June 11th, 2009


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Discussion (46)¬

  1. Grimsqueaker says:

    I love this. My inner geology geek is going “Squeee!” and doing a happy dance over structural geology appearing in my favourite webcomic. Keep up the great work, Ursula.

  2. adreanna says:

    Finally! A comic that properly explains magical fault lines.

    And why does it make sense to me that they’d logically have to be standing on the hanging wall to get the full effect of the magic leakage? Am I just imagining too much into this?

  3. Rakka says:

    Wombats make me feel warm and fuzzy inside. What kind of fault, indeed. 🙂

  4. DanielCoffey says:

    “You are in a haunted monastery absolutely lousy with magic… sleep well!”

  5. diTaykan says:

    …y’mean the thing that opened up underneath them a little while back?

  6. AnonyGirl says:

    Soooo … I’ve been reading, starting at the first strip and going right through in order, and I’m actually only up to May of 2007 somewhen. But I’ve got a question, so I figure that the best place/time for a current question is on the current strip, and I’ll see if I’m right, as determined by answer(s) actually received 🙂 .

    Digger is a girl. Girl wombat. Right. So why not? No problems there, just reality. But, related to that, just one thing makes me curious. *** How in the HECK does everyone else (who does) know that she’s a girl??? Girl wombat. *** Like, if we’d met other wombats, I’d not be at all surprised to hear them use “she” or “her” right away when talking about Digger. One supposes, at least I suppose, that Womabts know what to look for when they want to identify one anothers’ gender. How do all these non-wombats know?

    Now perhaps the answer is something particular to the story’s world. Like, “people always assume femaleness until informed or proven otherwise.” Or, “people always *talk* as if they assume femaleness until informed or proven otherwise.” Or something else. Perhaps. But rather than make lots of guesses and pretend any certainty, I thought I’d ask. Even if the author just has to make up an answer relating to something she never thought about, her answer is by definition more right than mine, and possibly more entertaining. She’s proven she can be entertaining.

    Love the strip. Most intriguing and absorbing. Just like the shadowchild, heh.
    — AnonyGirl, a girl. a girl girl. 🙂

  7. Otookee says:

    Heh. Describe something as “a magical fault-line” and most humans would be content to leave the analogy at that. Wombats, though, immediately want to know exactly what type of fault-line.

    I suspect that if you told Digger about the World Wide Web she would want to know if it was a radial-, sheet- or tunnel-web.

  8. Otookee says:

    If Helix was still alive, I wonder if Digger would be proposing marriage to him. I mean, he seems quite knowledgeable and competent, which I suspect makes him sexy by wombat standards.

  9. JonathanSFox says:

    I adore Wombat geological geeking.

    And to answer Digger’s hypothetical question which Otookee mentioned, the World Wide Web is most analogous to a radial web. 😉

  10. Wombat32 says:

    Otookee: Probably no, for two reasons… 1) Helix is apparently a family ancestor to Digger, so you got the incest thing, and 2) Wombats don’t get married for love, they enter into I think 3 or 5 year contracts, with reproduction as a separate rider.

  11. Wombat32: just because they enter into 3 or 5 year contracts, doesn’t mean that the reason for doing so isn’t love!

  12. Diatryma says:

    I would really like to know what kind of research went into that little bit. “Hi, I’d like to talk to the head of the geology department…. yes, I’m writing a comic about a wombat, um, and gods– no, no, really, I just need to know enough about fault lines so I can have a convincing manifestation– damn, hung up again.”

  13. maparent says:

    OK… fascinating revelations, but they’re wrapping up and we still heard nothing about Murai’s glorious destiny. I mean I understand it’s all related, but I thought we’d hear about her role in all of this mess, as it’s why they got here in the first place! You’d think she’d be asking at this point, even as self-effacing as she normally is? Now, I’m sure Ursula’s got this angle cover, but I’m just wondering aloud.

  14. ysabet says:

    **grin** Okay, how many people went “OOH”, opened up a second window to research fault geology, and read the info with great interest? #@_@#

  15. Raigne says:


    I vaguely remember her mentioning on the earlier comics at the original site that she studied geology in college. Possibly I am wrong, but she has a lot of this stuff already in her head.

  16. brushtail says:

    Ok, how many other people completely understood what Helix just said? Just because it’s fantasy doesn’t mean you can play fast and loose with the geology. I love the bit about the magic ruts.

  17. Ursula says:

    *grin* Same way we can mostly tell what gender somebody is on the phone–Digger’s voice, while presumably an alto, is still reasonably feminine. And for those species where voice is less a key, sense of smell gives away a lot.

  18. Blob says:

    I’ve also noticed that the other characters rarely reference Digger’s gender. “Digger” is not a gendered name in English (and presumably not in whatever they speak). The statue calls her “Burrower” most of the time, and Grim Eyes, until she got to know Digger, just called her “Earth Rat.” Ed calls her “Digger Mousie.” Maybe, until they get to know Digger, they aren’t sure themselves?

  19. Siege says:

    And we cant forget that Digger does have humanlike breasts (that lost emphasis toward the end of the first book), so body shape does still have something to do with it.

  20. F7 says:

    The breasts were a giveaway for me, but I imagine that other characters probably have something in her voice to go by. In my head her dialog was always voiced as my tenth grade PE/First Aid instructor’s, which was like a really butch Reba McEntire. Tough, but unmistakably female.

  21. DanFM says:

    Digger’s not the only one. Grim Eyes also seems to have a humanlike physique (albeit with a more athletic build), but I think the dead givaway is the fact that Digger’s wearing an earring 🙂

  22. mouse says:

    Hegi probably hasn’t gotten a chance to reveal Murai’s destiny because the wombats have been jabbering on all this time. And now they are about to fade out, so Hegi has no _time_ for the unveiling.

    man, I bet Hegi will have more than a few things to say to Helix once they get back to wherever they normally are……

    and on the question of knowing digger’s sex….can’t remember any of the other characters making an issue of it, one way or the other. The only ones who would undoubtedly know (via scent) would be the hyenas – and since they live in a matriarchal culture, they would probably expect any competent, outgoing individual they meet to be female anyway.

  23. Atre says:

    I LOVE the geology in the comic (geo accidentally tumbled into my Physics degree and I’ve been doing both for 2 years now) – where does Ursula get her structural geology goods from?

    It’s not a subject that is easy to find casually on the internet.

    PS. My inner pedant notes that a strike slip fault cannot have a hanging/footwall system, that be a thrust system exclusive. But it’s the only error I’ve ever seen ;-p

  24. Atre says:

    *edited post*
    I LOVE the geology in the comic (geo accidentally tumbled into my Physics degree and I’ve been doing both for 2 years now) – where does Ursula get her structural geology goods from?
    It’s not a subject that is easy to find casually on the internet.
    PS. My inner pedant notes that a strike slip fault cannot have a hanging/footwall system, that be a thrust system exclusive. But it’s the only error I’ve ever seen in the comic ;-p

  25. Mishal says:

    While Helix was talking to Digger, Hegi was talking to Murai. At least at first, because Grim Eyes and Digger got to talking and that sort of “drowned out” Hegi’s speech to Murai for us, the audience. When Hegi realized there were wombats involved, well, then she brought Helix out for our enjoyment. But Murai’s destiny was probably a fairly simple -but epic- one, “You will cause an old evil to be avenged” or something like that.

  26. million bells says:

    In other news…… Woot! Dragonbreath just arrived today! *happy dance*

  27. ortonmc says:

    I’m guessing Murai’s destiny has something to do with the Dark Mother. Hmmm… What would happen if DM and SGV got together? Would they have another Shadowchild?

  28. Hawk says:

    What kind of fault?
    If they weren’t wombats, there are so many horrifying yet wonderful puns to be made from that line…

    Also I agreed with AnonyGirl’s question, but thank you Ursula for answering it 😀 Vocal tone is indeed a good indicator, more so face-to-face than on the phone. I had a roommate – a male! – who kept getting called “little girl” on the phone….most unfortunate for him. Amusing for the rest of us though!

  29. Tindi says:

    “Coupla other ghosts lurking around, probably a few other mystic destinies wrapped through here. Manifestations galore.” I can so hear Helix’s dismissive tone when he says that. 😀

  30. Leonca says:

    Hehe, of course everyone’s mystic destiny has to be tied to such a dangerous and remote place! Wouldn’t be an adventure without it.

  31. Coyoty says:

    “Please have a seat until your destiny is called, thank you.”

  32. theysabet says:

    My bad little brain keeps wondering if ‘plates’ was part of a pun.

  33. KNO3 says:

    Ooo. Ruts. Spell components! Potion ingredients!

  34. Ursula says:

    Oh, damn. Honestly, it should have been an oblique fault, but I liked the phrase “strike-slip” so much…

  35. Eugene says:

    Anonygirl: the way I see it, she probably sounds very female. I subconsciously give her the accent of a early-1920s female British explorer. The kind who always wore the safari hats and went on about dirigibles and indigenous peoples in great detail.

  36. BunnyRock says:

    @-Eugene… and got lied to a lot. I think, and I’m sure Ursula will correct me if i’m wrong, it was Camilla Wedgwood who in her work in New Guinea and the south pacific who ran into the problem that the locals found a woman, and an white woman at that, cornering the male elders and patiently asking them questions about their marriage rituals and what age they had their first sexual encounters so hilarious they just made up whatever they felt best, something that did not get corrected until the 1960’s when new anthropology students turned up in the New Hebrides with textbooks containing, what the people they were sent to study cheerfully told them, were complete and hilarious fictions. this has happened elsewhere in anthropology because, to be honest, if a bunch of strangers turned up at your house and said they wanted to include you in a study and stated asking really basic questions like So you live in that house. What does that house MEAN to you” or “so how do your people get married and how many partners are you allowed?” could you resit the temptation to say “we get married via interpretative sockpuppet dance and each have exactly 36 wives”?

    This why the last time Cardiff University sent someone along on an multi-uni expedition they chose a girl with a personality pretty much exactly like Diggers. When you’re tires and covered with human fleas it takes a special sort of person to ignore the fact that the Madagasi tribesman is telling you the pots are 100 years old and look careful and note they are fresh of the kiln and ask WHY he told you they were older. Turns out he thought the anthropologist were secretly after antiques to sell because no one would come all that way just to look at a completely normal village and he thought he’d get more money for antique ones. One they’d explained they were not looking to buy any and were just curious about how they were made he was far more helpful.

    This is why I stick to archaeology. Because everyone you’ve been studying is dead they can neither lie to you nor contradict any of your material evidence. Plus if you have a theory about neolithic burial mounds you can send people to look at actual cultures who still build similar burial mounds in Madagascar and ask why they do it without getting fleas yourself.

    Oh and ysabet, Yes, yes this did make me look up faults.

  37. TekServer says:

    My coworkers will NEVER understand why i have this sudden craving to witness an interpretive sock-puppet dance wedding …


  38. BunnyRock says:

    *Grins*. The wedding lunch would be a sight to witness.

    My co-workers have asked be to make an amendment to my comment. Long dead cultures can in fact lie directly to you, mislead , spin, distort and contradict material evidence to the point where an entire discipline exist to pick apart this problem. This discipline is known as “History” Or “Ancient History” and, apparently, specializes in unpicking the probable lies and propaganda and occasional impartial accounts handed down from our ancestors to revel the gems of truth that lazy archaeologists with their ridiculous impossible-to-prove-or-disprove theories cannot find, and it in no way exits only to steal the joint budget from grant funded research from archaeologists and keep historians of the street and in a controlled environment where they are no longer a threat to society at large, although to be honest that would explain quite a lot.

    They have also asked me to point out that they are in no way bitter about this kelptomania and that History is one of their favourite things: it ranks in their top ten sub-disciplines of archaeology, between paleo-Entomology and coprolite analysis and way above accounting, which as we all know is a dark art.

    (although that ranking is partly a good natured dig at historians, both subjects are quite morbidly cool, in particular coprolite analysis is actually really interesting provided you have either no imagination, a severely stunted ability to feel the emotion of disgust anymore as your flatmates Fanfiction was so bad that’s section of your brains disgust centre is burn out and noting will ever register again it was that bad thank you you b*stard, or a horrible horrible fetish you should really see a professional about. And by professional that I mean a shrink, and not one of those professionals that advertises only online probably operates out of Amsterdam).

    History is a sub discipline of archaeology in the same way dance-studies, engineering and accountancy are sub disciplines of anthropology, running on the usual archaeologists definition of archaeology as “everything in anthropology that’s already happened and not going on right now” in which “anthropology” is defined as “everything that’s not geology, palaeontology, astronomy or pure maths, because now a-days-humans impact on every ecosystem somehow so as the non-athroporgentinc areas on earth go biology is right out. It involves people at some level, ergo it is anthropology.” This argument doesn’t carry much weight in getting anthropology or archaeology the reception/recognition/funding they disserve but the logic of the definitions is sound and it does make people pull some fairly fun facial expressions when you tell them, “Oh, just a sub-sub- division of my profession then?” during the “So what do you do for a living?” bit at parties. Then again so does telling them you think coprolite analysis is quite interesting, especially if it’s a BBQ and they are eating something you’ve cooked.

  39. jaynee says:

    That comment *should* have read:

    “jaynee falls about laughing fit to bust”, but I put it in angled brackets. Beware the angled bracket black hole.

  40. TekServer says:

    Been there, done that, jaynee. We LizardFolk tend toward complacency regarding the dreaded angle brackets, because the Lounge doesn’t interpret them as HTML code …


  41. JET73L says:

    Atre: Thank you! That is what had heen bugging me about it. You can easily have a wall with a thrust-slide fault, but not a hanging wall.

    Bunnyrock’s comment about marriage ceremonies shows us one reason why “sockpuppets” is far from a perfect safeword (sorry if you don’t remember the discussion or are going in a reverse archive comment trawl, I don’t have the link to the relevant comments page at the moment).

  42. Zelith says:

    @BR At this point I’m almost reluctant to bring up Pratchett again since he’s overmentioned (if such a thing is possible) but to paraphrase across multiple novels ‘most maps suck’. They’ve got lots of parts the cartographers made up because they didn’t want to leave embassing blanks spots, especialy across that much of their map. And even when they actually try and get help from the natives you end up with names like ‘A mountain, idiot’ and ‘Why white devil point at canyon’ if anyone bothered translating.

  43. Zelith says:

    @BR But then, you knew that… I keep forgetting it’s Tek that hasn’t read them.

  44. Ellemerr says:

    Oooh, the Pratchett maps! I loved those. The idiot mountain in particular.

    And I remember the sockpuppet safeword discussion! Huzza! Maybe you could still use sockpuppet, though, just with a little clause – “If BunnyRock comes along, drop all your safewords for the rest of the evening, as there’s no guessing what weirdness will come out of his mouth (or fingertips) anyway.”

    I want to see the sockpuppet dance wedding too!
    And getting exactly 36 wives must be bloody difficult. O_o

  45. TekServer says:

    See, this page right here is exactly why I’m re-trawling the archives. I had, embarrassingly, completely forgotten about this discussion, and no one should EVER forget about hypothetical sockpuppet dance weddings!

    (Okay, yes; I’m aware that most “normal” people would probably disagree and say that this is a thing best forgotten. That’s why I refuse to associate with “normal” people.)