Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A new word!

I learned a new word today: Thomasson. Always exciting to learn a new word regardless, but in this case especially cool because it fits in so much of my writing. A Thomasson is the vestigial remnant of earlier buildings or architecture that no longer serves a purpose, but is still being maintained. Like a stairway that goes up to a blank wall, or a gate that doesn't fully cross an opening. (I love how carefully shined and polished that gate at the top of the article is.)

Those kinds of things are all over Spire City. I reference orphan alleys in at least one episode, and the tunnels and secret ways the characters use to cross the city are full of these kinds of no-longer-used features. And, too, the Boskrea stories take place in a city full of old ramps and ladders and stairways that no longer serve their original purpose. I wasn't familiar with Piranesi's Dark Prisons series of etchings when I first started writing the stories set there, but as soon as I discovered them, I saw how perfectly they matched the mood of the setting. And those pictures, to my eye, look full of Thomassons. (Though obviously they predate the term significantly...)

And what it brings to mind even more, is Gormenghast, that great sprawling castle of Mervyn Peake's architectural imagination. I will gladly admit that both Spire City and Boskrea are deeply influenced by his books (though not much by the writing style). Reading that article, I saw a perfect image of Dr. Prunesquallor, hands flapping as he climbed up a pointless staircase and back down the other side while Flay strode purposefully past. Steerpike would have paused to examine it and come up with a way to fit its presence into his vaguely ambitious plans. And Swelter, drunk, might have climbed up them, his weight threatening even the stones of the stairs, as he called on his kitchen workers to celebrate.

Now to keep an eye out for Thomassons around here...which may be much more difficult to find in a city that's not yet 150 years old...

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