overgrown debris around them -- but three have been kept up, at least a little bit. One was obviously much bigger once. Its base is huge, and the top is broken off unevenly. Bits of stonework litter the path. An arch, fallen to the ground long enough ago to be buried partly in the mud, has faded carving around it, delicate curlicues and latticework. There are numbers on it -- a nineteen, and an oh-three -- which mean nothing to me. There's very eroded lettering as well. All I can make out is "Geo" at the beginning and "-obs" at the end, and some of that requires guesswork.

But one corner of the building has been reinforced with old, fallen stones, and a tin roof has been secured to it. A squatter's claim, though it looks like it's been abandoned for a while. The wall is cracked and I can see inside.

Across from it is something that looks more recent -- a kind of domed affair that looks like a gun turret. Pappy Angus once told me about these. During the Catastrophes, as the governments fell apart, a lot of towns built their own anti-aircraft defenses, most of them big guns enclosed in these mound-like buildings. The dirt is about halfway up this one, covering all but a few inches of a door, and my guess is that any gun is long-gone, but like the squatter's claim, I can see that it's been shored up along the way, and piles of wood show long-lost battles against the forest.

Beyond it is a mix-and-match kind of building. I can see an old, reddish building that seems to be the base of it, but it's had dozens of additions. Some look the same vintage as the anti-aircraft building, others are clearly squats from the times after the wars. Some may have even been built out before the Catastrophes struck -- they look ancient, but they don't quite fit on the old frame. There's an old solar panel on the roof, or at least I assume that's what it is. I've seen pictures of solar panels in District Five, and it looks sort of like them.

For all I know, it's a big skylight. It must be made of something tough, because it's not cracked after all this time.

Everything is silent. There's no recent trampling of the grasses, no tell-tale signs that anyone's been here for years.

"Well," Duronda says, breaking the silence for the first time in several hours, "looks like this is the hot spot around here. And I don't think anyone's been here for a long time."

Misty sighs, resigned. "I guess. But I was right. The tracks did lead somewhere."

"Yeah, you were right," I say. "Let's go in."

"Why?" Duronda asks.

"I don't know. See what's there." I shrug. "We may as well. It'll be dryer than the tent for tonight."

We don't move.

Duronda laughs nervously. "Looks like there could be haunts around here."

"Oh, I'm glad you said that," Misty tells her.

They look at each other and start laughing. It doesn’t echo, not here in the woods, but it does seem strange. I hadn't thought of haunts before, but now, I can almost feel them in the shadows.

The girls start toward the big building. I do one more spot check on the other buildings, then draw my rifle -- just in case -- and follow them.

There are two sets of doors in the building. The first one, on the outside, has long since been torn down, and is overgrown with moss and ferns. It seems to have led into a lobby, now a kind of meadow, after which there's another set of doors. They were probably glass, because they've long since been shattered out, but the metal frames are still standing, set into a mostly solid wall.

Duronda bends to go through the bottom part of one, and Misty and I follow suit. Misty has the flashlight from the survival pack, and she turns it on.

Beyond the doors, the forest has only invaded a little bit. I can see that, over the years, people have patched holes and covered up the high, arched windows. The light from the flashlight plays over a great, open hall, with shiny stone floors under a thick layer of dust. There's a mulchy spot in the middle that I guess was once some kind of furniture. I can hear things scurrying around here -- I'm guessing rats or mice -- but we're definitely alone. The dust is undisturbed by anything large enough to leave real prints. In alcoves to the sides, I see rows of rusted metal shelves falling against each other.

Misty plays the light over debris on the floor, then frowns. "Are those… books? On the floor?"

I look. The debris is barely discernable from piles of dirt in the forest, but I think there may be vaguely book-like shapes in it, and they would be a perfectly sensible thing to have been on the shelves, but the idea that people just left piles and piles of them to rot in the forest is so alien to me that I can't quite believe it. That much paper alone would be worth a fortune.

"Well, if they are, they're beyond reading," Duronda says without much interest. She looks around. "What do you think it is? A library?"

"Maybe," I say. "But I think there's more. Everything's shoved aside."

"The squatters could have done that," Misty says.

"Yeah… only, it's shelves, too. They're all off in a corner. I think they used it for something else before the town was abandoned. I think we should look around."

"What are we looking for?"

I shrug. I'm not sure.

We don't split up. We've all seen enough movies to know better, though none of us exactly mentions that. Misty just gathers us around the flashlight and leads the way. Most of the floor is unremarkable, other than the fact of its continued existence. Dust, stone floors, an old squat with a tin can kicked into a corner. There's another old squat that looks like someone made a campfire with a few books (if that's what they are) -- there's a hole high in the wall nearby that must act like a chimney. Bats up in the ceiling. Mouse droppings, but no rat droppings that we can see.

Misty spots the staircase first, going down into the darkness in the far corner of the room.

"Should we go?" I ask.

"Of course we should!" Misty shines the light curiously at bits of debris that have fallen over the years.

I look at Duronda.

She frowns at it. "I suppose we should make sure we're alone here." She nods. "You get up beside the light with the gun. You've got better eyes than I do."

I take a step ahead of Misty and cock the rifle, though I doubt there's anyone here but the vermin. The stairs are tilted and treacherous, so I take them very slowly. Misty comes one step behind me, and Duronda keeps the rear guard.

I almost fire the rifle in surprise when the lights come on.

Duronda yelps and loses her balance on the lowest stair, barreling into Misty, who has mostly kept her head. "The solar panel," she says. "Did you see it outside?"

"Yeah," I say. "You think it's got the power on?"

"I think it's a generator," Misty says. "I wondered what it would do. It's probably got some kind of charge in here -- a battery -- and a motion sensor."

"Hell of a thing to last this long!" Duronda says. "Were either of you planning to mention it to me?"

"I didn't think it would be doing anything," I tell her.

"Well, it does something."

"People must have kept it up," Misty says. "Like the building. Maybe people have even been here more recently than we thought. They'd have to have done some maintenance… well, the longest I've heard of these things lasting is ten years. Those are the good ones out of District Five."

"Maybe they made things better before the Catastrophes," I suggest, though a flickering in the lights tells me that our luck isn't going to last forever.

She shrugs. "Maybe. But if there are emergency lights in here, it must have been someplace important."

We spread out a little bit and look around. The stairs may have been precarious, but this room isn't. It's built of something that's resisted the elements very well. There are banks of machines I don't understand. I don't think even Misty does, because she gives them only a brief glance before moving on. Duronda finds a door and starts trying to jimmy the lock.

I move further into the room, toward an alcove beyond the machines. A large piece of plastic is standing free at the front of the room, fastened to a black plastic pedestal that has a wire running to it. Another bit of black plastic goes up one side. I can pick out markings on it, so I go to it.

There are a few words that mean absolutely nothing to me, and a symbol I've never seen before, but under them, there's a little gray screen with a grid on it. As I look at it, it starts to glow brighter, maybe getting more power as the place charges up.

I hold my hand over it.

The huge piece of plastic lights up, and I stare at it blankly for a minute, not quite believing what I see.

"Misty!" I call. "Duronda! In here!"

They come running, Duronda with her slingshot raised, then stare at the same thing I am.

"Is it a map?" Duronda asks. "Did we actually find a map?"

I nod. Projected onto the screen in red lines is the east part of North America, but not as I've ever seen it. The old coastline is there in dotted lines, beyond the new one, sometimes hundreds of miles. There's a whole piece of land to the south that used to stick out like a crooked finger, and it's completely outside the bright line of the new coast.

But more importantly, it shows where we are. There's a bright dot at the point of a river that forks to the south, and a thick lines that show the road system.

"So that's why they kept the place up," Misty says. "They must have found it years ago. They keep it so they know how to around quickly."

I nod. It shows that just a little south of town -- we'll have to cross the western fork of the river, so I'm glad Duronda's bag and the banjo case are waterproof -- we can catch a huge road, which will take us south-southwest. It should be easy to spot -- the bigger branch of the river curves out, and the road picks up just as it starts another curve. In what looks like a week's walk, we'll run into another big road that runs west through the mountains, all the way to the big river.

The roads are most likely a mess, but so far, it's been pretty easy to see where they were

"No," Duronda says.

"No… what?" Misty asks.

"I can see him thinking. He's got a mind to follow bright red lines."

"Of course I do. I wasn't looking forward to getting lost in the mountains."

"Yeah, and you know who else doesn't want to get lost in the mountains? Out-district raiders. The Capitol army. Our army, and in case you've forgotten, we don't exactly have permission to be out here."

"The armies are further west," I say. "And they're using newer roads."

"And the raiders?"

This is a better point. No one really knows much about them, except that one of the reasons people were willing to gather in the towns that became the districts was that it was pretty violent and lawless out here.

Still, we've been on the road for days and haven't seen any signs of… well, anyone, friendly or not.

"It's not like it's really going to be a wide open road," Misty says. "There'll still be forest cover if we see anyone. We'll just keep our eyes open."

"And if they're keeping their eyes open?"

I hold up the rifle. "I have good aim."

"You have eight bullets left."

I shrug. "Duronda, come on. It's one thing to say 'Just keep moving toward the sunset.' It's something else to be lost in the mountains. The road's the best bet. We'll just have to be careful."

She grumbles a little bit, but acknowledges that I'm at least right about it. ("Not that it'll matter if they catch us and gut us," she adds.)

We all stare at the map for a while, memorizing it as well as we can. Apparently, District Thirteen didn't deem a pencil and paper to be survival supplies, since there's absolutely nothing to copy it onto.

The lights begin to flicker more often the longer they're on, so we head back upstairs to make camp for the night. I thought it would be more comfortable than the tent, but it's not. There's something heavy and oppressive in the air here. We make a campfire in the old squat with some wood Duronda scavenges from the deadfalls outside. No one suggests that I get out the banjo tonight.

We talk for a while, mostly speculating about what this place was. Misty, who loves to read, thinks that whatever this town was must have been preparing for an attack, though there's no way to tell whether or not they ever had one. Back here in the middle of the mountains, I think there's a good chance the wars missed it.

"What do you think the name of it was?" Misty asks. "I didn't see any names on the map. Just dots."

"What's the name of anything?" I ask. "What's the name of District Twelve?"

"Twelve," Duronda says.

"It couldn't have always been Twelve," I say. "I mean, what's the story Thirteen harps on all the time? They had us and Eleven on this side of the Mississippi before Panem marched on all three of us. Why would we have had Panem district numbers? What did they call us before?"

We give this some thought. We know the region was called Appalachia, but no one has ever heard a town name.

"We know Thirteen used to be called Kearney," Misty says. "The Kearney Collective. They were up there in the north country after the Catastrophes, and they built a town on practically nothing. At least that's what they say. A bunch of people -- maybe they were there in the first place, or maybe they came over from somewhere else -- found their way to an abandoned graphite mining town. There was a fight with people who wanted to own the mines and make everyone else work for them, and they rose up and… made it like it is."

"On purpose?" Duronda asks. "I always wondered about that."

"Maybe. They seem to like it all right."

"Sure," I say. "If you're in charge, it's great." I toss a stick into the fire. "Daddy used to say that we were already there. So who were we? What was our name?"

"If we were all alone before Thirteen found us, maybe we didn't need a name," Duronda suggests.

"But we couldn't have always been alone. It must have been something before the Catastrophes."

Duronda is starting to look annoyed. "Why? Maybe people just went there after."

"Why there?" Misty asks. "It's not on a river, and the lake isn't very big. Nothing special about it, except that we ended up there."

"Maybe the mine was already there," I guess. "But even then… it would have to have a name." I look at them. "Now, it's bothering me. I want a real map, with names."

Duronda rolls her eyes. "I guess you'll just have to go on another quest after this one. The all-important question of what Twelve's real name is. Can't function without that."

"Doesn't it bother you?"

She shrugs. "After this long? The real name is Twelve."

I see her point. It would feel strange calling it anything else. But I don't have anything else to think about as I take the first watch and the girls sleep, and I even dream about it. I'm walking through town with my father and Pappy Angus, and they keep trying to tell me some secret name, but every time they say it, something blows up, and I can't hear.

I wake up feeling frustrated, and snap a little at Misty as we pack up. Duronda tells me to back off, so I snap at her, too. They both agree that I should keep my mouth shut until I can open it without saying something stupid.

We set off after sunrise toward where the first of the big roads should be. It starts at the southern part of whatever this town was, so we keep the morning sun on our left. Every now and then, we find a flat area that was obviously a street, or a bit of metal protruding in the forest. We get to the part of the river we'll need to cross, which clearly had a bridge at one point, and find that it's fairly narrow. We stuff everything into Duronda's pack and the banjo case and swim across, floating the pack among us. On the other side, we stop to split it all up again.

It's around noon when we come to the bigger branch of the river, and we follow it around a large loop. There's obviously an old road here, but it's a smallish one. We leave it when the river veers away.

By the time an hour has gone by, I'm beginning to doubt that I'll even see the road. Maybe all signs are gone. Maybe we've already passed it.

Duronda spots it first, and we all stop and stare.

It's a ruin, all right, but it's a huge ruin.

Towering, mossy pylons march across the river, and even now, through the trees and vines, we can see parts of the latticework of an old, steel bridge as it comes down on our side. Something broke and now juts up into the sky, long overtaken by the forest, but still recognizable as a piece of human work under the greenery.

We go forward slowly. There's a steep hill running down toward the road now, and we can see it clearly, even though the paving is long gone. This was all carefully built and engineered. The road is breathtakingly wide, and, though the forest has grown here, it's all newer and thinner. More importantly, it's mostly flat. It looks like a river itself, winding through the mountains.

We go to the middle of it without talking, and stand there for a long time, looking ahead.

Misty sighs, secures her bag on her shoulder, and starts walking.

Duronda and I follow her.
18 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
From: (Anonymous) Date: February 5th, 2015 10:40 am (UTC) (Link)
"the bigger branch of the river curves out, and the orad picks up just as it starts another curve"

looks like your road got scrambled. This is so intriguing and very reminiscent of the Obernewtyn Chronicles, discovering the secrets that the past left behind. Also, unlike most Games ff there's no pre-ordained format (ie no games) so we never know what to expect. Can't wait for more.

-Maraudercat
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 6th, 2015 02:19 am (UTC) (Link)
Oops, I'll unscramble that road.

Hmm, never read Obernewtyn Chronicles. Sounds like my kind of story.
redrikki From: redrikki Date: February 5th, 2015 06:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
I love the description of the ruins here. It sounds like a Carnegie Library or something that was later used as a command-control center of some sort. I loved the creepy touches and the jump scare with the lights.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 6th, 2015 02:19 am (UTC) (Link)
That's pretty much it. I was in all kinds of despair because I couldn't find pictures of the interior of the library I was riffing on, then I realized that it probably would have been gutted, restructured, and re-purposed before the Catastrophes ever hit.
From: (Anonymous) Date: February 5th, 2015 09:23 pm (UTC) (Link)

I'm lost

What is the city that they find, and what is the name of the solar-powered building that they go into?

It's one thing to write, "Hundreds of years have happened since the Catastrophes." It's quite another thing to write, "An interstate highway is now the meadow of a forest."

"Kearney" is Kearney, Ontario, correct?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 6th, 2015 02:21 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: I'm lost

Fairmont, West Virginia, Fairmont Public Library. (Across the street, according to Google Maps, from the George M. Jabobs building.)

Yeah, Kearney is in Ontario. There's a graphite mine there.

Edited at 2015-02-06 02:29 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous) Date: February 6th, 2015 04:17 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: I'm lost

So where is the story's origin? What American town or city will become "District Twelve"?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 6th, 2015 04:37 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: I'm lost

Not sure, which is why I gave them that long conversation about it.

I'd originally thought of Pittsburgh itself, but that wouldn't necessarily include a mine, and besides, major urban centers probably all would have been hit. So it's somewhere south of Pittsburgh and north of Morgantown, on the west side of the Mon. Centerville? Maidsville?... I'm no more sure than Effrim is. I somehow doubt there's an actual waterfall in the woods, either, at least along that river, so I'm taking some liberties with the D12 geography to make it like it looks in my head. ;p

Edited at 2015-02-06 04:37 am (UTC)
rocky_t From: rocky_t Date: February 6th, 2015 05:30 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: I'm lost

Could you include "you are here" info like this as regular chapter endnotes? I was really wondering what this building was, as well as which ruined city they had found.

I'm really enjoying this new story, even more so because of the lack of Games-related brutality (all in the future--oh, Duronda!)

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 6th, 2015 05:45 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: I'm lost

But then I wouldn't have nearly as much freedom to fudge the geography! :D (Given that I only got a drive-through of much of southwestern Appalachia -- in roughly 1983 -- I'm a little nervous about just using Google maps road view for reference... Really, this Appalachia is less closely related to real places than it is to Odysseus's Mediterranean. In which I'd say we're a few days past the island of the Lotus Eaters, but adrift as we head toward Polyphemus's island... )

If it helps, this is my essay on the broader geography of Panem.

Edited at 2015-02-06 05:48 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous) Date: February 6th, 2015 01:07 am (UTC) (Link)
I spend a lot of time in the woods in Virginia, and have followed civil war era roads, which often have trees growing in the middle of them, but of course they were unpaved. They are nonetheless often easy to see, though they sometimes peter out and one must hunt around a little to find where they resume. It's hard to think what interstate highways would look like after centuries - how long would it take for trees to come up? would there be earthslides wiping parts out? Etc... something that wide.... But you definitely have the *feel* right, IMO. They can be sort of astounding when you come across them and they are so obviously manmade, but so long abandoned.

Catches: great rusted hulks many crashed down - I think needs a comma in it for ease of reading.
The another road - don't need the the.

Btw, I'm totally lost geographically. I'm trying to tell myself it doesn't matter - the kids don't know where they are - but it's driving me a little crazy anyway. They started somewhere south of Pittsburgh and went further south, into West Virginia or western Virginia?

I'm really enjoying the quest though. ~Karen
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 6th, 2015 02:28 am (UTC) (Link)
I may even be pushing it having the earthworks largely survive. Roads need constant maintenance, and they'd most likely break up within a few decades. With heavy forest on both sides, seeds would fall into the cracks and break them up further. Cement would break down, the bolts in the steel would give out, and the steel beams would rust. Rain would wash dirt over them, and there wouldn't be anyone to clear it away.

The geography is weird because the Monongahela twists and turns, but it eventually forks into two separate rivers at Fairmont, WV. They're picking up the remains of Rte. 79 at the moment, which they think will eventually take them to Rte. 64 (at Charleston), though it may be harder to pick up than they think.
From: (Anonymous) Date: February 6th, 2015 11:27 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, I think you're right to have them largely survive... If dirt roads and entrenchments survive 150 years, and "slave ditches" even longer, major highways would still be discernible after 300+, I would think. Of course we don't know exactly, but I think it's more important that you've got the feel right.

Thanks for the geography clarification. Actually, what you said above about it being not precisely real places helps more than saying Fairmont. I think what was driving me nuts was a feeling that I *should* know where you meant, instead of just saying "ah look at Fern world-building in Appalachia." ~Karen
vesta_aurelia From: vesta_aurelia Date: February 6th, 2015 01:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, I totally thought you'd been watching "Life After People" or something. They did a number of what-it-would-look-like CGI scenes that you have the feel of quite well.

(If I remember correctly, Hoover Dam would be the last manmade thing to go because it was just built too well.) :)
From: queen_bellatrix Date: February 6th, 2015 06:37 am (UTC) (Link)

A Few More Catches/Review

You get up Just need a quote before the you.:)

we find flat area Think you're missing an a before flat, and you'll want to look at the spacing when you insert it, because IE shows an extra one there.

Also, a very small continuity error: At the end of the last chapter, he had eight bullets, not seven. Though, I'm honestly confused about the bullets overall; when I went back to chapter 1 to check the bullet count, it said he had five extra bullets; did he maybe still have some in the rifle from killing the raccoon?

I've been enjoying these last couple chapters so much. You're doing some amazing things with geography--I'm not versed enough to be able to pick up a lot of the specific clues you're dropping; what really caught my attention is that you're brave and dedicated enough to actually address the question at all. Including details like this, trying to understand how the world came to be and give those explanations to us, makes your world-building feel so much more solid than a lot of the pro dystopias I've seen; but then, I've never been able to enjoy stories that hand wave logistics; not understanding the whys/hows pulls me completely from the piece.

And then, you're doing all this marvelous cultural work. Naturally, the most immediate thing that springs to mind is the sense of dislocation and fractured identity that comes from only having fragments of their history preserved. But I don't think that would be nearly as powerful if it wasn't juxtaposed with these odd echoes of our culture: the more things change, the more they stay the same. I'm thinking especially of the we've seen enough movies line; just so very eerily reminiscent of what our own world view in that scenario would be.

And then of course, it's rounded out by the fabulous group dynamics. Duronda is still totally awesome, and made even more so because there didn't have to be a Glass's presence tradeoff.:d. And I really like how Effrim's character is fleshing out: the if you're in charge, it's great bit was especially spot-on, and I like how smart/canny he is, while still being young. Ah, that blithe comment about having been on the road for days and not seeing anyone; I've a terrible feeling that's going to bite him spectacularly. Misty, too, is fantastic; I love watching her mind work; we've seen a lot of intellectual people in your work, but aside from Wiress and the glimpses of Rona, I don't think we've seen a lot with an engineering bent. So, seeing Misty is really awesome, especially because it's much easier to immediately discern her brilliance, in contrast to someone like Wiress, which I'm imagining makes her much easier to write.:)

I especially like how much they're becoming a team, learning to work as a unit and pool their strengths. And poor Effrim, I imagine your snarky morning won't be the first time the ladies band together into an impenetrable united front!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 6th, 2015 07:28 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: A Few More Catches/Review

I'll grab those. My finger probably skimmed the "a" and I got the spaces on either side of it.

Oops, on the five bullets. In my head, it was eight. Don't know why I hit five. He used one hunting since then.

I love geography, always have. Because the schools didn't teach it to my mother's satisfaction, she used to use our globe with me, and run my finger along it as it spun. Wherever it stopped, I had to go learn about the place. I still do it from time to time, just because I can. I'm finding this particularly challenging because I haven't been in these places, either -- I'm strictly using online sources and hoping to get them reasonably right. I can get the facts, but the reality of a place is so much more than facts! Of course, reality has changed by this point -- you don't have any pre-existing cultures -- but I'm sure there are things like how it smells at dawn that I can't quite picture.

That sense of familiarity within strangeness is one of the things I like in the books. You can see this weird, media-obsessed culture that we live in extrapolated out into a world where it's nearly the whole of lived experience in the Capitol, with the Districts left to deal with reality.
From: queen_bellatrix Date: February 6th, 2015 11:31 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: A Few More Catches/Review

Mmm, now I'm curious. Where did he use a bullet for hunting? I was just looking in chapter 2, and I see the bit about catching rabbits with the slingshot, but he says there there's no use wasting a bullet; unless it's in chapter 1, in which case I'm going to be sheepish in a few hours when you answer.;p

The not being able to get things like what it smells like at dawn correct fear is one of the things that's been most difficult for me to overcome when writing about unknown places; this's been made especially tricky because I write primarily in HP, and have never been to London! I'm continuously greatful for the sheer breadth of research material that's at my fingertips, and then I'll hit a snag like a place's scent.

And yeah, the extrapolation of the media culture is absolutely terrifying in its plausibility; I'm in full agreement that that's probably Collins' best bit of social commentary.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 6th, 2015 03:52 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: A Few More Catches/Review

I took out the used bullet. I guess if it had come to that, it would have been important enough for him to mention. He has eight again.

Part of the problem with using a lot of details is that when you need to have something be X way for a story, all the sudden, people start saying, "Hey, wait... that's not right!" I was pretty careful in HP, following the books and the maps and all the trivia I could find, but I definitely got some, "London weather is not like that!" when I needed it to be warm and sunny in contrast to a rain spell. To which my only answer was, "It's like that because Teddy's outlook has changed, and the setting is reflecting it as a direct, pointed reflection of the first setting description." So I worry here that actually naming places will detract from my ability to make them function metaphorically as I go on!
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