Friday, August 26, 2016

The Big Ideas in My Works: The Solador Series

I'm using posts here to flesh out elements of my fictional world that won't gt a lot of attention in these manuscripts. A lot of the stories I'm writing tie together via the cataclysm that destroyed the old world and created this one, mostly through the common connection of the conspiracies behind that event.

The Solador books (currently) work around the idea in LeGuin's "Those Who Walk Away From Omelas", but what is forsaken is inverted: instead of a forgotten child left to suffer in darkness, the sacrifice is of a designated hero who is elevated to celebrity status (and dehumanized accordingly) and upon whom the community piles on their expectations at the prompting of the Solador leadership: The Exalted. This figure is meant to represent them to the Exalted, as go-between bridging the ordinary and the supernatural. Said leadership installs the hero, manipulates his rise and controls him with rewards given to such heroes in the mythology that these leaders deliberately copy. When the hero becomes too unstable to control, they orchestrate his fall and elevate his replacement to ensure that this control mechanism continues.

Of course, the protagonist is that hero. The deuteragonist is another pawn who figured it out and aims to put this scam to an end. The Antagonist is the leader of The Exalted: The Archmage. Other figures mentioned or featured include The Necromancer, the other Exalted (The Champion, The Devil, The Hierophant, and The Physician), and Master Bradley of The Hidden City. The hero's wife, children, and his dog Han are minor (but significant) players in this story.

The theme of the Big Idea (occulted schemes of control) continues in Solador's signature feature: "The Blessing of the Unconquered Sun". This is a full-body augmentation, centered around a gem implanted in the forehead. From this gem--the Soul Gem--comes a woad-like full-body tattoo made of gold and silver. The system exists to prevent one from being turned undead; the means is by incinerating the corpse as soon as life stops, in a manner that resembles a program's deresolution in the original Tron, leaving only ashes and dust behind. There is a secondary effect that the body's resilience is greatly improved, akin to wearing well-padded armor. Implications are addressed, and intended by the creator: The Archmage.

So: trauma-based mind control, active perception management, culture-level political manipulation, wars meant to be sustained to control internal population, occult powers used to set up and sustain a false religion, and what it takes to keep that going vs. how fragile it is if at all vulnerable. That's what's going on here, while writing about adventures involving undead hordes, fighting against terrible odds, treachery within, and the inevitable victory of Truth over Lies.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Future History: The Coming of the Empire of Man

This is typical of father-to-child home instruction in the Empire, which is the most education on history that most Imperial children get and is mirrored in Imperial propaganda (i.e. all their media), and differs only in the tone and vocabulary used. This would be typical of a doctor to his children, or someone of similar rank, but not part of the Empire's true elite.

What is now called "The Old World" or "The Age of Wonders" ended in a cataclysm, the Azure Flames. What we now know, centuries later, is that this was a divine subversion of an infernal conspiracy's attempt to utilize a mass human sacrifice to power a ritual summoning to bring their master into this world. The ritual failed, the destruction ruined a corrupt civilization, and allowed for the release of a different infernal entity: Legion.

It also put down a judgement on all alive past the age of reason, condemning their corpses to Legion upon death. It also allowed Legion to take any other man's corpse that it slew as the beast it was, but we know now that there was a catch: Legion had to use a human agent and work through him. No agent? Banished once more to realms beyond Man's reach. This is the origin of the villain and traitor known as "The Necromancer", and the source of his immense power.

The infernal conspiracy had its turncoats and sandbaggers. Two of them we now know as The Archmage of Solador, and the Founder of The City-State. We know of the existence of a score of others. These would become, along with The Necromancer, the Dark Lords that dominated the era after the Coming of the Azure Flames known now as "The Wars of the Damned".

The chaos brought about by the rampant sin of our predecessors had one mercy, now also known to be divinely granted, in the transformation of one righteous man into the legendary Ken, father of the race that would allow our Emperor the time and territory needed to gather the remnant of the faithful together into our glorious Empire and build us into a single nation capable of winning our world back from the Dark Lords.

Now, as we near five centuries since the Azure Flames ended the Age of Wonders, the Empire put down The Necromancer and ended Legion's threat. Other Dark Lords hide from the Empire, knowing we are mighty and armed with more than muscle and machines. Their ruinous powers cannot withstand our faith. One by one, we shall put all of them to the sword and burn their blighted lands to ash before claiming them as our own once more. Go forth, my son, and serve the Emperor with all your heart. The Emperor will lead us to victory, to true freedom, and bring cleansing fire to all who defy what is commanded of us.

Note that this is not the actual truth of the Empire of Man. The actual truth is that it is another "Dark Lord", born of the same conspiracy that caused the cataclysm. The Empire deliberately models itself on Warhammer 40000's Imperium of Man, and its own inspirations, and as its technical proficiency increases more things out of those inspirations appear. However, the Empire does have one quirk of its own: it does not have a military- it IS the military; there is no civilian life. Every man is a soldier. Every woman is a nurse. This grants total control over the population under permanent wartime conditions, and permanent subjection to military authority; the religious overtones are the mockery of a true faith, with the Emperor as a Priest-King. While talking a lot about purity and opposition to the supernatural, it harbors a hidden elite with powers of their own. Thus the Empire is, in truth, a militant cult- one that officially celebrates and unofficially hates its allies.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Exploratory Writing: The Genesis of Solador

An old man sat at an oversized desk in a undersized office. He dressed in a poor attempt at being fashionable. He displayed, in addition to the minimal academic credentials, useless marks of distinction for social fads of passing use to burnish his credibility. He looked less a man than a man-like mockery, weak and ineffectual. On his desk sat a sign, shining in the rare afternoon sun: "Dr. G.H. Lane, PhD."

Over an old intercom, the man heard a young woman speak: "Dr. Lane, Mr. Dan is here to see you."

Before Lane could allow Dan to enter, the latter man did just that.

"It's been a while, Gary." Dan said, "You're the department head now? How does it feel to run a useless degree mill?"

Lane looked up with a snarl on his lips. "Get in, and lock the door behind you."

Dan did, and Lane took a moment to take him in: in good shape, clean cut, looking like he'd just come out of Chinatown, and carrying a pistol in a shoulder holster.

"You're working, Dan?" Lane said, "Or is this part of the family business?"

Dan took a seat. "You didn't call me to ask a favor, Lane."

Lane sighed. "The big one's been finalized." Lane put a manila folder on his desk. "Project Omelas."

Dan took up the folder and began reading. "They're serious." he said, "And this scheme will work?"

Lane's snarl became a wicked grin. "Of course. I authored it, and you did your part. How could it fail? The final parts are in place, and failsafes are active to three degrees."

"Simultaneously detonating nuclear warheads in the ten most populated cities in the world, and then having the Agency's pet terrorists take the fall?"

"We have full-spectrum dominance, Dan. The Narrative will hold, and in the shock the peoples of the world will accept it. As for the naysayers, they'll be rounded up under color of law by the end of the year." Lane said, "Which brings me to the reason you're here."

Dan kept reading. "You're taking point on local operations here." he said, "So you want me back on the team as your #2."

Lane leaned back in his chair, putting one hand to his forehead while making a sign like as if to say "Okay." but leaving the other fingers out; a careful, or knowing, look saw the 666 symbol in that sign. Dan returned it.

"Go on to the second part." Lane said, pointing to the folder.

"Oh..." Dan said, "They are serious. The logistics alone to make this coordination possible is-"

"Impossible." Lane said, "They are going to fuck it up, and at this scope and scale fucking it up means a global backlash."

Dan looked up at Lane. "Be more specific."

"The brotherhood, using the globalist fake terror attack as a front, will use the nukes as a ritual of human sacrifice. The reason for all that power is to summon the master back from beyond and into the world. But they will screw it up, and that power will instead break loose and wash all over the world. The world burns, and only those prepared will survive."

Lane leaned over his desk. "I am prepared. Join me, and so will you. Bring your family to the Space Needle for the Christmas Party. The others, and their families, will also be present. Project Omelas will be had, but not as they intended."

"Solador." Dan said, "You're going to make Solador real?"

"And follow my thesis instead of the intended one."

Dan nodded. "I'll be there."

Friday, August 5, 2016

Exploratory Writing: Ken Makes Some Survivors The Offer

(This would be well after The Burning of Hugo, when the world blows up and The Wars of the Damned begin.)

"I hear you got a dead problem."

The group looked on at the strange man addressing them. Hairless, skin white like show, eyes sunken and of an eerie yellow hue. In one calloused hand he held the severed arm of a former zombie, from which he bit into and tore off another piece as one would from a chicken leg, and loudly chewed.

One of them, the eldest man, stepped forward: "We do."

"I can solve it." the dead-eating man said, his mouth full, "Of course, I see rifles in some of your hands, so I guess you can do that yourselves, but you normies got to take that risk now." He finished. "And I know you folks would rather not."

One of the women in the back leaned into another's ear: "It has to be him! The one that eats zombies."

The strange man turned his eyes to them. "I am that man." he said, looking right at them as he would to mischievous children, "I am Ken, and I have an offer for you."

The eldest man looked over to the others and gave his own commanding glare. They nodded, one by one, their submission, and then the eldest man looked back at Ken: "Go on."

"You people are much like others I've come across since the end of the world. You prepared. You planned. You stored your food, stockpiled your supplies, chose remote locations filled with exploitable resources, and most of you got out in time." Ken waived the arm he held. "You never really expected this to be real, and you aren't able to do what you planned to do and deal with this."

Ken looked over the faces before him. He saw them confirm what he suspected: they already lost people, and had to deal with their own dead re-animating.

"I offer you this: I will deal with the monsters. Call, and I will come to your aide."

"In return?"

"Fealty" Ken said, "You will join with others like yourselves, cooperate under my guidance and protection, until such time as I am no longer necessary because you--and they--will be able to do this on your own."

"We stay where we are?"

"I insist. You're all better off in your prepared homesteads. I focus on keeping the roads and paths between them clear."

An older woman moved to the eldest man's side and whispered into his ear: "He'll not need food from us. Take it."

The eldest man nodded. "What else?"

"No aggression between any of your settlements. I decide them, and my word is law. Handle your own affairs as you like, and be ready to support me as required."

"Is that all?"

Ken eyes a young woman in the back, clearly out of place here by her hair color. "You have a burden among you." Ken said, pointing to her, "I'll take her off your hands."

The old women whispered again: "Take the deal! She never should've been here anyway, what with just being a girlfriend to one of your grandsons. She's not one of us, she has no useful skills, and has no children. Cast her out!"

The eldest man nodded. "Done, Ken." he said, and they shook hands to confirm agreement.

"I'll take the girl now." Ken said, "Prepare her things."