Footnotes secret

Chapter 1 | Woe

Chapter 2 | Mirth

Chapter 3 | Marriage

Chapter 4 | Birth

Chapter 5 | Christening


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The Card Spread
The cards serve a few purposes here, not the least being a convenient way to incorporate my augury birds that kick off every Part of Book 2.*

That they are laid in a fortune telling spread serves as a somewhat playful introduction to Molly’s path for “Christening,” of questioning her circumstances. As has been alluded to before, Molly has spent a good deal of her life being semi-detached from it. Not that Molly was passive, or didn’t care or wasn’t opinionated about things before now. But her avoidance issues do rival Griffen’s, even if they manifest differently.

Back to the cards: I always like being able to introduce pop and social culture when I can; here I’m able to present the prominent card deck used in Dicebox along with the fact that folks still cast cards for entertainment as well as to meditate on a problem. (I talk about these cards, their origin and design more here and more about the suits and Ace designs here.**)

For the spread itself, I used the Personal Compass spread from Little Red Tarot (fig 1) as it 1) references a compass 2) makes a pleasing tree like pattern and 3) covers aspects both useful and meaningful. I then used a traditional Tarock deck to create Molly’s spread (fig 2.):

  1. Signifier: Knave of Leaves
  2. Cross: Mend/Break
  3. Basis: 2 of Hearts
  4. Leaving: Earth/Air
  5. Coming: Winter
  6. Resources: a) 4 of Coins b) Glean/Sow c) Kavalier of Hearts
  7. Advice: 9 of Leaves
  8. Purpose/Direction: Ace of Hearts

Though I purposely rigged cards 1 and 6b, I let the rest fall as they may. They ended up being eerily appropriate. Just the cross card alone, the idea the weight Molly is carrying is that something broken. Never mind that she is leaving Earth for Air and coming into a state of Winter. But all of them are really apt. (The advice card, to grieve, is a bit harsh but there you are.)


*Augury naming scheme.
There are a few reasons I chose an augury rhyme to name the parts of Book 2. First, it is the book of Air (as Wander was of Earth) as well as of thoughts and memory which birds often signify. Next there has always been a wistful, melancholy feel to the rhyme below for me. Probably because it harkens to Ophelia’s “There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance” speech from Hamlet, the sing-song rhythm and the using nature to signify emotional concepts and human events. There’s also the appeal of using a prediction guide to name chapters of a book that focuses on the past.

Finally, there’s the fact the one I’m most familiar with happens to count to nine, my pre-dictated number of chapter for each book:

One's sorrow, two’s mirth,
Three’s a wedding, four’s a birth,
Five’s a christening, six a dearth,
Seven’s heaven, eight is hell,
And nine's the devil’s old sel.

One through four tend be fairly constant through most variations, though the precise names for one and three change. I chose Woe over Sorrow as woes seem more problems or obstacles in general. Also Marriage over Wedding as marriage can be used to describe a combination of things, not just a binding ceremony.

In the case Christening, I’m not referencing the Christian ceremony but the naming of things in general, something I play with though out this chapter.


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The Couch
I admit it: throughout Dicebox I use items in a totally anachronistic manner, included because of the way they resonate with me personally. This is exemplified in the couch: its design, color and material. I wanted something that said out of date, comfortable and functional, not bland but not in anyway fashionable. A yard sale or thrift store piece. Hence the carved velour floral pattern in avocado for the upholstery on a curvy traditional body. As if it was from a good department store in 1970s America.

I rationalize this with the idea that fashions and trends come and go and are cycled and recycled way into the future.

Mare’s outfit
Her outfits tend to be playful, layered and ideally in her color palette which represents the seashore: sand, shells, sea holly and the rest. The argyle is simply a bonus.

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The Winter card.
This from is the only set of four trump cards without living beings in them, the Season cards, number 16 through 19. All the season cards deal with concepts of transition, here being inside/outside and earth/sky.

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The top image is inspired by an ancient Germanic symbol of winter, from Rudolf Koch’s Book of Signs. I plan to incorporate the other three seasonal symbols into their respective cards as well.

According to Koch, it demonstrates “protection in a house form cold and snow,” and though that’s the take I adapted for the card, I rather prefer the view that all the symbols depict a plant’s life’s cycle and winter is showing the inert seeds underground awaiting spring:

In this symbol, the several small circles beneath the dome are a strong indicator of the winter season. Whereas the Autumn symbol showed the descent of life beneath the earth, this sign shows them completely submerged and waiting for spring’s warmth to awaken them.

The bottom part is a direct reference (or future echo) of the top image of the second to last page of this particular chapter.


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Photo of Ryan, Rhys and Tag
This is also what Mare is showing Molly at the end of page 2.

I thought it was about time I checked in with Rhys. Introducing Mare’s hulking brothers was an added bonus. They aren’t actually as tall as Rhys, he’s just slouching AND hunching. (It’s a talent, that.) And yes, Ryan’s pants do have cut-outs at the hips.

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Traveling Compartment
The first of the many impersonal, public yet high-end spaces Griffen and Burt will be inhabiting throughout “Christening.” In this instance, I was after the feel of a first class railway compartment.  The space scape out their “window” is actually a real time projection; they are well within the ship, in the middle of a row of such compartments.

Display Screen
As you might have noticed, there’s more than one way to share and view images and information. How one does so depends on the capabilities of the environment or the projection devices in your possession.

Though bodyware devices or carry alongs are pretty common accessories yet, environmental interfaces is the first choice for folks used to having access to them, such as Burt and Griffen are. By contrast, Mare doesn’t expect any such access and will grab her carry along as a a matter of course, like she did in the previous page. And she is right, the Yard is not “wired” with display capabilities throughout.

Holo projection is available widely, though fidelity varies as does expense. Standard default are active surfaces such as the “window” seen here is. Other common surfaces would be table or desk tops and walls.

As for the information itself, folks carry a certain amount of personal digital storage in a variety of ways and/or tap into a cloud-like service. Other information (or entertainment or what have you) is licensed and might be restricted in how it’s shared or displayed, ie, through a specific, registered device, not a general environment system.

Accessing that information is facilitated by the “chip in everybody’s head” which is more comparable to a combination browser and personal assistant than a computing device. Though there are a variety “skull computers” as well, which Griffen and Burt have to different degrees.


Panels 6 and 7

Photo of Griffen in college
Once a smirking butthead, always a… 

Anyway. Griffen was alluded to having once been this thuroughly decorated way back in Wander, on page 24 of “Pots and Pans.” As for the horse in the background, I was thinking of the one mentioned on page 6 of “Mirth,” but ended up drawing a statue and not a fountain. Ah well.


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The Service Tunnels.
These were inspired by the Shang-hai tunnels of Portland, which were used to move goods under alley free Portland to and from the ships at the riverside docks. They seemed both logical and logically abandoned as transportation evolved, industry shifted and factories closed.


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Spiral carpet pattern.
I’ve been been finding it far easier to incorporate the circular device of Book 2, the spiral, in the background than the labyrinth in Book 1. 

When first organizing and outlining Dicebox, I gave each book defining aspects across certain categories, one of which being circular devices. These I always planned to work in as a graphic element throughout their respective books. The labyrinth worked wonderfully for Wander, the meandering journey with an eventual goal. Also very appropriate for the book of earth. But not so easy to incorporate. 

As for why Book 2 gets the spiral, it is often used to depict wind and clouds, making it an appropriate symbol for air. The motion suggests a turning inward, the correct action or path for this book. It also represents dizziness or disorientation, a basic ill feeling. Again, this works.


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Korsevei Free Money Act
I’ve been braced for someone to take me to task for the use of physical money in Dicebox before I got to address it. I am mildly surprised that after 300+ pages no one ever did. I think this speaks to how enduring and almost natural the idea of physical coin is.

There are a few reasons I wanted to include hard money in the course of Dicebox, a primary one being so that people had something to throw at Griffen when she played on street corners. Still, I needed a certain logic to its existence. I felt a privacy in commerce movement fit the bill. The fact that this physical money was co-opted for data tracking seemed only natural as well as ironic.

Sidenote: An interesting and very fairly article on the problem of trackable money is “How a Cashless Society Could Embolden Big Brother” by Sarah Jeong

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Coin imprint
As mentioned, the labyrinth mark is the significant of Book 1 and absolutely belongs on a coin. I could kick myself for not realizing this in Wander. Because, yes, coins signify earth, as well as physical, bodily concerns.


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The Baron’s Analytics
The Baron, like most Bureau agents, are equipped with a certain amount of bodyware, mostly to aid in analysis and information gathering. The readouts shown here aren’t actually visible to everyone, only those on a certain network and with a certain clearance. Which Griffen is normally a part of and could see, except she’s collared and shouldn’t, but actually she does can because, well, she’s Griffen. 


Rande and Donny
These two. Unintentional catalyst to this whole predicament. And just as stuck as Molly and Griffen.


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Card Spread
I totally rigged this one.  A simple card spread: Past, Present, Future. Or Situation, Conflict, Resolution.

  • Past: Ace of Leafs=Ending, Transformation
  • Present: The Game, side of Chance (As opposed to Strategy)=A careless risk, a tempting of fate
  • Future: Ace of Hearts, reversed=Home broken, a lack of surety and safety

Further note about card No. 20, the Game: 
While drawing it, I entertained myself by deciding it was based on some historical figure, a chess grandmaster who was also a reckless gambler.


Broken Angel Station
Not to be confused with the gas giant, Broken Angel.

The orbit the station is in was once the trajectory for a mining outpost and processing plant which was then a battle site, a refugee camp, a military base, a ship yard, a scientific outpost, before this current deep space transfer station and trading post that also serves as a base of operations for several interests, including the Central branch of the Bureau and the Corps. (We will return here in Book 3 where some of this history will be revealed in the story proper.)

Broken Sword Memorial
A piece of public art commemorating both the war fought at this location and the peace brokered there; two events that gave rise to the militarization Corporalty of the V.C.C., now more commonly know as simply the Corps. The “pommel” of the sword is a representation of the flag ship of the victorious side, aboard which the treaty was signed. The 18 facets of the lantern represent the sides and factions involved in the conflict, combatants and non-combatants alike.

Erebus Lane
That would be the arcing magenta artery in the background; you can find the definition of what a Lane is here. Broken Angel served as a construction and testing base for the same, once upon a time. The station is now at one of the exit points (you can’t leave a Lane willy-nilly) and so serves as a terminal, exchange point and trading post.


Marque Klinkbeil office
It was a pleasure to design a personal space complete with tchotkes in Griffen’s arc. Like Baron Venpurvai’s office, it is a very modern deskless office complete with floating chairs. Trés chic. The chairs float with the aid of magnetic forces, not anti-gravity. Anti-gravity technologies do exist, but are for vehicles and structures. It’s widely impractical for furniture smaller than a stadium seating area.


Good Works building
This structure has shown up in Dicebox before, way back in Book 1, Chapter 6 “Every Dog” on page 3. As Baka will explain, it’s in a mothball state. 


More references to events from “Every Dog” page 3 – and to events years before that.


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Grand Staircase
The Good Works building began life as a government departmental building, hence the grand staircase. And that wall at the top didn’t exist originally; it was the start of the main hallway leading to offices, conference rooms and the like. The wall also wasn’t there in its next incarnation, as a school. It did go in when it became an administrative training center—which was right before it became a vocational training and residential facility for misplaced youth, i.e. Good Works.

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Manager’s Office
Here we have a more primitive utilitarian office, with desk and storage right there out in the open and good old honest wheeled chairs. Computing is device-based, as opposed to environment-run. Not very elegant, but stable, and very secure: government issue and all that.


Work room/code lab
Dedicated and stylish work space where everything is an active and powered device. Yes, even the stools and floor. In this case, the tables are isolated computing areas which allow independent processes to run that won’t interfere with or corrupt other operating systems—and can be further subdivided into discrete sandboxes—which allows Griffen to compose code in one area while simulations and compilations run in another. Also, these workspaces can be kept contained and shielded for absolute privacy, all traces of the work done there thoroughly scrubbed after the fact.


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The naming of the worms
Just one of the several reasons this part is called “Christening.” I have to say it was nice to finally reveal the rhyme and reason of the worms outright, that they were part of Griffen’s grieving process.

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Red screen
Code fail. Start over.

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Past co-workers and friends
The late, great Office of Autonomic Interstitial Mechanics at Bureau North.

She’s the one holding out a wig to Griffen in the flashback panel of the previous page. And yes, she was a smart ass and Griffen’s bestie.


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The Greys
You can tell the Central contingent from North by who’s staying and who’s moving on, i.e., who has overcoats and who does not. Though if all the overcoats were off, you’d see that everyone from Central sports light azure collars, while those from North have silver-grey ones. As you might have noticed, Griffen has no collar buttoned to her shirt; her status is in limbo.

panels 6 and 7

Mobbes’ rank. If you are Bureau, you’d have access to the channel that would let you know another’s rank, department, mission, etc. Griffen could access it—but she’s actually behaving, for once.


Ranks and titles. 
Not only was I able to touch on the whole naming of things theme again, but one of Griffen’s worries expressed on page 26 was proven to be valid. Or at least a variation of one.


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Womb display.
At ten weeks old, the fetus Aster Jones is just a bit larger Theus’s thumbnail, not the size of his hand.  The smaller, slightly inset oval on the left shows Aster’s size in relation to the womb container.

I really want to draw a six or seven week fetus, you know, when they more resemble a lizard or a fish. But when I worked out how long it was since Griffen and Theus last had sex (at the end of “Every Dog”  more or less), until this scene, it was more like nine to ten weeks. Ah well.

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More story time from Griffen.
Fable written by Ivan Krylov in 1814 “Swan, Pike and Crawfish” the cynical resolution of which fits Griffen’s mood to a tee:

When partners can’t agree
Their dealings come to naught
And trouble is their labor’s only fruit.

The reason that Griffen is speaking to the offspring in Russian is that was her household language, her literal mother tongue; as in that’s how her mother told her stories and sung to her.


Stasis pods
The stasis beds shown here are rather deluxe, probably for ranking officers. My original thought was making them two to three tiers, what I consider the most common arrangement.  However I really wanted a design that echoed that of the womb units from the previous page, to continue to have Molly’s and Griffen’s sequences echo each other whenever possible.

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Hair locket
Yep, that’s the lock(et) of Molly’s hair from page 27 of “Marriage.” 


Space Zombies
More random pop culture, urban myths and the like. Bonus points if there’s a technophobia element. And whereas Griffen hates zombie stories, that’s not really her problem with going into stasis. Doesn’t stop her playing with the idea and running away with it.


Beyond knowing it’d be fun to draw a plant under going ecopoiesis, I wanted to introduce it as an ongoing venture. Also that it’s a time investment of about a century. When all goes well that is.  I see it as being an unpredictable process, both in timing and success.

I am, very clearly I think, drawing a clear parallel between building a cathedral in medieval Europe, where the architects may not live to see the completion that is of itself an article of faith.


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Aaleth (ay•a-leth)
Where Griffen was born and bred. Burt too.

Founded by the cooperative efforts of the Universities of Swansea and Tomsk, Aaleth’s terraforming was only partially successful, leaving it only truly habitable along the equator.  The result was one continuous continent named, naturally, the Ouroboros. (There are many products, schools, industries and pubs named around the whole world snake theme.)\

Originally named Alaeth, which is Welsh for wailing or grief, it was shifted to Aaleth meaning nothing in particular. The wag that proposed it said the meaning nothing was better than grieving.

On screen

Planet and moons
As seen on the monitor, the predominant chalk and snow wastes of Aaleth do contain inhabited compounds, which are mostly industry and scientific pursuits, but also communities of one sort or another.  

The visible moons, Argel (Welsh for hidden) and Bytheiad (hound) were more successful in terraforming and are widely inhabitable. The unseen moon, Peli (ball) wasn’t a candidate though still boasts industry and life supporting compounds.

Highlighted cities
Krolikletka ( a corruption of the Russian for rabbit hutch, a reference to the original, cramped research facility that existed there pre-colonization)

G’wande (originally Gwynder, Welsh for whiteness)

Krolikletka is the chosen arrival point for this shit, and so has further stats on things such as weather, traffic, etc. This is also where Griffen and Burt lived and worked most of their lives.

Latest World News Screen
Hard to read, I know, so here’s the transcript:

“The Clamshell Alliance has released an initial response to changes in the Statement of Cooperative Principles proposed by the Forty-seventh CORE — Spidershell’s adaptation of Fordiku’s third opera-verdu draws diminished, bewildered crowds — Midsummer mudslide activity along the Yellow Parish highlands has been pushed back three working days to allow securement of the seasonal timber allotment — Evidence of strangelet activity heralding a potential new stellar lane presented to justify increase in Corp budget hearings — Unprecedented zaybaqi algal bloom in Enormous Bay snarls propellors in the inaugural Finback Regatta — Melisoft directors issue group apology for Redbook Crypto timeslip error but resist calls to resign…”

(Hats off to spouse Kip Manley, who helped massage and expand the scant ideas I had with random yet appropriate cultural inanity.)


With all the memory flashbacks, there really hasn’t been any room for any good ol’ hallucinations. They’ve still been happening, though mostly in brief flashes; this is Molly’s first full on immersion since the beginning of this book.

The flavor and intensity of her hallucinations are effected by her mental and emotional state as much as anything else. Many of her sights are informed by subtle perceptions and clues from her subconscious as well as memories of the space she’s in.

Axis Mundi
Being here the lone tree in the Yard. Trust Molly to find it and draw comfort from it.


A common process for arrival at most planets and space stations. It can take as little as ten minutes or last as long as ten days; it all depends on the length and depth of the journey, how it is taken, the seclusion or lack there of the port of arrival and so on. Aaleth’s is fairly stringent as they are off the beaten track as these things go and somewhat isolationist

Quarantine isn’t just about the possibility of disease–or checking the visitors for a criminal record–but adjusting the quarantined to the air quality, pressure and gravity of the place they are visiting. The last aspect isn’t that big of a concern for Griffen and Burt as they were slowly introduced to environmental conditions as they approached Aaleth: the gradual increases in gravity were shown to some extent in their previous two scenes as they moved from weightlessness to low gravity. 


Bureau Compound
In the heart of Krolikletka’s cultural district. The accommodation Griffen is escorted to is essentially a holding cell, albeit and fairly comfortable one. There are four halls of these with varying levels of security and comfort.

Pages 44 and 45

I worked hard to avoid having either Molly or Griffen say each others names until the very end. 

Chapter 6 | Dearth

Chapter 7 | Heaven

Chapter 38 | Hell

Chapter 9 | the Devil’s own Sel.