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A Bridge To The Quiet Planet: Popular Entertainment

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

Let’s get to know more about the setting of my upcoming novel, A Bridge To The Quiet Planet.  Let’s talk about entertainments in the Twelve Great Cities and their planets.

Popular Entertainment

Everyone needs to relax, and the people of Avenoth have their own ways of doing so with popular entertainments.

Most popular entertainments contain a strong social factor, such as attending concerts, playing games together, or discussing books or comics. The need to tie society together is a constant element of the culture, and permiates everything.

Because of this, “truly getting away” entertainments are specifically noted.

Music

The cultural evolution of the last century has produced several distinct musical styles that are popular.

Glitterpop – Glitterpop is light, bubbly music often sung by groups who tend to be themed, and have specific focuses (such as singing about romance, or nature, etc.). Glitterpop concerts are highly social events, though the music is often criticized as being shallow and repetitious – if accessible.

Sway – Sway originated from dance music, and is instrumental in nature – many Sway tunes have no lyrics. Sway has split the last few years into a form using regular instruments often meant for dance and an electronic format that is more for listening or relaxing. The latter is sometimes called Tech-sway, or “T-sway.”

Thunder – Thunder is percussion-heavy music that is loud, powerful, and often grounded in legends and history. Bands vary widely in style and depth, and “true” fans usually distinguish between “Iron Thunder” (raw, heavy, and historical) and “Blood Thunder” (more focused on current events, emotion, and experimental).

Because of it’s nature, Thunder music results in one of the few concerts attended by angsty teenagers, their grandparents, and historians.

Video entertainments

Recorded videos, often burned into crystals or recorded via magic, have a centuries old history on Avenoth. With the advent of the Network and related technologies, local broadcasts grew in popularity before the war, and global ones afterwards. Now video entertainments are broadcast across the planet via the techno-magical Network or played from distributed video units.

Television: Televisions are common and have been for a time. More and more television programs are produced in Sabillon, but most Cities have local productions. Those local productions, in turn, are often shared across the planets.

In general Sabillon-produced shows are meant for mass consumption, and locally produced ones are considered “more intellectual.” This is hopelessly simplistic, but local pride does affect people’s opinions.

Dramas, especially historical ones, are very popular – there’s many historical events that have been re-enacted so often it’s endless fodder for comedy shows.

Talk shows and educational programs are also popular, though many of the former are local.

Movies: Movies made for mass consumption tend to be fictional, whereas locally made ones vary in subject matter. As movie attendance is a big deal – people usually make an event out of it – films tend to be produced carefully. Ruining someone’s evening doesn’t help one’s career.

Locally-produced films often find more forgiving audiences, and sometimes local films take off globally or even among planets.

Films tend to be long (about two to three hours) fitting their importance and the sense of an ‘event.”

Animation: With the use of magic to create imagery as well as advanced technology and human artistry, animation tends to the experimental and artistic.

Literary entertainments

Literacy has been valued for aeons on Avenoth – in a world of magic, gods, and dangerous history being able to read is a survival skill. Books are valued and appreciated, from records to ways to relax.

Novels: Local authors are a sense of pride for the Great Cities, and many an author’s novel takes off locally before going worldwide. Large publishing interests cultivate local talent, who a century or more ago might not be known outside their City. However, due to this inclination to seek local authors, attempts to cultivate new “major” stars often fail.

Popular novels tend to be less about historical events than video entertainments; many are set in recent, current, or future times. What we consider science fiction or fantasy do not quite exist in the larger culture – speculating on other worlds is rare when you have other worlds, and most fiction is set no more than fifty ears in the future. Such literature is

Comics: Comics are popular with all ages, and are usually published in large sets (similar to graphic novels) or combined together in themed publications (similar to manga). Individual comics, on their own as we know them, are unknown – and likely were considered wasteful in the past.

Comics tend to the fantastical more than novels, leveraging the unique imagery of the artists. They are thus considered more radical, more advant-garde, or more silly depending on their themes.

E-games

E-games are what we’d call video-games. They’ve existed in several forms over the last century or show as computing power and The Network spread. They are considered to be (still) experimental, and a place for people to try various unusual and otherwise impossible forms of entertainment.

A few common genres are:

Puzzles: Puzzle games are popular and are viewed as intellectual challenges. Puzzle games are considered something one does alone to relax.

Stories: Similar to RPGs or graphic novels, story games are increasingly popular and some are played on Slates. Fans discuss them in detail, and designers love packing them with references, hidden details, and more.

Strategy: Strategy games are popular, but are controversial as they often involve history which has many dark corners.

Common Events

Surrounding movies, television, and more there are common social events.

Movies as noted are events for many people, something to do with friends and families and make an evening (or a day out of). They are often used as excused for many other social events, or just outright drinking.

Online Communities use the Network to discuss things. This is popular for discussing television, movies, and of course publishing fanfiction (a popular past time).

Reading groups and book clubs are popular for all kinds of books and comics. Many libraries, guilds, and more sponsor a variety of them. Many of them are held at theocades, coffee shops, and more – which is also an excuse to hang out, drink coffee, or ask for a few blessings.

Concerts are popular social events. Much like movies, people tend to make a day of it.

– Steve

A Bridge To The Quiet Planet: Popular Culture

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

Let’s get to know more about the setting of my upcoming novel, A Bridge To The Quiet Planet.  It’s out late this fall but you can find out about the world now let’s talk about life in one of The Great Cities . . .

Popular Culture

Popular Culture has evolved a great deal since The War. Unconsciously, most people tend to mark cultural elements using The War, which considering the nature of the event is understandable. However, it is noteable that before The War there was no real idea of global popular culture.

After The War, with The Alliance forming, culture began standardizing as well. This included popular culture, though it involved several phases.

Immediate Post-War (-5 to 0 AR)

Post-War popular global popular culture was largely nonexistent as known today. Most of what was shared was classical novels, plays, and music. Some individual Great Cities shared culture with each other, but there was little “global.”

Reformation (0 to 50 AR)

The Reformation, an attempt to build a unified government and sense of purpose resulted, of course, in some unified culture. Cities exchanged more information, ideas of the reformation were propagated, and some major cultural milestones were agreed on. However music, books, and literature outside of the “classical” culture were little shared.

Most Great Cities had their own media production, from movies to publishing. Though they often copied each other, they did have their own way of doing things.

The Military provided to be a unifying force in that those joining it were exposed to other Cities, other former Nations, and other people. Many people did short tours of duty, and often returned to their Cities with other ideas about food, music, and more.

The growing Theopolis of Triad True and the theological parts of The Reformation added to cultural cohesion in the realms of theology. However that had somewhat existed before – it’s just that with some three hundred gods agreement on things had never been that coherent anyway.

Post-Reformation (50 AR to 100 AR)

The post-Reformation period was not conflict free, but was a period of reducing the smaller, regional conflicts and petty grievances. Not all of the Great Cities actually liked each other, so this period was necessary for cultural exchanges.

As cultural and economic commerce among The Cities expanded, as territory was reclaimed, more shared culture evolved. Music, books, plays, and films were shared among “groups” of cities that had strong relations.

During this time Sabillon began to arise as a cultural center.

The Rise of Sabillon and Triad True (100AR to 200 AR)

Sabillion had formerly been a publishing clearinghouse, strongly associated with Mindarion and Zafrel. With it’s proximity to Triad True, the unremarkable if well-established city became more prominent in this age of integration.

Triad True was a culture powerhouse, but was a bit focused, and people whos minds are tuned to the gods don’t always have the best tactical and publishing sense. Brightguard was an education powerhouse, but was focused on education and politics. Allanax was the capital but was busy keeping The Alliance together. Highpoint had no real unified identity, and Grand Ivar had its own local concerns.

But Sabillion was perfectly placed to become a media center. It expanded from books and shipping and its otherwise unremarkable economy to more and more forms of media production. Centrally located in a hospitable area, it grew faster and faster.

There was plenty of land for studios. There was a transporation hub. Refgurees from the Old Dragon Kingdoms who had fled there with money, knowledge, magic, and technology had established their own businesses and familities and unions.

Soon, Sabillon had become known as a media capital almost by accident. It’s hand was everywhere in television, movies, and more – and it had happened almost by accident.

The Current Age (200AR to Present)

Sabillon is a major producer of video and musical media – or at least adjacent entertainment concerns that sell media have a footprint there. Movies, songs, and television broadcast around the world bear its mark.

Sabillon’s works are considered to be entertainment by most people – fun and something everyone can enjoy, if not deep. Of course the influence of Sabillon – and the importance of popular culture – is easily underestimated. Having something unifying, even if its shallow Glitterpop music or the soap opera Souls of Sorcery is important to society.

What is often missed, especially as other Great Cities posture, is Sabillon’s role in distribution. Books written in one Great City are easily available in others. Locally shot movies are easily distributed via the Network. News is carried across the planet by powerful Network services.

Sabillon has remained humble throughout all of this (some would credit the cultural influence of Zafrel and Triad True). They know who they are and what they’re doing, though the younger members seem to be less aware of their history and role.

Growing up in the major media center on three planets really does change awareness . . .

– Steve

A Bridge To The Quiet Planet: Names

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

Let’s get to know more about the setting of my upcoming novel, A Bridge To The Quiet Planet.  It’s out late this fall but you can find out about the world now . . .

Names

The various countries and regions of Telvaren have had many naming traditions over the years. Many of them still exist in one form or another, even if in honorifics. However, certain naming trends dominate the culture.

A person one meets on Telvaren or its associated worlds may have a name like Scintilla Ferr-Orbil or Marigold Rel-Domau. The name of most citizens is in three parts:

First Name

The first name is almost always an object, phenomena, or thing with some meaning to the parents, family, culture, or community. The sources of these vary widely, and most everyone has a “why I got this name” story, some of which aren’t humiliating.

Common sources are:

  • Family traditions, often on certain objects – plants, stones, weapons, etc.
  • Meaningful items – An author may name a child “Papyrus,” a doctor may name a child “Remedy.”
  • An occurrence of birth – A child born during a storm may be named “Rain” or “Lightning.”
  • Items relevant to an important god – A child born to a worshipper of Ivonau, the god of magic, might be called “Rune” or “Grimoire.”

Last Names

The second paired names are matrilineal. The first is the matrilineal name of the mother, the second the matrilineal name of the father.

Thus:

  • Marogld Rel-Domau is the daughter of mother Lyric Rel-Kaber and father Key Domau-Jobal.
  • Scintilla Ferr-Orbil is the daughter of mother Joyful Ferr-Bistrain and Thunder Orbil-Mizra

Most people refer to each other by both last names, though it’s not unacceptable to merely use the maternal name in casual conversation.

Name Variants

There are still variants on this common name that occur for certain reasons:

  • Traditional first names. Some people or families use names in older languages, family traditions, or due to regional trends. This you may meet someone with a name like Gyra Trell-Ozmi whos family uses old traditional names (in this case Northern ones)
  • Traditional last names. This is far rarer, but a rare and decreasing amount of people have single last names due to regional or family tradition. This is usually seem in Central and at times Western regions, but is also known on the world of Lindhaem. An example of a very traditional name would be Shalen Vynne – though there is some potential confusion . . .
  • Estrangement. Some people due to estrangement from one side of a family or other reject the last name of one of their parents and go with a single name. This is seen as a complete disownment of that family and would be considered a massive insult. An example would be Beacon Rindle – whose use of modern first names with a single last name hints at estrangement.

The Origin Of Modern Naming

The current way of naming children is not new – it originated from the common Western and Southern way of naming children. This had spread to some Central and Norther regions. What made it far more popular was the War and then popular culture.

Having a way to easily refer to people’s lineage was made necessary during the devastation of The War. Simply treating last names as a way to track both sides of the family was remarkably convenient, and became popular in the evolving Government and Military – the Military was especially enthused about it for the sake of ease.

The establishment of The Government and a relatively unified culture among the future Great Cities helped further this naming tradition. The various cities that became The Great Cities had a great deal of cultural and economic commerce anyway, and in some ways had more common culture than their countries. The Network in its Second and Third forms also propigated common culture.

Finally, true popular, global culture evolved in the last one hundred years. A few major Great Cities – most notably Sabillion, but also the Theopolis of Triad True and the academic powerhouse of Brightguard – had an outsides influence on culture. This also spread common naming ideas making them more common.

– Steve