Visitors (WIP)

(The Silence of Ancient Light, continued…)

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The remainder of the day passed without incident. The guards remained at their post, silent and resolute, completely ignoring any attempt to speak with them. Occasionally others would pass by through the corridor outside, and Anna would catch curious glances into their chamber, but none approached the entrance nor engaged with the guards.

After several hours, with her stomach rumbling, Anna began to wonder if they would simply be left to starve, but just as she determined to speak up, a Kwakitl arrived with a tray of hot food. A quick squawk with the guards, and the Kwakitl was allowed in with the tray. He set the tray down in the center of the chamber without a word and without looking at any of them, and then left.

After eating, they were allowed, one at a time and accompanied by one of the guards, to visit the washroom. For that Anna was thankful.

She did not sleep well that night, turning fitfully on her pallet of cushions while her mind roamed across all that had happened, and all that might be happening at that moment. Who were the new arrivals? Why did the Kwakitl assume culpability or ill intent on the part of the humans? She had no answers for these questions. She rolled over to find Jaci watching her.

Read more at

Visitors

(1,388 words; 5 min 33 sec reading time)

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As promised, this scene is ready for you to read less than a week after the previous scene! That might be almost unprecedented for me, eh? Furthermore, I’m already halfway through writing the next scene, so you won’t have very long to wait for that one. And, given that I’m confined to the condo due to my city being totally smoke-filled at the moment, to point of the air being labeled as very hazardous to breathe, I’d say the chances of me completing that scene this weekend, and perhaps even posting it, are pretty good.

On a side note, yeah, things are pretty smoky in Seattle just now. We’re in no actual fire danger, but it’s definitely not good to be outside. The sky looks almost alien, a dirty yellow obscuring smoke and fog — smog — that makes me think we’re on the surface of Venus. Minus the crushing pressure and melting temperature, of course.

On another side note, this is now my second posting using the new WordPress Block Editor. While I can understand why folks who enjoy getting technical with custom CSS code might like it, overall, I feel this has been a reduction in functionality, and it definitely slows down my productive (and increases my frustration!). Many things I used to do quite easily, including inserting images and hyperlinks, are now much more difficult. Unfortunately, switching back to the Classic Editor is no longer an option. I can insert “Classic Blocks” which will emulate that editor’s look and feel for a particular set of paragraphs, but it’s not just the blocks (horrible name, by the way) — the entire editor’s functionality, toolbars, etc, have changed in a way that feels like a regression to me.

Dang it, who moved my cheese!

Ok, whinging and whining over.

So, tell me what you think about the scene! How about the interactions between the characters (there’s definitely some change going on)?


header image credit: user:kalhh / pixabay.com under Pixabay License

Prisoners (WIP)

(The Silence of Ancient Light, continued…)

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The trip back to the main levels of the community, and from there to Jaci’s chamber, proved in Anna’s mind that some emotions transcended species. She certainly had experienced moments that felt more immediately dangerous, but traveling among and thru the angry Kwakitl, especially along the narrow cliffside path with its sheer drop to the lagoon, ranked as one of the more uncomfortable in recent memory. None of the waist-height avians nudged or in any way touched any of the humans, but their lidded gaze and their silence spoke volumes.

Read more at

Prisoners

(1,394 words; 5 min 34 sec reading time)

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When we left our heroes (a month ago!), they had joined in with a community celebration for the Kwakitl who had taken them in, but things ended badly, and they were now held in some suspicion. Read on to find out what the avians do next with our hapless human visitors!

Also, this scene (and the next!) were written while out sailing. Turns out I’m rather productive when at sea! So, the next scene is already written, and it won’t be so long before it’s posted.


header image credit: Pixabay under Pexels License

Waterborne

If you’ve been following my blog over the past few years, then you know that besides writing science fiction, I also love sailing.

Or cruising. Or just hanging out at anchor in beautiful places.

Swinging peacefully on the hook is a great place for writing! So, my wife and I spent this past week cruising around a few old favorite spots close to home, chilling out in mostly fantastic weather and just enjoying an overall relaxing time.

And I finished writing two more scenes for The Silence of Ancient Light, so look for the first of those to post soon!

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p.s. All photos on this post ©Matt Fraser, 2020 (from this past week’s trip!)

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p.p.s This is my first post using WordPress’s new “block editor,” and… I’m struggling a bit! I’m not sure that I like it yet, but I’ll give it a try before giving up and returning to the “classic” editor (which seemed to have more options and more control over formatting, but probably that’s just me being resistant to change).

Cliff Divers (WIP)

(The Silence of Ancient Light, continued…

… at long last!)

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After the meal, the humans bade goodnight to Li-Estl, and Jaci led the women back to his chamber. It was a small, circular room, rough-hewn and low overhead, and lantern-lit like the others they had been in. A pallet of cushions lay on the smooth floor, with a low table and a woven basket beside the pallet. Neatly folded in a pile beside the basket lay the two e-suits retrieved from the boat.

“Welcome to my humble abode. It’s not much, I know, but it’s home, or at least it has been for these past weeks.”

Laxmi looked askance at the single pallet, then at Jaci with a cocked eyebrow. He laughed and reached into the basket, pulling out more cushions.

“Never fear, Laxmi, you won’t be sleeping on cold, hard stone.”

“Oh, I wasn’t worried about that. I was worried about you sleeping on cold, hard stone, not us. However, I see you’re equipped to host visitors.”

Read more at

Cliff Divers

(1,765 words; 7 min 3 sec reading time)

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I know, I know, it has been almost exactly eight months since I last published a (written) scene from the novel. In the interim, I’ve published a few blog posts, I’ve tried my hand at a couple (pre-emptive) audio versions of early scenes (there will be more, for those of you who enjoy that!), but all of that is not the same as new material that continues the story.

So here it is. Eight months have passed since our intrepid explorers sat down with their alien host for a meal. You’d think they’d already be hungry again! But for them, it has been mere moments. They need a place to sleep, and they’ve already heard that tomorrow will be a big day for the Kwakitl community.

And there’s still the mystery of that object in space approaching orbit…


header image credit: user:1980supra / pixabay.com under Pixabay License

Approach on Audio

The audio version of episode 2 is up! So, for those of you who want to get straight into it, here you go:

And of course you can read along as you listen at Approach.

I have incorporated a slight upgrade to my technique compared to episode 1. I recorded the first episode at 44.1 KHz in 16-bit, which is equivalent to CD quality, whereas for this episode I recorded in 24-bit. I wonder if you can hear the difference?

Now, to be clear, 16-bit vs 24-bit has no actual meaning for an mp3 file, which is what these both are. As far as the mp3 that you are listening to is concerned, it has a sample rate of that same 44.1 KHz, and a bit rate of 128 Kbps. However, the original file, before editing and mastering, is not an mp3, but an uncompressed wav file, and wav files don’t have bit rates, they have bit depths. The bit depth is an indication of the total loudness possible for each sample (44,100 of them per second). Does 24-bit mean that it can go louder than 16-bit? These amps go to 11! Perhaps, but that’s not really the point. What it really means is that it can go quieter before hitting the theoretical noise floor. With greater dynamic range, the audio is less likely to clip or distort at the loudest levels, and less likely to get lost in hiss and static at the softest.

Now, at this point my recording setup is simply not advanced enough for this to realistically make a difference. Every piece in the chain introduces its own little bit of noise, and all of it adds up to the actual noise floor, i.e. the amount of disorganized sound that exists before any actual audio content is laid down on top of it. Without a much more professional setup, I probably cannot achieve a noise floor as low as the theoretical 16-bit limit. And, of course, that’s all before adding in room tone, which is the basic level of ambient sound the microphone picks up in an otherwise quiet room (and also the way in which the room colors the narrator’s voice when he or she is speaking).

So, in all likelihood, you won’t be able to hear a difference in the 16-bit vs 24-bit recording. Still, it’s one less source of possible noise adding to that floor which I’ve hopefully removed from the production chain.

Ok, all of that is probably a bit too geeky and technical, and I freely admit that I am not an expert with it. I do have a bit of a background from long ago with audio engineering stuff, in the sense that I spent a year as sound man for a local band playing gigs around the San Francisco Bay Area, but that was in the 1980s, which were practically the dark ages when it comes to digital audio. Almost everything we did then was pure analog, so I’m learning anew how to make things sound proper in a digital age.

If there’s interest (let me know!), I’m happy to go further into technical details about the recording, editing, and mastering processes and equipment. I have some more upgrades planned in the near future, as well, though perhaps the biggest upgrade still remains working on my narration technique.


header image credit: user:Tumisu / pixabay.com