Solar Eclipse and the Darkest Dark

Tomorrow is the solar eclipse, and I couldn’t be more excited! I made my box viewer today (I used Space.com’s video) and tried it out. I seriously hope it’s not cloudy tomorrow!! I also made “eclipse cookies” to bring into work. These chocolate dipped cookies are delicious!! I can’t wait to share them. While I can’t experience the total eclipse tomorrow, it will be about 80%, which is definitely worth it. This is one of the first eclipses that I can remember preparing for. I vaguely remember partial eclipses from growing up, but this one I’m pumped for.

I have always been excited by astronomy. When I was younger I went to a Girl Guide camp and heard the different stories and legends behind each constellation. I was totally fascinated by these stories, particularly by Cassiopeia. I still search for her throne in the night sky.

Cassiopeia

When I was really young, I got to meet Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield. He was the first Canadian to walk in space and he came to my school to give a talk about what it’s like to be an astronaut. I thought he was the coolest, and I treasured the autographed photo I received.

1280px-Chris_Hadfield_2011

Hadfield is popular for his social media presence and music, but more recently he published a children’s book, The Darkest Dark. This is a beautiful book with an inspiring story that reminds us to follow our dreams, no matter how far away they may seem. The pictures are absolutely stunning and I would love to have them framed on my wall. This is one of my favourite books this year, and I love that it was written by Chris Hadfield.

The Darkest Dark

My love of astronomy certainly fuelled many choices growing up, from pasting glow-in-the-dark stars in accurately placed constellations all over my ceiling, to the star chart that hangs over my desk today, to the sci-fi shows I watch on repeat, to influencing my own fiction writing. Astronomy is just one of those science-based things that has always been there and has always interested me. Now I get to see the eclipse tomorrow, and who knows – maybe that will end up in one of my stories, too.

 

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Bring on the Potterverse

This past week JK Rowling announced that the film series Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them would be extended to a five film series, rather than the trilogy as it was originally announced.

News Source: CBC News Entertainment

fantastic-beastsI could not be more excited. The first film looks amazing, and I’m elated that we get a chance to explore more of the Harry Potter universe. I love that we can visit different characters in different settings and even different time periods. I personally think that getting away from Hogwarts will do wonders for expanding this fictional landscape.

But the news of more films has not been met with uniform enthusiasm. I’ve seen several blog posts about JK Rowling that suggest she’s just milking the HP world for more money. And if you search for ‘Fantastic Beasts’ on Twitter you can find many negative reactions to the news. The first movie hasn’t even come out yet and the series is facing some deep criticism.

I have to admit: I’m confused.

There are many authors who continuously return to the same universe to explore it with different characters. Names like Brian Jacques, David Eddings, Terry Pratchett, and Mercedes Lackey jump to mind. But the author I keep coming back to is Tamora Pierce.

Tamora Pierce created the Tortall universe. It is composed of a total 21 books, which are organized into smaller series featuring different main characters. The first book in this universe, Alanna: The First Adventure, was published in 1983. This series featured four books of the universe.

song-of-the-lioness

The multiple series following these books contained characters mentioned or featured in Alanna’s story, yet had their own adventures and their own stories to tell. In 2003 she published the book that I fell in love with, Trickster’s Choice, which featured Alanna’s daughter.

daughter-of-the-lioness
When I first read the Tortall books as a child, I was absolutely delighted to discover how each book related to another in the universe. One of the first things I would do when opening a new book was draw lines to previous characters, establish how they were related and what roles they had in previous stories. But beyond the characters, what I loved about Tamora Pierce was that she created a world, and the more I explored that world and the more characters I met, the more it felt like a real place.

And Tamora Pierce isn’t done. She has books coming out next year that are part of the Tortall universe. To summarize: more than 21 books. Over 34 years. All in the same universe, featuring different characters. And as far as I can tell, she hasn’t received criticism over her stories.

hp-and-the-cursed-child

JK Rowling is criticized for publishing more stories, for almost every move on Pottermore, and now for expanding a new movie series. So what is it? Is it that the Harry Potter series is simply so huge, is so successful, and yes, has garnered so much money, that it gives people the right to tell Rowling to stop writing?

Let’s be clear: This is her world. Her characters. And if she wants to explore more of that universe, that is her choice.

Our choice is whether or not we read, watch, and buy into that world.

Everyone is allowed their opinions and criticisms. And I think it’s awesome that Rowling is expanding her universe. She can choose to write as many or as few stories as she wants, and I will choose to read the books and watch the movies because I enjoy them. So I say, bring on the ‘verse, Rowling. I’ll be there.