Thursday, December 15, 2011

Fennec fox kits playing at home!

Over the years, Ana's fear of dogs, second nature to everyone on her home planet, Thomo, has relaxed considerably. It began with the judicious introduction of a pair of Rhodesian ridgeback puppies in Distant Cousin: Reincarnation. Who could NOT love pups like these?

Ana has seen fennec foxes in zoos, but never as house pets, yet it isn't difficult to see her taken with these active, affectionate, tiny canids. If any convincing were necessary that they can make entertaining, fascinating companions, these two video clips will provide it. The first is from Julie of It seems that the fennec fox is being introduced to Julie's household menagerie, and vice versa, as part of a careful socialization process. Just try to count all the animals who appear! (Ana might have a problem with that enormous dog.)

The second clip shows a fennec fox kit playing with a house cat. They are clearly playmates. The cat seems to want to help the kit stay clean!

And cats, house cats, caracals, lyxes, servals, and a tiger cub, in the column to the right under the photo of the blue-eyed kitty, at the bottom of that list

Friday, December 9, 2011

So you don't like science fiction?

Lots of people love science fiction, but not everybody. Science fiction, basically, deals with "imaginary but more or less plausible (or at least non-supernatural) content such as future settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, aliens, and paranormal abilities. Exploring the consequences of scientific innovations is one purpose of science fiction, making it a 'literature of ideas.' It is largely based on "writing rationally about alternative possible worlds or futures" (Wikipedia).

Some people are just not that interested in speculations about aliens, futuristic science, and suchlike ideas. It does, perhaps, take a little extra willingness to suspend belief to accept, for example, two characters in different galaxies talking to each other as if they were telephoning between Houston and Kansas City, or dissolving their molecules to be reassembled in another place. That might be called "hard" science fiction. However, there are degrees of science fiction....

Many, but not all, readers call the Distant Cousin stories science fiction. This is partly because of the book covers and partly because the heroine happens to come from another planet. She reached Earth, where her story begins, on a vessel that was propelled by the controlled force of gravity (though to be sure, she never exceeded the speed of light). Furthermore, that heroine, Ana Darcy, is an alien only by virtue of coming from a planet other than Earth. Except for that, she is as human as any of us...and there, of course, lies our tale.

Here is what readers have said about the science fiction aspect of the Distant Cousin series:

"This sequel to Distant Cousin [DC: Repatriation] is, like its predecessor, more mainstream literature than science fiction. Readers will find the science fiction elements kept to the background in a storyline that is more about character and society than about the arrival of extra-terrestrials on Earth."

"I have read a lot of science fiction in the past, and this had a completely different (and believable) spin. It lacked the 'techno babble' that I often enjoy, but, if we can’t understand gravity propulsion anyway I suppose it is not necessary to explain it. The series was a compelling, heartwarming and sometimes scary page turner."

"I loved this book from the minute I picked it up. I usually don't go for Science Fiction books...they seem to be too outlandish or the authors try to make them too "alien" making up so many words and phrases that you lose your spot in the story. This book was nothing like that. It was a wonderfully written story with engaging characters

"As far as sci-fi's go, it's very light on the sci part. I mean, you really don't get bogged down in techy stuff at all & there's a great story in there."

"I would recommend the book to any of you who like science fiction with some romance and adventure thrown in. No little green men/women will be involved, but there will be characters about whom you will care a great deal."

And finally, this, from "Crusty Old Guy:"

"I cut my teeth on old school science fiction with bug-eyed monsters, ray guns, and inhospitable planets. This isn't about those. Well maybe it is, with Earth and some of it's inhabitants being the antagonists. This is well written, as one page induces you to read the next. Characters have life. The plot is plausible (we are talking SF here). It also gives some insight into the people, places, and culture of Nueva Espana. I read this out of curiosity and to add another dimension to my reading of late. My curiosity was pleasantly slaked but I wouldn't recommend this to other crusty old guys. We just aren't the target audience. I highly recommended this to my grand daughter. My wife should even enjoy it. Oh yeah, I'll probably read the next in the series."

We know of only one reader who adamantly refuses anything to do with science fiction, no matter how "lite." To those more venturesome souls, we think you will enjoy meeting your distant cousin, Ana Darcy. We predict you will not hold it against her that she happened to be born on a planet 25 light years away. In fact, we predict you'll be glad she came here.

More readers opine:

Sample excerpts!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Ana improvises frantically in the kitchen

If you have enjoyed looking over Ana's many recipes and cooking inspirations, you could be forgiven for thinking that Ana only meets with success in the kitchen. Like any creative cook, however, she does not always succeed. Being from another planet and another cooking culture, and having an original, quick mind, it is undeniably true she has done some wonderful things with the foods and flavors offered by the cuisines of Earth. Below, however, is an account of one of her experiments that got out of hand, and which she had to scramble to save. You should NOT try this at home!

Ana loves sweets and she loves pies and the opportunities they offer for creativity. She had finished a session of making pumpkin pies and found she had some filling left over. What to do with it?

She looked online, and decided to make cookies. She added a few ingredients and baked them into cake-like pumpkin cookies. They were tasty, but not attractive. What to do then?

She turned them into sandwich cookies using cream cheese frosting. These were delicious, but they looked like little hamburgers filled with mayonnaise. That was not what she wanted. What to do?

She decided to make them into cake bon-bons, as when one mixes up cake batter with frosting and shapes them into balls which are coated with chocolate. Although she was careful not to add too much frosting, she added too much frosting, resulting in a texture that, she said, had "the consistency of dog food that had been sitting in water for a day." Not good, even if it tasted good. In fact, it looked disgusting. There was no way to serve it to anyone. What to do?

She dumped it into a torte pan, baked it, let it cool, and flipped it out of the pan. It was not a handsome dish. NOW what to do??

She toasted coconut and pecan pieces, mixed them with brown sugar and cinnamon, topped it onto the torte, and drizzled white chocolate over it.

It was a "long journey," she said, but "worth the effort." We repeat: do NOT try this at home! See the photo above.

There are more of Ana's cooking ideas in the column to the right, under the photo of craberry/apple pie, including:

...and dozens of ideas for frijoles, salsa, & pizza variations!