Did Dinosaurs Have Feathers?

Like dinosaurs, maybe dragons are imagined sans feathers, but if they actually existed, they would have strategically placed feathers.

FeatherTRex

I recently came across a question from one of my friends on Facebook that asked if dinosaurs really had scaly skin or if that was just how we imagined them.

I found the question particularly intriguing, and the answers in some of the comments engaged me too. One commenter speculated that dinosaurs might have had feathers, I think another mentioned Godzilla.

But a google search turned up some more meaningful answers. One of the newest pieces of information among the results was that scientists have uncovered amazingly well preserved skin traces in Korea that reveal exactly how dinosaur skin looked. (Src: https://www.newsweek.com/preserved-dinosaur-skin-100-million-years-korea-1393230).

Though from the reading the article, it seems some traces may have been discovered in the past, but the traces in Korea seem to reveal more than anything found before.

We do know, of course, that dinosaurs did not completely die out millions of years ago. While many did, the smallest of the dinosaurs adapted and evolved, becoming modern birds today. In undergoing that shift, at some point, the dinosaurs had to grow feathers.

But when?

Actually, it seems that scientific evidence has revealed that feathers evolved in dinosaurs long before they were changing into birds (source: https://www.britannica.com/story/did-dinosaurs-really-have-feathers). And in fact, the growth of feathers was not a quick change. It wasn’t like flipping a switch. It was instead more like moving a slider.

According to Encyclopedia Britannica, dinosaurs evolved a type of feather first that had a hair-like appearance. The plumage was made mostly from keratin, but each “feather” was only a single stalk without any of the softer branches on the side that form the wider, feather shape we are familiar with today. Over time, and perhaps in some dinosaurs themselves, the feathers evolved to resemble those of modern birds today. Other dinosaurs had only the earlier forms of feathers, the stalks, and some may have had no feathers at all. And like mammals, how widespread the feathers were on a dinosaur’s body is thought to have varied. Birds of course have feathers everywhere but on their feet and beak. One could speculate that dinosaurs might have had them only on their heads, like us humans with hair, or in other places only.

I find this all fascinating because dinosaurs in modern media are so predominantly portrayed sans feathers. They are instead given scaly skin, and a reptile-like appearance. In fact, if a five year old looked at a dinosaur, as portrayed in a movie like Jurassic park, and tried to guess whether it is more reptile or more bird, with no knowledge of the truth, I think it safe to assume that five year old would say reptile.

Which in fact makes me think about dragons.

Since I have taken such an interest in writing about dragons in my novels, I do think about them quite often. They are traditionally portrayed as reptiles, either as western dragons with huge bat-like wings, scales (like dinosaurs!), and four feet. Or eastern dragons with a more snake-like appearance. Either way, they might easily be categorized as reptiles if they existed.

But like dinosaurs, that might easily be wrong. Like dinosaurs, maybe dragons are imagined sans feathers, but if they actually existed, they would have strategically placed feathers. Another avian beast that could be mistaken for a reptile.

Just my crazy thoughts as an author. I like to think about the real and use it to inform the imaginary. Dragons, however, are mythical beasts so unlike with dinosaurs there will never be one factual image of what they look like. But the portrait of them with feathers does, I think, at least inspire creativity.

December, Technology, and Books

Do you say Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays?

I’m never really sure which to say around this time of year. Usually I go with Happy Holidays. But of course Christmas has become as much a secular holiday as a Christian one, so I suppose saying Merry Christmas is fine too. I think the main point is that you wish people well, as with all things in life I suppose.

This month I’ve been going some through some technological mishaps which is kind of an interesting coincidence because the book I’ve been working on, School Robots, makes use of heavy amounts of technology.

In total my car door got dented when someone hit me in a parking lot, my phone shut off in the middle of the day and decided it was never going to turn back on, and then I had a near scare when my check engine light went on in my car (and then the next morning it mysteriously went off). Hopefully it stays off.

On the plus side, I got a Google Pixel 3a. It’s been a pretty good phone so far, and I’m getting an Otterbox Defender case for it in the mail soon (the best type of case, imho).

I’ve also somehow managed to find vestiges of time to work on School Robots, and I’m still roughly on track to wrap up editing on it by January (those on my list will get a free ARC!). I’m getting to the phase of editing now where I focus on all the specific minute details to the robots, and since they are essentially smartphones, computers, printers, and other real world devices, kids are going to be able to learn a lot by reading the book!

In addition, I’ve been thinking about dragons, and soaking in Avatar: The Last Airbender stuff. I know those are two very different things, but my mind feeds off different things and looks for unique ways to combine them. That’s kind of what I did with Sand and Smoke – I combined westerns and dragon-rider fantasy.

In a little over a week I’ll be heading to Chicago to spend Christmas and the holidays. Currently my aunt, uncle, grandmother, and cousins live there, and my dad and sisters will also be flying in. My family is spread out all over America, so it’s the normal for us to fly pretty regularly.

So far as I know, we have planned for the trip a gift exchange and a movie-going adventure to see Star Wars Episode IX. So I’m definitely looking forward to the latter half of December. Though what I like most as always is just seeing family and friends and spending more time with them.

Book Updates for a Sandy November

This month I am participating in Nanowrimo! Even though I am a chronic write-aholic, I thought I would give it a go just to be involved a bit more in the writing community, rather than being very hobbit-like about my writing. Which I usually am. But though I’ve got 49,200 words already written for the month (don’t judge me, I write like a cat sheds) I really don’t think I’ve spoken with anyone else who’s doing Nanowrimo all month. Or if I have, I haven’t spoken to them about Nanowrimo. Anyway, I’d done Nanowrimo twice in the past, once I failed and once I succeeded, so despite my bragging about being a write-aholic I can occasionally fail to get the words out too. The point I’m trying to get across is that I would love to speak with others who are doing Nanowrimo just because connections and community.

But beyond Nanowrimo this month, I’m going to be trying a whole bunch of new things in my writing plans regarding my books and I’ve been gearing up for them! The first of those was that I purchased a brand new epic cover for my fantasy novel titled Sand and Smoke. My last cover was self-designed, and so I think this one looks a whole lot more professional! And it’s on display below using a 3d mockup.

Also I wrote a short story to accompany the novel. If you want to read the short story and find out everything there is to know about this awesome dragon-infested world I’ve created, all you need to do is subscribe to my mailing list, and I’ll send it to you for free: http://www.rebrand.ly/ingridrising.

What else?

My book School Robots is gonna be exclusively available for my mailing list subscribers in January, and then later on I’ll be publishing it, I’m not sure exactly when yet.

Oh, and I am going to be doubling down on my efforts at writing and publishing YA fantasy books, probably ones with lots of dragons in them. Honestly I am feeling pretty good about what I’ve accomplished so far in writing and publishing TWO full books, completing a first draft for a third book (School Robots), and completing over three-quarters of the first draft for a fourth book this month for Nanowrimo, since roughly April of 2018 when I started all of this bonanza.

But despite the fact that I’ve written pretty much what I’ve aimed to, I know that I need to write faster and write more, especially in completing some of the series I started. With that in mind I have a kind of bold goal for myself in 2020, and I’m not sure if I’m going to be able to meet it, but I’m going to try hella hard. My bold goal is to write a book a month, or depending on how I feel midway through I might adjust that goal to be 10 books in 10 months with 2 rest months worked in there somewhere.

It’s gonna be hard, but I think I can do it. Nanowrimo this month is already going fantastic for me. It’s kinda ending up being the warm-up exercise. Now that I’ve hit a stride with understanding how to churn material out, how to structure my writing, what genre I want to target and knowing a few subjects of things in that genre that seem to grip my readers, I think I am ready to tackle the one-book-a-month challenge for a year.

I even have some ideas for those months. The book I’m writing right now for Nanowrimo, I want to make it into a trilogy. I want to write books 2 and 3 in the Sand and Smoke trilogy. I want to revive an old book I wrote as a kid, improving upon the execution with a complete rewrite and a more distinct and engrossing world. I want to make that book into a series, five books I think. And I’m not wholly sure about the other three months, maybe I can find other writers who are just as hungry as me to team up with, or maybe I’ll think up new ideas in the interim. All in all, next year’s goal is going to be producing a lot of first drafts, which will probably mean not a lot of new publications, other than School Robots. But writing the first draft is the most enjoyable part for me at least…so it should be fun! And if I’m successful, there should be a bonanza of new publications coming in 2021. I might see if I can revise one well enough to publish next fall in 2020 also…we’ll see.

One Last MIQ: The six most interesting questions I missed (Part 2)

I’ve decided to retire the MIQ blog…and to convert it.

Being that it’s early in my author career, things are very fluid. One thing that won’t change is I won’t stop writing books. I have some plans about how I am going to elevate my author career, but as I test and experiment with things, I’ve decided to retire the MIQ blog…and to convert it.

Instead of answering the most interesting questions about various bestsellers, I’m going to focus this blog on my day to day author activities. And possibly I’ll highlight other things in my life. But I will keep it mostly writing related.

One part of that conversion will be accepting review requests. Over the last year, I’ve read a few indie published novels, and reviewed them on Amazon. However, in attempting to gather reviews for my own books, I’ve come to appreciate just how hard it can be, especially when starting out, to get those reviews.

So if you are an author, check back in a week or two for an option to request a review for your novel. One thing I won’t be doing is creating a book blog. I leave that to those more skilled than I. But I like reading and would not mind helping some indie authors out with getting reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes&Noble, Bookbub, etc.

Now, I’ll get to my last MIQ blog post.

BooksForFinalMIQ

Q#1: If you could add anything to Camp Half-Blood, anything, rules, places, items, etc., what would you add?

A: Honestly, probably more interaction with the gods. I know it’s not in greek mythology for them to interact with their kids more, but I feel like they should do it, so many of the kids just get abandoned and not claimed. Or at least maybe there should be a movement from some of the campers or counselors to try and convince the gods to do that.

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Q#2: Who would win in a fight, Katara or Amon?

A: Probably Amon. But it depends. As we know Katara can bloodbend on the full moon. Amon can blood bend any time he wants. So if it’s not the full moon, then Amon wins. But if it is, then they are both blood benders. Would one be stronger than the other? And though Amon has bloodbent more than Katara, Katara probably has just as much fighting experience as him, and there would be more to their fight than just bloodbending if their bloodbending cancelled each other out. So if it was a full moon, I could see Katara winning the fight.

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Q #3: Which kind of Twinborn would you most prefer to be (Mistborn)?

A: Honestly I think it would be awesome to be able to fly, so I would like to be a Coinshot for one of my abilities. Then for the other one I would probably take the steel feruchemical ability, and be a Steelrunner too. That would strengthen my abilities too because they both use the same metal.

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Q #4: Do I have to read the Mistborn trilogy to get Wax&Wayne?

A: I would say no. Brandon Sanderson repeats a lot of how the magic system and the world works in the beginning of his books. So if you hadn’t read Mistborn, you would still understand Wax&Wayne. However, that said, I believe you will appreciate Wax&Wayne a lot more if you read Mistborn first. Because there are a lot of things that carry over. It is kind of like cookies and milk. You can drink milk without cookies, and you can eat cookies without milk, but they taste better together.

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Q #5: Which one is your favorite character in Ken Follett’s Century Trilogy?

A: In Book 1, I loved reading Grigori’s chapters, and I also loved reading about Ethel. In book 2, my favorites were probably Daisy and Lloyd. In book 3, I actually really came to appreciate Dimka and I would say Walli, but just at the beginning of the book. It’s hard to narrow it down even that far. But if I had to choose a favorite character overall, it would probably be Daisy. Just because her character changes so much, and in such a great way, and I really think she is probably the most well-written character in the entire series.

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Q #6: Who is your favorite fictional dragon from books?

A: I love Sapphira from Eragon. Maybe I am biased because she is one of the first dragons I read about in a book, back in 6th grade. But she is really human at heart, she’s not just some wild creature or an all-knowing godlike creature, she interacts and converses in meaningful ways with the world, and has a magnetic personality.

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The Seven Most Interesting Questions about the TV show The 100

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Q #1: What do you think of The 100 and its underlying message?

A: I personally love the show! However, it is definitely not for everyone. At times, the writers make some questionable and sometimes disappointing decisions (I do feel like it could be a bit more friendly to its diverse characters) and also there is quite a bit of violence, so if you’re looking for something clean this isn’t it. However, it does do a really good job of creating tension, high stakes, and the characters never get off easy.

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*———-*
* SPOILERS FROM SEASONS 1-5 BELOW *
If you haven’t watched seasons 1-5 yet, you’ll encounter spoilers if you read on. No spoilers from season 6 will be in the next few questions, however.

*———-*

 

 

Q #2: In The 100, if grounders are supposedly the survivors of the nuclear war in the second Dawn Bunker who were allowed to leave the bunker due to Becca’s Nightblood serum, how did their descendants without Nightblood survive?

A: In a similar way to how the sky people survived. In the show, they explain that those on the ark have adapted, after absorbing radiation in space, to those radiation levels. Similarly, those on earth have adapted to the new radiation levels on earth. If I remember correctly, they represent this with a dial that goes from green to yellow to red. Those on Mount Weather are protected from all radiation, they haven’t adapted at all. They can only survive in the green. The grounders and the sky people, who have evolved and adapted, can survive in the yellow. But only nightbloods can survive in the red, the most lethal level of radiation. At the time of The 100, radiation levels on earth are in the yellow. Presumably, maybe some of the nightblood genes didn’t get passed on completely, and/or humans started evolving away from being nightbloods, when radiation levels fell back down into the yellow.

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Q #3: When will The 100 season 6 be shown in the UK?

A: I had to do a quick search for this one. It looks like it’s going to be shown starting September 4th, 2019, at 9pm on channel E4. Source: https://www.geektown.co.uk/tvairdates/the-100/

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*———-*
* SPOILERS FROM SEASON 6 BELOW *
If you haven’t watched season 6 yet, you’ll encounter spoilers if you read on.

*———-*

 

Q #4: In The 100, does Madi have access to all of Lexa’s memories of Clarke?

A: Yes, while she has the flame in. However, now that the flame is out, she doesn’t have access anymore. One interesting thing to think about, at least for me, is how memory works. If I watch something like a home movie, then I will later have a memory of watching it, and because of that, a memory of the event I watched too. Similarly, if Madi were to have accessed Lexa’s memories, before she lost the flame, could she still recall those memories she accessed later on? It would make sense that this was possible, meaning that Madi, and probably Clarke too, still have access to memories from the flame, even if they don’t have it anymore.

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Q #5: What happened to Octavia in The 100?

A: What we saw was that she was taken by the anomaly. And the anomaly spit out Diyoza’s daughter. Beyond that, it’s a question that we’ll have to wait until season 7 to have answered. However, my theory is that Octavia was allowed to leave by the anomaly, and that it was actually supposed to be Diyoza’s daughter who left. Octavia was only allowed to leave because she had unresolved business (either her part to play in taking down the primes, or making amends with Bellamy). Either way, once she had accomplished that, the anomaly took things back to how they were supposed to be. But still, what is the anomaly exactly? And how has Diyoza’s daughter already grown up, while Octavia is still the same age? There must be some sort of time travel involved, I think. Whatever is happening, it must have to do with whoever created the anomaly.

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Q #6: Will there be aliens in season 7?

A: Very possibly. Based on the events of what the anomaly is doing and is capable of, it seems like aliens must be behind it. And technically, we have already seen aliens. The bugs on Planet Alpha are aliens. However, they are not intelligent life, at least as far as we know.

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Q #7: Why is Murphy not affected by the Red Sun eclipse psychosis on The 100?

A: I think he’s still affected. He just conquers it quickly. We see him at one point sitting with the guns, taking deep breaths, trying to convince himself everything is going to be okay. The Red Sun, gets to him, however…

Murphy also deals with a ton of self-destructive thoughts on a daily basis, when the Red Sun is not around. We’ve seen him evolve from a season 1 psychopath to a guy who actually, usually, tries to do the right thing. So he’s learned over time how to deal with what the Red Sun presents him with. Others in the group haven’t ever had those thoughts, and so it’s harder for them to combat them. He’s not immune, he’s just learned to fight it.

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The Six Most Interesting Questions about Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom

At BookCon 2019, Bardugo said that for the first season of the TV show, they are going to be combining the first Six of Crows book with the first Shadow and Bone book.

SixOfCrows

Q #1: As a beginner in fantasy novels is Six of Crows a good read?

A: Yes, it’s a great read for a beginner! It’s a YA novel and the writing is easy to understand. I read it fairly quick, in about a week. It’s also an engaging story, with a cool magic system, and Bardugo does an excellent job of plotting the novel so that the twists and turns feel real and surprising.

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Q #2: Who is your favorite point of view to read from in Six of Crows?

A: Definitely Inej or Kaz. I like reading Kaz’s chapters because he’s such a well-rounded character and has a dark side to him that other characters don’t have. He takes everything super seriously, and as the leader of the gang he usually deals with the problems that have the most stakes, so his chapters often feel like the most productive and important. Inej, on the other hand, is interesting simply because she’s the Wraith. She doesn’t have darkness inside her like Kaz does, but she can accomplish things no one else can, and like Kaz, she takes everything seriously. Because she often can’t be replaced on missions, her chapters feel critical.

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Q #3: What happened to Nina after Leigh Bardugo’s Crooked Kingdom?

A: I’m going to try to answer this without giving away spoilers. Nina undergoes some changes in Crooked Kingdom, if you’ve read the book you will know what those changes are. It’s partially explained, but not completely. Presumably, she is going to find out more about that because of where she’s going by the end of the book. It seems like we’d need a third book to really get a conclusion to what happens to Nina, as beyond some surface level stuff, these changes have not really been explained.

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Q #4: Is there a third book of Six of Crows series by Leigh Bardugo?

A: Right now there’s not! It just goes 1. Six of Crows 2. Crooked Kingdom. However, I was at BookCon 2019 and attended a panel where Leigh Bardugo spoke about the books. One of the things she did address was the possibility of a third book. She said that she’s always imagined writing a third book, and would like to, but that her schedule is packed right now with other projects. She said that if we (the fans) are still around in a few years and interested in a third book she would write it. So presumably there will be a third book in a few years, as long as the series’ popularity doesn’t unexpectedly plummet.

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Q #5: Are the main characters in Six of Crows bad people (like Kaz Brekker) or are they normal people in unlucky situations?

A: I think whether or not they’re bad people is subjective. One of the things Bardugo does a great job of is showcasing how bad the world these characters live in is. Compared to the rest of the Barrel, Kaz and his crew are like saints. Compared to most people that you or I encounter on the planet earth, they’re not so great. But I think what still makes them likeable characters is that they were just normal people who found themselves in unlucky situations. And those unlucky situations have led them to become bad. But each of these characters wouldn’t be bad if the world hadn’t been bad to them first.

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Q #6: Will Six of Crows be made into a movie?

A: It’s not going to be made into a movie, as far as I’m aware. However, it is in the process of being made into a Netflix TV series. When I was at BookCon 2019, Leigh Bardugo also spoke some about this. She said that she’s been very involved in the process (she’s an executive producer) and she sounded really pleased about who they cast in the lead roles (it sounded like they had already cast the lead roles, though she did not name any names and as far as I’m aware it’s not been made public). She also mentioned they were doing something unique with the TV series. At BookCon 2019, Bardugo said that for the first season of the TV show, they are going to be combining the first Six of Crows book with the first Shadow and Bone book. She sounded very confident that the decision to combine the books into one for the TV show is going to work out great, though I myself am curious to see how it’s going to work given that they take places at different times.

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Six Most Interesting Questions about Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series

Foundation

Q #1: What do people think of the Foundation series by Isaac Asimov?

A: I can’t speak for other people, but I think it’s great. It’s a sci-fi series, probably primarily meant for adults, but can be read by advanced readers in high school also imho. One of the things Asimov does really well is to create a compelling story on an epic timescale. The first book alone spans multiple generations.

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Q #2: Are there overlaps between the western roman empire’s decline and Isaac Asimov’s Foundation?

A: YES. And it’s in all-caps because I think that is the parallel for this whole thing. The roman empire, like the empire in Foundation, is far-reaching, encompassing almost all of Europe. It breaks up in pieces, similar to how the empire breaks up in Foundation. And after the break-up, there comes a dark ages, similar to the medieval times in Europe. The main difference is that the empire in Foundation is the roman empire on a massive scale. This is highlighted by the fact that The Foundation will enable the empire to recover in a thousand years, but without it the empire could take 30,000 years to recover.

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Q #3: Is the story of Interstellar similar to the story of the Foundation by Isaac Asimov?

A: No. I think they are completely different. Interstellar is a story about space, and about family. Foundation is a story about the entire human race, and a crumbling space empire. The only real similarity is that they can both be classified as science fiction, but there the similarities end.

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Q #4: How realistic is a predictive science of psychohistory, a la Hari Seldon in Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series?

A: Just fyi, I have little to no real life experience that would inform an answer to this. However, after reading the book, and based on what I know, I would say that it’s fairly unrealistic. Hari Seldon is able to predict events with eerie accuracy, and I don’t think this would be possible. In particular, I don’t think it would be possible to pinpoint the exact years that things would happen. Obviously, it is inevitable that a grand empire will fall. Everything comes to an end eventually. So it is believable that Hari Seldon would predict that. But how could he know it will happen so soon? I think psychohistory could definitely exist right now, and in the future, to predict future events, but I don’t think it could predict nearly as much or nearly as accurately as it does in Foundation.

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Q #5: What similarities and differences does Donald Trump have with Isaac Asimov’s character The Mule from the book Foundation and Empire?

A: I would say they actually have surprising amount in common. Donald Trump’s presidency was unexpected. And he’s done a lot to alter the direction of our country. The Mule is similarly an unexpected force thrown into the mix, and he also alters the direction that the Foundation is so carefully attempting to guide humanity in. The difference between them is that the whole reason The Mule is able to do what he can do is because he has a superhuman ability to manipulate people. Donald Trump doesn’t have that ability, though it might seem like it at times with how readily people dismiss what he’s doing and support him. Donald Trump also comes from wealth, and was already a public figure before his presidency. The Mule was just an ordinary person who used his mutant abilities to rise through the ranks.

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Q #6: Without spoiling the book, what is Isaac Asimov’s Foundation about?

A: Isaac Asimov’s Foundation is about the fall of a galactic empire. It’s about the people from a single planet called The Foundation. Before the collapse of the empire, a man who predicts its fall establishes The Foundation with the goal of guiding humanity through the dark ages after the fall of the galactic empire, and to the bright new days of a second galactic empire. It spans many generations, as the whole process will take a thousand years.

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