A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Eight: Blog Fifty-One)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Eight: Blog Fifty-One)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris, co-authors of the Rita Walker series

“I was too busy to hear tales,” “Dizzying Blade” says with shake of her mane.  “After demonstrating and defeating many of the girls and some of the boy horsies in sparring matches with different weapons I said I should win a prize each time I win.  They are a very competitive bunch so they agreed.  I told them for each match I win they must give me a bow and quiver and some of their spears.  Unfortunately, most of the girls would not be able to pull the horsies’ bowstrings, nor hold the thick shafts of their spears.  So, I said we would take their children’s.  A lot of little ones broke out in tears as I was given their play weapons.”  “Dizzying Blade” laughs and out of habit everyone including Olanis follow suite.

“Haven’t seen the “Harlot””, Olanis says glancing about.

“We’re to call her “Flag Weaver” now that she’s a proper woman with a single man,” “Wheel Turner” says.  “She and her lover are staying indefinitely with the Horse People.  She’s an ambassador now.  I’m going to miss her little sarcastic replies.”                       

“And where is the “Ship Builder”?” Olanis asks.

“Down below,” “Wheel Turner” replies.  “We’re going to get you your own ship as soon as the anchors are aboard,” she continues with a grin.

Standing beside the Captain on the fo’c’sle without her eyepatch Olanis sings loudly, “Grab the handles of the capstan ladies

Get the anchor to its place at the stern

Heave the ropes to raise the sails

We’re off

We’re off to the sea

Early in the day the Captain asked her to sing a song to rouse the crew.  She changed a few words to bows and arrows because they rarely used cannons now.

Prepare the bows and arrows

Sharpen whatever blades you carry

And drink up your share of rum

We’re off

We’re off to war!

As she sings Olanis sees “Unibrow”, Janice, and the Cannibal fill up the pewter mugs that the crew has attached to their capris with leather string.

“I’m on first watch,” the Captain tells her.  “Dizzying Blade”, “Wheel Turner”, “Storm Bringer”, “Ship Protector” Umi are with me.  You’ll have Zala as First Mate, Aarini as Helmswoman, Janice as Navigator, Arsema as “Ship Protector”, and Amelie as Master-of-Arms.”

“Aye,” Captain Olanis says with a grin.  “And Mesi and Althea?”

“Best let them sleep through it all,” the Captain says with a wink.

“Aye again,” Olanis says with a gleam in her eyes.  She tingles all over at the idea of playing captain.

Dan Watt is the author of the epic dark fantasy fiction book BARD

Taylor Norris, RMT, as First Mate ‘One Eye’ Olanis:  taynorris@gmail.com (Kitchener-Waterloo)

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor;

Andraya Watt as Assistant-Master-at-Arms, Amelie

With Thanks To:

Fire & Steel for the Medieval Rapier:  http://fireandsteel.ca/

Alex Watt for background pictures

Daiana Duca for background pictures

Krissy Karmaschek for background pictures

Book Review of Nnedi Okorafor’s WHO FEARS DEATH

Book Review of Nnedi Okorafor’s

Who Fears Death

by Dan Watt

Nnedi Okorafor, PhD. is a multi-award winning author including a Wole Soyinka Prize, The World Fantasy Award, Nebula Award, Hugo Award, and more.

Her current book: NOOR was released late November

However, this is about a book published eleven years ago by Daw Books, Inc. called:

WHO FEARS DEATH

Okorafor’s description of sand reminded me of Barry Lopez’s description of the many types of snow and ice in his Arctic Dreams (Vintage Publ. 1986, 2001).  Always shifting and changing.  Something to hide within during the night, or run from when the wind is so strong the granules tear gashes like tiny knives. 

Her writing felt so real it brought back memories of reading Elenore Smith Bowen and Laura Bohannan’s: Return to Laughter: An Anthropological Novel (Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 1965).  Both Return to Laughter and Okorafor’s: Who Fears Death creates natural interactions that could happen anywhere in the world.  Throughout Who Fears Death, Okorafor deals with the very real emotions of desire, fear, jealousy, and misunderstanding. 

Where Okorafor’s Who Fears Death becomes more mythological is her use of JuJu for both violence and healing and her very realistic description of physical transformation.

The main character is written in first person.  Her name is Onyesonwa, a girl born of rape between a Nuru and Okeke.  The child of a Nuru and Okeke is called an Ewu.  Here, Okorafor includes in her narrative, the conversation of how humans treat children of rape, and biases based on appearance and gender that can lead to slavery, war, and perhaps genocide.

Eventually Onyesonwa will head into the desert to fulfill what she believes is her destiny with a group of friends.  While journeying through the deserts we, as readers, will learn that camels and other creatures are much wiser than we may have considered.

The natural way Okorafor writes the spiritual connection both the Nuru and Okeke have to the goddess Ani; her use of ju ju; and the connection Onyesonwa has with the animal kingdom in such a clear way has me wondering.  Did she sleep to wake in the Wilderness, and upon returning, remember what happened?

This is a story that will pull you in so that the soles of your feet press against the warm sand.  You will feel, hear, and smell what Onyesonwu and the other main characters do; until the very end.

I won’t say more because I want you to experience Nnedi Okorafor’s: Who Fears Death for yourself.

To learn more about Nnedi Okorafor and her books:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nnedi_Okorafor

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Eight: Blog Fifty)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Eight: Blog Fifty)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris, co-authors of the Rita Walker series

Olanis wakes to the tinging sound of a cowbell Nippi keeps in the Galley.  It’s the single the Captain and the others have returned.  She groans as she pulls off her covers and dresses.  The first thing she sees is the Captain with “Storm Caller” heading down below deck.  She knows Alejandra will congratulate all the girls who battled last night and check on Gazala.  “Dizzying Blade” is already giving Arsema instructions.  She saunters over to greet those who returned.

“I want the Cannibal and Janet out of my room,” “Dizzying Blade” is saying in a tone that will tolerate no retorts.  “And I want all of my weapons placed back where they were but–,” she says as she rubs her chin in thought, “first get Amelie so she can be congratulated.”

“Aye, Master-at-arms,” Arsema says and dashes off.

“Greetings Master-at-arms,” Olanis says with a tired grin.  “And to you Helmswoman, and you Umi.” 

“Greetings,” each officer replies in turn.

As a completely exhausted looking Amelie steps up to the group, Olanis sees Arsema head towards “Dizzying Blade’s” room.

“You did a valiant job of defending our ship, Amelie,” “Dizzying Blade” says with pride until her eyes squint with suspicion.  “That dagger you have looks very familiar.”

Olanis watches with intrigue as Amelie very humbly holds out the dagger, with both hands palms up.

“You were exceptional, I heard,” “Dizzying Blade” says biting her lower lip.  “I have taught you well.  Hold onto it for now for soon we will be fighting a much bigger battle.”

Amelie’s eyes sparkle as she nods, flips the dagger so the handle is in her hand and disappears down the hatch, Olanis assumes to her hammock.

Following Arsema out of “Dizzying Blade’s” room is a disheveled Cannibal. 

“What happened to your neck?” Olanis asks Melinda.  There’s a thin red line in the centre and side of the Cannibal’s neck.

“Janet put her hammock too close to my bed,” Melinda says touching her wound.  “I got up to use the pottie and my head hit the rope of her hammock.  In a flash she cut me with a tiny blade.  I put one hand to keep the wound closed and the other up so she knew I meant no harm.  She never apologized but she did give me a cloth to cover the wound.  She’s a strange and deadly one.”

“That’s our Janet,” Olanis says with a grin.

“The Horse People have cannibals too,” “Wheel Turner” says.  “In some of their tribes they tie captured enemy male warriors between two trees.  The women bite off and eat their manly parts to improve fertility, and the men cut out their still beating hearts and devour them to gain their power.”

“That’s horrible,” Melinda says, and from the horrified expression on her face, Olanis believes she means it.

“The Horse People told you this?” “Dizzying Blade” asks.  “I heard nothing of it and I was there with you.”

“No.  Peg-leg told me,” “Wheel Turner” says knowingly.   “He also told me in some tribes the women cut off whichever breast is on the side they aim their bows with.”

“Perhaps,” Olanis says thoughtfully, “he is imposing other stories he’s heard on the Horse People.”

“Maybe,” “Wheel Turner” says with consternation.  “But it sure sounded real.”  Olanis sees “Wheel Turner” turn towards Melinda.  “He’s got a hooked hand where you ate most of his hand now.  And he’s called it Melinda in honour of you.”

The Cannibals face goes beat red.  “That’s so kind of him,” she says shyly.

“Peg-leg told me something as well,” The “Ship Protector” pipes in.  “as he looked at me with a sad ‘look at poor me’ expression and shuffled closer to me.”

“Come to think of it, he tried the same thing with me,” “Wheel Turner” interrupts.

“That’s when I pulled out my dagger and pretended to clean my nails with it,” The “Ship Protector” says.  “He told me when some of the Horse Peoples tribes capture enemy tribe women the women are given a choice.  They can become wives or be placed in a giant wicker like structure and burnt alive.  That their ashes are poured over the ground to make it more futile.”

“Fertile,” Olanis corrects her.

Where most of the weapons come from “Interview with Laura Suen, CEO of Fire and Steel”

Dan Watt is the author of the epic dark fantasy fiction book BARD

Taylor Norris, RMT, as First Mate ‘One Eye’ Olanis:  taynorris@gmail.com (Kitchener-Waterloo)

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor;

Andraya Watt as Assistant-Master-at-Arms, Amelie

With Thanks To:

Fire & Steel for the Medieval Rapier:  http://fireandsteel.ca/

Alex Watt for background pictures

Daiana Duca for background pictures

Krissy Karmaschek for background pictures

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates! (part eight: blog forty-nine)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Eight: Blog Forty-Nine)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris, co-authors of the Rita Walker series

Very little shocks Oli but Amelie’s both daring and simultaneously stupid attack, has.  She unsheathes her dragon claw katana and peers over the gunwale.  Well, that’s amazing she thinks.  Amelie is standing atop the body of one of the attackers, cursing the few still alive.  Meanwhile, Amelie’s friend, the dixopus, is fighting one sailor with the wooden practice sword and another with a steel sword; probably taken from one of the corpses.  She squints to see through the thinning mist and finds what she’s looking for.  There’s a pile of bodies.  And lucky be it, one of the corpses is holding a Miquelet pistol. 

“Hold the ship lasses,” she says before leaping down onto the pile of corpses.

She slips the pistol through her sword belt and joins the remaining fray.  She has no qualms about killing these men.  She doesn’t do it with quite the aplomb Amelie is.  Slashing, dodging with both her ninjato and dagger that looks vaguely familiar, while screaming out insults in French.  The dagger definitely looks like the one “Dizzying Blade” wears sometimes.  She leans back as a wooden trident with stone tips flies through the air piercing one of the male sailors.  The distraction is good enough to let her slit the throat of a sailor staring dumbfounded at the trident sticking out of his comrade’s chest.  

With a quick scan of the pinnace she realizes there are no enemy remaining alive.  “Let’s take what goods they have and heave them overboard,” she says when Amelie starts arguing with someone.  Oli squints into the dispersing mist and sees Amelie yelling at a very bright red dixopus.

“Leave the steel sword,” Ameilie is admonishing.  “It will rust in the salt water.”  Oli is quite intrigued when she sees the dixopus raise a central limb in Amelie’s direction and invert it so the suckers face up.  The dixopus slides into the water almost causing her to lose balance.  Once in the water one tentacle slaps the surface causing a spray to cover Amelie.

“Idiote dixopus!” Amelie screams at it.  Amelie starts picking through the corpses’ bodies, dropping anything worthwhile on the floor of the pinnace.  She notices that if Amelie doesn’t find anything worthwhile she kicks the corpse.  Oli finds this so amusing she sits on her own pile of corpses and watches.

Amelie finally notices her.  “How did you get here First Mate? Should we just toss the useless ones over?”

“Let’s make sure we thoroughly check them for goodies first,” Oli says jumping to her feet.

After they search each corpse they throw the corpse into the ocean.

“Do you know which girl?” Amelie asks her.

“Gazala,” she replies with a heavy sigh.

“Dead?”

“Not so far,” she replies with a weak smile.  “If Canneta and Areso can get the bullet out and sterilize the wound in time she has a chance.”

“Where?”

Oli can see the expression of failure on Amelie’s face.  If Gazala dies, and that breaks Amelie, Amelie will never become a full commander in the sisterhood.  “The forehead, to the left side.  Our amazing surgeons believe it’s lodged in the bone of her forehead.”

“I hope she lives,” Amelie says and continues searching.

“Good news,” Oli says.  “”Unibrow’s” arrow struck true and we can pull the other pinnace in.

“We did good,” Amelie says with a beaming smile.

“We did extraordinarily good,” Oli says, her own smile widening as she pockets a pewter jar full of gunpowder, and a leather bag containing ball bearings.  

Dan Watt is the author of the epic dark fantasy fiction book BARD

Taylor Norris, RMT, as First Mate ‘One Eye’ Olanis:  taynorris@gmail.com (Kitchener-Waterloo)

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor;

Andraya Watt as Assistant-Master-at-Arms, Amelie

With Thanks To:

Fire & Steel for the Medieval Rapier:  http://fireandsteel.ca/

Alex Watt for background pictures

Daiana Duca for background pictures

Krissy Karmaschek for background pictures

An Interview with Laura Suen, CEO of Fire and Steel

An Interview with Laura Suen, CEO of Fire and Steel

By Dan Watt

I met Laura Suen, CEO of Fire and Steel, at the 2018 Kitchener Comic Con.  She was extremely busy but gracious enough to let me take a few pictures.  I’ve wanted to interview her ever since…

Where did the creative idea to start Fire and Steel come from?

Well firstly, I always loved geeky things! My family didn’t have that much money growing up, so I remember taking so long to save up to go to Fan Expo – a comic convention — as soon as I could afford it.

My older sister is a huge geek and I really looked up to her as a kid. We would spend so much time gaming, reading fantasy novels, and watching sci fi TV shows. I of course was the generation that was raised on Saturday morning cartoons too, which included a lot of Japanese anime. Personally I also loved martial arts and do kung fu on the side, so Fire and Steel was just the perfect way to combine my love of martial arts with geeky things.

For legal reasons I can only use weapons designed or created by Fire and Steel on covers, such as the one for the weekly blogged story A Motley Sisterhood Of Pirates! However, Fire and Steel has a large assortment of weapons from a variety of styles and sources. Could you tell us about Fire and Steel’s own weapons?

So I use to work as a physicist and from that, I learned how to 3D model. It’s funny how programs that would be used to design laser ion traps can be used to design swords too. Not everything we carry is modelled by myself of course, but there are a few things that we’ve designed in house! I feel so honoured you’ve featured several of them on your book covers.

Fire and Steel has all sorts of weapons including ones we see in cosplay, magna, comics, TV shows, movies, and traditional. Could you talk about the Japanese katana?

We sell Japanese katanas of all types and quality levels, so we hope you will be able to find something that suits your needs! We sell wooden training swords called bokken and bamboo practice swords called shinai. These are traditionally used to train with and you’ll see those items showing up in anime all the time. From there, we have carbon steel katanas, which can take some light impact but are more made for display purposes because it is a softer blade. Beyond that, we also carry high carbon steel katanas, which are typically sharp (battle ready) in several different grades. The higher the number, the harder the blade. These blades can typically take a lot of impact and are what you see in a lot of our “Will It Cut” YouTube videos.

YouTube channel

I was watching some of the video clips on Instagram and Facebook and saw something very intriguing.

You have the exact same weapons in different grades from metal to foam. This would be perfect for making a movie or TV show. Have any of your weapons been used in movies or TV shows?

Yes! Actually I’m so honoured to say you can see some of our stuff in the background of shows like American Vandals, In the Dark, The 100 and Power Rangers just to name a few.

Your foam weapons look like they’re made of metal. Great for cosplay, LARP, or if a young person wants one of the weapons. Could you tell us more about the foam weapons and their uses?

Foam weapons are great as safer alternatives for people who want to train with swords but don’t want to hurt themselves. In addition, they’re great for cosplay since many conventions and festivals, for safety reasons, do not allow steel swords to be carried around as a part of a costume, even if they’re blunted. For this reason, many people see foam as a great alternative and it saves people a lot of time since you don’t have to make your own sword anymore for your outfit!

Fire and Steel can also design specific weapons for customers. How would a customer go about ordering one of these weapons?

We do take custom requests normally, but COVID has thrown a bit of wrench in schedules and timelines. Please feel free to send us an email at support@fireandsteel.ca for a quote if you want something made – but who knows? We might already have it made and you don’t even realize it!

Fire and Steel is on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. Are there are any other links you want to mention?

Our social media handle is @RealFireNSteel for TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. We also are active on TikTok as @RealFireandSteel too! Find us there. Also of course, check out our website for updates:

www.fireandsteel.ca

Fire and Steel will be at the

Ottawa Comic Con

November 19-21  2021

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Seven: Blog Forty-Eight)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Seven: Blog Forty-Eight)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris, co-authors of the Rita Walker series

*Interview with Laura Suen, CEO of FireandSteel.ca will be posted this week!*

As soon as she sees “Unibrow” beside Janet, dipping arrow heads into the flammable plant oil, she turns to the others.  “Keep low and prepare your arrows,” she reminds them in a tense whisper.  “Remember, we are used to the movement of the boat but you’ll have to adjust when you let the string go.  First nock the arrow, then hold until you get a feel for the movement of the boat, and know which way the wind blows and how strong.  Ready.  Today we show,” she spits into the air, “Barthodrow what our Sisterhood can do.”

When the girls are arranged along the starboard gunwale she turns to the fo’c’sle and holds an inhaled breath as “Unibrow” nocks her bow.

“Ready,” Amelie whispers.  She raises her own bow and nocks an arrow.  She nods at “Unibrow”.

“Wait,” she whispers as the heavy arrow with its burning tip flies.

There are shots in both Spanish and English coming from the pinnace now.  “Wait until you can see,” she says.

There’s a bang followed by a cry from one of the girls near her.  “Steady,” she says not taking her eyes off the ocean.  Cannetta and Areso will do the best they can for the girl.  “Unibrows” flaming arrow drops right towards the centre of the pinnace.  “Shoot!” Amelie shouts not caring if the men on the pinnace can hear.  “Vengeance for the fallen!” she shouts nocking her second arrow.  This time she waits until “Unibrow” shoots her second flaming arrow before she shoots again.  Now in a rage she stands up and shouts in English but as her rage increases in French, “Good luck trying to shoot anyone else with arrows raining down on tu, vous connard!”

The other girls follow suit; screaming out as they stand and shoot arrow after arrow into the pinnace.  The only ones who are silent are “Unibrow” and Janet.  When her arrows are all gone Amelie glances up at the fo’c’sle.  She sees “Unibrow” and Janet hugging each other.

“It’s done,” she says to the others with a croak in her voice.  Exhausted she turns to “Unibrow” and nods.  She sees “Unibrow” discussing something with Janet.  Janet points into the distance.  She watches as “Unibrow” launches another arrow followed by an even heavier arrow with a fish eyehook at its end.  Attached through the eyehook is a strong string.  Janet continues to stare starboard and talk as “Unibrow’s” arm quivers from adjusting her aim.  Finally “Unibrow” shoots.  Amelie feels like her heart has stopped as she waits.  If “Unibrows” arrow doesn’t stick someone will have to swim out to the pinnace.

As she waits she feels a bump from the portside of the Nague.   She didn’t think the Captain and others were arriving quite yet.  She hurries over to the portside.  As she glances over the gunwale her instinct tells her to turn to the side.  A bolt whizzes by her.  “Nous sommes attaqués—we attacked!” she shouts.  She pulls out a throwing knife from her bandana and is about to throw it when a grappling hook nearly hits her.

Furious now, she simultaneously pokes her head over the gunwale throws the knife.  This time there’s a bang and where her head was a moment ago there’s now a chunk of wood missing from the gunwale.  Her heart is pounding so hard it feels like it will erupt out of her chest.  She draws out her ninjato and starts sawing away at the grappling hook’s rope.  A few feet away from her there is another thunk and another grappling hook latches onto the gunwale.  “One Eye” and some of the others are near her. 

“Nippi and Janet are on the portside of the fo’c’sle now,” “One Eye” tells her.

“You three,” Amelie whispers to the girls with bows.  Step back ten paces and take aim.  You are too close here.  The rest of you draw your stabbing weapons.  Cut the other hook’s rope,” she says to “One Eye”.

“Good thinking,” “One Eye” says with an encouraging wink.

“Que es eso!” she hears one of the sailors shout in Spanish.

“Kraken!”  Another sailor shouts in English.

“My friend is aboard,” she says to the others with a smirk on her face.  “I always wanted to do this.”

“No Amelie!” she hears her sisters cry out.  Some try to grab her but she is too fast. 

“La mort arrive!” she bellows out as she leaps overboard with her ninjato grasped in both hands with the tip pointed down.

Dan Watt is the author of the epic dark fantasy fiction book BARD

Taylor Norris, RMT, as First Mate ‘One Eye’ Olanis:  taynorris@gmail.com (Kitchener-Waterloo)

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor;

Andraya Watt as Assistant-Master-at-Arms, Amelie

With Thanks To:

Fire & Steel for the Medieval Rapier:  http://fireandsteel.ca/

Alex Watt for background pictures

Daiana Duca for background pictures

Krissy Karmaschek for background pictures

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Seven: Blog Forty-Seven)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Seven: Blog Forty-Seven)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris, co-authors of the Rita Walker series

Amelie feels a hand gently pushing her shoulder.  She grabs the wrist of the hand.  Unlike “Dizzying Blade” she isn’t inclined to stab anyone who awakes her.  “Get up Amelie,” “One Eye” is whispering in her ear.

“Dixopus is here now?” she asks groggily.  She can see light through her eyelids.

“No, but a Dolphin Tail just threw some stones up onto deck.”

“A warning?” she asks.

“It’s night now lass, and the mist is dense,” continues in a whisper.  ““Storm Caller” isn’t here to look, so Janet is, and she thinks she sees a pinnace heading our way starboard side.”

“Why would the Captain be returning that way?” she asks.

“With men aboard,” “One Eye” says with a hiss.

“Barthadrow!” Amelie exclaims.  She makes a spitting sound, as does “One Eye”.  She gets dressed as quickly as she can in the light from the lantern “One Eye” is holding.  “Are you going to wake the others?” she asks glancing at the other occupied hammocks below deck?”

“Not yet.  Too much chaos will let the enemy we know we know they are coming.  We’ll wake only those who know how to use a bow and arrow for now.  Especially Nippi, for distance she’s strongest after “Wheel Turner”.  I’ll wake Canneta and Areso.  If any girls get wounded I want them attended to immediately.”

Amelie walks with stealth past all the hammocks.  She only gently nudges awake the girls who can use a bow and arrow.  She realizes there are not many with the strength or knowledge to shoot the needed distance.

Up on deck she glances at the few gathered and let’s out a long sigh. 

Amelie notices that “One Eye” keeps the lantern hooded and at hip level with just enough light for the others to see each other.  “We want the pinnace to get as close as possible,” “One Eye says with a stern voice uncommon for her.  “All the men aboard are to be killed silently.  We want that pinnace intact.”  With a glimmer in her unpatched eye “One Eye” says with great want, “And we want to capture the ship she came from.”  She sees “One Eye” glance her way.  “Amelie.”

“Aim for the chest, and if you hit the neck all the better,” she whispers with urgency to the others.  She has killed before but most of the girls on deck have never had to fight.  “You do this to protect yourself.”  She knows the pirate code is generally about self-preservation.  “And your sisters.  Each of you shall set five arrows within hand reach.  Shoot until you have no more arrows left.  And if you shoot with a killer shot into the same man more than once—good.”  Accuracy and thoroughness wins ranged battles “Dizzying Blade” had explained to her and Arsema numerous time until it became a mantra. 

“Nippi,” she says to “Unibrow”, “you will be shooting the flaming arrows.  Janet will give you direction.”  Turning to the other girls she says, “Wait for the arrow’s light to guide you to a target.”

Amelie stands silently as she watches with racked nerves as “Unibrow” crouches low before ascending the steps to the fo’c’sle where Janet is peering over the railing.  They can’t afford to use a telescope.  The glass of the lens might reflect off the light of the stars and two moons.  All the lessons the Captain, “Dizzying Blade”, “Wheel Turner”, and “One Eye” taught her are coming to use in this one desperate moment.

Dan Watt is the author of the epic dark fantasy fiction book BARD

Taylor Norris, RMT, as First Mate ‘One Eye’ Olanis:  taynorris@gmail.com (Kitchener-Waterloo)

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor;

Andraya Watt as Assistant-Master-at-Arms, Amelie

With Thanks To:

Fire & Steel for the Medieval Rapier:  http://fireandsteel.ca/

Alex Watt for background pictures

Daiana Duca for background pictures

Krissy Karmaschek for background pictures

Movie review of DUNE (2021)

Movie review of DUNE (2021)

By Dan Watt

I read the original Frank Herbert, Dune series, before high school.  And like many others felt an immediate familiarity to Maud’Dib, enough so that I named a Dungeons and Dragons character after him.

In the original David Lynch movie two things stuck out as noteworthy to me: the worms and Baron Harkonen.

Before watching the Denis Villeneuve version I watched the trailers (Denis Villeneuve directed the amazing sci-fi/thriller movie Arrival (2016)).

Dune, as Frank Herbert admitted and tried to do, was next to impossible to write a script for.

As Stellan Skarsgard (who plays Vladimir Harkonnen) said in an interview (paraphrasing): To make a book work on screen you have to remove 90% of it.  I would say Villeneuve succeeded!

Is Dune important, yes!  The first book was published August 1965 by Chilton Books.  Eleven years after J.R.R. Tolkien’s first Lord of the Rings book:  The Fellowship of the Ring.  And it came out nearly twelve years before George Lucas’s: Star Wars.  The use of politics, greed, and the devastating effects on nature are comparable.  The Lord of the Rings trilogy, to me, spoke of the damage done by industry, and there was evil brought about by the eye of Sauron.  In Star Wars, entire planets are eliminated through the use of technology; and there is the light and dark of the Force.  In between is Frank Herbert’s Dune; where technology has turned a living world into a desert in the name of greed and addiction; and there is the spice that allows for space travel and foresight along with other special abilities.

Political comparisons could be made between the Dune books and George R.R. Martin’s series:  A Song of Ice and Fire (August 1, 1996).  In both, families war against each other in both physical and mental battles in order to rule all.

Before I saw the movie a friend told me the effects and soundtracks are amazing.  I mentioned this in an Instagram message to Tina Guo who plays on the Dune soundtrack (she has also played on other soundtracks by Hans Zimmer.  You can see more of her at:  tinaguo.com).

The movie introduces a number of families and groups worth looking up on the internet if you aren’t familiar with the story:  Fremen (original Arrakis dwellers); Bene Gesserit (witches who have many secrets); The Atreides (you’ll have to watch to see what happens to them); The Harkonnens; and House Corrino.  There is of course the gigantic sandworms who produce the spice that allows rapid space travel.  There are others you will likely meet in the upcoming films.

My recommendation is see Dune on the biggest screen you can. 

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Seven: Blog Forty-Six)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Seven: Blog Forty-Six)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris, co-authors of the Rita Walker series

“Master-at-arms,” she hears Sasha shout.  Then someone else saying something to Sasha, maybe “One Eye”.  “Assistant Master-at-arms,” Sasha corrects herself.  Groggily she slides out of her hammock and starts dressing.  She hurries when Sasha starts screaming out: “Amelie!  Amelie!”  “The octopus—dice-opus, is back!”

“Dixopus!” Amelie admonishes as she tugs on her boots.  “Learn how to speak French, Sasha,” she continues as she belts on her Ninjato.  She grabs the wooden practice sword—just in case.

Up on deck she sees “One Eye” staring down from the fo’c’sle with an amused expression.  On the deck, near the helm is the dixopus wielding the wooden sword back and forth as Sasha runs from stern to port trying to get away from the tentacled limb and its weapon.

“Are the Captain and others not here?” Amelie shouts up to “One Eye”.

“They signaled it will be another day,” “One Eye” shouts down to her with a grin.  “This situation is all yours Assistant Master-at-arms.”

Amelie raises her chin and lowers her upper eyelids giving her eyes a confident, half lidded appearance.  “Come for a lesson dixopus?” she asks with a twirl of the wooden sword.  She charges forward, wielding the sword.  The dixopus brings its sword down on her.  She easily side steps the attack and with a circular movement of her sword hand disarms the dixopus.  Stepping back she tells the very large mollusk, “You’re attacks are wild and clumsy.”

The dixopus grabs the sword with the same tentacled arm.  This time, holding it out and waiting. 

Amelie steps in moves with the graceful movements of a dancer; just as “Dizzying Sword” taught her and Arsema.  She taps the dixopus’s sword on one side then the other.  Next she holds her sword arms still.  The dixopus reproduces the same tapping on her sword.

Time seems to stand still as she teaches the dixopus to lunge, but not over extend; to side step while attacking and parlaying; and the unique style of overhead, mid body, and lower body attacks.  These including jabs, thrusts, parlays, and slices.  Soon the dixopus is looking grey and its siphons are straining for air.  So Amelie makes a low sweeping bow to it then points her sword towards the gunwale.  As the dixopus disappears over the rail, Amelie shouts, “Same time tomorrow!”

Dan Watt is the author of the epic dark fantasy fiction book BARD

Taylor Norris, RMT, as First Mate ‘One Eye’ Olanis:  taynorris@gmail.com (Kitchener-Waterloo)

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor;

Andraya Watt as Assistant-Master-at-Arms, Amelie

With Thanks To:

Fire & Steel for the Medieval Rapier:  http://fireandsteel.ca/

Alex Watt for background pictures

Daiana Duca for background pictures

Krissy Karmaschek for background pictures