Monday, March 28, 2011

Of Galdens and Ronisgald

In an effort to help new readers acclimate to the Elsewhere Universe, I've decided to begin a blog detailing the races of Vinta and their cultures. Much of this information will go into the Elsewhere Access of the Official Elsewhere site, but you'll hear (or rather, read) it here first. Today, I would like to write about the Galdens and Ronisgald.

The Galdens are Vinta's human race. That is to say, of all the inhabitants of Vinta, the Galdens are the most human-like of the races. While humanity is viewed as the end result of the other races of earth gradually becoming one (or leaving altogether, but that's another story), galdens are almost the exact opposite; genetic blanks, as it were. Their history ties into that of the Glyche, which I will expound upon at a later time. Galden genetics are by nature recessive; a child of a galden and a non-galden will always retain most of the non-galden parent's genes. As a result, there is a large movement within Ronisgald regarding 'pure' galdens, though it has died down a great deal by the time of 'A Dreamer's Knight'.

That's not to say that the galden parent will have no impact on the child; galden genetics may take a submissive role, but they are there. For example, a Galden/Fional pairing (such as the samurai Jimmy Olsen Sakamota and his wife, Terra) will bear children with larger ears, whereas a pure Fional would have smaller ears capable of moving much like a normal rabbit's ears. This trait will be passed down to Jimmy and Terra's grand children and great grand children, for at least five generations. The galden traits may not be visible either; a galden/tigreth pairing will produce a tigreth child who looks like any other tigreth, but with the reproductive makeup for a more balanced male/female ratio of children when said child grows up and takes a bride or groom.

People are more than their genetic makeup, however. Galdens are one of the oldest cultures on Vinta, and have lived in the region of Ronisgald for thousands of years. The galdens were an agrarian society until the arrival of the Glyche. While most of the galdens were content with farming and agriculture, galdens on the continent of Rimstak gladly accepted the Glyche assistance in turning the barren desert of Rimstak into a lush paradise. It was around this time that they began to call themselves Rimstakken; they adapted the Glyche language into their own, creating the often-confusing Rimstakken language that still defies all attempts to integrate into universal translators. I will go into their early culture another day.

After the first Corruption, many of the Glyche fled Rimstak in the wake of rioting. Many returned to Ronisgald in hopes of living a simpler life, while others joined the Cleftans in the Cleftan region. This was roughly three thousand years prior to the events of 'A Dreamer's Knight', and while Ronisgald remained agrarian for several centuries, the galdens soon began an industrial revolution of their own. Undoubtedly aided by the hand of the Glyche, Ronisgald began to grow in technological development until they were very near the level of the Rimstakkens. Mining lead to the discovery of several massive crystallic deposits across the continent, including the Amplifier of the Raenqal. The Glyche created a facility to study the massive worldstone, and eventually helped the Galdens to create the massive spheres that would later become the districts of Ronisgald. The CIC Angela was created to take care of the districts as the remaining Glyche dwindled until none remained.

Roughly a thousand years prior to the events of 'A Dreamer's Knight', Lucaius Benjamin Calliban came into power. It was a time of great need, as the construction of the districts required massive amounts of materials. Preying on the fears of a public who had not dealt with non-humans since they went underground, Calliban managed to amass an army large enough to attempt war on the neighboring nations, an event that reshaped much of Vinta. I will get into the mad emperor's war at a later time; suffice it to say, he was not victorious. Ronisgald eventually rebelled at his rule, and ousted him from his self-appointed throne. In doing so, fresh crystallic deposits were discovered; some were used to spread goodwill among the injured nations (particularly Longshore, who bore the brunt of the attack), but most was sold for materials needed to complete the cities. Once most of the districts were complete, Ronisgald fell into place as a respected member of the Vintan Council.

By the time of 'A Dreamer's Knight', Ronisgald and Rimstak are matched in terms of technological advancement. Ronisgald as viewed as being more reliable, while Rimstak is known for taking chances, such as local interstellar travel. Ronisgald is content to stay on Vinta, though they have begun their own space travel program in hopes of forming a colony on one of Vinta's inhabitable moons. The last scars of Calliban's Crusade were finally fading to the point that it wasn't strange to see shoran citizens of Ronisgald.

Overall, Ronisgald is a reliable country; they are good people, if occasionally misled by those with ulterior motives. Angela in particular is a friend of the Elsewhere, and watches over the citizens of Ronisgald as though they were her own children.

Well, that's about it for today's lesson on Vintan cultures. I hope I've been able to provide some enlightenment for anyone reading this. For a closer look at Ronisgald, be sure to check out 'A Dreamer's Knight: Machinations'.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Publishing: Traditional vs. Independant

Traditional publishing versus independent publishing: it's a debate I've had to deal with a lot as of late, yet it must be addressed.

For those not in the know, traditional publishing involved established publishers (most of whom seem to live in New York for some reason) accepting your book and taking over printing, selling, and sometimes marketing your book. On the other side is the independent publishing business, which freely accepts and publishes most submissions (though vulgarity isn't an issue for all independents), but leave marketing in the hands of the author.

Before I even get started, let me say that both sides have merit. Traditional publishing is, to put it bluntly, traditional. These publishers are established companies with years of experience in the industry. What Independent publishers lack in experience, they make up for in versatility; an independent author has complete control over his or her work; the cover, the format, the font ... every aspect of the novel can be tailored to the author's specifications.

Good; now that that's out of the way, it's time to tear these publishers a new one.

Traditional publishing gets glowing praise (from authors who were traditionally published. Gee, imagine that.), but getting a book published can be a massive undertaking.

For the sake of this comparison, let's say that I've written a book called 'Jabbernits', and spent years proofing and editing until it's as good as I can possibly get it.
I want to publish Jabbernits with a traditional publisher, as I have little or no sales experience and hate proof-reading with a passion. I look around online for fantasy publishers and discover the TWIT publishing group. After carefully researching submission guidelines and formatting, I prepare a snappy submission package, send it on its way, then wait two to six months for the response (the traditional publishing industry seems to frown on simultaneous submissions). Half a year passes, and I recieve a letter. My heart is all pitter-patter as I open the eagerly anticipated letter, only to discover a photocopied sheet that begins 'Dear Author:'. The letter thanks me for my submission, but regrets to inform me that they are choosing not to support my book at this time.

Undaunted, I find another publishing company and try again. Another half a year later, I receive another photocopied 'Dear Author' reply. After taking a few months to look over my work for any mistakes or changes that need to be made, I try again. Again, I get another photocopied response. In frustration, I sent out dozens of submissions to publishers all over the country. For each hand-crafted submission that costs me money to send, I receive a photocopied response that can't even bother to spell out my name.

I decide to try getting an agent, only to discover that in this backwards world, I can't get an agent without getting published, and I can't get published without getting an agent. More submissions are sent, more emotionless photocopied replies are received until I begin to wonder if I should give up writing.

Then I hear about independant publishing; all I have to do is format and submit my book to Createspace or Lulu, and I can sell your book myself, bypassing the stodgy traditional publishing altogether! I format the book, give it another good shine, and get it submitted. Now my book is available in hardback, paperback, and digital download, with a modest four-dollar royalty for me for every copy sold. It's like a dream come true ... that is, until a few months later when I look at my sales and realize I haven't sold a single copy. In my eagerness to get publishing, I forgot that marketing is just as important, if not more so, than the act of publishing itself.

So which is better? the traditionals who only seem to throw a great deal of good books to the trash because they are not marketable enough, or the independents who struggle to make their work known? Please, tell me your thoughts on this.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Of Dreamers and Dreams

I must admit to being a bit flustered of late. It seems to me that far too much of my life is spent recording the stories of others, living vicariously through the eyes of my brother and sister Dreamers of the Elsewhere Incorporate. It's hard to refute such a claim; I've spent centuries on this floor in my tenure as the Chronicler of the Elsewhere. So many tales to record, so many stories to put on paper . . . sometimes I feel my work will never be truly be done. Sometimes, I fear that it may; I try to imagine that fateful day when the last words are written and I must put down my pen, and cannot help but feel a deep sadness at the knowledge that all stories must someday end.

In the hours spent in the Office, I've often contemplated the nature of existence; not just my own, but that of all Dreamers. Who we are, what we are, how we came to be; these are questions that plague all intelligent life, but for us it is even more a conundrum. Norms may explain away their existence on deities and ancient alien races, but after seeing what lies beyond the mainstream and the dream realm, such theories seem in the very least implausible. Some of my kin believe that contemplating the existence of norms is a waste of time, but I believe it to be crucial to understanding our own existence. After all, were we not all once norms?

Through my own experiences, I have come to believe in a greater power. While any name I could provide for such a being would seem inadequate, I will settle for the Creator, from the Vintan Celestial Church. I feel it is the most appropriate name, for it this being is the one who created the universe. Did he create the universe immediately, with everything from the smallest protozoa to the largest star, or was it an effort that took eons of poking and prodding to ultimately end up with the final result? Was it one being working alone, or hundreds working together? These questions cannot be answered; if there is a Creator (or indeed, a legion of Creators), they have yet to speak directly with any norm or Dreamer. Still, it is clear that some intelligence has guided the world we live in, be it a deity or powerful entity. I have my own theories as to the nature of the Creator(s), but let us consider for now that this universe was made by a single being.

I do not believe that the reality we currently live in is as it always was; no act of creation is ever perfect, be it book, painting, or even planet. There comes a point when a book must be published, when a painting must be hung, when a planet must be placed in an orbit, but the creators never truly feel that their work is finished. I believe that Creation itself is similarly never truly complete, though I would argue that at this point in time, it no longer needs to be guided by the hand of another, thanks in part to the natural evolution of life. As the universe changes, so we to change.

Let us consider that in the beginning there was one; one planet, one sun, and one living being of intelligence comparable to our own. To that being, the single planet would be nothing more than what it was. With only a single being capable of contemplation, there would only be reality: the universe as it was created, and nothing more. The being would learn of his world through experience alone.

Suppose that one day, another living being appeared on that world, with similar intelligence to that of the original inhabitant. In an effort to help his new friend, the original being might teach the newcomer of the world, of which fruits tasted the best, which animals were to be avoided. In helping the second, the original was shaping the second's perception of the world . . . but would the second's perception truly match that of the original? While the information given by the original may indeed be true, would not the second begin to question? Would he (or she) not wonder of the taste of lesser fruits, or question the temperance of the wildlife? Curiosity is a strict teacher, but one that helps us learn to attempt new things. Where the original may have failed to placate an animal, the second may well succeed. Where the original may have avoided certian fruits, the second's curiosity may very well have made those same fruits taste sweeter. While both the original and the second may have the same intelligence, their perception of the world would differ.

That was but two people; now imagine the billions, the trillions, the countless number of other beings that inhabit our universe; each with his, her, and its own perception of the same reality. Every being sees the same reality, but only in the way they're accustomed to seeing it. So many different views of the same universe, affected by everything from experience to time, from mindset to the very way it is perceived.

It is my belief that it is this very concept of perceptual reality that created the dream realm. All Creation is linked, and with so many minds interpreting reality in such a radical number of ways, it is only natural that their minds would begin to join together on some level to form a realm made of all the separate perceptions. After all, is it not true that one has but to study the dream realm to glimpse the nature of true reality?

And what of the Dreamers? What separates us from those norms? What gives us the ability to enter the dream realm not as an unconscious spirit inhabiting a nixil, but as we are? Perhaps it is a sign of the further evolution of intelligent beings; after all, the Dreamers come from a diverse range of other races, some of which are even artificial? Could we not be some sign of the future of all life?

If it is so, then why are there so few of us? If it is a step for all beings capable of contemplation, why are hundreds, even thousands of Dreamers not born every day? Something is different about us, but what? As much as I hate to consider an elitist view, could it be possible that not all are meant to become Dreamers?

I beg indulgence for this Dreamer's long-winded musings. As it stands, I have no answers. I lack even the facts to back up my own theories. Still, it is something that gives me pause more and more as the years pass and I approach the end of my story, wondering what might lay beyond the mainstream, beyond the dream realm, beyond even true reality.

-Alan Tryth
Chronicler of the Elsewhere Incorporate