I have very little time for writing of any sort other than email. For some months now, what time I have has been devoted to the new edition of my 1995 experimental storytelling game Puppetland, which I successfully Kickstarted last fall with Shane Ivey of Arc Dream Publishing.
The new edition of Puppetland is a big project. I have done a lot of work on the core rulebook, as well as new work driven by stretch goals from the Kickstarter: new locations, characters, scenarios, and more, including a new essay and a storybook. All of which is thrilling, and time-consuming.
There is a farther shore. Beyond Puppetland is my other passion project, a novel called Magonia’s Shadow. I wrote the first draft in the fall of 2013 and it still has a long way to go. But I think about it often and it is the lighthouse I am navigating towards.
Magonia’s Shadow is a science-fantasy YA novel that I have been thinking about and making notes towards for many years. Longtime readers of my website may recall the series of “Dispatches from Magonia” that I wrote in the late 1990s. That was where this project began, in those experiments, and in a book I read at the time about the creator of LA’s amazing Museum of Jurassic Technology.
A lot of water has passed under this bridge. But it is the one I will walk across when Puppetland is done, the one I think about week after week, the one that I hope will define the next stage of my creative life.
And it starts like this:
The Sky Gods trumpeted an hour after dawn. A vast reverberating bass note sounded across the land and the two great figures on the horizon, who stood above everything, even Ascension Mountain, throbbed with life. The note started down deep and welled up, the bodies of the Sky Gods trembling, and then the glory poured from their mouths and began to fill the sky with life. The sun warmed the glory and it expanded, cottony tendrils lifting free of their million pods and turning the falling motion of the glory into a drift, catching zephyrs and following them wherever they went. The glory spread far and wide, absorbed into warm moist loam and unthinkingly consumed by a million creatures and soaking into the rich sweet bodies of water that broke up the undulating landscape in between the sensuous curves of the hills and the stark rocky protrusions of the peaks. The Sky Gods sounded and the glory spread and it was time to wake up, time to get clothes on, time to help Daddy on his last day of life.
Marla was already awake, had been awake, since before the sun. Had maybe not slept. She was not sure. Sleep was a thief of consciousness so quiet you did not know what he stole. She had gone to bed weeping and slept fitfully and now here it was, the call of the Sky Gods, and she had to get up and play her part.
Her mother was already up, feeding Daddy a bowl of strong broth. Daddy was tied to a chair, arms bound, so he could not break off his horns in his sleep.