Tuesday, October 18, 2011

What is Aether Vitalis?

Aether Vitalis is the series name for my stories wherein the rules of the universe work in specific ways. You'll see the name attached to stories as the stories become available as single titles. The series does not, as a whole, follow any particular character or set of characters, although some characters will recur frequently.

A lot of my stories have paranormal elements, but not all of them do. Truthfully, any story set in the reality we're all used to could be an Aether Vitalis story, but the stories marked as Aether Vitalis are stories where the there is a definite touch of the paranormal consistent with the rules of the Aether Vitalis universe.

And just what are the rules?

When I started figuring all this stuff out, I decided I wanted a story universe that explained the real world. I tried to reason out exactly how (insert supernatural thingie here) would work in the real universe, assuming things like conservation of energy and mass, and postulating additional factors like aether (think dark matter, or neutrinos) and vitality (life). I won't go into the minutiae here, mostly because I suffer from world-builder's disease and I doubt many of you care about how quantum physics relates to my fiction. (Although eventually I will have a webpage for stuff like that.) Instead, here are some things that you can count on from an Aether Vitalis story:

Vampires kill people. A lot. In fact, they have to, especially when they're young. There are no vampires who feed on animals, or through blood banks, or on fake blood. Vampires are a very specialized predator/parasite, and need not only blood but human energy in order to survive. They are also territorial, so you don't get big bunches of them hanging out together and plotting how to take over the world, although a few can coexist in the same city if it's a very large city and the vampires are all hunting different demographics. (And for you folklore fans, they do have reflections, but the sun sets them on fire. Also, no soulmates. I promise.)

The most common type of shapeshifter (though certainly not the only kind) are the skinshifters. (Although they're called pookhas in Britain and other names in other places.) The skinshifters are a type of faerie, whose ancestors broke away from the control of the gentry, the faerie ruling class. Unfortunately, as part of the breaking away, the skinshifters became mortal. Their forms were also limited. Before, they were purely aethereal-bodied creatures and could be anything. Now, most skinshifters are born with two skins, and the rest have to be "acquired." While they still have their aethereal form, it's rare for a skinshifter to spend much time in it, as they become ridiculously susceptible to magic while out of their skins. On the upside, they handle metal and technology better than most of the other fae.

Speaking of magic, there are a lot of different kinds of magic. (Magic being the generic term for the act of using purely energical means to influence matter, energy, vitality, or probability, regardless of method.) The generic term for a magic-user is mage. Beyond that, it depends on where you get the energy from, and what you do with it, and how you do it: sorcery, necromancy, theurgy, witchery, demonology, voodoo, shamanism...

Separate from magic (especially if you ask the mages) is psionics. Psionics are human psychic gifts, and they come in three main flavors: Extrapathy – energy influencing other energy or vitality (ie the mind or the soul); Extracognition – energy gathering information (not from vitality); and Extrakinesis – energy influencing matter or probability. Of course, I have the lexicon; the characters don't, so they are often less precise with their terminology. Extrapathic gifts are the most common, and extrakinetic gifts the most rare, based purely on genetics.

And there are gods. There are the gods that we would call gods, and then there are the gods that our gods call gods.

Of course, there's lots that I haven't touched on yet (especially in Faerie!) but this should give you some idea of the kinds of creatures and forces you might encounter in an Aether Vitalis story.

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