Bewildering Stories discusses...
Echoes From Dust
with Ljubo Popovich
What are the Japanese influences in the story?
The gods are closer to Shinto gods than other historical gods, and Shintoism provides the simplest shortcut to understanding the underlying influences, but is not a perfect description of the fictional universe.
The names of cynths, mags, and gods originating from the Cauterhaugh (the wilderness) are borrowed from Japanese naming conventions.
Kirins are viewed as part of nature, although they belong to the organic category. The cynths and grotto-le are not viewed as “natural” or sacred in the same sense. As new species are categorized, they conform to the Japanese naming conventions.
Specific Shinto gods and myths, ritual cleansing, and the worshiping of ancestral spirits make later appearances in the story.
Mitchlum recalls the Norse world-tree, Yggdrasil. In “Echoes,” it seems to symbolize organic vs. inorganic. Is that right? Archie mentions that tree leaves are painted green. Does photosynthesis no longer work?
At the center of the metropolis of Mitchlum, the Fjord was activated. As a result, all organic matter on the planet was converted to inorganic and vice-versa. Thus, what once was a man-made city became an organic one.
Like modern habitations, the citizens have to take care of the enormous trees in which they live. There is very little sunlight in Mitchlum, that’s why the living infrastructure is painted. The buildings might be likened to the ghostly white fungi which grow in caves.
Yggdrasil was considered the center of the cosmos. Mitchlum is the last bastion for voyin (organic humans.) The Fjord may also fit in with the concept of Yggdrasil, since it is the “holiest” place in the world. That is to say, only the most powerful or devout priests reside in it, and it is the origin point of their current environment.
Commonly, “fjord” is Norwegian for a drowned river valley. But in “Echoes,” the Fjord is a tower. Why the choice of name?
It could be said that the High Priestess avoids using the naming conventions reserved for the gods she serves, yet sees the “new world” through an entirely different lens than the “old world.”
Ovid and Telos were both given their names by the High Priestess. As head of the Council, she controls which parts of history become known to the public. As might be gathered from her choice of the names: Ovid, Menander, Argos, Telos and others, she is familiar with Greek, Roman, Norse, and other histories and gods.
The High Priestess chose the name Fjord to create a “natural” image from this man-made superstructure. The way the new world flowed from its tip was reminiscent of the Norwegian word in her mind.
The origin of the Fjord and its relationship to the gods and characters will be detailed later in the story.