…tap to put a new Tome into play…

With just six days to go for the funding deadline (and it being solidly in the Halloween season) I would like to take this opportunity to remind visitors to this blog about Simon Berman’s kickstarter initiative to bring something new to the Cthulhu mythos. The book will be a collection of old and new stories set within and inspired by H. P. Lovecraft’s universe. And if this is the first post seen by a new visitor to Surfing the Zeitgeist, let me also add, “Welcome.”

Writing is about an adventure – an adaptation in character as the result of a crisis. I feel that’s what I’ve managed to contribute to the new book in question with my short story, “Letters from the Sea”.

If you have already participated in this kickstarter, you have my thanks. I would also request that you share the link and encourage others to join you in lending support. If you’re new to this blog and/or knowledge of this project, please view the kickstarter page and the archive, along with the art and illustration sections, of Surfing the Zeitgeist. Perhaps I can then extend the welcome to “Welcome aboard.”

For Copy & Paste ease, here is the link: http://tinyurl.com/p2yasta

achievement

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Bubbling up…

Talented coauthor and dear friend – Leanna Renee Hieber – shared with me an opportunity to contribute for an upcoming anthology. She and I are among those asked to blur the line between fact and fiction in each of our separate pieces. During the writing I was able to refer to a pair of maps I’d made over ten years ago. At that time I was playing an online game that was a little light on details. Maps of Lemuria and Mu were made to assist other players in visualizing the play environment. And since they took a rather long time to create, I saved the files. I’m truly glad I did. LemuriaThe artistic approach for the fabled sunken continent of Lemuria began with a bathymetric map of the Indian Ocean and the coastlines provided by theory. In the case of Mu, there is not a precise border so the coast used a similar process to build out that of real, existing islands. mu mapIn the online game mentioned above, these maps were to record fictional claims on imaginary lands. They were used while I wrote to keep certain details straight. Sunken continents have always fascinated me – at least since 2nd grade. It seems odd that we’re taught the myth of Atlantis before the dynamics of continental drift. Details about the anthology can’t be provided here but updates will be when available and appropriate. I’m curious how each contributed piece (mine and that from Ms. Hieber included) might work together as a whole. When it is released, I believe I’ll be reading it with the same sense of wonder I hope other readers will.

Tilting at the Windmills of My Mind…

As Pandora’s Pets are not made singly, except in the case of a commission, it isn’t so easy to say precisely how long each takes to make. They take as long as they need. Their creation is a collaborative process with Leanna Renee Hieber, who gives them their individual details and augments their personalities. We haven’t precisely timed that process either.

PetsWhen each is finished as a work of art, they’re not fully complete until a customer adopts them. There’s a procedure when each is sold that we consider vital. Every one of Pandora’s Pets needs a name. We keep a record of the name of each Pet.

To be honest, however, I didn’t want to have a list containing common or ridiculous appellations. This meant there needed to be a process. Within the lore of Pandora’s Pets they’re meant to be quite ancient, somewhat otherworldly creatures. What follows is a (mostly) complete account of how the naming chart was created (in January of this year); this isn’t entirely random facts:


circa 3800 BC
Ur was a Sumerian city-state and served the Mesopotamian culture as an important port. Since the end of that period, silting of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers have added almost 200 miles of land between the Great Ziggurat and the Persian Gulf. At its peak, however, Ur was immense in terms of both scale and splendor.


c. 832 BC
The First Temple in Jerusalem is begun. Myths about its construction probably began about this time, too.


c. 1100
The Scots adopted the word glomung from Old English. It became gloaming and still means twilight or dusk. In some parts of Scotland it may also mean dawn.


1583
By this time, the esoterica about King Solomon‘s included the recruitment of 72 spirits, each of whom had special talents. Johann Weyer and others attempted to list them all. The lists don’t match at every point.


1821
John Keats invented the word gloam for his revision of the ballad, La Belle Dame sans Merci.


Thinking about these things and along these lines produced the following chart:

d20: Name Tribe
1 Kut(h)- -as(h)/es(h)- -tis Chill
2 Tel- -par/pur- -lor Pitch
3 Ur- -kah- -tos Murky
4 Kis(h)- -el- -ax Shade
5 Der- -gaht- -far Ghast
6 Ad- -veh- -ur Wight
7 Jem- -ix- -as Ghoul
8 Eri- -ib- -for Brood
9 Ak- -daht- -par Gloom
10 Es(h)- -sal- -eth Frost
11 Gir- -o- -gos Gaunt
12 Lag- -bey- -las Weird
13 Lar- -mu- -mon Cloak
14 Shu -ru- -ius Bleak
15 Har- -neh- -ith Ghost
16 Din- -day- -son Dread
17 Bad- -ara- -thin Haunt
18 Is(h)- -tra- -ion Eerie
19 Kua- -euh- -eus Qualm
20 Bad- -has- -os Cloud

Column № 1 – represents the result on a 20-sided die. A different, color-coded die is used for each subsequent column at point-of-sale.
Column № 2 – The names of some of civilization’s most ancient settlements (or syllables thence) became the prefix for each Pet’s name – to suggest extreme age.
Column № 3 – The middle of each Pet’s first name is pure invention to serve as a bridge.
Column № 4 – The suffix of about thirty percent of Solomon’s helpers are also suffix for the Pets.
Column № 5 – The Tribes to which each Pet may belong are called by synonyms of gloam and other spooky 5-letter words.

The next batch of Pandora’s Pets will mean there are more than 100 of them in the world! As making them helps both Ms. Hieber and I smile – and then the people to whom they’re offered for sale – that’s an already uncountable number of smiles that wouldn’t have happened otherwise.

Note: While making this post ready my entire computer froze. I’m attributing the smile that resulted from not having to start over to the Pets as well.

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.

Couching a Tale…

The characters in any story may be compared with the id. The related ego is the author and any collaborators. The superego could be a combination of critique partners and editors. If this theory of mine is accurate, it may explain why writers will tell you they have arguments with their characters about what they would or would not do within the story. And while it is the author-ego who determines the “reality” of the story, the character-id makes it Go. A wise author will let the characters be the engine and do his or her job of driving.

There is an immensely strong id in Leanna Renee Hieber’s newest novel – The Eterna Files (released by Tor and available at fine booksellers like Barnes & Noble and here). The character in question is known as The Visitor (and by another name I’ll not reveal here (spoilers)). Within the context of Eterna’s first installment, The Visitor may be an actual zeitgeist – attempting to inspire the other characters as they face supernatural and potentially calamitous new realities.

Excerpt, The Eterna Files, p. 14 —
“What is it this time?” Clara gasped.
“Hello, Clara,” the visitor said quietly. One didn’t mistake an ordinary person for the visitor, for it brought with it the weight of time itself. “It’s been awhile.” The visitor smoothed the skirts of its long, plain, black, uniform-like dress, something a boarding school girl might wear. “Have you been waiting?” the visitor asked.
“I’m not a girl who waits,” Clara replied.
“That’s why I trust you,” the visitor said, pleasure in its voice.

The broader arc of The Visitor began before I was invited to be Ms. Hieber’s collaborator on some projects. The author of the above had written about her before in vignette and cameo fashion a few times before we’d actually even met. In what was unrelated brainstorming for possible inclusion in a well-known franchise, Ms. Hieber and I started to develop a strong, female character in command of her own starship. There were some difficult directorial reactions to our plans. And to the Captain’s plans. She – The Captain – almost immediately took command, as she’d been designed to do, of her own destiny.

Before long both Leanna and I had the epiphany that The Captain was The Visitor. That development and The Mission of Captain-Visitor character-id is only part of why I’m fascinated by The Eterna Files. I repeat my recommendation of buying the book and curling up on the couch with your copy.

Video credit: PsychWing and The Nerdy Duo

Excerpt, The Eterna Files, p. 16 —
“Why can’t you stop terrible things if you’re aware of them?” Clara demanded. “Why can’t I?”
“Not in our skill set,” the visitor replied. “You’ve taken too much ownership of something that is not your responsibility, Templeton. What is your responsibility, is to—”

“‘Wake up?’ Yes, I hear it, on the wind. In my bones. What does it mean?”
The woman gestured before her, to Clara’s iterations. “You see the lives, don’t you?”
“Yes.” Clara swallowed hard. “Do you?”

Georg Hegel is given credit for coining the word – zeitgeist. But he did not use the term. He believed that the spirit of the time is our own spirit and that “both” may evolve. The Visitor’s mission is the most heroic I can imagine and may be related to Hegel’s assertion that “World history is thus the unfolding of Spirit in time, as nature is the unfolding of the Idea in space.” I am genuinely excited to help write The Visitor’s future and past. She may prove to have an important role in A Song Heard in the Future and in at least one other story that sometimes makes it difficult to sleep.

“You see the lives, don’t you?”

Yes. Won’t you?

Sifting through the Message…

If there are authors who have just one story in mind, in development, or in progress – I haven’t met them yet. I have also not met Harper Lee but, given “Go Set a Watchman”, she won’t stand as an exception either. Neither can I.

Although I’m chiefly working on “A Song Heard in the Future” when I’m not working on Pandora’s Pets sculpture, there are two other novels cooking gently in the background. There is also the pleasure and honour of serving as co-author to Leanna Renee Hieber for a fair number of other books. Ms. Hieber has several novels on her brilliant mind as well – some with me in a contributory role and some without.

When the Muse makes her visits with economy in mind and brings an idea for each disguised as part of only one novel it can be a puzzling experience. For example, British anti-aircraft gunners were known to pose with wreckage of Nazi planes they’d shot down (if the crash site could be found).

ieImagine such a scene with the oar of a trireme instead of part of an aircraft. That is in essence what the Muse did today – but in a much more vague manner.

It can take a while to discern the intent of the Muse when she’s sent a Tweet rather than a lengthy email. What part is the oar and goes in “Song” and which part belongs in a WWII story I have in mind took some while. It was sifting through wreckage, if you will.

There’s some difficulty, however, in reminding each story of the priority you’ve decided for them. Saying “No.” to inspiration is generally not the best approach for an artist, I would suppose.

Maybe “creative process” should be plural.

This just in…

This is an interview I was pleased and honored to be able to do at last year’s Dragon Con. The video dropped this morning. When speaking extemporaneously, it’s difficult to remember exactly what was said. This was a fascinating reminder.

For a transcript, please visit here. And thank you, June and buzzymag.