Real Life Fantasy: Atasifusta IRL

WHOA.

A grove of Draceana cinnabari in Socotra, off the Yemeni coast.

That sums up what I have to say about these astonishing and beautiful trees. There are several different types of trees that produce a blood-red resin or sap, known colloquially as dragon’s blood–but it’ll look to Weeks fans like red luxin from the Atasifusta.

For those of you needing a refresher on the mythical tree from the Seven Satrapies, here’s a snippet from The Black Prism:

“…Each pillar was a full five paces thick— atasifusta, the widest trees in the world— and none narrowed perceptibly before reaching the ceiling. The wood was said to have been the gift of an Atashian king, five hundred years before. Even then it had been precious. Now they were extinct, the last grove cut down during the Prisms’ War.

Draceana draco in the Canary Islands

“…What made the atasifusta unique was that its sap had properties like concentrated red luxin. The trees took a hundred years to reach full size— these giants had been several hundreds of years old when they’d been cut. But after they reached maturity, holes could be drilled in the trunk, and if the tree was large enough, the sap would drain slowly enough to feed flames. These eight giants each bore a hundred twenty-seven holes, the number apparently significant once, but that significance lost. On first look, it appeared that the trees were aflame, but the flame was constant and never consumed the wood, which was ghostly ivory white aside from the blackened soot smudges above each flame hole. Gavin knew that the flames couldn’t be truly eternal, but after allegedly burning day and night for five hundred years, these atasifustas’ flames gave little indication of going out anytime soon. Perhaps the flames nearer the top were a little duller than those lower as the sap settled in the wood, but Gavin wouldn’t have bet on it.

“When the wood wasn’t mature, it made incredible firewood. A bundle that a man could carry in his arms would warm a small hut all winter. No wonder it was extinct.”

So we have, in summary, three primary species of dragon’s blood/Atasifusta trees that exist today.

There’s the Dracaena draco tree, native to the Canary Islands:

The Dracaena cinnabari tree, native to Socotra (an archipelago between Yemen and Somalia):

From an article in The Atlantic: https://www.theatlantic.com/photo/2013/11/the-galapagos-of-the-indian-ocean/100634/

This variety, native to Socotra, has a fascinating past, and an uncertain future. Just like Brent’s Atasifusta, these stunning trees are being threatened by human intervention. National Geographic (objectively the best periodical ever) has published a compelling article about the island, and the trees.

And finally we have the Croton lechleri, or sangre de drago, found primarily in Ecuador and Peru:

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It’s worth noting that sap from these trees has been used IRL for a long time as traditional medicine, as incense, and as a pigment; it is also sold by contemporary online retailers as ‘natural medicine.’ I found several images of trees that have endured scarring from humans collecting the resin.

It’s tough to say (at least for me) whether this is bad for the trees and/or harmful to their ecosystems at large. I mean, it looks pretty bad, right? But I also wrote this post while eating pancakes and maple syrup. So there’s that. We’d love to hear from anyone who knows more about these gorgeous plants!

Thanks for reading, everyone. Stay home and stay safe.

Fan Art Tuesday: The Blinding Knife

Just gonna get right to it today… Check out this 3-D printed version of the Blinding Knife:

This was created by fan Dylan Jacob, using a rendering that was designed by Ryan Ernst. Well done, guys–it looks great!

Dylan has more cool 3-D printed models in his Twitter feed, and Ryan has some super snazzy renderings on his website.

That’s all we’ve got for now, friends. Take care of yourselves, and please do stay home.

Real Life Fantasy: Microwaves and X-Rays

Greetings from the hermitage! In this edition of Real Life Fantasy, we’re taking a closer look at two contemporary machines that have some surprisingly Satrapied roots.

First we’re going to talk about the hardest working multitasker in your kitchen/dorm room, the microwave oven.

For most of us, microwaves are a fast, easy way to transform frozen comestibles into piping hot delectables. You put the dish in, push a couple buttons, wait for the pleasant *ding,* and viola! Dinner is served. Well, friends, we’re about to reveal the secret behind these magic boxes… It’s paryl luxin.

Restored antique schematic of an early microwave oven design.

Yep, scientists found a way to harness the energy from chunks of paryl luxin to safely and effectively heat food. They acquire the luxin shards from archaeologists, who sell the fragments to microwave manufacturers in order to fund other less lucrative but ultimately more profound digs in the Mediterranean.

YES! They finally brought back the Malleus Haereticorum button. That bitch Carol from work is going DOWN.

Second, we’re going to take a closer look at x-ray radiography, aka the x-ray machines used in medical offices and hospitals around the globe. The technology is remarkably similar to that of the microwave oven; a shard of chi luxin is activated electronically, the energy is projected through the object to be imaged, and the machine captures the chi ‘shadow’ onto an x-ray sensitive plate.

Original image by Blausen Medical Annotations by Mikael Häggström – By Blausen Medical., CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=58054654

I always wondered why my radiologist called herself The Keeper. I guess that explains it!

For those of you who can still draft and/or see in the chi spectrum, you’ll note in the image below the tiny shard of chi luxin hovering ominously between the anode and the cathode in the tube. Shives me the givers, y’all.

By Daniel Frost Comstock – Downloaded from Daniel Frost Comstock & Leonard T. Troland (1917) The Nature of Matter and Electricity: An Outline of Modern Views, D. Van Nostrand Co., New York, p.190, Plate 5 on Google Books, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3270127

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That’s all for this time; we’ll be back next week for Fan Art Tuesday. Everyone stay healthy and safe out there–stay home as much as possible, and take care of yourselves and your loved ones.

With love from everyone on Team Weeks.

March 23: THE WAY OF SHADOWS is a Kindle Daily Deal

Amazon is offering THE WAY OF SHADOWS as a Kindle Daily Deal for $2.99. A steal at twice the price! (This is also Brent’s affiliate link.)

This smokin’ hot deal won’t last long–open up that Amazon app and buy a copy! Your brain will thank you.

The Way of Shadows cover

Reasons to buy a(nother) copy of Night Angel #1 for Kindle:

  1. You want to protect your [signed] copy
  2. Your friend/parent/coworker/cousin/roommate/sibling borrowed it months ago & refuses to return it
  3. It’s your bookworm friend’s/parent’s/coworker’s/ cousin’s/roommate’s/sibling’s/partner’s birthday
  4. Someone you care about/random stranger asked for a book recommendation
  5. You’ve read Lightbringer 500 times and need a new series to get into
  6. You want to read along while you listen to the audiobook

You’re welcome!

March 18: THE BLACK PRISM is a Kindle Daily Deal

Amazon is offering THE BLACK PRISM as a Kindle Daily Deal for $2.99. A steal at twice the price! (This is also Brent’s affiliate link.)

This smokin’ hot deal won’t last long–open up that Amazon app and buy a copy–your brain will thank you.

Reasons to buy a(nother) copy of Lightbringer #1 for Kindle:

  1. You want to protect your [signed] hardback copy
  2. Your friend/parent/coworker/cousin/roommate/sibling borrowed it months ago & refuses to return it
  3. It’s your bookworm friend’s/parent’s/ coworker’s/cousin’s/roommate’s/sibling’s/partner’s birthday
  4. Someone you care about/random stranger asked for a book recommendation
  5. You’ve read Night Angel 500 times and need a new series to get into
  6. You want to read along while you listen to the dulcet tones of Simon Vance narrating the audiobook

You’re welcome!

Real Life Fantasy: Invisible Ink

In this edition of Real Life Fantasy, we’re going to consider invisible ink. Some of you may already know that there are several ways to make invisible ink–using citric acid, vinegar, table salt, or baking soda… But of course we’re not talking about anything so simple nor ordinary. We’re talking ultraviolet (or superviolet) ink.

Noodler’s Fountain Pen ink. Pretty sure somebody over there is a drafter.

(SPOILERS below for Blood Mirror)

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“Perfect timing,” Anjali Gates said. “I’m just finishing up.” She blew on the warm wax sealing a scroll and then slid it into a leather scroll case. She also had a sheathed table knife on the table.

Anjali handed Teia the scroll case. “That’s the decoy. Filled with happy nothings about how well we were received and so forth. The real report is written in superviolet and wrapped around the blade of this knife. If you’re taken, make sure you rattle that blade around inside its sheath well to break up the superviolet script, understood?”

“Understood. Can I run with it?”

“Absolutely. This knife’s seen duty all over the world. You won’t destroy my note by accident.”

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We munds need a little help when it comes to reading messages using superviolet ink. Luckily we live in an age of boundless technology.

Look familiar?

As it turns out, it’s very difficult to find published scientific articles on the interwebs that discuss the chemistry of UV ink. Most websites that talk about UV ink are discussing it in terms of using it in inkjet printers. And selling it.

But I did find a couple of good articles that at least cover the topic a little bit:

How UV Curable Ink Works from Printing Impressions

TL;DR The basic make-up of UV-curable inks consists of four components: monomers, oligomers, pigments, and photoinitiators…

  1. [M]onomers provide a building block of the ink;
  2. The oligomers in the ink formulation consist of reactive resins and uniquely formulated adhesive components;
  3. The pigments provide the color;
  4. When the photoinitiators are exposed to UV light, the oligomers and monomers cross-link or polymerize. So unlike aqueous or water-based inks, no heat or air drying is required for curing.

I also found this article from Glow Paint Industries about the difference between glow and UV blacklight products.

And then I came across a style website with a fun little article about tattoos created with UV ink.

The style article was great until they targeted me with an ad for "lipstick for mature women." F U guys. I AM NOT MATURE AND I CAN PROVE IT

Image from tattoo.com (link in photo)

Please note that the image came from a tattoo-focused website that doesn’t endorse using UV ink in a tattoo. According to the second link, dermatologists have noticed more adverse rashes and negative skin reactions to UV ink in their patients. (On that note, we follow the ‘your body, your rules’ maxim. We’re not encouraging anyone to go out and do this.)

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Next week is the Q&R on FB Live on St Patty’s Day! (We’ll send out reminders. Join us!)

Fan Art Tuesday: Retribution by Gary Kester & Dexter Weeks

First things first: here is a 3D-printed version of Retribution/Iures made by Gary Kester in Australia.

He shared it on the Brent Weeks Fan Club on Facebook a couple months ago. According to Kester, it’s printed with PLA, and he added a clear coat to the blade and leather wrap to the handle to finish it. What a beaut!

Fans had a lovely conversation about this piece. Gary told us that the design is based on concept art from another artist (if it’s your original concept, contact us! We’d love to share your work). He also said, “I wanted the grainy finish and sanding just the joints would spoil it. The joints were intentional as well to show off modelling a curved interlocking joint without any Center supports on a 1.5m plastic print.”

EDIT: We’ve found the artist who created the original concept art that Gary used. His name is Dexter Weeks (ha!), and he’s an illustrator, colorer, and letterer for comic books. You can see more of his work on Instagram or his portfolio website.

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Also, some of you may have noticed I called this “Retribution/Iures.” That’s because I’m not sure which sword this is supposed to be…. And TBH, I don’t know what Iures is.

Also, I only know that Retribution is a sword in Night Angel because Durzo is holding it on one of the t-shirts we sell.

Because I’ve never read NAT. Seriously.

-ducks to avoid shoes and tomatoes-

But WAIT! I have a good reason. Brent asked me not to. So that when I get to be the third person (after his wife and his agent, of course) to read the draft of the book he’s writing now… Which is set in Midcyru… I’ll have a fresh perspective. I’ll be able to provide feedback about the story as a relative newcomer.

Yes, I’m serious.

So really, this whole post is dedicated to me telling all of you that I get to read the next book, like, WAY before you do.

A troll’s work is never done.

<3 DPC

Real Life Fantasy: Orholam’s Wink

Several readers have pointed out recently that Orholam’s Wink–or Neptune’s Wink, as it’s sometimes called–is a real thing. It is a meteorological optical phenomenon that (long story short) happens when sunlight is refracted by our atmosphere at a particular angle. You can see this phenomenon live and in-person… If you’re in the right place. At the right time.

Thanks Reddit user MandalorePrimus

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the right place is sea level, and the right time is sunset, or sunrise.

From The California Sun (click photo for link)

The timing for sunrise is a bit tricky, since you’d need to be staring at the horizon at sea level on a cloudless morning just before the sun begins to peek out over the horizon.

I don’t know about you, but I need more sleep than that. Also I live near a west-facing coast, so watching for the wink at sunrise is…impractical.

I digress.

The print/online magazine Physics World has an article about this lovely little gift from our atmosphere, shared in 2015.

The article is worth a read; it’s an explanation of the green flash, but it’s also a story from astrophotographer Pete Lawrence. In it he explains, “The atmosphere acts like a prism, refracting different wavelengths by varying amounts.”

A prism, hmmmmm? You think Pete is a Lightbringer fan?