Friday, February 28, 2014

Story Notes: The Redemption of Shemesh

Notes to: The Redemption of Shemesh.

I've written about this story elsewhere, but this is more about the technical side.

I wrote a number of short stories on my mission. This is by far my favorite. It was, to be expected, the most difficult to write, and I missed my self-imposed deadline a couple of times because I wanted to make it perfect.

The story is intended to fit into a loose cycle that I call the Modern Mythology. A few of the other stories that I wrote on my mission are included in that cycle, like Afflatus and The Seller of Stars, but this is the crown of them all. Hastur is an intentional inclusion of the Cthulhu Mythos in the Modern Mythology. I intend to lift liberally from pop culture as much as the most ancient mythologies, and the association of Hastur with the moon made him a natural choice to be the Satan figure in this story.

Shemesh comes from Ir-Shemesh or Beit Shemesh, both meaning "the house of the sun." That she once borrowed light from her father is a reference to footnote five of Facsimile 2 in the Book of Abraham, and the symbolism of the moon in Redemption comes from an inversion of this. She lives atop the mountains because these are holy places, her earliest temples.

Kokaubeam comes from the Book of Abraham as well, specifically verse 13. He is and symbolizes the stars, thus completing our main ensemble of celestial bodies. His true name, Philo-Sophia, of course means "lover of wisdom," which gives another name to Shemesh besides Truth and Justice (and says something about all three of these things) and clarifies, for anyone who hasn't gotten it yet, that this is Shemesh's show. Abinadab, Shemesh's father and lord of Empyrean, can mean "Father of nobility." He's also a celestial body (as perhaps all the titans are) and could also be called Kolob, I'm sure. Hierosolyma-on-the-Hills comes from two folk etymologies of the name Jerusalem and refer to the mountains (or hills, I suppose) again.

The story is about Shemesh's redemption, but from the very beginning I didn't want it to have a prince in shining armor who comes to rescue her. Kokaubeam does not go to retrieve her but to empower her, or rather that she already has power but is failing to use it. I think that he's a very angry character, despite and even because of his love for Shemesh: he loves her because of who she is capable of being, and it angers him to see that potential squandered. But he is ever and always Mentor rather than Rescuer, which Shemesh accomplishes herself. He may lend her aid, just as he may have provided moral support during her battle with Hastur, but it is by her own action that she goes down from the mountain and by her own action that she wins the kingdom and defeats Hastur.

The confrontation between Shemesh and Hastur is the great cosmogonical battle between God and the forces of chaos that creates (or in this case recreates or restores) the universe. It draws heavily from Job 38, turning God's monologue into a dialogue between creator and leviathan. It is partly for this battle that I developed the peculiarly lethal word magic that occurs earlier in the story (I also thought it would be a neat way to make literal some phrases that would otherwise be metaphor).

Shemesh gives three items to her heir to represent the traditional three (or just two) treasures held by many royal houses. The throne that she sits on after her ascension is a physical rather than purely conceptual majesty and greatness in the same way that Shemesh is both literally and symbolically the sun, hence augustus. In the phenomenal world, meanwhile, Hastur's sword might function as a sort of Excalibur, with an added caveat: While only one who is worthy to reign in Shemesh's stead as regent (for it is still her throne and she is still Queen, but only absent from the world) may draw it from the throne in which it rests, only one who would immediately replace it in the throne would be counted as worthy. These would then follow Shemesh's example and sit at the servants' table, hence their throne of wood, which is a simple chair.

That in itself might serve as a short vignette, actually.

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