Echoes from Amalcross: Horatio Hamill Spreads the News
Plus, why author Chris Diggins loves lizard-people
Extra, Extra: Read the latest on the railroad strike!
Horatio Hamill, Newsboy and Amalcross Inkblot at Large, Only Speaks the Truth
Hey, you! See the news about the railroad strike?
Well, those heroic union mages are standing strong.
Here’s the skinny: The fat cats at the railway brought in the army to break the strike a few days ago. Of course, the “official” story is the strikers turned violent and two soldiers are in the hospital with concussions. Yeah, right; we’re all buying that one. A little birdie tells me the army shot four protesters and then the Imperial Catechism arrested the strike leaders, but you’ll never see that in the papers.
So, here’s what I think: Solidarity with the Steam Mages’ Union, and say “no” to coal. It’s dirty, and it puts hard-working Amalcrossers out of work. Magic is a clean, safe way of generating steam to run our locomotives, and those jobs put food on the table for thousands.
Read the full story for fifteen coppers, or add the supplement for a luna!
— Benjamin Reeves
Ask the Author: Chris Diggins
Writer and podcast host Chris Diggins wrote our most recent story, “Pay the Blood Price,” about a spice merchant who makes a deal without fully understanding its consequences. Co-editor Benjamin Reeves caught up with Diggins to chat about his creative process and why he loves reptiles so much.
This conversation has been edited for length and clarity. Beware! Mild spoilers ahead.
What got you excited about writing this story?
I really love lizard-people. Now, I can give you the basic answer to that, which is I think they’re neat, or a slightly longer answer.
How about the longer answer?
An interesting thing about fantasy fiction is it gives you the space to imagine very different world and societies. It’s a place where the creativity can really shine when you imagine a difference in circumstances or the presence of magic, and how that might affect the development of a society. The reason I like lizard-people so much is that when you look at your elves or dwarves or whatever — what Tolkien’s fantasy set up for us — they have their own societies, but there’s still a fundamental similarity there.
They’re basically still a lot like people.
But lizards are reptiles. Basic biology is radically different, and that’s fun to imagine. What does being cold-blooded do to a society? Being nocturnal? Primarily carnivorous? They don’t eat very much in the way of vegetables. Or even just the fact they’re covered in scales. How does that affect their customs or the clothing they have? These are fundamentally different creatures from us in every way.
We see a lot of this come through in the story. How did it contribute to your ending?
The lore document you sent [to the writers] tells us a lot about the Salavasters. They’re extremely long-lived, but also have a very low birthrate, which led me to think — and you also said this — they would have an extremely low-violence society, because if it weren’t, then they would kill themselves off in a couple of generations … That means they prefer to involve other species in their political games because it means the other clan can just kill that guy. They save face, everybody wins. Except that guy who’s dead. That was baked in from the start: This guy is going to be a patsy.
Is there anything else you hope readers take away from our conversation?
World-building is a real art. You can find any number of people who write something and throw in different proper nouns every ten seconds, and eventually you’re like, “I don’t know what this means.” So I love the idea of Ballads of the Distant Reaches and doing all this world-building over time and trying to find the right place to craft that. It’s a really cool idea because you get to see so much of this world unfold over time. We get to jump around and see all these different aspects of it.
Author Chris Diggins is the co-host of Mostly Nitpicking, a podcast dedicated to analyzing a piece of pop culture by looking exclusively at the details.
Give Mostly Nitpicking a listen here!
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