I tried not to be too obsequious with the message behind City at the Top of the World, but I also tried to avoid blatant moralizing to the point where maybe the message is lost.
While Aeryn is a non-white protagonist, City at the Top of the World is a commentary on the decadence of technologically advanced cultures that have lost basic survival knowledge rather than a commentary on race, especially as the races and ethnicities in Cirsova aren’t exactly analogous to any potential real world counterparts.
The pale men of the North draw some inspiration from the Melniboneans in terms of how decadent their society has become, though I’ve tried to make them Dunsanian in their strangeness. While they are ‘fair’ and ‘pale’, the connotation is meant not in terms of race but in blandness. The society which they created is parallel to our own, where they have become victims of their own ingenuity and ability. While we today have an endless supply of diversions and seemingly limitless power to achieve what we desire, the knowledge to meet our basic needs to survive and react to change are severely lacking. Much like the Polarans, our only hope of survival will be looking to primitives of either today or our forebears for the means of carrying on. The big difference is the Polarans have opted to simply exploit the resources of those they deem primitive and inferior as a means of keeping their decadent pleasure culture afloat a little while longer.
I recall all of the constant complaints I see about magi-tech fantasy worlds, with continual light street-lamps and glyphs and wizard-mouths all over everything. One reason these settings irritate people is that they feel that the surfeit of magic undermines its magical-ness. What should be astounding is mundane. But these settings are often the logical conclusion of where a society with magic would end up. But in a world where all the lamps are magic, what happens when you don’t have magic and need light? What if the people have forgotten how to start a fire or can’t find food on their own without someone casting “Create Food & Water”? I wanted to explore that theme, but without using the typical steam-punkish magi-tech society template seen in a lot of modern fantasy settings.
Don’t forget to leave a comment on the stickied post to be sent a free copy of City at the Top of the World.
(Final note: if there’s hope for Steam RE: Hatred, maybe there’s hope for Onebookshelf RE: the Gamergate card game. I certainly hope so. Steve Wieck, please take note.)