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Page 130 - Gift of the owl
September 29, 2014
Rikter wakes up with a feeling of somebody watching him, closely. Upon opening his eyes, the boy finds out that he was right about that: there's the owl that bit him yesterday. The creature looks pretty crazy and holds a dead mouse in its beak. The next moment it throws the mouse into air and it flops on Rikter's blanket. Good morning!
Viruses are very tough bastards, most bacteria too. That's the reason why you have to be careful with extracting dead animals (say, mammoths) from permafrost. Sometimes people catch nasty ancient diseases this way.
Males of many species, from insects to mammals, have a "tradition" of giving females useless junk to get their attention. In case of humans it's usually flowers. Rita doesn't like them but gets them a lot.
Antisocial personality disorder is indeed a super interesting (and at the same time scary) subject. I thing humanity should put more effort in trying to understand it. There are therapies for helping sociopaths, but they are not effective enough at the moment.
What I love about columnar basalt is that it can be any colour of rainbow. And it can be striped, dotted, and have a dozen of other patterns. It can have curved, angled, knotted, and other shapes. Google for "basalt columns" if you're curious, you'll see amazing photos.
What takes 5 years to draw easily takes just a day to read, no worries :)
"Wisdom is a comb life gives you when you already have no hair". Sad but true.
Male and female brains are a bit different. Humanity was able to successfully "hack" only one type: male brain. Female brain can be assigned a psi-profile but is more difficult to control and is impossible to be used as a host for a different personality, its core cannot be replaced. That means the only way to be immortal was to use male bodies as hosts, so all immortals were men in the end.
Just to make the wait more interesting for you: Elie (the "creature" as Ash's father called her) was never intended to be a permanent carrier, a host. For this very reason: female brain type wasn't "hacked" and cannot accept a new core.
I'll tell you a secret: we, authors, need you, readers, much more than you need us. There would be no point to tell stories if there were no one to listen. And sharing our imaginary worlds with other people is a great joy. For some of us, the only joy in life, because we're often depressed and lonely.
Thank you for reading :)
Faith and Hope are fairly common English names. Love is not used as a name as often. It is not unheard of, but not as common. The trio of names first appeared in the Bible (I assume it was first appearance, the letters to the Corinthians were written about 1,900 years ago). Specifically, in First Corinthians 13:13, "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." In the original Greek, they would be "πιστις" (pistis), "ελπις" (elpis) and "αγαπη" (agape).
Norns (Wyrd, Vernandi, and Skuld) come from North mythology, but there are similar mystical creatures (three women - old, middle aged, and young - having something to do with fate) in many different cultures, including Greek.
The Norns were indeed Fates -- Urd means "fate", Verdandi means "in the making" and Skuld means "future". They would sit at the foot of the World Tree and measure out peoples lives and destinies. (Urd=Wyrd; I'm used to the modernised Norse variants of the names since I'm Scandinavian.)
To successfully transfer a psi-profile you need the human host to be at least six years old. Their brain at that age is 95% adult weight while their personalities are still very young, vulnerable, and easy to be replaced. Perfect combination. Take a younger host and you get crippled by the transfer into an underdeveloped brain. Take an older host and replacing the core becomes much more difficult.
I'm a cruel author. Not George Martin style cruel, but still...
Love didn't get her psi-profile until the age of six. It was transferred to her when she got close enough to the door the Elders arranged her to find. The transfer itself is painless, the takeover of the body is not, unless the host is peacefully sleeping.
The purpose of transferring a core psi-profile was recreating a certain man perfectly, just as he was when he died, with all his memories and personal traits. In other words, immortality. All other outcomes were seen as unacceptable. Including hybrid personalities (coexistence of multiple personalities in one body, Elie's case).
Nolan's case is even worse than, say, Rita's. Just stopping a cytokine storm would save her. Nolan's case is too old and had turned into a chronic autoimmune disorder over the years. The only thing that can save his current body is reprogramming of his immune system. And this is a huge problem.
Many greenhouses, at least the larger better ones will have fans that will mimic breezes that come on at night for air circulation and to toughen the plants like a wind does.
(discussing cat names of different countries)
Smoky Is a common name for grey or greyish cats. Socks is also fairly common for cats with different color fur on their feet.
Blackie would be Chernysh in Russian (cherny = black). I had a black cat with that name.
We have a cat name similar to Smoky. Dymok (dym = smoke).
And I remember the name Socks... there was a movie where a man tamed a wolf and named him Socks. So I thought it was a dog name.
On the other side of the Sociopathy/empathy coin we have something like Jan and Rhoda from the film The Bad Seed. She's a high functioning sociopath but uses that knowledge and the fact shes an angelic faced little girl to manipulate people and hide her tendencies. At the time the time the movie was made, sociopathy wasn't well understood and it touches on some interesting discussion on whether someone can be "born bad". If you do see it, i recommend the 1950s version, the recent remake is lousy.
What we think of as fairy tales and folk tales were originally a lot darker and didn't always have a happy ending. Children weren't necessarily considered different, they had to be taught lessons in a world that was generally a lot harder than it was today. there were often morals yes, but they were as much warnings of things that could happen. For example Hansel and Gretal was about the dangers of trusting strangers, particularly if they deliberately tried to attract children to them. Red Riding hood had sexual undertones and was a warning against rapists. In Cinderella one of the ugly stepsisters cuts off part of her foot to try to fit inside the shoe and the blood gives her away.
By the 19th century attitudes towards kids were starting to change. The Brothers Grimm collected these folk tales and "cleaned them up" to something that was considered more acceptable to society at the time. But even then, many of their versions of these tales wouldn't be considered "kid friendly" today. Since then as morals and attitudes have changed these tales have become more and more "sanitized".
There's a quote I like: "Your genetics load the gun, but you pull the trigger". Sociopaths can make a choice how to live their lives. But yes, some of them choose to be like our Jan here.
The nursery rhyme at the beginning of GWI was born from recalling the short stories we read in our early school years. They were about little kids in WW2. Kids getting tortured and killed by Nazis, kids stepping on hidden landmines, kids seeing their loved ones executed, kids finding "gifts" - things like toys that trigger deadly traps... These stories are deeply ingrained in my mind. I remember them more vividly than anything else from my school years.
I'm a 3D artist at my day job, so I use some of my skills to make shortcuts when I work on GWI.
I quickly model any furniture, rooms, objects, etc. in Blender (at home) or Zbrush (at my workplace) and use free 3d props when I can. It saves a lot of time. Like, 80% of time.
Was there a Norn before Faith? Otherwise how do the embryos get implanted a woman in each generation? Thinking that since Hope is 24, Faith is likely around twice as old. So wouldn't Faith surrogate mother still be around or is the life expectancy shortened because of all that happened?
Yes, there were many Norns before Faith. They go in and out of cryosleep as the situation demands and take shifts. Three are awake at every given time, but it's not always the same three.
I'm curious to see what size Faith is compared to Nolan. If Hope is 24 years old, she's an adult but she's so small compared to Nolan plus she looks childlike still. Is Nolan larger than the people being grown from the embryo stage or is this something that you'll explain later?
Nolan is tall, but not extraordinary tall. Just about 190 cm (no more than 40 cm taller than Hope).
Hope looks childlike just like I look childlike. I'm 34, but it's not rare for strangers to think I'm a 13 year old boy or that my husband (who is 5 years younger than me) is my father. It's just my face and the lack of makeup.
Why cytokine stopping drug is not a solution in Nolan's case.
Normally: we have a virus that makes the person's immune system go into cytokine storm. We use the drug to stop the storm, then we deal with the virus or wait for the body to deal with it. Once the virus is gone the patient no longer needs the drug. Problem solved.
Nolan's case: he no longer carries the virus and his immune system is mad at his own body cells. We can give him the drug and it might work, but once we remove it the effect won't last long. The drug will have to be present in his bloodstream every minute of his life (hello side effects and a deadly overdose!) just like the nanites he survived on.
In theory, we can prolong his life for some days/weeks with the said drug but it will be torture and not really a solution.
The solution is reprogramming his immune system so it wouldn't see him as an enemy anymore.
Most of the stories called sci-fi nowadays are actually space operas. Sci-fi uses real scientific things as a foundation for the plot and worldbuinding, it's the very point of sci-fi actually. Space operas focus on other stuff, like romance, action, etc. and doesn't bother much with science and explaining how things work (why people mutate, how lightrabers work, what power sources FTL engines use, how gravity is created on spaceships, etc.) . It doesn't make space opera stories bad, they're just not sci-fi.
Did you know humans can regrow fingertips? They can. Especially young healthy humans. We are way cooler than we think!
Once upon a time I was a kid and wrote a short story about a postapocalyptic world where icebergs bring strange ancient things to the shores where people live... It was six pages long and had only four characters. Now it's 1000(planned) pages monstrosity known as "Gifts of wandering ice".
Mute tribe in GWI is based on real life Neanderthals. Modern humans have up to 4% on Neanderthal DNA, which means our ancestors did mate with them, but none of this DNA is mitochondrial (the type that you can only receive from your mother), so it's either it was impossible for a Neanderthal woman to have a child with a Cro-mangon man or these hybrids were infertile.
Super empaths (people who mirror the others' feelings so strongly they feel the pain of others as their own, literally) are real and are as rare as psychopaths: less than 2% of the population.
Dinosaurs in this comic are actually "chickenosaurs" (novosaurs): birds with artificially reactivated ancestral traits (like teeth or clawed upper limbs). This, theoretically, can be done in reality, so we may yet see some chickenosaus in our lifetime.
Hexagonal basalt columns in GWI are based on volcanic honeycomb-like formations you can see in the real world across the globe, the most famous of them being Giant's causeway and Svartifoss.
In the original story GWI is (loosely) based upon Rikter wasn't a kind a cheerful kid we know. He was more like Jan. And Nikt didn't exist at all.
In the original story GWI is (loosely) based upon Elie didn't have any special abilities and was just a local girl, illiterate and curious about the ice gifts.
GWI has the same atmosphere as the old Soviet scifi novels I read in my youth had. And it's black and white like oldschool scifi movies too.
GWI is a black and white comic, but I color the pages occasionally, mostly the ones my Patrons choose. If you support me by becoming my Patron of buying me a Ko-fi you can choose one too.
I make GWI sketches and contours in PainToolSai, add basic colors and gradients in FireAlpaca, do shading and add details in SAI again, and then add effects, text, and bubbles in Photoshop CS3. I usually make pages in packs (3-4 at once).
Makeshift cableways and ziplines similar to those in the comic (with hooks, wheels, ropes, and brakes) are used in many rural areas of the world, often by kids, to get to school. Surprisingly, it's quite safe.
GWI character that resembles real life me the most is Hope. She's short, has a messy haircut and a mole on the cheek. She also looks like a boy much younger than she actually is and gave birth to her child at the same age I did (24).
Spiral jetties at the lake where Rita and Tim set up their tent are actually simple fish (and crayfish) traps. They have a real life artistic prototype, though: Spiral jetty sculpture by Robert Smithson, in Utah.
Rikter's tattoo didn't always look like three big red stripes on the right cheek. It started as a tiny dot when he was a baby and was expanded years later. Paint, when put under the skin, is toxic, after all.You don't want to put a little child to unnecessary risk by applying too much of it too soon.
"Apothecary well" mentioned in GWI has a real life prototype: Moray terraces in Peru. This site was probably used with the same purpose: growing up very different plants in one small place.
In GWI, cave dwellers' native language is Russian, and hunters' is English, but most people in both tribes are bilingual (just like cosmonauts and astronauts on ISS).
No donation is too small. Where I live 1$ can buy me a tasty protein rich lunch or two bus tickets.
"Gifts of wandering ice" is a member of Spiderforest collective. It's a friendly community where comic creators help each other (that includes sharing readers, providing hosting, helping with web design, collaborating on various projects, and other stuff). If you have your own comic you can join too.
According to my counter's statistics, average time readers spend on a page while reading the comic for the first time is 20 seconds. So, yep, there are lots of pages and GWI seems huge, but don't worry, you can actually binge read it all in less than three hours.
Cats are very effective predators. Their hunting success rates vary from 25 to 60% between species (for domestic cat it's 32%). Wolves have 14%, and bears have 10%. Also, cats kill for fun, even when they're not hungry. And we love them anyway.
Comments are important. Very. Most comic artists are lonely people and get sad when they don't see any feedback from their readers.
There are two types of empathy: emotional and cognitive. The first type is natural (you are born with it or without it) and is based on the activity of mirror neurons. The second one can be learned by studying human behaviour and practicing imagining yourself in another person's place.
You cannot be autistic and a sociopath/psychopath at the same time. These conditions require totally different brain types (not enough synaptic pruning in autistic brain and too much in sociopath's).
The are no religions in the world of "Gifts of wandering ice", no spiritism either. What hunter shamans practice is so called "placebo magic".
Icebergs come in lots of colours. Not only white, but all shades of blue and green. Red and black ones are rare but not unknown either. The patterns and shapes also vary a lot. Striped icebergs - yes please. Shaped like castles - sure. Wavy - yep, those exist as well.
See a typo or a badly translated phrase? Tell me about it and I'll fix it as soon as I can.
Real life hexagonal basalt formations can be quite lofty, just like the mountains in GWI. Devil's tower (in Wyoming), for example, is 265m (867 feet) tall.
I have "Dreams" series on Patreon (open for patrons pledging 2$/month or more) where I draw stuff that cannot happen or can but won't be mentioned in the comic. Like Jan being a good brother and not a tattooed exile. Or Lara and Ren as little kids. Or Nolan with lots of cats around. Or little Hope helping her mother with cyberarm repairs, etc.
Ancient diseases returning because of melting permafrost is a real life thing already happening in our world. And since we're entering the global warming era, it's damn scary.
If you're interested in more webcomics about memory transfer I suggest checking out "Cato's apprenticeship". It's about a boy with a brain implant.
If you're interested in learning more about Ash and his life before he met Elie I have a story on Patreon (open for all patrons) titled "Tsunami kid".
Remember the ammonite shelf in Tim's room? Yep, some ancient ammonoides were that large. I bet they wouldn't mind eating a human if we lived at the same time.
Hunter shamans are not just firedancers and ceremony masters. Their main task is maitaining their tribe's physical and mental health. So a shaman is actually a healer and therapist rolled in one. And while their healing skills are inferior to, say, a cave dweller surgeon, their "placebo magic" based therapy provides better results than any cave dweller psychologist can promise.
Mute tribe uses sign language and wordless singing to communicate. They cannot pronounce articulate sounds, but understand the islanders' speech. The islanders can learn to understand their wordless singing but are unable to use it themselves because their vocal cords are different. Both human species can equally use sign language, though. And "magic rope" figures (like the ones Ren uses) are a part of it.
Hunters don't write books but they do draw a lot. Drawing a realistic landscape or a portrait is no problem even for their kids. Cave dwellers, who rely heavily on written language, rarely go beyond drawing simplistic stick figures.
"Gifts of wandering ice" has a page on TVtropes and you can edit it.
Samovar is a Russian device for making tea. I love them. My mother has one. It's not very old (older than me, though) and uses electricity instead of wood to boil water, but it's still cool!
Originally, I'm a writer. I decided to learn to draw at the age of 22, because I wanted my novels to have nice covers and was too broke to pay an artist.
Common Russian name for a tomcat is Vaska, for a female cat is Murka (mur = purr).
"Gifts of wandering ice" has a Discord channel. You can chat with me and the other readers there.
"I love nightmares. There I'm always the most dangerous monster". Jan
"Nightmares are fun and so much better than life". Jan
"The world is so real it hurts". Elie
How dreamcatchers "work": good dreams get caught in the web and slide down to the sleeper along the feathers, bad dreams just go through the hole in the center of the web.
Evacuation capsules similar to those used in the comic exist in real life. I heard that in Japan you can easily buy one in a supermarket.
Floating cities, like many other things in the comic, were made in Zbrush. It took about 30 min after work and saved me hours of drawing.
I'm a cat person. I have two cats at home. The boy's name is Trikster and the girl is Omegana (my nerdy husband named her after Omegon from Warhammer 40000, I have no idea why :D )
I work as a 3D artist in a local animation studio. The same studio that was making my favourite comics when I was a kid.