This island has just broken off from its spire at the South Pole
We are in one of the Gear Rooms for Kadmeion’s airship. Step over here. I want to show you something.
Some of the automata have removed the hull’s inner wall boards so you can see the floating rocks that miners have cut into bricks. The mortar holds the bricks in place. The wall boards keep the bricks from wandering about the room if they work themselves free.
Why do some rocks float? It has to do with the South Pole at the spindle.
Volcanic activity at the pole heats rocks until they melt. This intense heat causes the latent magic to transform the liquid rock until it is lighter than air. The strings of rock flow upward, collect into top-heavy spires, and cool. Earthquakes break the islands free of their fragile spires. The islands hover close to the ground where plants, birds, and animals jump onto their new home. They finally float to the edge of the South Pole landmass and go out to sea.
Mathematicians can calculate a floating island’s age by its size, distance from the South Pole, and its height above the sea. Old islands lose their buoyancy and sink closer to the sea. Some of the oldest islands rest it the sea for a time before the Rim storms tear them apart.
I want to talk about a book that showed me a strong woman in a fascinating-anything-possible world: Miss Pickerell Goes to Mars by Ellen MacGregor.
About the Story
Miss Pickerell is a spinster on her way home from the fair where she was exhibiting a rock collection. In her very old car, she gives Mr. Haggerty a ride. He is the navigator on a spaceship bound for Mars. The unflappable Miss Pickerell disbelieves this until she finds the spaceship parked in her pasture just as bold as you please. Her curiosity gets the best of her. Snooping gets Miss Pickerell on the flight to Mars in place of Mr. Haggerty.
How We Met
I met Miss Pickerell by happenstance when I was six years old, via my older brother’s bookshelf. Miss P convinced me of two things: confidence in myself, and science was nothing to fear. Her cool head and no-nonsense way of talking with the men made this painfully shy young woman find the confidence to blossom into a life-long technology geek and a ravenous reader. She’s one of a few story characters responsible for my venture into writing fantasy.
How She Whispers in My Novels
Miss P’s way still gives me a smile. I’ve crossed paths with many curmudgeonly people since her. This daunting woman who loved her cow and collected rocks showed me that not all grouches are bad. Some of her derring-do finds its way into my female characters, although I tone down the grumpiness.
What about the science in Miss P’s world–it seems almost silly now, but what did it mean to an introverted little girl with a big imagination? It convinced me that anything was possible. Magic and wonderful creatures in fantasy worlds are only a computer keyboard away. And even feisty spinsters can fly to Mars.