Microblog: The Architecture of Reignition
One of the things I love about fantasy and sci-fi (and science fantasy) is how prominent a role setting plays in establishing the theme, tone, and feel of a story. Lord of the Rings would not be so magical without the sparkling waterfalls and leaf-shaped architecture of Rivendell, nor would Blade Runner feel so manic and oppressive without the towering neon billboards or the seemingly endless rain.
The setting of the story Reignition from my collection When Stars Move & Other Stories is the ancient city of Ith, a city that was intended to be as much a feature in the story as Karma and the Order of Uln. I set out to create a place that would make Karma, and by extension the reader, feel small, powerless, and insignificant. It is a city of machinery: hulking steam vents spill damp air, clattering funiculars are used to carry people up from the lowest levels of the city, while the wealthy race through the upper levels of the city in autocarriages. What room is there in such a place as this for a simple teenage girl?
Ith is built layer-upon-layer, with the poorest in the oldest, lowest levels and the wealthiest on top. I imagine a city built into a sort of ravine with each layer constructed atop the one beneath it, darkening the sky above. This layering was inspired by my visits to cities such as Valencia and Paris, place where you can literally descend below the surface of the city into layers below once inhabited by Visigoths and even beneath those layers, ruins left behind by Romans. Places where new layers are built atop the old, one after the other. The only difference in Ith is that the old layers remain in use. In Reignition, the layers of Ith are also representative of power and influence. Those who sit in the upper layers look down upon those below, quite literally!
These architectural elements come together to create a sense that Karma is powerless, that she is meant to be a victim of the world she was "reignited" into. And when she defies her superiors and seeks to uncover the truth, not only is she putting herself at risk, but she is standing up against a system that is literally built to oppress her.
If you haven't read Reignition, be sure to grab a copy of When Stars Move & Other Stories. And if you were fascinated by that world, you'll be delighted to learn that I have a whole novel set in Karma's world: Gods of Sky and Dust.