|Posted by Mark Cantrell on June 20, 2016 at 6:15 AM|
The shadow whispered its name
How did the world city in the macabre urban horror, Silas Morlock get its name? The novel's author, Mark Cantrell, reveals all. Yes, there was alcohol...
ONE night back in the early Noughties, in a crowded city centre bar in Bradford, I stumbled upon the name for the world-city depicted in what was to become my novel, Silas Morlock.
Booze may, or may not, have had something to do with it, but we were pretty inebriated by that point, and so I took to sharing some of my ideas with a friend, as authors have a tendency to do.
Fortunately, my friend wasn't inclined to roll her eyes and beat a hasty retreat (an occupational hazard authors must learn to endure), but proved – as on so many other occasions – a worthy sounding board. It helps that she can handle her ale rather better than me, too.
So, I revealed my thoughts. The bar fell silent – no, not really – and my friend was rather less than impressed. You see, I was going to call the place Utopia. The novel is filled with literary references, and this was one of them. The word was coined by Thomas More in his 1516 book of the same name, but that was more coincidence than a reason for naming my city so.
By any measure, the globe-girdling urban sprawl in my novel is far-removed from any conventional understanding of the word – dystopian is rather more its noir, with more than a twist of macabre – but as Silas Morlock pointed out to his associate, Bill, the city does represent the gateway to that blessed realm, where humanity can leave its woes far behind.
Okay, it's no utopia, not even in name; my friend was right to send me scurrying back to the drawing board – and the bar (well, it was my round).
Back with the beers, I bounced a few ideas her way and during our excursion beyond the borderlands of sobriety, the name of my world city finally slipped off my tongue. The shadows heard the call, coalesced around its syllables, and made it their own. Terapolis, I called it. My friend approved.
'Polis', of course, is from the ancient Greek for city-state. 'Tera', as in terabyte, is a prefix to denote an urban expansion greater still than today's mightiest megacities. Add an extra letter 'r' and we have 'Terra', denoting Earth, as in the Earth-City. Finally, its sound is reminiscent of 'terror'; appropriate for this preternatural metropolis of dread.
Welcome to the last city-state of affairs temporal; a sprawling smudge of darkness were humanity sought the blessings of eternity. In its urban embrace, to paraphrase Caxton, the great cities of history were entombed as it smothered whole nations, embalmed entire continents, and tore humanity from the light of its future.
In Terapolis, the shadows wait; we discover the horror that truly lurks within us. No wonder I needed a drink that night...
24 January 2016
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