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29 April 2016 @ 09:31 am
I am a Erdling... A true Erdling, eater of delicious roast lapans...

I love Befall, our savior. As a good Nekom, my insign is the curved sword...

May I please join your community?
07 January 2012 @ 04:25 pm
Hi all,

I'm Zil's Grandson.  It's great to see so much enthusiasm for the books and the game!  When can we get this game re-created for PS3?

09 September 2011 @ 08:02 pm

If I can find a copy of that article, I'll do whatever I can to make it accessible to you. Someone on Wikipedia linked to it. They have delineated all three books in enormous (possibly too much) detail -- read it now, before it gets deleted:


Carrie Hintz' essay which is talked about in that article, is called "Joy But Not Peace" and it is in Utopian and Dystopian Writing for Children & Young Adults. Parts of it are readable in Amazon.com preview.

She compares the trilogy explicitly and in detail to LeGuin's "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas". I had read that in New Dimensions 3, about two years before the first Green-sky book appeared, and always felt that these stories were connected but could never articulate what I was seeing.
Present Spirit: impressedimpressed
09 September 2011 @ 02:11 pm

Here's an earth version of the newsingers, or what she actually called "troubadors" in the first book.
Present Spirit: relaxedrelaxed
27 February 2011 @ 06:45 pm
A friend writes:


There's going to be a museum exhibit. On video games. At the SMITHSONIAN. And you can VOTE FOR THE GAMES YOU THINK ARE THE MOST INFLUENTIAL/ARTISTICALLY INNOVATIVE/ETC, to be showcased in the exhibition. (You apparently need an account on the Smithsonian website to vote, but it looks like they're free.) Just... skhfafghfg that is AWESOME. We would love to somehow be in Washington DC for this, but even if we can't make it out there, just the fact that they ARE having an exhibit and treating games as culturally and artistically significant is like awesome combined with awesome, with awesomesauce on top.
Present Hymn: purring cat
24 November 2010 @ 01:51 am
Every time I see ballet on TV, I look for Ivy.
Present Hymn: Classic Arts Showcase - 3 ladies in improbable dresses singing something
03 May 2010 @ 05:26 pm
Someone has been going around doing this to all the fantasy and science fiction articles.

23:46, 8 May 2008 Maxim (talk | contribs) deleted "Green-sky" ‎ (Deleted because expired WP:PROD; Reason given: This article asserts no notability through reliable sources.. using TW)
Present Spirit: bitchyunjoyful
Present Hymn: Keith Olbermann
29 March 2010 @ 11:49 am

Possibly of interest
Present Spirit: happyhappy
Present Hymn: cat
09 January 2010 @ 11:37 pm
Say, has anyone seen this?



In any case the background forest sound is attractive. Most people forget the bees/bugs.
Present Spirit: groggyhad a berry or two
05 October 2009 @ 03:28 am


Kind of takes off at fifth-dimensional angles from the original, doesn't it?.....
Present Spirit: indescribableindescribable
Present Hymn: game music
02 August 2009 @ 04:33 pm
And I picked up:

1. You can't amputate the Dark Side out of yourself or your society without amputating something vital.

And what is it that makes one man an exceptional leader? We see here indications that it is his negative side that makes him strong, that his 'evil' side, if you will, properly controlled and disciplined, is vital to his strengthCollapse )

2. The Road to Hell may be paved with good intentions, but setting oneself "above and apart" from regular folk is boarding the bullet train headed there.

Emotional entanglements can be dangerous. They can impair rational thought, they can lead to outbursts of uncontrolled emotion. A Jedi must be above such things.Collapse )

3. Any self-selecting elite are going to serve their own prestige first, their dogma second, and the people they purport to aid a VERY distant third - if they should even remember to bother.

The Jedi... the Sith... you don't get it, do you? To the galaxy, they're the same thing; just men and women with too much power, squabbling over religion, while the rest of us burn.Collapse )

4. The less outside scrutiny an institution gets, the better corruption is able to flourish. Double it if the institution puts a lot of weight on being seen as "apart and above."

I suppose that's the nature of= the Dark Side. Power, but no longevity. Eventually, it just consumes itself.Collapse )
Present Spirit: reflective
Like many who found these books, I discovered it via the game which was VERY ambitious for 1984, allowing you to choose the race and gender of your avatar with NPCs and other game mechanics reacting differently depending on your choice. It also appears to be the first game that was a canonical sequel/addition to an existing universe, and not merely an "adaptation" or non-canonical story with the universe characters/concepts. Translation: It paved the way for stuff like The Force Unleashed.

I still make it a point to re-read the whole trilogy every couple of years. It influences my writing and might even have influenced some real-life political views. Overall, the Green Sky trilogy is a nice chaser to wash out the taste of heavier (and more mean-spirited) fare like Brave New World or Woman on the Edge of Time more than they are "kids books."

The world of Green Sky is the true main character of the piece, and Snyder describes it in richly poetic detail, showing off its more disturbing elements while still maintaining a romantic beauty. Greed, violence, anger, even grief are tamed out of people, and not even the words remain (a bit like 1984's Newspeak in eliminating concepts by eliminating words). People live their lives in placid and humble contentment, lives guided by ritual, and any discomfort can be treated with the local soma, a sacred Berry. Expressions of anger or even the sight of two-year-olds squabbling over a toy are considered as embarrassing and tasteless as we'd consider racial slurs.

The exceptions to this docile existence are the special caste of Ol-Zhaan. Ol-Zhaan are the judges, peacemakers, governors, and healers. Two thirteen-year-olds per year are chosen, whisked suddenly into a position of great honor and fame, and ritually elevated to be "above and apart" from ordinary Kindar citizens, who consider those carrying the "D'ol" title to be nearly godlike. They are reputed to be extremely powerful in Spirit-gifts, able to read every thought, able to telekenetically lift twice their weight, heal wounds, and influence plant growth (among other abilities).

Now, add one kid who, despite being chosen for the Ol-Zhaan, steadfastly refuses to believe he is above and apart from anyone. Add the closest thing this society gets to a hard-boiled cynic from the wrong side of the tracks. Mix in some living, breathing proof of the Big Lie. Watch all hell break loose.

Like many a sci-fi utopia, Green-Sky is built on some pretty spectacular lies and incredibly disturbing shit.Collapse )

The parables about racism are obvious, but the stuff you see on second and third readings are the questions about whether there are things in human nature that no amount of ritual and training can exorcise, the (dubious) wisdom of keeping some things secret from the general public and in the hands of the few to "protect" the masses, and what being "apart and above" others does to someone.

I can't even look at Star Wars without shaking my head and saying that the Jedi made the same mistake as the Ol-Zhaan, and that while Luke did his best to remedy it, Raamo succeeded and Luke failed. Also, considering how many FS crew Exile managed to pick up? Well, I have a bad tendency to wonder if that trait is more common than either Jedi or Sith will admit! It would certainly endanger their "apart and above" status...
29 June 2009 @ 03:36 pm
Hi, I've been a fan of BtR since I played it on my uncle's C64 one summer when I was 12 (am 34 now). I beat the game on my own, no manual or map (I made my own map on graph paper eventually), and later hunted down the books. I am currently re-reading the books and playing the game on an emulator. ;) I found this comm when I Googled for a map of Green-sky, as I am on a different computer than normal (laptop's in the shop) and so don't have my map file. The game is my second favorite computer or video game of all time (the first is Adventure for the Atari 2600). It occurs to me as an amature costume-maker I have made a grievous error by never once making a shuba! Lol what's wrong with me?

Whose everyone's favorite game character to play? I almost always pick Herd. I used to play the game so often I've dreamed about it, in 3-d even. I had the map memorised so I was dreaming the actual game in 3-d. It was awesome. :D

28 May 2009 @ 01:18 pm
A while back I posted that I was going to create a clone of the old DOS Below the Root game.  I'm just leaving this little note to say I'm still working on it...I'm just terrible at giving updates.  And I'm all about "less talk, more action", so I don't want to babble on about it while there's work to be done.  Still, I figured I should at least tell folks I'm not dead.

I'd contemplated creating a more full-bodied 2D engine that could be used to run other old 2D static screen games (like Impossible Mission or Dark Castle), but it looks like that'll be version 2.  Right now I'm just focusing on an engine that will run both Below the Root and Alice in Wonderland (both by Dale Desharone).

Still using C (although I've been seriously contemplating C++), still using GPL 3.0 license, still developing on Linux with make targets for other systems.  I don't want to use any library or method that limits where it can be ported.  Every tool I'm using is FLOSS (Free Libre Open Source Software to the non-geeks).

It's going a lot slower than I like, but slow and steady wins the race, right?  The hardest part is re-creating the graphics, since I'm doing it by hand (well, screen shots and GIMP).  I haven't come up with an easier way.  The audio is much easier.

Perhaps I'll soon be able to at least run a prototype with stick figures and then flesh out the original graphics and sprite sheets.

Dale's son posted to this list anonymously a while back, I wish I could actually respond to him and let him know that I'm still truckin'.
17 March 2009 @ 10:56 pm
How do the Kindar get the silk for their... practically everything, without deading the worms which produce it? They must have a pretty ingenious set-up for that.

Something like this


this, perhaps? Probably this.

It seems so simple. The original reason for boiling the silk cocoons is that supposedly if you do it early in the process you get finer silk. Also, if the creature hatches naturally it makes a little hole in the end of the cocoon, causing shorter threads. God forbid anyone should have to work with shorter threads.

The first guy is cutting a tiny hole for the moth to escape, but in the right place not to damage the threads; the second outfit, which has been around for a long time and I wonder if this is where D'ol Zilpha got her idea (and no, it's not -- ten years too late for that), is simply to let the moth come out but spin the fiber instead of reeling it. The resultant silk is very fine. Sure would be economical and practical as the moth then lays more eggs for more worms. They probably have these huge areas where exclusively mulberry is planted (attracting more silk moths naturally). Then all the workers have to do is harvest empty cocoons and get to work on my new shuba.  Different areas in the world  probably have different types of silk moths so a variety of types of silk are possible (I think she actually mentioned this).

Also, you can take old ragged silk and cut it up and spin out the threads to make recycled silk.
21 August 2008 @ 03:59 pm
Hi folks,

I joined livejournal just to see what other people who like Below the Root have to say. I somehow ended up playing the game on a C64 emulator, probably intrigued by screenshots or so. Something about it keeps me going back, it's oddly relaxing and a little trippy :-)

I haven't read the books. I wonder what I'd think of them. A nice aspect of the game is that it's fairly minimal, so it leaves a lot to your own imagination. You create part of the atmosphere yourself.

frost_knight, how's your pc implementation coming along? Sounds great. Might make the game more accessible. Could there be something like the 'scale' graphics filter in the CCS64 emulator? It looks good, but slows everything down.

Am I reading you correctly that you program would allow for user-made content? That'd be neat. I've wondered about how BtR could be expanded on modern systems. And I don't mean (many) graphical changes. I mean user-made worlds, and more interactive and dynamic worlds (buzzing insects, swaying leaves, active and purposeful characters). You know, even some sort of moderate multiplayer type thing where you can all have a nid-place and fly about and zone out on wissenberries. I like the style of this game so much that I can see myself contributing to any of that.

All the best, over and out.
Present Spirit: amusedamused
04 August 2008 @ 05:55 pm
Wow, can't believe I just found a place like this~ Anyways, hello there. I just recently had my dad's Apple II moved from the garage into my room so I could play Below the Root. I loved the game as a kid, even though I never understood the concept of the game. Haha. My sister and I have only beaten it once (more my sister than me, I think I just watched for the most part). Okay, I have a question.. Is it just me, or does everyone have the game in color? Because everywhere I look online it has some color. I have it for the Apple II and the only colors are lime green and an even bright shade of lime green (and black/dark green for the background). My dad says its supposed to be like that, but, I'm just curious. I hope to make some wonderful friends here. (No, I haven't read the books yet, I just found out recently. I'm going to Borders tomorrow, and hopefully they'll have them.)
07 April 2008 @ 09:01 pm
Recently I got intensely back into playing Below the Root, with characters I don't usually play such as Genaa.

Something peculiar is happening, and it's happening with all three of my copies of the game and all three of the emulators I use (FrodoPC, Vice, and CCS64). As far as I can tell it's happening with every character.

To put it as briefly as possible, it's almost impossible to get into Grandgrund without being thrown clear out of the program and back to the "READY" blue screen. I have tried climbing up from ground level, but get up to about the third platform and the program freezes on me.

(Only Vice lets you save games -- FrodoPC and CCS64 appear to let you save, but when you reload, it's gibberish.)

Does anyone have a solution for this, other than wait for frost_knight and Dr. Snyder to finish work on and review of the clone edition?
Current Location: stuck halfway up a tree
Present Spirit: aggravatedunjoyful
13 March 2008 @ 01:07 pm
Zilpha Snyder has granted me permission to reprogram Below the Root to run on modern PC's without emulation.  It will be an almost completely faithful clone of the original:  same graphics, same sound, same gameplay.  Changes will be minor technical things, like allowing the player to choose which keys they want to use on the keyboard, piping sound through the soundcard instead of the PC speaker, resizeable fonts so the game can be run in a window or fullscreen, things like that.

I have promised her that I will accept no money for the game, that the content of the game will not be modifiable, and that she has final review before it's released to the world.

So, the plan is to keep the new 2D game engine entirely separate from the content.  The engine will be released as Free Software, but the content will be a closed data file.   It should be able to run on any machine with a C compiler and perhaps some mobile devices (I'll have to think about that).

If I build the engine well enough then it should be able to run Alice in Wonderland as well (another game by the same team).  Come to think of it, if I create a standard data API then it could be made to work with any 2D game that's laid out as static screens (Impossible Mission, Frankie, Dark Castle, Solomon's Key, etc).

I've got myself some 2D engine desiging to do.  :)
12 March 2008 @ 11:30 am
Sad news.

The gentleman who programmed the game, Dale Disharoon (DeSharone), died of leukemia on February 5th this year (2008).

I'd been looking for him for the past few months to talk to him about the game and ask if he'd mind if I cloned the game  to run on modern computers.  Only this morning did I find out that he'd changed his last name to "DeSharone" (no wonder I couldn't find him).  And, of course, that's how I finally discovered his passing.  A friend of his is going to see if the family will contact me.  She thinks they'd be delighted if I were to make the game available again.

I should have tried to contact him sooner.   :(

I'd asked Zilpha Snyder earlier this week if I could reprogram the original game or create a new one.  She responded that someone has optioned movie rights to the game (or at least the premise of the game), so she can't give me permission to create a new, updated version.  So far the option has just been sitting there unused, so she doesn't know what's going to happen (if anything) with the movie.   That said, she liked my update ideas and appreciated the fact that I would not do this for money.  If the option is dropped then I might be allowed to do a version 2.0 with all the new bells and whistles (including [info]brennanod's thoughts on morning rush hour and kids going to school in the morning).

She also said she hadn't heard from Dale in over 15 years.  I've passed the news on to her.

Today I emailed her again asking if I could just clone the original game:  same graphics, same sound, a complete faithful clone.  Just so it can run on modern computers without emulation.  I would release the source code for the engine under GPL 3.0 as well, so that it can be modified and recompiled for future architectures.  We'll see what she has to say.

Tonight I will hoist a glass of Jameson whiskey in honor of Dale DeSharone.   It will be done at precisely 8:00 pm Eastern (March 12 2008) if anyone wants to join me in spirit.
Present Spirit: sadsad
02 February 2008 @ 01:50 pm
Just found your group, I have enjoyed Below the Root on the Commodore 64 ever since I was a kid, and I still enjoy it to this very day, it is my #1 favorite game of all time out of many hundreds, I have read and own the entire Green-sky Trilogy, and I have a near-mint still in box copy of the game, manuals, map and all.
I also wrote a letter to Mrs. Snyder telling her of my experience and joy for her novels and I got a very cheerful and pleasant response from her.
Just wanted to introduce myself.
-Peace and Joy to you all-
08 January 2008 @ 03:29 pm
Present Spirit: listlessprobably had too many berries
23 July 2007 @ 05:22 pm
Good day and well met,

I discovered the books through the game (on the Commodore 64).  I just read the books for the second time last week, and also played through the game again on an emulator. 

I've decided that I'm going to try to reprogram the game from scratch (using C) so it can run natively on today's machines.  But I have a few choices in how to go about doing this....

1.  Re-create the original game as-is.  Same graphics, same sound, same everything.  A complete, faithful clone.
2.  Re-create the original game with updated graphics and sound, but the exact same gameplay.
3.  New graphics, new sound, and entirely new gameplay with more interactivity, more dialogue, sub-plots, multiple endings, the works.  I'd still do 2-D however.  And I would certainly want Mrs. Snyder's blessing, although I might develop a very basic prototype just for my own education before bothering her with it.

I wonder if I have what it takes....
31 May 2007 @ 11:16 pm
Hello all,

My name's Matt Hudson, and I spent a good part of my young life playing Below the Root on the Apple 2. Good times.

Years later, as an adult, finally found the books, and enjoyed reading them.

And now, as a graduate writing student, focusing on playwriting, I am considering adapting the trilogy for the stage as my thesis project, perhaps with music if I can find the right composer.

Any thoughts? (I mean... other than, how in the bloody hell are you going to do a shuba onstage... to which that answer is: don't have a clue...)

Anyway, glad to find your group... and just wanted to introduce myself.

The Neckom will pay me well for this...

20 April 2006 @ 04:45 pm
I thought I'd share something I got a few years back. I treasure it, it's in a frame and I've only taken it down because I'll be painting.

I wrote a total fangirl letter to Mrs. Synder telling her how much I loved Green Sky, and she sent me back an awesome un-formlike letter, a book list with her photo, signing both herself and everything.

I thought I'd include her address so if anyone wanted to write her as well, they could.

Zilpha Keatley Snyder
52 Miller Ave.
Mill Valley, CA 94941

She also has an e-mail at: zilpha@zksnyder.com

Also, according to her website the books are supposedly back in print. I had a hard time tracking mine down, (I got mine off ebay) was it easier for everyone else?


The letter is behind the cut =)

*Spoilers* if you haven't read the books.

Read more...Collapse )
I have nothing to say about Green Sky yet, since I've only just picked up the first book today and plan to read it this week. I spent hours as a wee gaffer playing Windham Classic's Below the Root on our little Apple IIc, and I remember my parents reading the trilogy -- I think they were looking for hints for the game -- and saying it was great. Now, feeling a wee bit nostagic, I've decided to read the books. And make Below the Root-inspired icons -- see? Anyway, it's nice to know that I'll have a sympathetic audience if I need to talk about the book in the next couple months!