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Blowing Clear by Joseph C. Lincoln
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Road Essays
FF9900 Orphan Wildlands Blue Highway

FF66FF: orphan home cornfield: or who lives alone in a cornfield?

FF66CC: Orphans at home in the maze

FF6699: orphans at home in the labyrinth

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FF66CC: Orphans at home in the maze: 12/21/18

FF66CC: Orphans at home in the maze

In the middle of the orphan as traveler neighborhood is the orphan at home in the maze. I'm stating it this way, rather than an orphan finding their way home through the maze because my primary example is Greenglass House, also known as Lansdegown, or 蓝冠, the home featured in three middle grade fantasies by Kate Milford: Greenglass House, Ghosts of Greenglass House, and (though in a different category on the spectrum), Bluecrowne. Greenglass House, like it's nearby home town of Nagspeake, is an unmappable space.

The orphan who lives in the present day Greenglass House is Milo Pines. He is a literal orphan, adopted by the present owners. In two different Christmastime events, while homebound, Milo goes on a metaphorical road trip through role playing with a ghost. Reality is often blurred through Milo's playtime. Also, though, is time and space.

Some of the inconsistencies in the spaces that are described can be attributed to Milo's imagination, but some of it is the house and the nearby town. It is through the roleplaying that the reader learns about the history and magic behind Nagspeake. As Nagspeake's unusual history and features (the changeable streets and canals) are corroborated by adults not partaking in Milo's gaming, the other facts learned in the gaming can be assumed to be true too.

The gaming sessions brings to light a road narrative story that is broken apart into three components — and I must admit, part of the inspiration for how I built the categories for my own road narrative spectrum. First, there is a sole traveler who through magic shoes can turn any path into a well made road. Next is a lantern that can help a person find their way no matter how confusing or changeable the path is (good in Nagspeake where the streets, canals, and even the buildings themselves, rearrange themselves at whim). Finally, there is a building that can't be blueprinted in or near a town that can't be mapped. It doesn't take much to conclude the house being described is Milo's home.

Milo then, as a literal (but now adopted) orphan living in a home that is changeable, is the extreme example.

Other versions of this narrative could be a literal orphan having to get through a maze to get home. If it were dystopian, the maze could be a ritual of survival, or a survival of the fittest. A metaphorical orphan — a lone traveler — could find themselves in a maze and need to escape. The maze could also be metaphorical, a place with blind alleys or other traps. It could be manmade or nature made — a cave for instance. It could be a story of being marooned. Finally there is the home. Home is a safe place. In the American road narrative, it's a goal, an ending.

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