Location, location, location. That’s the famous adage for success in real estate. And it applies, as well, to captivating fiction. Whether it’s Faulkner’s
, Tolkien’s Middle-earth, or
Herbert’s Arrakis, location plays as decisive a role as character and plot. Yoknapatawpha County
Intrigued by the creative challenge of establishing a fictional location that plausibly could unite science and magic, I set my dark fantasy series The Dominions of Irth in the most extreme exotic locale available: the first moments after the Big Bang.
Geometrodynamics, the quantum mechanical description of spacetime, suggest that both space and time meant something very different in the first moments after the creation of the universe than what we know. The Dominions of Irth imagines a self-consistent reality with its own worlds and entire histories of evolution and conscious existence within the initial second, called the Planck Epoch.
The beings of this original and inconceivably hotter reality would seem possessed of true magic to our colder sensibility in the dark void beyond their radiance. Our stellar universe, including our planet Earth, is the
– a barely surmised realm embedded
in the mysterious depths of their unconscious. Dark Shore
All the many Bright Worlds appear in the aura of the Big Bang as a diaphanous dream to the energetic denizens at the beginning of time. The dreamer of these worlds imagines them into being. She conceives Irth as a playground for her unborn child. The creatures of Irth and the other Bright Worlds who dwell under the radiance of the Abiding Star (the Big Bang) have no idea they are but a dream – except for one gnome. He has been summoned by the dreamer to account for a strange intruder who has ascended into the Bright Worlds out of the abyss, from a world of dangerous magic called Earth:
"Yours is a soul of magic, lady, and what you have poured forth has broken the dark and authored the wonders of the void that are the Bright Worlds. And yet—" The gnome sat up and showed worry upon his acorn brown face. "One of darkness has climbed into the light."
"Whence?" she asked, with casual disdain masking her worry. "Out of darkness? Are there worlds then in the outer darkness?"
The gnome nodded vigorously. "Oh yes, lady. But not worlds as we know them. Not the worlds that are the condensation of your magic, a radiant magic that prefigures for all time in the void the orders and histories of the Bright Worlds. No. The one who has climbed out of darkness and into your light has arisen from shadow worlds in the cold deeps of the void."
She draped a languorous arm over the edge of the pool, weary with concern for her child. "What are these shadow worlds, gnome?"
"Just that, lady." The gnome wagged his rooty fingers emptily in the air. "Shadows cast into the void by the Bright Worlds that you have created and that move within your dazzling light. Shadows cast into the void. No more than that."
"And you are telling me that a shadow has climbed into my light?" She did not look at him but lifted her attention to parcels of purple cloud overhead. "A thing without substance thrives within my radiance?"
"There is a magic of shadows by which this is so."
From The Shadow Eater
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