Quick Post – Destructive Feng Shui and History

Yesterday ran very late. A couple thoughts, though.

First, the characters in Colors of Another Sky end up trying to break a very nasty curse inflicted by a dragon. This is compounded by the fact that most dragons they’re used to are allied with water – as the curse also seems to be. But if it’s a European dragon instead of local – you need to fight forests. You need the destructive power of metal, in feng shui terms.

Which is completely counterintuitive, given in that system metal nurtures water. Eep.

Second, I have a couple of older-than-humans-usually-get characters running around. This means I need to figure out not just their backstory, but “what was their culture like when they grew up? And how has it changed?”

Chae, for example, is about a century old… meaning when she was a kid in Ming China, she grew up in a historical era of massive wokou pirate activity. This gives me a lot of potential hooks for what happened to her family and why she’s currently not in China. (Though one of her given – and truthful – reasons is that the Japanese were plundering Korean libraries during the Imjin War, and she took offense to that….)

Heh. For what started as a throwaway fantasy idea – shark-pirates instead of classic mermaids – my bunnies seem to be pulling the whole thing into a coherent whole of “how did history change in this world”. Neat!


14 thoughts on “Quick Post – Destructive Feng Shui and History

    1. You know… that would ‘explain’ why swords are efficacious against Western dragons.

      Although it wouldn’t explain much about dragons like Fafnir, who was a dwarf who shapeshifted into a dragon to guard his ill-gotten gains. And who was then killed by Sigurd wielding Gram, a sword he had previously helped to forge.

      (He initially murdered his dad, in order to grab some of the gold which was given by the gods to his dad, as wergild for the death of his brother Otr. Who was also a shapeshifter, and had shapeshifted into an otter, and got successfully/inadvertently hunted by Loki, Hoenir, and Odin.)

      The thing is… a fair number of the earliest Western dragon stories do portray dragons as giant water snakes, or giant desert snakes. (Or giant snakes that live among rocks in the mountains, also popular.) An otter was a water creature, and apparently so was a dragon, sometimes. Lots of early Christian/early medieval saints in France have legends of taming water dragons, which seem to be associated with river bridges and dams being built after the Western Empire stopped maintaining public works. And sometimes you get steppe dragons, like the Sarmatians had, and which is why Roman/early medieval European cavalry had long dragon banners, some of which made noises.

      Dragons as forest critters… that comes later. Possibly under the influence of the “dragon bones” found in Greece, Eastern Europe, and certain German valleys. (Dinosaur bones weathering out of cliffs in Germany, or found in the ground in Greece. St. Albert the Great describes the dragon bones he saw in the cliffs, in his De Animalia, as well as some well-deserved doubts about what the locals said about them. De Animalia is a fun read, and there’s a good English translation by a veterinarian.)

      So a lot was going on in the West, with dragons.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. The “of course you use a sword on a dragon dragon” thing from a guy who is familiar with eastern mythology, instead of the history of western, is kind of hilariously effective from being accidentally CORRECT on a very wrong basis.

        Liked by 4 people

    1. Europe doesn’t have a lot of “island nations” the way Eastern Asia does. Most of it’s well-known wars are predominantly land wars. You have to go older than Medieval Era (usually Greco-Roman heyday) for the tech level to make the islands of the Mediterranean very strategically important. And guess what era most Western Fantasy *doesn’t* draw from for it’s geo-political inspiration? Scandinavian countries would have more navel stuff going on… but it’s got the “wrong” fantasy aesthetic and political system as well.

      Meanwhile…. most of Eastern Asia is nothing *but* islands for everyone to fight over.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. This is a very good point. Once the Romans had taken over the Mediterranean, they stamped out pirates (led by the example of young Julius Caesar), and the same back when the Byzantines were securely in control.

        When the Muslims took over big chunks of the Med, life on the islands was very parlous and mostly undefended. Only when you had groups like the Knights of Malta, or Byzantine naval groups, holding islands against the various Muslim rulers, did you have later naval actions of note.

        Heck, living anywhere near the coasts of much of Europe and the Near East was very dangerous when various Muslim powers were sending out pirate slavers. You either have huge fortifications around your harbor, or everybody living way up in the hills somewhere.

        Liked by 4 people

  1. All that said… Remember… it’s Pearl Harbor Day.

    Among many other events, today the aviatrix Cornelia Clark Fort was up in the air in Hawaii with a male aviation student, teaching him to fly.

    The Nashville debutante/heiress had learned to fly in 1940, soloing in less than a month, getting her license the same week, and then logging two thousand hours flight time in the next few weeks in celebration.

    (It is important to note that she was one of the few young pilots to have the cash to hire an instructor, a plane, and fuel enough to do this sort of thing this fast, much less having the ridiculous natural spatial skills and athletic talents.)

    After receiving her instrument rating, commercial rating, and instructor rating within the next year, her patriotism drove her to take a job as an aviation instructor in Fort Collins, Colorado, and then to be asked to go out to Hawaii to train future naval pilots.

    So she was out early on Sunday morning with her student… and then the Japanese joined her in the sky.

    ““Coming in just before the last landing, I looked casually around and saw a military plane coming directly toward me. I jerked the controls away from my student and jammed the throttle wide open to pull above the incoming plane. He passed so close under us that our celluloid windows rattled violently and I looked down to see what kind of plane it was.

    “Then I looked way up and saw the formations of silver bombers riding in. Something detached itself from an airplane and came glistening down. My eyes followed it down, down, and my heart turned convulsively when the bomb exploded in the middle of the harbor. I knew the air was not the place for my little baby airplane.”

    Apparently some of the Japanese tried to take down her unarmed plane, while others spared them… but Fort got her plane landed safely and her student away.

    This feat was famous at the time. Fort was asked to go on tour to sell war bonds, which she did. Later in 1942, she joined the WAFS (Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron — which was later folded into the WASPS) to “ferry” airplanes (ie, delivery by flying them to different bases where they were needed). Fort died in 1943, in a plane crash, while ferrying airplanes to Dallas. (There was a mid-air collision, for which she was not at fault.)

    Here’s part of a letter she wrote from Hawaii to her mom, in January 1942, under the effects of having faced death. I hadn’t seen it before today, and I find it moving.

    “Books and music have been deeply personal things to me, possessions of the soul. I’ve loved the multitudinous friends in many places and their many kindnesses to me. I’ve loved the steak and red wine and dancing in smoky nightclubs, self-important headwaiters who bring the reams of French bread and wine sauces in New Orleans. I’ve loved the ice coldness of the air in the Canadian Laurentians, the camaraderie of skiing and the first scotch and soda as you sit in front of the fire

    “I loved my blue jeans and the great dignity of life on the ranches. I loved fox-hunting even with its snobbishness, I loved the deep pervading tiredness after six hours of timber-hopping.

    “I dearly loved the airports, little and big. I loved the sky and the planes and yet, best of all, I loved flying. I loved it best perhaps because it taught me utter self-sufficiency, the ability to remove oneself beyond the keep of anyone at all—and in so doing it taught me what was of value and what was not.

    “It taught me a way of life—in the spiritual sense. It taught me to cherish dignity and integrity and to understand the importance of love and laughter….

    “If I die violently, who can say it was ‘before my time’? I should have dearly loved to have had a husband and children. My talents in that line would have been pretty good but if that was not to be, I want no one to grieve for me.

    “I was happiest in the sky—at dawn when the quietness of the air was like a caress, when the noon sun beat down and at dusk when the sky was drenched with the fading light. Think of me there and remember me, I hope as I shall you, with love.”

    Liked by 8 people

      1. No, no, this is much better than I could have done for the day! And an awesome bit of history.

        A lot of people know the image of Rosie the Riveter, and women taking the jobs American men weren’t there to do, because someone had to do it. But not everyone realizes that took a heavy toll in lives.

        Heavy construction, ferrying airplanes, and crafting munitions were at least three dangerous things women did, and died doing, during WWII. They knew the risks going in, and they did it anyway.

        …Which is, IMO, one of the things that makes us what we are. Someone’s got to. We’re someone.

        Liked by 6 people

  2. I accidentally wrote the beginnings of a world for a science fiction story in one of my labs about taxonomy. It mainly came about because I couldn’t figure out how poison ivy and grass hybridized naturally, so I decided that terrorists had created it to go after another country but that because it was a grass it was able to hybridize with wheat and corn, helping to wipe out huge swathes of humanity. After that the rest of the lab came together nicely.

    Liked by 3 people

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