A Tale of No Cities

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(Image by Magic-Fox)

I was discussing the existence of cities with a friend of mine the other day.

I just don’t get ’em.

I love the idea of cities. Heck, I worked at an office in Sydney for 2 years. I understand the convenience of having so many options in such a small space. So much food, and entertainment, and social rigueur. Cities truly are the cultural buffet of existence… but like an actual buffet, I can’t help but question the quality of the free salad bar.

“But Ryan,” I hear you plead through your thin-lipped frowns, “Where else would you find so much excitement? So much culture?”

And I respond with a question of my own, my beady-eyed friends – what is the purpose of a city?

Cities were originally formed for a variety of reasons, the first and foremost being the aforementioned convenience. Before we had FedEx, goods and services were moved by horse and cart. Having a large population centre in close proximity made commerce an easier task for all concerned, especially when overland journeys meant risking both your life and your merchandise, due to banditry and orc attacks.

In bygone eras, cities filled the ‘safety in numbers’ quotient that has helped mankind’s progress so much. We are social creatures, and when you put lots of us in one place we stockpile, and we build, and we procreate.

What a life.

Now, whenever a surplus of goods has been stockpiled by our species in the course of history, we have seen cultural renaissances occur. Once our minds stop thinking about where our next meal or lay is going to come from, we start thinking about existentialism – who are we, where are we, and where did we come from? Science and philosophy thrive in these times of surplus, and, as a result, so too does art and culture. This is why cities are historically deemed to be centres of cultural refinement.

So… where are we now?

Thanks to the wonders of globalisation and the internet, you can access nearly any piece of information, at any time, from anywhere in the world. I can look at an art piece that is currently hanging in the Louvre from the safety of my own home and appreciate its conceptual majesty. I know what your thinking. “It’s not the same as experiencing it”, or “Art is defined by its form and context.” And you’d be right on both accounts. But for me personally, I’m not sure I believe in ‘good’ art anymore. I have seen too many people fawn over garbage to believe that art is made better through public conjecture.

These are interesting times, in juxtaposition to the proverb. Bandit attacks are at an all time low. Social media and online marketing have made diversification of commerce seem an all-too accessible reality. Do we really need cities anymore?

For every tall building, my town has a tree. For every warehouse party, there is a bush doof. Perhaps, just perhaps, we don’t need to huddle together in the shadow of rusting metal and the calcifying concrete any longer.

Still, each to their own. 😉

In addition to this rant, here’s a rant of mine that Warhol’s Children just published about the etiquette of ‘liking’ on Facebook – Company Likes Misery.

Pop-pop.

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BaCwS

So, for a few months I’ve been intermittantly posting concept art for ‘Beneath a Clockwork Sun’ (or BaCwS) on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook with very little explanation. Now, thanks to the wonders of WordPress, I have made a soapbox-esque pedestal from which to shout my explanations.

Lucky you.

What is ‘Beneath a Clockwork Sun’, I hear you ask? An excellent question. BaCwS is the big project I’ve been working on for just over a year. It’s a fantasy/steam-punk novel that has consumed my attention to the point that many of my friends and family suspect that I’m a ghost or sasquatch-like creature, forever lurking on the periphery. What is BaCwS about? Another excellent question –

As a troll horde sweeps through the north of Sigilheim, armed with their deadly ‘Sun-Lance’ weapons, an heir to the dwindling Praetorship is born in the mountain fortress of Stromvasse. Carried away to the capitol under cover of night, the child is the nation’s best hope at mending the ever-deepening rift between the Barheim and the Sigilese peoples. But what hope do a page, a Matron, a Servitor and a cripple have of succeeding with an army of monsterous beasts at their backs? And what hope does the nation of Sigilheim have, when the true danger is not the war at its borders, but the asynchronous schism that dwells deep in its clockwork heart…?

And, to keep y’all interested while I smash out the first draft, here’s another piece of concept art from BaCwS –

stromwarden2This is a Strom Warden, one of the antiquated clockwork-knights of Stromvasse. The previous concept art sketches can be viewed from the Art Gallery, or through these thumbnails:

victor7matronmilfreck1gothjar&shaddar2

So, this should give you guys some idea of what to expect, while simultaneously proving that I am, indeed, actually doing something. Ha-HA! I told you so! Take that, world!

Stay tuned to this fixed quantum event.

Middle Earth Trek or Why Vulcans are Actually Space Elves

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Maybe I’m stepping into territories unknown with this topic. I am far from the world’s biggest Star Trek fan. Yes, I have seen all of the original series movies, and many late night reruns of the show itself. Yes, I know the difference between Voyager and Deep Space 9, and I have knowledge of the Vulcan/Romulan schism. Sadly though, this is where my cursory factoids come to an abrupt end. Nonetheless, as per the creedo of the Enterprise, I shall endeavor to go where I have not before.

It happened so suddenly, and once the veil was lifted it could not be undone, but it is clear to me now – Vulcans are actually Space Elves.

Just stop and think about it.

In a world where science and magic could be perceived to be two sides of the same coin, it makes perfect sense. The lithe, fey creatures of fantasy lore that are born of the illogical could easily become creatures of pure logic as the human race evolves and begins to comprehend their true nature. Consider the common element of their apathetic (though often haughty) natures. Consider their mutual fondness for isolation, for melee weaponry, and for embarking on epic treks. Consider those big, pointy-ass ears.

Tell me you didn’t wonder where Elrond and company vanished to when they decided to up and leave Middle Earth? That’s right, they hopped an interstellar survey vessel for the nearest terraformable planet and conjured up a climate system.

It’s almost too obvious.

Now, before I Photoshop a pic of Spock chomping on some lemnas bread, tell me why I’m wrong.

Lock and Key

Alas, as I write this post I am still disenfranchised from my home as the renovations on it continue. My wife and I are currently staying with my sister and her husband (thanks Chlo and Sam :)) while we await our luxurious new staircase, which promises to be eyE-blisteringly awesome when finished #sarcasm. In the short term though, we’re both kinda doing that thing you do when life says ‘this is how it is, so suck it‘.

Obviously, there are a number of ways to deal with scenarios such as this. To flail wildly in anguish is one of them. To flop in a heap and let life walk all over you is another. And then there is the third, less-common option, which involves gracefully accepting one’s fate. Can’t beat ’em join ’em, n’all that.

We live in an era of human evolution where we are given an immense amount of choice. As we strive to gain greater degrees of social equality for humanity and as we gain greater degrees of control over ourselves and our environment, we have come to expect choice. We have also come to equate the freedom of choice with power, to the extent that when a choice is taken away we sometimes feel powerless.

This is an illusion.

You always have a choice, kids. Don’t fool yourselves into thinking that a lack of options is the same thing as not having a choice. Just because I am unable to fly doesn’t mean I can’t choose how I act on the ground. And there is power in knowing that.

On the subject of things we can’t change, Warhol’s Children have just posted an article by yours truly, about the unjust demise and inevitable resurrection of the cult TV show ‘Arrested Development‘. I suggest you check it out, if for no reason other than to look at the choice header image selected by Warhols for the piece, great work guys.

The article can be viewed here – http://warholschildren.me/post/42905830855/arrested-development-released-and-why-you-should-care

Millions of peaches for free.
And that’s all I have to say about that.

eyE[before]Claudia

This is the first in a series of ongoing articles taking a look at fellow writers and artists and showcasing some of their talent. So, allow me to introduce Claudia Whitsitt.

Claudia is the Michigan based author ‘Identity Issues‘ and ‘The Wrong Guy‘, as well as being the mother of five children and a Special Education teacher. Claudia has been a ray of sunshine on Twitter lately, and I recommend dropping her a line (@claudiawhitsitt). Though, sadly, I haven’t read either of Claudia’s crime/thriller novels, I did have the pleasure of reading a short story essay by Claudia that was published in The Hummingbird Review, entitled ‘One Last Pearl‘.

One Last Pearl‘ is a short experiential story about a discussion between Claudia and one of her children’s teachers who is dying of cancer. It is a touching, heartfelt piece that is reflective of the author’s poignancy and concise writing ability. It is clear to me that Claudia’s technique and thoughtful prose make her a force to be reckoned with and I am eager to read more of her work.

Take the time to read this author.

Claudia’s short story, ‘One Last Pearl‘, can be viewed here – http://www.thehummingbirdreview.com/essaysprose-claudiawhitsitt.html

If you like what you read, her books are available for purchase through her website, located here – http://www.claudiawhitsitt.com/

Next, I’ll be interviewing my good friend, award winning author Alexandria Szeman, just as soon my landlady lets me back into the house (renovations for the next 2 days x_X), plus more BaCwS concept art to come!

Turning Page

Well, after much procrastination over my other blog, Infinititus, I finally bit the bullet and started fresh. As much as I loved writing stories and comics about Commander Kilfry, the theme was very restrictive on the the content and format that I published there. Sadly, I wanted more freedom. If any of you haven’t checked out Infinititus it’s still over at Blogspot, and I may yet write some more adventures for Commander Kilfry. The twelve year old in me will always love him and his eerie resemblance to Futurama’s Zapf Brannigan.

Nonetheless, we must move forward. On to bigger and better things…

eyE[before]E will be a much broader creative space than Infinititus was. I will be regularly posting short stories, art, articles and other rantings on these hallowed pages. To this end, check out the Art Gallery, I’ve already begun uploading some finished works from my portfolio. On top of that, as a special fanfare for my first blog post, I’m posting a short story that isn’t about zero-gravity fart jokes (ahh, Commander Kilfry…). It’s entitled ‘A Music Box‘ and is available to download both here and in the Writing section of the blog.

Stay tuned, in the coming weeks I’ll be posting some snippets of my upcoming novel, ‘Beneath a Clockwork Sun‘ as well as some more concept art. But in the short term, I hope you guys enjoy this –

A Music Box‘ by Ryan Brooks

Download PDFDownload Word Document

EDIT – Special thanks to Alex Szeman who helped immensely with the editing on ‘A Music Box’. Thanks Alex, you’re the best.