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Bright Empire Birthday

08 Mar 2010 13:49 #18422 by brantley
Bright Empire Birthday was created by brantley
It's March 8, five years to the day since The Bright Empire set up shop at its present address, and seven years almost to the day when it debuted at the old Ubergirls umbrella. So check it out:

brightempire.com/new.htm

There's so much new on this fifth anniversary of The Bright Empire at its present location that I'm posting a link to the What's New page rather than all the items on it, which include two new stories and the completion of another, but also associated revisions of other stories going back as far as 2003 for canonical and other reasons.

"Incident at Madstop" is based on an idea that had been floating around in my head ever since Shadar wrote the first draft of the first part of First Protector. He'd mentioned a planet called Potsdam, which annoyed me because that's the name of a suburb of Berlin that didn't exist at the time of the story -- which begins in 1487, Terran count. But because one of my perverse interests is the backwards speech of the Red Room in David Lynch's TWIN PEAKS, I applied that trick to Potsdam and came up with Madstop. But why would a world be called Madstop? It had to be a pretty unpleasant place, and I incorporated that idea into the story line of Part Three of Velvet's HOMECOMING.

But there was another perverse connection: Potsdam was the locale for a conference of the World War II allies after the fall of Nazi Germany. So why not a Madstop Conference that would have to do with setting up the Velorian Enlightenment after Vespyr's successful mission and the Advent of Aphro'dite? I incorporated that too into other stories, beginning with an edit of Shadar's "Lifesaver." But a story about the Conference itself? That would have made pretty dull reading, so I came up with the idea of just catching glimpses of it through the eyes of one of the representatives – and the children he foolishly brings along. I had a bunch of picts of a red-headed model; in some of them, she is covered with grime, and that gave me the idea for Erika. A great idea for a story, but Velvet and Tarot agreed that my first draft was far from great. I was taking too much for granted, making the details too sketchy, telling rather than showing. I was so intent on connecting some of the dots of the Aurora Universe mythology that I was missing the trees for the forest. "Incident" is a better story for their input.

Those familiar with the Aurora Universe will "get" the canonical references, but they won't get the source of the family name Ironcastle. That comes from a French sf novel by J.H. Rosny ainé, THE AMAZING JOURNEY OF HARETON IRONCASTLE (1922). Philip José Farmer did an adaptation in 1976 for DAW Books, but Brian Stableford's straight translatioin is coming soon from Black Coat Press.

ENCOUNTER AT WESTFOLD is my take on, or rather takeover of, an unfinished project of Shadar's. In his version, the inhabitants of a seeded world far, far away are just like people on Earth -- despite being isolated from the rest of the universe, they know all about things like jazz and even beach volleyball. That does not compute. I might have simply ignored the story, except for the intriguing references to Aliza-zar Kim'Vallara (Alisa Liddell) and her family – a marriage to Andre Kalik and three children, by Skietra! But I was also intrigued by how a culture might actually have evolved on Westfold, given the circumstances.

And so came the steampunk version. You've probably heard of steampunk. It's a school of science fiction inspired by the kind of technology that was imagined in Victorian times. The first explicit steampunk novel was William Gibson and Bruce Sterling's THE DIFFERENCE ENGINE (1990), but the roots of the subgenre go back to earlier stuff like TV's THE WILD WILD WEST (1965-69), with its retro versions of James Bond gadgets. Steampunk has become a fashion statement as well as a literary (and comic book and movie genre, as with THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN), so I was able to find a lot of cool art to go with the story.

But after posting the first installments, I was stuck for nearly a year, because I couldn't figure out how to develop the plot about Kyreen's baby. Shadar couldn't remember what he'd had in mind. Until quite recently, I'd thought of making the issue of the baby all a bluff on the part of Alisa in order to bring David and Kyreen to Rostran for other reasons. But that would have been a cheat, and I didn't want to cheat the reader. But in my own re-reading of the SHORE LEAVE saga, and the serendipitous discovery of Shadar's "Power of Blue" (See below), I found the answer. I found a connection, albeit one he himself hadn't ever noticed, between those two stories – one I could exploit for the conclusion of ENCOUNTER. And while I have tried to tread lightly on the background of Rostran, SHORE LEAVE itself still being incomplete at this time, I have brought back Lara and Klara in key roles – and given Nevil Rafish a new family and a new role, decades after the events in the original serial.

Speaking of Shadar, there's "Power of Blue," a previously unposted story he wrote five years ago that, because of its technological and social background, seems to tie in with the Rostran culture and with the post-Theel'dara reforms on Velor. So I made it so, with his approval. It's set on Varig, an Enlightenment world, where a touching romance involving a local cop and a Velorian brava turns on that invented background. It was intended to be the first of a series, and it might still become the basis of a police procedural series -- that would be something fresh for the Aurora Universe.

I'm hoping all this might energize others we haven't seen new AU fiction from lately. If that won't work, maybe this will: Music by Dmitri Shostakovich that Shadar and I agree could evoke the Arion War:



--Brantley Thompson Elkins

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08 Mar 2010 14:40 #18424 by Sarge395
Replied by Sarge395 on topic Bright Empire Birthday
Happy Birthday. How about a pic of a Vel blowing out 5,000 candles with a puff of breath?

:)

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08 Mar 2010 18:14 #18426 by brantley
Replied by brantley on topic Bright Empire Birthday

Happy Birthday. How about a pic of a Vel blowing out 5,000 candles with a puff of breath?

:)


You supply the Vel and I'll see to the candles!

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08 Mar 2010 21:56 #18428 by Woodclaw
Replied by Woodclaw on topic Bright Empire Birthday
Well, happy birthday, and thanks for the massive update.

(formerly Anon, still Librarian)

"What is the point of having free will if one cannot occasionally spit in the eye of destiny?" ("Gentleman" John Marcone)

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