Is there life or death in the Apocalypse?

Different World ~ Image courtesy of manostphoto at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Different World ~ Image courtesy of manostphoto at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Are you prepared for the apocalypse? Or have you been scared off?

On the one hand some people, especially agents, have had enough – or so they say. Yet, there are still books and movies in the apocalypse genre being released – e.g: The Colony. Is the genre going through an operatic death as the back-log dries up? Lead times in production are long, so in a year or two the apocalypse could have gone the way of vampires. What can we believe?

Unless it becomes reality – no longer the stuff of speculation.

I say this because I realise that I’ve been committing the mortal sin of writing in a supposedly dying genre. So what do I do? Admit that I’ve erred big time? Put the manuscript on a back burner for a few years? Turn it into a romantic comedy?

I keep wondering whether I can simply redefine it by changing the frame of reference. It’s not really post-apocalypse. Yes, there is a global disaster and society is breaking down. But there is hope. There are relationships. It goes beyond survival. But I’m not a hardened science fiction writer, who has ready every book in the genre. I’m an eclectic reader, hopping from mysteries, to fantasies, to historicals.

Apocalypse ~ Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Apocalypse ~ Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Of course, apocalypse has got a bad press – blame Hollywood. It’s often seen as the end of the world, a cosmic cataclysm as described in the Book of Revelation – or rather that’s the simplistic interpretation. According to the online Oxford English Dictionary the word originates from “…Greek apokalupsis, from apokaluptein ‘uncover, reveal’, from apo- ‘un-‘ + kaluptein ‘to cover’.”

So it’s all about a revelation – as the Book says. In a useful examination of the genre Fantasy Faction said, “The term apocalypse originally did not mean mass extinction, destruction and death, but rather related to enlightenment in a biblical sense. And before that, the term translated as “a great change.” 

Might be worth looking forward to – once we’ve got beyond War, Pestilence, Famine, and Death – plus zombies, aliens, Justin Bieber, and Kim Jong II.

Maybe my take is different enough from all those that have trod the path of apocalypse before me – not that I have read all the books in the genre… too many given my reading speed. For a pretty comprehensive list, see Michael White’s Chronological list.

I can claim to have read some of the definitive novels, such as John Wyndham’s The Day of the Triffids, Arthur C Clarke’s Childhood’s End, John Christopher’s No Blade of Grass, and Roger Zelazny’s Damnation Alley.

Apocalypse ~ Image courtesy of dan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Apocalypse ~ Image courtesy of dan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

My attempt is called ‘Storm’s Compass’ and the collection of short stories will be Book 1 of The Gossamer Flames Saga. Provisional blurb is:

“What lies ahead when the world is devastated by a solar storm? Who will choose to build the future?

Eight tales of unfolding disaster have repercussions that will affect posterity. From the arid deserts of India and the United States, to the wild beauty of Norway, the future could be sown.

Storm’s Compass is post-apocalyptic fiction, with folklore in the shadows and greenpunk in the workings.”

What do you feel is the future of the apocalypse/post-apocalypse genre? Does ‘Storm’s Compass’ sound enthralling? Do you want to be among the beta readers?

Please tell me what you think in the comments.

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Welsh Musings

Whitedragontwolegs

White dragon (wyvern). Adapted from wikipedia image of the wyvern flag of wessex. This two legged dragon (or wyvern) follows the style of the two dragons in Harold Godwinson’s death scene in the original 1066 Bayeux tapestry.

I’m not Welsh, either by heritage or because of where I was born. I don’t speak Welsh – I don’t think knowing “bore da” and “nos da” heralds more than the day or the night… and my struggle to pronounce other simple phrases.

I have to admit that I am a white dragon in red territory. I’m English with a touch of Scottish and a quarter Chilean blood to add some spice. An Englishman living in another country. Our puppy, Quetzal has more claim to being Welsh by birthplace – Garndolbenmaen.

However, my American wife, Juanita and I live in Wales. Our home on Pant Mawr Residential Park in Harlech has views that captivate us, giving life to the dreams that were impossible when linked to the States or Canada. One autumn weekend, in the light-sculpting rain, we made the decision to move.

22_PantMawr

Now, gazing at the mountain panorama watching the spring light etch shapes or soften edges enchants our eyes. There are days when the house is wrapped in a white blanket but the sea mist stirs us, its aroma rich with estuary life. Birds are everywhere dawn through dusk, calling for mates, warning off interlopers, and enriching our ears.

Our lives and our hearts are in Snowdonia. So my musings must be Welsh for this land inspires them.

I have a novel, “Fates Maelstrom”, which was set on the edge of Dartmoor in its first draft. However, the land plays a crucial part and it calls out for more mountains, wild terrain and mists. In this land of legends there have to be the roots of the novel’s new life. “Accused of murdering her grandfather and condemned by her Romany blood, Twyla Locke faces prejudice,  family tradition, a mysterious double and declining health as she fights to prove her innocence and save her eviction-threatened community.  The arrival of Brogan Keyes, an American journalist offering his assistance, seems too contrived, especially when he claims to know about the Lockes’ past. Twyla fears that she is the victim of a scam that can only end in her death.”

I will post my Welsh Musings on my Blog but the Welsh Musings page will be their home. From there you can travel to each post with ease. Join me on this adventure and share your thoughts.

Snowdon & Portmeirion ~ Juanita Clarke

Snowdon & Portmeirion ~ Juanita Clarke

Y is for Yggdrasil

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Y is for Yggdrasil: To the shaman that follow the  seiðr path in the world of Gossamer Steel, their practices revolve around Yggdrasil, the Nine Worlds, and the Well of the Norns,.

In Norse mythology, Yggdrasil is an immense tree that is central in Norse cosmology, in connection to which the nine worlds exist.

According to Encyclopedia Mythica, “Yggdrasil (“The Terrible One’s Horse”), also called the World Tree, is the giant ash tree that links and shelters all the worlds. Beneath the three roots the realms of Asgard, Jotunheim, and Niflheim are located. Three wells lie at its base: the Well of Wisdom (Mímisbrunnr), guarded by Mimir; the Well of Fate (Urdarbrunnr), guarded by the Norns; and the Hvergelmir (Roaring Kettle), the source of many rivers.

Four deer run across the branches of the tree and eat the buds; they represent the four winds. There are other inhabitants of the tree, such as the squirrel Ratatosk (“swift teeth”), a notorious gossip, and Vidofnir (“tree snake”), the golden cock that perches on the topmost bough. The roots are gnawed upon by Nidhogg and other serpents. On the day of Ragnarok, the fire giant Surt will set the tree on fire…”

"Die Nornen Urd, Werdanda, Skuld, unter der Welteiche Yggdrasil". The Nornic trio of Urðr, Verðandi, and Skuld beneath the world tree (called an oak in the caption) Yggdrasil. At the top of the tree is an eagle (likely Veðrfölnir), on the trunk of the tree is a squirrel (likely Ratatoskr), and at the roots of the tree gnaws what appears to be a small dragon (likely Níðhöggr). At the bottom left of the image is the well Urðarbrunnr. ~ Ludwig Burger (1882)

“Die Nornen Urd, Werdanda, Skuld, unter der Welteiche Yggdrasil”. The Nornic trio of Urðr, Verðandi, and Skuld beneath the world tree (called an oak in the caption) Yggdrasil. At the top of the tree is an eagle (likely Veðrfölnir), on the trunk of the tree is a squirrel (likely Ratatoskr), and at the roots of the tree gnaws what appears to be a small dragon (likely Níðhöggr). At the bottom left of the image is the well Urðarbrunnr. ~ Ludwig Burger (1882)

Y is also for Years of Dust & Death, the years of chaos and survival immediately after the apocalypse.

PREVIOUS A TO Z POSTS:

A is for Array ~ B is for the Blood-Marked ~ C is for Corylus Avellana ~ D is for Duskweald ~ E is for Energy ~ F is for Feeniks ~ G is for Garuda ~ H is for Herders ~ I is for Ithaka ~ J is for Junk ~ K is for Kitsune ~ L is for Lorelei ~ M is for Mojave ~ N is for Native~ O is for Outcasts  ~ P is for Punk ~ Q is for Quisling ~ R is for Ragnarök ~ S is for Seiðr ~ T is for Technology ~ U is for Urdu~ V is for Vidda ~ W is forWindsong ~X is for Xerarch

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The brainchild of Arlee Bird, at Tossing it Out, the A to Z Challenge is posting every day in April except Sundays (we get those off for good behaviour.) And since there are 26 days, that matches the 26 letters of the alphabet. On April 1, blog about something that begins with the letter “A.” April 2 is “B,” April 3 is “C,” and so on. Please visit other challenge writers.

My theme is ‘The World of Gossamer Steel, the SF-fantasy setting for a series of short stories and novellas that portray the tales behind the MMORPG that is central to my crime novel ‘Wyrm Bait’.

A2Z-BADGE-000 [2014] (1)

S is for Seiðr

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S is for Seiðr: In the world of Gossamer Steel some of the practices used by the Sámi shaman within The Country are shared with seiðr practitioners.

Seiðr (sometimes anglicized as seidhr, seidh, seidr, seithr or seith) is an Old Norse term for a type of sorcery which was practised in Norse society during the Late Scandinavian Iron Age. Connected with Norse religion, its origins are largely unknown, although accounts of seiðr later made it into sagas and other literary sources, while further evidence has been unearthed by archaeologists. Various scholars have argued that seiðr was shamanic in context, involving visionary journeys by its practitioners. Seiðr practitioners were of both genders, although females are more widely attested, with such sorceresses being variously known as vǫlur, seiðkonur and vísendakona. There were also accounts of male practitioners, known as seiðmenn, but in practising magic they brought a social taboo, known as ergi, on to themselves, and were sometimes persecuted as a result.

In the 20th century, adherents of various modern pagan movements adopted seiðr practices conducted within the cosmology of the Nine Worlds, the Well of the Norns, and Yggdrasil, the World Tree. Others practitioners draw primarily on the powers of earth and nature spirits associated with the land, and replicating rituals among Sámi and Balto-Finns.

"Die Nornen Urd, Werdanda, Skuld, unter der Welteiche Yggdrasil". The Nornic trio of Urðr, Verðandi, and Skuld beneath the world tree Yggdrasil.  At the bottom left of the image is the well Urðarbrunnr. ~ Ludwig Burger 1882

“Die Nornen Urd, Werdanda, Skuld, unter der Welteiche Yggdrasil”. The Nornic trio of Urðr, Verðandi, and Skuld beneath the world tree Yggdrasil. At the bottom left of the image is the well Urðarbrunnr. ~ Ludwig Burger 1882

Straying beyond the world of Gossamer Steel, S is also for Spiral of Hooves, my first published novel. A murder mystery set against the world of eventing, the novel has been described as “A must read for any equestrian enthusiast or thriller lover alike.”

PREVIOUS A TO Z POSTS:

A is for Array ~ B is for the Blood-Marked ~ C is for Corylus Avellana ~ D is for Duskweald ~ E is for Energy ~ F is for Feeniks ~ G is for Garuda ~ H is for Herders ~ I is for Ithaka ~ J is for Junk ~ K is for Kitsune ~ L is for Lorelei ~ M is for Mojave ~ N is for Native~ O is for Outcasts  ~ P is for Punk ~ Q is for Quisling ~ R is for Ragnarök

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The brainchild of Arlee Bird, at Tossing it Out, the A to Z Challenge is posting every day in April except Sundays (we get those off for good behaviour.) And since there are 26 days, that matches the 26 letters of the alphabet. On April 1, blog about something that begins with the letter “A.” April 2 is “B,” April 3 is “C,” and so on. Please visit other challenge writers.

My theme is ‘The World of Gossamer Steel, the SF-fantasy setting for a series of short stories and novellas that portray the tales behind the MMORPG that is central to my crime novel ‘Wyrm Bait’.

A2Z-BADGE-000 [2014] (1)

K is for Kitsune

K

K is for Kitsune: Japanese folklore in origin, Kitsune is the nickname of one of the protagonists in “Wyrm Bait”, the cyber-mystery set against the MMORPG set in the world of Gossamer Steel,.

Kitsune are Japanese foxes, which are common in their folklore. There are two types of Kitsune: the zenko, who are benevolent, celestial foxes associated with the god Inari; and there are the mischievous yako, who sometimes are malicious as well. In some stories Kitsune’s intelligence and magical abilities increase with age. Foremost among these abilities is that of assuming human form, sometimes to trick people but more often featuring as guardians, friends, lovers and wives.

Kitsune can have up to nine tails, as they become older, wiser and more powerful. In some legends one tail is dominant and only by removing this tail, can a Kitsune be subdued. Because of their potential power and influence, some people make offerings to them as to a deity.

Inari and its fox spirits help the blacksmith Munechika forge the blade kogitsune-maru (Little Fox) at the end of the 10th century. The legend is the subject of the noh drama Sanjō Kokaji. By Ogata Gekkō

Inari and its fox spirits help the blacksmith Munechika forge the blade kogitsune-maru (Little Fox) at the end of the 10th century. The legend is the subject of the noh drama Sanjō Kokaji. By Ogata Gekkō

Kitsune feature in art down the ages, including modern art forms like mangas and video games.  They are the basis for the venomancer class in Perfect World, characters who are a woman with a few fox-like features including ears and a tail, but they can turn into a fox while fighting.

K is for two other creatures from folklore, the korrigan and the kornblock. In Breton folklore, a Korrigan is a fairy or dwarf-like spirit, while in Germany and Scandinavia the kornblockes are goat-bodied creatures that are said to help grow grain and corn, but will steal or spoil it if given a reason.

K is also for the Kainga, the corporation behind the solar array that triggers the apocalypse in Gossamer Steel.

PREVIOUS A TO Z POSTS:

A is for Array ~ B is for the Blood-Marked ~ C is for Corylus Avellana ~ D is for Duskweald ~ E is for Energy ~ F is for Feeniks ~ G is for Garuda ~ H is for Herders ~ I is for Ithaka ~ J is for Junk

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The brainchild of Arlee Bird, at Tossing it Out, the A to Z Challenge is posting every day in April except Sundays (we get those off for good behaviour.) And since there are 26 days, that matches the 26 letters of the alphabet. On April 1, blog about something that begins with the letter “A.” April 2 is “B,” April 3 is “C,” and so on. Please visit other challenge writers.

My theme is ‘The World of Gossamer Steel, the SF-fantasy setting for a series of short stories and novellas that portray the tales behind the MMORPG that is central to my crime novel ‘Wyrm Bait’.

A2Z-BADGE-000 [2014] (1)

C is for Corylus Avellana

"Calm After The Storm" by Sarah Arbogast

“Calm After The Storm” by Sarah Arbogast

C is for Corylus Avellana: ‘Coll’ or Hazel is one of the thirteen trees in the Ogham Tree Calendar. Hazel, Corylus avellana, is the Tree of Wisdom and Knowledge, and one of the ‘chieftain’ trees of the Irish Celtic tradition.  In my A to Z journey through the World of Gossamer Steel, Coryll and her sister Avellana are key characters in a novella set in the fictional world. As a shaman, Coryll has a deep bond with nature, which through her blood-mark ties her to a reed elemental, Ngetal – the 13th letter of the alphabet. Much of my initial inspiration for the novella and the world came from Teresa Moorey’s Magic And Mystery Of Trees.

Trees hold a powerful place in folklore in many cultures, as diverse as Native Americans, the Qabalah, Druids, as well as Celtic. Many traditions have trees at their heart, from Yggdrasil, the World Tree of Norse Myth, to the Christmas tree.  Further reading on Spirit, Folklore and Trees here.

Most scholars believe that Ogham primarily “served as an alphabet for one of the ancient Celtic languages. Its origin is uncertain: it may have been adapted from a sign language. Current understanding is that the names of the main twenty letters are also the names of 20 trees sacred to the druids. Some authors have suggested the existence of a 13 month calendar which shared some of these names.”

Two central characters in the novel ‘Wyrm Bait’ choose avatars in the MMORPG of Gossamer Steel with the names Coryll and Avellana.

C is also for other short story protagonists Charles Stern and Chamona, for The Country, as well as for CME or Coronal Mass Ejection.

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The brainchild of Arlee Bird, at Tossing it Out, the A to Z Challenge is posting every day in April except Sundays (we get those off for good behavior.) And since there are 26 days, that matches the 26 letters of the alphabet. On April 1, blog about something that begins with the letter “A.” April 2 is “B,” April 3 is “C,” and so on. Please visit other challenge writers.

My theme is ‘The World of Gossamer Steel’, the SF-fantasy setting for a series of short stories and novellas that portray the tales behind the MMORPG that is central to my crime novel , Wyrm Bait’.

A2Z-BADGE-000 [2014] (1)