Echoes from Amalcross: Regarding Genre Writers, & The Pantheon Fantastical
Understanding magic and Binding beyond the Meridian
When I was an undergraduate at the University of Washington, my first creative writing instructor walked in and laid down his one and only rule:
“No genre,” he said. “It’s too hard for students to write, and no one wants to read three double-spaced pages about how rayguns work.”
I bristled. I was and am a lifelong lover of genre work. I definitely wanted to read three double-spaced pages about how rayguns work. But I also understood my professor’s lone rule.
As it goes with the best of anything, the best genre looks easy: No matter how complex or labyrinthine, you don’t get lost in the world. The characters don’t shout technobabble at each other like they’re competing in the universe’s most dangerous high school debate championship, but rather speak as if their dramas are much more intimate. And when you close the book or turn off the TV, you realize — however slightly — you’re seeing the world somehow differently.
And to accomplish that kind of genre writing, you need to have mastered a whole hell of a lot of other types of writing.
The writers my co-editor Benjamin Reeves and I are bringing to you are just those kinds of writers. Every one of them has forged their own exciting path into the world. Some will scare and startle you; others will make you laugh and cry; still others will keep you on the edge of your seat — and then pull the rug out from under you to reveal a massive void where you thought the floor would be. They are the best kinds of guides to show you around the Distant Reaches.
I know they’d all make my old professor proud.
I’m so excited to introduce our writers to you over the coming weeks as we tread deeper into our journey. (If you missed last week’s story, “The Scorched Woman’s Gift” by Henry Leeker, be sure to check it out.) Each of them has a different perspective of the Distant Reaches — and I think you’ll find you’re starting to see your own world just a little bit differently because of it.
Opening Remarks: “Uncanny Beings: An In-Depth Seminar”
The Magist Imperial University Bartholomew Codger Aurric Memorial Professor of Binding History, Carlotta ‘ja Wilton
Students of Binding learn early on about the Meridian, the porous border between the Ordered and Chaotic Realms. Initial lessons tend to center on how to draw upon the Chaotic Realm and focus it, using various binds, to achieve magical outcomes in the Ordered Realm. If you have any questions about what I have just said, please see yourself out and visit the Registrar. I believe there are still seats available in Professor Stibbins’s Introduction to Meridian Arts.
The vast majority of pupils never delve beyond this superficial understanding of Binding as a practical mathematics problem. However, those more attuned to the Meridian and its hidden geographies have made incredible discoveries. Some, like the late Silvana Rhinebeck, have devoted their lives to studying the Uncanny beings that dwell within the Chaotic Realm and understanding why certain of those choose to reveal themselves in our world. More mysterious still is why some Uncanny beings are undeniably beneficent, and others, malevolent.
Now, all of you have requested special access to this course. I will warn you up front that I will not tolerate congress with Uncanny Beings. They are dangerous. They are unpredictable. And they will toy with you, subverting your wishes and twisting your expectations. Anyone seeking to summon an Uncanny will immediately receive a failing grade. No exceptions. We will be studying what exists of the Pantheon Fantastical and Silvana Rhinebeck’s conclusions therein. But this will be a purely theoretical, textual study. I repeat, this is a textual study, and I will not hesitate to fail you, assuming you survive whatever stupidity you might attempt.
Any questions? Good.
Now, if you’ll turn to page four, we shall begin with a discussion of some of Silvana’s childhood encounters and how they shaped her later methods….
— Benjamin Reeves
Not gonna to lie, we're pumped for Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves! Dungeons & Dragons’ collaborative storytelling process was a huge influence on how we developed the narrative structure for Ballads of the Distant Reaches.
Check out the latest trailer for the upcoming D&D movie!
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