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January 15, 2012 / Wythe

Inspirations: Tesseracts and Carcosa

1. Tesseracts—er, actually—B4 Coxeter plane graphs of related uniform polytopes:

I love this progression of forms, here reversed, a degression, starting with the complex and descending back to a nine-pointed star inside a nine-pointed star. These remind me of works of geometric Islamic tile art. Which are also big inspirations. DECISION: The Federation is covered in repeated patters of nine-pointed stars.

2. “An Inhabitant of Carcosa” by Ambrose Bierce. Started it all, inspiring Lovecraft, Chambers, and of course every generation of weird/grim/Cthulhoid RPG fanatic. I always forget it’s so damn short. Read it!

I observed in the herbage a number of weather-worn stones, evidently shaped with tools. They were broken, covered with moss and half sunken in the earth. Some lay prostrate, some leaned at various angles, none was vertical. They were obviously headstones of graves, though the graves themselves no longer existed as either mounds or depressions; the years had leveled all. Scattered here and there, more massive blocks showed where some pompous tomb or ambitious monument had once flung its feeble defiance at oblivion. So old seemed these relics, these vestiges of vanity and memorials of affection and piety, so battered and worn and stained—so neglected, deserted, forgotten the place, that I could not help thinking myself the discoverer of the burial-ground of a prehistoric race of men whose very name was long extinct.

Clearly I was at a considerable distance from the city where I dwelt—the ancient and famous city of Carcosa.

No signs of human life were anywhere visible nor audible; no rising smoke, no watch-dog’s bark, no lowing of cattle, no shouts of children at play—nothing but that dismal burial-place, with its air of mystery and dread, due to my own disordered brain. Was I not becoming again delirious, there beyond human aid? Was it not indeed all an illusion of my madness? I called aloud the names of my wives and sons, reached out my hands in search of theirs, even as I walked among the crumbling stones and in the withered grass…


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