Friday, 13 June 2014

Crash Course I

I just sent off what I hope is a near-final version of The Mime Order to my editor (hooray!), so I thought I'd finally kick off this Crash Course series I've been planning to do for months. The aim of this is to give you guys a summary of some of the more complex topics in The Bone Season so you can get straight back into The Mime Order when it comes out in October. The three main concepts I'll be discussing in this post are the ethereal mechanics of the dreamscape, dreamwalking and the silver cord. 



Dreamscape

The interior of the mind, where memories are stored. Split into five zones or "rings" of sanity: sunlight, twilight, midnight, lower midnight and hadal. Clairvoyants can consciously access their own dreamscapes, while amaurotics may catch glimpses when they sleep. 

The dreamscape is the landscape of the mind. In the world of The Bone Season, every living, animate creature has a dreamscape. You know when someone tells you to "go to your happy place"? In Paige's world, your happy place is your dreamscape. I first got this idea when I was writing in my mid-teens – a kind of stage on which recurring dreams play out – but I developed it when I was studying medieval poetry at uni and discovered the term locus amoenus, meaning "pleasant place" in Latin. Here's how Jaxon explains it to Paige: 

Everyone has a dreamscape, you see. An illusion of safety, a kind of locus amoenus. You understand. Voyants have coloured dreamscapes. The rest have black-and-white ones. They see their dreamscapes when they dream. Amaurotics, 
consequently, dream in monochrome. 

The locus amoenus is a peaceful and idyllic place, usually a garden, lawn or woodland, where safety or comfort can be found. In The Bone Season, dreamscapes can take virtually any form, from fields and lakes to rooms, libraries and alleys  but only clairvoyants have colour in their dreamscapes. 

Your spirit lives, ideally, in the very centre of your dreamscape. Clairvoyants, including Rephaim, can consciously access their own dreamscapes when they want to feel safe, and see it as if it's a real place. However, the vast majority of them cannot walk away from the central zone without causing massive damage to their sanity. Here's where Paige's gift comes in. In Chapter 20, Eliza asks Paige to draw her a picture of the dreamscape from a bird's eye view. She would have produced something like this:


The dreamscape is divided into five rings of consciousness. In order to stay sane, most people need to keep their spirit fixed in their sunlit zone (Zone 1). The silver cord – the link between body and spirit, which keeps a person anchored within their physical form – prevents them from moving away from it, forming a kind of wall around that zone. When someone is particularly stressed, the silver cord becomes more flexible, and the spirit is able to drift into the twilight zone (Zone 2). An amaurotic would associate this experience with having a nightmare. So sunlit zone = healthy mind. If a spirit were to drift beyond that zone on a permanent basis, the individual would begin to lose their sanity. Eliza describes this in more detail in Chapter 20 of The Bone Season. Once you reach the hadal zone (Zone 5), you're too far gone to function. This is what happens to the Underguard in Chapter 1 of The Bone Season. Paige uses her gift to shove his spirit into his hadal zone, effectively destroying his sanity.

Your projection of yourself in the dreamscape is known as a dream-form, the shape taken by a spirit when it's within the confines of a dreamscape. In the
æther, a spirit has no form; it's simply a "faceless glimmer", as Paige calls it. You can't see your own dream-form, but you can imagine it looking a certain way if the situation calls for it.


I pictured myself with a massive dream-form, a behemoth, 
big enough to break down every barrier. 

Fun fact: All the rings of consciousness are named after common terms for the light zones in the ocean. The hadal zone, for example, refers to the deepest levels of the ocean, where there is little marine diversity, extreme pressure and total darkness. 

 


Dreamwalking 

Silver cord: A permanent link between the body and the spirit. It allows a person to dwell for many years in one physical form. Unique to each individual. Particularly important to dreamwalkers, who use the cord to leave their bodies temporarily. The silver cord wears down over the years, and once broken cannot be repaired

Art © Anonymous
Dreamwalking is The Bone Season's version of the paranormal concept of OBE, or an out-of-body experience (also called astral or etheric projection, spirit-walking). In the book, the word is a contraction of dreamscape and walking. The gift is extremely rare in the universe of the book; Paige is the only known dreamwalker in London.

Key to the dreamwalker's ability is her flexible silver cord. Every dreamscape has one: a rigid barrier around the sunlit and twilight zones. Its function is to prevent a person's spirit from slipping too far into the darker zones, which would cause madness, or into the æther, which would cause physical death. Over a number of years, the silver cord becomes thinner and thinner until finally it snaps, and the spirit drifts naturally out of the body. If a person is fatally wounded, the cord breaks instantly. If they're suffering from anxiety, grief, pain, or any other emotion or mental condition that affects their wellbeing, the cord loosens a little, allowing the spirit to drift into the twilight zone, where amaurotic "nightmares" occur. A dreamwalker's silver cord is so flexible that it allows her to walk through every zone unharmed, without causing lasting damage to her sanity.


Say the majority of us have an inch between our body and our spirit. You have a mile. You can walk to the outer ring of your dreamscape, which means you can sense the æther for much farther than we can. You can also sense dreamscapes. We only sense spirits and aura, and not from very far away.
 
First of all, Paige "dislocates" her spirit by stepping towards the outer zones of her dreamscape. As she does this, pressure radiates through the æther. The farther she walks, the greater the pressure. This is what causes people to have nosebleeds if they get too close to her. Once she's through the hadal zone, Paige can "jump" out of her body and into the æther. After that, she's able to possess people by entering their dreamscapes – provided she can get through the dreamscape's defence mechanisms and reach their sunlit zone. If she succeeds, she must then suppress the person's spirit so she can take control, as she does with the butterfly.

When she's inside another person's dreamscape, Paige's dream-form is subject to their personal view of her. If she wills it hard enough she can override this and make herself appear larger and stronger, as she does when she tries to possess Nashira, but her natural state in Warden's dreamscape is impossible to see:

 I wondered what I looked like. I was in his dreamscape now, playing by his 
rules . . . I had no idea what he thought of me, and I would never find out. 
There were no mirrors in a dreamscape. I would never see the Paige he had created.

While Paige is out of her body, her life functions stop, including her breathing reflex. If she was standing when she "jumped", she collapses. When hooked up to her life-support machine, the Dead Voyant Sustainment System (DVS²), Paige can dreamwalk for long periods of time. Without it, however, she can only risk "quick-fire jumps", lest her body begins to lose too much oxygen. 

14 comments:

  1. Thanks you samantha for discussing this....the thing i want to know is does scion history tells something about how is this"unnaturalness" caused in people....is there any theory about that?

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    1. The official theory, approved and created by Scion, is that "unnaturalness" was brought into the world when Queen Victoria's son did a séance that went terribly wrong. How it actually happened... you shall have to wait and see...

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  2. Hi Samantha,
    This post is very enlightening, and I'm excited to read the rest in your crash course series. One concept of your world I am still hazy on is sighted vs. unsighted voyants. If Paige is unsighted and cannot see the color of another voyant's aura, how can she tell what kind of class or gift that voyant is/has? Also, I'm interested in a more detailed description of what auras look like and where they are located around a person's form. Thanks again for this series.

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    1. Hello! Of course, I'll cover the visual aspects of the book in another post.

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  3. Hi Samantha these Courses are really cool! So I was kind of wondering about the whole concept of Unreadables—how it happens, how it affects a voyant and their aura and dreamscape, and why Jaxon kept trying to throw spirits at him! (the last one may just be my own confusion). Anyways, thanks, I love your writing!

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    1. I'll try to cover unreadables in a post, but in short, being unreadable means you have a dreamscape that's impossible for spirits to affect, enter, or damage in any way. It's like having a very thick shield around your mind. Jaxon was throwing spirits (and Paige) at Zeke to see how much pain he could endure, as although spirits can't affect an unreadable's dreamscape, the impact does cause some pain. Hope that helps a little!

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  4. Hello Samantha! I love "The Bone Season", and the world you've created! I am a little confused on the orders of clairvoyance, though. The chart in the beginning of the book helped; however could you explain each order in more detail? Like, how they connect with the aether and how are their abilities different and unique from the other levels. For example, what is the difference between soothsayers and augurs? Also, can all types of clairvoyance summon spools of spirits? I was confused on that because it seemed as though everyone could do that, but if that's true where does the uniqueness come in? A little explanation on the different types of spirits would be helpful too. Anyway, sorry this is a lot of questions! But thank you!! This Crash Course is very helpful!! :)

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    1. Hi! I'll be getting into the different types as the series goes on, and I'm hoping Bloomsbury will release 'On the Merits of Unnaturalness' at some point (I've written the whole document, which explains every type in detail), but I'll try to do some explaining in another post. All clairvoyants, no matter what order or type, can create spools to use in spirit combat.

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  5. These explanations are very helpful. I'd like to learn more about rephaite society and culture is set up, assuming you can get into some of it without giving away spoilers from future books.

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    1. I can't get into too much without spoilers, but I'll have a go!

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  6. Can you explain more about the Rephaim and their minds being like "fire"?
    Also I'd like to know more about the Golden Cord.

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    1. Those two topics will be explored more in later books.

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  7. Have so much enjoyed reading about the world you've created. Happened upon your book by accident via the public library. I'm also very interested in the Rephaim, their voyant gifts, their minds, & the golden cord. Warden is one of my fav characters in recent UF, my other fav is Algaliarept from The Hollows. Also enjoyed the irony of the songs playing on the gramaphone in different scenes. Curious to know how Warden came to enjoy music from the 20th century, & if that is significant. I told my mom I think you are brilliant & gifted; she is planning to read your books, too. (And she is 77!!)

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    1. Thank you! I'm so glad you enjoyed the book, and that you recommended it to your mum. (Surprisingly my mum liked it, and she never, ever reads fantasy... although she, er, could be biased.) It was good fun choosing songs for the gramophone.

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