Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Static-Lands Saga: 1 - The Worldsetting

(Apologies for this being all one-lump post. I am new to the Blogger system and haven't the foggiest how to do cuts behind text yet. If anyone can clue me in, if it is possible on this system, I'd be very grateful).

This is the general world-setting for the Static-Lands, a world that has many stories to be told.  This is not actually the first story I've written set in this world, but it does outline the basic setting. This particular piece is meant to read a little more "textbook" than story.  All of the Static-Lands stories will refer back to it.  

The Static-Lands Saga

The World as it Stands

Somewhere in a world very far away from ours, there is a nation where the cycles of day and night are at a standstill.  On one end of the landmass is the Land-of-Always-Day.  On the opposite end of the country is the Land-of-Always-Night.  In one land, the sun never sets.  In the other, it never rises. The Gloaming Lands (or the Twilight Stretch as some call it), lies in-between.  Far from the baking and freezing that beings from our world might expect these lands to experience, the weather and climate are regular – temperate in most parts of the country.  In fact, trees and grass grow quite well beneath the moon in the Land-of-Always-Night.  The moon itself goes through phases, even though it never leaves its fixed position in the sky.  This of course means that some of the laws of nature are different in this mysterious land than in the world we know. The explanation for the way things are typically boils down to “magic.”

It has been said that the nation was put this way by some strange being or lady wizard from another universe and that she did so because she was terrible at keeping appointments and felt a need to try to stop time itself.  Not only did she fail to be on time for anything, anyway, she died (or went back to her own universe – the legends conflict) before she could set the day back to normal.  All beings within the land grew accustomed to it.  Many even thrived under the static conditions of daylight and darkness.

There are three humanoid races in the Static Lands.  One would be recognizable as consisting of ordinary humans, like those that dominate our world. One race is a mysterious desert-people with character like that of vultures.  The third race is a people with deer-like features, antlers, ears, tails and odd, digitigrade feet. 

The humans live in the core nation of Vale – sometimes a kingdom, sometimes a democratic republic, once a dictatorship.  Vale comprises most of the Land-of-Always-Day, its capitol a grand city called Fortissimo.  The deer-people call themselves the Ilkhan and keep their territories in the Land-of-Always-Night and to part of the Gloaming Lands.  They were made up of varied tribes, occasionally at war with one another until they became united to survive when the Valeians marshaled forces and conquered them.  After the conquest, the Ilkhan were allowed to live in their lands, but under the governance of the politicians in Fortissimo.  They were also given heavy taxes and burdens. 

The Vule- the vulture-folk of the desert in the east-most of the Land-of-Always-Day, were left alone entirely.  Their tribes are small, their land is considered a ruin lacking in resources and beauty, and they are greatly feared.  It is common knowledge that the Vule eat their own dead.  

The people of Vale keep to a single religion.  It was not always this way.  In Vale there are no temples, for the people’s worship is rather casual, but it is supported by the State and enforced by the prevailing prejudices of the culture.  The Valeians give reverence to Materia-Machina, a creator-goddess said to preside over all things physical.  There is no afterlife in Machinism – blessings are to be acquired in life.  It is said that wealth is the blessing of the goddess and that those who do not attain it are not blessed.  Aside from Materia-Machina (who is prayed to on occasion for matters financial and for aid in decision-making), the religion does not allow for supernatural entities or events. Many Machinists, if they think upon the matter at all, tend to think they are very clever for “seeing the world as it is,” as they would say - and those that are very ardent in praising their own cleverness do not tend to suffer disagreement well.   

As a result, when Vale went through its dictatorship phase, it purged its people.  Those that did not bow to Materia-Machina or who tried to hold to her while keeping to folk traditions regarding spirits and even the small hope for a life that transcends death were made subject to many oppressive laws, and when they were few and powerless enough to be subdued, were subdued – that is, they were murdered by their government in large scale.  When Vale embraced democracy, such harsh policies were abandoned – at least officially. 

Some laws were left on the books regarding anyone who professed beliefs other than Machinism with the exception of the Nils (Nils were they that did not believe in the goddess, but likewise did not believe in anything else immaterial.  Their philosophy was considered very close-in-kind to Machinism, so it was forgiven, although they remained a minority).  Anyone who held an open belief in “old” or “outside” religions or in folk superstitions were barred from certain kinds of work.  These laws were mostly kept in place as a measure to prevent Ilkhan that lived in Vale from having too much influence upon life there.  The Ilkhan kept to many of their own spiritual traditions, but it truly did not matter if an Ilkhan in Vale accepted Machinism – which many did.  The Ilkhan remained second-class-citizens. 

In fact, the new democratic government of Vale, having decided that outright genocide was barbarous, but still wishing they were rid of certain classes, has been running an ongoing propaganda-campaign for some time.  It is seen mostly in Vale’s ghettos in the form of posters and the prevalence of clinics of a certain kind.  Although the Ilkhan only became united recently and have many tribal differences among them, one of the things that unites their overall culture is a deep sense of honor. 

Upon learning that it was not uncommon for young Ilkhan men to kill themselves if they felt they had lost too much of their own honor, the ministers of Vale decided to use that.  Posters abound upon the city walls of the poor neighborhoods Ilkhan are relegated to encouraging those that feel alone and worthless to “Open the Exit” and other such slogans.  One widespread poster lets them know “THE FUTURE HAS NO PLACE FOR YOU writ large in sans-serif letters.  Some Valeians also take to the propaganda – ones that are too poor to have been “blessed” by their goddess and thus are considered rather worthless by most of their society.   The clinics that prevail in those areas are twenty-four hour services that assist in suicide.  They are supposed to provide quick, painless services, but there have been rumors of abuse in some locations.

Vale does not extend this propaganda into the Land-of-Always-Night, which is left mostly to the Ilkhan, but they do have their taxes and restrictions on the people there. Valien officials consider posts there to be backwater assignments. Some wonder why Vale doesn’t just let that country alone, but the farmlands and produce from the labor of Ilkhan farmers is rich, the wild country provides a playground for the Valien wealthy, who like to take hunting expeditions there, and they fear any relaxing of the iron fist will encourage uprising among the native population. 

The Static Lands as they stand are a place where, for the most part, the rich stay rich, the poor stay poor, and one must at least pretend to go along with the prevailing sentiments of the ruling class in order to have any hope of a comfortable life.  Truly, perhaps, it is not much different from our world; only that one part of the land always has the sun, while the other always has the moon. 


  1. I would love to see a map of the Static Lands! (I *love* fantasy maps. If I ruled the world, every book would have a map in the front endpapers.)

  2. I have a sort-of map in my head right now, but I'm hesitant to draw out anything because, not knowing yet all of the stories I am going to write for this world, I am not sure what and where all of the landmarks will be as yet.

    If I really wanted to, maybe I could do a shifting map - I recently played and beat the game "Shadow of the Colussus" and when one starts out in that game, the world-map is covered in stylized clouds. When you explore the world and save at little shrines, portions of the clouds vanish and areas on the map are marked/revealed. Hmm...

  3. Hello there! You know me as frenchqueen elsewhere, and here I am following the link to your story. And I'm very glad I did - I enjoyed this introduction very much. The idea of the lands of day and night is really good, and I laughed at the legend of their origin being a wizard who was SO unpunctual she tried to stop time to deal with it. I've known a few people who'd probably take that route if they could, lol. Hmm, come to think of it the railways here would probably do that if they could ... then nobody could tell 'em they don't keep to their timetables.

    I like the three peoples, and I'd love to see a picture of the Ilkhan - I'm seeing them as vaguely like the way the Egyptians portrayed their gods, with animal heads on basically humanoid bodies (all the better since deer have such beautiful faces). Is that at all what they look like?

    The satire on both fundamentalist religion and fundamentalist atheism (imagine the shrieks on a certain news site if I used that term there) in Materia-Machina's cult is well done indeed. Amazing how many adherents she has on this planet ... and they don't even know it.

    Well done and thank you for the invitation to read! :)