I Had My First Negative Review

AT AMAZON RECENTLY. It was on The High T Shebang. The reviewer claimed to have read 25% of the book, been unable to discern a plot other than Drummond and Dolly getting it on every whipstitch, and given the book metaphorical flying lessons.

It may shock you to know (you and all the people who are going to tell me, “Don’t respond to critics.”) that that doesn’t bother me. In fact, I expect it. And welcome it.

My issue is I have never been able to get ENOUGH negative feedback on my work. Hell, I have enough trouble getting people to admit they’ve read the stuff, let alone that they didn’t like it. I’m glad for people to hate my stories and tell me with great specificity exactly why. (To use a little Hannity lingo on you, there). How in hell am I supposed to improve if nobody will tell me what I’m doing wrong? Right?

What did sting a little is that the guy complained that what little plot there is to the book is a weak framework on which to hang the porn. I must demur. If he’d read a little more — perhaps as much as 40% total of the book, he’d have found that the sex has a definite purpose and it is very much plot-driven. Oh, well. That’s really kind of tangential to my point. And that is this: Amazon is setting out to try to obviate authors’ using pay-for-reviews to manipulate impressions of a book. Which means my notion of bribing people to give me closely-reasoned negative reviews won’t work any more. So I’m gonna have to resort to the old-fashioned method — beg for them.

So. If you read one of my books and didn’t like it, don’t be shy. Say so. In public. Please.

And, about the sex. Sorry. It’s embedded in the ficton. I’m one of those people who, if somebody’d print it, I’d wear a t-shirt that read, “Oh, John Ringo, Yes!” “Cottontail” is one of my all-time favorite characters in adventure fiction. Once I get to the point where I’m overdriving my own headlights in these stories, I full intend to “borrow” (read:”steal”) from her for a couple of my secondary characters. So, if you don’t like sex, too bad. It ain’t going away.


IN EMAIL THIS MORNING, the announcement that went out, I’m sure, to all independent authors publishing their work on some Amazon platform — KDP, CreateSpace, Audible — that October is Celebrate Great Writing #PoweredbyIndie Month at Amazon. Indeed, we are — rich and poor, great and small — indie or trad, #PoweredbyIndie.

In the Story Bible: Part 2

NOTE: This originally appeared in a post to a mailing list in answer to a beta reader’s question and has eventually growed — like Topsy — into the Story Bible itself. At the time, I was workshopping the three stories mentioned in the next paragraph. I even submitted a very straitened version of Armed Citizen as a novelette to the Writers of the Future contest. That was a mistake.

NOTE-NOTE: I have tried to hide major spoilers by redacting them under bars of dark gray. However, the text is still there out of an excess of obnoxious honesty. (You can read it by highlighting the redacted parts.) So, if you’re spoiler averse, don’t read this or any post in this series.

Lemme try to set this up. As you are no doubt aware by now, all these stories — Geppetto’s Log, Armed Citizen, and The Next Story are connected in a long, epic story arc. Here’s a rough outline of it. (And — wow — I had no plan to make it this long or exhaustive, but once I got started… well.


THE GODS ARE REAL. SINCE THE DAWN OF TIME, THEY HAVE FAVORED A SINGLE family of Men, giving that family and its descendants great power. However, the Gods are not all-powerful. (In particular, they do not have the power to create original life and no one anybody has ever heard speak on the subject has ever heard one claim to be THE creator of heaven and earth, not even Yaweh. Those claims have been made from time-to-time by Men on behalf of their particular Gods.) In the time when Men were transitioning to monotheism, the Gods saw their power dissipate and felt their lives threatened. They went underground. They still walk among us, but in secret. The umbrella organization by which they coordinate their activities is called Upothesa (Greek meaning shebang) and is run by a member of the East families called the Childe of the East and by Hephaestus, who inherited the mantle of King of Olympus when Zeus was killed in the Twilight of the Gods.

Though the Dawn Phraetries had long been involved in global commerce, the majority of the families, in the age before the Twilight of the Gods, were employed in construction, local commerce, and statesmanship. Sometime after the fall of Rome, Upothesa began to focus its attention almost exclusively on commerce. By the 14th Century, it was one of the most powerful — albeit hidden — forces in human affairs. At this time, Elves came from Faerie and Trolls from the mountains of Central Asia to join Upothesa as associates. Eventually, Upothesa came to eschew political power until, by the time the multi-national syndicate came to be called Upothesa by most of its adherents in the early Nineteenth Century, it was a hard and fast law that no one — East nor God — was to seek the power of kings over Men.


IN THE 1830’s, UPOTHESA WAS HEADQUARTERED IN ENGLAND. The Childe Chosen in 1838 was an American pioneer farm girl named Gabrielle Francesca East. She was eight years old when she was chosen. By the end of her 25-year term as Childe, she had built Hephaestus‘s business interests into a preeminent position in world commerce and into unassailable dominance within Upothesa. After many adventures, she ended her term as Childe in 1863 and returned to the United States at the height of the Civil War. She turned her family’s Central Ohio farm into a University and a center of research — East College of the Americas, home to the Center for Study of the Unknown (later the Center for X Studies). She died childless in 1920 at the age of eighty, leaving behind her a legacy worth billions of dollars and untold wealth in knowledge and power. In addition to being incredibly successful and influential, GFE was a nice person, genuinely loved by all who knew her. Her legend is such that, in the late 20th Century, she is almost worshiped within Upothesa as a goddess herself.

MACGUFFIN SECRET: In one of GFE‘s most important adventures, she and her crew play a leading role in the foundation of Hong Kong and its acquisition by the British Empire as a crown colony. (See James Clavell’s Noble House and Tai Pan.) During this time, acting on Aphrodite‘s orders, the crew of the Bella Donna travel to Nan Madol, on the island of Ponape (latterly Pohnpei), in Micronesia, on a mission to procure an object, precious to a project of Aphrodite‘s. It is a nearly-perfect crystal sphere, which is to serve as the vessel for an anima to be plucked from the River of Souls some time in the distant future. Being as the people of Ponape hold that the city was founded and built by gods, and consider place to be sacred, Bella Donna‘s crew is at considerable risk looting the place. They find the thing they seek — a pure and nearly-perfect crystal sphere. GFE takes the sphere to a family jewelry business in Macao, where it is to be rendered absolutely perfect in the service of Aphrodite. Delivery is promised for 150 years in the future. Sometime around this time — or, perhaps, a century or two earlier — when a member of Upothesa referred to an enterprise as a “family”whatever, they meant it was “our family” or an East family whatever.

That all happens in 1842, the year that the treaty ending the First Opium War was forced on the Chinese Emperor and the British Empire gained a crown colony, the Pearl of the Orient: Hong Kong. GFE1 was present at the founding as the official representative of the Great Hong of Olympia Trading (Hephaestus‘s company, the chief trading house of Upothesa). Later, subsequent to some political maneuvering, the right to trade in Hong Kong was given over to Waitangi Holdings, the business umbrella of the East family branch based in Auckland and from which Drummond‘s former long term paramour, Semiramis haled. Her younger brother, Billy, was Drummond‘s dearest friend as well as Childe from 1972 to his death in 1996


Twelve years later, in 1854, Olympia Holdings was based in Athens, (Hephaestus and Aphrodite having moved there in an excess of patriotic nostalgia, hoping that they read the signs of the fall of the Ottoman Empire aright. (They did, only a half-century too early.) The winds of war blew chill down the Aegean and GFE shipped out in Bella Donna to close the Olympia factory in Constantinople and bring back the company’s gold to Athens to save it from being looted. On the way north, they stopped in at Gallipoli, to deliver mail and fulfill contracts with the British garrison there. On their way from the port to the fort, they encountered a rough-and-ready soldier making his way to his next posting and offered him a ride in their hired wagon, which he accepted. He found himself charmed and intrigued by this party so near a war zone, apparently in charge of a beautiful young American woman. Purposing to seduce the young woman, he introduced himself to GFECaptain Richard Francis Burton, late of the British East India Company Army, headed to the fighting in the Crimea. He would later discover he was on his way to join up with an irregular cavalry regiment, called bashi bazooks (crazy heads). It so happened that GFE was spotted on the streets of the foreign quarter by slavers hunting women for the Seraglio and was kidnapped by them. She was able to get word out to James Book, the Captain of the Bella Donna, who, encountering Burton by chance in a bazaar, enlisted his help in rescuing GFE from the Seraglio — something anyone familiar with the place would say was impossible. In fact, the legend says, the only way a woman ever left the Sultan‘s harem was by being tied in a weighted sack and tossed from a boat into the Sea of Marmara. (SPOILER): Which was exactly how they got GFE out, by getting GFE condemned to death by drowning, stalking the drowning boat out into the Sea and rescuing GFE from the sack. The women who served in the Seraglio but were not wives or concubines of the Sultan were called Odalisques. They were reputed to be of exceptional beauty and accomplishment. In fact there are many paintings of the Orientalist school of odalisques.


NOTE: THIS TEXT, AS of 3/7/13, IS BASED ON A VERY EARLY NOTION of the plot of Geppetto’s Log (the reference is to the first chapter(s) of Carlo Colodi’s Pinocchio. In the newer version, Drummond and Morgan fall in love and have a torrid affair on the trip to Hong Kong (and the side trip to New Zealand). Rather than Drummond carrying the backpack, Witchlet carries it — to her eventual thaumaturgical climactic battle with the Goddess Astarté.

SINCE THE BEGINNING OF TIME, APHRODITEHEPHAESTUS‘S WIFE and herself the Greek Goddess of Love — has been obsessed with the desire to create original life.
To that end, she has pursued a project over thousands of years to gain the power to do so. Her Genesis Project would finally bear fruit in 1996. The combination of a pure enough vessel for a soul pulled from the River of Souls to survive long enough to be placed in a cloned body — and of cloning technology to produce such a body — would (it is seen) finally come together. A pure crystal sphere — 150 years in the making — is to be brought to Greece, where Aphrodite means to pour into it the spirit of Gabrielle Francesca East.

But Aphrodite is not working unopposed. Older Gods — Marduk and Astarté, et al — see her efforts as potentially disastrous for Gods in general, not to mention blasphemous. (We never know exactly, but the Gods do worship higher being(s) of some sort. The Creator would be among those.) Marduk is advised through the Gods’ oracular sense that Aphrodite‘s efforts are about to bear fruit. He and Astarté — along with assorted allied Gods, Men, and Trolls — take action to prevent this. In September of 1996, in Athens, Greece, matters come to a head in open conflict.

Of course, Hephaestus and Aphrodite are not unaware of the coming attack, and take steps to obviate its effects. They dispose of their assets — including leaving a very hefty bequest –for Hephaestus‘s hitherto unacknowledged bastard son, Mitchell Drummond.

In an attempt to head Aphrodite off, Astarté and Marduk attack Hephaestus‘s domicile — Olympia House — on the slopes of Mt. Hymettus with magical weapons. The house is destroyed, and many of the staff killed.

During the attack, Drummond returns from his mission to Hong Kong bearing the Vessel. Aphrodite moves to pull GFE‘s anima from the River of Souls and throw it in the direction of the Vessel … just as one of the magical weapons strikes the room where Drummond, Hephaestus, and Aphrodite are gathered. Hephaestus and Aphrodite teleport out. Drummond is knocked unconscious, battered and bruised, but otherwise unharmed.

Drummond wakes up some time later and flees. A lot of stuff happens. Through it all, Drummond carries the knapsack — the property of his staff thaumaturge, Morgan “Witchlet” Miranda. Also in the knapsack, almost by accident, is a set of Xena: Warrior Princess action figures — dollies — that Witchlet bought on a whim while Drummond‘s team was in Hong Kong recovering the Vessel.

All of the stuff that happens comes to a climax in which the Vessel is destroyed, Astarté is nearly killed, Drummond is hunted by the Greek police for the destruction of Olympia House and for questioning as to the whereabouts of Hephaestus and Aphrodite. (The cops don’t know they’re Gods, just that they’re prominent citizens.) MacGuffin secret: At the climax of events (SPOILER) Witchlet is killed defending Drummond and her teammates from Astarté. As the team climbs aboard the plane that hustles them out of the country, one of the local Trolls hands Drummond Witchlet‘s knapsack. Drummond looks in it, meaning to pitch it — the Vessel‘s been destroyed, after all. He discovers… the dollies. He keeps the dollies for Witchlet.

Months later, Drummond is back home in Cincinnati. He has landed in a job at the Center, (working ironically enough for Marduk, who, Drummond is unaware, was behind in the recent troubles in Greece), and is settling into a loft apartment he’s kept for all the years he worked for Hephaestus. He sets the dollies on the windowsill over his computer and forgets about them. Then, one night, he’s doing something on his computer when he realizes that the Gabrielle Dolly is sitting on top of his monitor, watching him work.


Much wackiness ensues. Dolly‘s adventures as a 12″ action figure in a world that is unaware of — indeed indifferent to — her existence. Through it all, she learns about life. She and Drummond fall in love — she with a father figure (they admit it to themselves) and he with the indomitable spirit which has animated this toy. (She is only one of six, by the way, but the others are supporting players.) And she conceives a desire to be a Real Grrl. He conceives a desire to help her. They approach the Center‘s chief Thaumaturge — Jonathan Redpath — with a plan. They’re going to finish Aphrodite’s Genesis Project. They’re going to build a clone body for the Gabrielle dolly‘s anima. (End of Pinocchia.)



At 7:30PM (sunset) on February 14, 1998, Gabrielle Francesca East is reincarnated into an autocloned human body. She is immediately taken under arrest and hauled before a convocation of the Gods, where she is anathematized. Loki calls for her destruction. The convocation breaks up in the midst of political infighting. In the confusion, Hephaestus orders Terry Britten — the Director of the Center for X Studies — to get Dolly clear of the mess. She in turn hands the task off to one of the Trolls of her personal protection detail, Petra Alexandra Troll (Pete).

For the next twelve hours, accompanied and guided by a 19-year-old Troll trooper (Pete, a butter-bar lieutenant and Bobbo a captain about to be promoted to major.) Dolly struggles to survive the efforts of Loki‘s party among the Gods to kill her and destroy the Genesis Project once and for all. Hephaestus and Aphrodite — returned from hiding following the events of two years earlier — attempt to aid her, with mixed results. In all the excitement, Astarté stalks Dolly and Pete across the campus. (SPOILER): She catches up with them in a lab in the Thaum tower. Acting on instinct, with weapons that seem to just fall into her hands Dolly beheads Astarté, killing her. The body appears to be trying to regain the head. In a near-panic, Pete thrusts the head into a nearby electric furnace, incinerating it. Thus do they stumble on the tactics of killing Gods. Dolly and Pete flee the East College campus in a snowstorm on a motorcycle and race south toward the mountains. At 7:30 (sunrise) on February 15, 1998, she is free and clear.

DISCOVERY: THE ORIGIN PROTOCOLS (in process Spring 2016)

BEGINNING ON THE 15th, MARDUK RAMPS UP OPERATIONS on his mirror of Aphrodite’s Genesis project. He had initially begun his pirated parallel to the official project. (SPOILER): But, when he learned of Astarté‘s death, he immediately shifted his focus to reincarnating her in a purpose-built body. To learn how the process works and develop the expertise it had taken Redpath 500 years to gain, he complete the planned Genesis of each of the other five dollies. They all escape or are rescued by Drummond and Dolly and the newly-formed Troll Action Team — the current instantiation of Drummond‘s former Executive Action team from Hey Aye.


IT IS DURING THIS PERIOD THAT THE STORIES OF THE DOLLY APOCRYPHA take place — thirteen stories, shorts to novels in length. (These stories have long been on the Web and are currently (2013-2016) being drafted into novels for indie publication. (2016: and eventually melded into Canon)) These were the stories that started the whole thing off — written as email messages on a mailing list for Xena: Warrior Princess fen — The Center for Xena Studies (CFXS). Much of the background in these early stories is necessarily being altered as I try to refine the Dolly stories for professional publication. (See section on the Dolly Apocrypha below.)

And as Well

Where did Dolly come from? Now, the story that lays it all out, who she was, who she is, The story of her unique beginning, covering the first twelve hours of her life as a Real Grrl and her struggle to survive against the odds, and with all the Gods of Man (well, a good third of them, at any rate), out for her blood. Why does she constantly jones for cheese Danish? Why does she, at 5’2″ love Chuck Taylor basketball shoes?

Dolly is ribald, cheeky, sexy, adventurous, outrageous, and fun. A great ride. Amazon purveys this and other fine reading material. They also kindly provide the preview below for your delectation and shopping convenience

In the Email Today…

A GIFT FROM AMAZON the ‘Zon has provided most kindly a method for authors to embed previews of their KDP-published works on their web sites and blogs. The preview below is provided for your reading delectation and shopping convenience.

Dolly was reborn into a new body just last week. Right out of the birthing chamber, she was tumbled into a conflict that goes back to the stone age. Her creator, the Greek Goddess, Aphrodite, has disappeared, and the God in charge of her institution — the Babylonian Marduk — has called for her death. Her lover and Geppetto, Mitchell Drummond, is threading his way through political minefields to keep Dolly safe.

New in love, they soon find they can’t keep their hands off each other. Their sexual fever comes to worry them. They suspect there’s more to the situation than mere new love.

Meanwhile, they have a job to do. Keeping up the pretense that all’s well and nothing’s going on is wearing thin. But in Upothesa, you’re not allowed to talk about secrets. Dolly is a secret. Trying to keep it together, Dolly and Drummond go on a mission to New Zealand to protect the Dolly’s secret and the life of a major TV drama star.

The High T Shebang is Book One of The Baby Troll Chronicles. Book Two, The Genesis Undertaking, is also available from Amazon.

Vox Scribum

I’M READING THIS BOOK right now. It’s called Ctrl-Alt-Revolt! It’s by Nick Cole. I even bought it, even though I could have gotten it free-to-read with my Prime membership because I think we Human Wave readers have to put our money where our mouths is-are when it comes to telling the social justice whingers to Go. Fuck. Yourself. In giant, flaming letters across the sky. And keep telling them until they’re so embarrassed and ashamed of their stupidity and intransigence that they finally get the message. (And if you’re going to say, “That’ll never happen,” I’m gonna reply, “Well, then they better dig in for a long and unpleasant existence, because we’re not going away.”

The author has a few words for you.

Cover Story

cvr genesis 0116A FEW POSTS AGO I related the process of getting up the cover for The Genesis Undertaking, my forthcoming second novel in the Baby Troll Chronicles. As of that post, I had most of the cover design-as-intended already done and needed only to add an iconic image to help sell the story. Though I would prefer to use a photo-realistic representational illustration for the cover, that’s beyond my current skill set to produce in the time frame I’ve allowed. Nor can I afford to pay for the work of the ten-fingered. So, it will have to wait until I have progressed in my art-making skills to the point where I can do one myself. Some time off, I admit. Here it is in all its glory.

World Building My Ficton: The Baby Troll Chronicles Glossary

KDP AUTHORS HAVE BEEN INFORMED a bit lately that we are being watched for spelling and grammar — this due to the complaint that self-published ebooks comprise a “tsunami of crap” and need to be policed by some uber authority to be taught the error of our ways. My response was and remains that I warn my readers that I make words for a living and that some of them are even original to me. It’s a tradition of long standing going back to Shakespeare — or even Chaucer. I will go further and guarantee that every single word in my novels is correctly spelled — according to my spellcheck dictionary and style sheet.

Some authors — in what is perhaps an excess of prudence — are even preparing lexicons for their fictons for inclusion in their books. Mine takes more space than is reasonable, as one also needs a reference for Dolly’s ad hoc portmanteau words, neologisms, and puns as well as the more standard word lists. Excluding the dollish dictionary, here is the Baby Troll lexicon.

Astarté (God female) — The Akkadian avatar of the Goddess Inana

Antistasis — a mechanism, within a time bubble that permits acceleration of time-dependent processes. Proper use can accelerate aging. Improper use can accelerate aging.

Arcadia — an ancient city in Peloponnese Greece, Arcadia was the host country, its capital city the site of the ancient Olympic Games

Aesclypius (Medical Center) — the teaching hospital attached to (and owned by) East College of the Americas

A330 — Airbus-manufactured jumbo jet

Aphrodite — the Greek Goddess of Love, family, and filial devotion


Billilaal — the Pasu analog to the Muslim tradition of harem — the difference being that Trolls are not sexually dimorphic, so the inhabitants of the billilaal are not of specific sex

billilaalu (pl ~a) (Pasu) — an inhabitant of the billilaal or one who could be such, but may enter a vocation other than the traditional attendant of the billilaal

Boeotia the “county” north and west of Attica in Greece

Boeotia, Regiment — a Troll Guard regiment, based in Western Australia, named after the Greek county

Book, Prosper (Man female)– commander of the modern Amazons, descendant of James Book, captain of Gabrielle Francesca East’s yacht, the sloop Bella Donna.

Britten, Terence Hallow (Terry) (Man female) — Director of the Center for X Studies. In essence, President of East College of the Americas, subordinate only to the Board of Regents in the person of its Chairman, the Chancellor, Marduk.


Carter (Pasu male)— a Troll Guard trooper

Childe of the East — the leader of the human component of Upothesa. A.k.a. the enterprise. In early days, the office was one of king or tribal chief. In latter days, it is more of a figurehead position, as Upothesa is far too large, diverse, and covert for a single individual to rule or even administer the whole shebang. The Childe of each generation is sought out by the Gods of Olympus, who were the original divine partners in the arrangement. Legend has it they are searching for a qualified candidate. What is not known — and is possibly one of the most closely-held secrets of a super-secret organization — is that they are searching for the current incarnation of a single individual. The Childe has been the same anima from the beginning of the enterprise. Literally the Hero of a Thousand generations. The most successful Childe by all reckoning was Gabrielle Francesca (“Fanny”), the 125th Childe (1838-1863. (q.v.) The Childe was originally designated to be the second youngest offspring of the chosen branch, but that has been honored more in the breach. GFE1, for example, was the fourth youngest among twelve siblings. The term of the Childe’s service is “five and twenty” — twenty-five years, though few have survived, as the job is full of risk. Those who do are showered with wealth by the Gods.

Doll, Xe (artificial Man female)— originally the Xena Dolly, she developed the preference to be referred to by this shortened name. When she made the Leap to human, she adopted Xe Doll as her legal name. It is not revealed early on, but her anima is that of Felicity Warren, GFE1’s lesbian lover.

Drummond, Mitchell Cary (Man male – demigod)– Gabrielle “Dolly” East’s Geppetto and lover. The bastard son of Hephaestus, God of Fire and Industry by a human woman (never named).

East — the English language version of the chosen surname of the descendants of the Dawn Phraetries of the Hellenic colonies in Asia Minor. Human component of Upothesa.

East, Billy “Koro” (the Elder) (Man male) — a ship’s captain and patriarch of the New Zealand Easts (van Oosten). Grandfather to the late 20th-Century generation of that family, including the Childe, Charming Billy.

East, “Charming” Billy (the Younger) (Man male) 128th Childe of the East, New Zealand family.

East, Gabrielle Francesca (”Dolly”) (artificial Man female) — 129th Childe of the East, first artificial person. Inherited anima directly from

East, Gabrielle Francesca (“Fanny”) (Man female) — 125th Childe. Gabrielle Francesca East (Childe 1838-1863) was Childe from age eight to age 33, raised in part in her father’s household on the farm which later became the majority of the East College campus, and in major part in the household of Hephaestus and Aphrodite, who at that time lived in eastern Surrey in England. Their neighbors included Charles Darwin and Thomas Huxley in Kent. She was trained up in Hephaestus’s trading business and, by the age of 16, was commanding trading ships and served as factor in many of the business’s stations in foreign ports of call. She was instrumental in moving the headquarters of the company from London to Athens, with its principle trading station in Constantinople. She also participated in the founding of Hong Kong and its lease to the British Empire, (which the founders intended to be perpetual). She retired to Ohio and the family farm with a fortune of several tons of gold, with which she endowed East College, dedicated to the training and education of the children of the East families and their associates and servitors.

East, Semiramis (Semi) (Man female) — older sister of Charming Billy. Drummond’s sometime lover. She is exceedingly attractive and desirable.

Elves, Greater (or High) — Inhabitants of Earth-Analog (called Faerie) in the parallel universe closest to our own. High Elves descend from a common ancestor with most hominids in both universes

Elves, Lesser (or Low) — descendants of a sub-branch. In deep pre-history, a common ancestor of both varieties of Elf accidentally slipped through the gates between the universes and settled on Earth Prime. The same branch on Faerie died out. Low Elves serve in Upothesa as miners and mechanics.


Field, Victor (Man male), thaumaturge, teaching assistant to Jonathan Redpath, developer of the Field Test for humanity (High T Affair)

frekun ang — the major body morph type of Pasu, characterized by large size, strength, and relatively aggressive tendencies — the soldiers of the species

Frell (pl ~s) (Pasu) — not-Trolls, aliens, (In general Uptsa Use:)“not us”

Freya — fertility Goddess of the Aesir (Norse) pantheon. Member of the Independent faction among the Gods.


Genesis, Project — Aphrodite’s initiative to create original life

Gods, the, Convocation of: any of the adhoc meetings or gatherings of all the Gods of humanity


Hephaestus — Greek God of fire and industry, leader of Gods of Olympus subsequent to the death of Zeus in the Twilight of the Gods

Heisenberg Hall — the main classroom building of the Science School of East College.


Imp — a minor hominid, created by primitive breeding efforts of the Babylonian Gods.


Jo (Little) a Troll Guard trooper (High T Affair)


Kentenport a fictional section of an imaginary Auckland, New Zealand. Real name: Devonport

King, Wayne (Man male)– a loose cannon hired to play the role of Internal Affairs to Regiment Arcadia (which has its own Inspector General and Judge Advocate General to perform the IA function.)


Llandrew, Rose — a High Elf from the tropic zones of Faerie. She is remarkable in that she has the “racial” characteristics seen in earthly inhabitants of that zone, reinforcing the notion that race is merely a social construct used as a short hand to describe inhabitants of a particular climate zone.

Little Low (Li’h Lo’ah) — a billilaalu Troll Guard trooper, member of Dolly’s squad in basic training

little people — general term of reference which includes diminutive species of hominids associated with Upothesa, such as Brownies, Fairies, et al.


Marduk — the King of the Babylonian Gods. Also known in other cultures as Baal Hadad, Beelzebub, et al. Adherents of Yahweh have perverted his Aspect to that of Satan, who is a different, distinct individual God.

Men — humans. Homo sapiens in Upothesa usage. The term is used to refer to both males and females. Where clarification is necessary, young Man females are referred to as girls, older as women. (The same nuances as the difference between mademoiselle and madame in French.) A young married woman will be called a Man woman or a Man wife, whereas an older, still youthful woman might be referred to as a girl. None of the peoples in Upothesa give any credence to politically correct subversions of language.

Meru (Pasu female)– Gunnery Sergeant in Regiment Arcadia. Platoon leader in Troll Action Team Bodicea.

Messengers and Emissaries (M and Ems)

mischief — the collective of Imps


New Xenaland — New Zealand in the human-Pasu patois of the X Center


Oracle Overwatch (“Oh-oh”) — the system by which select Gods assist the Troll Guard in keeping watch on Upothesa installations, property, and personnel. The Gods attending use the Oracle sense to observe contemporary events. The intent is to foresee threats and risky situations.


Pa’a — (Pasu) the spirit. Analogous to the terms atmen

Pasu — the Troll’s word for themselves. This form is singular, plural, and collective, noun and adjective.

Patariki — male siggo to Olivia Wilson (High T Shebang)

Peeka a Troll Guard trooper (High T Shebang)

Petra Alexandra Troll (”Pete”) — junior lieutenant. Platoon leader in Troll Action Team Bodicea

Potidaeia — bronze age Greek village located approximately at contemporary town of Portaria in Central Macedonia, by the Kalkhidiki peninsula.

Project Genesis — Aphrodite’s project to create original life, of which natural Gods are not capable. It began in the mists of prehistory, but one of the early episodes in its history is reported in the myth of Pygmalion and Galatea. Its progress has been reported in myth and folk tales throughout the ages. Various of the non-Olympian Gods have become jealous of Aphrodite’s efforts and the knowledge she has gained therefrom and have practiced to scotch her.


Redpath, Jonathan — a thaumaturge who, early in his life (at age 50) fell under the influence of Aphrodite and Hephaestus and joined the effort to create original life. He was the attendant thaumaturge at the penultimate experiment, which gave birth to the autoclone of Gabrielle Francesca East, the 125th and 129th Childe of the East.

Regents, Board of — the ruling body in trust of the Gabrielle East estate, including East College of the Americas.


Sails, City of (Auckland, New Zealand)

Sammianth (”Sammy Antha”) a Troll Guard trooper (High T Affair)

STEM the scientific disciplines at East College of the Americas: Science, Thaumaturgy, Engineering, and Mathematics


Taharoto(Maori) a made-up word combining two Maori words to make a name which means roughly Westlake. Made in honor of the Westlake Girls School Swimming Team in Auckland, New Zealand. A road near the Upothesa safe house in the North Shore area of Auckland.

tamahine Maori term of endearment: “granddaughter”

ta moko Maori facial tattoos

Tarkasian, Sappho (Man female)– commander of the M and Ems, a friend of Mitchell Drummond at EcoA


Troll member of the species homo sapiens neanderthalensis — soi disant Pasu


Vallee, Kairn (Man female)— the Warrior Doc … a human medic employed at the X Center and frequently tdy’d to duty with the Troll Guard. She is also a major in the Royal Australian Air Force Reserve Medical Corps and is frequently called up for high-profile cases (such as overseas (to the Australia viewpoint) air crashes)

van Oosten — the family name of the Easts who resided in the Netherlands and came to view the country as home. Van Oosten family members emigrated to New Zealand in the Seventeenth Century


Waitangi Imports — an East company in New Zealand, named after the Treaty of Waitangi, which settled major differences between British settlers and Maori natives.

Ware — a Troll Guard trooper (High T Shebang)

Whare Nui Tupuna — Maori, “ancient ancestral home” — the joking and unofficial name for the East family compound on the Pacific coast of New Zealand’s North Island, near Snell’s Beach in the Rodney district.

Willard — a Troll Guard trooper (High T Shebang)


X Center — short version of The Center for X Studies, a research-and-development laboratory complex, founded by the original Gabrielle Francesca East. The secret core of East College of the Americas. Subsumes the School of Thaumaturgy.

Hats Off to Cedar

MY YOUNG FRIEND CEDAR SANDERSON once again shows me up (I’m glad to acknowledge). I keep promising myself that I need to do more to keep up my blogs — posting daily about substantive matters, cleaning up the sites, developing new modes of content display, interlinking my efforts here, there and elsewhere. But Cedar has done something I keep thinking I should do and thus, I hope, prodded me into doing what I’ve known all along I should do.

See, she wrote a short-ish blog post about the Silk Road. It’s a subject that interests her. Well, me, too. And millions of other people. The Asian trade routes carry much of the history of the development of human society and, for writers of spec fic, hold a great deal of lore and wisdom on world-building. At least, that’s why I’ve read so extensively (and, might I add — hungrily) on the region.

Well, that and the heart of Pasu civilization is located in the Kunlun Shan mountains of western China, so it’s of interest to me in my world building for the BabyTroll Chronicles. So, hats off to the girl. Well done!

Worldbuilding My Ficton: Upothesa


The name Upothesa was not used commonly much before 1780. Nor was it ever adopted formally as the name of a business enterprise, syndicate, or network — which is the true nature of Upothesa, also called the enterprise colloquially among its inherents. Like the Cosa Nostra, which followed Upothesa, and arose from a different circumstance, the entity was and remains deeply secret and secretive and no members of it ever discuss it with — or even reveal its existence to — non-members.

The word shebang appears to have been coined or to have evolved during the American Civil War, as a reference to huts or hooches that soldiers lived in in the field.

The organization has its roots in the distant past of the stone age, when proto-doric peoples inhabited the Balkan Peninsula and there arose among them the practices of worship of individuals who later came to be viewed as the Gods of Olympus.

These individuals were not, in truth, Gods as myth would have them. They had and have no overwhelming influence over weather, climate, agricultural success, the treatment of souls in the afterlife or the like. Nor has any of them ever claimed to have created the universe from scratch, although a good deal of credit goes to them collectively for the current shape of our world. There, they have had a great deal of influence. But the creation was not the mere waving of a hand plus the speaking of a word or two of power. Rather, it was a matter of patient years, decades, centuries of pushing and pulling individual humans this way and that.

Toward this end, in Stone Age Greece, a group who, as I say, later came to be called the Gods of Olympus, Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Demeter, Athena, Hestia, Dionysus, Apollo, Artemis, Ares, Aphrodite, Hephaestus, and Hermes, entered into an agreement with a clan of normal humans that the former would support and — to the best of their abilities — protect the latter in perpetuity. The humans agreed to heed the Gods, and follow their lead. It was not a master-student relationship or one of god and worshiper, but a partnership, in which each side contributed what it had to a common weal, which was ordered and managed to the benefit of all.

The Gods, you see, were merely humans at the right end of the bell curve. They were stronger, faster, healthier, longer-lived, more intelligent, and able to do some things ordinary humans could not — or, at least, could not without extensive, narrowly-targeted training. The longer the Gods lived, the stranger they became, but they never completely lost their humanity.

Originally, the alliance was only supposed to raise the humans’ lot above the average of those surrounding them. But, as the generations passed, the clan grew more numerous and, on average, richer and more powerful than their neighbors. Eventually, they became kings. One of their number — Tantalus of Mycenae — even founded a dynasty of sorts, which dynasty gets its name from one of Tantalus’s descendants, Atreus. The name is Atreidae, or as in modern popular fiction, the House Atreides. Descendants of Atreus include his sons, Agamemnon and Menelaus. It was the latter’s marriage to Helen and her kidnap by Paris of Troy which precipitated the Trojan War, a watershed event of the Bronze Age which had a ripple effect all around the Mediterranean for centuries thereafter. The syndicate’s negative experiences in politics led eventually to the principle that Upothesa did not seek to rule. Not to say that those in Upothesa did not get politically involved, only that the main focus was on commerce and that the rule of nations was left to others.

Of further interest is the story of the sacrifice of Iphigenia and the fallout from it, including the story of Electra, who, it is told, avenged the murder of Agamemnon by Clytemnestra along with her brother Orestes. This is of passing interest to our readers because pseudo-psychological carping within Upothesa attributes the so-called Electra Complex to Dolly.

In any case, the fortunes of the Atreides waned and many of them — second sons and black sheep — migrated overseas to Hellenic colonies in Asia Minor, where they fell under the influence of the Akkadian Empire of King Ilushuma, then, later, the Persians under Cyrus the Great.

There, they founded colonies in river deltas and on islands along the coast of the Aegean. When Hellas grew powerful enough to claim those colonies over the Persians, they became Greek again, though the decades and centuries spent abroad, as it were, inculcated in them a love of commerce, and from that time, they derived their self-identity as merchants and traders.

Along the way, they founded religious cults. (Though, knowing Gods most intimately, they worshiped in no religion, as a matter of policy, they did follow local traditions wherever they found themselves doing business. In short, they went to church with their neighbors.) Being eastward of their land of origin, they associated themselves with Eos, Goddess of the Dawn — more as a matter of camouflage than of any sincerity. They founded religious and social mutual support societies called Dawn Phraetries and, eventually, acquired the habit of adopting the surname East, or its equivalent in the local tongue.

The notion of in deserves some comment. The word is used to demark one’s status as an initiate. One is said to be in to the degree one is inculcated and indoctrinated to the secrets of the enterprise. The farther in one is the more secrets one possesses. There is no precise calibration in any official sense, though the social behaviors surrounding the concept can get to be quite strong and severe — nearly darwinian, in fact. The first sign of one’s being in generally comes around a family dinner table in family conversation within East family households.

A graduation of sorts comes upon one’s admission to the multi-campus university, the strictly private East College, which has campuses on several continents. The campus of East College of the Americas (ECOA) is on the former family farm of the William Makepeace branch, whose daughter is/was Gabrielle Francesca (1830-1929), the 125th and all-time most successful Childe of the East, the figurhead leader of Upothesa from 1838 to 1863. Dolly (Baby Troll) is the karmic successor to Gabrielle Francesca.