August 23, 2016


Each Tuesday, rather than a POSSIBLY IRRITATING ESSAY, I'd like to both challenge you and lend a helping hand. I generate more speculative and teen story ideas than I can ever use. My family rolls its collective eyes when I say, "Hang on a second! I just have to write down this idea..." Here, I'll include the initial inspiration (quote, website, podcast, etc.) and then a thought or two that came to mind. These will simply be seeds -- plant, nurture, fertilize, chemically treat, irradiate, test or stress them as you see fit. I only ask if you let me know if anything comes of them.

F Trope: Appeal to a pastoral ideal: Much genre fantasy, of all genres, appeals to the pastoral ideal, one reason for the pseudo-medieval settings. Even urban fantasies will quite often depict cities as blots on the landscape, whose denizens /are blinded to what really matters by material ephemera. There are some fantasies, however, which either deliberately take the opposite stance or present a more balanced worldview.
Current Event: “The Minnesota Renaissance Festival is a Renaissance fair, an interactive outdoor event which focuses on recreating the look and feel of a fictional 16th Century ‘England-like’ fantasy kingdom.”

Svenja Johannson puttered around the edge of the Minnesota Renaissance Festival. She crossed her arms over her chest, tossed her platinum blonde hair and said, “I was hoping for a bit more authenticity.

Matias Gallagher, strawberry blonde hair curled like a swim cap over his head, shook his head and said, “Then you should have tried out for ‘Castle Life’.”

She snorted – a sound worthy of a horse, Matias thought – “That’s just as fake.”

He scowled at her and said, “Just because you Germans have all kinds of castles...”

“Not ‘all kinds of castles’ – Wartburg Castle. That is the only castle.”

He shook his head and said, “Speaking of Martin Luther, what makes you think you’d even like the real Renaissance?”

“Are you kidding? My ancestors lived then, there was no pollution, no noise, and definitely no people!”

“What’s wrong with people?” Matias asked as a pair of teenaged boys in basketball shorts, wearing high-topped basketball shoes and suggestive slogans, walked past them using an F-bomb every other word. They looked at him and Svenja. One flipped Matias the bird, the other asked Svenja if she wanted to engage in a sexual act. After Svenja fired a crude rejoinder back at him and Matias leaned back and folded his arms across his chest, flashing both his six-pack and expanding his pecs, the other boy waved him away. The two of them faded into the mob of 21st Century Minnesotans stuffing their faces the way they did at the State Fair and pretending they were in the 16th Century. Svenja glared at Matias.

Matias sighed, “Point.” He paused and said, “Let’s just enjoy the RenFest for what it is.”

Svenja scowled as a parade of knights in armor entered the Festival grounds, the earth trembling under the pounding hooves. The steel plate, gold trim, and silver filigree flashed in the brilliant afternoon light. There was a coolness in the air, a tiny bite of autumn hinting at the winter not far away. There seemed to be hundreds of knights prancing by. “There are so many...” she said.

“What?” Matias shouted. “I can’t hear you!”

“There are so many knights! Where did they come from?” The sun abruptly dipped behind a cloud. There was a flash of light and clap of thunder, yet when Matias pressed his hands over his ears, it seemed that only he and Svenja did so. Others around them seemed oblivious to the darkness and cold. “What’s happening, Matias?” she shouted.

“I don’t know...”

An instant later, the sun came out again. Matias blinked in surprise and Svenja stepped closer to him, grabbing his arm, long fingernails digging into his muscle. The first thing he noticed was the stench of open sewer and the legless man sitting on the ground in front of them...

Names: ♀ German, Swedish; ♂ Norwegian, Irish

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