Reality Skimming

Reality Skimming

Reality Skimming promotes optimistic SF -- stories that inspire us to fight the good fight for another day. Committment to larger projects, the writer's sense of mission, joy of reading, the creative campfire of the SF community and the love of deserving protagonists are celebrated. We believe in heroes and striving to be what we believe in. It is also a news hub for content related to the Okal Rel Saga written by Lynda Williams.


ORU Artifact #3: Hiding Low Video

The Okal Rel Universe has inspired many beautiful, curious, fun and touching moments, objects and re-mixes or interpretations over the years. This page celebrates them one by one. Found one that should be here? Tell us about it for the finder's reward of the month. Send your discovery to [email protected]

Gary Renshaw created the Hiding Low video as an honorarium commission after a discussion with Lynda at a con in Calgary in 2007. The illustration of Amel contemplating himself in the mirror was Michelle Milburn's first piece of artwork for the ORU. Hiding Low was originally intended as the first installment in a digital story set in Amel's envoy period. Lynda planned three novellas, collectively known as the 'flight cycle', to chronicle Amel's attempt to escape the consequences of stealing his infant brother, Erien. Only the middle novella, "Never Again", was ever completed, in draft, describing Amel's stop over at an Okal Lumens reverie on a parochial Silver Demish world.

Hiding Low youtube installment. Origin: Produced and read by Gary Renshaw, based on text by Lynda Williams from unfinished novella series called 'The Flight Cycle'. Art by Michelle Milburn, circum 2007.


Golden Souls by Lynda Williams – Post 4

Dela calls for Tea
Golden Souls by Lynda Williams, is a story of Amel's envoy period. Illustrations are by Richard Bartrop.
Dela decides she's good enough for Dee Manor just before she discovers why everything is about to change.
<< Start at Beginning >>

Terrible News

Dela went back into the study to look for Ril now, but she was not there. Instead, Dela gravitated toward the window which filled a quarter of the wall facing onto the courtyard. It was an heirloom window, its panes cut like stained glass and divided by lead-gray lines that suggested vines climbing a wall.

Outside it was unusually quiet. There was often some petty or nobleborn lady dropping in, about this time, just so she could tell her friends that she had spoken with Dee's Golden Princess more recently then anybody else; or to get Dela's opinion on a dreadful new dress that she did not have the heart to criticize; or most difficult of all, to show off a darling child dressed up in its ceremonial best.

Everything around Dela seemed so ordinary, it was hard to believe that anything alarming was about to happen.

Dela wondered, instead, about what Pureblood Amel, grandson of the Sacrifice, would think of her.

The study had three full-length mirrors. Dela stopped before one of them to take stock of who she was. She cut a proud figure, the daylight bold at her back through the panes of the old, hand-crafted window, but she had her flaws. She was plump. It was pleasantly distributed, but she could never have squeezed into the clothes she wore the day she came to Dee Manor. And she did not have a commoner's excuse. As a Royalblood, she could expect to enjoy eternal youth until she ran afoul of regenerative cancer. Her shoulder length hair, curly by natural inclination, had highlights of bright gold that played off her crisp blue eyes. Her face was too round; her nose too snub; and her breasts too large. By local standards she was considered beautiful. At court she had barely been passable. One of her tutors even told her she was 'trivial'. Goldens, he said, were meant to experience feelings like a symphony, not a shrill little tune on a village street corner.

But Dela liked the inadequate woman in the mirror. Her eyes could be merry. Her heart, for all that she fussed about little things, could be powerfully moved out of good motives. Maybe she was not as selfless as Lellalee, or as brave as Fritan. Maybe she did not have Demlara's dignity or the genius of Fahandlin. She was only Dela, the least of the great. But she would do for Dee Manor.

If anything of legendary proportions was required, surly it would not be required of her.

Dela sent for tea, feeling the matter settled.

The maid who appeared was normally a cheerful girl. Today, she was dressed in mourning black, which stood for the depths of space where unbodied souls had to wait to be reborn in the flesh of their families. Dela asked the girl, kindly, who had died. The poor girl grew wide-eyed and fled, her lower lip quivering violently.

Dela calls for Tea

Dela calls for Tea


ORU Artifact #2: Michelle Milburn Art Book p 1-2

The Okal Rel Universe has inspired many beautiful, curious, fun and touching moments, objects and re-mixes or interpretations over the years. This page celebrates them one by one. Found one that should be here? Tell us about it for the finder's reward of the month. Send your discovery to [email protected]

Michelle Milburn created the layouts for the first Okal Rel Universe art book for use at Chicon 7 in 2012. The art book was made possible by ORU patron Kathy Plett. David Lott is facilitating its production, and it will taken to Chicon 7 by Angela and Tegan Lott. The ORU is grateful to Bobbie DuFault for the invite to Chicon 7.

ORU Art Book by Michelle Milburn - page 1-2

Chicon 7 ORU Art Book by Michelle Milburn - page 1-2

Page 1-2 of the first ORU art book. Character is Kath in novella Kath, holding baby Vondar. Origin: a page of print art book made possible by Kathy Plett and put together by Michelle Milburn, featuring the work of Michelle Milburn, Richard Bartrop, Brianna Thomas and Yukari Yamamoto.


Golden Souls by Lynda Williams – Post 3

Lord Ronan of Dee Manor
Golden Souls by Lynda Williams, is a story of Amel's envoy period. Illustrations are by Richard Bartrop.
We learn more of Dela's circumstances and marriage as she waits for Amel.
<< Start at Beginning >>

Introducing the not-so-Golden Ronan.

When she felt better, Dela ate a few cunningly made sweets from a dish that was always full, and decided she would take a walk. But when she called for a servant to fetch her walking shoes, she was met by a man in house uniform wearing a dueling sword.

"Princess-liege," he said, "you cannot go out."

Dela blinked at him. "Why ever not?"

He was one of Ril's grandchildren, a large, honest man, who had bred down in his choice of wife. They had lost their first son in fleet service, but had another boy-child at home and a daughter studying court-craft at the capital. He was a good man, content to raise chickens and children with equal enthusiasm on his small country estate and to serve Chandad's cousin, Ronan, as a house guard.

But there is very little that’s Golden about him, when you think about it, thought Dela. She couldn’t see how she would distinguish him from a Silver Demish nobleborn or even a Blue Demish one. "You really have to stay inside," he told her, "out of sight, until Lord Ronan says otherwise."

Lord Ronan acted as her regent during her husband's extended absence. He was two ranks beneath her — a mere Seniorlord nobleborn like Ril. Despite this, he presumed to address her in peerage unless there were guests present. She would not have minded even that, if Ronan had felt real respect for her. He only looked after her on behalf of his highborn cousin, the Highlord Chandad, who had taken her as bride to gain Dee Manor. All Chandad cared about was that her Royalblood rank entitled him to challenge his betters for things that he was not entitled to have, and to move in higher circles than he was entitled to, by blood. It had taken her ten years, but she had accepted, at last, that Chandad was not worthy of her love. The soul he dragged through life was mere dross. Not gold.

None of the men of Dee had Golden sensibilities. They admired her, but not as she desired. She was a trophy. A status symbol. They paid lip service to Okal Lumens, the path of light, but only as it featured in their day to day existence. They did not feel the need for goodness or for beauty. Not in the way Dela did. On the days when she pined for court, only Lady Ril's faith made life bearable.

Lord Ronan of Dee Manor

Lord Ronan of Dee Manor


ORU Artifact #1: Early Map of UnderGelion

The Okal Rel Universe has inspired many beautiful, curious, fun and touching moments, objects and re-mixes or interpretations over the years. This page celebrates them one by one. Found one that should be here? Tell us about it for the finder's reward of the month. Send your discover to [email protected]

Lynda drew this map of the underground setting for stories about the planet Gelion as a young adult, probably in first year or two of university as a prop for story telling with Alison. Lynda and Alison met in first year in a Calculus class.

Early Map of UnderGelion by Lynda Williams

Map of UnderGelion from Lynda's school days (c. 1975-9)

URL of origin, old ORU site:

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Golden Souls by Lynda Williams – Post 2

Dela feels she doesn't measure up to Golden canon.
Golden Souls by Lynda Williams, is a story of Amel's envoy period. Illustrations are by Richard Bartrop.
Dela, the least elegant of all El princesses on Demora, isn't prepared for Amel's ominous visit to Dee Manor. Especially when her friend, Ril, insists the Family of Light has abandoned their people.
<< Start at Beginning >>

Dela Broods on the Comforts and Disappointments of her Life So Far.

Lady Ril understood spiritual matters. Her pity was all the more formidable for that. But to live in a world without Light! Dela's heart rebelled. She rose in a rustle of layered skirts, afraid she would burst into tears.

"I want to be alone," she said.

"Of course, my dear Golden. My princess."

Worried Dela

Worried Dela - by Richard Bartrop

Dela quailed before the look of admiration on Lady Ril's plain, beloved face. Perhaps it seemed to Ril that every Golden Princess of the Emperor's court must partake in some small measure of the Family of Light’s ability to comfort and inspire through their love. But she could not substitute for what Ril said was lost! Her lineage was too weak, and her beauty much too flawed. She had failed even to keep her husband at home, at Dee Manor.

The Family of Light were essential to her.

Dela sought them in her withdrawing room, where they could always be found in her books of plays and poems, and visualized in the reproductions of court portraits which lined the walls. The withdrawing room was the one place where Dela could worship greater powers of good, instead of representing them for Dee Manor. The room had no windows. She looked out, instead, through the poetic histories preserved forever in her books, and the eyes of the Emperor's dead ancestors gazing benignly down with fragile, perfect beauty. Some of Dela's courtly relatives felt it was tawdry to hang reproductions no matter how renowned the originals. Original works, these cousins said, had greater powers. But taking the portraits with her when she left court was out of the question, and it was these pictures that Dela needed. Pictures to match the stories which nourished her so far away in time and space from her days at the court of the Golden Emperor.

Portrait from Golden Demish Canon by Richard Bartrop

Portrait from Golden Demish Canon by Richard Bartrop

There was sweet Lellalee, who died for love of common folk; and brave Fritan, so noble that even his Vrellish enemy could not bear to take his bright life on the challenge floor; and Demlara, who ruled wisely during the Golden Age; and Fahandlin the poet who wept for the smallest pains. All were as beautiful inside as they were to gaze upon; Souls of Light, as finely made as china dolls; inspiring goodness in the world by being too good to endure transgressions and too glorious to risk offending.

Except, if Ril was right, the world had failed at last and none would ever suffer themselves, again, to be reborn. The Family of Light had abandoned Demora, driven from it by its fall from grace over the centuries since the Golden Emperor ruled, also, at the Gelack court.

Lying full-length on her divan, Dela closed her eyes and clutched her favorite book of poems, searching her memory for proof that Ril had to be mistaken, just this once.

"Do not grieve," Lellalee had told her contrite worshippers, "for I have done some good, and that's enough." Demlara had promised, "Light returns when evil tires of its broken toys." Fritan said, "Keep faith, and faith will keep you." "Beauty pol?" laughed frail Fahandlin, "look up, it fills the sky! What is more rel , or more beautiful, than the stars!"

There had to be strength left in Demora's Golden wisdom. It had to be there still, disguised. In this room, at least, Dela was not alone. In this room she had the courage to be Golden in a world which was forgetting how to understand what it admired.

She sniffled her way through half a dozen handkerchiefs before she settled down to rest on her divan, gazing at the familiar room. The walls were pale pink, the divan rose, and vases were filled with fresh flowers. Here she kept the books which she had memorized and the music box her mother had given to her when she came to Dee Manor, twenty-two years ago, as Chandad Dee's bride. Chandad had been so dashing, even though he was merely a Highlord, and she was proud to be received like an empress, at Dee Manor. But Chandad was really only greedy, and her Golden powers inadequate to curb his straying eye once she failed to give Dee the highborn heir that, above all else, it wanted of her. All in all not a story of legend.

Dela feels she doesn't measure up to Golden canon.

Dela feels she doesn't measure up to Golden canon. (Art by Richard Bartrop)

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