That's right! Now you can keep up with all my shenanigans by following TheInkDoodler on twitter. Unfortunately, InkDoodler was already taken by some software designer, so I am THE InkDoodler. It sounds more authoritative, I think.
This is the sixteenth chapter of The Spider, The Witch, And The Spaceship, which is currently $3.00 on Kindle. It's sort of a story about childhood told through flashbacks with a science fiction mystery twist. Click on the "read more" link to read it.
I finally did it! The first episode of The Nathaniel series (based on Nate's childhood memories mentioned in The Spider, The Witch, And The Spaceship) is on Kindle. See it here.
Terror Of The Fun Sponge is a story about bullying. I wanted it to show what bullying does to its victims, but I also wanted to go beyond that. Often, bullying is a complex phenomenon such that the distinction between victim and perpetrator is not always clear. I’ve been in situations in my childhood where I was attacked and forced to fight back so I would not get physically hurt (not to mention have my game disrupted, my reputation ruined, and my dignity destroyed) by those younger and/or smaller than myself, only to be seen as the aggressor when I won the fight. In adulthood, I’ve been pushed around by obnoxious coworkers to the point that I had to get after them verbally, only to have it suggested that I was being a bully. In politics, there are numerous issues on which both sides accuse the other of being the true bully. One of the most effective ways to bully someone is to accuse them of the same. I didn’t see anyone else pointing this out. Not only do I think it important to mention so as to start a conversation about what society can do about it, but because it is an unusual viewpoint, I thought it too good as potential fiction entertainment not to use.
This is the point of fiction. Clearly, if people were satisfied with their personal everyday adventures, they wouldn’t need fiction. Fiction allows people to experience things that would not normally have happened to them. Fiction by definition exposes us to the unusual. Some people don’t read fiction, but many do. They want stories with happy endings, which in reality only happens some of the time. They want stories in which the good guys win, which in reality only happens some of the time. They want stories with exceptional danger or adventure, which in reality will happen to very few of us. They want that which is unusual. In this vein, fantasy and science fiction are the highest forms of fiction because they feature events that no one has ever experienced and settings that no one has ever been to. It is this exploration of the possibilities of being that is the entire point of fiction. I purposely include certain concepts in my fiction precisely because I haven’t come across them before.
Because this is the first book in the Nathaniel Series, it introduces the main characters, setting, and explains how their journey across the galaxy began. To do this, I borrowed a few scenes from Nate’s flashbacks in The Spider, The Witch, And The Spaceship. Still, seventy percent of the book is all-new material. Also, for those curious about the hydrant bots mentioned by Nate to his interviewer in The Spider, The Witch, And The Spaceship, I wrote a chapter for them as a bonus.
The book also better explains how it is that Gruezhlings and other beings survive without eating, and it does this with some delicious technobabble better than anything on Star Trek (in my opinion). I tried to get into the biology of the Gruezhling ecology in this one. My hobby is designing alien life forms and many of them will feature in this series. The Gorilla With Twenty-Four Heads (still editing) and Secrets Of The Springs (still writing) are especially heavy with interesting plants and animals. Here is the blurb:
Having escaped the overbearing Mama-And-Daddy entity and his annoyingly girly sister Allison, year-old dromaeosaur and new starship captain Nathaniel suddenly finds himself in the middle of a mysterious mission. As his companions fill in the empty gaps in his memory, he realizes that there are far more sinister forces at play in the universe than just meddlesome adults and alien beasts. His speed, agility, and sharp claws may protect him from other animals, but what can protect him from the terror of the fun sponge?
This is a swimming seed, a distant relative of the hopping seed. When ripe, they drop from their trees into the water below and start paddling. The pores on top selectively allow in water or air as it floats along the surface. When they hit land, they waddle ashore a ways and if they find a fertile spot, they put down roots.
This weed-eating fish has no swim bladder and must continually flap its ventral (lower) fin to remain afloat. When resting, it uses its two anterior (front) fins below the mouth (reduced to simple sticks – only one shown) as “kickstands” to hold itself upright. The spiral over the nose is the olfactory (smell) center and the one on the back is a dorsal fin packed with blood vessels so that it can be used for respiration, as this fish has no true gills, either.
When I’m not doodling animals, plants, robots, spacecraft, or landscapes (or even chemical compounds), I often mindlessly doodle maps. I then divide the lands into different countries and have them war against each other or make trade deals. In the below picture, I have national borders and cities marked. This often gives me ideas for stories, such as blocking off a river upstream so that it can be marched across.
When I’m not mindlessly doodling maps, I doodle algebra. No good comes of this (though it is relaxing). There is a certain artistic quality to the picture below, don’t you think?
I once imagined a planet populated by pretzel-shaped beings among other things. Among the “other things” were the “claw balls.” Claw balls are mostly benthic scavengers. The claw ball on the upper left grabs the ground with its single claw and uses its spiked body as a club to bludgeon foes. The claw ball on the lower left has the mysterious ability to erase its tracks as it goes so it cannot be followed. I don’t have a name for the pretzel planet yet. What should I call it?
The planet Donutus (named after the donut-shaped beings there) is home to many varieties of plants, animals, and…plantimals. One plantimal, the swimming bush, starts life as a worm. As it develops, its body curves back on itself and its digestive system becomes looped. The loops become more numerous until it forms a hollow ball of tangled loops. In adult form, the swimming bush has one mouth and no anus. Waste is cycled through the numerous loops and used as fertilizer by the photosynthetic skin, which is covered in leaves. The swimming bush swims by flexing specialized leaf-fins on its outer surface and perfects a bilateral symmetry, complete with frontward-facing eyes.
The picture at the top reminds me of the swimming bush, though it is irregular rather than spherical and has far fewer loops than a mature bush. I had thought it might be a detached part to be used as a mobile decoy to distract predators, such as the tails of certain lizards. It could also be used to distract prey. Without mouths, these detached parts cannot replace needed nutrients and can only live on photosynthesis alone for a few weeks. They sacrifice themselves for the good of the species.
The echinoderm in the upper right I originally thought might fill up with gas and float from place to place, dangling its poisonous tentacles for protection. Then I thought the tentacles might actually be snorkels to pull air down from the surface to fill the gas bladders in the first place. I thought modified tube feet might expel the gas in such a way to steer, zooming across the seafloor. Then I realized it should only have one snorkel (for its madreporite) and that any number of snorkels would cause a lot of drag. Then I thought that if the air was ejected at angles to spin the animal and the snorkel doubled as a feeding tentacle, it could create a whirlpool to suck in leaves, but then I remembered I already made a creature like that, except it uses legs to spin, which is probably more efficient.
The animal in the lower right has sticky feet and venomous horns. It lives in the reefs of planet Lup.
Spin feeders anchor their shells to the ground in shallow water with tough strings and then run around in circles inside their shell using quick legs. Extending a feeding tentacle, they are able to whip up small whirlpools to draw in material from the surface, such as floating leaves or bugs (like I do with my arms at the pool). This they trap inside pockets inside their shell and rapidly much as they go. More advanced designs than the one shown below have feeding tentacles with helical ridges for greater efficiency. They live on planet Lup.
Sea funnels stand in shallow water while waves wash plankton into them. During the low part of the wave, the water drains out through numerous pores in the funnel and the plankton is flushed down into the throat. The pores can be opened and closed as needed to deal with differing water levels. Some sea funnels actually bob up and down in areas where waves are too small. They all have the capability of swimming to better spots, to shore during high tide and out to sea during low tide. They live on planet Lup. Here are two specimens:
Hello, my name is Dan. I am an author, artist, explorer, and contemplator of subjects large and small. I like bacon. I like pizza. I like bacon pizza. I enjoy long walks on the beach, but prefer the mountains. I am a huge fan of Jesus. When I grow up, I want to be just like him and create my own universes.