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Who Lives In The Star Wars Galaxy?

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Who Lives In The Star Wars Galaxy?

It’s hard to say where old Hollywood ended and new Hollywood began. People in the industry don’t think of themselves as making history, they are just going to work. But the day in 1967 that Jack Warner cleaned out his desk at Warner Bros. studio, George Lucas and Frances Ford Coppola arrived on the lot.
The two young filmmakers were very different in demeanor. Coppola a legend at UCLA film school was 27, a loud boisterous mixture of mogul and marxist, who prided himself in dressing like Fidel Castro. He impressed film executives at first with his bravado, but later would upset them with his reckless overspending. Five years younger, Lucas, who went to USC, was quiet and introspective. The only guys at Warners who were below 30 and wore beards, they hit it off instantly with Coppola taking the mentor role. Lucas had made a thirteen minute science fiction film project called THX 1138, a dark look at a computer controlled future. Coppola convinced his protégé to extend it into a full-length film and talked Warner Bros. into financing it.
Over the next few months the wily Coppola played both sides. “I’m telling you this kid Lucas is making a great film.” Coppola told the Warner brass. “Don’t put pressure on yourself, they don’t expect anything,” He reassured Lucas. When they saw the completed THX 1138 the Suits were furious. “Francis what is this?” “I don’t know, I’ve never seen it.” replied the bewildered producer. To Lucas’s dismay the studio cut out parts from THX 1138 before they released it. “They’re cutting the fingers off my baby.”
THX failed at the box office and Coppola was held financially liable for $300,000, but the two filmmakers were given another chance to make a low budget movie at Universal. Impressed by the success of Easy Rider (1969) the old guard at the studio was reaching out to new talent, once again Coppola would produce and Lucas would direct. Lucas was encouraged by his wife Marsha to make the second project more positive. At USC he had studied anthropology learning that the American male has a unique mating ritual, he drives around in cars trying to pick up girls. Lucas combined this observation, with his own love of classic cars, his small town upbringing in Modesto, CA and his appreciation for top 40 songs played on the radio by disc jockeys like Wolfman Jack. The result: American Graffiti (1973).
The now beloved film got off to a rocky start. It was previewed in San Francisco to young crowd who adored it. After the show Lucas and Coppola waited for the Universal executives to come and congratulate them. Instead they were shocked by angry accusations that they had planted their friends in the crowd and American Graffiti was not releasable. True to their personas Coppola argued and Lucas stood quiet. Once again George saw his film taken away and cut up by what was in his view an interfering, know nothing studio. But there was one difference between THX-1138 and Graffiti; Graffiti was a hit, a highly profitable film that made Lucas a millionaire.
Now Lucas decided to return to science fiction, this time wanting to do a more positive story than THX. After failing to acquire the rights to Flash Gordon, he sat down to write his own screenplay. Influenced by the writings of Carlos Castaneda and the mythology of King Arthur, he based the characters on familiar figures. Luke Skywalker’s personality came from George Lucas himself, young, adventurous, and quiet from a small town, with a love of racing cars, or in this case space pods. Han Solo was based on . . . Francis Ford Coppola. He was loud, cocky, reckless, always in debt, going through a love-hate relationship with the younger Skywalker. And the empire was actually the Hollywood studios. George Lucas striving for his creative freedom as a filmmaker would parallel Luke Skywalker’s journey to win liberty from the empire, and both would achieve it thanks to Star Wars.

Whitby’s History – Stranger Than Fiction

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Whitby’s History – Stranger Than Fiction

St Hilda’s Abbey, Whitby

Even as you bask in the sun on Whitby’s sandy beaches, you cannot fail to be aware of the imposing and slightly sinister presence of the ruined Abbey, high on the East Cliff.

Situated on the eastern edge of Whitby, the Abbey is accessed by climbing the 199 stone steps that lead from the end of Church Street. These steps were originally wooden, and were built to allow coffin-bearers to reach the church. To this day there are coffin rests and seats along the stairs to allow weary limbs to rest. The present-day Abbey ruins date back to 1078, when the Normans built a Benedictine Priory on the site, replacing the ruins of the original monastery which was sacked by Vikings in 867.

The Abbey is steeped in history, both religious and otherwise – the nearby graveyard of St Mary’s Church is reputed to have been the haunt of Count Dracula, and the legend that has built up around this story has led to Whitby becoming a popular destination for gothic enthusiasts, particularly during the biannual gothic music weekends.

The monastery was originally home to both nuns and monks, amongst whose number was Caedmon, reputed to be the first English poet and the father of sacred song. He was recruited to the abbey at Streoneshalh, as Whitby was then known, by Saint Hilda herself after she had heard him sing. Today, the significance of Caedmon’s work is recognised with a large and ornately decorated gothic cross in the graveyard of St Mary’s Church.

The abbey’s importance as a regional centre became apparent when the Synod of Whitby was held there in 664, but its political power was to be fairly short-lived as in 867 Vikings landed in the area and ransacked the monastery. At the time, Danish settlements were spreading along the east coast of England, and it is thought that the Danes went on to settle in Whitby for some years after their arrival in 867.

The abbey was re-founded as a Benedictine Priory around 1078, in the aftermath of the Norman Conquest. Again, it was home to both nuns and monks, and remained on the site for nearly 500 years, until the brutal policies of King Henry VIII forced its final closure and partial destruction as part of the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1539.

St Hilda’s Abbey was then allowed to fall into disrepair, inadvertently becoming a source of stone for local residents, but today the remains are administered and maintained by English Heritage, and the unmistakeable profile of the abbey’s ruins against the skyline is visible from many miles away when driving towards Whitby.

St Mary’s Church, Whitby

Dating from 1110, St Mary’s Church was originally built to provide a place of worship for the workers serving the Abbey, who were not allowed to worship within the Abbey itself. Although it has been extended several times, the original church still remains and is still the parish church of Whitby today.

Inside St Mary’s Church, there are several notable design features – including a triple-decker pulpit, built to ensure the whole congregation could hear the sermon being read. Other notable features include the original 17th century box pews, which were originally hired by families for their exclusive use, and the extraordinary Cholmley pew, built in front of the chancel arch for this leading family so that they could have an unimpeded view of the service and the congregation.

The Church also has an unusual upper gallery and still has an original Elizabethan altar table.

St Mary’s graveyard is well known to fans of Bram Stoker as the lurking place of Count Dracula, and at night the looming ruins of the nearby Abbey do indeed add a sinister and mysterious aspect to the area, leading one to think that fact could indeed be stranger than fiction.

I began my writing career at the age of 12

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I began my writing career at the age of 12

I had a professor in college, who told me something rather discouraging. He was teaching a writing course, and one day he just blurted it out. “There are two ways you can make money as a writer now days; one is by writing fiction and the other is films.” This was such a bleak statement. Could it be true? What about journalists, poets and those who live to craft short stories? Well, I spoke with the professor after class, and he explained this statement with a bit more detail. He was basically saying that the short story and poetry folks are a thing of the past. And that these days it’s all about fiction novels and films. These are the writers that make the big bucks. I have to admit, this sounded like reality. Anyway, one thing we did not discuss in that writing course is the online writer market. This is pretty massive now days. If you have a computer and Internet access, the online writer market is something you should consider. Of course that is, if you’re searching for a career in writing. The web can introduce you to a number of freelance writing gigs. I am sometimes flabbergasted at how much writing goes straight to cyberspace. Imagine all the articles and medical essays available online. It’s a gargantuan business.

Like any career field, the writer market can be discouraging and difficult at times. There is a lot of competition, but what field lacks competition? It’s the same regardless of your specialty. One thing I can say is if you search the contemporary writer market for jobs, you will find some. Acquiring the gig is up to you.

The Real Story by Stephen Donaldson. Retrospective review

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The Real Story by Stephen Donaldson. Retrospective review

Synopsis

The Real Story is a short but intense tale set in a future in which humans travel between the stars using “gap drives,” controllable brain implants are punishable by death, and a private company called the United Mining Company runs law enforcement for all of known space. Ensign Morn Hyland lives aboard a police ship with most of her family, chasing down pirates and other illegals who prey on the weak or smuggle goods into forbidden space.
Through a strange turn of events, one particularly nasty perpetrator ends up with Morn as his companion–or at least that’s the way it appears to the folks at the space station’s bar. Why would a young, strong, beautiful police officer associate with a crusty, murdering pirate? People watch with interest as Morn appears to fall in lust with another racy illegal, Captain Nick Succorso. Morn and Nick must have plotted together to frame Angus and escape together, right? But the real story was quite different.

Review

This novella is a prelude to four subsequent volumes, and it tells a simple and one-dimensional story. An intergalactic setting in the far future revolves around two rival space pirates named Angus Thermopyle and Nick Succorso, and, between them, a UMCP (United Mining Companies Police) ensign named Morn Hyland. The story is told from Angus’ point of view, and he is one of the most depraved and sorry figures ever depicted in a work of fiction. His repeated violations of Morn — described in graphic detail — have drawn hostile reviews and cries of misogyny, but Donaldson’s purpose is to evoke a thoroughly dark and sordid mood in this series. ‘The Real Story’ is simple and short., and indeed, as a stand-alone novel, this book is lacking is depth, character development (with the exception of one character, and though we come to understand his decisions, his motives are largely unrevealed) and a satisfying conclusion, there are two points that are vital to note. These two points are apparently contradictory, but I’ll attempt to explain:

1) This was written as a short novella. It wasn’t intended to be the first in a series, and as such it doesn’t bear many of the traits usually associated with the first book in a series, such as hints of larger plots or other elements designed to draw the reader back for book 2. As a stand-alone novel, Donaldson kept this in a drawer, unpublished, for some years. Only as part of a larger series does it work, yet it doesn’t read like the beginning of a series. Once you understand this, the flaws are less glaring.

2) In apparent contradiction of point 1, above, please understand that it IS the first in a series. The series itself is probably the best science fiction I’ve ever read, but it really doesn’t get going until mid-way through book 2. Again, once you accept that most of the “good stuff” comes after ‘The Real Story, it’s easier to bear to flaws.

Though I don’t seek to excuse any form of weakness here (after all, whatever it was intended to be and however great the rest of the series, the first book should still be complete and engaging), I do seek to prevent people being deterred by the lukewarm reviews of this first installment. It’s not bad by any means, merely incomplete. I would issue a couple of warnings though: Firstly, this book is grim and brutal; be prepared. And secondly, Donaldson tells character-based stories in fantastic settings – if you’re looking for detailed high technology and hard science, this might not be your scene.

Spy Video Cameras Bring 1984 Home

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Spy Video Cameras Bring 1984 Home

Imagine a state where the government rules with an iron first. You can do and think as you please, so long as these actions and ideas do not go against policy or officially mandated doctrine. You are subjected to some twisted psychology, too. Not only are you brainwashed to obey the totalitarian government, you are taught to love it as well. Does this scenario seem unthinkable?

This is the world British writer George Orwell portrayed in his novel, 1984. If you think, however, that fiction is the book is strictly a work of fiction used to entertain its readers, think again. Today, governments throughout the world use spy video cameras to monitor key areas, including Orwell’s former London home!

I’ll Be Watching You
Each person in Great Britain is caught on Closed Circuit Television, or CCTV cameras, about 300 times every day. The country possesses about 4.2 million of these spy video cameras. That’s about one camera for every 14 people in Great Britain! In fact, about 200 yards away from where Orwell lived until he died, over 30 CCTV cameras monitor people’s every move. An irony is that a special plaque hanging near Orwell’s home praises the author for his stance against totalitarianism.

Security Can Make You Insecure
Many London businesspeople justify the use of spy video cameras as a means of crime prevention. However, England’s Royal Academy of Engineering, or RAE, has cautioned that excessive surveillance by cameras could actually reduce safety in the country. One concern is that a national standard for CCTV cameras could inadvertently transmit data to just about anyone willing to go to extra lengths for access. Moreover, computer hackers capable of accessing the data could abuse any security system. Business employees who accept bribes could also threaten the integrity of such a standardized surveillance system. One author of the RAE’s report even argued that the installation of spy video cameras should be halted until it is proven that they are necessary.

Rear View Cameras
Today, spy video cameras are used for a variety of applications other than monitoring businesses. In Virginia, USA, a 10-year program used an army of spy video cameras as a means of traffic enforcement. These cameras catch drivers zooming through red traffic lights. Most politicians are strongly for the program because they claim it increases road safety and saves the government money. After all, road accidents, wreckage, and the messy process of trolling through debris and cleaning it up use up time, money, and valuable workforce. Opponents of the cameras, however, attack the efficiency of the system and criticize its intrusion on privacy of private citizens.

Like Britain, Like Singapore
One of the most prolific national users of spy video cameras and one of the most criticized for its usage is Singapore. This comes as no surprise to people familiar with Singapore’s history of policy-making. Singapore’s government system had, after all, been pattered after that of its former colonizer, Britain.

Singapore’s constitution does not explicitly protect an individual’s privacy. In fact, in recent decades, the Singaporean government has used spy video cameras to control opposition parties in the country and enforce societal control. In In 1986, the founder of modern Singapore justified his reasons for monitoring how citizens talked, acted, and even spit! Today, surveillance cameras in the nation are used for a variety of purposes, such as monitoring vehicular traffic, and preventing littering. While the government basically respects its citizens’ rights, it wields the authority to limit them when it believes that such is justified.

In 1948, when “1984” was published, the idea that “Big Brother is watching” seemed ludicrous. It seemed an idea feasible only in fiction. Today, the use of spy video cameras show just how easily technology like spy video cameras transform fiction into non-fiction.

Da Vinci Code : Real Or Fiction?

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Da Vinci Code : Real Or Fiction?

With the recent much reported legal case surrounding Dan Brown’s blockbuster thriller The Da Vinci Code, at last we can enjoy its most eagerly-awaited film debut, starring Tom Hanks, on release from May 2006.

Cracking The Code
So you’ve heard the conspiracy, read the novel, plan to see the film – so what next? How about following in the footstep of Robert Langdon and Sophie Neveu and crack the code with your own da Vinci Code trail. There are Da Vinci Code tours for conspiracy fans and for those who simply want to find the truth behind such books as The Holy Grail and The Da Vinci Code.

In Search Of The Facts
As one of the best tour activities, you can personally retrace parts of the story. See for yourself the rose line or learn about the true Knights Templar amonst other activities to broaden your insight into the phenomenon and arrive to your own conclusions.

If The Da Vinci Code is not your thing, don’t worry. There are many other adventures and new experiences you can choose from at Gate 14’s dedicated activity section which you can access via their links and resources area.

You only live once so make sure you get to experience the things you want and create a mind of memories that will stay with your forever.

Does It Summarize?

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Does It Summarize?

I go through an interesting writing exercise regularly: I take magazine articles and write abstracts of them for a newsletter client.

The challenge involves taking an article, one that normally ranges from 1,000 to 3,000 words, and condensing it into a few hundred words. That means I need to get the essence of the article squarely in my sights and to write about it in my own words.

When I go through that exercise, I’m amazed at the number of articles, many from highly respected business magazines, that don’t have internal integrity.

An article has internal integrity when the writer started out with a central idea, developed it well, and reached a conclusion involving that idea. For example, the writer might start with an anecdote, using the anecdote to illustrate a problem.

She then goes on to explain why this problem deserves our attention. That’s followed by one or several potential solutions, and the pros and cons of each one, along with a recommendation or two. She concludes the article by summarizing the problem, the alternative solutions, and her recommendation then links back to the opening anecdote. That’s just one story development model, but one that works.

As I say, many articles don’t have that kind of integrity. Some miss one or more parts of the model, others get them in the wrong order, and some don’t have a model at all, just the non-fiction equivalent of stream-of-consciousness (a fiction model).

You can ensure your writing has internal integrity — whether for memos, articles, instructions or anything else — by taking measures before or after your write. Perhaps the most familiar strategy is the preliminary outline. Before you start writing, you set out the elements you’ll address.

Another possibility is to go back to your message afterward and write a short abstract, and ask yourself whether or not it makes sense. Does the story flow logically and clearly? Do you see any part of your model that might be missing?

A third possibility is just to set aside your writing for a few days, and then look at it later with fresh eyes.

Whichever you technique your choose, and that’s mostly a matter of your personal style, your writing will get better results if it has internal integrity.

Learning More About Italian Literature

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Learning More About Italian Literature

Italian literature is literature written in the Italian language, particularly within Italy. It may also refer to literature written by Italians or in Italy in other languages spoken in Italy. Literature is the mirror of society during a certain age. Therefore, entering and learning more about Italian literature plays a significant role in understanding Italian history and culture.

The first Italian vernacular literature began in the 13th century. Sonnets were said to have been written first by Sicilians. Sonnets became widely used as a form of poetry in Italy and later spread throughout Europe. The Sicilian style was dominant in the north until 1260 when Guido Guinizelli, a Bolognese poet and jurist moved from courtly love into a more mystical and philosophical topics.

Then 13th century also produced folk poetry, doctrinal poetry, imitations of the chansons de geste in various dialects, and a magnificent flowering of religious poetry. Prose works included translations from Latin and French as well as collections of tales, anecdotes and sayings.

Dante Alighieri is one of the most prominent Italian writers. Dante’s work, the Divine Comedy, was considered one of the masterpieces in literature. Dante invented the iambic tercets for his epic journey through Hell, Purgatory and Paradise.

Dante was among those talented people who can never be silent during political turmoil. During the political factions of Florence in 1295, he became heavily involved in diplomacy on behalf of Florence’s White Faction. When the Black seized the city, Dante was sentenced to two years of exile. He failed to pay the fine and was sentenced to die in 1392. But he continued to lived for the next 19 years although he was never to return to his city.

During his years in exile, Dante started working on the Convivio which is intended to be a feast of philosophical knowledge in fifteen books. He was also set unto working on De vulgaria elequentia about the proper literary use of Italian. But these projects remained unfinished. In 1307 he started working on the Commedia.

Another known Italian writer is Petrarch. Petrarch gave hints of his love to Laura in his collection of 366 poems called Rime. Scholars have tried to identify the Laura, matching different Lauras of his time based on his poems. Other scholars said that Laura is a poetic fiction, made so that Petrarch can talk about the demand of human love, love of God, experience and purity.

Another yet important figure not only in Italian literature but also in world literature would be Boccaccio. Boccaccio is among the devoted admirers of Petrarch. His greatest work would be the Decameron. Il Filostrato is a more significant work in Boccaccio’s development. It is a poem on the love of Troilo and Criseida, it carried much more ambitious lengths than the Decameron.

The early Italian writers paved the way for the development of literary works in Italian literature. It cannot be denied that these classical works provided inspiration and encouragement to more Italians to venture into literature.

Contemporary Italian writers would include prose writers include Luigi Pirandello, who explored the shifting nature of reality in his prose fiction and such plays as Sei personaggi in cerca d’autore (Six Characters in Search of an Author, 1921) ; novelists Giovanni Verga (an exponent of verismo or Naturalism) and Cesare Pavese.

Contemporary poets would include Filippo Marinetti, Salvatore Quasimodo, Giuseppe Ungaretti and Eugenio Montale (winner of the 1975 Nobel Prize in Literature). Other novelists include Alberto Moravia and Umberto Eco became internationally successful with his novel Il nome della rosa (The Name of the Rose, 1980).

Learning world literature would always give us a glimpse of Italian literature. Learning more about Italian literature would give us a better understanding of world literature.

Mosquito Facts and Fiction

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Mosquito Facts and Fiction

Mosquitoes are celebrities. The way they spread diseases is just as fast as scandal acts. Sometimes rumors are true; sometimes though, overstated. Once you’re bitten doesn’t instantly mean you’re going to die; yet at the same time mosquitoes are science-proven to be disease-carriers. Life-threatening as it may or not, one deserves to know what’s true and what’s not, the mosquito facts as well as the fiction. There’s a thin line between mosquito facts and fiction. In dealing with mosquitoes we need to know what to do and knowing what we should listen to. Here are the mosquito facts; hopefully from which we could spot the fiction:

Mosquito Facts:

Fact: Mosquitoes live in water. Fiction: Mosquitoes live in any form of water.
Many mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water, such as ponds, but others lay eggs in places that are only periodically flooded as long as conditions are favorable for hatching. Mosquitoes do not breed in moving water, such as rivers and streams, also in BTI-treated or predator occupied water.
Fact: Mosquitoes are a nuisance. Fiction: Mosquitoes are not at all beneficial.
Mosquitoes still have an important part in the food web. Mosquito larvae, pupae, and adults are important as food for fish, birds, bats, frogs, and insects.
Fact: Mosquitoes carry diseases. Fiction: Mosquitoes of all sorts carry diseases.
Only female mosquitoes bite and suck blood as needed to lay eggs, but in turn transmitting diseases. Adult male mosquitoes feed only on plant nectar and are harmless.
Fact: Mosquitoes are attracted to human CO2 breath. Fiction: Mosquitoes are attracted to human
sweat and particular colors.
Mosquitoes spot their victims through scent (and body-heat), but some human scent could also actually repel mosquitoes as perspiration. People shouldn’t also think that the dampness of sweating could attract mosquitoes; mosquitoes only look for moisture (and shade) in order to find a suitable breeding site and not to bite.
Fact: Mosquito control products are effective some way or another. Fiction: Mosquito control is
always only effective.
Bug zappers may harm the environment killing many more benign and beneficial insects other than mosquitoes. Some repellants and insecticides are also harmful to health.
Fact: Mosquito predators (birds, bats, frogs) eat and reduce mosquitoes. Fiction: Mosquito predators
could be relied upon in eliminating all mosquitoes.
Although mosquitoes form a part of the diet of insectivorous birds and bats or fish, these animals eat a variety of insects and can’t be counted on to control the mosquito population. They can play a role in a pest management plan, but they won’t eradicate mosquitoes entirely.
Fact: Mosquitoes transmit dengue, West Nile, elephantiasis, encephalitis, and malaria. Fiction:
Mosquitoes transmit AIDS.
HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is not able to survive inside the body of the mosquito. There has never been a confirmed case of HIV transmission by mosquitoes unlike the other diseases.

Certainly, knowing these mosquito facts has not only tickled the brain but also has shed light as to how we should respond/react to mosquitoes.

What Maks Fiction Special

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What Maks Fiction Special

I was in a brisk discussion about whether a woman ‘would’ or ‘would not’ leave her wayward husband when a man interrupted and said, “But he’s not real! It’s fiction!” It was time to end the talk before I began my ten minute soliloquy that would have sent everyone in the kitchen for one too many drinks before going home. I knew the difficult husband in The Trading of Ken was not real because he fell out of my head and ended up on paper over a year’s time as I had fun punching him, his wife and girlfriend about. That’s exactly the point. Fiction has helped me put life in fascinating perspectives that allegedly truthful biographies, gooey memoirs, self-righteous improvement and dry scientific report studies can’t touch. Imagine:
Fiction makes judging human nature and gossip acceptable. Sunday school and ethics lessons can be overlooked when we dissect the behavior of Flaubert’s Madam Bovary. We can be arrogantly appalled, giving approval to our cherished ideas. Without apology or deference to a human being’s frailties we can smack our opinion about like a tennis ball hoping to aim and hurt. Or an author can give us that information on a character that forces our play; makes us look again and reconsider. Madam Bovary ‘loves without guile’ to gain sympathy and twist our presumptions. Then we can smack our ideas against the wall again because they’re not based on ‘real’ people and we can dissect them like an orange.
Fiction can be embellished and dressed up for drama. James Frey, author of memoir A Million Little Pieces, could add a word or two here Sociology, psychology, philosophy can all be dry as melba toast. Even a well written memoir can seem sanitized or a diatribe against all enemies. Very often they’re engaging stories and an occasional deep tidbit. In her memoir Two or Three Things I Know for Sure, Dorothy Allison states, “Women lose their lives not knowing they can do something different. Men eat themselves up believing they have to be the things they have been made.” All very lovely and clear enough to understand. Fiction overrides polite society to talk from the gut. In Bastard Out of Carolina, Allison hands us a whirlwind, “Seven children! Bad enough Alma’s got so many, but at least she knows how to keep hers fed and clean. That little Maggie can’t even change a diaper without coming on a dizzy spell. Woman has eaten Beau alive. Like some vampire sucking the juice out of him. You cut that girl open and you’d find Beau’s blood pumping her heart.” I love those lines. Maggie’s a woman who takes female caretaking to a new level and helps me see through myself and to my husband.
Fiction makes dry subjects like history, science and anthropology exciting and easier to learn. Readers willingly enter the world of writers eager to learn and enjoy a time in history (or the future) that school routinely fettered with weights. Consider the current popularity of The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini or The Red Tent by Anita Diamant. They are both storylines we’ve heard before and see alluded to in the news everyday, but fiction gives an inside, human aspect to subjects we otherwise treat coldly and brush off.
Fiction invites imagination and insight. We come to fiction ready to believe and enjoy. Routine defenses and the usual ‘deaf ear’ are diminished as we let words and the stories of strangers absorb us. Like children taking in data from everywhere we are more vulnerable to the suggestions of a creative deft author. It’s one thing for the currently popular judgmental Dr. Knoweverything to say once more we are clueless about religion’s part in our life. It is another thing to read Barbara Kingsolver in The Poisonwood Bible, “I could never work out whether we were to view religion as a life-insurance policy or a life sentence.” Regardless of your view this statement is an invitation to define what you think.
Fiction entertains without expectation. Fiction gives grace and space from the workday world. We can and do enjoy a mini-vacation with a pal who doesn’t expect us to do anything but sit back and have fun. Readers define fun in many fiction genres from science and fantasy to sweet romance, but that’s just the point.
With fiction we’re not required to study, learn or even pay close attention. We’re invited to take from it what we will and enjoy the ride. That’s what’s special about fiction. No final exams from teachers, scientists, historians or social gurus; only invitations.

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