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terror-of-time

When the author of A Thread Between The Stars was around ten years old, ve started writing books in the kraiaKy universe in a series ve called Terror of Time. This universe was much more of a patchwork of ideas back when ve first made it, and it took until 2015 (when ve was thirty) for ver to seriously attempt reconstructing it.

This page exists less as a means to chronicle the stories of Terror of Time as it does to detail the changes made to the setting over the course of its radical reimagining.

(The author mostly regrets the names ve used to use. Ve rightly assumed they weren't important for the story, but underestimated how distracting bad names are to adult human beings.)

Warning: Unmarked spoilers ahead.


Planets and places

Nekenalos used to be called Lossos. The “los” in “Nekenalos” has the exact same etymological basis as “Lossos” - Lossos essentially just means planet. Enough people assumed the author was trying to make a point with the English word 'loss' that ve decided to put an end to that, though.

Lossos originally had three continents: Cetaros, Sefusaris and Anacondas. They correspond, to some degree, to the largest continents on Nekenalos today: Cetaros, Sefusa and Asheenagiji. You can tell from the replacement names which names the author found tolerable and which names ve wanted to set on fire. (It's worth noting that 'Anacondas' is pronounced 'A-na-con-dass' and not 'A-na-con-dahs' like the plural of the snakes. The author is still very fond of how this sounds, but that's simply no excuse for the name. At time of writing this article ve firmly intends to drop a shout-out to this name into The Sky's Umbilical Cord, however.)

Tabraan and Vatenas are entirely new.

The shape of the continents are new - the author's ten-year-old incarnation thought it would be fun to have a map where the continents shared their outlines with dinosaurs. Anacondas had the outline of a Parasaurolophus, while Cetaros had the outline of a dromaeosaurid. Cetaros was smaller than Anacondas, and Sefusaris (the author does not recall whether Sefusaris' shape was ever made explicit anywhere, nor what it was) was smaller than Cetaros. Cetaros lay south-east of Anacondas, and Sefusaris mostly west of Cetaros, but close enough to be considered a 'between' continent/island.

Species and factions

Threadwielders

In the original Terror of Time books, there were no Threadwielders, per se - there were deities and their avatars. The avatars typically had a certain degree of autonomy from these deities, which themselves often couldn't interface with the real world at all, being in a completely different dimension (in the colloquial sense of the term, rather than the spatial sense of the term), but inherited some of their powers and all of their motivations.

That these deities had a lot in common with each other, were tangibly real, and could be understood with science if you spent enough time analysing them, was a driving force behind creating Threadwielders in the new continuity. Similarly, the avatar concept wanted to be retained in some form.

Vestiges of the original ideas now take the form of the noticeable mental effect that an avatar may exert on a Threadwielder who is routing their sensory processing through the avatar (the “autonomy”), that Threadwielders themselves exist in a fundamentally intangible form relative to our everyday reality (the “dimension”), and that they are powerful but not unknowable.

Of course, with Threadwielders came Thread, which restricts what precisely Threadwielder can even do to the universe, and is much of the driving force behind what has turned the series' genre from sci-fi so soft you can spread it on a croissant, sprinkled with fantasy, to a decent hard(ish) sci-fi setting.

kavkema

In the original books, the kavkema were known as Deinodons and were a faction, not a species. They loosely encompassed all carnivorous species of dinosaurs (in disregard for the era they might have lived in), although some individual carnivore characters weren't allied with the Deinodons.

With a heavy heart, the author has settled on a single sapient species of carnivorous dinosaurs, knowing this to be sorely necessary for plausibility. While Evenatra could have uplifted many more carnivores to sapience, there was no reason at all for her to do so.

Another very striking difference between kavkema and Deinodons is their level of technology. While the Deinodons were greatly outnumbered by their nemesis faction, they were technologically matched by them - the dinosaurs on Lossos generally had technology that exceeded that of humans, across the board. Out of a far better economic understanding, the author has taken technology away from the kavkema and turned them into a nomadic culture constantly on the literal run.

Note that the faction 'Deinodon' with its ideals and motivations has largely dissolved into the organisation Shy͡ilun.

The Deinodons were also fond of death over suffering, and their clash with the other faction over this philosophical difference was a central plot point.

The Deinodon crest - a logo, if you will - was a carnosaur head with a superimposed dromaeosaurid foot. Despite the appearance of the dromaeosaurid foot, this was no driving factor in the choice to make the kavkema 'raptors. The author is just really fond of 'raptors.

Cetaros was something of a Deinodon sanctuary. They got to call the continent their own. (The author reflects on that vis ten year old self was very generous back then, but has been gradually drip-feeding the kavkema Tabraan as a consolation prize.)

Sefusaris was also happy to let Deinodons visit, but had a strict no fighting policy, and were equally willing to let anyone else set foot on their turf. They were their own faction, in a way, wholly restricted to a geographic area, neutral but nonetheless willing to trade technology to either faction as long as said factions were willing to abide by local rules. Since most of either side wouldn't want to live by those terms, they hid their existence (with technology, obviously). You could essentially only find them if you knew they were there. (The author has dim recollections that security by obscurity didn't work for them, either.)

Nayabaru

In the original books, the Nayabaru were known as Stycophysises. As with the Deinodons, they were a faction, not a species, though they encompassed essentially all herbivorous dinosaurs. This was also pared down to a single species for plausibility reasons.

They've kept almost all of their other traits and gained some, to boot (such as the tattoo system). A minor difference can be found in that the original Stycophysises were more of a traditional hierarchy rather than the delightfully decentralised totalitarianism they live by now. But they still had their Pens, they still had their systematic torture of kavkema (including the breeding - the author's younger self did not bat an eyelid at this, though ve was quite careful to keep this detail from everyone else, ever, fearing ostracism - although the motivation was a little more extensive, as they were more interested in captive-raised carnivores to turn into spies by raising them right, as well as hybrids that might prove particularly formidable warriors), they still had highly advanced technology, they still deferred to the spider lady, and they were every bit as terrifying to the Deinodons as the Nayabaru are to the kavkema.

The Stycophysis crest was a Triceratops head with a superimposed Iguanodon hand. It was this crest which really drove the decision to choose iguanodonts as the sapient herbivore species, along with the sheer usefulness of an Iguanodon's hand.

The Stycophysises owned Anacondas. You didn't go there unless you wanted to be caught, or wanted to rescue someone else that had.

Characters

Terenyira

Terenyira is rather a bit friendlier than ve used to be, back when she was uncreatively called Terrorantula (although, at time of writing this article, the author firmly plans to cram a tongue-in-cheek shout-out to this awful name in The Sky's Umbilical Cord). While her old incarnation was certainly very clever, she wouldn't have been willing to make deals with Deinodons - but this is largely because her motivations have been changed.

In the old books, her motivation was presumably to get rid of the Deinodons to ensure Nekenalos belonged to the Stycophysises and no one else. This goal doesn't even feature in the reimagined Terenyira, whose goals are instead to destroy Threadwielders and to protect the Nayabaru - which has the effect that she is decimating the kavkema, but this is merely an accident of implementation.

In the new continuity, Terenyira has been given a back story that explains why she even exists (the author was unwilling to throw her out just because she's a giant, implausible spider, and worked very hard on justifying her anyway). This has turned her into an artificial intelligence and the author has gleefully started to invoke artificial intelligence tropes with her, turning her into a much greater memetic threat than her old incarnation ever was.

She's also kinder to her subordinates, because the author now realises this is actually more effective in getting people to do what you want.

To be able to effectively hunt Threadwielders, she now has a dark matter component as well. It's not any less disturbing to look at.

Evenatra

Evenatra used to be known as Aquaeros (which the author feels is one of the few acceptable names in hindsight).

One of the only things that have changed about her (except for turning her into a Threadwielder, of course) is the speed at which she can shape-shift, which is now approximately glacial.

Ysikary

Ysikary didn't exist at all in the original continuity. She was added because Terenyira couldn't have come from nowhere and Evenatra certainly isn't quite so poor at planning that she would create her purely on accident (e.g. as an attempted servant who then begins to do the exact opposite of what she was designed to do).

Valcen

Valcen used to be a demigod. He was the only demigod in the continuity and it was never explained what precisely this meant - there didn't seem to be a corresponding deity that he was an avatar of, but he had some abilities that put him firmly outside of the mortal framework. No one really knew much about where he had come from.

He made his first appearance in the second book, appearing in the form of a ceratosaurid, going by the tacky name Ceratoraptorius, and being notable for, despite the carnivorous nature, being an enemy of the Deinodons. Although, actually, he was primarily notable for having a little chat with the human character that had accidentally stumbled across the inner workings of a supposed dinosaur theme park planet, and doing to the human almost precisely what he had done to the dinosaurs in the park with something much like an Imitorunyema: Erase her memories.

Let's let this sink in for a moment. There's an entire planet with dumb dinosaurs on it, in a universe where intelligent dinosaurs exist. Someone sure has been busy. (Granted, if the author recalls correctly it was implied a lot of those were simply bred, but there was still a truly, deeply disturbing number of previously sapient dinosaurs there - typically those who had betrayed the Stycophysises in some way. And since you can't exactly kill them, you need to find a different solution. This actually terrified the author back when ve was ten. …on reflection, nope, it still terrifies ver now.)

Ceratoraptorius had the uncanny ability not to stay dead, by reappearing elsewhere after he'd been cut down. This wasn't just a lazy plot device - it was repeatedly remarked upon by characters that something very strange was going on there, and it certainly cemented his demigod status.

Valcen still has a while to go before he has Ceratoraptorius' personality, but he already has all of the motivations needed to explain why he's doing what he is. He has all the knowledge needed to do approximately what Ceratoraptorius did. And he will certainly acquire a reputation to do exactly what Ceratoraptorius did.

Ceratoraptorius eventually switched sides, proving himself to be a very reliable companion to Aquaeros at the time.

Gazhil

By some measure, Gazhil is entirely new. There was no character narratively corresponding to Gazhil (i.e. no mental half-brother of Valcen's).

However, much of Gazhil's personality can be considered to be taken from a recurring heroic character in the original Terror of Time series, a velociraptor who went by the name of Slit (a name that regrettably can no longer be used for anything these days, but was precisely zero percent questionable at the time, and really delightfully evocative for a saurian warrior). With Slit, Gazhil shares a burning urge to get things done and a restless pursuit of solutions.

Other

Kendane͡ivash

The language Kendane͡ivash used to be known as flambian or Deinodonic. As in the original continuity, it originates from the gods/Threadwielders and permeates through various cultures in the universe. Both in the original universe and in the reboot, the cultures that have fully adopted the language are the kavkema and several of the draconics (latter who are considerably more space-faring than anything near Earth).

About half of the language's vocabulary has existed approximately since its inception (if you completely ignore the elements, which you should). The other half was hammered into more aesthetically pleasing forms in a several-month effort to transfer the language from a local database onto the Tarnish website.

All in all, the language is constantly expanded. Whenever the author would like to have a new word, ve adds on to the dictionary. That same process is what made the language this huge to begin with.

The grammar has stayed largely the same - this is to say, boring, English-alike grammar, because the author is not a linguist and in all honesty not that interested in linguistics to spend vis time on this part of the universe in particular. Sorry. Ve did have a little excursion into numbers far more flexible than ours when reimagining the universe, however, and thus Kendane͡ivash came to get its mind-bending numeric system.

Politics

The political allegiances in the original universe have remained almost entirely unchanged, along with the intended personalities of the characters:

  • Evenatra is the guardian of the kavkema; something of a mother figure combined with badassery. (Unfortunately, she hasn't yet had a lot of opportunity to show her badassery in the new continuity.)
  • Terenyira is the primary antagonist. She's been given an actual motivation now - the deep, gnawing hunger she feels is a recent invention. Her cunning nature is not new, though, but a greater intellectual experience on part of the author has certainly given her much more of an edge than before.
  • The Nayabaru are still the dominant faction on Nekenalos. They still abhor killing and will not tolerate it. They're still secular, they're still interested in science, and they're still known to torture kavkema.
  • The kavkema are still mostly religious or spiritual and still prefer dying to getting tortured.
  • Jeneth is a minor antagonist - that said, he has been greatly toned down from the force of evil he used to be (far closer to his depiction as Tkanetar, then known as Kanus), although this doesn't manifest in any actual changes, since he was absent from the books, surfacing only later for some roleplay (back on InsideTheWeb and in the author's early IRC roleplaying days).
  • Madjan is absent, but supposedly a pretty impressive guy. His old mythological name was Kronos; he probably didn't have a proper name, the author does not recall him ever making an actual appearance.
  • Zalaagra has seen some change - the original continuity had ver ('her' at the time) a little more involved (although if the author recalls correctly, not in the actual books, but only the aforementioned later narrative efforts). That was largely because vis worlds were a lot more accessible than they are in the new continuity, however. In the original setting, it was easy for ver to hop over to say hi. Unfortunately, the author has forgotten how ve used to be called. That said, her mythological name was something like Luunai (i.e. the Maenona equivalent).
  • Valcen is still, most notably, a (hopefully) temporary ally to the Nayabaru. The original books never got into his reasons - indeed, the author never bothered to come up with them. In the books, he eventually switched over to helping the kavkema. The author was sufficiently intrigued by his unspoken motivation to switch sides that ve wanted to explore exactly what led up to that, which is why ve chose to make Valcen the narratively central character in A Thread Between The Stars.

Technology

As already mentioned earlier, the dinosaurs on Lossos generally had technology far superior to the technology humans had. One piece of technology at the very edge of their capabilities was time travel, which was part of the driving force behind the series title Terror of Time, and indeed explained why the species from different eras could live side by side at all. This was discarded altogether - both for narrative reasons (time travel plots are fiendishly difficult to get right) and for plausibility reasons (it really has no place in hard(ish) science fiction - or at least, one would have to go to truly great lengths to make it work).

Regional differences

Any regional differences detailed in this wiki, A Thread Between The Stars or The Sky's Umbilical Cord are entirely owed to the new continuity. This includes the varied kavkem mythologies and Nayabaru subcultures.

Plot

There was never much of a backstory to the original Terror of Time setting - how had the characters come to be as they were? How had the interesting tensions developed in the first place? A Thread Between The Stars is an attempt to write the first prequel to the status quo that the original books drew on.

While writing the book, the author was surprised how readily the world chose to conform to the political realities of the original books, despite vis explorative writing style.

However, the end of A Thread Between The Stars has still thrown a complete wrench into being a backstory for Terror of Time - landing Nekenalos in the solar system, while interesting from a science-fiction perspective, has completely changed the potential dynamics that might yet happen between humans and the planet's inhabitants.

terror-of-time.txt · Last modified: 2022-08-06 23:20 by pinkgothic