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At The Bright Empire....

21 Mar 2014 20:42 #35864 by brantley
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At last, the story of Kalla continues:
www.brightempire.com/Empress-3.pdf
Spring has finally sprung, and Empress of the Dawn is finally springing to life with the first installment of Book Three. It's still following the general outline Shadar posted at his site more than five years ago, but just as I have deviated from that outline in certain details (like the patriarchate of Methodios in Book Two), I have been taking the story in new directions here with the greater contact between Andros and other worlds. In this installment, what we learn about the other original Companions ties in with events and themes in Velvet's Homecoming and Shadar's First Protector and perhaps other stories Shadar may write. Kalla's budding romance relates to events in Homecoming Two and the epilogue to Homecoming Three, which in turn will (hopefully) tie in with First Protector. Alexius' journey to Indra will parallel that of Russia's Peter the Great to Western Europe. And some of the details, like the Farspeaking Tower, are a matter of serendipity — in this case inspired by the Shabolovka radio tower in Moscow, which was in the news recently as a historic site (built in 1922 under Lenin) that might be demolished.
--Brantley
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22 Mar 2014 14:19 #35871 by brantley
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First chapters of Empress of the Dawn III got 50 hits by midnight, and Books One and Two have gotten hundreds recently and thousands overall. By contrast, the response has been anemic to the reboots of the first two books of Shore Leave, and almost nil for "When We Dead Awaken." Maybe somebody here can comment why the reactions have been so far apart.
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27 Mar 2014 01:56 #35942 by brantley
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The original wonder women:

www.smithsonianmag.com/history/amazon-wo...hind-myth-180950188/

Maybe the Seeders transplanted some Sarmatians....

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01 Apr 2014 16:17 - 01 Apr 2014 17:50 #35991 by brantley
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shadar wrote: Let me try:

1) It begins with the Galen, a very advanced alien race who discovered that humans are both intelligent and resilient, and have a genome that's easy (for them) to create "client races" who can populate Earth-like planets across the galaxy. They've secretly been abducting people (and whole villages in ancient times) from Earth for thousands of years, with their peak activity taking place a bit over a thousand years ago. The abducted people are tweaked to be able to live in the various environments on the worlds they want to populate. There are now thousands of human-populated worlds out there

The only people who don't know any of this are the people of Earth, who the Galen keep in the dark so as to not corrupt the wild seed source of their genetically-engineered human races. Basically, we're a seed bank, and we're being mushroomed. You know, kept in the dark and fed sh*t.

2) The Galen have been fighting with another ancient alien race called the Elders for millions of years. Somewhere along the way, the Elders managed to render all Galen females infertile, presumably with some bio-engineered orgasm that even the Galen couldn't stop. This dooms the Galen to eventual extinction, although they live a very, very long time.

3) The Galen decide to bio-engineer a group of humans to become procreators, or surrogates, to allow their race to survive. They look for a very narrow, simple to manipulate gene pool, and decide to abduct a village from the middle north of what is today Sweden, over near the current Norwegian border. Given that the Galen are very powerful beings, they have to greatly enhance these new abductees with their own DNA so they are able to survive the act of mating and also to protect and raise their immensely powerful children. They enhance these humans and dump them on a gold-cored planet named Velor, thus creating the Velorians. When on their gold-cored planet, which has about 5 times Earth's gravity, the Velorians are still several times stronger than normal humans (even allowing for the heavy gravity). The Galen call this new race of humans, Homo Sapiens Supremis.

They also engineer in a control mechanism so the Velorians can't escape Galen control, and they base the control on the presence of gold. The Velorians themselves don't know that when someone is taken by the Galen to become a procreator, she begins to metabolize the intense energy of the Galen, called Orgone, when out of the gold field. When that happens, the Velorian women become more or less as capable as our comic-book Kryptonians. These procreators never return to tell the true story to the people back on Velor.

Also, the Galen care nothing for Velorian men given it's only their finest females, a genetic class called Prima-1 that they want for procreators. They install a Maternity Engine on Velor that purifies and tweaks the ova and sperm before in-vitro fertilization to ensure their needs are met and the race doesn't mutate or diverge. So all of their reproduction is done via this machine. This way they crank out both the Primas to be their surrogates, but also lesser classes of people to support them.

Also, given that the Galen goal was to create Procreators, they amped up Velorian's pheromones and hormones to make them extremely sexual beings. After all, they had only one use planned for them, and they wanted them to be very willing.

4) A religious group of Velorian Natural Lifers eventually emerge who believe that old fashioned reproduction is the sacred way of life, and they believe the Galen plan of using them only for procreation is an abomination. The split in Velorian society is huge and leading to civil war when the Naturals discover an ancient Galen transporter and flee to a planet they name Aria (or Aurea). They all leave, once again restoring peace to Velor.

The split is so acrimonious, however, that these new Aureans (Arions) attempt to eliminate any reminder that they were once Velorians. Since Velorians are 100% blonde and blue-eyed, the Aureans decide to release a wild retrovirus into their population on Aria to insert the dominant gene for hair color (black) back into the population (blonde is recessive). Something goes wrong, and the infection reduces the physical powers of most of their people (the Betans) and enhances the physical power (even above Velorian levels) for a small percentage, the Primes.

5) Both Aureans and Velorians are fortunately trapped on their own planets, since both are gold-cored, per the Galen's plans. Only the Galen know they exist, and all they care about is using them.

This holds until an alien race of traders called the Scalantrans discover Velor. They find nothing to trade on that backward planet, but find to their surprise that the small number of humans who work on their trade ships are very taken with the Velorian women. Velorians are all unimaginable beautiful blondes, and sexually willing to the extreme. Since the Velorians are desperate for something to trade, they take the Scalantrans up on the radical idea of offering some of their young women to become indentured servants to the Scalantrans. The plan is for the Scalantrans to transport these women (who they call Companions) to worlds with wealthy Terrans and sell their contracts for vast sums of money. In so doing, they discover (in almost disastrous ways) that these women become incredibly power once they leave Velor. They gain the strength of a thousand men, the ability to fly, to see through things and burn things with their eyes, and they cannot be injured by any known weapon. The Scalantrans nearly pull the plug on the whole program when they realize that transporting these superwomen is very dangerous. That is, until they discover that a band of gold around a Velorian's neck (think slave collar) will reduce their strength to a dozen times that of a human, and eliminate all their other abilities. (Gold interferes with the pituitary gland which controls the hormones that allow Orgone metabolism).

The Velorian Council, who by now has had a taste of real wealth, accelerates the sale of its daughters into indentured servitude to gain the hard capital they need to trade with the Scalantrans. They make laws that guarantee that Companion contracts are inviolate for 100 years, and order Companions to serve their contract holder in any way he or she wishes.

Once the Terrans on other worlds (the billionaires) realize that they can buy a 100 year indenture for the most beautiful women they've ever seen, they all want a Companion. Not only to warm their bed, but to protect them (think Supergirl as your slave). These Companions can protect them and their families, ensuring they can create a dynasty. Companions are handed down from one generation to the next until the 100 year contract is completed. (Velorians live for a thousand years or more). Many Companions become so bound to their new families, and so estranged from Velor, that they remain after their contract ends. After all, if you were Supergirl, would you want to go back to being ordinary?

6) As this horrific trade in human flesh unfolds, the horrified Aureans go on a conquest to sweep the Terran worlds into their Empire, and in so doing, hope to end the slavery of the Companion program. They believe that they, Velorians and Aurean, the Supremis, should be the dominant humans. They also believe that only through shared strength and military alliance can they protect humanity from further exploitation by alien races.

7) As the Aureans become successful at taking over worlds, the Companions find themselves having to defend their contract holders. But they are outclassed by both the ultra-powerful Primes and a new weapon called a GAR (a weapon that shoots a circular laser beam to evacuate a tunnel to the target which they shoot a bit of anti-matter down). The matter/anti-matter reaction at the target is like a micro-nuke. These weapons can actually harm a Companion, although not with a single shot. Also, while Companions are educated and skilled at many things, especially the loving arts, they aren't trained as warriors.

8) One Companion decides to break her contract and travel back to Velor with information about this GAR so a defense can be created. She winds up kicking off a revolt on Velor that leads to the collapse of the Companion program. Soon after that, a Galen allies herself with Velor, and begins to further enhance Companions into warriors that are even more powerful than Aurean Primes. In such a way are the Protectors born.

9) Velorian Protectors are soon stationed on many Terran worlds to protect them from the Aureans. On some worlds they are visible, and they form the Enlightenment, an alliance of worlds which oppose the growing power of the Aurean Empire. However, on undisclosed worlds, like Earth, they operate secretly.

10) Earth is unique in that the Galen will not allow either Velorians or Aureans to operate openly for fear of spoiling the seed bank.
They don't want the people of Earth to realize that there is a vast galactic civilization out there, mostly populated by tweaked humans.

However, a few humans become friends with the Velorians on Earth and work with them to find undercover Aureans who are infiltrating governments and corrupting Earth. The Aureans are hoping for a total breakdown of our society and subsequent wars that are so disastrous that they can force the Galen to relent and allow the Aureans to come in and salvage their wild seed stock by making Earth part of the Empire. Or so goes the yet unrealized Aurean plan.

An underground war is now being fought on Earth between these two forces, but we ordinary humans usually can't see it. We see the disintegration of culture, war and terrorism that results from the Aurean's attempts to subvert Earth. They are behind all the instabilities and chaos.

This, then, is essentially is the story-space for all AU writing, with the additional caveat that many stories also take place on the seeded, terraformed worlds out there.

Hope this helps and wasn't too long-winded...

Shadar



Here's a response to Shadar's long post that's even longer, and will be part of a guide to Aurora Universe-3 some time soon, with a link from the home page of The Bright Empire:

My own AU-3 fiction, whether original or growing out of scenarios abandoned by Shadar and others, has taken a direction of its own, because my background is different from Shadar’s. Shadar grew up on superhero comics; I grew up on science fiction. I loved the idea of the Velorians for the same reason Shadar and his fans loved it, but I wanted to combine the mythologies and literary tropes of sf with those inspired by the comic books.

Of course, some of the borrowings from comic book mythology are absurd, like the use of gold as a variation on kryptonite — Velor even has a “gold field.” Orgone is somehow a form of energy, sometimes sourced from another dimension. What is Vendorian steel? It’s an alloy derived in part from xintanite, but what’s xintanite? One writer (I forget who) thought it had something to do with technetium, which is actually an unstable element — any starship using it would come to pieces when it decayed! Some of the borrowings from genre sf are just routine, like the wormholes — none of us really try to get into the “science” of them or, for that matter, the science of sundry weapons like the GAR. The canonical account of how Velorians came by their superpowers and invulnerability through DNA manipulation is just double talk (The AU-1 version even cribbed from DC’s explanation of Kal-El becoming Superman under a yellow sun as opposed to Krypton’s red sun.). But these elements are so basic to the Aurora Universe that it would be impossible to get rid of them now — and any substitutes would doubtless be just as superficial or absurd. It would be almost as hard to tamper with the tradition that only one Protector is assigned to each world, although we’ve cheated on that when it comes to Earth.

Other aspects of the mythology come from science fiction rather than the comics. Seeded worlds settled in our historic or prehistoric past (as opposed to those colonized by our descendants in the historic future) go back at least as far as Ursula K. Le Guin’s Hainish novels, based on the premise that Earth and other planets were seeded eons ago with variations of humankind by the genetic engineers of a world called Hain. In Catherine Asaro’s Skolian Empire series, now-vanished aliens carried out seeding from Terran stock in prehistoric times, so that when Earth finally achieves interstellar travel, our descendants find their distant cousins in the far reaches of space — where rival empires vie for dominance. There are any number of other examples of rival interstellar empires in genre sf, and the idea of empires that pursue quasi-religious crusades goes back to Olaf Stapledon’s Star Maker (1937), an imaginary history of the universe:

<<In time there grew up several great rival empires of the mad worlds, each claiming to be charged with some sort of divine mission for the unifying and awakening of the whole galaxy. Between the ideologies of these empires there was little to choose, yet each was opposed to the others with religious fervour. Germinating in regions far apart, these empires easily mastered any sub-utopian worlds that lay within reach. Thus they spread from >>

Shadar is engaging in some revisionism with regard to the Velorian-Aurean war, proposing that the Empire takes up the cause of the “enslaved” Companions. But I think that, for the most part, this should taken as a cover story (“Agreed!” – Shadar). The war began with the First Strike by the Scalantrans against Aurea, and the Scalantrans are trading partners with the Velorians. It will have taken a number of years, with the return of the first ships that engaged in the Companion trade, for Velor to even realize that the Companions have become super-powered beyond the Gold Field, and still longer for it to appreciate what that means. It will likewise take the Aureans some time to realize that it can make an issue of the Companions; its focus has been on vengeance against the Scalantrans. At some point the Scalantrans agreed on the First Consensus, conceding seeded worlds already conquered by the Empire and breaking off contact with them. But there are seeded worlds that profit from trade with the Scalantrans, and don’t want to lose that trade. Some of those worlds are home to Companions – who are obligated to defend the holders of their indentures, therefore their worlds, against the Aureans. There have, of course, also been worlds where Companions had been obligated or felt obligated to support local tyrants against their opponents, and the Aureans can take advantage of that in their propaganda. But where the Companions come to defense of their worlds against the Empire, it’s a different story, and the Aurean focus shifts from the Scalantrans to the Velorians and a pan-Supremis ideology (analogous to Russia’s pan-Slavism). When the Scalantrans gain access to Vendorian steel, that gives them a military advantage over the Aureans as well as fostering increased interstellar trade by reducing travel time between worlds and wormholes. But it takes the bureaucracy on Velor longer to face up to the situation, with measures like the Exception (mentioned in Companions) that frees Companions from masters who side with the Aureans, and the introduction of military training for new Companions.

The version of revisionism associated with The Bright Empire emerged gradually from works by Shadar (before and after his 2003 vacation and reboot of his site) and myself set on seeded worlds, and involving new elements like the Companions and the Scalantrans (mentioned before, but never described until Velvet Belle Tree weighed in.). But AU-3 fiction, at the suggestion of Tarot Barnes, replaced Kara Zor’el with Kira Jahr’ling to break the connection with DC Comics. And I began calling Arions Aureans because in a work-in-progress set on Earth during World War II it would be confusing to have both Arions and Aryans (There was already a problem in The High Cruel Years: a faction on Reigel 5 called Aryans,). As for Aurora, Tarot had given her an entirely new backstory in the last AU fiction he wrote before setting out to create a new universe of his own:

www.brightempire.com/Aurora-1.htm

Beyond all that sort of revisionism are the literary influences I have brought to AU-3 fiction. One of them is Cordwainer Smith (1913-66), whose real name was Paul Myron Anthony Linebarger. Raised in partly in China, where his father was an advisor to Sun Yat Sen, he was an authority of Far Eastern affairs and psychological warfare, but is today best known for his sf. His daughter Rosana maintains a website devoted to his life and work:

www.cordwainer-smith.com/

Most of Smith’s stories are part of a future history in which Earth and, later, many other worlds, are ruled by an elite called the Instrumentality of Mankind. Two themes in the later stages of that history, 15,000 years or so hence, are the Rediscovery of Man – a deconstruction of the bland utopia created by the Instrumentality itself – and liberation of the Underpeople, human-like people created from animal stock. But more important to my version of the AU-3 is the manner in which the stories are told.

The opening of Empress of the Dawn, for example, was inspired by those of two Smith classics, Norstrilia (1975, from excerpts previously published separately) and “The Lady Who Sailed the Soul” (1960).

<<The story is simple. There was a boy who bought the planet Earth. We know that, to our cost. It >>

And:

<<The story ran—how did the story run? Everyone knew the reference to Helen America and Mr. Grey-no-more, but nobody knew exactly how it happened.>>

There are all sorts of cross-references and cross-allusions in his stories. At the end of “Under Old Earth” (1966), for example, we learn that the woman who has been introduced to us as Santuna has a future role to play under another name:

<<In later centuries, she brought disease, risk and misery back to increase the happiness of man. She was >>

Lady Alice More had previously been introduced to sf readers in “Alpha Ralpha Boulevard” (1961). Like stories of the Aurora Universe, Smith’s sf stories didn’t appear in the same order as they take place in his imagined history. I adopted the same trick of cross-allusion for the epilogues of Homecoming III and “Incident at Madstop.”

Then there is Smith’s sense of ritual and formality, perhaps inspired by classics of Chinese literature like Journey to the West and The Romance of Three Kingdoms that he acknowledged as influences (I’ll have to read them some time!). In a scene from “The Burning of the Brain” (1958) for example, there is this exchange between the Stop Captain (sort of a steward) of a faster-than-light planoforming ship and the Go Captain (the actual pilot):

<<“Sir and Colleague, is everything ready for the jonasoidal effect?”
“Truly ready, Sir and Master.”
“The locksheets in place?”
“Truly in place, Sir and Master.”
“The passengers secure?”
“The passengers and secure, numbered, happy and ready, Sir and Master.”
Then came the last and the most serious of questions. “Are my pinlighters warmed with their pin-sets and ready for combat?”
“Ready for combat, Sir and Master.”>>

Now you know where I got the dual honorific used by Kelsorians. Where Smith got it, even Alan Elms – who has been working on biography of Linebarger for decades – hasn’t been able to determine. But there are a number of rituals in Smith’s stories, most notably that for the induction of a new member of the Instrumentality:

<<That you take power to serve, that you serve to take power, that you come with us, that you look not backward, that you remember to forget, that you forget old remembering, that within the Instrumentality you are not a person but a part of a person—>>

I brought that sense of ritual to Ordinary Velorians in a scene where the presiding Elder of the High Council welcomes candidates for Protector:

<<“Protectors there were of old, Protectors there are today, Protectors there will ever be. So was it ordained by Skietra."
"It has ever been so, and ever will be," intoned the Witnesses.
"And thus do we gather here to fulfill her ordinance. Here come all that be new to try their vocations before the Great Door. And here today, >>

And the induction of Alisa as a citizen of Kelsor 7:

<<"What is your true name, and whence come you?"
"Alisa-zar Kim'Vallara. Velor."
"By what name and world of origin shall you be known to us?"
"Aisa Liddell. Reigel Five."
"What do you bring to us?"
"My mind. My hands. My heart."
"Do your come to us without reservation, forswearing allegiance to any other world or polity?"
"I do.">>

From “The Burning of the Brain,” you know that Cordwainer Smith was a man of odd word coinages – “planoforming” (travel in Space-2), “jonasoidal effect” (the means of planoforming), “pinlighter” (a warrior who fights the hostile creatures of Space-2 in telepathic communion with cats). Shadar had already done much the same with such AU coinages as “tset’lar.” I threw in one of Smith’s – “menschenjager,” for hunter-killer machines – in The High Cruel Years, but I’ve otherwise stuck to those already familiar to AU readers.

Another key influence is C.J. Cherryh, creator of the Alliance-Union future history that centers on rival interstellar powers that arise on distant space stations and colonies. In a coincidental parallel with the Maternity Engine, Union has built up its population by producing specialized humans in birth labs. In Forty Thousand in Gehenna (1983), Jin 458-9998 is one of these, selected by lot as a colonist on another world as part of a plot against Alliance. Only he doesn’t know the why, only the what:

<<They had taken him into the white building >>

Deepteach is a term I adopted beginning with Empress of the Dawn; it seems to be original with Cherryh, but it’s similar to what Aldous Huxley called hypnopaedia in Brave New World (1932). In Huxley’s novel, sleep-teaching can’t enable people to learn anything but isolated facts, but in Cherryh’s series they can learn skills, and even be given false memories. We see that in Downbelow Station (1981), where Joshua Talley is believed to be, and believes himself to be, a war refugee. He remembers an idyllic childhood with a loving family on Cyteen, capital planet of Union. Only, he is actually a deep cover agent for Union, on a mission to sabotage the Earth Company station that has given him refuge. It is a fellow agent who reveals the truth, which devastates him:

<<He killed. That was what he was created to do. That was why the like of himself and Gabriel existed at all. Joshua and Gabriel. He understood the wry humor in their names, swallowed at a knot in his throat. Labs. That was the white void he had lived in, the whiteness in his dreams. Carefully insulated from humanity. Tape-taught… given skills; gien lies to tell — about being human.
>>

It is that flaw which enables him to break free of his conditioning, and side with the stationers who have sheltered him. For the first time ever, he has a life of his own – “the only real thing. All that I value.” Yet in Cyteen (1988), we see another side of the birth lab program, the very program that produced Talley. Ariane Emory is the head of Reseune, the genetic engineering operation behind the azi, as the lab-born people are known. But in a taped interview, she invokes a higher purpose for the program:

<<We do not create Thetas because we want cheap labor. We Create Thetas because they are an essential and important part of human alternatives. The Thr-23 hand-eye coordination, for instance, is exceptional. Their psychset lets them operate very well in environments in which CIT geniuses would assuredly fail.>>

Ideally, only one generation of each type is needed; in interbreeding with other types, even with born men, each will contribute its characteristics to the wider gene pool. Azis themselves can become citizens; their offspring surely will. Emory has also been working on the problem of sociogenesis, which she considers vital to human survival as a species. If mankind is not to end in the universe as it began on Earth—‘scattered tribes of humans across an endless plain, in pointless conflict”—it must be educated, on a fundamental level, in all the wisdom gained from millennia of racial experience. As she puts it in one of her secret memos to her daughter to come, “Ultimately, only the wisdom is important, not the event which produced it.”

The Galen, too, were specialists, and they created the Velorians and other protos with definite ends in view – but they couldn’t foresee the future, any more than Emory and Reseune. In Forty Thousand in Gehenna, the colonists are abandoned to shift for themselves, their children and grandchildren grow up without tape and have to learn the old human way – something for which they have no training. Some of their descendants enter into cultural symbiosis with the Calibans, dragon-like natives of Gehenna.

In my version of deepteach, introduced in Empress of the Dawn, I assume that there has to be a period adjustment – Kalla (and others like her) can be fed the words and grammar of a new language, but it takes a while for them to assimilate them and actually think in that new language instead of thinking in Velorian and searching for the right words and syntax of Romaic or whatever. I imagine that’s how it might actually be.

When it comes to world-building, my work in AU-3 is seen by Shadar and others as state-of-the-art. But it’s actually a far cry from what real science fiction writers do. As practiced today, the art began with Edgar Rice Burroughs and Barsoom – his fictional take on Mars. Later romantics like Leigh Brackett perfected it for romantic versions of Mars and Venus that are now only fantasy. Frank Herbert took it to epic proportions with Dune (1965), and writers like Jack Vance have created many distinct human-populated worlds in their imagined futures. Hal Clement pioneered the truly alien world in Mission of Gravity (1953), and there have been many others since. Ursula K. Le Guin and other contemporary writers have drawn on the art of created worlds, making them believable and even compelling.

Me, all I’ve done is try to get avoid the obvious and, to me off-putting absurdities of worlds hundred of light years away or hundreds of years in the past that somehow have jazz, beach volleyball and cities with a Lower East Side. But I cheat a lot. Andros, in Empress of the Dawn, has a language called Romaic. But there’s no such thing, and never has been. Its people speak Greek, but if I specified that, it would confuse readers. There’s ancient Greek and modern Greek, and there was medieval Greek – which is what people spoke in the Byzantine Empire. Only the Byzantines didn’t call it that; they called it the Kingdom of Rome, and thought of themselves as inheritors of the classical Roman Empire. There was a continuous history to justify this, after the Empire was split between East and West, with the East surviving the fall of the West. In any case, I don’t know just how medieval Greek differed from ancient Greek; the most I can do is find Byzantine-era names for the characters, and throw in what is known Byzantine politics (the system of themes, “Sebastos” as a formal address for the ruler) and culture (the Suda, modes of dress, etc.). It’s the sort of thing I can get from Wikipedia.

But even with Wikipedia, I have to cheat. For Indra, another seeded world that figures in Empress, the origin of the seeded people is the Gupta Empire in India of 320-550 A.D., which was strong on science – a tradition that those taken by the Seeders could plausibly be bring to a new world. There really was a system of guilds as Kumar describes that dominated commerce, and could likewise be recreated on a new world. The Kama Sutra was already a part of Indian culture by 200 A.D. On the other hand, I have Kumar and the other Indrans speaking and using technical terms based on Hindi – a modern language. Whatever language was spoken in the Gupta Empire and later on Indra would surely be no closer to Hindi than Old English is to modern English.

With Tanzrobi, my world creation was more arbitrary, since there wasn’t a clue in AU-2 fiction as to what part of Africa its first inhabitants came from. The very name is an anachronism, of course – neither Tanzania nor Nairobi existed when the Galen created the Azizi and other protos. But I figured the herder cultures of East Africa were the most plausible candidates, so I Googled up a few actual details, then made up the septs and other invented details, using mostly Swahili for terms – even though Swahili and other current languages didn’t exist at the time Tanzrobi was seeded. As in the case of Indra and, for that matter Andros, I could have done deeper research, but it would have taken too much time and trouble and even expense. And I could create some local color off the top of my head, like the greatoxen and brightbears of Andros.

In the case of Encounter at Westfold, it was easier, because Shadar imagined the world as having been seeded by the Aureans only about 200 years ago. It was easy to incorporate elements of what England and Africa were like then, although Shadar hadn’t done so himself. Turning his aborted version into my steampunk version allowed me to make use of steampunk imagery as well as ideas, and to throw in bits like the police being called runners because the only professional police force in England at the time of the seeding had been the Bow Street Runners (founded by Henry Fielding, the author of Tom Jones, and carried on by his brother John).

Besides this sort of world-building, I like to connect the dots left by Shadar and a few others. One of the reasons for writing Companions was to account for the existence of the Christla, a religious sect, generations later on Kelsor 7 – which was supposed to be a strictly scientific world. “An Unsuitable Job for a Messenger” was written, with the approval of Lisa Binkley, to tie in the story of Belside and Nov’ayul with the AU-3 history; it was possible to do that, because nothing in her account was incompatible with the AU-3 continuity, something that wasn’t the case with Mac’s Lillith saga – I might imagine an alternate version of that, but it would be a sacrilege to try to write it. Emigrants, in which refugees from Belside colonize Kelsor 7, grew out of the same connection.

There are other connections I’ve thrown in from the start. “Mundane Secrets of the Yo-Yo Brotherhood” takes place in one of the locales of Twin Peaks, and I had to justify that later in “Deer Meadow Shuffle” by making a connection between the Black Lodge and renegade Diaboli. I haven’t done much else with the Diaboli, but in “Finding Sanctuary,” Ultrasybarite tied that element of the mythology in with AU-3 stories of the same created world by Shadar and myself. There may be other tie-ins of this sort still to come….

--Brantley
Last edit: 01 Apr 2014 17:50 by Woodclaw.

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04 Apr 2014 19:40 - 04 Apr 2014 19:53 #36056 by brantley
Replied by brantley on topic At The Bright Empire....
Going through old Wayback Machine archives, I found the following brief rave for Lisa Binkley's "Questlings" (as by "Jolie Howard") It must have been written no later than mid-2001, because Mac (Douglas W. MacBeth) was killed in a plane crash July 21. "Questlings" is still available at The Bright Empire under Other Voices. I've copied the four chapters of its sequel, "Exiles," to a Word document for possible future use... depending. It was never completed, and the concluding book, "Castaway," was never begun. I hope more people read "Questlings," and comment on it here. Maybe we can encourage Lisa to get back to writing.
--Brantley

Questlings

Although there are only two chapters so far, they're spent in a much deeper character development than I recall ever reading in the AU. We're getting every nuance of their personalities in a group sex afternoon where even a subtle touch is experienced by us. That, perhaps, is a woman's take on sex... or maybe it's just that you write so damn well, Jolie. Whatever the case may be, if the reader allows, they can get immersed into this long scene to curse the chastity belt along with the others.
You bring new perspectives and ideas to the AU that expand the canons simply by their creativity and believability.
--Mac
Last edit: 04 Apr 2014 19:53 by brantley.
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18 Apr 2014 17:16 #36204 by brantley
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"AS IF THE STARS HAD FALLEN:" I just came up with that this morning as a better title for the AU-3 novel I've been writing off and on for the past few years that is set on Earth at the dawn of the Atomic Age.
I'd been calling it COUNTDOWN TO HISTORY, but that's not exactly a grabber for a novel, as opposed (perhaps) to a non-fiction work. But I've been reading Denise Kiernan's THE GIRLS OF ATOMIC CITY, which tells the true-life stories of women who worked at Oak Ridge during World War II, without knowing just what they were working ON (It all had to do with producing U-235 for use in one of the first bombs to be assembled in New Mexico.).
Anyway. there's an aside about Truman learning about the Bomb after the death of Roosevelt, which quotes him as having written afterwards that he felt "like the moon, the stars and all the planets had fallen on me." I may have come across that before but, if so, it didn't register at the time. Only now it has: in our fictional universe, it would be as if the stars falling on Truman were real, not just a figure of speech. So I can have him react to the revelation with a paraphrase of what he wrote in real life, and use a short version of that for the title.

--Brantley

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05 May 2014 10:21 #36379 by brantley
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www.brightempire.com/Empress-3.pdf


Book Three of Empress of the Dawn gets another update today, but it's an reboot and elaboration rather than a mere continuation, with significant edits to chapters posted March 21 and new chapters added to the narrative as it appeared then. Reader response to the story had been tepid, and I think the reason was that there wasn't enough substance to the story – and too little hint of what might bring Kalla together with Alexius. The first draft of this reboot drew a negative response from Velvet, who said the story lacked continuity – there wasn't a sense of the chronology in the later chapters, which take place before the opening chapter. Coming to that draft cold, I could also see that it hardly mentioned Alexius and his relationship with his family and the Indrans. I had to sweat the details, and write entire new chapters as well as time-stamping the old.


The Kalla-Alexius romance is part of the background of the Homecoming trilogy and First Protector, but as first conceived it was a very shaky story. On the face of it, Kalla was simply robbing the cradle and taking advantage of an infatuation on Alexius' part. When it came to writing how they should come together, I was at a loss – I could have Kalla show her initial reluctance, but couldn't rationalize her later acceptance. By sheer chance, reading George Eliot's Middlemarch suggested a fresh approach. Eliot had used "geognosis" for an understanding of the world through exploration, and I realized that since it is derived from Greek, I could have Alexius coin the same term on Andros, and with a different meaning – a sort of synthesis of natural and social ecology and more. Now Alexius can share ideas with Kalla, instead of being just a stud muffin. And he can also become her confidant when she really needs one – she can't share what she knows about the Aurean threat or the ill-advised policy directives from Velor with anyone else. Of course, this all means that I have had to edit a key scene in Homecoming II, in which Kalla tells the story of their involvement, for the sake of consistency.


www.brightempire.com/Homecoming-3.pdf


Also new today is a reboot of the Bright Empire home page, with a link to "Points of Entry," a rationale for what has come to be called Aurora Universe Three (AU-3), the continuity behind most of the AU stories here, and which grew out of an exchange between me and Shadar here at SWM. And in some unfinished business, a revision to Emigrants – for some reason, Arion had never been updated to Aurean there.


www.brightempire.com/Points.htm


www.brightempire.com/Emigrants.pdf


--Brantley Thompson Elkins

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05 May 2014 16:02 #36385 by Woodclaw
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Nice update Brantley, I particulary appreciate the entry points document.

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05 May 2014 17:39 #36386 by shadar
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Brantley has done more to grow the AU than any other writer, given that he approaches it both from an intellectual point of view (everything is linked and everything must at least internally make sense) and from a world-building perspective. His seeded worlds correctly have archaic cultures that reflect their point of abduction from Earth. His approach is more rigorous and self-consistent than mine ever was. As you can tell from the entry Points document, he's an archivist as well, where I'm happy to throw old stuff away. A very bad habit of mine.

I started this off with the conceptual goal of creating a non-infringing race of "Kryptonians" who didn't violate DC Comics properties, and to try to provide a more plausible SF origin to my characters. During the bulletin board period (and also for a while after the infancy of Internet web sites), DC was going after a lot of web sites and authors who portrayed its characters in unapproved ways. DC eventually relented and let alternate culture overwhelm them for the most part. That when I made the critical mistake of blending aspects of both Kryptonians and my Velorians together in the mid to late 90's.

Instead, I should have gone the way Brantley eventually did and focused more rigorously on writing true SF. But by that time I had a huge audience and they liked what I was doing and resisted change. I went with the flow.

Brantley's AU3 is a testament to what can be done when discipline is introduced into the writing process. My stuff was (and is) a bit wild, fragmented and overly sexualized by some estimates, with thin conceptual world-building. But I continue to enjoy the spontaneity of running with a new idea (most of which come to me in dreams), and of then getting a bit carried away. My idea of creativity is throwing off constraints rather than living within them, which is perhaps a symptom of my "excessive consumption of weed", to paraphrase Saruman's critique of Radagast the Brown in Tolkein's LOTR and Peter Jackson's highly-tweaked versions of the Hobbit. I'm a bit more Radagast, both in appearance and behavior, and Brantley's more Gandalf.

Gloria, whose third and final episode is in the works, is my latest attempt. It appears only on SWM and not on any AU site. It was written for SWM as a companion piece to Anonxyzus Kiraling series.

Now I'm off to read Brantley's latest contribution, Empress III. He tells an AU story like no one else.

Shadar

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05 May 2014 18:44 #36387 by Woodclaw
Replied by Woodclaw on topic At The Bright Empire....

shadar wrote: Brantley has done more to grow the AU than any other writer, given that he approaches it both from an intellectual point of view (everything is linked and everything must at least internally make sense) and from a world-building perspective. His seeded worlds correctly have archaic cultures that reflect their point of abduction from Earth. His approach is more rigorous and self-consistent than mine ever was. As you can tell from the entry Points document, he's an archivist as well, where I'm happy to throw old stuff away. A very bad habit of mine.


You don't know the half of it ;)
To be honest I'm something of a packrat, I tend to keep archives of almost everything, which can be both a boon and a curse.

shadar wrote: I started this off with the conceptual goal of creating a non-infringing race of "Kryptonians" who didn't violate DC Comics properties, and to try to provide a more plausible SF origin to my characters. During the bulletin board period (and also for a while after the infancy of Internet web sites), DC was going after a lot of web sites and authors who portrayed its characters in unapproved ways. DC eventually relented and let alternate culture overwhelm them for the most part. That when I made the critical mistake of blending aspects of both Kryptonians and my Velorians together in the mid to late 90's.

Instead, I should have gone the way Brantley eventually did and focused more rigorously on writing true SF. But by that time I had a huge audience and they liked what I was doing and resisted change. I went with the flow.

Brantley's AU3 is a testament to what can be done when discipline is introduced into the writing process. My stuff was (and is) a bit wild, fragmented and overly sexualized by some estimates, with thin conceptual world-building. But I continue to enjoy the spontaneity of running with a new idea (most of which come to me in dreams), and of then getting a bit carried away. My idea of creativity is throwing off constraints rather than living within them, which is perhaps a symptom of my "excessive consumption of weed", to paraphrase Saruman's critique of Radagast the Brown in Tolkein's LOTR and Peter Jackson's highly-tweaked versions of the Hobbit. I'm a bit more Radagast, both in appearance and behavior, and Brantley's more Gandalf.

Gloria, whose third and final episode is in the works, is my latest attempt. It appears only on SWM and not on any AU site. It was written for SWM as a companion piece to Anonxyzus Kiraling series.

Now I'm off to read Brantley's latest contribution, Empress III. He tells an AU story like no one else.

Shadar


Well in the past Brantley said that this disparity was due to the different background the two of you used. You worked on a more comic-book approach, while he prefered something more similar to a sci-fi novel.
It's not so unusual. Often those who are trailblazers of a genre tend to build something that is later improved by others by applying a more structured way of thinking. Although one can argue that the mileage may vary wildly. In "Delightful Murder: A Social History of the Crime Story" Ernest Mandel observed that those same mistakes and naivety, which could be excused in Poe or Conan Doyle's novel, were unacceptable by later authors and that the more disciplined approach of some of them (especially S.S. Van Dine) actually ruined the genre.
Lucky for us this is not the case with Brantley ;)

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05 May 2014 19:33 #36389 by brantley
Replied by brantley on topic At The Bright Empire....

Woodclaw wrote: In "Delightful Murder: A Social History of the Crime Story" Ernest Mandel observed that those same mistakes and naivety, which could be excused in Poe or Conan Doyle's novel, were unacceptable by later authors and that the more disciplined approach of some of them (especially S.S. Van Dine) actually ruined the genre.
Lucky for us this is not the case with Brantley ;)


Just looked up Mandel, and it turns out he was a Marxist. Yet I gather he took a sympathetic approach to the detective story. The kind of Marxists who write about sf these days seem to be a dour lot, their critical works to clichéd and jargon-ridden that they come off as a constipation of thought and a diarrhea of words. Anyway, I'm also a fan of mystery novels, my recent faves including the Peculiar Crimes Unit series of Christopher Fowler. And there are delightful sf/mystery crossovers iike Robert J. Sawyer's RED PLANET BLUES. Of interest to SWM readers should be Christopher L. Bennett's ONLY SUPERHUMAN, which has to do with genetically engineered superheroes.

--Brantley

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05 May 2014 19:55 #36390 by Woodclaw
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brantley wrote:

Woodclaw wrote: In "Delightful Murder: A Social History of the Crime Story" Ernest Mandel observed that those same mistakes and naivety, which could be excused in Poe or Conan Doyle's novel, were unacceptable by later authors and that the more disciplined approach of some of them (especially S.S. Van Dine) actually ruined the genre.
Lucky for us this is not the case with Brantley ;)


Just looked up Mandel, and it turns out he was a Marxist. Yet I gather he took a sympathetic approach to the detective story. The kind of Marxists who write about sf these days seem to be a dour lot, their critical works to clichéd and jargon-ridden that they come off as a constipation of thought and a diarrhea of words. Anyway, I'm also a fan of mystery novels, my recent faves including the Peculiar Crimes Unit series of Christopher Fowler. And there are delightful sf/mystery crossovers iike Robert J. Sawyer's RED PLANET BLUES. Of interest to SWM readers should be Christopher L. Bennett's ONLY SUPERHUMAN, which has to do with genetically engineered superheroes.

--Brantley


True, Mandel was staunch Marxist, but I think that his analysis of the mystery novel was actually very acute. He defined a parallelism between the various characters and the social context of their day and age. One of his most interesting bit was on the why the private detective has been a popular character for so long in western narrative, opposed to the official police. Mandel links the figure of the detective to the romantic ideal of of the knight errant as a figure of power (intellectual instead of martial) but not of authority. Whereas the official police is perceived as force that represent the goverment -- hence ineffectual because bound by that same law that is supposed to enforce and oppressive because it has the power to violate the privacy of citizens -- the private investigator has no such obligation, his only obligation is with his conscience.

My personal knowledge of mystery novel is rather limited, I tend to go with Conan Doyle, Stout, occasionally Queen. In the field of crossovers I just love Dresden Files.

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05 May 2014 20:19 #36391 by brantley
Replied by brantley on topic At The Bright Empire....
Of course, the "police procedural" (a term coined by mystery writer/reviewer Anthony Boucher) has also been popular in this country, as witness Ed McBain's 87th Precinct series (Much earlier, there were Simenon's Inspector Maigret stories, but that was in France). And on TV, the same genre has been popular since DRAGNET -- which spawned a lot of other shows in a process analogous to the adaptive radiation that produced "Darwin's finches" in the Galapagos. I'm big on the parallels between organic and literary evolution. As Dick Wolf put it, "The DNA of Dragnet is n Law & Order."

--Brantley
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05 May 2014 21:11 - 05 May 2014 23:02 #36392 by castor
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Woodclaw wrote:

brantley wrote:

Woodclaw wrote: True, Mandel was staunch Marxist, but I think that his analysis of the mystery novel was actually very acute. He defined a parallelism between the various characters and the social context of their day and age. One of his most interesting bit was on the why the private detective has been a popular character for so long in western narrative, opposed to the official police. Mandel links the figure of the detective to the romantic ideal of of the knight errant as a figure of power (intellectual instead of martial) but not of authority. Whereas the official police is perceived as force that represent the goverment -- hence ineffectual because bound by that same law that is supposed to enforce and oppressive because it has the power to violate the privacy of citizens -- the private investigator has no such obligation, his only obligation is with his conscience.

My personal knowledge of mystery novel is rather limited, I tend to go with Conan Doyle, Stout, occasionally Queen. In the field of crossovers I just love Dresden Files.


To tie it in, what genre did the private detective really lead to?

The old western Stories Like the Virginian Et all, met some of the swashbuckling stories of the turn of the century like the Scarlet Pimpernel and the Count of Monte Cristo-well to form characters like Zorro.

And Zorro Met up with the private detective(and similar turn of the Century Pinkerton type stories) to form, basically the Superhero.

You get the same basic ideas a private non governmental figure trying to help the populace to do stuff the law can't quite do at the end(but like say Conan Doyle) always turns them over to the police at the end.

While

Its interesting. The original idea of Superman was more that it was Straight Science Fiction-in the Jules Verne Mold- He was a Science hero with incredible alien powers that wanted to conquer the world ala Fu Manchu. However they had at fairly close to the last minute the idea of turning him into a hero. Its changed a lot of the ideas of both detective and sceience fiction since.
Last edit: 05 May 2014 23:02 by Woodclaw.

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09 May 2014 19:23 #36421 by brantley
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Now if only somebody would read and comment on the story....

--Brantley

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09 May 2014 21:19 #36422 by Woodclaw
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brantley wrote: Now if only somebody would read and comment on the story....

--Brantley


Well, give me time to read it at least :P

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15 May 2014 11:32 #36478 by brantley
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For some reason, my stuff seems to be popular in Romania. And one link at google.ru is for the pdf of a story from 2005, "A Night with a Supergirl," that I'd lost track of myself. It was originally written for some commercial site that soon vanished:

ftp://98.196.34.144/Data/Documents/My%20Library/Night.pdf

As of yesterday, rdsnet.ro, a Romanian Internet services and mobile phone site, accounted for 19% of the bytes downloaded at The Bright Empire over the previous week.

--Brantley

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15 May 2014 13:25 #36482 by brantley
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Woodclaw wrote:

brantley wrote: Now if only somebody would read and comment on the story....

--Brantley


Well, give me time to read it at least :P


Reaction doesn't seem to be good so far, based on stats and off-the-boards comments. I'm going to have to rework the story again.

--Brantley

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15 May 2014 18:07 #36485 by Woodclaw
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brantley wrote:

Woodclaw wrote:

brantley wrote: Now if only somebody would read and comment on the story....

--Brantley


Well, give me time to read it at least :P


Reaction doesn't seem to be good so far, based on stats and off-the-boards comments. I'm going to have to rework the story again.

--Brantley


I've given it a cursory read and I think it's a good story, but a bit drawn out. Since I haven't read Empress 1 and 2, I'm not sure how muhc of the background I'm missing, but sometimes the story seem to get lost into the details.

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15 May 2014 18:53 #36489 by brantley
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Getting lost in the details is what I've heard before. I've got to connect the dots better.

--J.J.

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15 May 2014 19:01 #36490 by brantley
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www.brightempire.com/fit.htm

Evelyn York's "Fit for a Supergirl," posted Jan. 11, 2012, has passed the 8,000 mark in hits. Wish I could get more from her. Wish there were other new writers out there who could bring a magic touch like hers to my site.

--Brantley

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06 Jun 2014 15:35 - 06 Jun 2014 16:04 #36754 by brantley
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Still working on the future of Empress of the Dawn III, but here's a real blast from the past: A Night with Supergirl. It's never appeared at The Bright Empire before in its entirety, because it was written ten years ago for an online fiction site called EBookAd.com. They were supposed to actually pay royalties, but they never did. Tarot Barnes, who collaborated on the story, put up some of his own, and so did Lisa Binkley. Same result -- they got rooked, and the site vanished after a while. I had put up a few preview chapters at TBE to promote my story, but there was nothing left to promote. As for the story itself, it harks back to the day when I first joined the Aurora Universe. As a tale of a geek who learns a Lesson in Life from an encounter with a Velorian at a fan event (Something similar to the fictional AU Convention several people were writing about in 2002), it is by turns perverse and pretentious. But my heart was in it at the time. Since it has been pirated on the Internet (I don't know how or by whom), I wouldn't have any chance of selling it, even in a revised version. And it's the sort of thing that should appeal to a lot of veteran AU fans, so they might as well have a chance to see it at The Bright Empire. Plus, it has a neat illustration by Vagabond Eye (What ever became of him?).

brightempire.com/Night.pdf

I also have a post today in Rants and Ramblings: "Larger than Life" an account of the interplay between science fiction and superhero comics, which actually goes back before the comics to a pulp series called Doc Savage that you might have heard of and which may well have been an inspiration for Superman. You probably know all about the comics, but you may not be familiar with such comics-inspired sf works as George R.R. Martin's Wild Cards shared world series, similar to The X Men, (Even if you follow his Game of Thrones epic in books or on TV). And chances are you don't know about Samit Basu's Turbulence (from India!) and Christopher Bennett's Only Superhuman.

brightempire.com/larger.htm

On my Occasional Blog, a short piece in readership patterns here, based on my server's statistics.

brightempire.com/Blog.htm

--Brantley
Last edit: 06 Jun 2014 16:04 by brantley.

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07 Jun 2014 06:04 #36755 by ong76win2
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Hello Brantley. I just want to ask. In the Tales of Aurora series at velorian.net/aoa/aoa-tales.html, is there a Episode 18/ Chapter 18? It is missing. Thank you.

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07 Jun 2014 10:49 #36756 by brantley
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ong76win2 wrote: Hello Brantley. I just want to ask. In the Tales of Aurora series at velorian.net/aoa/aoa-tales.html, is there a Episode 18/ Chapter 18? It is missing. Thank you.


You'd have to ask Shadar. But I remember there were a lot of gaps in that story from his "Sharon Best" days, and this was probably one of them.

--Brantley

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07 Jun 2014 11:07 #36757 by brantley
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brantley wrote: Plus, it has a neat illustration by Vagabond Eye (What ever became of him?).
--Brantley


Well, my face is red -- I see he's still very active at Deviant Art, and he's a better artist than a lot of the people working for DC or Marvel.

--Brantley

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