Nytt om mina “Parallel Worlds”-bidrag

Wolframfästet är klart för Parallel Worlds (PW) och ligger hos Tomas på Saga Games. Jag har bilderna från Nisse & Kove Lindström.

Okeanos är fortfarande under arbete. Mycket har kommit emellan den här våren. Men det är inga problem med anpassningen till PW. Vi har också hittat en bra illustratör.

Vidare har Tomas fått en expanderad PW-version av Oz Is Drowning, den australiska SF-undergångskampanj som jag fick publicerad i Fenix i höstas.

Summa summarum handlar det alltså om sex PW-kampanjer av min hand, utöver de ovanstående är det Knivblänk i Prag, Röd Sand och Roma Umbrarum.

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When darkness falls

There are moments when darkness falls upon you, when you walk figuratively through the desolate land of shadows. Cancer, betrayal, poverty, death of a loved one — such events shatter lives in our tranquil part of the world, where people generally do not have to face the community-wrecking miseries of war, plague, floods or famine. The grim shadow is therefore often an individual experience: walking one step at a time through your personal Mordor while people around do not share the suffering, maybe they don’t even see it.

Former US Navy officer James Stockdale described his coping strategy during his period as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam 1965-73.

I never lost faith in the end of the story, I never doubted not only that I would get out, but also that I would prevail in the end and turn the experience into the defining event of my life, which, in retrospect, I would not trade. […] This is a very important lesson. You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.

This philosophy of duality has become known as the Stockdale Paradox.

Karin Boye (1900-41), an extraordinary Swedish poet, put her thoughts on this type of issue into words in the concluding eight lines of a poem called Jul 1939 (Christmas 1939).* This is a good English rendition:

The empty winter skies
have smothered every cry.
But the souls listen endlessly,
the dead and we.
In some corner hidden away
by a world to destruction worn,
there is a child being born,
a promised child on straw and hay.

*I guess Ms Boye wrote the poem in early 1940 and it evokes the mood of that winter when foul darkness descended upon Europe. My father was 12 at that time and I wonder what he felt deep inside during those Christmas days, a boy old enough to understand what was about to happen to the world. Nowadays, when he is old, he does not want to talk much about such matters. And memories of things 70+ years in the past are flimsy.

The shards won’t fit together

I have been working quite a lot during April and May on a novel. There have been several references to that in earlier blog posts. However, now it seems that the venture has reached a chasm and I cannot find the rope bridge across it. I have established several scenes at various “places” ranging from the novel’s beginning to its end, but I am not able to connect them to a seamless unit. My trusted brother-in-law has read what text there is and he put his finger on some weak elements. Annoying, but he is right. The currently plotline is insufficient.

It seems that I have to put this story on hold for some time. My subconscious mind has to “knead” the story until a solution rises likes a bubble in my conscious thoughts: “Ah, that’s the way to move ahead.” It is frustrating, but I have had that experience many times before. Usually there will be a flash of inspiration.

Tolkien and Norse-ness

The inscription of the One Ring in modern Icelandic. Even though I don’t understand all of it, the mood is right.

Þrjá fá kóngar Álfa í eyðiskóga geim,
sjö fá Dverga í hamravíðum sal,
níu fá dauðlegir Menn, þá hel sækir heim,
einn fær sjálfur Myrkradróttinn á myrkanna stóll
í því landi Mordor sem magnar skugga sveim.
Einn Hringur ræður þeim öllum, einn skal hann hina finna,
einn skal safna þeim öllum og um sinn fjötur spinna
í því landi Mordor, sem magnar skugga sveim.

Another wasteland

I haven’t been blogging much recently because my mind has preoccupied with the on-going novel project. Its Swedish name is Ökenvandring (the Desert Wandering), but I might have to change that title. It is simply not enough desert in the story. The novel belongs to the same alternate Earth as Iskriget, a dieselretro vision of a different 1940 in which the republican rebels in northwest Europe fight against the oppressive Habsburg empire.

Iskriget sent the protagonists across the ice-covered southern continent of Alba. This novel takes the reader to the hot and arid continent of Magalhana, the stage for the two concluding short-stories in Iskriget. (Both short-stories are actually prequels that take place several years before the rebellion.) Afghanistan and India have been some of my sources of inspiration — two countries in which I have lived — but Alba and Magalhana are fictional testing grounds where the protagonists face social, natural and moral challenges.

One recurring underlying theme in my stories is Cain’s question in Genesis: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” The scarred and reclusive marshal in The Road has to respond to it and the consequences get more far-reaching than anyone would imagine. The world forces everyone to choose — taking the narrow path may cost the wanderer much trouble, but out of those hardships comes inner growth, too. Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote: “The mind, once expanded to the dimensions of larger ideas, never returns to its original size.”

When I worked in Kabul in 2008, I watched the movie The Journey of August King* on a satellite channel. North Carolina 1815, a widowed white farmer helps a runaway slave woman. The consequences are harsh, because that state’s law shows little mercy for such behavior. But what is morally right and what is legal may differ significantly. At the movie’s end, Mr King, simultaneously facing one victory and one defeat, concludes: “I have never felt so proud before in my life.”

*The movie is well worth watching, being unsentimental and understated.