more novel talk

But also my interview with Nick Antosca went up at Monkeybicycle.

Only two more for the weekly series, and next week is sort of open, which isn’t ideal, but that’s the way it is. I have a few interviews in the works, so there’s no real fear here.

Things are getting wild with the novel and I just wandered over the 9k mark. It was meant to be more noirish, but I guess this is my kind of noir. Another detectiveless detective novel with a bunch of narrators, but things are getting pretty crazy, and I’ve drifted further and further into science fiction and fantasy the more I write. And so though this is meant for Broken River Books, it may be an awful fit there, but only time will tell, and it’ll only matter if I finish this by next week. Hoping to hit 12k before I go to sleep, which is very doable. Chelsea’s coming over soon, so I won’t be doing any more work until she sleeps.

It’s exciting though and I’m sort of just letting the ideas spill out. The best part is inventing mythologies/religions to contextualise a civilisation’s culture that doesn’t exist, and so I’m dreaming up all kinds of things.

Just finished this chapter, which is either an insane ramble or a factual exploration into what it means to be one of these odd tiny men.

 

Dust. It all comes back to Dust but it’s not really dust, or at least not the way we think of it. Everyone wonders how they remained hidden so long and why they only just emerged into existence. Trust me, it has little to do with Park and everything to do with Dust.

Park only appears important because she took the pictures and because they ate her, possibly alive, and made a carnival of the grotesquerie. But Park was brought there. Summoned. I know, I know, but bear with me, because this is important. More important than anything else you’ve probably heard. Have you even talked to the childfuckers? You won’t believe it and no one wants to admit it, but they know more about the niños than anyone else. You don’t live right along with them for that long in an intimate fashion without learning some things. And these are the kind of things the Growers would love to know about.

Dust is sacred and it’s everywhere in Antiguoniño, That’s not what they call it, by the way. They call where they live Life and everything else Nothing. This is fundamental to understanding them but the anthros are more concerned with contextualising them within our world. To them our world doesn’t exist. It’s also why they probably had no problem killing Park, and why they don’t trust us. Their word for us is a slur and though it means foreigner or alien, it’s more akin to calling me a chink or you a spic. They’re not trying to pull us into the context of their reality–they’re trying to banish us. That’s something Park didn’t realise, and also what the childfuckers don’t realise. But I guarantee you, all of those women will be dead within a couple of years, maybe even just a couple of months. They may not be eaten, but it’ll be something horrifying like that. But we’re not simply other to them, we’re nothing. We’re nothing from the nothingness that surrounds their world.

To them, the world is a cycle and their lives repeat endlessly. All of this happened before and it will happen again, and their shaman tattoo their lives onto their backs when they create their masks. Spirals represent the course of life. Circles represent the course of nature and existence. The masks identify them and separate them but also bring them all as one. And all of this comes from the Dust, which is the very soil that nourishes the Tree. They are Dust and we are all Dust. The Tree exists because of Dust and Dust birthed it into the world a hundred million years ago, long before humanity ever had a notion of existing.

The Dust lives and it sings. We can’t hear it but they can but it calls us too, though we don’t know or realise. That’s why Park found it, and that’s why so many haven’t. It’s not enough to just run into the desert chasing dreams. You have to be called or you won’t arrive. We don’t know anything about the Dust except that it exists and it covers everything. Most people you talk to won’t realise the significance of this since the world we now live in is full of crumbling buildings and broken roads and there’s dust and smog and dirt everywhere, but it’s important that the Dust covers every inch of their world.

Old stories exist about the naval of the world, the cradle of humanity. I’m not saying this is that naval, but it may be the heart, the heart hidden in the wild desolation of history.

Dust is their god. The anthros believe they have a host of gods and that this create their culture, but really it’s the single god with a billion aspects covering every inch of the world. Before they create their masks and accept the Dust permanently into their skin, they have names. Every child niño has a name, but when they create their mask and accept the Dust, they give up their name. Only when they lose their name do they begin to live.

That’s another thing that separates us. Because we carry our names as badges of honor they consider us less than nothing. We are the nothing from the nothingness carrying all that is nothing with us. That’s why they’re stealing from us. It’s to mock us. They’re teaching us a lesson about possessions. We’re so obsessed and blind with what we have and own that we can’t even see them for what they are.

They’re not a solution or a utopia. They don’t belong to us and they don’t want to be a part of our nothingness.

I think the Dust, though, is something quantum mechanical. It’s like magic and it’s infused deep into every cell of their world. It gives them life and also every part of their world. Their relationship with the wolves, their relationship with their environment, their relationship with one another–it all comes down to Dust. It gives them the ability to create new life, which is how they procreate.

All of this is speculation, granted, but it makes sense if you just keep following me down this rabbit hole.

There’s an old story but there’s never any time to tell it. It has to do with the Dream that is existence and the Tree that connects all realities. But this Dust is that Dream made real. The Dream of the Dreamers shapes all of this, and all other universes that whirl round just past reality’s veneer, and there are billions of universes just on the otherside of this dimension. Imagine reality to be like a six sided die. This die is our reality and the six dimension belonging to it. But if we turn this die over, there’s another die, and another die, and an endless number of dies, each with their own dimensions to their own realities. The niños–again, this is our term and they just refer to themselves as Us–aren’t necessarily from this reality, but they’re also not necessarily from another. This tree isn’t necessarily from ours or another’s either. On every habitable planet on every reality there is a Tree like this and it connects us and binds us all together, into one knotted multiverse and the world of the niños is more of a transitional place. It’s a home between worlds, between realities. It’s why you can’t see that Tree until you’re almost running into their home world. A tree that high should be visible for kilometers and we definitely should have known about i sometime through history, especially when we ruled the skies and space. But no one saw it then because it didn’t exist then and it didn’t exist then because the Dust didn’t call us. Do you see what I’m trying to say?

This place, Paradiso, Antiguoniño, whatever you want to call it, it’s not for us and we only appear because the Dust lets us. And though the niños accept our intrusion into their reality, they do it only because the Dust wants us there. Why it wants us there–who knows? What’s important is that it’s allowing us there.

But so what do we do with this quantum magic Dust?

We do nothing! That’s the whole thing. We’re not there to possess or to change things. We’re there for some purpose greater than any one humans could dream up.

But the Dust reacts to us. It reacts to all life and it transforms it. The wolves were born from this Dust. People don’t remember but when the Moon broke and fell to earth, it created a Lunar Desert which became a Lunar Forest and from that Forest came the wolves. A new breed, but the same breed as the niño lupine. A cataclysm brought us together across universes, across realities, and it took the dissolution of all that we are to bring us to the Dust that was calling us so long. It may mean that the dust of the Moon is our future. We’re not there to steal, you see. We’re there to understand. When we finally figure it out, when the Dust gives us whatever it wants to give us or when it uses us however it wants to use us, the world of the niños will disappear and we’ll be left with our own Dust. Our Dust that came from the Moon.

I know this all sounds crazy, but just you wait. The world is changing and it’s ready to grow. It may even be what Ming and the Growers need to understand about this world. They want to make us biofreaks, but all they need to do to reunite us with earth is to figure out where our Dust is and what we can do with it.

It’s the Dream crystallised into our reality. It’s our Dream, if only we learn to grab it.

 

the last couple films i watched

A Royal Affair stars the bad guy from Casino Royale and is about the reign of Christian VII of Denmark. The guy who plays Christian does such a brilliant job, and the film, overall, is pretty great. I’ve been saying it for several years, but the Danes and other Scandinavians are making the most interesting films in europe right now, and this is another great one. It’s a period piece full of adultery and intrigue, and it’s just shot great and acted well.

Europa Report is absolutely amazing. Feels and looks sort of low-budget, but the film’s not about the technology. It takes us on a mission to Europa, the earthish moon of Jupiter, and from there things get bonkers. It’s all found footage, which adds a lot of depth and tension. It’s a pretty terrifying and thrilling film, with so much tension ratcheted way up. I think it’s better than Gravity, if only because it does so much more with so much less. I guess it’s silly to compare them, since they’re fundamentally different, sharing only space as a common element. But this is definitely something worth seeing.

New World is another Korean gangster film, and Choi Min Sik’s involved, so you know I’m already sold on it. The protagonist, as is sort of typical of very male Korean films, is sort of silent and doesn’t do much, unless he’s raining down chaos. But it’s also a brilliant film with twists and turns and enough character to keep you on the edge of your seat. Min Sik kills it, as always, but the other leads carry a lot of weight, especially Jung. I didn’t look up the other actor’s names, so that means nothing right now. But, yeah, Korean cinema is still the greatest place to find films right now. Though, I mean, this film has exactly one female character, and there are probably a total of ten minutes where females are on screen during this 120 minute film.

A Company Man sort of a bad version of A Bittersweet Life and/or The Man from Nowhere. Or, at least, it holds much of the same elements as those. Again, we have a male lead who doesn’t really act unless he’s unleashing violence, but this also has a sort of cute lovestory going on, which is pretty common to the Korean noir, where sappy and intense often land on screen at the same time. Some very cool action sequences, though, and there are female characters in this, which is always nice.

Tokyo Godfathers is a delightful anime that gives a lot to its viewers. It’s funny and beautiful and perfect for the holiday season. It’s Satoshi Kon, so what do you expect? It’s great.

Rebuild Evangelion recreates the series but also completely reimagines it, which, I think, is a sign that this is a recurrence in a world of infinite recurrence, but that things have changed this time. The first film is identical, more or less, to the series, with things gradually becoming different in the second film, and then the third film being so completely different it can only really be associated by the characters involved. They’re brilliant, though I think the third one suffers from not having enough time to develop its narrative or characters, relying too heavily on a viewer’s familiarity with the series. But it’s still very cool, and though the first two are sort of big budget reiterations of the original, the third goes just as wildly off the rails to keep fans of the original satisfied with this new construction.

But, yeah, trying to get back into watching films, which I’ve been really bad at the last two years. Going to try to watch one every day. It’ll help give me a break from the novel.

more writerliness

Got sidetracked more than expected today but I’m sitting on about 4,000 words and am about to jump back in. Thought I’d share some of the mythology that’s coming to life for this novel, though. So here’s another rough draft of a chapter:

The niños, on average, reach a height of about one hundred twenty centimeters. and weigh about forty kilograms. Their musculature is very dense and they have less fat reserves than we do. You’ll hear often that they’re not human, and this isn’t really correct, but it’s also not incorrect.

There’s no doubt about us both descending from primates, and possibly we were part of the same line until relatively recently. After thousands of years, things can change quite a bit, especially given their peculiar environment.

To put it simply, there’s a genetic difference, but that’s so minuscule as to be insignificant. We’ll just ballpark our genetic similarity to other humans as 99%. We share 98% with chimpanzees, and things taper off after you step out of primates, but s what we’re dealing with here is a genetic similarity between 98% and 99%. They don’t reach that 99% but it’s also disingenuous and, frankly, untrue to say that they’re more similar to chimpanzees than they are to us. A lot of this comes from fearmongering and blatant colonial attitudes exacerbated by their pale skin, the fact that they’re all genetically male, as far as we can tell, and the extreme difference in technological development, which can be explained quite easily. But, to get back to the point, our similarity is about 98.95%, plus or minus 0.1%.

They’re complex social primates, just as we are. The real difference was caused by their environment, which needs some explanation, I suppose.

It’s a highly sophisticated environment that is both strengthened and debilitated by its millennia of isolation. Their deification of rain and trees comes from their close proximity to them, and, of course, the Tree. No studies have been done, because the niños are extremely protective of the Tree. Upon seeing it, it’s quite clear that this is no ordinary tree, and that its closest relatives probably became extinct millions of years ago. I’ll say that again because it doesn’t look like it’s sinking in.

It’s closest relative more than likely became extinct millions–yes, millions–of years ago.

Why this one exists is impossible to really say without a proper sample, but the niños won’t even let us collect leaves. It’s all sacred to them and, for now, we respect this animism. But this tree, the Tree is the fulcrum of their society. The city is built in a spiral pattern around it and its roots connect each dwelling to each other. This is also significant and extremely peculiar. So they live in raised mounds, similar to the way the ancient celts lived. Large communal spaces that appear to be about ten thousand years old, which makes them the earliest human structures still standing, if you can believe that, and they’re each connected by roots to the Tree, which would put its age as at least that old, but considering the size of the mounds and the complexity of the city system, it would mean that the Tree was exceptionally large by the time they were created. I’d put the age of the tree at several millions years, given its size and the fact that there are no trees like this anywhere else in the world throughout history as we know it. But that’s pure speculation and I used exactly zero science in determining that age, so take it with a fistfull of salt.

But the Tree really connects it all together. You could say their city was not only built around the Tree, but because of it and by it. The roads, according to the niños, follows the trails of the roots and the city all rests under the canopy.

They farm a great deal. All tasks are shared and the assignment of tasks appears to shift. Much of niños society is difficult to pindown because of their masks, which wash away individuality. For the niños, it does the opposite, however. They all refer to one another as brother and they differentiate one another according to these same masks that appear so anonymous to us. It implies a deep artistic culture with many shared metaphors and myths, much of which is secret to us. Park Jiyun appears to have known more about this than anyone else, but we all know how that ended.

They’re very open within their society, but are extremely xenophobic. Part of this is probably explained by our drastic height and weight differences, and the fact that we’re all female, which leads me to another peculiarity.

We have no idea how they reproduce. When the last man died, we ensured our survival, but there’s no chance that the niños have anything remotely that complex to work with. We’ve seen them partake in enormous orgies and they’re very free with their bodies, and the bodies of others, but sex doesn’t appear to be a reproductive function. Some of us believe there are females and that they’re perhaps used like cattle, but it’s difficult to believe such tiny and kind people would have any practices so brutal.

But, then again, Park Jiyun’s innards were strung like garlands and her bones used for music, so there’s no telling what the niños are capable of, or why they do what they do.

They worship the rain, for obvious reasons. We’ve tried to describe to them what the world is like beyond their city and the desert, but they remain convinced that there is only desert and nothingness outside of Antiguoniño, which isn’t strictly incorrect. But if you live your entire life with constant rain, how would you imagine a world without it? How would you not believe you’re blessed by the gods after looking out into the vast desert surrounding them? So much of their iconography revolves around spirals, circles, trees, and rain. They’re intimately acquainted with water and plant cycles.

But so, because of their reliance on water and plants, especially trees, and because of the abundance of both, they never had a reason to develop technologies the way we did. And the rain keeps digital or electronic equipment from being especially useful. We’ve lost a lot of equipment in Antiguoniño. But it’s why some people call this Paradiso. It’s a utopic land of plenty, where everything is provided by the earth. There is no decay, only the passing of seasons, which is how they measure their lives, actually. By the end of a solar year, they consider themselves four years old. This led to a lot of confusion when they were discovered. We bought into the belief that these tiny people may be at such advanced ages while remaining so healthy and robust because of the Tree and all sorts of other signs. Most of them having to do with the notion of this being a utopia. Until the tragedy of Park Jiyun, we had never seen them engage in violence. We had, curiously, never even observed them eating meat. They husband animals similar to llamas and elk and they have wolves for pets and companions, but they don’t appear to eat any of them. They live right inside of nature, which is something I’ve sort of been pointing at here. It’s a very human notion to bend nature to our will. We create structures and superstructures, bend rivers, dig trenches to make the world more comfortable for us. But the niños live alongside it. They weave their lives into the natural system, rather than bend it to their lives. And this can be seen with their relationships with their animals and one another.

When the niños reach puberty, the brothers come together and celebrate with the creation of the mask. Each niño creates a mask of dust and mud and blood, which they wear for the rest of their lives. At the same time, they’re given a wolfpup, which they must raise. To harm the wolf is to harm the owner, though ownership here is a very different matter. Their language doesn’t have possessive pronouns, which complicates the language and understanding it. But their word for wolf is the same as their word for soul, so their relationship between wolf and niño is much different than the relationship of a pet and a master. It’s unclear how long these wolves live, but I’ve never seen an adult niño without one, regardless of age, and an elder never has a pup.

The elk are used for work and for transportation. I guess I haven’t mentioned it yet and you’ve yet to see it, but transportation is necessary, which complicates things for us, since we’re too large to ride their elk, which are unusually small. But we estimate that there are about one million niños, and that the city is about the twenty five square kilometers. It’s not super dense, but it’s much denser than you would expect for a civilisation of this nature. It’s not even preindustrial. They’re a purely agricultural and pantheistic animistic monogender–allegedly–society.

But we’ve only known of their existence for, what, three years? They exclude us from almost all rituals, ceremonies, and social customs. Veronique and Park Jiyun are the only people to have seen anything like a ritual, and, unfortunately, it proved to be quite a gruesome spectacle.

But what else. I have so many notes here and so many theories it’s hard to keep them straight. Things change every day because there’s so little data, and they give us so little. It’s a tricky balance. We’re undoubtedly influencing them by our very presence, but they’re also influencing us, and they’re the ones gaining what we know. I imagine they have far better records about us than we do about them. They’re extremely intelligent, and gifted with languages. Even though there appear to be only about one million of them, they have quite a complex linguistic system with at least three dialects, and they’ve learnt every language we’ve spoken to them, and even ones we didn’t speak to them but only shared with one another.

The other day I swear I heard a few of them telling jokes in Cantonese.

I sometimes don’t know what to think. It’s exciting, but also terrifying. As you can imagine, things have changed dramatically in the weeks since Park Jiyun died. Everyone’s on edge, including the niños. They’re much more reserved and I believe they’ve begun to steal from us. There’s no proof, of course, and since they don’t really understand ownership or possession, it may not be useful to consider it theft, but some of our equipment has disappeared.

I don’t know. Sometimes I guess I just get paranoid. To tell you the truth, it’s a relief to be away from them. They creep me out. It’s not the size, really, but their pale skin and their maleness. There’s something pitiful about them. Don’t tell anyone, but I see where all the rhetoric comes from. All that hateful stuff people are saying. It’s all so foreign, and as exciting as it is, from a scientific and anthropological viewpoint, it’s also absolutely frightening. When you’re there, you’re in their world. They have all the cards, even though we’re bigger and stronger. We have physical advantages, and I know that. I know if I got into a fight with one or even a few, I could probably get away unscathed. But when there are ten or twenty or a hundred so near at hand, it becomes suffocating.

For now all we can do is keep studying and searching and try to avoid whatever the hell Park did to anger them so much.