So we begin with the first official blog post. There's a lot of topics that could be covered in this post, but I think I start with one that, if you've followed my work in the past, you're probably familiar with. In this post we're going to talk about one of my favorite podcasts: The Twilight Histories with Jordan Harbour.
It feel at this point that I should point out that this podcast has nothing to do with a certain book series by Stephenie Meyer. The title is intended to be an allusion to Rod Serling's classic series The Twilight Zone. Trust me, there are no sparkly vampires, and if vampires ever do appear in the show I assure you they will be proper ones. Now that we have that out of the way, let's talk about the podcast.
This is both a time travel and alternate history podcast in the style of old time radio adventure serials where you, yes you the listener, go on an adventure. The first few episodes, collected as bonus material in the members only section of the website, tell their stories in a detached narrative focusing more on the history of their timeline rather than on stories and characters. Starting with the episodes Roma Islamica and Ice Age Misery, however, things changed. Jordan really found his voice, and the stories became much more character driven and personal. Bonus tracks to the mains shows, continuing the stories of the world's presented, have recently become available on the show's website. A series of shorter blitz shows, focusing on first-hand accounts of historical events, have also recently been produced.
There's not enough words to describe how much I love this podcast. The engaging stories, the creative new worlds, fresh takes on familiar places, the music and sound effects. It all just works so well! Ah, but maybe I have other reasons? Perhaps I have a bit of a personal connection? Well, you not to terribly off the mark.
Last year I'd been trying to find my voice/style in alternate history map making. I had posted a few joke maps, as well as some more serious maps, on Alternatehistory.com's maps and graphics section. I knew what my next map would be: based on my favorite episode of the Twilight Histories, Roma Islamica, and set 500 years in the future of the timeline. I made the map, consulted the companion book for details, used my imagination and posted it to Alternatehistory.com. The reaction...to say it was almost universally negative would perhaps be a major understatement.
I was under a nearly nonstop attack from all sides. The other members of the maps board seemed to be under the impression that I'd just massacred 1000 handicapped orphans by hail of gunfire; or that's how there comments seemed anyway. Thankfully, a few kind hearted members actually stood up for me and called for an end to the torment. I know it was just a stupid message board, and a bunch of stupid (mostly) Brits, Scots, Aussies and Kiwis (the Americans, by contrast, were much nicer and more laid back) but the damage had been done.
I began to doubt my ability as a map maker and I was at the end of my rope. Then I thought, what if I were to post to the Twilight Histories Facebook Page? I figured I didn't have much left to lose, and if Jordan didn't like it I figured it would be a fitting final nail in the coffin for my map making career. So I posted the map and...he absolutely loved it! I really loved it!
Not only did Jordan repost it on the main page, but it got honorable mention on a Map Monday in Alternate History Weekly Update. Before long I made maps of other episodes, and then they got an article all to themselves on the Update (two in fact). I got to meet someone I admired, a celebrity if only to me, and I couldn't think of a happier ending to the story.
Oh, but the story doesn't end there. I'm a fairly regular contributor over at Alternate History Weekly Update; and ever since my recent column,The Audio File, skyrocketed in popularity it seems that I'll be writing about audio magazines offering free alternate history, historical fantasy, time travel and all the various punks for the foreseeable future. That might seem like a problem with regards to the maps and flags I make, but then I started this blog. I also want to make it clear I'm not being forced to write about audio magazines, it's just how I feel that, for the moment, I can best contribute to the Update.
So, I shall be posting my future maps for the Twilight Histories to this blog, as well as my own original maps and maps I have produced in the past. I can't wait to post these maps, I might even post one tonight, and I hope you can't wait either. Here's too good times, good maps, and good stories all around.
And to Jordan Harbour and Matt Mitrovich, although I've probably told you both many times and many ways, thank you both for everything you've done for me and all the opportunities you've granted me. I only know how to pay you back with even more maps and articles, and I can only hope it's enough.