Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Weird Old Weird

I'm hard at work on The Cold Heavens, an epic old weird planetary romance (150.000 words, so far). It's the first half of a double decker sparked by C.L. Moore and Leigh Brackett, as well as Kurt Weill, Béla Bartók, G.W. Pabst, Fritz Lang and the sadly-unknown Austrian fantacist Gustav Meyrink (author of The Golem and the brilliant The Opal and Other Stories and the brilliantly disturbing The Angel of the West Window).
My protangonist is part Jirel of Joiry, part Louise Brooks, part Tolstoy heroine. From her crumbling chateau on a lush, Austro-Hungarian Venus (called Krasopani by the Cechs) she embarks on a quest for revenge that becomes a quest for gnosis in a solar system which is also, somehow, a magic-lantern projection of Europe before the first World War. Angels exist here; or rather, they existed in the last century, often interacting with mankind in glorious and terrifying ways. Now, the Heavens are in retreat, and the worlds occupied by Austro-Hungarians, Prussians, Serbs and Russians are hurtling toward apocalypse: a Götterdämmerung (minus Richard Wagner).
In addition to Brackett, Moore and Meyrink as major influences, I'd include H.J.C von Grimmelshausen's Simplicissimus, Robert Musil's Man Without Qualities, Alexandra Ritchie's Faust's Metropolis: A History of Berlin, as well as a boatload of books on Weimar. The results might be termed German-Expressionist Space Opera.
Or how about Weird Old Weird?

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