We can’t prevent any and all negative consequences.
The idea that we somehow can lies at the heart of statism. We can’t have freedom of association, because then some racist assholes would choose not to associate with black people. We can’t have capitalism because then some people might not be able to afford food. We can’t have freedom of speech because then some people might hurt other people’s feelings.
The most common criticism of anarchism is that anarchy can’t guarantee that nothing will ever go wrong, a security that people seem to desperately crave, even though they don’t have it, and even though it’s impossible in a universe that doesn’t seem to care much whether we’re here. “What will you do to prevent murder?” people ask the anarchist, using the anarchist’s inability to definitively prevent murder as a reason for rejecting anarchy.
It’s fallacious, of course. The state doesn’t successfully prevent negative consequences either, no matter how much it tries and interferes in our lives. With all the laws and prisons, with all the destruction of liberty in the modern United States, there remains murder. It’s readily apparent that this isn’t an argument for the state; it’s an excuse for the status quo. “The state doesn’t successfully prevent murder, but anarchy can’t either. So why change?”
The obvious answer is that the state doesn’t simply fail to prevent murder; it is the Primary Murderer. As an institution, the state has racked up a body count that should cause any moral person to do a doubletake; in the 20th century alone, counting only war and advice combatants, states killed more than 120,000,000 people. If there were no states, those people killed by states would not have died. So if we want to reduce murder, the stateless society is clearly the way to go.
Prohibition doesn’t work, and we know this. Everyone knows it until we get to their Pet Issue, at which point they decide arbitrarily that prohibition can work. Abortion is a great example, because outlawing abortion doesn’t stop abortion; it merely chases it to the shadows of the back alley. Prohibition against alcohol didn’t eliminate alcohol; it was merely chased into the shadows of the black market. Prohibition against drugs hasn’t stopped people from doing drugs.
The argument may be that it’s fine, because we’ve substantially reduced the number of people doing these things, even if some people still do them, but this ignores the tremendous negative consequences. Our prisons are filled with non-violent offenders, largely minorities. Drugs are bought and sold in secret, unverified, possibly impure, possibly laced, and possibly lethal. People who can’t find heroin turn to krokodil. These are negative consequences. Our state intervention did not come without a price and arguments can certainly be made that the price was higher than the reward. Great, we kept five people off heroin, and the only side effect was that two people got on krokodil! Only a supremely jaded person can call this a victory.
Of course, this simply leads to more interventions, and more attempts to make up new rules to address the negative side effects of the old rules. Russia made codeine prescription-only to fix the krokodil epidemic caused by heroin being illegal, which simply made heroin easier to get and cheaper than krokodil. And then they’ll come up with some new rule to address the negative side effects of the last rule, and the end result is a clusterfuck of nonsensical laws limiting the behavior of adults.
Don’t think that we’re any different in the United States. There are positive and negative consequences to every action. Getting up early and starting my work day early comes with the positive consequence of earning more money, and with the negative consequence of getting less sleep. There’s always a trade-off, and this is the critical thing that statists attempt to deny.
Sure, outlawing heroin seems like a good idea with positive consequences–right up until someone’s skin rots off because they turned to krokodil. That negative consequence can’t be ignored. Furthermore, any attempt to fix it will come with its own set of consequences. And each time, liberty is restricted. The adults out there who use heroin in the same way that party drinkers use alcohol are caught in the cross fire, their lives destroyed in our Quixotic quest to eliminate drug addicts, and turned into hardened criminals by a prison system that rivals the Roman Gladiatorial Arenas in sheer barbarism.
Prohibition against alcohol probably lowered the number of people who drank. It also created Al Capone and turned Chicago into the gang-infested nightmare that it remains today. It drastically lowered the quality of alcohol, leading to widespread poisoning, and turned previously safe warehouses into guarded camps that regularly saw vicious battles erupting over control of the lucrative black market. It was hardly what anyone would call a victory.
Prohibiting abortion today wouldn’t end it, especially not in an age that has the Tor network (The Dark Web), which would make it easier than ever to find an abortionist. Even Craigslist can’t keep illicit activity off, and people would find abortionists through it. Rather than having the procedure done in a safe and sterile environment, though, we’d be back in the alley with coathangers. We know this, because that’s what happened before abortion was legalized.
It’s true. I can’t promise you that nothing will ever go wrong in an anarcho-capitalist society. In fact, the only thing I can promise you is that things will go wrong. The only thing that really matters is which set of consequences you want. Do you want freedom and the sometimes negative consequences? Do you want free speech even though it means people might say hateful things? Do you want free association even though it means racists might not associate with minorities?
Or do you want statism, for the government to attempt to minimize negative consequences by limiting freedom, and thereby creating a new set of consequences that have to be addressed by limiting freedom more?
We can’t have a utopia. In a universe largely hostile to our existence, imperfect beings can’t have a utopia. The state can’t give us one, and anarchy can’t give us one. Basic algebra tells us, then, that we can reduce the equation by erasing utopia from both sides. When we do this, what are we left with?
Freedom and negative consequences, or tyranny and negative consequences.
I doubt I’ll normally do this, but I’m really proud of them, so…
That… is fucking bad ASS. My god.
It starts slow, but trust me. If you’re a fan of rock music, then you’ll love the way that builds and builds until, by the end, it’s just… Really, it’s my best improv work ever. I’m sure I’ve improvised better solos and rhythm bits here and there in the past, but that entire thing is just 13 minutes of improv of layering one track on another, starting from a bare scaffolding and building it into… that. It’s really cool, and I think you’ll find it’s worth watching through to the end. Turn on annotations; they explain some of the stuff I’m doing, and why the music drops off like that occasionally (it’s unavoidable with the Digitech GNX3–a phenomenal processor, but with a few idiosyncrasies).
Just so we’re clear… I can play guitar better than you, kick your ass at Call of Duty, pwn you in a debate, fuck your girlfriend, and be hotter than she is while I’m doing all of it.
That’s something I jokingly said to a friend earlier today. It was one of those typical friend conversations, you know–we were each boasting to the other, exaggerating where need be, and just making it a point to work in as many odd, random things as we could. That was the best one I came up with. Anyway. The video.
Celes’ Song and I… have a long history. There is an alternate version of this song that is more orchestral and that is called… Aria de mezzo Carattere. You may notice it looks kinda familiar. That’s absolutely correct–when it came time to select my name, I took one inspired by a song in a video game. But if you knew the song, you knew its context, and you understood the emotional ties I have to it…
Really, it’s the perfect name for me. An aria is an operatic vocal piece sung by a female, so… Obviously, “Aria” is a cool name for a transgender chick who happens to be a musician. “DiMezzo” is not as random as it seems, though, and whether the “i” should be an “e” is something I can’t even say. I don’t speak Italian fluently enough to know.
“de mezzo carattere,” however, translates to “of the middle character,” and DiMezzo translates roughly to “the middle.” Since I’m non-op transgender–a shemale–I will be perpetually between genders; thus, I am in the middle of the genders, but present as a female (tying back to “aria” being a song written for/performed by a female).
And that’s without getting into the fact that this song, and Celes’ Song, never fails to fill my eyes with tears. And this is probably the best rendition of Celes’ Song that I’ve ever played; if I hadn’t been recorded, I’d have had tears pouring down my cheeks by the end of it. Even so, I had to trim the last few seconds because there were tears beginning to fall. It’s a beautiful, powerful piece of music. For that song alone, Final Fantasy VI is worth playing.
The other is Castlevania 2’s bad-ass motif Bloody Tears, which unfortunately has been picked up and ruined by faggot bands like Killswitch Engage who proceeded to butcher the shit out of it because they have no idea how to capture emotions with music. And I can’t capture many emotions with music, but there are some… There are some that I can capture, as Your Fall From Grace demonstrates clearly.
It may be the angriest song I’ve ever written.
How about the raw emotions of this one? This one isn’t “anger,” but I don’t know how to describe the emotions it entails. But… they’re clearly there.
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed my music. If you’d like to keep up with the stuff I get up to, be sure to check me out on Patreon, because I post everything that I do there. My author’s page on Facebook also gets a link about pretty much everything I get up to, plus some random bullshit. You can download an entire Fantasy novel that I wrote, no bullshit and no strings attached, and read it at your leisure. I hope you do, and I hope you enjoy it. 😀
A brief foreword here… I’m going to be pimping this novel out for a while, so feel free to ignore this and skip to the actual meat of this article if you want, but did you know that you can download my fantasy novel The Anvil for free, no strings attached, no sign-up required, no “follow me on Twitter” mandatory. It’s just a free download–no bullshit. I would never offer something for free and then put it behind what is basically a paywall requiring people to pay more esoteric costs. So if you want to read a fantasy novel, go here and download the version best suited for you. If you’re reading a phone or tablet, that’d be the ePub. If you’re reading on a PC, that’d probably be the PDF. If you’re more interested in critique, go with the DOCX.
It is an obsolete draft, as I say, but it’s primarily obsolete because I scrapped it and took things in a totally different direction. It’s the final version of that particular draft and was ready for submission before I was like “Nah. I’ll just rewrite it from the freaking beginning.” So, while it isn’t canon to future fantasy novels set in the same world, it is still a complete, and hopefully enjoyable, manuscript.
I was going to write about the stuff I said last night via email to someone, where I talked about how I’m ashamed of the human species, how I’m ashamed of planet Earth, and how the United Nations or any other non-Vegan is the very last group that should ever liaise on our behalf with extra-terrestrials. But I’m going to save all that for another day and instead discuss some things about the fantasy world in question, because I think it’s rather fascinating.
This is a map of Inrabis. Inrabis is typically referred to, in the manuscripts, as both “the world” and a continent, but this is because the people who inhabit this continent are only familiar with the Isle of Myrar and the continent itself; to them, it is the world. Whether the fantasy world itself is called Inrabis (ehn-ruh-biss) is up for debate, and that’s what I really like most about my fantasy world–being an atheist allows me for some very unique things.
Click for full-size.
Video game players will notice that–yes, I made the map using the Civilization V map editor. And why not? It was perfect for the job. As you can see, it’s about 45×45 hexes, and since each hex is 24 miles (a number that seems quite arbitrary until you realize that 24 miles is the distance covered by a healthy human walking at a normal pace for 12~ hours–technically 8 hours, but in my experience people don’t walk at a brisk pace all the time). This yields a continent roughly 1,000 miles by 1,000 miles, which is still sort of small, but that’s okay. This planet has other continents, and this is better viewed as the “Australia”* of the planet, at least as far as size goes.
I would call attention to the fact that this is evidently in the southern hemisphere, which is something I hadn’t realized until I was nearly through with the first version of the novel. It’s amazing how powerful the unconscious is, because without ever stopping to think about it, An’Kai in the south was, on average, much colder than the more temperate and almost Equator-like areas of upper Crinesti and Raine, while the Isle of Myrar’s southern half was nearly always covered in ice and had some very short days. There is a problem with the large chunk of eastern land that is desert, but this is due more to the location of the mountains and how the weather patterns clearly move from northwest to southeast. Obviously, the Khaloran Mountains prevent rainfall from reaching the Realm of Fire, named so because of its rivers of lava, tectonic activity, and frequent volcanic eruptions.
In fact, the Realm of Fire takes a great deal of inspiration from Australia. Australia is a beautiful place with a ton of gorgeous landscapes, but it has the deadliest fucking wildlife on the planet. I cranked that knob up to 10 and did a thought experiment where I let evolution take its place. As a result, the Realm of Fire hosts a specimen of ant that is literally dissolved by water, yet is immune to lava. The Daemons, who call the Realm their home, also treat the molten rocks in the same way that the ælvhes treat water–which makes sense, as “molten rock” basically replaces “liquid water” ecologically.
Additionally, there are fierce creatures that inhabit the barren, desolate mountains between the two parts of the continent–as there would have to be, for creatures that live on the edge between the lush Raine (there was no pun intended at the time, but there may be now) and the inhospitable Realm of Fire. Wyverns are one such creature, and have evolved the ability to both spit water and acid as a result.
One of the things I attempted to call attention to when Veresk and Aradiant visit the Realm of Fire is that the ælvhes look upon the land and see inhospitable, barren desolation, while the Daemons look upon the vista and see a world crawling with life and opportunities. Could such a stark contrast happen in our own universe? Could a creature on one side of a mountain range be so drastically different (almost to the point of being, perhaps, not Carbon-based) from those on the other side? Probably not–but that’s why this is a fantasy world. There is, of course, no mention of evolution in the novel. It’s simply the guiding principle when I came up with this stuff.
One of my biggest issues with fantasy in general is that gods are everywhere. There are no atheists in fantasy worlds, because atheism would be an abject denial of reality. The gods walk among the mortals sometimes as avatars and sometimes as deities, but there is never any doubt that the gods are real. Not so in Inrabis. In fact, there is an entire school of people who believe the gods are either not real or are merely very powerful elementals. Rather than retyping all of it, I’ll simply paste what I wrote for one of the appendices (because yes, there are appendices to this world that I’ve spent two decades refining):
The passages found here are from the seventh edition of Berdalinus’s work The World We Know. “The World We Know” is widely regarded among scholars, clergy officials, nobles, and magic-users to be his most prolific work, presenting all the information that was then available and allowing the reader to formulate his or her own opinions.
A World of Uncertainty
Not all the different “religions” of Inrabis worship the same gods. While the Crinesti and the humans of Raine worship a pantheon of gods that is identical in everything but name, the Gnomes and Ferosian Elves worship an entirely different pantheon, whose gods have an entirely different purpose. Meanwhile, the Dwarves and Daemons seem to share a religious archetype: benevolent ancestors that watch over either from the stars (as the Daemons believe) or who become the rocks themselves (as the Dwarves believe). Through all this, under the guide of Queen Shadow, An’Kai has become virtually stripped of religion altogether, its people having decided that if the gods wanted their worship, then the gods would come and tell them so.
This is the cause of most of the religious troubles of Inrabis, although none of the different cultures have waged a religious war in several thousand years: the gods appear to be absent altogether. There may be gods who benevolently watch over Inrabis. There may be a balance between good gods and evil gods. There may be one all-powerful god who watches over Inrabis, or there may be no gods at all; the fact is that no one knows, but most of the people say they know anyway.
The obvious problem with this is the existence of magic—notably clerical magic, divine magic—literally, the answers of gods to specific prayers. The fact that priests and priestesses use magic, however, is no indication that the god they worship exists and grants them that magic. Arcanists use magic, too, and they claim their magic originates from a very different source—from the world itself and an inherent ability to “channel” the dozens of different energies of which the world is made. Whether there is any difference at all between the magic used by Arcanists and the magic used by priests is, to say the least, unclear.
Arcanists claim that our world exists at a vertex, where dozens or perhaps hundreds of distinctly separate realms come together. They have constructed an enormously elaborate and extraordinarily complex system to explain the existence of their magic and to explain how it functions, but whether their depiction of our world is in any way accurate is entirely unknown. Arcanists talk of the Plane of Fire (which consists entirely of fire, lava, and other such things), the Plane of Water (which consists entirely of water, ice, and other such things), the Void (which is a void—shockingly enough—that consists entirely of negative energy… What this would look like, only the craziest of wizards have attempted to explain, and their ramblings were utter nonsense, as with the Fele Enora), the Fele Enora (which is Crinesti for “Place of Light,” which consists entirely of positive energy, and which we’re told exist because, basically, if there is a plane of negative energy, there must also be one of positive energy), an Ethereal Plane (on which our souls reside, to sum up the description in a few words), a Shadow Plane (a world where there is no light at all), a Light Plane (a world where there is no darkness at all), and a few dozen others. New planes are being added to “existence” on what might as well be called a weekly basis. They call these underlying energies—these planes that merge to form our world—the Underweb.
The Arcanists—those who are not afraid of being condemned as heretical blasphemers, at any rate—claim that the magic used by priests and priestesses is, in fact, no different in form from the magic used by Arcanists and that the only real difference is that priests use the energies that come from Fele Enora. This works nicely as a theory, of course, because priestly magic is especially effective against demons, which are said to be embodiments of negative energy. The few priests and priestesses who hear of this “blasphemy,” as they so aptly put it, are generally not amused, and many Arcanists have been burned at stakes for uttering such nonsense. The Arcanists say that our world—the one we experience on a day-to-day basis—is a nexus of these other worlds and has no real independent existence of its own; it is simply an amalgamation of these other separate worlds, and because of that, with training and expertise, one can manipulate one type of energy or another to effect changes in our day-to-day world—such as manipulating the energies of the Plane of Fire to create an exploding fireball on a village.
Among scholars such as myself, the Arcanist explanation is usually taken to be the most sound, not because it is the most accurate or the most satisfactory, but because it is the only theory postulated in written history that does not require the existence of gods in order to explain the existence and functions of magic. Why a system that functions in an automated way, without the presence of higher beings, and that is completely unsubstantiated by evidence, is preferred over one that functions only at the bequest of higher beings is unclear, except that higher beings might have temperaments which would, in theory, affect the presence and power of magical energies and no such variation has ever been noticed.
What the priests say about magic varies depending on which culture is asked, but I shall attempt to summarize the major cultures and their dominant ideas. Each of these religions, of course, has its own sub-denominations, each of which claims to be correct (just as each religion, as a whole, claims to be correct in regard to other religions; the religions seem only to agree that they alone are correct—and everyone else is wrong), and each of which has some differences. These denominational beliefs are, for the most part, irrelevant, because they don’t change the general ideas of the religion; only some of its details are changed.
The humans of Raine believe worship pretty much the same gods that the Crinesti Elves worship. Indeed, the only differences are in the names that are given to the gods, but there is otherwise a direct one-to-one correlation between the Rainian religion and the Crinesti religion. The Crinesti Elves have succumbed to the temptations of the elven Arcanists, however, and now hold that the Arcanist explanation of magic is correct except in regard to clerical magic, which the priests of Crinesti still insist comes only from the gods. The humans of Raine are more traditional (in both their feudal policies and their religion, in fact), and believe that all magic is a gift from the gods and that magic-users, even if they do not know it (such as Arcanists), are in fact praying to one god or another each time a spell is cast. This idea has some credence, because magic-users (a word used to denote both non-Arcanists and those who are not born with the ability to use magic and must learn it step-by-step) actually cast spells—these spells require specific hand movements, gestures, components, and words, very much like orthodox prayers themselves often require.
I must make a side note here to explain the terms “Arcanist” and “magic-user,” because the two can generate much confusion. An Arcanist is either an Elven Mage or Wizard that has formally joined the Elven armed force known as the Order of Arcane Defenders. Depending on the context, however, an Arcanist is also someone who naturally has the ability to use magic without incantations (and who is generally from Raine or Crinesti, but more on that in a moment) and who may be of any race, with or without ties to the Order of Arcane Defenders. “Magic-user” is a similarly contextually sensitive term, because laymen and the clergy typically use the term “magic-user” to denote anyone who does not use clerical magic. To a priest or a peasant, there is no real difference between an Arcanist and a magic-user, and they will often use the terms interchangeably, even though most priests are educated enough to know that there is, in fact, a difference. At the same time, Arcanists use the term “magic-user” (somewhat derisively) to label those who must use incantations in order to use magic because they were not born with the gift. Arcanists will include priests and priestesses in the category of “magic-users” (though not themselves; they are Arcanists!), but priests and priestesses will never include themselves in that group because of the negative connotations the term has among most people. In this sense, the Arcanists, Chanters (a word used only among scholars to label these people who “chant” their spells/incantations), and Priests/Priestesses are in the midst of a very real war against one another, though it is a war of ideas being fought with words, definitions, and concepts.
A key feature of the Crinesti and Rainian religions is that they believe that the world would be destroyed if not for what they reverently refer to as “The Balance.” This is a balance between Good and Evil, and according to their religion, neither side should ever permanently gain the upper hand. If Evil was too powerful, there would be wanton destruction, and if Good was too powerful, there would be zealous self-destruction. In order to maintain this Balance, Rainians and the Crinesti firmly believe that Neutrality is its own independent philosophy and that the purpose of those who claim Neutrality is to not be neutral at all, but to ensure that neither Good nor Evil become much more powerful than the other. Naturally, the Rainian and Crinesti pantheons are filled with Good Gods, Neutral Gods, and Evil Gods, all of whom wage war in the heavens and in our world through their overly dedicated followers, striving for dominance—despite the universal belief among Rainians and Crinesti Elves that such dominance would destroy the world (do their gods wish to destroy the world they created?).
It is because of this tradition that Arcanists and Chanters who hail from Raine and Crinesti wear colored robes to mark their allegiance. Other cultures of Inrabis do not adhere to this practice, and the Rainian/Crinesti magic-users do not seem at all bothered by how silly one looks travelling the land in a silver robe. Those magic-users who choose to uphold the tenants of Good wear white robes and are formally called “Wizards.” Those magic-users who choose to uphold the tenants of Evil wear black robes and are formally called “Sorcerers.” Those magic-users who choose neither side wear silver or grey robes and are formally called “Mages.” Other cultures use these terms mostly interchangeably, but the people of Raine and Crinesti use them as here described.
Crinesti Elves, then, hold that the Arcanists are mostly correct, but that clerical magic still comes from the gods (though the Arcanists of Crinesti, and some of the general population, dispute this romantic notion and prefer instead to say that clerical magic comes also from the different planes of reality). Devout Rainians, who are much more familiar with Chanters than Arcanists (as few humans are born with the gift to work magic without substantial training and the gift is far more common among the Crinesti [and presumably much more common among the Slatho-Malantra]), and therefore see the “arcane” casters chanting and making gestures more often than meditating, are much more susceptible to the belief that all magic comes from the gods. Only the cultural elite (which is almost exclusively made up of magic-users) are familiar with the Arcanist theory of planes of existence.
Of the regions of Erilon and southwest Inrabis, there is very little to be said; their religions are unorganized and pagan, focusing upon natural elements of the world combined with large doses of witchcraft and alchemy. “Witch” or “Warlock” is typically given to any Chanter, Priest, or Arcanist in the region. Virtually anyone caught using magic in public is doomed to face a mock witch trial, then to be tortured and executed in some horrible faction. It is to be hoped that these regions one day take a more… enlightened… approach to wizardry. [Editor’s Note (Seventh Edition): The Freelands (southwest Inrabis) and Erilon both did, in fact, become more tolerant of those who use magic, although this did not come to fruition until the bloody War of the Magi fought across that region.] Because of this stigma against things mystical, however, Erilon and the towns and cities of southwest Inrabis have highly “orthodox” religions that hardly resemble “religion” at all. There is very little praying and very little talk about gods; instead, the focus is upon living morally and righteously, upon the rewards of diligence and peace. The religion that is actually practiced in these areas is typically done in secret and in small covens that exercise their beliefs in forests, hills, and caves that surround the village—not because they are committing any witchcraft, but because the fear of the masses is so strong that any talk of gods, miracles, or magic is likely to be met with accusations of witchcraft.
The Kingdom of An’Kai, of course, has become a land of atheists, as Queen Shadow has banned all religious practices from her lands. While a Rainian might say, “Thank the gods!” when relieved, a native of An’Kai will say, “Thank the Queen!” or “Thank Queen Shadow!” In almost every sense, Queen Shadow has herself replaced the need for religion in the lives of her people, and most of them are as dedicated to her as any of the most devout Rainian or Crinesti priests or priestesses are to their own god or goddess. This is likely because Queen Shadow not only fulfills the basic demands that the pantheonic gods ordinarily meet (benevolence, wielding great power, oddly parental), but is also flesh and blood and can be confirmed to exist and have a role to play in the world to even the most skeptical of people.
After leaving Raine themselves, the “Half-Elves,” as they have been termed in impolite society (used here only to note their lineage and not as insult), settled into the Ferosian Forest, where their own pantheon—which itself was a random assortment of Crinesti and Rainian gods (but as the religion is different only in the names of its deities, that was a matter of no import anyway)—mixed up with what the Gnomes called their gods, which seemed to be made up mostly on the spot whenever asked. Indeed, the “god of love” was different to every Gnome that I have ever asked the question of, and the answer was usually followed by a suggestion that “such a philosophical matter had no apparent effect or relevance to the world anyway, so it didn’t make any sense at all to sit around wondering about such things, since, if there were answers, it seems like we would all know the answers, because the answers would be there for us to see.”
Neither the people of An’Kai or of the Ferosian Forest postulate a reason for the existence of magic or in the way that it functions. The Ferosian Elves have no more interest in such things than Gnomes; for them, the simple fact that magic exists is sufficient enough of an answer. Very, very few Chanters ever come out of An’Kai, and those that do are rigorously trained and educated by the State and are given significantly fewer liberties than even the average person of An’Kai. It is assumed that this is because magic is a powerful weapon, and Queen Shadow does not wish that weapon let loose upon her lands. It is rumored that the Chanters of An’Kai are exclusively occupied with the task of scanning the entirety of the Kingdom for magical happenings in case any Chanters attempt to enter the Kingdom or to slip by without serving Queen Shadow.
A special note must be made for the dwarves, who have within them absolutely no capacity for magic. Dwarven religion dictates that when people die, they return to the earth to watch over those who still live—it is a less direct and less literal form of ancestor-worship. Most dwarves simply stay within their caverns their entire lives and, as they have no capacity for magic, never even see magic. They do not, therefore, have any theories about the existence of magic or how it functions.
On the other hand, Daemons are devout worshippers of their ancestors and believe that using magic is the equivalent of being helped by their ancestors. They use magic in a very different way from the Chanters, as their magic is based upon harnessing the “energies” of certain items (most commonly bones). When a Daemonic Shaman uses such magic, he or she believes that the ancestral spirit of whatever the bones once belonged to is providing the magic.
Where magic comes from, how it functions, and whether or not any or which gods exist is not clear—and likely will never be clear. It is certain to an outside observer that all magic is related. Whether a gnome using “demon magic,” an Arcanist using “natural gifts”, a Priestess using “god-given magic,” or a Daemonic Shaman using an “ancestor’s spirit,” an outside observer will conclude that it is all related, yet all different; all interconnected, yet all separate.
Of course, it can all get very confusing with the Grand Count, with the Second Age, Fourth Age, Age One–but why shouldn’t it be confusing, since these are added features and not very pertinent to the story? In fact, it’s not necessary to know any of this to understand the story. Most of this came about when I sat down to make the Inrabis Campaign Setting for 3.5 / Pathfinder Dungeons & Dragons. This is for people who want to peer behind the scenes, who want to see what makes this fantasy world take shape and what provides it so much verisimilitude when other fantasy worlds are dealing with battles between deities.
The next section goes on to describe the origins of the world and early history further:
Editor’s Note (Seventh Edition): The first edition of this work, penned by Berdalinus himself, first appeared in 1229 T.A. or 7613 Grand Count. This seventh edition was first released in 2000 Modern Age (and was written 14 years before the tale of Veresk begins) or 14314 Grand Count.
With each Culture having its own religion, pantheon, and spiritual beliefs, it is no surprise that each culture has also developed its own mythologies to explain various phenomena. Of these, the most obvious would be the existence of the world itself, and, sure enough, each religion offers its own account of creation. And it is no surprise at all that none of them agree, and each culture’s creation belief places that culture at the heart of things. It is far beyond the scope of any one scholar to pen the complete creation mythologies of the many religions and religious denominations that circulate the world, but I will here present a general synopsis.
The source of the confusion regarding the creation of the world is simple: no one knows how old the world is. Written accounts and histories go back roughly 14,000 years, and it is around that time (around the origins of writing, that is) that most cultures regard as the time in which the world was created. These 14,000 years are divided into five Ages, each of which lasts 3,000 years. From earliest to most recent, these are the First Age, the Second Age, the Third Age, the Fourth Age, and the Modern Age (called such simply to avoid having another “F.A.”).
There are two methods of measuring the passage of years that are common across Inrabis; the first is by using the year and the current age and the second is using what is called the Grand Count. The Grand Count begins with the founding of Raine at year zero and occurred 14,314 years ago. This year, of course, is Year 14314 Grand Count. Measurements of years that are in Grand Count are always italicized, while measurements of years in Ages are not. The alternative method divides time into Ages which each last 3,000 years—except the first age itself, which lasted 3,314 years for reasons that are lost to history. The First Age (labeled as “A.O.,” short for Age One), then began on Year 0 and lasted until 3,314. The Second Age began on 3315 and lasted to 6314. The Third Age began on 6315 and lasted until 9314. The Fourth Age began on 9315 and lasted until 12314. The Modern Age started at 12315 and has lasted 2,000 years to today (and 14 years later, at 14328 and 2014 M.A., Veresk’s tale began). Age years are measured with 1 as the first year (so 9315 was 1 F.A.) and stop at 3,000 (so 12314 was 3000 FA), at the end of which a new age begins and the age count begins once more at year 1.
Each culture has a creation myth that begins around 14314, usually a few centuries before that year, but none of them dare to pinpoint an exact date. It is no coincidence, I would say, that each culture says that what was essentially the dawn of civilization immediately followed the creation of the world. Some theorize that the world is much, much older than we imagine and that it dates back hundreds of thousands—if not millions—of years and that various civilizations have risen and fallen in that time and we are but the most recent. Indeed, the ruins that dot Inrabis give credibility to this concept, and some unknown bones have been excavated in and around these ruins. Most of the ruins of Inrabis, however, have origins that are known (if not muddled by oral traditions).
The Rainians, of course, (and those humans within Erilon who practice the Rainian religion—almost all of them) hold much the same creation myth that is held by the Crinesti Elves. This is only fitting, since their religions are practically identical, after all. The Rainian story is that the three factions of gods (the Good, the Evil, and the Neutral) came together to create the world (some centuries before 14314), and each faction created a race of its choosing. The gods of good created the Slatho-Malantra, the High Elves. The gods of neutrality created the humans. The gods of evil created the Daemons. The world was, in essence, according to Rainian/Crinesti culture, an experiment undertaken by the gods to see which was the “best” of the three Rainian alignments. Other versions range from saying the world was an accident created in the epic struggle between the forces of Good and Evil, and still other versions say that the world was created to give the gods a way to wage their war by proxy, through other living “lesser” beings. The complete mythology goes on to explain the existence of gnomes and dwarves, but both races seem to fit into the mythology only as “after-thoughts,” as though the existence of these races were not known at the time the mythology was first conceived. The Crinesti prefer this creation story because it places their ancestors, the now extinct Slatho-Malantra, as the epitome of Good. The humans prefer this creation story because it places humans as the most powerful of all the races, with the ability to forge the course of the universe unlike any other race, simply by choosing good or evil. Indeed, this mythology places a great deal of power into the hands of humans.
Not surprisingly, neither the gnomes, the Ferosian Elves, or the humans of An’Kai have a creation mythology at all. The Ferosian Elves suggest that there is simply no way to know whether any of it is true or false, and at any rate, the history of the world’s creation is irrelevant if there are no gods to oversee the world, and, like the gnomes, they don’t know whether or not such gods exist. The gnomes take a similar approach, but focus more on the insignificance of the question, and, as usual, each gnome asked is likely to yield a totally different answer than another—probably because the answers are made up on the spot.
It was exceedingly difficult to learn the account that the dwarves hold to be true, because they are an exceptionally secretive bunch. After many trials, however, I learned that the dwarves ultimately believe in one god, which is a stark contrast with the rest of Inrabisian religions—some of which have hundreds of gods. The dwarves are worshippers of their ancestors, but this is because they believe that “The Mastersmith” is too great, too powerful, and too majestic to concern himself with the daily happenings of the world. It is not that the Mastersmith does not care, they say, but because he has forged the many laws that govern reality, and, having done so, has chosen to let those laws guide the world, rather than interfering with the world (and generally making things worse, as the Rainian/Crinesti gods tend to do). The Mastersmith created the laws of our world, then created our world and its peoples, then stepped back and let events unfold, gifting mortals with the greatest of gifts that could be conceived: free will.
It proved to be altogether impossible to get a straight answer out of any of the Daemonic shamans with whom I spoke, but that is not to say I learned nothing. However, what I did learn regarding the Daemon account of creation is, at best, vague. Their culture appears to believe that the world exists only by virtue of the existence of beings (ourselves) with the capacity to experience the world. Because there were beings with the ability to experience, they created a world to experience. In their philosophy, we are all gods, and they point to magic as the most obvious example to solidify their claims. “There is no such thing as magic,” a Daemon in the valleys of Erilon once told me. “There is only will, and through will, all things are.” To them, ancestor worship is tantamount to the worship of fallen gods. In short, though, their creation myth is essentially that we created the world by virtue of our existence and our ability to experience.
And that put it at 5400 words, so it’s probably a good place for me to stop. There’s so much more I’d like to say, and so much more that I will say. The entire point of the fantasy trilogy that I’m writing is to break the ice in this world, and then use the rest of my life to write about how Shadow became a Warlord and vampire, why An’Kai is perpetually night, and what caused the First War to actually happen–why did the Daemons hate the Slatho-Malantra so much that they annihilated them? I don’t have the answer to any of these questions. Why did dragons leave Inrabis after the Second War? Are the gods real? Who is right–the Arcanists or the priests? Or is neither correct?
* I have no freaking idea how big Australia is. It just occurred to me that it’s probably actually bigger than the United States, so this is probably more like the South America (east-to-west, at least) of Inrabis.
It just occurred to me that I can share older versions of The Anvil, since they have very little relation to the most recent draft, except that some of the characters exist in both drafts. Seriously–the changes are enormous.
It’s worth reminding that this is an abandoned draft; I scrapped it because it’s… not very good, in my opinion. It’s possible you will like it. I can’t say. I just know that it didn’t hold up to my standards, but it may still be an interesting story. When the time comes, remember also that this version is not canon.
Go there to download the DocX, PDF, or ePub, whichever is easiest for you. If you’re reading from a phone or tablet, I’d recommend the ePub and the app Moon Reader. If you’re reading from a computer, I’d recommend the PDF. If you intend to do more “proofreading” than just reading, the DocX is probably best.
I hope you enjoy it, and I hope it entertains you. Thankfully, this one isn’t obscenely long, and is about the length of any fantasy novel. Free fantasy book, though. Who can say no to that?
I also have very good reason to hate Game of Thrones and George R. R. Martin, so I apologize if you’re a fan of the show, because I’m about to offend you. But before I get into that, a bit of background.
The very first novel I ever owned was called something like The Crystal Shard, and I got it during the summer between the 2nd and 3rd grade. It was, of course, a Fantasy novel, but my love for Fantasy had already started by that point. When I was four or five, my father bought a game at Wal-Mart that he was [incorrectly] told supported 4-players, and that game was Ultima: Exodus on NES. That was when my love for Fantasy began. To call it a lifelong love would be absolutely correct.
I wrote my first fantasy stories, roleplaying adventures, and so on shortly after my dad introduced me to tabletop gaming. He didn’t so much “introduce” me to it as he did “made me aware of its existence,” and it simply was never going to fly for me to have actual Dungeons and Dragons materials in my grandmother’s house. This was before she heavily screened what I could read and listen to, but D&D would never have flown; this was right smack in the middle of the allegations that it was Satanic, and she believed whatever the pastor said. The pastor, of course, called it the devil’s work.
Around the 4th grade, she came upon one of my stories where, according to her, the main character died and brought himself back to life. While I never wrote anything like that, it didn’t matter. She launched into a tirade about how only Jesus could bring himself back to life (because, evidently, it’s normal when Jebus does it, but not normal when a different made-up and fictitious character does it), and that was the end of my exposure to most fantasy. Any future reading was done under the radar; I had to sneak books in, and keep them hidden, or let friends take them home and read them only at school.
That didn’t deter me, however, so strong was my love for these fantastic worlds of mages, dragons, orcs, and elves. I created my own settings. Folders upon folders full of archaic rules based on the set of 6-sided dice I’d snatched out of the RISK boardgame, where all damage and attack rolls used d6s. Entire notebooks filled with details of worlds, characters, mysterious trinkets, magical objects, wondrous secrets, gigantic landscapes… Like anyone under the heel of an extremely oppressive parent, I sank into these fantasy worlds that I created and lived them as completely as I could, because it was just a matter of time before my grandmother found them and destroyed them.
So that’s the context of my love for Fantasy. Fantasy is the reason I am still alive, no question. That I had my own imagination, built from these scraps of stories I’d never actually gotten the privilege of reading–who was Dalamar the Dark? I didn’t know, but I imagined Dalamar the Dark. Who was this Raistlin, this gold-skinned mage? I didn’t know, but I imagined him. Drizzt the Drow–who was he? Elminster? Waterdeep? Ravenloft? Over and over again, I had only slivers, little scraps of passages I’d glimpsed before the wicked claws of my grandmother snatched them away, and from those I built my fantasy.
This is, to be fair, what makes my fantasy unique and new. Let’s not mince words: there is a “standard fantasy,” which is an oxymoron so great that authors throughout the world should be ashamed. There are many traps that Fantasy as a genre fell into, and that there is a standard fantasy is one of those traps. It is not, however, what killed the genre in the early millennium.
No, what killed the genre were the Moral Guardians who forced Fantasy to remain squeaky clean. No references to sex were allowed. No swearing. No outrageous acts of violence. Fantasy, more than any other genre, had to be absolutely clean. If it contained anything that even hinted at non-Christian imagery, it was going to be pulled from the shelves by the Moral Guardians. Weis and Hickman, two of the best fantasy writers of the 80s and 90s, remarked in one of their annotated trilogies that they had to come up with a nine-pointed star, because the publisher would never have allowed a 5-pointed or 7-pointed star at the time. There was constant censorship, and an overarching need to present solid moral values. Nothing less would be tolerated by the Moral Guardians.
In case it took you as long to read that as it did for me to write it:
Fantasy never evolved past that, even after the Moral Guardians turned their eyes onto video games and forgot about literature. R. A. Salvatore, Terry Pratchett, Douglas Niles, Margaret Weis, and Tracy Hickman–these prolific, mighty authors, fallen into obscurity. What happened? There are just as many nerds today as there have ever been. There are as many Magic: The Gathering and Dungeons & Dragons players as ever–where is the literature?
There is no literature.
Fantasy committed suicide because it never removed its pristine white coat, and people lost interest in these simple worlds of moral black and whites, these clear archetypes of heroes and villains, these bland, dry, and immaculate characters who were all celibate, apparently. It was so bad that even characters like Jarlaxle and Artemis Entreri refrained from sex–two rapscallion thieves and assassins who just lived the good life. Never had sex with anyone in any of their books. C’mon. I’m not asking for a sex scene by any means, and don’t want one, but the books make it a point to say that they refrain from sex. It’s ridiculous, and it was true across all fantasy, with very few exceptions. If a character did have sex, then they did so indiscriminately and it was a character flaw, such as Tanis Half-Elven and Caramon Majere.
I finished my first fantasy novel when I was in the tenth grade. If I’d had more guidance, either from a parent or by the teacher who had more or less taken me under her wing, then it would have been published. But I had no guidance. There I was, 16 years old, shoving the entirety of my unedited 276 page manuscript into a manilla envelope without even a cover letter, and sending it off to Wizards of the Coast. If they’d known a 16 year old had written it, things probably would have different, since that’s such a marketable thing, but c’est la vie.
The road not traveled.
Then life hit. My dad was caught stealing–embezzling, technically–and we lost our place to stay. I had to drop out of high school. My car, a 95 Camaro z28, broke down constantly. I delivered pizzas for a living, paid rent with my sister and her boyfriend, and smoked a lot of weed. Started doing rolls, and just kinda got mildly off track, but with distant thoughts of eventually going to college. Then my girlfriend moved in with me, and I decided I owed it to her to get off my ass. I scheduled to take my GED, and a week before the test got into a fight in the parking lot with the person I’d used to take all those rolls with because he was jealous of her and threatening her. I got fired, things got derailed, and I had very little time to write during all of this. What writing I did was non-fiction–fleshing out my thoughts on religion and the like. And playing a lot of chess.
But I took my GED, I got a new job, and my girlfriend and I got married. I supported us while I worked a full-time job and was a full-time student, and just 6 to 8 weeks before my graduation, I was pulled over by a Tunica County sheriff for not wearing my seatbelt. That tardy caused me to be fired a month or so later, when a “negative point” (a reward of -1 to your point total for employees who go 90 days without a tardy or absence) came off my total. 365 days after something is added to the record, it comes off the record. So I had a -1 come off my record. You know what 9 – -1 is? It’s 9 + 1. It’s 10. And 10 was the point of termination.
I’m fine with having poor attendance. I was supporting myself and my wife while working a full-time job and being a full-time student. That my attendance is as good as it was is something I’m proud of. That shit was exhausting. It was 7 days a week for two solid years. I got one week of vacation during it, and I was in school that week so it wasn’t even really a vacation.
I’m not complaining. Really, I’m not. It’s all good. I’m proud of what I did.
But it did keep me from writing. I was just too busy. I spent my Tuesdays off playing music with an old band, and that took the place of writing for a while. I didn’t have time for both writing and music, and music looked a lot more likely to lift me out of that hellhole. It was also a way of combining social interactivity with leisure. We partied, drank, made music. It was great. And my wife usually played World of Warcraft while we did it. Life was good. I didn’t mind.
I did get back on track, finally coming to work for the colleague with whom I am now associated (but not employed by), and I almost immediately began writing again. He was stunned when he RDP’d into the server late one evening and saw that I’d left my book open. He knew I wrote, but he never expected to find 100 single-spaced pages of text staring back at him. I’ll never forget his statement. “Oh. You’re like, actually serious about writing. That’s awesome.”
I finished that manuscript some time ago. And I thought it was something to be proud of. Reception varied from lukewarm to absolute disinterest. After the critical period of putting it aside and losing my emotional connections to it, I looked again, and it was shit. It was terrible. It was 300 pages of talking about stuff that had happened, not stuff that was happening. The Gaithin War that takes up about 1/3 of the final version–it “had happened years ago” in the previous draft. Queen Selena and Kyle Xenethil didn’t even exist. Calliope and Falrin didn’t exist. The story was weak–exceptionally weak, and I immediately saw why.
I’d crafted too much backstory over the decades, and utterly failed to craft the actual story. Last January I put the bullshit aside. I said “If I’m ever going to be a professional writer, then this ‘Writing when I feel inspired’ crap has to stop.” I swore to write a minimum of 35 pages a week–3 each day, 10 each weekend day. That soon changed to 5 each day, but there were some days when I only got out 3. I still always made up for it on the weekend, even if it meant I had to write 10 pages in one day, because I never went under 35 a week. I didn’t skip a single day. There were times when I was so thankful for dialogue because it made the 3 pages so much easier to hit, and there were times when I literally had to stop myself from writing too many pages in one day.
But I did it.
450,000 words in its first draft form.
The length of the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy.
I knew immediately that it was going to be a tough sell, but I also don’t care. People have suggested that I divide it, but I refuse to. I don’t refuse to because I’m being stubborn; I refuse because it would hurt the story cohesion. This is an epic tale of more than 25 characters, all woven together, with events in one part of the world impacting events in another part, threading in and out and coming together only for the third book of the trilogy. I will not apologize that it is an epic tale. Whether it’s a good epic tale or not, it is epic.
After flying through the agents I could find, it became apparent that it’s simply not going to work as a debut novel. Agents are terrible, and I have no respect for them. Stephen King wrote in his book On Writing that the first story he ever submitted to a magazine was returned back with only a sticky-note on it that said “Use paperclips. Don’t staple.” King never stapled another submission.
You don’t get that kind of feedback today. 90% of the agents simply won’t reply if they’re not interested. It’s an absolutely disgusting mentality, that people don’t deserve even a rejection letter. Busy, busy, busy! Gotta get that bottom dollar! And there’s no dollars to be made in sending someone a rejection letter. This also means that I have no idea–literally no idea–why these agents have passed up on my novel. The three that have replied (out of well over 30) have all said something like “It’s not for me, but I do wish you luck.”
Which is the literary equivalent of “It’s not you, it’s me.”
I imagine that if Stephen King knew about this, given his position on the value of agents and editors, then he would be repulsed, and he has the sway in the industry to do something about it. I’ve sworn that when I become successful, I will change this system that is damn near impossible to penetrate because the young aspiring writer has literally no idea what they’re doing wrong. Did I do the digital equivalent of stapling? Do they dislike the genre? The length? The style? The word choices? The writing? Who the hell knows?
But that’s another matter. My aim was only to explain why I’m not a currently published fantasy writer. I finished the first draft of that version during March of last year, put it aside for about two months, and then began the laborious process of editing 450,000 words–or more than 1300 pages. This was time consuming, tedious, slow, and exhausting. It was not until September of this last year–a mere 7 months ago–that I even began submitting it to agents. With the way the agent system is and how it is demonstrably stacked against new authors (even those who are already professional writers and who are already published in three different places), and with the fact that this novel is a tough sell, regardless of its merits, it’s no surprise that I didn’t find an agent. And I’m not going to until Aria DiMezzo has published a novel in some other way, and that’s where Dancing in Hellfire, now being edited, comes in.
So that’s my love for Fantasy. It’s a lifelong love of extreme value and depth.
And I’m watching it be cheapened, tarnished, and destroyed by an uncreative hack who peddles smut. Remember I’ve been reading fantasy more or less my entire life, though most of the earlier years were unstable and sporadic. Yet I’d never heard George R. R. Martin’s name before Game of Thrones.
Game of Thrones is cheap and tawdry. It idolizes rape, violence, and everything that is disgusting about humanity. It takes the absolute lowest of what humanity has to offer and engrandizes it, dresses it in a suit made of political intrigue, and tries to prevent it as something more than a cheap whore in a moderately expensive dress. But it’s not. It’s just a cheap whore in a moderately expensive dress.
It is the Fantasy equivalent of Hostel or Cannibal Holocaust. It is lewd for the sake of ratings and solely for the sake of ratings, and the same is true of the novels. If you want political intrigue, rape, and violence while still maintaining class and taste, then you need look no further than Ken Follett and his masterful works Pillars of the Earth and World Without End. They were both adapted into mini-series (and the mini-series are what introduced me to Follett), and they are phenomenal. If you can find them on Netflix, Hulu, or <insert website of dubious legality>, they are well worth the 8-9 hours they take to watch.
They masterfully craft villains, and they establish gigantic moral grey areas, yet it is always clear who is the good guy and who is the bad guy. They build the villains up into people that you, the reader or viewer, will absolutely hate. By the end of the books and series, you’ll be damned near frothing at the mouth, angry, irate, desperate to watch these scumbags get what is coming to them. And then they do get what’s coming to them, and the pay-off is just…
There’s nothing else like it. It’s some of the best storytelling I’ve ever experienced. And even when the witch lifts up her skirt and pees on a chicken in front of a priest (it makes sense in context), it never loses class; it never becomes tasteless. There is no rape scene simply because a female character needed to be degraded.
That is Martin’s biggest problem. He relies so much on rape that I wonder if he’s aware that not all strong women endured rapes in their past. He seems to think that any strong woman must have been raped at some point. Female characters start out strong, in command, and then Martin has them raped. Then they despair, and then they build themselves back up to being strong and in command. For that alone, fuck you, George Martin. Rape is not character building.
If it only happened once, it might have been understandable. We could have shrugged and said, “Well, yeah, rape was more common during the Middle Ages.” But it happens constantly. Martin appears to know no other way. And if it’s a male who has to be degraded, what happens? If his dick doesn’t get cut off, then the guy has to watch his sister/wife/girlfriend be raped; it again falls right back to this deplorable crutch of the untalented hack who dresses smut up in fine clothes.
It also doesn’t help that he has no idea how to build an actual hero in this world of Grey and Gray Morality that he has created–this generic Low Fantasy world that could just as easily have been called “Ferelden But Without Mages.”
When the colleague I’ve mentioned heard me ranting about what Martin has done to fantasy, he replied, “Woah. I never even thought of that. I guess it is fantasy, isn’t it? For some reason, I just never considered it fantasy…”
That is what Martin has done to the genre. It’s not even recognizable as fantasy. While he has undoubtedly introduced tons of people to the genre (Has he? I would argue that the overwhelming majority, if not all, of these people had been introduced to the genre by the Lord of the Rings movies by Peter Jackson), he has butchered and tainted the genre to such an extent that it’s hardly recognizable, even to aficionados.
One aspiring writer (allegedly–I’m not sure he ever wrote more than a few pages) told me that he’d handled it by cranking up the Raunch Dial on his “book” and added more sex and violence. Oh, have no doubt–I have no intention of continuing in the footsteps of the squeaky clean writers from whose ashes I am rising. But I will add nothing for the sake of pandering to people who get off on movies like Hostel. I don’t want their attention. There is rape in my novel. To be precise, there is an allusion to rape, and the strongest allusion is that the woman’s name is Persephone. It is neither described, nor is there a “tasteful” cut to black. The woman is attacked, and we revisit her later with her clothes in tatters; no details about what she endured are ever given. Because there is no need.
None of the female protagonists in my story were made strong by enduring traumatic pasts, either. They were all strong already–the same way that men are allowed to be strong without being required to first endure a ton of bullshit that makes them strong. Queen fucking Shadow is basically a goddess by the time the novel takes place, and while she does have a traumatic past, her suffering was a direct result of things she did in pursuit of power. They were not things that happened to her; they were results of things that she did. Queen Selena might be the strongest female character in that world, and other than Kyle usurping her throne after her father’s death, she endured no bullshit. Drusilia did, but like Shadow also caused her own bullshit. Aradiant–no bullshit past. Calliope, no bullshit past. Vera, the valkyrie who basically gets adopted by one of the groups of protagonists, endured a tragic past (but one that’s only tragic in hindsight; she was happy all the years), but she’s not a symbol of women in fantasy–she is there for the reader, because an ignorant and naive character was necessary in order to drop some exposition.
George Martin knows nothing about any of this. He thinks “I need a strong woman character. So let’s have her start out as idealistic. Then she can get raped. Then she can rebuild herself, and then she’ll be strong!!!!11!!11!1one1!”
Game of Thrones is the glorification of everything ugly in humanity. It is an absolute debasement of the goodness of human beings and violates the most basic principle of literature that the human spirit must always endeavor. In Game of Thrones, the human spirit does not endeavor because it has never existed. It is an anomaly that might appear, quite by accident, here and there, before Martin gets in over his head and screws it all up because, frankly, he doesn’t know how to craft a story.
Martin destroyed the genre that I’ve loved my entire life. He cheapened it and attempted to add in the sex and violence that were needed to pull it from the grave, and he did so in the most tasteless, and classless way possible. He is not interested in good storytelling. If you want good storytelling, read or watch Pillars of the Earth. Seriously–it will show you exactly what good storytelling looks like. If you want smut, read or watch Game of Thrones.
And yes. I’d put the quality of my storytelling against Martin’s any day of the week. As long as the judges aren’t people who beat off to Cannibal Holocaust.
Everything has been said before
Nothing left to say anymore
When it’s all the same, you can
Ask for it by name.
Sex, sex, sex,
And don’t forget the violence.
Blah, blah, blah, got your
Lovey dovey sad and lonely
Stick your stupid slogan in,
Everybody sing along.”
The Golden Age of Grotesque, indeed. Nothing encapsulates that as much as Game of Thrones.
I’ve only known about Doctor Who for about three years. I was flipping through the channels one day, and Doctor Who was on. I asked aloud, “What the fuck is this shit…?” but ended up leaving it, because I was doing something on my laptop anyway (this is obviously back when I had a laptop) (don’t buy a laptop unless you’re 100% certain you’ll be using it while traveling), so I didn’t really care what was on television. But it kept drawing my attention, as it seemed really interesting. Within 20 minutes, I sat down on the couch and just watched the show, leaving my laptop abandoned on the coffee table.
The episode was The Time of Angels, and it was freaking awesome. From that moment on, I was hooked. Thanks to BBC America’s insistence on playing the show seventy-four times a day, it didn’t take long before I had seen every episode of the reboot, and I quickly made these conclusions: Matt Smith was the best Doctor ever, and at least one of the writers was a bumbling, idiotic boob who didn’t need to be anywhere near a show that called itself Science Fiction. It turned out that this was Steven Moffat, the terrible writer, and that I’d simply stumbled upon one of this good episodes when I first found the show.
Nightmare In Silver was the moment I realized that the show, no matter how in love I was with Clara, simply was not going to deliver the quality in writing that I demanded. This intensified with the abomination that was Hide, which was so bad that I was inspired to write a Ten Things Wrong With Last Night’s Episode of Doctor Who article. Before I explain my main criticism, I should point out that the show involves time travel. K, so at one point, they hear a knocking on the house. They later come to the conclusion that the knocking they heard in the past was caused by someone banging on something that didn’t exist until the future. The entire episode hinged on the idea that there was a parallel universe there, and that time flowed there much slower than in our own universe, and billions of years in our universe equated to only a second or two there. This was critical to the plot, until it was forgotten entirely, as the Doctor entered that universe, spent several minutes there, and returned to our universe with only a few minutes having passed, even though entire solar systems should have been birthed and died in his absence. It was the kind of sloppy, inconsistent writing that I’ve come to expect from Moffat, and that has no place in a Sci-Fi show.
If someone explained to Moffat that he has to stick to the rules he creates within a given work of fiction, then he’d probably make a good Fantasy writer, but as it is… he’s just terrible all around. During the episode Nightmare in Silver, the plot was that the moon’s mass was increasing, which was fucking up the Earth’s tides. It later was learned that the mass of the moon, isolated in space, was increasing because it was an egg and the creature within the egg was growing. They then spent the next half hour debating whether to blow up the egg and destroy the moon (which would have destroyed the moon) or to let the egg hatch and creature be born (which would have destroyed the moon).
Where do I even begin? Do I begin with the obvious fact that eggs don’t work that way, and that an egg growing in space wouldn’t experience any change in mass as the creature within developed? All that mass is already there–it is literally impossible for the egg to get heavier unless mass is added to it somehow. Moreover, the entire episode is obviously pointless, isn’t it? If they blow up the moon, then there will just be some creature’s corpse and shattered egg fragments orbiting the Earth. If they don’t blow it up, then there will just be some shattered egg fragments orbiting the Earth. It literally doesn’t matter what they do–the Earth is doomed.
Correction: Nightmare in Silver, which also took place on the moon, was about the moon being an amusement park. It also had its own problems, like the Doctor being able to hold his own in a game of chess against the Cybermen (aka, the Borg). I don’t recall the episode’s title that had the moon be an egg.
Their efforts were futile anyway. As the egg hatches, the creature somehow lays an egg in its place that is an identical copy of itself–magically doubling its mass, clearly, or it almost literally would have pooped itself inside out. Obviously, that’s a problem, because, you know… If you’re 50 pounds, then you can’t lay a 50 pound egg without, as I said, almost quite literally pooping yourself inside out. If the egg has to be 50 pounds, then you better be at least 51 pounds to lay it, and then you’re just 99.9% egg at that point. So it’s stupid, I’m sure you can agree, but that’s not even the biggest problem.
The biggest problem is that everyone on Earth is dead anyway, because gravity doesn’t work that way. If we accept that the moon somehow gained mass, then it would have crashed to the Earth unless its acceleration increased:
Plug in the mass of the moon for m and remember that m is increasing (so it will involve calculus and derivatives–it would actually be relatively easy [no pun intended] to calculate, but I honestly can’t be bothered). For each gram added to m, velocity v must increase by a proportional amount, or the moon will fall to the Earth–and the Earth will fall to the moon. An increase in velocity is never mentioned, so the moon’s gravitational attraction to the Earth would have increased exponentially, and it would have been like Majora’s Mask. Moon falls, everyone dies.
I can forgive Moffat for not keeping up with the last 20 years of scientific knowledge, which would have spared us the embarrassing scene of Clara and the Doctor standing near the star that is the heart of the TARDIS. But can a sci-fi writer really not know about solar winds? I’m sure even laypeople have heard of solar winds.
Of course, the moon episode also gets the age of the moon wrong. On more than one occasion through the episode, the Doctor describes the moon as “a hundred million years old.”
This writer for a science fiction show… couldn’t even be bothered… while writing an episode about the moon… to research how old the moon is.
The moon is nearly as old as the Earth itself, according to the latest scientific theory, and is at least 4 billion years old. This means that Moffat was off by a factor of forty.
All of this isn’t even my problem with Moffat, though. I take umbrage to his actual writing skills, not just his inability to write science fiction.
I saw an episode called Day of the Moon (“Day of” and “the moon” get used quite a lot, so it was only a matter of time before there was an episode called “Day of the Moon”). It started out awesome. It showed the main characters running for their lives, their skin colored in tally marks made from Sharpie markers, being gunned down by an agent of the Secret Service. It was epic. At this point, I knew only that it was the second part of a two-part episode, but I hadn’t seen the first part. I thought “Holy shit! The previous episode must be incredible!”
It was a few months before I watched the first part of that episode.
The first episode was boring beyond belief.
During the second episode, instead of seeing all those adventures and running from the authorities while they learn about the Silence, we are treated with a horrendously dull trip to an orphanage to find out where a child that is missing originated. It breaks the most fundamental rule of writing: Is this the most interesting period I could be writing about? If not, why aren’t I writing about that? Let’s recap. Instead of seeing these awesome, thrilling adventures where the main characters cross America searching for clues regarding the Silence while being pursued by the Secret Service, instead of finding out how the Secret Service in the 60s got bricks made from a dwarf star (lolwut–and it’s not crashing through the Earth? Gravity, Moffat. Google it. Please. You’re embarrassing yourself), and instead of finding out how the Doctor was captured and imprisoned, we’re treated with a trip to an orphanage.
Later, Amy gets kidnapped because of course she did, and says into what is basically a one-way walkie-talkie, “My life was so boring until you dropped out of the sky…” which her boyfriend happened to hear. This is a problem, because Rory (her boyfriend) suspects that she is in love with the Doctor, and it’s one of the plot points of the show. Of course, it’s later learned that she really was talking about Rory all along, and she says, “It’s just a figure of speech, you moron!”
No, Amy. No, it’s not just a figure of speech when this guy who I think you’re in love with did literally drop out of the sky into your life and change your life drastically. Because of the abuses I witnessed as a child, I abhor violence against women, but if ever a woman deserved to be slapped, it was Amy right then and there, and Rory should have slapped her. “You fucking bitch! This dude literally dropped out of the sky and into your life, and you ran away with him, the night before our wedding, and disappeared with him for god knows how long, and then kissed him. And you know that I suspect you have feelings for him. So no. ‘You dropped out of the sky’ is not likely to be something about me. It’s probably about the guy who, you know, did drop out of the sky and change your life.”
But if Amy hadn’t said it like that, then we, the audience, wouldn’t have gotten the the emotional rollercoaster ride of thinking she meant the Doctor (because obviously, anyone with a brain would have thought she did, since, as pointed out, the Doctor literally did exactly what she said, and Rory had been in her life since they were kids, so… Rory never came to Amy’s life out of nowhere and changed it), only to have the heartwarming moment later when it’s revealed that–Ta-da! She meant Rory all along!
Moffat wrote that line of dialogue fixated on the audience, and that’s a terrible way to write. The whole thing came off as contrived, insulting, and as just overall bad writing. That would be Rule Two of writing: Characters should say things for the benefit of other characters, not to toy with the audience. If you can’t maneuver circumstances so that characters can speak to each other for each other’s benefit and toy with the audience simultaneously, then revisit your career. Contrived uses of pronouns is not acceptable, and Moffat loves that.
If Moffat could fix these problems, he could be a good writer. The man has good ideas, but he’s terrible at conveying them.
Addendum: Matt Smith hasn’t been my favorite Doctor for a long time. David Tennant has that title, followed by Christopher… Ecclestone? He had a weird, complex last name. But he only got one season, and I hate that. He was really cool. I actually would say I like Christopher, David, and Matt equally, but Peter Cipaldi can go away. He’s old and not very entertaining. Clara is great, but I haven’t watched the past two years or so, so she might not be around any longer. Clara was more than great, though. <3
This is the first part of a 5 part novella I’ve written to be part of a Fantasy compilation that takes place in the same setting as The Anvil, The Hammer, and The Sword; it is meant to give more life to the world and flesh things out a bit more and will contain about ten short stories and this novella. I’m presenting “Tiamat’s Game” in five parts–primarily because it isn’t finished, lol–here because I want to. 😀
These writings were discovered in the abandoned and ruined temple of Kalik af Nora. Years after the fall of the Empire and the death of Queen Shadow, one of the rulers of divided An’Kai sent an expeditionary team into the temple to see if they could find anything of value or anything that would help win the war against the other territories in the torn Kingdom. Among other things, the following testament was discovered.
* * * * *
I’ve decided to keep a journal. There seem to be some strange things going on, and I want a record of it. But I should come back to that. See, we’ve been here for two weeks now, and if I’d known the strange things that were going to happen—or if I’d known how long we were going to be here —I would have started this diary as soon as we arrived. But I knew neither of these things. I still know very little. Maybe someone will one day discover this journal and will understand better than I what is happening.
There are five of us on this island. None of us have any idea how we came to be here, and we had no knowledge of each other prior to our arrival. We’ve guessed that we were on a ship that was caught in a storm. The ship must have been destroyed, and we must have been the only passengers to wash up on the shore of this wretched isle. We must have nearly died ourselves, and we must have suffered serious injuries to our heads—as none of us remember being on a ship or why we would have been—though no marks remain to indicate this; it is speculation only. We must have, because we have no other idea how… this came to be.
I wonder if the elf is keeping a record of events—I hope so. The elf could describe the island much better than I can. But let me circle back to that, because I should start with the five of us. I am called Gandis, and I am a human who lives on the continent southwest of Inrabis [Editor’s Note: Isle of Myrar has not been considered a “continent” since the Second Age, indicating that this diary is from some time between 14,000 years ago and 8,000 years ago]. I’ve lived there my entire life, outside a village called Gahenna [Editor’s Note: The town of Gahenna was destroyed by the Storm in 14316 Grand Count but was located southwest of Lhosa on the eastern edge of the Verdan Woods.].
Like I said—I can’t imagine what in the Nine Hells I was doing on a ship.
Anyway, there is an elf. Her name is Arieiiiiieninililenienillen or some such nonsense. We call her “Arie” because we have no idea what her name really is. It’s just a stream of vowels, the letter “l,” and the letter “n.” None of us understand it when she says it. She’s sweet and kind, but she’s obviously very young—for an elf, I mean. Or so they say—by the gods, until a few weeks ago, I didn’t even believe that elves were real!
I didn’t believe that dwarves were real, either, for that matter. And there’s one of those, too. A grumpy little bastard whose name is as jumbled and confusing as the elf’s. I call the dwarf “Brick” because, just like with the elf, I have no idea what is really coming out of his mouth when he says his name. Instead of vowels, the letter “l,” and the letter “n,” though, the dwarf’s is a mess of the letter “k.” Might as well call him Brickikikikik. That’s what it sounds like. The best part is hearing the dwarf try to say Arie’s full name. It’s hilarious—and funny moments are priceless in this abominable place, because they are so rare.
And, the gods help us, there is a gnome. There is a tribe of gnomes (Do gnomes live in tribes?) [Editor’s Note: No, they don’t.] in the forest near Gahenna, so I’ve seen gnomes before. The ones near Gahenna are really shy, though, and I’ve never talked with one. This little bastard on the island with us, though—he’s anti-shy as they come. His name is Savin, so it’s pretty straightforward and none of us have a problem with it. The problem with him is that the tries to spit out as many words as possible as fast as possible, whether they make sense or not.
Luckily for me, there’s a human woman here, too. Well, it’s not really “lucky” for me, because she’s younger than I am and not very friendly in the first place. I guess I can’t blame her—none of us are friendly. Her name is Lucrecia, and she says she’s from a place called An’Kai, but I’ve never heard of it. She’s a warrior, too, and a damned good one.
We all have one skill or another. I’m a miner and the only real woodsman here, so I’m basically responsible for hunting, foraging, and building shelter. I wish I could be more useful, but I don’t even have a weapon. I’ve got my pick and my axe (none of us can account for how in the world we managed to arrive here with some possessions), but the pick certainly isn’t any use in fighting. The axe is meant for chopping trees—it can be used in a pinch, but I’m better off running.
The gnome calls himself Savin the Sorcerer, but he seems a trickster to me. He’s lit a few fires for us and done some other useful things, but all of them can be explained by prestidigitation, like the people do in the carnivals that come to Gahenna each year. My grandparents told us the story of how the gods banned magic and made it impossible to do [Editor’s Note: After considerable research, it is a mystery as to what Gandis is referencing.], but Savin says he can still use magic.
The dwarf, like Lucrecia, is a natural warrior, and he has a much better axe than I do. His is a battle-axe. Mine is a wood-cutting axe. Brick, though, has offered a few times to let me use his axe to go about my work, but he only said that because he wants me to sharpen his axe for him. Even if I wouldn’t have to sharpen his axe after using it, though, the thing is still too large to be useful to me.
Arie calls herself a “bard” and I reckon she’s a pretty good storyteller. But she does it constantly—getting her to shut up is a magic spell in and of itself. I’ve got to admit, though, that her stories and poems are really inspiring. When she starts reciting, I feel a surge of energy, like I can do anything. She’s not bad with a bow or sword herself, but I had to make her a bow (and some arrows) since she didn’t already have one.
Well, now that I’ve got that out of the way, I should tell you about the island we’re on. It’s small. It’s damned small, and that’s its defining characteristic. If it weren’t for the trees, you could stand on the beach on one side of the island and easily see the beach on the other side. It’s about a mile across one direction and about half that in the other direction. In the center is a wooded area and a cave—that cave!
That damned cave is the source of all our problems. We can’t explore it because it’s just too damned dangerous. I can stand at the entrance, just outside of it, and look in—dozens of red, glowing eyes stare back at me, and an orchestra of growls resonates from within. There are all manner of beasts in there, and while they should be attacking and killing one another, they’re not. For some reason, they are living together peacefully, crammed into that cave, and they wait. They just sit there and wait—for the sun to set.
We constantly must hide, and that’s where I come in. I have to dig us new hiding places every day, usually in a new location after destroying the previous one. It’s a pain in the ass and it takes all day, but by the time the sun is getting ready to set, I’ve got the night’s shelter dug. Don’t get me wrong—the others help. But they have to use wooden and stone tools that we made, and those break easily.
There seems to be no end to the island’s game—just as there is no end to the island’s beasts. Arie has killed a rabbit or deer every single day since I made her a bow, and we have yet to exhaust the supply of edible varmints. Arie fishes, too, so food is the only problem we don’t have. There’s also no end to the island’s surprises, but I’ll have to get into that tomorrow. I’ve got to go to sleep now. Tomorrow will be a long day—tomorrow is always a long day.
It’s not really Day 2. I don’t know what day it is. Arie says we’ve been here two weeks and three days, but Brick says we’ve been here more than a month. Savin says it couldn’t be more than three weeks. Lucrecia says they’re all wrong: we’ve been here forever. I said I’d get into some of the island’s other surprises, so I guess I’m going to do that now…
Lucrecia says we’ve died. She doesn’t mean that we’ve died and this is the afterlife. She says that we have all died at one point or another, and that we reappear and wake the next day on the shore of the island, having all of our memories erased. She says she is the only one who remembers this, possibly because she’s the only one who hasn’t died. She says that we’ve been on the island for at least a year and that we all—except her—have died several times, each time waking on the shore with no recollection of what has happened.
But I only remember the past two weeks. I tend to agree with Arie that we’ve been here two weeks and three days (though I would have said two weeks and one day). But if Lucrecia is right, that means Arie and I have both went through this “death and resurrection” thing more recently than Brick or Savin (since Lucrecia hasn’t gone through it at all), and neither the dwarf nor the gnome have any recollection of me or Arie dying. Lucrecia says that she remembers and that the other two must not remember because they, too, have died on the island.
Really, I think Lucrecia is mad. Being stranded on a tiny island will do that to a person. She does have some kind of explanation why she alone remembers our deaths, but what she said really doesn’t seem likely. How could we die and not remember it? How could one of our fellows die and we not remember it? That’s why I’m keeping this journal. No matter what happens, these words will remain, and we can figure out what is going on.
I woke up on the shore of an island exactly two weeks ago accompanied by people I’ve never seen before and with no idea how or why I came to be on the isle. It was lucky I was there, though, because I’m a miner and I have a pickaxe, so I’m the only person really capable of digging out a shelter for us. And a shelter is needed. By the gods, is a shelter needed when night falls! Horrible, enormous, and ravenous beasts roam the island at night, and they are, the elf says, only interested in us. They pay no attention to the deer or rabbits—or to each other.
There are five of us—an elf, a dwarf, a gnome, another human, and myself. But I’m not going to bother going into detail about us all, because… I just found a book buried beneath a tree. It was apparently intended to be a spellbook by the look of it. It probably belonged to the gnome. But finding it curious (to say the least!) to dig up a book beneath a tree on a desert island, I opened it up to see what it was.
This book has my writing in it. It has two entries, one marked Day 1 and one marked Day 2. The date on these passages says that I wrote them fifteen days ago. But I’ve only been here fourteen days! I know this for a fact! I’ve been keeping track of each day as it passes by making a notch in a specific tree near the shore and I carved into it the fourteenth notch this morning.
Lucrecia says I died. She says I died during the night on Day 2, that I went out to relieve myself and was devoured by the monsters. She says that this day, today, is actually Day 16—so I’ve put “Day 16” here. She says we die with alarming regularity and we never remember it. Nor do we ever remember our previous “life” on this island when we resurrect the next morning. We also, apparently, don’t remember when someone else dies. If Savin dies, I apparently would not remember his death. He would die and resurrect on the shore, and I would go about the day as though nothing had happened. Lucrecia says she remembers all of this because she has yet to die.
I see that on previous pages I thought she was mad. I’m having a hard time telling myself that now. I can’t dispute my own handwriting. I was clearly here fifteen days ago, though I have no recollection of it at all. What is going on here?
Arie speculates that we are in the Nine Hells. She might be right. Arie’s people tell a story about an elf (named Hababababakis or something—I have no idea what she said) who angered the gods by stealing fire from them and bringing it to the world as a gift to mortals. The gods were furious, because it diminished the mortals’ need of the gods, so the gods caught and imprisoned the man. They tortured and killed him every day and he always woke the next morning. Arie says this is pretty much what is happening to us.
I don’t know.
Arie is dead.
I hope that Lucrecia is correct and that Arie will be alive and well the next morning, because it really tore me apart to see Arie die. Especially because it was… mostly my fault. I had to get some more wood and I couldn’t collect it near our camp for the night, because that would have told the abominations where we were. Arie volunteered to accompany me because… Well, let’s face it. I’m worthless. If something attacks me, the best I can hope to do is not accidentally kill myself while running away. And there are plenty of hostile things on this island, while not all of them come out only at night.
I was chopping down a tree when it happened. A thick vine whipped against my back, tearing through my shirt and ripping into my skin. Arie screamed. A second cord wrapped around my ankle and tripped me. My axe was thankfully embedded in the tree, so accidentally chopping my own head off wasn’t possible. The vine wrapped around my ankle hoisted me into the air while Arie fired arrows at it, but the vine was too swift and nimble.
Arie drew her shortsword and came to rescue me. That was when the rest of the monstrous plant revealed itself. It ripped up from the ground, sending dirt, leaves, and rocks exploding in every direction. Shaped similarly to a pinecone, the damned thing was twice as tall as I am and as wide as I am tall. It had several vines as arms, and it had some control over its roots and could use them as legs. I’ve never seen anything like it. Worse, it had eyes. Two huge, black eyes, and a gigantic mouth filled with razor sharp teeth, each of which was as big as any of my fingers.
Arie slashed the vine that held me, but because of its whipping around, she had to get close enough to the plant monster to strike at the place where the vine connected to the rest of its body. Her sword cut through the appendage, but it cost her life . I fell several feet to the ground and ran as fast as I could to go get Lucrecia, Savin, and Brick—they could help, and the only thing I could do for Arie was get help. By the time the four of us returned, the plant had gone back underground and only Arie’s arm remained on the ground, still clenching her sword.
Lucrecia says I shouldn’t worry too much because Arie will be back in the morning and none of us will remember Arie’s death. That’s pretty good for Arie—I wouldn’t want to remember what it was like to be eaten by a giant plant monster. But Lucrecia still might be mad. It’s quite possible that the whack on the head which caused us all to forget how we got here and when we got here also made Lucrecia insane. I hope not, though.
Yesterday I wrote that… Arie died…?
I must be losing my mind. Arie is fine. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with her. I was attacked by a giant plant monster which ate her? That’s one crazy nightmare–maybe dehydration got the best of me. Perhaps I didn’t get enough to drink. Or maybe I ate the wrong kind of mushroom. Regardless, Arie is alive and well, and there’s no way I could have forgotten a thing like I wrote about yesterday. Even if Lucrecia is right and Arie did die without any of us remembering, that still doesn’t explain why I don’t remember the plant attacking in the first place. I don’t remember the plant at all—why wouldn’t I remember that?
Savin and Brick don’t remember Arie’s death, either. They also don’t remember anything about a giant plant; nor do they remember me running and getting them so they could help Arie. Lucrecia says that she remembers, but I think she’s insane. And I think that I’m going crazy myself. Perhaps Lucrecia wrote yesterday’s journal entry, mimicking my own handwriting, to mess with my head. She’s mad, after all, and crazy people do that kind of thing.
Lucrecia. She’s on thin ice with us. She killed Brick today because he refused to go with her into the cave and see what could be done about some of the monsters. Brick said that was suicide—and he was right. So Lucrecia asked him why he had a problem with dying. She said he’d be back the next day. And he told her that she was mad. So she drew her sword and stabbed him through the chest before he could react. As Arie, Savin, and I watched in horror, Lucrecia laughed.
“He’ll be fine,” she said. “And if any of you have a problem with that, you are more than welcome to join him.”
Brick is the only one who has the slightest chance of taking on Lucrecia. Arie is decent with a shortsword, but if Lucrecia and she end up fighting, Arie won’t stand a chance. Savin is almost as useful as I am when it comes to fighting, so without Brick there’s no hope of anyone putting Lucrecia down. We hesitated for a minute. “Well?” the bitch Lucrecia asked. “Is anyone going to be joining him in a shortcut to tomorrow?” One by one, we went back to our work. I went back to digging. Then Arie went back to hunting. And finally Savin shook his head and went back to cooking the food Arie had already gotten for us.
I will post a new part on each Monday, so Part 2 will arrive Feb. 22.