Sunday, September 4, 2011

27 Atlans

One thing an author needs to do when writing fantasy and science fiction is to create the society (or societies) that one's characters are from. A society is a complex mixture of religion(s), politics, occupations, beliefs, interactions between classes ... and so much more.

I have been 'meeting' Atlan characters for a couple decades now, and I've got a pretty good idea how their society works. I suppose they are best described as socialists, or communists. That was kind of surprising, because there are 27 'types' of Atlans.

Atlans are all female, all descended – according to their lore – from 3 gods. Even they don't understand how they have 3 parents, but the evidence is there, and anyway, gods can do anything, right? Other tribes learn to recognize Atlans by their hair and eye color. Atlan hair is either jet black, snow white, or brilliant red. Atlan eyes are either blue, green or black. So, if you pair all the noticeable variables together, you have 9 color variations for Atlans.

What many outsiders don't understand is that Atlans also inherit a birthmark from one of the gods, either a white crescent moon, a pale heart, or a black sword. If you pair each birthmark with all the color variations, you have 27 different combinations. And each combination gives that Atlan a different set of Power to learn and master.

All Atlans have certain Powers in common, such as Deception, or Levitation. And those common powers appear in different strengths, without regard to the trio of tell signs. One Atlan might be able to Deceive an enemy that she is his father, while another can barely use Deception to blend in with a crowd. The most Powerful Atlan I have written about has just enough Levitation to make a small twig roll across the ground to the campfire, while her sister – whose Power is to talk to animals – can Levitate house-sized boulders and move them aside.

Atlans have a Queen, but it is not a hereditary position, and it actually is more of a clerical position, most of the time. It is she who decides who does what chores when and keeps the tribe flourishing. It is she who is presented to visiting dignitaries from other countries, but that is mostly because outsiders expect one person to be in charge. While the outsiders study the Atlan 'Queen', other Atlans study the outsiders and determine how much danger they present to the tribe.

I can't possibly explain all of Atlan culture in one blog, but perhaps this is a good start. Remember, when I'm writing stories about the Atlans, I can't just blatantly say all this. I have to allude to it in the course of the story and hope the readers catch on.

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