- April 18, 2023
Every age is modern in its own time. I owe this revelation to my twelfth grade english teacher, a true Hill Dwarf of a British man (think Lord of the Rings, not human dwarf, think Dungeons & Dragons, not mini-me) While he didn’t coin the phrase, Mr Liandzi made sure I knew how to apply it. In the intervening years it has given me a powerful insight into just how awesome we’ve always thought we were.
I imagine early humans carefully watching the night sky for the cycles and signs they’ve come to recognize. Using their capacity to remember events and understand cycles, the earliest of humans would’ve thought themselves the absolute masters of their universes. They could look up to the sky and know when the rains would be returning, even if no clouds would show for days. They would know when the winds would blow strongest, when the harvests would ripen based on what bright lights crossed the night sky. No longer mere passengers on a world-turtle which dictated their survival; they were beings capable of knowing and predicting what would come next, and using that capacity for prediction to their advantage, to their survival. They must’ve thought themselves near gods.
Understanding cycles is how we came to conquer and perhaps eventually destroy our world. The simple fact that our world has stable, predictable cycles may be the entire reason there is life here at all. The cycles of our climate enable the cycling of energy through life and the biosphere. Without these cycles there may be nothing, and without recognition of these cycles, no hope of surviving.
When building the world of TCS I knew we needed to be able to talk about the passage of time and the coming and goings of seasons without using our traditional terra-firma references. Quite simply, tying the events of one familiar reference to another is a cheap and easy way to create associations! The wordfjalls stand in for all the tropes and references we bring with us; harvest, ripening, the storing of food and supplies for a long spell. While there are no apparent deciduous plants in the world of the Village, the image of colourful falling objects alighting on the breeze is very consciously meant to invoke the passions of fall and the coming big changes of seasons.
All is never as it seems though. The Wordfjalls are not connected to trees or plants or biological cycles of any kind. They are instead just another mysterious element of this world, an epicycle, working within the larger enigma of just where it is the story takes place…