Archives for category: fantasy

‘Yes, and the dreams were strange. They were unprecedented, unstoppable, recurring. They happened with a vividness that was a shock to consciousness. The light in them was phenomenally sharp, the clarity of every detail super-defined, colours rich, shadows etched, the whole beyond nature. Their content was gruesome, and yet fascinating. They were disturbing! Night after night, as the summer wore on, I dreamed these dreams. And slowly, I realised two things that made them so perplexing. The first, and lesser thing, was that the same dream appeared to happen each night. The same events occurred: the same conclusion. And so eventually it seemed to me that I was dreaming the same dream. Not, you understand, different versions of the same dream, but the same dream. It was as if the dream went on, and I revisited it. The dream was like a river: it flowed on, and I visited its banks nightly. I came and went, but not the dream. The dream was real and permanent, but I was unreal, and temporary…

This was troubling enough. But then the second and most disturbing thing about these dreams suddenly struck me – and once it had, I could not shake my mind free of the sense of the truth of it. It was not that the dreams themselves were so disturbing – although they were – it was that they were not my dreams. Ugh! Even now, I shake a little at it – I, Igangsogun dex:rikoji, prince of this world! – I do admit, though no longer do I suffer from them… I was dreaming someone else’s dreams


from The Governor of the Desolate Cantons | Dustless | Volume 14

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Dustless | Volume 11, Mask [iii]

Published 05 • 03 • 2017

The third of the four volumes in the Mask phase of the novel.

Precis | In a village huddled on the Endless Plains, through a long night, on the eve of a great festival, villagers keep their vigil. To pass the time, they distract themselves with stories and games.

Terrible forces may assemble in quiet places. In the intricate designs on cards, strange figures emerge. Creations of an ancient culture, no longer understood, but long revered: forces from the depths of ages, stirring, causing shadows and ripples on Time’s surface.

Gazing into the world of a mysterious system, playing with the fire of unknown powers, the villagers entertain a masked guest. But who is he? And what may be seen should the mask fall off?



Dustless | Volume 11
is approximately 290 pp./a5

Australia | Dustless | Volume 11
Brazil
| Dustless | Volume 11
Canada
| Dustless | Volume 11
France
| Dustless | Volume 11
Germany
| Dustless | Volume 11
India
| Dustless | Volume 11
Italy
| Dustless | Volume 11
Japan
| Dustless | Volume 11
Mexico
| Dustless Volume 11
Netherlands
| Dustless | Volume 11
Spain
| Dustless | Volume 11
UK
| Dustless | Volume 11
US | Dustless | Volume 11

ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number) | B06XFGWPMM

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Heavier than a thousand suns, lighter than a protium atom…

Slowly, slowly climbing the stairs in the vegetable palace of the King of Dreams, winding and winding gradually higher…

On the Siloso, the circular river, where the Lord my father standing at the rail of a fragile cruiser, among the crowds of craft, is a swan among gulls…

In a garden in the pleasure district of Shigoga, where I drew my sword and fought the famous duel of bubbles: those girls in their sumptuous robes giggling and sniggering, heads rocking and eyes blinking, lush and retarded, spirits sunken and sluggish as they float on the stream of the prince’s soul-stealing intoxicants

To arrive in a room in the Ghosts-of-Angels Palace, to look through the window on the chamber where snow is eternally falling from an invisible ceiling, and where, it is rumoured, sometimes a hunter may be seen, sometimes a lord wandering lost in winter

To the children with their little books, to the limited ones with their little dreams: left

We moved on through the crow-haunted wastes of the Desolate Cantons, met a warrior with nose broken in his youth, half an angel and half a boxer, smoked his pipe of raw kaziah, left us all to the sleep of the doomed

Heavier than a falling moon, lighter than a single feather, a feather floating from the iridescent wing of a jester hummingbird purring among the sulphur-throated blossoms of dark orange night-scenting hibiscus

In the scales, the throne of O, set against a single finger’s caress

To be in the regal state beyond the laws

What would you choose?

To be everyone and no one

To be there to feel her touch, to be

so softly undressed

To be high

To be fine

To be Dustless

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It was like a sun rising.

From behind the sun in the east, a second sun — a sun rising at night.

Most people didn’t wake: they slept through that strange double sunrise. Perhaps they opened their eyes, briefly, felt the shadows in the room twist for a moment, but then they sank back into sleep: it was too hard to wake, they were tired, they needed to rest, and besides, they felt sure they knew what the next day would bring.

And for them, it was true, the day brought what they expected.

You have to be lucky to witness a miracle: lucky to open your eyes at the right time, to be in the place the miracle begins. To keep your eyes open as the change develops. To follow the flow of the shadows, and track down the source of the light.

The next day, when the sun rose in the east, there came no second sun. And most people went on with their lives, aware only that, during the previous night, there had been a faint shift in things, like a settling of cargo in a ship’s hold — a slight settling, but still, one the crew couldn’t quite understand.

Such tiny tremors. The brief kick of a foot inside a womb.

The ripple a tadpole makes as it crosses a pond.

Most people went on, that next day, just as they’d been before.

A few people, though, had woken up: they’d seen the hidden sun, rising at night — seen the ordinary moon blotted out by an alien dazzle. They sensed the arrival. They recognised the change.

Now there is a stranger among them. And because of this stranger, they, too, become strangers.

Like a new sun, a greater sun — like a sunrise at noon, blotting out the lesser light of the old sun.

Like old thoughts — old, small thoughts — when a brilliant new thought rises.

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‘There are some expressions which, when heard, convince you instantly that their author is a man or woman of great subtlety, that their illumination is intense and pure. This expression of Rygansogun’s is one such: Only a man of flames can live in a house of fire. Of course, knowing Master Rygansogun was a RoMayZine philosopher, one can see that this epigram may be applied to war – that, surely, is one sense of the “house of fire”. Anyone who has fought with the Forbidden Army would feel this: unless a man becomes a thing of flame himself, he cannot live in the house of fire, he must burn, and perish. I have walked there, in the house of fire, and I know something of burning. And yet’ the young Lord went on, lifting his pale blue eyes to look at Zysoshin, and apparently blithely unconcerned that he was addressing his thoughts on complex philosophy to an eight-year-old boy, ‘perhaps the house of fire is not just the house of war, but the house of life itself. Certainly, this is the inflection placed upon the epigram by a much later philosopher, the genial and gracious Serensobel et:denu, a man of Fine Rank, of the Bullrush Mark and the dominant figure of the Ploughing Oxen Era, a master of synthesis, who did so much to try and draw the main traditions of pure philosophy together. Serensobel wrote: Only a man of flames can live in a house of fire. Only a child can live in the house of children.

Excerpt from Fire House, Volume 6 of Dustless

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It’s written against the times. Against the easy, easy times.

It moves slowly, it’s like the land beneath our feet, the ground itself.

It’s not going to go away, it accumulates gradually, like mountains.

It’s not about destinations, it’s not about journeys. It’s greater than that, and more humble. It’s not about conquest, not about mastery; it’s not about moments, or years; it’s not about you.

It’s not straightforward, but, importantly, it’s not facile. It’s not about the end. There are no maps to it, and it possesses no exterior. It isn’t an object. It isn’t a riddle. It isn’t about winning, or losing. It isn’t about knowing, or finding, or being lost.

It will change you, certainly – but then, what doesn’t change you?

It’s like anything you take up and put down: it returns to itself, and waits.

It’s banal, and modest: a sprinkling of salt on a few green leaves, the light of the setting sun on a line of plane trees in early summer – the shadows your fingers make as you turn a page, the landscape passing as you sleep on a suburban train…

It’s simple, and it waits, serene and alien as a deserted lake: it’s now, it’s here, it’s gone…

It’s Dustless.

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It is said, among certain Marks within the ZirCong, that “the universe has already occurred: it has completed its cycle, and returned to the void. Therefore, why hurry in our lives? They ended, long, long ago”.

If it is true, and the book of this world is already complete, how can we know whether we are near the beginning, or the middle, or the end of the text?

Since the rise of the RoMayZine and SurGaKu dynasties, and the retreat of the ZirCong from influence over terrestrial power, TanZo has put away all such theories of completed days and events already concluded. For the TanZo of these present times, it is considered a deviation from the Way to speculate overmuch upon events yet to transpire, or to sacrifice the present to a possible world to come.

Huddled in their great Metallic mansions, though, the houses of the ZirCong, their ancient bloodlines woven by ShoKun, the Mark of the Hatching Egg, do they still cleave to those old, discredited beliefs? And if so, has their power over the dusts of the mind permitted them some sense of a world to come, yet already over? Down what cerebral corridors may they move, inside what rooms may they sit and listen, straining to hear some faint echoes of futurity?

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It was a book called The Three Attitudes. In it, the woman, an educated traveller, fascinated by the differences among the three main divisions of ShiO — ZirCong, RoMayZine and SurGaKu – organised her observations of the people of the ShiO clans who, within fifty years, had started the war that would unify the whole world of O.


ATTITUDE TO THE BODY

ZirCong | Famously enigmatic, the ZirCong seem to consider the world neither ideal nor material, but in an unresolved state, or in a state that is constantly resolving towards both flesh and idea. They despise the “world of dust”, and strive for the Dustless condition. When they speak of the body, therefore, they speak of an illusion, a “thing of dust”. Even the mind, viewed from an unilluminated perspective, is to the ZirCong a thing of dust, an illusion. It is said that they do not feel pain — or, if pain is felt, they are not ZirCong. Their bodies do not belong to them: they have cast them aside.

To the ZirCong, as with all ShiO Marks, the MarIsQuess — the “building without motion”, or the “still building”, or, more simply, “the Building” — is the state or condition reached by meditation, with each ShiO division using meditation techniques peculiar to their own culture. The ZirCong use their celebrated, mysterious “Starless Darkness” techniques to achieve MarIsQuess. This is not a state ordinary people can attain. True ZirCong are said never to leave the Building, but always to dwell within it. Suspicious of language and of the “traps of definition”, the ZirCong insist that the Building can’t be described, but must be experienced. The Building must be built, through hours, days, years of arduous meditation. In this process of building, the weak eliminate themselves, as lacking the spiritual purity to maintain their path upon the Way. The foolish, the braggarts, the impatient, the greedy, all of these types of soul can never, without change, erect the Building within themselves, but must languish and perish, stranded in “the world of dust and donkeys”.

This constant striving to found and construct the Building within themselves has made the ZirCong admired, revered, feared and, by many, hated. One informal document, which has been publicly circulated, details the ZirCong attitude as follows:

What the common people call “body” and “mind”, these are merely pathways to the Building. They are gates of dust, leading to the Dustless state. Once inside the Building, all outside and inside ceases. New relations are inaugurated: all the old buildings and languages of dust, though they continue to float in the void, and are used by the common people as the limits of their world, for the Dustless one, are errors of matter and thought, imperfect perception, the toys of innocent children. People will live and die, will age and grow sick, just as they have always done — only, if you dwell in the Building, then living and dying, aging and sickening, these are changed, and their meanings are changed. The laws of sickness, the laws of age, of living, and dying, do not apply to true ZirCong. Life, death, tall, short, weak, strong, body, mind, above, below, finitude, infinity, moments, eternity, these are all categories of a diseased and limited vision: the perfect and entire vision of the Dustless ensures serenity, even as the sword goes through you, or the cancer grips. A healthy body and a diseased body are, within the Building, the same thing: an arrangement of dust.

RoMayZine | For the RoMayZine, the body is a source of struggle, the flesh is a piece of dust that may be caught hold of, polished, sharpened, hardened, quickened, improved. Men and women, both, are encouraged to exercise and to work their bodies until they are the perfect instruments of war. Both sexes swim, box, run, vault, lift weights, perform intricate ritual dances, practise with sword, bow, spear, lance, axe, they are keen horsemen, and work endlessly on their balance and speed of reaction.

There is a RoMayZine saying: The eyes for the arrow, the arms for the sword, the hands for fists, the legs for running.

For the RoMayZine, the body is very important in their philosophy. They adore action: they love to train their bodies and spirits until they are exhausted, and then they feel a tremendous peace. When they are in movement, they are irresistible; and when they are at rest, they seem sated, complete.

Life, on all levels, is a battle for them. Their Way is through action. It is not uncommon to see lords or ladies of RoMayZine clans with facial bruises, scars, misaligned bones, missing teeth.

They are warrior clans. Obviously, during war they are much sought-after as allies. In peace, their company is perhaps less pursued. It is said, among the houses of ZonO – “Society” – that when matrimonial alliances are made, then if you are not from a RoMayZine clan, but marry a RoMayZine partner, then there is often trepidation and anticipation regarding coitus. As lovers, both men and women of RoMayZine culture, are considered unsubtle, crude, demanding. A RoMayZine woman, with her strongly defined musculature and powerful limbs, is usually physically much stronger than most SurGaKu men. ZonO consider RoMayZine men as, frankly, brutes.

Love of the body is love of the Way, the RoMayZine believe. Enjoy the body, and make it do your will. But do not become obsessed with it. At the right moment, throw it away. Nothing is better than dying in battle. At such a moment, the tree both flowers and fruits: where the fruit falls, no one can say.

SurGaKu | A subtle and educated woman of ZonO explained to me that the divisions of ShiO can be broken down, very roughly, into three qualities: ZirCong, wisdom; RoMayZine, action; SurGaKu, beauty.

It is said that the SurGaKu, so concerned with beauty, find the body troubling. The SurGaKu TanZo is the effort to render the world beautiful through meditation and the practice of various forms of art. They are highly conscious of the passage of time, and of the mutability of all things. The moment has pitched its tent at the heart of every particle of dust, the SurGaKu explain, but the tent is empty.

Put simply, while the ZirCong deny the body any effective reality, and the RoMayZine treat the body with a kind of rude pragmatism, the SurGaKu are perplexed and uneasy with their bodies. They are more prone to romance, to melancholy, to dolour. They have purified their sensibilities so that they are sensitive to tiny nuances in the human and the natural world. Conscious that all pleasure and pain is fleeting, their TanZo is haunted by loss. Loss, though, is beautiful: it is the necessary condition for the existence of the world.

Their poetry, songs, prints, paintings, all celebrate the power of the ephemeral. The body, then, is a point of sensitivity, of vulnerability, of delicacy, to the SurGaKu. They know that bodies are fragile, can sicken, can break. They admit the tidal powers of sexual desire, the sweep and sway of it. Ironically, although in many ways the most refined of the three divisions of ShiO, the SurGaKu are in some ways the most fleshly, the most prone to lapse and delirium. They value tenderness and restraint, gentleness, patience, yet can be the most explosively ill-disciplined of all ShiO.

A SurGaKu love poem, from the Era of Storms, goes:

Between the room of parturition,
and the Temple of Ashes,
between the bleeding at birth,
the fire coming to death,
my body has swung, moment by moment,
like pearl beads strung
upon a wire, made into a necklace.

That necklace, my love, you wear.
Lying on your breast, my head
rises and falls,
in time with your breathing:
at sea, the waves also rise and fall,
and beneath the surface
on the shadowed bed
young pearls are forming.


Re-post

Dustless | Volume 10 | Mask [ii]

…where things give up the limits of themselves, and become revealed for what they are, the drifting envelopes of dust…

Through an immense arboreal forest, travellers make their way, and the world prepares for a universal festival.

Villages put on their finest shows. The temples are decked with ornaments, banners proclaim the beauty of the sutras, pay homage to a far-off emperor.

The roads become tracks, and the tracks become paths. Paths narrow, and the trees press in. There are only small settlements: there is much wilderness. The prospect of safety dwindles. The chance of misdirection grows.

As in the world, so in the head: one traveller takes off his flesh, enters the vegetable labyrinth of the mind, and wanders in smoke and dreams ethereal palaces, the banks of fertile rivers, the streets of unending cities…

Although form is dust, the way to the Dustless state must be by form. To hold a glance, there must be a face: to look out, one must have eyes.

If the face in the mirror is a mask, what lies behind the skin? If the person inside the mirror is invisible, what is there left to see?



Dustless | Volume 10
is approximately 270 pp./a5

status | published 01 02 2017

Australia | Dustless | Volume 10
Brazil
| Dustless | Volume 10
Canada
| Dustless | Volume 10
France
| Dustless | Volume 10
Germany
| Dustless | Volume 10
India
| Dustless | Volume 10
Italy
| Dustless | Volume 10
Japan
| Dustless | Volume 10
Mexico
| Dustless Volume 10
Netherlands
| Dustless | Volume 10
Spain
| Dustless | Volume 10
UK
| Dustless | Volume 10
US | Dustless | Volume 10

ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number) | B01MUHBCWN

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Where may I find immortal moments?

Dustless | Volume 10 | Mask [ii]

01     •     02     •     2017

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