Monday, July 12, 2010

World Gods

Ptah, the patron deity of artists and craftsmen. His cult believed he created the world, the gods and all living things by uttering their names, according to the dictates of his heart. An instinctive ubergod, one might say, a panster.

From Tutankhamun: His Tomb and Its Treasures, published by The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Alfred A. Knopf, Inc, New York, edited by Katherine Stoddert Gilbert, ISBN: 0-394-41170-6.

A beautiful book with 100 full colour plates as well as 103 in black and white taken by Harry Burton at the time of the tomb's discovery. Included are photographs of a number of the exquisite but lesser items found among that golden, cluttered magnificence.

(Art books such as this are not only a valuable research tool for those seeking an accurate details for their fiction but are also instructive on many levels. I didn't realize, for example, that the boomerang is not exclusive to Australia, and was used by hunters of that era among the Nile marshes.)

All writers are Ptah initiates, are world builders. Though we usually think of world building to be a function of fantasy and science fiction, I think the Ptah effect applies whether a writer choses to delineate a small contemporary town, a medieval castle or a setting of international intrigue The mechanics and challenges are simply more apparent in fantasy.

High fantasy/SF involves the creation of a total world, from geophysical features to political structure, language, religion, etc. and etc.

Urban fantasy tends towards the development of a society within a known and existing world. The mores, the social constructs, the anthropology of a specified and alien group: the dynamics of a wolf pack of shapeshifters, the conventions governing vampire interaction. A fascinating world within a world, so to speak.

What is not so often explored, except in generalities as a useful conflict, a background canvas, is the style in which the larger, conventional world reacts to these subcultures. And that reaction is one thing I have tried to reflect in Dark and Disorderly.
Can anyone suggest other urban fantasies/paranormals which integrate the "normal" world with the paranormal? Beyond nightclubs run by vampires, that is?

Apologies: While I was offline, my gmail was hacked, so many of you have received spam. I'm very sorry.
A review here gives D&D 4/5 hearts. More !! and !!!
And another I just found at Famous last Words!
Thanks to mt dear Demon Hunter I'm also guest blogging at Obfuscation of Reality today about kick-ass heroines.


writtenwyrdd said...

I think urban fantasy is generally an alternate reality where society is rather like our reality, but with paranormal entities going on.

Much of urban fantasy deals with outsiders' reactions, I'd say; but what Ithink you're getting at is where the outsider is the one whose perspective is carrying the story. The only one I can think of off the top of my head is "Benighted" by Kit Whitfield, where the majority of society IS werewolf, and the outsiders are the normal humans, the barebacks. Fascinating book and very well written.

Demon Hunter said...

Congratulations on the awesome review, Bernita. :-D

Bernita said...

Perhaps I've been reading the wrong novels, Written, but my impression is that many urban fantasies deal mostly and internally with the paranormal culture and the reaction of the non-paranormal culture is often merely a jump-off conflict point.
Hamilton, for example, does mention various bits of legislation that affects her vampires and vampire hunting in general, which I find most intriguing.

Tyhitia, thank you!

People, I'm guest blogging at Tyhitia's today!

StarvingWriteNow said...

The only thing I can think of off the top of my head is Harry Potter.

Am really enjoying D&D so far! Great story!

writtenwyrdd said...

You're right about many of the UF's having little about the 'mundane' point of view or reactions, which is why I was assuming you referred to a point of view character who is not part of the paranormal. That isn't that common to me, as it seems (to me) that the fun of an urban fantasy is that you are in the paranormal scene with the characters and not on the outside, looking in.

I think what you say about Anita Blake stories about external stuff like legislation and how it affects the paranormal world is very important. There's a lot of it out there in other urban fantasies, but mucyh of it is more window dressing IMO than crucial to the plot. If those elements throw wrenches in the works, it's pretty cool.

For examples of that, I just recalled Mercy Thompson series has Mercy and crew dealing with congressional hearings and the politics of the fey being out in the open--which affects the plot in every one of the four or five books in the series.

Marjorie Liu, I think, World of the Lupai series or something like that) where child custody issues cross pollinate with werewolf politics and police procedural.

I'm sure there are others.

sex scenes at starbucks, said...

It's too hot to ruminate on WB, sorry. But I get to see the Tut Exhibit, it's in town! I can't wait!!

laughingwolf said...

grats on the on-going great reviews, though i think it sad the only thing one can bitch about a story is one's own ignorance of the terminology! GRRRRRRR

will check out your guest blogging asap

wv: trapp ;) lol

laughingwolf said...

good post at t's, m'dear... a bit more about what makes up bernita! :)

wv: shigybo

Bernita said...

Am so glad of that, SWN!

It can depend on the scope and intent of the story, Written.I don't think of it as looking in but as looking out from time to time.

Betsy,you will love it!
my daughter en famile went when it showed in To. She thought it was fabulous!

And I thought I had provided adequate explanation in context too, LW! Some readers like to be challenged a bit, some don't.But it's a warning to be careful of things like that.

Thank you. As you can see, I'm not the least bit exciting.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes that integration can be so compelling. It augments the believability of something extraordinary right below the "normal" surface.

laughingwolf said...

likely the last few generations with their demands of entitlement AND to be spoonfed... with them doing nothing but 'being there', or 'showing up', as it used to be said....

as for being exciting... :O

Bernita said...

Truly, Jason--and makes for a blissful suspension of disbelief.

I don't know, LW, I tend to give a lot of slack to anyone who loves to read and write about what they read. That's hardly passive. And no book is ever going to satisfy everyone completely.

writtenwyrdd said...

Yeah, I think we are fixating on the fine points of semantics. :) (silly us)

raine said...

There are nightclubs being run by vampires? Can we get an invitation? :)
More congrats on all the !!! That's wonderful!

Bernita said...

We can't help it, Written!

I'm thinking of the Darkyn as well as the Blake series, Raine. It's a totally logical career choice,when you think about it.
Thank you. I never expected reviews this consistent or this good.

Whirlochre said...

Ptah sounds like the god of spitting in the street. Or maybe, unusually haughty poodles.

Gabriele C. said...

That book about Tutankhamun sounds like a treasury trove.

Bernita said...

Oh, Whirl, it does!

It is, Gabriele...marvellous photographs.

writtenwyrdd said...

I'll show you all my Egypt photos on my laptop. But, honestly, the books are better than seeing the real things in the museum (except that huge gold mask of Tut) because they have them in cases and frequently in dimly lit areas where you cannot see them that well. They do proper lighting for a coffee table book. Which is why I always, always buy the collection books at museums like the Met, Louvre, d'Orday, and the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. Well worth the pricey cost. I actually spent more on books in Egypt than I spent on all the loot (except for the hand carved stone statues!)

writtenwyrdd said...

Scuze me, should have read "d'Orsay."

Bernita said...

That will be so great, Written!
And yes, I've heard about the lighting, seems only in NA are museums well-lit, at least the ones I've been to.

writtenwyrdd said...

I found the d'Orsay well lit, Bernita; and, although the Louvre wasn't terribly bright, it was adequate. The Egyptian museum, though, was really dim!

Lana Gramlich said...

In my childhood, we went on a school field trip to see the treasures of Tutankamun in NYC. I only wish I'd been a bit older--I think I would've appreciated it more now, y'know?
Sorry about the hacking. That totally sucks.

Bernita said...

Then nothing has changed in EWgypt since the Amelia Peabody novels, Written!

Know exactly what you mean, Lana...