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.”


for your delight at reading…

Chuck Francisco of Pop Kernal called Book I of The Eterna Files, by my very dear friend and business partner – Leanna Renee Hieber, “the Empire Strikes Back of Victorian paranormal gothic”.  I have described her work in reviews and on panels at conventions as being located four blocks west of the intersection of Poe and Stoker. Her work and many conversations with her have helped me make my own writing and thinking a bit more accessible; I have a tendency to range cerebral.

Ms. Hieber is a diligent and skilled crafter of characters you’ll want to include among the circle of your fictional friends. It is they who guide you as they make their way along the boundaries between this world and a stranger one. The ripples on the veil are not caused by a night breeze but the tendrils of death and dark fates.

both-books

Book II, titled Eterna and Omega launched today. The privilege of discussing and reading parts of it before the release was mine but it is now something you can share. I gladly and strongly recommend buying a copy. You may not be as certain about strange sounds around midnight after this worthy tale.

buy-it


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the needs of the many…

There are probably no authors setting out to have a star or planet named in their honor. That said, very few would decline such homage. Asteroid 4659 and a crater on Mars bear the name Roddenberry. The creator of Star Trek likely didn’t include earning this sort of acknowledgement while developing the series.

Gene Roddenberry did, however, attempt to get the science right. He consulted scientists and engineers on a somewhat regular basis. He was also a student of his times and wanted to present entertaining adventures about the future blended with relevant social commentary. Nichelle Nichols, the original Uhura, famously tells a story that each episode was meant to be a modern morality play.

Countless people recount that original Trek inspired their choice of careers while not necessarily having achieving Roddenberry’s dream of humanity at peace with itself and unafraid of its future in mind. This phenomenon is not limited to math and technology either; I know of at least one lawyer who found the trial of Spock in the episode “Menagerie” fascinating enough to prompt study of jurisprudence. The humanism and idealism of Star Trek are very important facets of my long-standing desire to write and make art.

arrowhead

Many fans consider the reboot of the franchise to be less than worthy of the title and have branded it – somewhat pejoratively – as the “Abramsverse” or “NuTrek”. Paramount and CBS have recently attempted to get ahead of these descriptions. They’d like us to call it “The Kelvin Timeline”.

Chris Pine is the second actor to portray Captain Kirk. He has been quoted as giving the following response regarding the franchise shifting away from speculative futurism in favor of presenting an action thriller.

You can’t make a cerebral Star Trek in 2016. It just wouldn’t work in today’s marketplace. You can hide things in there – Star Trek Into Darkness has crazy, really demanding questions and themes, but you have to hide it under the guise of wham-bam explosions and planets blowing up. It’s very, very tricky. The question that our movie poses in ‘Does the Federation mean anything? And in a world where everybody’s trying to kill one another all of the time, that’s an important thing. Is working together important? Should we all go our separate ways? Does being united against something mean anything?

— Chris Pine, à la SFX Magazine

Star Trek was fond of Shakespeare references and there’s one that perfectly sums up the problem with the Abramsverse and the attitude expressed by Mr. Pine: “…it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

The last log entry by Kirk was wonderful fan service at the end of The Undiscovered Country and should now be interpreted by CBS and Paramount as exactly how fans would like to see Star Trek handled – rather than catering to a formula while implicitly demeaning the audience.

This is the final cruise of the Starship Enterprise under my command. This ship and her history will shortly become the care of a new generation. To them and their posterity will we commit our future. They will continue the voyages we have begun and journey to all the undiscovered countries, boldly going where no man… where no one has gone before.

As part of a recent presentation by Claire Legrand, Megan McCafferty, and Leanna Renee Hieber all three authors recommended that any authors in the audience write what they loved reading as children. Write what they wanted to read.

Best Faction map

In broad strokes I plan to cover some of the same ground as Star Trek did: the destiny of humanity in space and to what extent human nature might be baggage carried along the way. It seems fair to say that a writer must be the first fan of his or her own work. So I’ve charted my world(s)-building – applying a different rotation to the same field of real stars used for the Arrowhead interpretation. Astral’s interstellar factions overlapped each other in a previously posted map. That’s not the case in this new one.

At a convention I once attended both Gene and Majel Barrett Roddenberry recommended that whatever I might wish to see in Star Trek I should write and tell Paramount. I never did follow their advice but I may hide it under the guise of thoughtful speculation and all the things the Federation still means to me.


The Return of Strangely Beautiful!

Good People,

Permit me to (re)introduce you to a very important book. If an earlier addition of Strangely Beautiful is on your shelf, you’re in for the special treat of new content. If you’ve not had the pleasure of reading this tale, you are invited to make a purchase of it today. Once it arrives, I’m certain you will enjoy the time spent with Leanna Renee Hieber’s finely crafted and much beloved characters.

SBcard

The unique and original creation – Percy Parker – features in this work by a true pioneer in Gothic & Gaslamp fantasy. Miss Parker is, in a sense, an outcast from birth but who among us hasn’t felt the same way some point in our lives? She and Alexi Rychman take center stage, surrounded by mystery and almost Poe-like goings-on.

If you’re a fan of such film and television series as Crimson Peak, Ripper Street, and Penny Dreadful than Strangely Beautiful must adorn your attention and library.

You can read more here.


This post is, of course, utterly share-able.

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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.
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“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.

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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.

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.