#atozchallenge: T is for Trisanda

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boreal forest, Canada

My original idea of Trisanda (trih-SAHN-dah) was that it was a forest planet.  Inhabited but not even close to Earth’s population at this time.  There’s evidence of civilization, of course: there are buildings, halls, chapels, houses, and so on.  Most of them are settlements of maybe no more than ten to twenty thousand people spread out over a good number of miles.  You could very well argue that my first thoughts of Trisanda was that it was an entire planet that looked like New England!

It’s more built up than that, of course.  There are cities as well as villages, forest lands as well as tropical ones, and so on.  In a way, think of it geologically as a possible Earth if we hadn’t evolved into a messy, dirty and somewhat irresponsible Industrial Age.  Trisanda is what Earth would be if we’d kept nature quite high up there in importance when it came to our cultural, communal and productive evolution.  [Not to say I was going to turn it into a political diatribe on ecology, far from it.  I admit to not being entirely well-read on that, and didn’t want to go in that direction anyway.]

We make multiple visits to Trisanda during the Bridgetown Trilogy, but for the most part we stay near a community called Bann Dassah (bahn DAH-sah).  That’s an extremely important spiritual center for the Trisandi, including a great meeting hall*, a Landing Field**, a Meeting Table near that***, and a wide path that leads toward the center of the community.  Bann Dassah, just like all the other communities, also has a spiritual leader of sorts, who acts both as a seer and as a teacher; her name is sehndayen-ne emha Eprysia Kaalen [ey-PREE-see-ah KAY-lenn], often known to many as Ampryss (a conjunction of ’emha Eprysia’).****  She too pops up from time to time in the trilogy.

As this planet is extremely spiritual in nature, a visitor is able to sense a marked difference in the spiritual energy around them, even if their ability isn’t the strongest.  It too works on a similar yin-yang balance; this world is the starting point of the Mendaihu-Shenaihu balance, as well as its imbalance.  It too reacts with equal force to whatever might be done to it or is taken away from it.  Many consider Trisanda and Gharra (Earth, that is) two planets with a related spiritual balance as well.  Therefore it’s considered an extremely holy land and its visitors give it the most utmost respect.

 

* – The meeting hall is mentioned many times in the books, but I never quite made it there.  It may show up in future MU stories, however.  We do visit a massive living quarters nearby in The Persistence of Memories, however.

** – Landing Fields are dedicated clearings where Lightwalkers can arrive safely on Trisanda.  Each field is partitioned into circular segments with shorter grass, with the sigils of the various Trisandi clans set into them with darker wheat-colored stalks.  You’ll see these quite often in the trilogy.

*** – Meeting Tables take various shapes, depending on how each community has them set up.  Bann Dassah’s is a long, continuous table that takes up most of the field.  Feasts are prepared twice a day, every day, regardless of weather.

**** – Anjshé vocabulary lesson time!  Sehndayen-ne (sen-DEY-en-ney) = teacher. Emha (EY-mah) = general feminine title (i.e., Miss, Ms., etc)…the masculine title would be edha (EY-dah).

 

#atozchallenge: L is for Lightwalking

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Still from Wim Wenders’ Until the End of the World

Lightwalking is usually one of the first things most recently awakened Mendaihu and Shenaihu learn.  It is the process of moving from one fixed point to another by ‘stepping into Light’ — the term for allowing one’s spirit to take hold and control the movements of the physical body.  The spirit will transport itself and the body to the desired location and both will step back out of the Light again.  As the spirit is not bound by physical restraint, this travel method is much faster than even FTL.  In essence one is stepping into an advanced level of reality.

The same theory applies to commercial travel on a grander scale.  Each province has its own Nullport, where shuttles will send travelers up to a geosynchronous orbital satellite (in the case of Bridgetown, this would be Tigua Bay Station), where they would then enter nullflight ships.  These ships will slingshot a safe distance from Earth and then enter Light on a much larger scale, sending the ship to its intended destination.

The large-scale Light-travel is called nullflight, due to the early First Contacters misunderstanding the term for the Meraladian technology used in Light-Travel, called ajyinul [ah-ZHYEE-nool], thinking it referred to ‘null’, or an idea that this kind of travel took place in non-space.  The term stuck, and is still used to this day.

One’s vision while moving in Light can cause concern and confusion, depending on what you’re doing within it.  If you’re in a fixed place and not moving too much, everything you see will be in incredibly sharp focus, regardless of how near or far it is from you.  This can be rather discomforting for first-timers, but one eventually gets used to it.  The trick is to focus only on the person or thing you need to focus on and filter out everything else.  On the other hand, if you’re in motion, your surroundings will still be sharp but discolored and sometimes stretched out.  [The above still from Until the End of the World is pretty much the closest to what it looks like.]

 

I’d come up with this kind of travel early on, basing it on various things such as astral travel, as I wanted the characters to be able to visit other worlds such as Trisanda (and in effect, Meraladh and other CNF planets) in a relatively quick amount of time.  It went through quite a number of different terms over the years, but once I figured out my science behind it, relating it to all the other Light events in the Mendaihu Universe, it all fell into place.

There are, of course, a number of rules whenever I use Lightwalking.  First, exit and reentry will always cause a ‘snap’ of air and sometimes even a brief white flash.  There is no chance of reentry into an already occupied position; the movement of the spirit and its ability to sense other beings and objects makes this possible.  [However, if one isn’t quite used to Lightwalking, one may reenter at the wrong altitude and reappear a few feet up in the air.  It’s a common rookie mistake.]  A Lightwalker can take one or two people along with them with little problem, though the distance is usually shorter than intended.

And most importantly, Lightwalking is the only way to reach Trisanda at this time.

#atozchallenge: H is for Hallera and other CNF planets

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Back when I first started planning out the Mendaihu Universe — or more correctly, the Vigil Universe, as I’d envisioned it then — I’d thought of creating a multiplanetary federation in which these stories could take place.  On the same day I’d spent in that overheated laundromat on Charles Street in Boston coming up with the Bridgetown setting, I made some cursory notes on this federation, but thanks to overthinking the physics of space travel as well as realizing I was overreaching a bit, I scaled back so the story would remain on a future Earth.  I’d keep this federation idea in pocket for future ideas.

Crimson-Null Foundation was a name I came up with before I even had an idea.  Originally it was ‘Crimson Nine’ as I was going to have nine planets involved.  I knew “Crimson” was going to reference Earth, but it took me quite sometime to build something around the rest of the name.
It wasn’t until writing The Phoenix Effect that I came up with the idea of Null, which was my own personal answer to bending the laws of physics for space travel.  It was partly inspired by the New Age books I’d been reading, specifically the subjects of remote viewing and astral travel.  I let the idea simmer for a few weeks, doing some deep thinking about the ground rules before I even wrote about it.  The shortest, oversimplified version I came up with: while in reality the body carries the soul in travel, in Null travel it’s the opposite: the soul travels and pulls the body along with it.  It’s a LOT more complicated than that, of course, but that’s the elevator pitch for it.
The use of the word “Null” soon changed to “Light” as the idea expanded, but I felt Null should remain when it’s referred to commercially: the Nullport, for instance.  This is also the reason I kept the “Foundation” part of it, to hint that it this planetary group is centered around commerce as well as peace treaties, but less so about the spiritual end of things.

Trisanda is not part of the CNF, even though it’s the ancestral homeworld of everyone involved; they are not part of the commercial ventures, only spiritual ones.

The first-in-line planet on the CNF board is of course Meraladh [mey-rah-LADH, slight lisp on the dh], the current physical homeworld of the aliens in this universe.  It’s an Earthlike planet that has five major continents and numerous satellite islands.  It’s the first planet that the Trisandi colonized after starting their spacefaring age, and has become a major travel destination for both business and pleasure.  In the trilogy, we meet numerous characters who are full or half-Meraladhza.

The second planet is Mannaka [mahn-NAH-kah], which many call the Midway between Meraladh and Earth.  It started out as a colony planet during the Trisandi spacefaring age, and was originally to be closed down once they traveled to Earth.  However, many of the families that had taken root there during this age did not want to abandon it.  It’s got a much smaller population than Meraladh or Earth, but it’s one of the most important transportation hubs in the CNF.  The Mannaki are an incredibly friendly and sociable people, and are also fiercely protective of their own.  They’re the leaders in transportation and communication technologies.  Councilor Mancka Udéma, a member of the Provincial Governor’s Council, who we meet in the latter half of A Division of Souls, is Mannaki.

Earth/Gharra is the third-important planet in terms of the CNF, and was the main destination of the Trisandi spacefarers.  Eons later the Meraladians reestablished contact with Earth to strengthen their connection; both planets created the Foundation soon after to solidify the commercial and spiritual connections of all planets inhabited fully or partly by Meraladians.
Gharra [GAH-rrah, very slight glottal fricative on the rr] is the original name given by the Trisandi to the planet.  Whenever the planet is talked about in spiritual terms, both the Mendaihu and Shenaihu will always refer to it as Gharra.

Fourth is Hallera [HAH-leh-rah], a purely Meraladian-made satellite world in which its inhabitants all live within the planet, not outside of it.  It’s another midway planet and is mainly a transportation hub, both for Null travel and for shipping purposes.  There are also some minor technological and industrial companies based here as well.  [Later on when I started working second shift at a warehouse in late 2000, I came up with an MU-related story about dock workers on Hallera.  I’m yet to write it, but I’m sure I’ll be doing so soon enough.]
Hallera does have a significant population, mostly those who live and work there, such as dock workers, transportation, security, and so on.  CNF representative Jack Priestley, who we meet early on in A Division of Souls, grew up here.

Fifth is Runeia [roo-NAY-ah], a planet not too far from Hallera.  It unfortunately has gotten a bit of a bad reputation, as technically it’s a prison planet; this is where many of the worst criminals would be sent to for rehabilitation.  The world itself is actually quite beautiful and lovingly curated by its inhabitants.  It’s extremely distant from most of the other planets, which adds to its unfair reputation as a bad place to be.  [This one’s a Tuckerized name:  It’s named after the final track, “Runeii”, of Talk Talk’s 1991 album Laughing Stock.  That song title is also the inspiration of using the extra ‘i’ at the end of some clan names.]

There are other planets involved, but I have yet to sketch them out. 🙂

#atozchallenge: F is for Flora and Fauna

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Photo courtesy of The American Road Trip Company — yes, rural New England really does look like this!

When it came time to describe Trisanda, first in The Phoenix Effect and then in the Bridgetown Trilogy, I already knew what it would look like:  New England in the autumn.  Specifically, the area of central and western Massachusetts, where I’d grown up and lived for so many years.  Far from most of the big cities, where going somewhere requires a thirty-mile drive which you don’t mind at all, because that means you get to see the foliage and listen to some tunes.  There are a hell of a lot more trees and animals than there are people in some of these towns.

I worked for my town’s Public Works back in the summers of 1989 and 1990, which meant spending the entire day pushing a lawn mower up and down and around the gravestones of the dozen or so cemeteries around the town (our town was incorporated in 1762, so there are quite a few generations buried there), or working on the sides of quiet back roads, cleaning overgrowth and collecting litter.  Each day I’d be neck deep in nature, watching the seasons and the colors change.  Years later, when I’d have to drive those thirty-plus miles to my day job, I’d drive the back roads on purpose just so I could enjoy the views.

Come 1997, I already knew that Trisanda was going to embrace that natural setting, the miles of trees and grassy fields, old farms and whatnot.  I wanted a somewhat pristine planet; one that evolved organically and with little outside influence (returning to the theme of emotional/intellectual influence there).

There are towns and cities on Trisanda, of course…the trilogy just doesn’t focus on them.  It focuses more on the outpost towns, in particular one named Bann Dassah (pronunciation: bahn DAH-sah), where one particular character, Eprysia Kaalen (aka Ampryss) lives out her life as a Watcher of Earth/Gharra.  We’ll see more of Bann Dassah in The Persistence of Memories and especially in The Balance of Light.

When I wrote the scene where Natianos Lehanna and Janoss Miradesi visit Trisanda — the first scene on Trisanda that didn’t involve the Landing Field or the Gathering Table — I wanted to show a world that would be familiar yet somehow alien.  The forest would be similar to the above photo; a mix of pines, ashes, maples, birches, and so on to give it color.  [I gave names to only a few, however…the pine-like kriosi (kree-OH-see) and the fir-like skrihad (skree-HAHD)…but you get the picture.]

And what does one see in the woods of New England, sometimes to our frustration?  Wild animals like deer, wildcats and dogs.  Similar creatures would most likely hang out in the wilds of Trisanda as well as part of the ecology.  So in comes the wolflike gundaevi (goon-DAY-vee) and the feline jenha (JENN-hah) as background elements to the above scene.  There are others that are heard or their shadows seen, but I don’t go into detail.

 

So is that all there is to worldbuilding?  Heh, if only!  It really does depend on the situation.  Since 90% of the trilogy takes place in Bridgetown, I came up with all kinds of details: communities, neighborhoods, maps, population, and so on.  The 10% that takes place on Trisanda is mostly in the woods or in three or four specific places, so I didn’t need to go into too much detail, and focused more on minor details to fill out description.  I’m sure if/when Trisanda pops up in future Mendaihu Universe stories, I’ll be more elaborate,  depending on the plot.