Fantasy Maps and Cevalon

There’s an entire subculture of fantasy map-making and world-building, because Tolkein and Gygax together hammered into the genre of epic fantasy literature and gaming the need for a world to have an all-encompassing backstory, including a theogyny.

I’ve been farting around with a fantasy world of my own devising, known as Cevalon, since I was about 14. I’ve even written a novel set in that universe, which I still find interesting, and may, with some extensive editing, see the light of day. More likely, the first novel of that series will be set several thousand years before that. Because I’ve got backstory. I’ve even got the theogyny. It’s a riff off the Hindu Trimurti, with a Mother/Creator Goddess, a Protector God of Craft and Knowledge, and a Destroyer God of Fire and Renewal. There’s a bit of family drama between them, and the Destroyer God is that touch more Satanic, but…

Some of the stories I’ve written for Unnamed Journal, the Tygg and Drea stories — The Dying GoddessThe Barbarian on the Shore, and most recently The Sword in the Cave — are set in this universe. They take place on the periphery, so I’ve kind of expanded the geography of the world. This is as it should be.

For my birthday I got a How-To guide for drawing fantasy maps, which has inspired me to go back to my old maps and kind of rejuvenate them. This has been in my mind for  a while, but I will enjoy nerding out all over it.

I think that’s the trick.

Chaia Nov21 09-32
A totally random map made from Azgaar’s Fantasy Map Generator. https://azgaar.github.io/Fantasy-Map-Generator/

New Pumpkin Spice Unnamed Journal!

It’s obligatory to do Seasonal-themed issues of a lit mag, and as much as I enjoy bucking trends, I also enjoy bucking the need to buck trends, because contrarianism knows no bounds.

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This is one of our longer issues, as one of the four pieces is a radio script, and the other is almost 7,000 words. The other two come in at about 2,000 words, which is pretty standard for a piece of short fiction.

Click here to read.

 

George R.R. Martin is Seriously Starting to Bore Me

In the last issue of UJ, I penned an essay about how I felt regarding the end of Game of Thrones. In that essay, I argued that the spirit of Martin’s work is essentially pagan, and the influence of Robert Howard is far more present than that of Tolkein, who filled his work with a Catholic ethos. That’s not necessarily a bad thing: Beowulf is at least as pagan as it is Christian (anyone who argues that it’s basically a pagan worldview with Christian seasoning won’t get much argument from me), and it’s a rich epic. But it ends on a down note, one of death and fear and cold. So does Game of Thrones, which has its one incorruptible hero cast aside like trash, basically so the show could pull one more sucker punch.

And here’s Martin, in his notablog, barbering on about this years Hugo awards, as if anyone cares:

I am not a believer in any afterlife, and I don’t think that Gardner was either… so as nice as it would be to think that he was looking down on us from the Secret Pro Party in the Sky, I can’t.

And there you have it, really. Death is a sleep. The Void is King. Jon Snow was always going to become Nothing, because there’s nothing out there to become.

Which makes me start to doubt about his commitment to finishing. Especially since he’s teasing his fans as to the damn prequel series for HBO. In some part of his mind, A Song of Ice and Fire is already finished, and the idea of putting in the work to actually finish it feels like a gigantic slog. This whole thing was over the minute the series overtook the books.

Garbage Pseudo-Psychology? Possibly. Despair? Definitely.

Doesn’t mean I’m wrong, though.

Unnamed Journal News

Unnamed Journal has been kicking a long for a few years now, and I’m mighty glad of it. As a creative outlet, as a process of marketing and stamping your corner of the internet, it has been invaluable. Not only did draft chapters of Void and Last Tomorrow first appear on UJ, but it’s given me a platform to create The Meditations of Caius Caliguliaa project I never thought I’d actually get off the ground, and has caused me to slowly build up my own homebrew space opera universe, short story by short story.

And that past tense doesn’t mean it’s going anywhere. Far From it.

If anything, UJ, currently a quarterly literary journal, is going to be expanding into other realms: a podcast, possibly a larger publishing arm. These things are in the future, and the details have yet to be hashed out. But UJ has a acheived a stable output, and we can only build from here.

 

LastTomorrow3
Apocalypse. Drugs. War. Birth.
Void5
An Existential Sci-Fi Monster Tale

Caligulia, Dictatorship, and Monarchy

Prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Saddam Hussein had been ruling that country with an iron fist for over three decades. He had prepared the way for a dynasty: his second son Qusay was his intended successor, and by all reports, Qusay was a chip off the old man’s block. Had things proceeded according to plan, Qusay would have become President in much the same way that Kim Jong-Un, and his father before him, became President of North Korea.

The obvious statement is that these are monarchies in all but name, perversions of republican forms. They claim legitimacy from the people, but all power is held by one man, and then his children. We call these governments dictatorships, Aristotle called them tyrannies.

We’ve seen this movie before.

Ancient Rome began as a monarchy, and then removed the monarch and replaced his duties with elected magistrates, elected from and overseen by the Senate, which consisted of the aristocracy. This system worked well until the pressures of governing overseas provinces created opportunities for military adventurism. The legions, drawn from the lower classes, became political institutions, on whose support a successful general could rely on when it was time to cut the Gordian knot of Senatoria conspiracy. This reached its head in the dominance of Julius Caeser and Caeser Augustus.

But Augustus did not establish a monarchy. He very carefully preserved republican forms, holding “elections”, while gathering for himself a combination of political, military, and religious positions that ensure his perpetual authority. On his deathbed, according to Suetonius, he invited the gathered senators to “applaud the comedy”.

Already power has become dynastic. The Crisis Augustus inherited is long gone, replaced by peace and order, but the combination of offices passes down to the next of kin. First Tiberius, Augustus’ stepson. Then Caligulia, Augustus’ great-grandson. Then Claudius, Augtustus’ grandson. Then Nero, Augusus’ great-great-grandson.

Nero had no heir of his body, so this would have been a fine time to restore the Republic. But the Romans had become inured to tyranny. Instead a quick succession of generals and pretenders squabbled for Augustus’ position, until Vespasian, a general lately in charge of suppressing the Jewish Revolt, established himself. He passed down power to each of his two sons in turn. The second of these, Domitian, was assassinated in 96 AD.

File_001Domtian was also childless, and here was another opportunity to end the hidden monarchy. But they did not. Instead, the Five Good Emperors followed: who governed with wisdom, care, and benificence.

Rome, it seemed, wanted neither rex nor res publica. So the tyranny continued until Diocletian and Constantine established formal monarchy in the 4th century AD.

All of which means that in the next chapter of The Meditations of Caius Caligulia, our boy is going to get into his political theory. Look for it in the next issue of Unnamed Journal in January.

 

 

Monsters and Aliens for October – Unnamed Journal 16

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All kinds of bad craziness. We have three, count ’em, three, chapters of Ulysses and the Fugitive, in which the aliens start taking over and sending their agents to do their bidding. Then Drunk Vampire Hunter makes a return for When’d He Go?, which is absolutely a pun on the name of the cannibal monster from Native American legend. We also return to the universe of Chamber of Pain and Cantilever Jones Lands Hard, in which the Imperial Deathguard trap a star monk in a ruin and immediately regret it. I call it Ash on the Wind.

Read for Free on Joomag

The Chamber-Cantilever-Ash universe is currently organized under the working title Gods of the Sky. There may or may not be a novel or novella from this, or I could just keep pouring out shorts. All my Star Wars and Dune fanboyism is just pouring out of me in the process.