Sunday, November 27, 2011

Genesis of Antellus

The world of Antellus was born out of anxiety. It began as an attempt to work through my horror of decay and entropy and the eternal silence of the infinite spaces. My grandmother, to whom I was close, had just passed away, and the rapid deterioration of her mind—which became incarnate and lingered after her death in her disordered house—had troubled me. It still does. Antellus was not the first project I had undertaken, but it was the first I was driven to complete.

Despite its origins, Antellus is, I hope, far from being mere private musing. It represents a bridge between my mind and the outside world, an attempt to give others something worth reading, something rich yet entertaining. It aims to take a place in the canon of fantasy—in my own mind, if nowhere else—and to dialogue with the works I revere, while retaining the stamp of something written in our age of atomization and anxiety. It is not about autism, but it uses autism to probe the sense of alienation that seems endemic to modern life.

The idea of a living-fossil world of Paleozoic life-forms surviving at the cosmic antipodes had grown in my mind for a long time. The denizens of Antellus—moss-trees, giant mollusks, arthropods, primitive fishes, armored amphibians—all belong to archaic tribes now represented on Tellus only by what is most lowly. They slipped through to the counter-earth at the opposite pole of the universe in primeval times, then ceased to evolve because the demiurgic vicars had rebelled and forsaken the ministry of creation. The framing device with which the story opens represents a geometrical conceit that I entertained myself with while I was lost in the labyrinths of 11-dimensional theoretical physics. The world of Antellus is intended as fantasy, however. Its hierarchy of spiritual agencies owes much to the Summa of Thomas Aquinas, but also to Greek mythology and Arabian and medieval European folklore. The social structure of the world-city of Enoch is inspired by the cultures of the ancient Mediterranean and Near East. The level of technology is stationary, and might be described as Iron Age / Industrial Age / Art Nouveau. Religion is more or less “pagan,” but the various sects that come into the story are significant for their approaches to life rather than their doctrines.

My tales take place against the lurid backdrop of the heat-death of Antellus and the accession of its predestined god-emperor. The setting is a major force: it serves as a projection of the protagonists' anxieties and preoccupations. Their progress through the wastelands, moss-jungles, and ruinous cities of Antellus reflect the tortured landscape of their own hearts.

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