Albert Camus

Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Friday, October 20, 2017

In the sky above there was no sun - Call Your Steel by G.D. Penman

G.D. Penman’s Call Your Steel is an gritty, action-packed dark fantasy filled with intrigue, brutality and Lovecraftian horror.
Their paths may cross and their fates may entwine but what can mere mortals do in the face of the vast alien power of the Eaters of the Gods?


Release Date: October 15th, 2017

In the sky above there was no sun.

For millennia beyond reckoning the Eaters of the Gods ruled over this sunless world, waging their secret war on each other through their Chosen, mortals granted a fraction of the Eaters in human powers in exchange for a life of servitude. Kaius counts himself among their hallowed ranks, devoted entirely to his brutal duties. Lucia is no more than a travelling minstrel, albeit one who found herself in the very worst place at the very worst time. How could mere mortals like them stand up against the vast alien power of the Eaters of the Gods?

The metal shrieked and sparks flicked off around them as they tried one another’s strength. Kaius shuffled a half step forward, squaring his shoulders and bearing down with all of his called strength. The ground beneath Malius feet began to crack, the solid earth giving beneath the impossible strain.
The Eaters of the Gods have ruled over these lands for millennia beyond reckoning, since before the histories were scribed and man first learned the wonders of fire. In this place of perpetual darkness the Eaters wage their secret wars against each other. Each meaningless battle fought through their proxies, the Chosen. Mortal men and women granted a fraction of the Eaters inhuman powers in exchange for their absolute servitude.

Kaius counts himself among the hallowed ranks of the Chosen, one of the blessed few with the skill and intellect to draw a patron’s favour, devoted body and soul to his brutal duty as arbiter and executioner of his master’s desires. Lucia is no more than a travelling minstrel, carrying old legends on her tongue and a tune on her sickle-harp, bad luck has led her to the very worst place at the very worst time. Their paths may cross and their fates may entwine but what can mere mortals do in the face of the vast alien power of the Eaters of the Gods?

Just Mortal

Immortality has been a constant of mythology and fantasy fiction since its inception. There are very few Gods and Monsters roaming around in the realms of classical mythology that have to worry about old age, and even many heroes are granted eternal life, albeit it with a clause or two attached.

Fantasy fiction, the natural successor to mythology, has more than its fair share of immortal characters too. Tolkien’s elves are the perfect example of a species that lives forever and never changes, but he sidestepped most of the relevant issues by making them “perfect” from the outset, so they never had a need to grow.

Horror fiction quietly picked up after its lazy cousin Fantasy and began addressing the downsides of living forever pretty early; both the classic “watching everyone that you love die” and the price that you have to pay to live forever.

What I never saw enough of were the inevitable side effects of immortality. Occasionally something like “Death Becomes Her” would come along and show that eternal life didn’t equate to being indestructible, but most stories seem content to have immortal characters exist within their world without that immortality having any sort of effect on the world.

In Call Your Steel, I tried to address the realities of immortality and the greater impact that living forever would have on the world. In the book, a few mortals have ascended to monstrous pseudo-godhood as “Eaters” by consuming the flesh of the gods that came before them and achieved eternal life, but it has not made them impervious to harm, any more than it protected their predecessors.

Immortality is antithetical to the way that we understand the world. Without the constant change of generations, stagnation seems almost inevitable. Many fantasy worlds already suffer from a strange stalling after they have reached medieval technological levels, but with immortal rulers, there is at least a logic to why no progression is made.

We can see from our own aging population, that people do not necessarily change over time so much as they become more themselves, more set in their ways and opinions, more confident in expressing their eccentricities. I did not believe that change would completely halt for the Eaters, I just believed that everything about them would become amplified as the centuries rolled by. From their personalities to their appearance.

Another thread in Call Your Steel is the way that eternal life effects the way that the Eaters think. Very quickly they become numb to the suffering of others and assume that mortality equates to meaninglessness. To the Eaters, the only real people in the world are themselves, with everything and everyone else simply serving as temporary tools. This self-centred philosophy leads to the ghastly state that the world is in when the story begins.

The world of Call Your Steel itself reflects the inherent strangeness of immortality: Cities are built atop the ruins of the cities that came before. Whole dead civilisations are mined for trinkets and resources. The Strangled Forest, the home to one of the Eaters, is made up of petrified trees encircled by living vines. The natural progression of the world has been dragged to a halt by creatures that are afraid of any change.

When everything lasts forever, nothing means anything. Isn’t it lucky that we are just mortal?

About the author:
G D Penman writes fantasy fiction. He lives in Scotland with his partner and children, some of whom are human. He is a firm believer in the axiom that any story is made better by dragons. His beard has won an award. If you have ever read a story with monster and queer people, it was probably one of his. In those few precious moments that he isn’t parenting or writing he continues his quest to eat the flesh of every living species.

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