My weblog ELECTRON BLUE, which concentrated on science and mathematics, ran from 2004-2008. It is no longer being updated. My current blog, which is more art-related, is here.

Sat, 02 Apr, 2005

A Year of Fantasy Writing

There hasn't been a new Electron entry in about a week, because I've been busy finishing up another piece of writing. I've been working on this for a whole year, even as I've been doing math and physics and reporting to this Weblog. Now I'm pleased to report that it is done.

Just like most fantasy and science fiction fans, I have an imaginary world that I've been making up since I was just a nerdy teenager. By now I have centuries of history made up in it, along with a vast cast of characters and many interesting (at least, to me) stories about them. Over the last thirty years I've written piles and piles of texts, all of which sit gathering dust in a corner. Now many of those texts also gather pixel dust in virtual corners of my hard drive. I've also made lots of pictures from this world, depicting characters, scenes, and architecture. These are in the same dusty and obscure places as the writing. I've only tried to publish once or twice, and having been rejected, I just shelved it.

But somehow I can't stop making up this world and writing about it. I've created timelines and histories, countries, universities, wars, political systems, money and media, vehicles and architecture. I've gone through generations of people, both famous and ordinary, from kings to vegetable farmers. It is the same sort of thing which made J.R.R. Tolkien happy for fifty years of his life, but in my own private, non-heroic, non-Middle-Earth sphere. It's kind of like playing an elaborate role-playing game, or a more sophisticated, philosophical version of THE SIMS (electronic simulated character game) but only for myself.

The world I created, unlike most of the fantasy worlds ultimately derived from Tolkien, is a modern world, with a level of technology just slightly ahead of ours. It takes place on an alternate Earth where humans as we know them have not (or never) evolved. The people I invented are almost the same human types as we are, with some differences in coloration and internal physiology. They look somewhat like Central Asian or Indian people, but with blue-grey, salt-and-pepper, or white hair.

The most important difference (from our world) about my imaginary world is that magic works, or more specifically, psychic powers. Most of my people have some degree of these powers; a rare few have far more, and they are like modern wizards. I am not hesitant to admit that I have freely borrowed ideas from fantasy authors like J.K.Rowling, Katherine Kurtz, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Julian May, and Olaf Stapledon. I don't pretend to be original. But I think I have some unusual elements in my fantasy; for instance, instead of Celtic and medieval culture as main inspiration, which is standard for most fantasy worlds, I use Mediterranean and Persian cultures, with lots of Roman, Greek, and middle eastern allusions.

The text I have just finished is about 250 pages long. It is in the form of a year's worth of journal entries (or a weblog!) written by a middle-aged lady who is a professional journalist and editor. She works as the publications editor of an Institute for Psychic Studies. She has been unofficially contracted to write this journal as a reference for historians and a favor to a group of her friends. Throughout the year, she writes about the different adepts on the staff, the visitors to the Institute, a scholarly conference on aspects of psychic powers, and details of food, architecture, language, and history. She also writes about her travels on behalf of the Institute.

Given what gets published and appreciated in our modern world, my text has no sales potential. There is no graphic sex, no violence, no brutality, not much cynicism or irony, and not much plot, either. No one gets murdered or raped. It's more about the intrigue, gossip, and stories of an academic setting, like a "cozy" mystery story without the crime. There's no slam-bang action, but lots of tea drinking.

My immersion in physics and mathematics has had a great influence on my current fantasy worldmaking. The "psychic powers" of my world are not like the fantastic magic of Harry Potter's world, nor like the elvish magic of Tolkien's. I portray psychic powers, or to use an old science-fiction term, psionics, as a predictable, measurable, repeatable phenomenon, amenable to scientific study and experiment. In fact, one of my most important characters is a psionic adept who is also a physicist, and is the first person of his era to re-discover the scientific basis of magic. He is the Director of that Institute for psychic studies.

Sooner or later I will put this text, and others, and pictures from my world, up on a section of my main Pyracantha Website. For now, I am glad that I am not writing that extra thing because it will give me more hours to study my classical mechanics.

Posted at 2:41 am | link

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