Welcome back to another SciFi Month post. I’m hosting not one but two authors on the blog today and we couldn’t be in better company here.
Earlier we had Erin K Wagner over for an interview discussing the genre and her latest novella, An Unnatural Life. Now, it’s time for me to invite Dom Watson to the blog for a guest post!
I contacted Dom with an idea for a guest post where he explored the construction of his fictional world of Testament, featured in his latest novel, The Boy Who Walked Too Far because I was absolutely enraptured by this science fantasy world of worlds where gods, men, and even newly formed sentient life meld into a complex tapestry of occult weirdness. Watson’s authorial mind shone through the book with such fierce creativity that I had to invite him over for SciFi Month.
You can read my full (gushing) review of The Boy here but if you want to first get a picture of the roads Dom will take you on this journey through complex worlds, read his fantastic guest post and let yourself be guided through the many worlds of (fantasy) science fiction. Dom even reveals some exclusive tidbits so be sure to have a read!
Meet Dom Watson
Father of cats and one human daughter.
Imagineer of the fantastic and the horrific. Explorer of the ethereal realms of the human id.
Author of The Boy Who Walked Too Far and the upcoming novella Smoker on the Porch. Sequel to ‘The Boy’, A Stage of Furies due for release in 2019.
Loves cooking, reading, cycling and generally behaving like a fool.
Fighting the fight for mental health.
Will sing for pizza and dance for wine.
A CATHARTIC EXPLORATION OF A FICTIONAL CITY (PROBABLY)
by Dominic Watson
It’s not every day you get the chance to create a city. Therefore, you have to make it memorable. On every street corner a story can be told. Here among the patchwork metropolis, the culmination of creation’s narrative is reaching its denouement.
Among the throng of the city, the Fiz’ Pah tabernacle endures. Built from the existential core of a Yanir time-ship ( that didn’t make the edit – exclusive), her body shines in the night, rain adorns the lead whichever way the light falls, her immortal skin shines – starlight embedded within her – a message to its varied denizens that they are one and the same – born from stardust and passion.
It makes Noah’s Ark looks like Georgie Denborough’s paper boat as it wistfully glides into Pennywise’s clutches.
I remember reading Neil Gaiman’s Murder Mysteries when I was a wee nipper (kid). It involved the first murder ever. It stuck, like great stories do, molasses on the brain. It involved an angel trying to solve the murder of another. As premises go its fucking sound, and original. I wanted to go the other way – to the end of time, where magic, science and faith have fell in love with each other and the idea of an orgy is as normal to someone as a walk in the park. There is no room for taboo at the end of everything.
I am no city dweller, I adore open fields, country lanes and sea air. But I do relish the vast sprawl a city has to offer. I have been to a few. London, Paris, Prague, Dublin, I could go on, but I won’t. But whenever I return home I always take something back with me. Stories, whether it was getting lost on the tube or the looks you got frequenting a pub. The homeless guy who needs a cigarette, or the extraordinary street theatre in Covent Garden. I take those memories with me, and file them under ‘TO BE USED.’
The gestation period of Testament, or furthermore the novel of The Boy Who Walked Too Far has been many years in the making. I had a great teacher who said, to make things corporeal through words you have to listen in on peoples conversations – be a voyeur. Take coffee and listen to the people in the café, what they are moaning about, or laughing. Restless leg syndrome beneath the table, a stutter, a cough and a guttural clearing of the throat. Nuances that enhance the read. Perhaps their tears are from grief or anger – it is all malleable matter to forge and create with. A city is no different. A paper bag on the breeze, curling clouds of cigarette smoke and drunk kisses on pub steps. The canvas of life is open to interpretation. I draw with words, and experience and people are my ink.
I wanted Testament to breathe familiar and yet be alien to anyone who walked its Frankenstein boroughs – patchwork places that defied the entropy of the universe. But these aren’t just humans. Androids, Angels, Gods, Aliens, Fae. They all wanted to survive, and thus they did. But how? Surely I am stretching fictional credulity? Genre has its place, that eternal place in the library. How can androids and angels enjoy rapport. Aliens frequenting with Fae? Nonsense. It isn’t in the rulebook. First things first, I didn’t realise there was a rulebook. There is no secret authors club. Well, if there is I haven’t had an invite, and I don’t expect to get one. Why should story and the workings of its mechanics be subject to rules. We have limitless places within our minds’ to explore. There are no parameters here, friends. We stand on the cusp of the unmade. Anything goes.
God’s retired. Heaven destroyed by bankers. Households have tiny, augmented elephants called nelly-dooses. Angels sell coffee and biscuits. Is it sci-fi? Why not. Until such ethereal subjects are proven we’ll call it fiction for now shall we. What is Heaven if not some other dimension. God, a super being, there have been plenty of those in genre. Mayne God is some kind of super computer. Maybe not. But it is a fictional possibility. A linear interpretation for expansive discussion.
Growing up as a child in a tiny market town in the eighties left my mind to wander, perhaps too far ( hey, I had to get that in). All I had was Doctor Who and John Christopher’s The Tripods. It fed the escapism. Of other places, of horror and grandeur. As I grew older – within the zeitgeist of the ‘Video Nasty’ age my interest spiked beyond a silly blue box into more body horror avenues. If myself and my mates could score a copy of The Evil Dead, The Exorcist or Zombie Flesh Eaters then we were made up. These were fabled things, sacred celluloid and our eyes would see these treasures and change us – through story and imagery, these taboo gospels of the age would change impressionable minds. Well, mine at any rate. Those dark totems of cinema expanded my consciousness, fed the power of story, like a sentient worm burrowing down into my imagination. They are still there, and they speak to me, like cherished and adored friends.
I live in Testament. There I said it. He’s bonkers. That city has been with me for a long time. It is a place to cast aside inhibitions, a place for creed and lineage, beliefs and race to live as one. There is no scorn in sexual orientation, no adversity. Those who dwell in the city embrace the dichotomy of the end. And they are aware of it – like us expecting rain or snow. It is a tangible thing. They worship the end. The goddess Fiz’Pah and her god, Orm, the great serpent. We ride creation within his endless belly. Those who are mortal are at peace with their respective ends . . . the immortals are another story. Those who have lingered for so long, outliving suns and planets – the end for them is another level of madness. They take refuge within the house of Greenbank, philandering in pomp and ceremony, dining like esoteric aristocrats.
When I set out to create this world I needed a power beneath the skin of the world. I broke it down, a quasi-like contempory amalgamation of big business and banks. It was in this heady and vitriolic first-hand observation of avaricious companies seeking profit above the sensuality of the soul that something abhorrent started to form – the Auditors. Transient mathematicians who have mapped creation and its backstage workings. The Possibility Engine is a religion, governed by the power of numbers. Sadist bankers with a hard-on to remould the universe. And like all good villains their presence is felt yet rarely seen. Their mouthpiece, the Gob, a pope of congealed fat riding in a spider-like prosthesis.
Many of the villains I write have very real places within my heart and psyche, tempered by real life situations. The Gob, even the Flea King, Naidoo Sadoo ( he’s in the sequel. That’s an exclusive!) the Yellow King ( another exclusive – you can have that for free) all have a time and place within my life. Most of them are ghastly people, but I am ambivalent to have met them, because they have given me colour to my pallet, a chance to strip the meat from their bones and show them their true face. To embrace the insanity of that is beautiful. To embrace the city of Testament and its populace is elating.
Never label a bad experience as a negative. You shall rue the day.
It is because of the Possibility Engine that the Construct is here. Bringing assorted denizens across the barriers of time to work out the final sum, to find the number which will reboot the universe. I wanted people to relate. The thought of being controlled by the corporate entity scares the shit out of me. I have seen it first hand, a company expecting you to give your all, regardless of health – mental and otherwise. I suppose I was directing all my neurosis into this ghastly form. Where even religion will bow its head to calculators and a shit pay cheque.
But it’s from these ghastly shepherds that Testament has come to light. Out of something potentially malevolent something beautiful starts to shine.
But it goes beyond that. Creating Testament was a love letter to history. It encompasses everything humanity has strived for. Tactile and tangible things like love and fucking. To endure through shit and dark. To create and build. To come together through adversity and war. A good book. Beans on toast. A sonnet, or a cuddle. Testament, the last light at the end.
You’re more than a number.
Don’t let the b(w)ankers take it from you.
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