C (in a Roman sense)…

This is the 100th post here on Surfing the Zeitgeist. Since I began this project the subjects have ranged from legend to futurism. From creative process to both profession writing and sculpture. From who I have been to who I aspire to be.

Maintaining a nearly weekly schedule on a blog has helped focus my thinking, which as you’ve seen can range across a wide range of topics. That’s fine for amusement but when there’s a task at hand it helps to have a structure and/or outline. There have been a few personal landmarks along the way – not the least of which being the loss of Leonard Nimoy.

I’ve also been able to celebrate my collaborations with Leanna Renee Hieber, the Nerdy Duo, and Simon Berman. There have been links to my other blog-work at Criminal Element. Through all the past 99 posts I have enjoyed tracking the nations from which Visits and Likes have come. The number of countries on that tally coincidentally sits at 99. It’s fun to have a bet with myself on the next addition to the list but I’m nearly always surprised, though I am fairly certain № 100 will not be North Korea.

99

Apart from providing insight to how I go about my projects I’ve given a few glimpses at my philosophy – hopefully without being controversial. My heroes and notions of civics don’t have to be yours; if we all agreed on every point what would be the purpose of a blog anyway?

A hero’s journey and a personal one may both fall under the rubric of per aspera ad astra (through hardships to the stars). High hopes lead to higher aim. My motto for the past 25 years has been, “The only raw material required to manufacture hope is time.”


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Astronomical proportion…

The work of other artists often fascinates me. I can appreciate a technique or admire a style but the sources of inspiration are what captures my attention ultimately. Since 1979 I would have to say my favorite contemporary artist has been Wayne Douglas Barlowe. Most of his inspiration seems to come from works of literature and science fiction/fantasy. There is, however, a deeper level of inspiration. It is this aspect that prompts the selection of specific details. In this Mr. Barlowe’s process is unmatched, in my opinion. His choices all lend to the realism of his creations. The allure of the work of William Roger Dean (my second favorite non-comic book artists during my high school years) comes mostly by selection of color but his work presents the fantastical without Barlowe’s diligence at the plausible.

Even before the release of Barlowe’s Guide to Extraterrestrials I was (as you might guess from prior posts here) obsessed with Star Trek. Anyone familiar with the franchise knows there is any number of details on which one’s thoughts may dwell. One in particular – for me – was the selection by the production team (presumably William Ware Theiss) of the now famous arrowhead as the emblem of the USS Enterprise (and later all of Starfleet). I’m not the only fan to wonder what symbolic meaning the design would have held for the characters. Some have speculated that it was meant as a reference to the red chevron in the NASA logo.

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— which itself is said to represent the two lines from Alpheratz to Almach and to Adhil, respectively. All three of these stars are in the constellation Andromeda. Homage to one nation’s space program seems unlikely for an organization that represents more than one world (i.e., the United Federation of Planets).

The UFP is said to have been formed by people from Earth in association with:

RACE: STAR: EARTH TERM:
NATIVE:
α Centauri Toliman Human colony
Vulcan ο² Eridani Keid T’Khasi (Minshara)
Andorian α Canis Minoris Procyon Andor (Fesoan)
Tellarite 61 Cygni The Flying Star Tellar Prime

I can’t say when I began to wonder where one had to be within deep space to see the homeworlds of the non-human co-founders as the points of the Starfleet arrowhead. At a guess, I’d say this inspiration came in the mid-1980’s – before the premiere of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

About June of 2009, however, I got my first CAD (computer-aided design) software and began plotting stars to teach myself how to use it. After a while I had almost 3,000 stars mapped and could rotate the entire field to solve this puzzle. No, I won’t say where one has to be to achieve this view.

arrowhead for blog

In on-going work with The Nerdy Duo and with Leanna Renee Hieber, a new star field is in development to get the science right in our projects together (whether Star Trek or not). As obsessed with the details and choices of other artists as I may be, I’m not content with my own work unless I can provide a “tour” of some details I wish to highlight. They say “the devil is in the details” but perhaps it’s more accurate to say the bedevilment is contained therein.


From his house at R’lyeh…

Almost two weeks ago, I mentioned that a kickstarter effort was upcoming. Good news!

lovecraftRoughly four days back, Simon Berman launched his project to fund the publication of a wonderful book. I couldn’t be more pleased. Apart from the re-release of some of H. P. Lovecraft‘s most influential fiction, Mr. Berman wanted to incorporate new, original content that might expand the mythos and potentially draw new fans. I presume that an attempt was made to contact the spirit of Lovecraft. He seems to remain unavailable.

Both my collaborator on other projects, Leanna Renee Hieber, and I were among those who individually contributed pieces. We were able to choose topics and themes from a list of suggestions provided by Mr. Berman. I’ve written in the past that mythology and maps† have been fascinations of mine for some while. So my selection was a very specific aspect of myth that has also wound as a particular thread through the Cthulhu saga almost since its inception.

In some ways, I found this experience to be a contrast and counterpoint to my current work on A Song Heard in the Future.

224e98469a8fcab15954c115f042d967_original† And when this kickstarter reaches the stretch goal, an attractive map will be added to the end papers of the book. At present, the project is 20% the way to including said map and 25% the way to funding without it. Wouldn’t you prefer having the map inside? I would.

To support this project and to help others find it, please click here — http://tinyurl.com/p2yasta.
_
☾☄

“Let me sum up.”

An annoyingly catchy tune from 1992, Dizz Knee Land by Dada, has been on my mind for the past few days – but with “Dragon Con” substituted for “Disneyland”.

thom at dragon conNote: I apologize if that song is now playing on repeat in your head.

This will be my second year attending Dragon Con. I will be posting a schedule of the panels on which I’ll be presenting as the date grows a bit closer.

This event is, as you might suppose, always very exciting. It has been a busy year for me since my first time there. I’m in progress on two novels, which readers of this blog are aware. Together with my coauthor and business partner, Leanna Renee Hieber, we have introduced the adorable “feels assistants” – a.k.a. Pandora’s Pets to more than 100 customers and a growing number of stores. I was quite honored to develop the four separate covers for Ms. Hieber’s upcoming release of the Dark Next Chronicles.

DNCWe have both written separately for an illustrated anthology of Lovecraftsmanship that’s expected to launch in October – probably just in time for Halloween. Along with the other two members of PsychWing (i.e., The Nerdy Duo) we are developing a short science fiction film.

combo logo

It has been a year (plus) of dreams coming true.

Note: Until after Dragon Con there may be a slight disruption in my once-a-week posting to Surfing the Zeitgeist.

per mutatio…

In art nouveau, and particularly the work of Alphonse Mucha, we frequently see an arc of ever-smaller circles around both sides of a round frame. Mr. Mucha found this structure fascinating and, I must admit, I do as well. I won’t go as far as to suggest it counts as part of sacred geometry (either for myself of for Mr. Mucha). But it is very appealing to my aesthetic.

In mathematics, such a figure is called either a Pappus chain or Steiner chain – depending on specific tangency. I’m certain it has a name in art world but I haven’t rediscovered the term (yet).

As you may have seen in previous posts to this blog, I am creating sculpture and art in addition to written fiction. The Star Trek-inspired novel¹ on which I am in progress has introduced a sister muse. The television series and motion pictures showed us very little Vulcan art. Much as I might prefer otherwise, I do understand that Vulcan culture is not the main point of Star Trek. But it is the emphasis you’ll find on The Taan Shop².

ta'an 2Just this week I was able to blend two examples of Vulcan art and symbolism (the IDIC and the coffin-shaped chime/gong) with the Mucha crescent. The words shown are kau and yehtwise and true, respectively.

Pandora’s Pets are creatures of expressed emotion. The items presented on The Taan Shop could count as the opposite. Or maybe not. Fans of Star Trek know that Vulcans embrace logic. We know from the salute of “Live long and prosper” and the philosophy of “Infinite diversity in infinite combination” that their perspective is more nuanced than commonly thought. It seems more likely that the Pets and the ta’an are two sides of the same flag.

Both projects are evolving and I feel they should. You are invited to pay a visit.

Vulcan Tarot frame


¹ “All We Now Hold True
² More accurately, the Vulcan word for gift would be transliterated as ta’an but that would confuse the URL.


Note: The Vulcan font was designed and provided in beta form by Britton Watkins. He is the developer and director of conlanging, a documentary on the art of making fictional languages and writing systems.

ek ik pakashogau etek u’yeht’es…

There is nothing new or shocking (to those who know me at all if not well) that I have been a Star Trek fan for as long as I can remember. And while I will not claim to have been to Hell and back, it is probably fair to say that I experienced some trauma during my “formative years”.

I delayed my initial post regarding Leonard Nimoy’s passing by a few days, partly out of respect and partly because I needed time to process. I am still processing. It was his portrayal of Mr. Spock that ironically provided a much younger me with a sense of emotional stability.

The Vulcan way is part of a body of fiction, of course; I do not embrace it as a way of life. It merely informs some of my “navigation”. In all honesty, though I have a lasting affection for Star Trek, it never presented any alien species as a whole and complete culture.

Klingons, it could be argued, are more richly detailed than any others but a ritual-of-the-week and appropriation of Shakespeare makes them just the boldest cypher of the lot. Vulcans run a close second oddly enough. All of the alien cultures started as metaphor and have become stereotypes in their own right.

Within the past few days my ‘processing’ has led to adjusting the schedule of my novels-in-progress. For a very long time I have wanted and needed to write for Vulcans as more than computers on legs from a volcanic desert world.

My very good friend, Leanna Renee Hieber hurried to tell me of Mr. Nimoy’s passing while already rushing between her programming commitments during AnachroCon. She knew what it would mean and took special care to break the news in a kind and gentle way – rather than it coming by way of a stranger’s shouted announcement amid convention chaos. As she made her way to the next panel, I drew a portrait of the actor who played one of my heroes:

image

His final words/Tweet compel: “A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP”

Spock’s people are known for their respect for Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations (k’lalatar prkori k’lalatar prnak’lirli) and the IDIC symbol. Gene Roddenberry stated the symbol “has great meaning to all Vulcans”. He indicated that it was somewhat comparable to a religious symbol. Outside of fiction, the symbol itself is 47 years old.

image

Comprehension and embrace of diversity still eludes us. Some efforts at celebration of diversity can cost us opportunities for unity. We still need the IDIC.

If nearly every Vulcan we have ever seen is just like Spock why would they venerate diversity? How could it mean so much to them if they were not natively host to quite a range?

All this to say: a novel concerning Vulcan memory, truth, and culture has moved to top priority – at the urging of Ms. Hieber, who will be coauthor of the work. The working title is “All We Now Hold True“. (In the Vulcan language, that is the title of this blog post. Thanks to Britton Watkins for the translation.)

Please do feel invited to Follow, Like, and/or comment.

At the Crossroads…

IMAG0256

Let me introduce you to Telixaus Brood. It is a member of my newest creation – Pandora’s Pets, which debuted at TempleCon this past weekend. Each of these small spirits is designed to help with a specific worry so their host can focus on a decision. They do not wear their own emotion but rather that with which they hope to alleviate.

The sell starting at $15, plus shipping costs, when applicable. And apparently, they eat more than just your cares.

The TempleCon organizers presented their 10th event – fittingly themed “Crossroads” – and the second that I’ve attended. The staff and volunteers certainly count among the best organized and supportive of their respective brood. From pre-registration to loading out, every member of the TempleCon crew with whom I interacted was clearly dedicated to making an enjoyable event. They are helpful and professional in each detail and at every turn. One asked me what brought me to TempleCon and I answered (for 2014) that I have traveled nearly every geek avenue they showcase as part of their programming, from goth to steampunk to historical fiction to gaming – though not necessarily in that order.

And my involvement with TempleCon this year – my first as a presenter and vendor – was due entirely to introductions and encouragements made by Leanna Renee Hieber. Among the wide range of scheduled attractions was a reading by Ms. Hieber of her first hardcover novel, The Eterna Files, which officially releases tomorrow. Our collaborative writing has not yet been published but Pandora’s Pets do represent one intersection of our creative approaches. The Pets and I are truly all gratitude for her work and support.

Tomorrow (February 10) is the last day to order a signed personalized copy from WORD.

The great spirits of unworldly artist Kelley Hensing, exemplary sutler Major Salisbury, and itinerant lecturer Mark Donnelly further enhanced the excursion.

Thank you, Lauren, for permission to use your photograph.