The Crossroads of the Aether
This is an out-of-character (OOC) discussion. Feel free to speak plainly here.
If you have read my Blog, you will no doubt have some idea of where I am heading with the back-story for my character. Also, if you happen to have read any of Edgar Rice Burroughs' "Barsoom Series" books, you may have some idea of the scope of the domain I intend to play in.
I like to interweave a fabric of some fact with some fiction. For instance, Richard Francis Burton is a real person from history, as is Sir George Everest, while both Sir Tory Eversham and Ernest Roebuck II are personages I have conjured up, and John Carter is a fictional character brought forth from the mind of the great E.R.B.
I am looking for more inspiration to continue developing my character's back-story. Feel free to contribute anything, including links to Wikipedia entries of factual, historical significance, or any pseudo-factual fabrication you wish to share. Think of this as an exercise in open-source collaborative writing. I'm a strong proponent of open-source, free/libre, and Creative Commons. Anything you add in this discussion thread may be used in Augur's back-story, and the resulting content will be released under a Creative Commons license.
My given name is E r n e s t R o e b u c k... I'd be keen to read about my fictional namesake! Keep me posted.
Do I mind? I think it's pretty amazing, actually.
And to learn that the name just sprang unbidden from a wellspring of imagination -- the aether, if you will -- is even more amazing to me.Not that you need them, but you have my blessings.
I don't recall an Eversham family in Portsmouth in our family history, but the Roebuck name does come from England. There could well have been some cross-pollination.
I have quite a bit of reading cut out for me, it looks like...
I love that, and it is what I am basing my writings on, except that I write about the "United Tribes of Aotearoa (UToA). I still need to learn more about the "Fenian Brotherhood" of the Irish, which should lend some interesting characters and sub-plots.
Just of the top of my head, a potential Steampunk alt-history setting for New Zealand:
Initial European settling happens a little earlier, and in smaller numbers initially. Māori still adapt quite well to the musket and a few other pieces of... British technology, and a more modern style of education is propagated by settlers, missionaries and eventually by the Māori tribes themselves.
The inter-tribal musket wars are settled internally, and The United Tribes of New Zealand form a stronger confederacy. As European settlement pressures start to heat up, there's still a Treaty of Waitangi, but the tribes manage to play the British and the French off against each other and get better terms. They're also proficient enough in English language and law by now that there's no argument over the terms of sovereignty and governorship they are agreeing to. Banks Peninsula is declared a French enclave and Lyttelton a free port, ensuring that the Māori continue to have a non-British European trading partner. They're also better able to capitalise on the mid-19th Century gold rushes, and import more industrial technology of their own.
Land sales still happen, but on fairer terms. There's no Tohunga Suppression Act. The Land Wars still happen, as settlement pressures build in Europe and the demand for new land to cultivate rises. This time it's a bit less lopsided, with the British and their Māori allies fighting against the United Tribes with the surreptitious backing of French merchants and Irish partisans. British war shipping is disrupted and major ports blockaded using Fenian Ram submarines. The pā and trench warfare becomes more frustrating for the British, as the Māori now have the benefits of improved resources and logistics as well as terrain experience and mobility.
Eventually hostilities cease in stalemate, and it's been an uneasy, compromising peace since then. The British, French and the Fenian Brotherhood all want to consolidate their interests and push the others out. Not all Māori tribes are part of the United Tribes, and not all tribes who are trust each other either. New Zealand as a nation is trying to reconcile its identity from fractured parts, while also coping with the influx of new technological innovations spurred both by the wars and by scientific progress overseas.
...Okay, so it seems the top of my head was pretty full :-) These things kinda write themselves, sometimes.
The true reason that Augur is so keen to overcome the limitations of the portal, and be able to transmute inorganic objects between Barsoom and Earth is not to establish a trade route, as he claims. Rather it is to benefit more immediately though the sale of Barsoomian treasures he has found in the ruined Golden Temple of Issus, located near the Southern polar region of Barsoom. In the book Gods of Mars, author Edgar Rice Burroughs explains the scene...
One may speak of scarlet sward and ivory-stemmed trees decked with brilliant purple blooms; of winding walks paved with crushed rubies, with emerald, with turquoise, even with diamonds themselves; of a magnificent temple of burnished gold, hand-wrought with marvellous designs; but where are the words to describe the glorious colours that are unknown to earthly eyes? where the mind or the imagination that can grasp the gorgeous scintillations of unheard-of rays as they emanate from the thousand nameless jewels of Barsoom?
Greed is the source of Augur's motivation. If only he could get some of those precious stones back to Earth! The Kaumatua of the tribe that were at war with the Tharks of Barsoom would have given Augur some trophy Barsoomian jewels as koha for negotiating peace between them. Therefore the local Maori must know how to manipulate the portal, but they have not revealed its secret to Augur. He is trying to be as friendly as he can to these tribes people in the hope that they might reveal the secret of the portal to him, but they are unlikely to ever do so, as they know that it would be exploited en masse, which would spell the end to their simple and contented way of life.
In my background research, I came across a very interesting fact. In the early 19th century, Romanticism pervaded even the hallowed halls of scientific academia. Romanticism in science draws strong parallels with Te Ao Maori and Tikanga Maori, with an emphasis on "respectfully studying nature".
Sir Humphry Davy, a prominent Romantic thinker, said that understanding nature required “an attitude of admiration, love and worship, […] a personal response".
Victorian Romantic scientists "did not advocate what they viewed as the manipulation of nature", rather that the scientist had "more to do with the emotional appeal of connecting himself with nature and understanding it through a harmonious co-existence". This is very much the way I understand Maori to view the natural world also.
Something I just came across in Wiklipedia:
Go kiwis! This is bound to be on our to-do list for places to visit as part of the Auckland Steampunk Association!
The world's largest currently existing 2-coil Tesla coil is a 130,000-watt unit, part of a 38-foot-tall (12 m) sculpture. It is owned by Alan Gibbs and currently resides in a private sculpture park at Kakanui Point near Auckland, New Zealand.
My dear Mr. Roebuck - or Augur, if you insist.
It is perplexing to say the least to read your rantings about personages real and imagined - I hope that you have not contracted spattergroit during your portal traversings, addling your mind while also precipitously aging your clothing.
I do hope that if Starburner Galactic Courier Services completes a satisfactory first mission for you, that you will allow our increased professional intimacy to allow me to comment on your personal mental issues with abandon. I shall be doing so anyway, but I will be the better informed as we continue a professional association.
In the meantime, as we await your cargo information, may I suggest a warm glass of lime juice, laced with cumin, laudanum and sea salts? I find it restores me quite abruptly to the present day and my own senses.
A little help here somebody? I know what to do with someone who pollutes an in-character (IC) thread with out-of-character (OOC) talk, but what does one normally do with someone who is IC in an OOC thread? Haha.
I do like the concept of "portal sickness" though. That's a great idea, thanks for that.