Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Master Timeline of Robertson's Planet

Pretty sketchy at this point. This information is pieced together from the few documents I have saved at my conlang page, plus some files I found on some old floppies. If I ever find my big (physical) binder of Robertson's Planet stuff, the timeline will get a lot bigger.

This is quite possibly the dorkiest thing I have blogged yet. Down in our heart of hearts, whether we admit it or not, most geeks want to be J.R.R. Tolkien. Unlike Tolkien, most of us have little actual talent for writing sci-fi and fantasy stories, but we still enjoy inventing the worlds in which such stories might take place. At least I do; or rather, did from about 1988 to 1996.

"Robertson's Planet" is my colloquial name for the world which its inhabitants usually call "Ristkon" after the god that they suppose to have created it.

In 1988 I painted over a globe of earth, and drew my own fake continents and countries. At first I was going to let it be a sci-fi world, a planet settled by explorers from Earth. For reasons that I might try to explain later, the continents were shaped pretty similar to those of Earth. Most of the countries had been colonized by either the USA or the USSR. Pretty soon I got tired of it, and painted over it again. This time the continents were still vaguely earthlike, but the countries were all completely made up. It was still influenced by late-twentieth-century earth, though. I soon realized that scattered about the planet there were a lot of countries whose names ended with -stof (this was, I think, carried over from the USSR-colonized parts of my previous sci-fi globe). From this, I was able to determine that most of planet had been ruled by an ethnic group called the Stofonians, in a period that roughly corresponded to the period during which most of earth had been ruled by Europe.

Over the next several years I created long lists of rulers and dynasties, alphabets, and (yes) languages. Most of this concerned the Stofonians themselves, but a lot of attention was also given to a people called the Elosians, to whom the Stofonians had once been subject before the tables turned. Within the history of Robertson's planet, there was room for all periods of "historical" fiction. The old days of the Elosians would be the setting for stories that might remind people of Greek drama. The early, barbarous years of the Stofonians' rise to power would be a world like that of the Crusades or the conquest of the Americas. The mature Stofonian empire would be a powerhouse of industrial-revolution militarism the likes of which this earth has never seen. In the period since its fall, we would be treated to opportunistic, machivallean struggles between its daughter states, fought with every weapon of contemporary earth except for the nuke (which I banned because it would've encouraged the re-formation of superpowers equal to the USA or the USSR... and the subsequent end of the interesting little wars).

But the crowning glory was to be my tale of how the Empire fell apart in the first place. The "Fracture" was going to be like the fall of Rome, the U.S. Civil War, World War I, the French Revolution, and the Russian Revolution all rolled into one, with a little bit of organized crime and a few serial killers thrown in for good measure. I made about three attempts to write a novel about it, but never really got anywhere. This is one of the things that made me decide to not be a writer.

Knarr, which is abnormally prominent on the timeline considering that it is a tiny group of islands that never ruled any sort of empire or much affected the outside world, was originally created in 1990 in support of a series of computer games called "The Great Quest". It was unrelated to the world of the Stofonians. Later, and possibly at the urging of Brandon Downey, I managed to combine the two. It was never a perfect fit, however. Knarr was a true fantasy world. It had kings, wizards, magic that worked, and gods that were real. The Stofonians lived in a naturalistic world. Sure, they believed in the supernatural, but we the readers were supposed to know better. In order to fit Knarr into this world, I had to say that the "Great Quest" games were based not on the actual Robertson's Planet, but on the internal legends thereof.

I also ended up folding in a few things like the Eevillians (get it, they're EEEEeeevil!) from some superhero comics that I was also trying to develop at the time. The Eevillians were an interstellar empire that enslaved people from all over the galaxy, including a group from the planet Juturia. A huge spaceship carrying a large number of Juturian slaves and a small number of Eevillian overseers crashed on Ristkon, and the slaves threw off their masters and founded a new country named Juturia. The Juturians were high-minded and liberal, with all kinds of ideas about democracy and freedom. They also had vague memories of technologies that Robertson's planet had never seen. They quickly became great rivals of the iron-fisted Stofonians. Their great showndown was something called "The Last War", which was fought with wooden steamships, cannon balls, muzzle-loaded rifles, and unreliable early steam-powered land vehicles. The Stofonians won, but the subsequent spread of democratic and pseudo-democratic government around the planet is due to the influence of the Juturians.