The Lucky Lad

adventures in dysthymia

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Fantasy Continuum

Just for the halibut, I made up a little infographic-y thing about my fantasy novels.


Saturday, October 14, 2017

By the Tracks, a poem

By the Tracks

Whether the trains were moving east or west
did not matter; they woke me in the night,
there in her house by the tracks. The rent was low

and that was good enough. That and the pool

where we sometimes skinny-dipped.
East or west — or was it north and south?

Let me orient myself here. Yes, east and west,
parallel to Highway 84, there on the outskirts
of Thomasville. It’s been a dozen years

and memories are a patchwork now, bits sewn
together to make a new picture every time.
When they woke me and I could not sleep again

I wrote and sometimes it was good
and sometimes I threw the pages out, come morning.
She moved on and I moved on, but the trains,

I suspect, still pass by each night and wake
whoever lives in the guesthouse by the tracks
where rent was cheap. And there was a pool.

Stephen Brooke ©2017

Addendum, Mon Oct 16: a couple days later, I saw various changes needed to be made - most of what I post here is early draft and often sees revision

By the Tracks

Whether the trains were moving east or west
did not matter; they woke me in the night,
there in her house by the tracks. The rent was low
and that was good enough. That and the pool

where we sometimes skinny-dipped.
East or west — or was it north and south?
Let me orient myself here. Yes, east and west,
parallel to Highway 84, right on the outskirts

of Thomasville. It’s been a dozen years
and memories are a patchwork now, bits sewn
together to make a new picture every time.
A rumble in the dark; it would pass

as all things are said to do and maybe
that is so. When I could not sleep again,
I wrote and sometimes it was good
and sometimes I threw the pages out, come morning.

She moved on and I moved on, but the trains,
I suspect, still pass by each night and wake
whoever lives in the guesthouse by the tracks
where rent was cheap. And there was a pool.

Stephen Brooke ©2017

Thursday, October 12, 2017

An Extra Novel

After claiming I was not going to insert another novel between the projected second and third books of the Mora Trilogy, I am going ahead and doing just that. This will follow the recently published ARROWS OF HEAVEN and almost certainly be titled WOMAN OF THE SKY.

So does the fantasy trilogy become a tetralogy (or quartet or quadrilogy or whatever term one prefers)? No. I recognized that the original third novel, WARRIOR OF THE MOON, is the start of a new sequence. The action takes place a decade and an half later than the end of these Mora books, and features the son of our protagonist in the original Malvern Trilogy, which the Mora Trilogy follows. There might or might not be more novels following it; we’ll have to see about that.

Am I working on WOMAN? Well, I’m making notes and plotting and outlining and all of that. I may start on the narrative or I may let that wait while I finish some other projects. I am supposed to be busy with my third Cully Beach contemporary crime novel (to be titled SMOKE). And I might even try having a life one of these days! :)

Monday, October 02, 2017

High and Low

I do not write ‘low fantasy.’ That is, fantasy that is set in more-or-less our ‘real’ world, into which fantasy elements intrude (which is something a bit different from ‘magic realism,’ which is actually surrealism, not fantasy). The familiar tales of werewolves or vampires are part of the long tradition of low fantasy.

On the other hand, Tolkien wrote high fantasy. The stories are set in their own world, with its own rules. The popular ‘Game of Thrones’ series is, as well. Both high and low fantasy have long traditions and, not surprisingly, the border between them is sometimes blurred.

Roger Zelazny’s ‘Amber’ novels are an example of essentially high fantasy that impinges on our own world in a low fantasy manner. In that the underlying cosmology of the Amber ‘universe’ (of which our own universe is only one among a possibly infinite number of variations) is fully realized, it has to go into the high fantasy category.

The bulk of my own fantasies follow a rather similar pattern. The Malvern tales start in our own world, amid familiar events, but enters another realm with different rules. Somewhat different, anyway. This world of ours is always a part of the larger ‘infiniverse.’ Whether I will ever actually set a tale here is questionable — and I’m not sure whether that would be high or low fantasy!

I honestly have a problem with the basic premise of much low fantasy – that there are hidden things in our own world, magical beings or what have you. It bends logic and science. Fantasy must be believable. Alternative worlds with their own logical sets of rules allow that desirable ‘suspension of disbelief’ we need. I take care never to break those rules, once I have created them.

This does not mean everything is thoroughly explained (though I, the author, might know the reasons for things). Nor would the characters necessarily be knowledgeable of why things work as they do — ‘magic’ might be largely an empirical science. But it is an integral part of their world, an alternate world to this one.

The basic premise of the whole world of my fantasies (and they are all interrelated) is that, among the infinite possible worlds, magic is easier in some than in others. Why the differences exist is somewhat explained here and there in the novels; no need to get into it here in any detail, but it is largely about how closed off one world is from the others (ours being very much so). This is part of the basic design of each universe — with infinite possible worlds, some will be so and some won’t. Or, more properly, an infinite number will be and an infinite number won’t.

So I have an extremely large canvas on which to paint my high fantasies. Will I ever bring any of it back to our own world? I suppose it is possible — and of course I have jotted down ideas from time to time. There is something to be said for bringing the familiar into ones stories, for creating a connection to our own mundane lives. I have only done that so far in the aforementioned Malvern books but there is no reason not to explore it — if, someday, I find a reason.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Three Books or Four?

Having finished and published the second novel in my projected Mora Trilogy (‘Arrows of Heaven’), I was giving serious thought to plugging in a fourth book before the intended finale. It would have explored some of the secondary characters from the previous books, in particular the Kohari dancer, Rahiniti, who would probably have been the narrator. I went so far as to choose a title — ‘Woman of the Sky’ — and design a cover.

But I could come up with no compelling plot for it, just a lot of political and relationship happenings. In other words, it was largely backstory for the last novel of the trilogy (to be titled ‘Warrior of the Moon’). So I decided to treat it as such and just incorporate some of the bits that I had written out into that novel in some fashion, although it takes place something like a decade and an half later.

I am not sure just when I will write ‘Warrior’ and finish the series. After all, I have like seven series in progress and they all demand my attention! But there is a good likelihood that it will happen in 2018.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

A Thought on Thought

I happened to watch an episode from ‘Star Trek: the Next Generation,’ a couple nights ago. One from fairly early in the series, where the ‘Traveler’ visits and reveals young Wesley’s future importance. The Enterprise is also catapulted into a place (so to speak!) where thought and reality are too closely linked for the crew’s survival.

A decent enough episode, but the underlying idea is the truly interesting thing — the concept that space, time, and thought are all part of one continuum. In other words, consciousness is essential to the existence of, well, existence. This is a rather serious idea that has been tossed about by both philosophers and scientists in recent time.

I am no way near being an expert on anything quantum-related, despite basing a fair amount of my fantasy writing and world-building on some of the better known concepts. The idea that something does not exist until it is observed would be one. That is put badly, I am sure — this is why I prefer to weave such things into a fictional narrative rather than attempt to speak of them in essays. Yet here I am, attempting just that.

I would certainly applaud the ST writers for working the concept into their own story. How many watchers actually pick the idea up and think about it? Most, I suspect, just see it as another plot device and do not think about it again. I missed the point myself when first I watched the episode, years ago.

And I could never say how much validity there is to the whole concept. By its very nature, it must remain conjecture, unprovable, it would seem. A little too close to religion for some folks, too, I suspect. It challenges the rational, mechanical universe of the Enlightenment.

That too, after all, was just conjecture, a metaphor, another attempt to understand. That model of the universe is one aspect of something much larger, true so far as it goes. We are limited by our senses, ‘seeing’ only a little part of the whole of reality — which is, of course, infinite.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Dwarfs

Although there has been a mention or two in my fantasy books, and although they have always been a part of the world-building, my latest novel, THE WAYS OF WIZARDRY (to be released January 6), is the first in which dwarfs have actually appeared.

There have been other ‘Others,’ of course — trolls and ogres and kobolds (lots of kobolds — which is another name for goblin, for those unfamiliar with the word) and Fay of varied sorts. But those reclusive dwarfs have stayed out of the picture until now. Not that they have a major role in the story; they are a convenient device to move things along at a certain point and do not impact the tale again (although they do make a brief later appearance, for continuity’s sake).

So — dwarfs. What are they? Small, stocky men is how most would tend to visual them, probably with beards. Good enough. That pretty well describes mine, as far as it goes. Actually, the dwarfs of my world are Neanderthals. Small Neanderthals, admittedly, who have undergone millennia and millennia of change and now stand about chest-high on an average ‘human.’ That is the ‘classic’ dwarf I utilized. In my world-building there are many branches beside these; moreover, trolls stem from the same ancestral line, splitting away sometime in the dim and distant past.

Be that as it may. My dwarfs do look rather Neanderthal. Not only the barrel-chested stocky build but also the heavy brows and big noses. And, of course, light of skin and sometimes redheaded. They still frequent caves, as well, but now it is as miners.

It is more than likely the race (or a race) of dwarfs will show up in future books. I had no reason to include them up to this point, and I do not throw things in unless they serve a purpose. So they will!