World-building: what to eat on an alien planet?

Food is one of the most basic Human needs, necessary for survival. But what do Humans eat on an alien planet? What do they eat when they escape from the tyranny of the Dock-winders and have no access to the high-tech resources of the planet?

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Odymn, the heroine of the Meniscus stories, is skilled at finding edible wild plants. This is in part because her father taught her the basics of natural history at home on Earth. She also uses her curiosity to discover the edible among the plants she finds.

Odymn picks

a leaf

from an unfamiliar plant.

Takes a nibble.

 

Shoos Madoline’s hand away.

 

“I test new plants I find,”

says Odymn.

“Just one per sun-reel,

so I know

which leaves or roots or berries

make me sick.”

(Do not try this at home on Earth!)

~

When they combine Odymns knowledge and the wood lore of the furry Argenops, the Humans of Themble Hill have a range of foods to choose from:

  • roots – arbel corms and ransindyne
  • fruit – spenel berries, yarnel, thief-bush berries and sloe
  • seeds and legumes – gettle gourds and grammid beans
  • greens – slag-fern, glasswort, ishlin, and zill
  • and the sweet sap of the pilinoth tree

~

The Slain hunt for wild kotildi meat and have access to the Dock-winder markets, so they add to the variety of the diet. Items include oranges (brought from Earth since they will not grow on Meniscus), MRE (meals ready-to-eat, also from Earth) and chocolate (no diet is complete without chocolate).

~

Kathryn, who escaped a transport crash to join the Humans of Themble Hill, is an artist and she has drawn many of the plants in the Themble Woods.

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arbel

The nodding arbel is the first edible wild planet introduced in the Meniscus Series.  The plant produces an edible corm and its leaves can be used to make an analgesic tea.

Gnaw of an empty stomach.

A cluster of arbel flowers,

green and nodding.

 

She digs with her good hand.

Finds the corm, rubs it white,

slides it into her mouth.

~

arbel

~

yarnel

In Meniscus: Crossing The Churn Odymn uses her parkour skills to reach the branches of yarnel and its juicy fruit. The bark of yarnel is bulbous, depicted on the cover of Meniscus: The Village at Themble Hill.

A glimpse of crimson,

high in the canopy.

 

Rolls to running. Two steps on a trunk.

Grabs a branch. Swing and push

to standing.

 

Yarnel kernels gleam.

A pomegranate turned inside-out.

Tart and juicy. 

~

'yarnel'

~

gettle

The gettle gourd is first introduced in Meniscus: Winter by the Water-climb as a staple in the gardens of the furry, friendly Argenops. The seeds are a major food-source. The gourds can be used as an odd-shaped ball in a game or as a substitute for a jack-o-lantern.

Nine hollow

gettle-shells

arranged at intervals.

 

Belnar picks one up.

Reaches in.

Pulls out

a half-burned candle.

 

“Don’est,”

says Vicki.

“Signalling

to her people.”

~

'gettle'

~

I hope you have enjoyed this brief look at the vegetation on planet Meniscus. If the plants resemble some of Earths plants quite closely, just know I am a strong believer in convergent evolution.

~

All my best,

Jane

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series complications – time-lines

I have published four books in my science fiction series Meniscus. The fifth book (Meniscus: The Village at Themble Hill) will be released on April 14, 2018. I have four other books in DRAFT. Keeping them straight has become a bit of a nightmare!

~

'Odymn falls' final
in ‘The Town at Themble Hill’, Odymn breaks her leg … not a happy time for a girl who loves to run in the Themble Woods …

~

The planet Meniscus, with its interesting landscape and biology, suggests many possible adventures. A while ago, I began to think about a ‘spin-off’ featuring the stories of different main characters. I also wanted to include characters from the first books, to give them more background and a better chance to ‘speak’.

~

To weave the stories together, I realised I would need to create a time-line for my books. This would help me to situate the new characters in time and avoid character collisions. I did not want characters who were supposed to be in Prell to show up in Sintha. I did not want dead characters to live after their demise.

~

The time-line shows the books in the series, the number of days covered in each book, the seasons and the years. The first eight books are consecutive, flowing from one to the other.

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time line

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In my next book, I want to introduce some of the Human recruits to the Village at Themble Hill and tell about them when they were still captives of the Gel-heads. So I knew the next book would start before the end of book Four and continue until the beginning of Book Six when Don’est’s continuous, banshee scream splits the air of the Themble.

~

'Don'est'paperback
Why is Don’est screaming? You’ll have to wait until Book Six, ‘Meniscus: Encounter with the Emenpod’, to find out!

~

Plotting the time-lines helped me know what characters I could include, the seasonal components of the setting and how to merge the stories.  It also suggested to me that I should re-number Meniscus Six, Seven and Eight to better reflect the time-line.

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time line 2

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If you are writing a series, I suggest you add time-lines to your process. Think of your story in terms of time. Determine how many days pass during the story. Plot the sequence of your stories with respect to one-another. This will help you to avoid inconsistencies and incongruencies.  It will also help you be accurate if your setting has a seasonal component.

If you are dealing with time-travel, causality and paradoxes, considering time-lines is essential!

~

Hope this helps you with the writing of your series!

~

All my best,

Alexandra

 

 

Free book!

Meniscus: South from Sintha is FREE on Amazon (worldwide) for the next five days (June 1 to June 5).

Odymn wants the Slain to return his ‘aquisitions’ (a wolf-like Kotildi, a Grell-swallow chick, a beautiful human woman, a Dock-winder child and another genetically-enhanced Slain) to their homes. The Slain wants to try, to make Odymn happy, but the task might not be so easy!

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South from Sintha

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1544103018

 

'Odymn and the Kotildi'

~

Copyright Alexandra Tims 2017

New book in the series!

The second book in the meniscus series is now available on Amazon, in Kindle and paperback formats! Meniscus: South from Sintha tells the continuing story of Odymn and the Slain.

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Scan_20170522

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On a planet where Humans are slaves, Odymn is free. Her companion, the Slain, was once a trader in sentient beings. Now, for love of Odymn, he has agreed to change his ways and to return his former captives to their homes. Together, he and Odymn travel the urban alleyways and wilderness woodlands of the Southern District of Prell-nan, risking everything. They must battle wild life, outsmart power-hungry Dock-winders and dodge the grasp of ruthless Gel-heads. But in spite of good intentions, will the Slain be able to right the wrongs of the past? Or will the consequences of his actions outweigh the good he and Odymn want to do?

In the second of the Meniscus series, South from Sintha tells the continuing story of Odymn and the Slain. Odymn loves her silent companion, but trying to help his former captives may be a challenge she did not anticipate.

You can try to mend the broken, to right the wrongs of the past, but sometimes you can`t go back.

I hope you enjoy this new book!

~

Copyright 2017 Alexandra Tims

Planet Meniscus

Welcome to planet Meniscus.

A planet with:

  • two phased moons
  • two suns
  • seasons
  • dynamic landscapes (desert, forest)

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Water on Meniscus moves upward, not down, effervescing and foaming like soda in a shaken bottle.

The odd behavior of water on the planet results in dramatic water features:

  • water churns – lake-like but filled with frothing writhing water
  •  water-climbs – like waterfalls but the water movement is upward

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'parting the ferns'.jpg

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Copyright 2017 Alexandra Tims

Welcome to ‘off planet’!

Welcome to the worlds I love to write about. And to the worlds I love to paint and draw.

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I am a writer, primarily a poet.  I am also an artist who illustrates my work.

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Scan_20170508
‘alien moons’, acrylic, Alexandra Jane Tims, 5″ x 8″, May 2017

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I am author of a science-fiction adventure series. The first in the series Meniscus: Crossing The Churn is available in paperback and Kindle additions on Amazon here.

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As I have published my work, I have realised – some of my writing and illustrations do not belong on earth. They should be out there, available to those of you who share my love of space travel and encounters with new worlds. This blog will help me reach out to you and share my ‘off planet’ work!

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Copyright 2017 Alexandra Tims