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The Non Magical World – The New Monster

The Non Magical World – The New Monster

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There’s something about Annie. Rebekah Stoner doesn’t know what it is about the woman who appears at several unrelated crime scenes in The Day of First Sun.  But there it was, as the young and observant journalist has discovered, Annie is some kind of investigator, she doubts she’s really with the Chicago Police Department, because why would she be at the murder scene of Princess Amelie? She wonders too, what was Annie doing at the FBI Agent Jack Ramsey’s apartment late at night holding THAT book? And in book two, tentatively titled Heavenly Gifts, why then was she at the scene of the crime on the other side of the world?

Not all of the monsters in Annie’s world are actually monsters or mythical creatures. In The Day of First Sun, Annie deals with her fair share of vampires, but there is something else lurking in the shadows that Annie will need to deal with if she is to survive intact and most importantly, undiscovered.

In many of the shows about super heroes, there is a constant theme that runs through each storyline, that one rule which is required in order for said hero to survive. Never reveal your secret. For Annie, that is hiding her true self, ensuring that the non magical world has no idea that magic exists in the world. When Annie and Cham are called in to solve the magical murder of the very famous Princess Amelie,  they realize early on that hiding their secret with the rest of the world watching would be very difficult.

Charmed is a great example of this. On several occassions the sisters find themselves in a situation in which they are discovered or will be discovered. Their final time of being discovered costs their friend his job and they decide to fake their deaths, become other people all in the hopes that they can simply fade into a normal life. But they can’t. They’re still responsible for their magic, for the lives of others and it becomes imperative that they re-enter the real world and finish what they started.

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In my creation, if there are missteps, what would the consequences be for Annie and Cham and all their friends and family. Would they be arrested, brought in and poked and prodded, examined to learn their differences? Would they have to fake their own deaths, run away and hide and become someone else. This becomes Annie’s most challenging monster yet, the journalist whose determined to find out who she really is.

In my world, the non-magical world becomes a character. A monster that needs to be controlled because if the non magical world discovers their secret, that would be their downfall. So here’s to that monster and holding it back so Annie may live another day.

Whatever Wednesday – The Walking Dead, Yeah Again

Whatever Wednesday – The Walking Dead, Yeah Again

Rumors abound that there will be a spinoff of The Walking Dead. Any fan would welcome more of the series we love so much. According to the rumors, the plot and characters would be separate of those we’ve already grown to love that we’d see a different place in the Dead universe. What happened to the government, to Hollywood, to Canada? How is it different, is it the same? Was France really the last to fall and did they find out what caused the virus and do they know hothe_walking_dead3w to stop it?

 

 

I just read today, that the spin off might actually be a prequel. I’m not sure what the point of a show about the time before the zombie plague started unless its a mini series that shows us who created it and why, but I am curious. I thought I’d have an answer to that question when I read the first The Walking Dead  graphic novel. I had hoped it would explain everything, but it didn’t. It was simply put, just the same.

I love science fiction and urban fantasy because it’s so not the real world. But what I need when I read them is to have some basis in the real world. Some explanation of how this might happen if it were reality. If the explanation doesn’t make sense then, hey, I’m not watching, reading or even paying attention.

As I write my own magical universe, I try to make the answers to those questions as real as possible, give the magical answer a scientific explanation. For instance, the magical characters in The Day of First Sun explained to Jack Ramsey, the non-magical FBI agents, that they have an extra chromosome, one that gives them their magical powers. In the book I’m writing now tentatively titled The Gift, one of the characters explains you can’t just conjure items that you don’t own because it’s stealing. But you can summon or conjure items you already own.

Think of it this way, if magic were real, it could solve every problem that exists in the world and if your world contains magic, you could surely cure hunger, disease and poverty. But why then, don’t we do that within these new worlds? Because we also create laws that our characters must obey or they will suffer the consequences.

But I digress. I still want an answer to the burning question about the zombie virus, I need to know where it comes from. Was it created by humans, was it a mutation of something else, and how in the hell did it spread. Because it spread so fast, that there are cars still clogging roads or left out in the open. I was always hoping for a flashback that explained it all. We’ve even discussed this as a family after watching various episodes because we really want to know. My only possible conclusion comes from the idea that where ever the virus was created, it infected the entire planet. We know this from the episode where our favorite group traveled to the CDC in Atlanta, episode 105 Wildfire. My guess, the first person who died after the mass infection turned into a zombie, killed whoever was the closest and so on and so on. It must have happened so fast that it overwhelmed health care workers, the police and even the armed forces. It just became too much.

So bring it on producers and writers of The Walking Dead. I really, really, really want to know if I’m right.

 

Whatever Wednesday – Psychic Abilities

Whatever Wednesday – Psychic Abilities

psychicSo why are we so interested in the supernatural, shows and books like Charmed or Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Witches of East End, Harry Potter? The ability to think a thought and move an object, think of a place and be there in seconds, wave your palm and conjure an object.

I was intrigued by the idea that we only use 10% of our brains and wonder if that means we might all be psychic if we knew how to tap into it? Maybe, or maybe it’s all make-believe.

Since I so enjoy the supernatural and was a huge fan of the Harry Potter series, it was only natural that I would eventually write my own Urban Fantasy about witches and wizards, creating stories that utilize their ability to move objects, teleport, create potions or find missing people.

It’s fun to create the character, give them only the skills that I wish them to have. I gave my characters the ability to divine for the location of people. Annie accomplishes this be using a crystal and something that belongs to the missing person. Her magic is channeled through the crystal and which must obey that magic until the missing is found.

So if you could have any ability wouldn’t you like to teleport. Moving from location to location within seconds. This psychic ability is the primary form of transportation for my characters. Though my characters are entrenched in the non magical world and most have cars, they still prefer to move from place to place in seconds. Wouldn’t you.

When Annie and Cham conjure and summon objects, they’re using telekinesis, the ability to manipulate objects with their mind. Though in my world the magic in controlled through the hands. With a wave they can manipulate, move, make disappear, change something about an object all by thinking of whatever it is they wish to do.

They create potions and spells, powerful magical tools that allow them to heal themselves and others, ward off evil spirits, create magnificent light to assist them in the darkness, create magical tracking devices to instantly find Sturtagaard. I can list more but there are so many ways that I can use magic that will assist Annie and Cham in their investigations.

In the future I expect that Annie as a result of future events may end up with other psychic abilities that she doesn’t have yet. In the world of fantasy there are so many ways that you can add the unexpected, because with magic, anything becomes possible.

There are so many more forms of psychic ability, giving the person the ability to see the future, percieve past events, be in two locations at the same time. If you had your choice, what magic power would you possess? I’d like telekinesis. The ability to move objects, conjure objects in order to complete tasks is appealing to me, though honestly, the ability to teleport and miss out on the long commutes in the Chicagoland area, might be far more useful.

Happy Wednesday!

Fairy Tales: A History

Fairy Tales: A History

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Once upon a time, there was no such thing as a printing press. Our histories, our cultures, our stories, were passed down in the oral tradition, while sitting around a fire in the middle of the village. Sharing and re-enacting the stories was the primary form of entertainment. Imagine no cable, no movies, no music, no The Walking Dead.

Those stories changed and grew from stories like The Golden Ass, the story of a man’s curiosity and his desire to learn magic, to have it all change when his spell to turn into a bird goes awry when he becomes an ass instead, to the famous Greek stories known as Aesops Fables. As kids, we remember the Brothers Grimm and Mother Goose, delightful or terrifying adventures with talking animals, and fantastic elements. Today we could be talking about Disney.

I’m really more interested in the history of the fairy tale the folk-lore. How they started, what they came to be. Some interpret the fairy tale as solar myths, the idea that the characters are recognized as G-dlike, representing the Sun or an aspect of it and the characters becoming a manifestation of power and strength.

Other experts feel the tales explain ancient customs. The historical fact that many women once died in childbirth. When their husbands remarried, the stepmother competed with the children from the first marriage for resources. We see this in Snow White and Cinderella, as the step mothers do unspeakable things to their step daughters.

So do you enjoy the world of the fantasy? Did you realize it began as child or did you forget the love for things nonsensical, or scary or fantastic. Though the world of the Urban Fantasy and Science Fiction have taken a turn for the popular, the genre itself has been around for a long time. It’s not new. It doesn’t belong to the stereotypical geek. It’s our history, it’s the future.

Do you have a favorite? A story that means something to you or resonates with you on some level? Me, I have two. Cinderella and Mulan for two totally different reasons. As much as the Disney princesses can be irritating and weak, needing a man to save her, I love the story of hope in Cinderella, her intense belief that it will get better. In Mulan, it was the first princess whose story didn’t resolve around finding a man. She took control of the situation and solved her problems on her own. Ironically, it’s a movie based on a Chinese folktale.

 

 

The New Elementals

The New Elementals

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Mythical beings, creatures invented, designed or created to explain the world around us. To explain the world, nature, Paracelsus in the 16th century identified four elemental beings, the fundamental building blocks of nature.

  • gnomes, earth elementals
  • undines, water elementals
  • sylphs, air elementals — clouds
  • salamanders, fire elementals

An interesting concept of beings controlling the one thing that we can’t control, the natural world. Many authors approach the idea of controlling the four elements, and if all went up against each other, which element would win? Because each element, could destroy, the flood, the fire, an earthquake, a tornado.

I bring them up as I watch one of my favorite shows. Not necessarily about the elemental, but about those with special powers in which to control the elements around them. If you haven’t watched Avatar: The Last Airbender, I can honestly say, your missing a well written, beautifully drawn telling of the story of a young boy with the ability to control each element. He’s an Avatar, master of each element,  and it is up to him to bring balance to the world after the lengthy 100 year war, in which his people, the air nomads were destroyed.

His name is Aang, a 12 year boy trapped in the ice as the world becomes a dangerous, out of balance place and when he’s brought back, he learns he has only a few months to master and control all of the elements and stop the fire nation from destroying the rest of the world.

I don’t always think of the my kids’ shows as supernatural or fantasy because they are simply the shows my kids watch. Stories with concepts and worlds so unlike our own.

The moral and lessons of the storyline is to bring balance to the world, to become one with nature, bring hope to those living through the war and find a way to win against the aggressors.

I fell in love with the story, with the characters, with the idea of becoming one with the world around us. We are all a part of the world, responsible for maintaining and protecting it.

In the end the Avatar reaches deep inside himself, a bridge between the spirits and the present world creating peace and harmony. For a chaotic mind such as myself, I’d like to revel in that balance.

If you could control an element, which would it be? I’m partial to water, as ironic as that is since I’m petrified of the water. But the fluidity of the water, the way it moves with the water bender, as it lures you into a false sense of security before it floods and drowns you.

Or would you rather create a landslide, fireball or fly through the air?

 

 

 

The Sidekick

The Sidekick

Superman, Arrow, Batman, Sherlock Holmes, literary heroes with something in common, yeah they all fight evil, stand up for the common man, they act on the belief that justice will be served.  

With all that said, I’m really thinking of the sidekick. You know, that person who hangs around the hero, the character you can far more easily relate to because they’re more like us, the one’s we think we can be like. They hold many roles, these sidekicks do. Oftentimes they act as the comic relief, or the straight man all with the purpose to better the hero, make them more likeable. The character of the sidekick gives the hero a friend, someone to talk to, and someone to assist them in bringing about justice for the victim. They are the confidante, understand and know the character better than he knows himself and offer the hero a mirror which reveals their true selves.  

I know of Batman and Robin, Of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, Superman and Jimmy Olsen. But I really know of Oliver Queen and Felicity Smoak, at least through the eyes of Arrow the television show that I discovered in the middle of last season. As much as I love Urban Fantasy, I’ve never been much of a fan of the comic book. I find them confusing in that the story is mostly told through the drawings. I far more prefer prose, and all that words bring to the story, but now I digress. What I really think about is the role of those sidekicks and what they offer to the hero, to the story.

Oliver Queen the billionaire playboy. Portrayed as the most unlikable character that cheated on his girlfriend with her sister, before getting shipwrecked on a deserted island where he survived for five years. Flashbacks, reveal a glimpse of the irresponsible, selfish man he once was. We compare his past to the man he’s become and the mission that his father left for him before he died in the boat disaster. He becomes the Hood in order to save his beloved city and take it back from those who wish to harm it. While in the process of protecting his secret, he chooses to let those who once knew him believe that he was still that man.

But through Felicity Smoak, the computer genius sidekick, we catch a glimpse of his other self, for she defends him and the choices he makes. She spends her time assisting him catch the villains with her computer as well as coming up with quick snippets of wit, in the middle of an intense storyline, offering that touch of comic relief.

I often wonder who in The Day of First Sun, is Annie’s sidekick. It occurs to me that maybe the role belongs to Sturtagaard the vampire who offers comic relief or the character to play off us. But that’s not really it. Maybe it’s Cham, her best friend who takes a back seat to Annie. But he’s not the sidekick either. It’s not until I started writing Heavenly Gifts where I really think Annie has found her sidekick. A young Wizard Guard named Emerson, the one who worships the more experienced Guard, the one who’s not quite a full-fledged Wizard Guard, who needs just a little help, who might be able to humanize Annie. It’s something I hadn’t really thought about until just recently. Who will be Annie’s comic relief, who will offer her assistance and who will defend her above all others?

We all need our champions.

What the Heck is a Tardis?

What the Heck is a Tardis?

If you have to ask you’ve never watched Doctor Who. Okay. So I don’t watch a lot of Doctor Who. It’s not because I don’t want to, the show is right up my alley. It’s mostly because I’m woefully far behind and have no time to catch up. Instead, I watch when I can. But then there’s my daughter, the one who I’ve managed to turn into a geek, the one who loves, The Walking Dead, Torchwood, and Comic Con. I’m so proud.

She’s now a Doctor Who fan, the kind that sat with the Ipad for six hours to watch season six and then declare, she wanted to go to Barnes and Noble and buy his screwdriver. Yeah, the kid is a culture nut and I’m the proud mommy.

But it had me thinking about space and time. And how in all of these science fiction and fantasy entertainment vehicles that it’s the vehicle, the way the characters move within the storyline from place to place and time to time that is what the show is centered around.

Even if you’ve never seen Star Wars, you know the Millennium Falcon. Han Solo’s ride, his home, the only thing he owns worth anything and yes it saves all of their lives by flying them away from the Death Star and in the end it’s the machine that allows Han to assist Luke Skywalker blast the hell out of said Death Star. You might also be aware that it’s a rust bucket and the hyperdrive doesn’t always work.

I’m sure even if you don’t watch Star Trek you know the USS Enterprise. Or Back to the Future you travel through time in a DeLorean. But these types of time and space travel seem practical, seem as though they fit, belong in the realm of their reality. So who then, came up with the Tardis?

Even I know, having only watched maybe five episodes of Doctor Who that the Tardis is the time machine moving the Doctor and his companion through space and time. Tardis stands for Time and Relative Dimension in Space. Yeah a time machine; where occupants can transport to any point in time or place in the universe. 

I had to look it up, understand what this thing was that took on the shape of a 1960’s style London police box. Its chameleon circuit is broken, (a mechanism which is responsible for changing the outside appearance of the ship in order to fit in with its environment, leaving it in its current state). It’s an ordinary object used for extraordinary things. A time machine with a mind of its own, rather than going where the Doctor wishes to land, it lands where he is needed the most.

These machines spark imagination; make dreamers into creators who might attempt to recreate what they’ve seen on television, in the movies and make them reality. So I sit and examine my daughter’s new purchase, a miniature Tardis; an object of dreams and wishes to discover, to explore to assist and make better. If we could go back into time, would we and while there is it practical to make changes? Would our lives be better or would we destroy all that we know? Would that one little change, change everything? And the Tardis, opens the whole of the universe to us. Would you take a trip through time and space? I know I would.

It’s a Crappy New World – Then Why are We So Happy About It?

It’s a Crappy New World – Then Why are We So Happy About It?

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Utopia, the perfect world, where the sun shines daily, people are equal and no one lacks for anything. While we realize that this is probably never going to happen as each side of every issue have difficulty finding a happy medium, we trudge through our daily lives, going to and from work, schlepping our children from activity to activity, and paying those nasty bills instead of finding Utopia. Okay so our lives aren’t as awful as I just made it seem, but I am getting to my point. We don’t live in Utopia but we also don’t live in a Dystopia either.

For those unfamiliar with that term, think The Hunger Games, think The Walking Dead. It’s the opposite of a Utopia, a world that we wouldn’t want to live in, something frightening and unfamiliar, as a result of  an event, biological or otherwise which leads to the cataclysmic decline in society. Stories are filled with the dehumanization of the person, totalitarian governments, lawlessness. So then, why are these television shows, movies and books so popular?

We are huge The Hunger Games and The Walking Dead fans in our household, classic examples of the dystopian society. In one story line we see the catastrophic spread of a disease which turns the human race into flesh-eating zombies. A society whose only purpose is to run from the zombie monsters and survive.

In The Hunger Games, we’re entrenched in a world that is recovering from a revolt attempted by the less fortunate. Citizens living in the outer districts, being controlled because of The Hunger Games. A world where the government controls the masses by sending children 12 – 18 years of age to the spectacle, where they must fight to death. Who in what society would allow this to happen? How does it get to this? Again, an impossible world that we can only imagine, one that is terrifying and decidedly not where we would want to live.

So again, the question is, why? Why are we so interested in these horrifying societies, unreal and yet manage to hold our fascination? I’ve said it before but I always think it’s easier to solve our real world problems in a world devoid of the rules that we know and understand. Where we can feel that justice is served because we can make our own rules, as needed based on impossible situations because shooting an arrow through the brain of a zombie solves the problem neatly and cleanly.

I think that for us readers and viewers it’s a glimpse into something far more fantastic than our own lives and in a way that’s a little scary. We need something so unbelievable, so frightening, so awful to grab our attention and thrill us, or maybe the questions that these stories pose, allow us to think about the consequences of our actions. Topics and situations that gives us a reason to discuss and conclude something about our own lives. Or maybe it’s a simple as hope. the belief that things can get better if we work hard, think it through and fight for what we believe in. Trust in the people closest to us and care for them through the impossible.

In The Hunger Games, Katniss’s simple gesture to honor a fallen child is turned to hope. And she will use that to protect those she loves as she’s propelled into the face of the rebellion. We cling to the hope as we watch the rebellion move forward and we cheer when she makes the right choice and earns her freedom and the freedom of those she loves.

Hope is different in The Walking Dead, because there isn’t a cure for the zombie disease. It’s about finding a stable environment in which to make a life. a place to be safe. Ironically, it’s the prison. Because they stumble into the now unused prison where they are able to defend their position and remain out-of-the-way of the zombie hordes, it becomes a place worth protecting and fighting for, escaping destruction and loss of more of their new-found family group. It gives them hope.

Or maybe I’m over thinking it and it’s simply a bit of everything wrapped in a warped and wonderful visual experience.

 

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Wizard World, Comic Con and Visionaries

Wizard World, Comic Con and Visionaries

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I’m either the best mom ever or I’m spoiling my kids and will live with the consequences forever. Or maybe I’m really just a big old geek and like to drag my kids along to things like Wizard World Chicago.

And to think, there are Comic Cons all over the world, big, crowded and entertaining, all about celebrating love of the genre. It all started with a man named Shel Dorf a comic book enthusiast who in the sixties, envisioned a one day convention celebrating that love. He held his convention in 1970 and called it “Triple Fan Fairs,” in Detroit. It was that convention that later moved to San Diego, becoming the juggernaut that it is today.

 What once celebrated super heroes inside the pages of comic books has since grown into this all-encompassing entertainment fest. Not just for the geeks anymore, even people like me who once sat on the outside looking in, who enjoyed yet not fully embraced all that the genre involved, can now become excited to the point of nausea if the right item, actor or character crosses my path. Who knew seeing Jayne’s ugly knitted cap would make me laugh to the point I nearly bought one for myself and now I simply regret not coming home with one. Seriously they were all over the hall. Still scratching your head, think Firefly. Still don’t know it, you need to watch one of the best cancelled shows ever.

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It’s about enjoying and taking it all in. Getting your picture taken with the actor who plays Daryl Dixon on The Walking Dead. Yes we stood in line for an hour to get our picture taken, or seeing John Barrowman, the Captain Jack signing autographs and jumping in line, because really who doesn’t want to meet him. And of course I told him I was a HUGE fan. That’s what I said? Well duh. Why else would I be there. I’m such a dork… It’s seeing the costumes of the characters that you enjoy so much and chasing them around the hall just to snap a picture. Well my daughter did, but I kinda made her do it. Yeah. That’s Wizard World. And it’s the regret of not having met a favorite character or buying that soft kitty plush toy, you know the one that sings that song…

John Barrowman

But if you stop and examine it the phenomenon, really think of them, the artists, the writers, the creators, as visionaries, their ability to imagine the world as a different place,. A world that inspires others to create what they’ve dreamt up. And we love them. It’s a chance to play, to imagine and celebrate behind the doors of comic con. Embrace your inner geek.

Prophecy, Choice and Character

Prophecy, Choice and Character

Prophecy is a message given to a prophet, someone who communicates it to others. It’s oftentimes the vehicle for a fantasy plot line.

As a fantasy writer, even I’m not immune to the use of the prophecy. In She Wulf, it is what the story is centered on. Throughout the story, my assertion for Annie is this; do we have to follow through on a prophecy or do we have free will to simply say no. Or because of her character does she simply not have a choice but to accept her new destiny.

 

prophecy girl

The question of prophecy and free will is in more than one series. As a fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, episode, Prophecy Girl I’ve often grappled with that question and wonder what would happen if Buffy simply waits until the next day.

In this episode Giles discovered an ancient book called the Codex, one in which foretells of several different prophecies, all which have come to pass. It tells of Buffy’s death at the hands of The Master.

 

 

Giles: I wish to G_d I were. But it’s very plain. Tomorrow night Buffy will face the Master, and she will die.

But my thought every time I see this episode is this; what if she waits one more day or even an hour after midnight, will the prophecy still hold true. Will waiting allow her to live and still kill the master or will it be her downfall anyway? But it’s her calling as a slayer to fight the Master and ensure he doesn’t rise. For if he did, all forms of evil will break through the Hellmouth and terror will reign. In the end Buffy doesn’t believe she has a choice. She accepts her responsibility and submits to the prophecy.

The other prophecy that always had me wondering came from Harry Potter.

“The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches … born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies … and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not … and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives … the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies …”

—Prophecy made to Albus Dumbledore by Sybill Trelawney

 

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Having not heard the entire prophecy Voldemort doesn’t know for sure which child will bring his end and he chooses Harry rather than his other possible choice of Neville Longbottom. But he marks the child and walks directly into a self-fulfilling prophecy in which one of them will have to die by the other’s hand. Would he, had he not marked Harry his equal, been able to avoid the prophecy and succeed in bringing about his plan?

Having their destinies thrust upon them, both Harry and Buffy accept the prophecy and their role in it, not because of the prophecy but because of their character. For Buffy, she is the slayer, and in the simplest terms, it is her job to stop evil. She is able to do this because she is grounded to life by her friends and her mother. Though Harry is responsible for stopping evil, it is his love for his friends and the memory of his parents that keep him fighting. He accepts his role when he realizes he is the only one who can stop Voldemort and keep those he loves safe.

The prophecy is the story’s catalyst. It propels the characters into their journey one in which they learn about themselves and come into the person they were meant to be and in the end, they discover what they are truly capable of accomplishing.

It is our choices…that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.  Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Spoken by Albus Dumbledore.

For Buffy and Harry it is their choices to not run but to fight that make them the characters they eventually become.

 

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