Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Dogsland Is Your City: A Guest Post By J.M. McDermott

Dogsland Is Your City

I'd like to thank Matthew Quinn for letting me stop by and borrow his blog for a day. It's very nice of him. As the creator, and mayor of Dogsland, I will be sure to find a place of honor for him among the rabble. The city has dogs in it, but it's not really about dogs. The word "Dogsland" is what the narrator uses to describe the city that she would prefer not to name directly. It is the wolves' name for the city of men, and their dogs. Dogs mark the ground, hold the territory, and the wolves do not understand why the dogs desire the crowded city streets with all those bellicose monkeys ruining everything.The narrator is a Walker of a goddess, wears the skin of the wolf when she is not tending to the souls of her goddess' faithful.

What place of honor shall Matthew hold? The nobility are corrupt. They throw parties indifferent to the suffering of the poor, gathering their wealth up from the drug warrens and smugglers and thieves. The guard are little more than the king's own street gang, breaking noses and pushing people around wherever they like, for no one has any rights. The working men toil in thankless jobs until the criminal underground decides their shop is in the way of progress and the worker is taken care of. Holy men and women separate themselves from the very people they pretend to serve. Everyone is bribed. Everyone is corrupted. One would think these miserable folks would be the subject of holy purgation, if anyone was. But, none of these folks are. There is no place of honor there. There is only money, and blood.

The narrator comes to Dogsland, with her husband, on the hunt for something far worse than all of these ruined men and women. There was a body in the woods, lying dead, polluting the ground where he fell with his very blood and bone. Jona, the Lord of Joni, is dead. He has demon blood in his veins, and the narrator is able, by the power of her goddess, to gather up the memories. She sees into his life with her wise, harsh wolf eyes and finds two other demon children. The first, Rachel Nolander, is deeply scarred by the demon stain and hides her disfigurement under the clothes of a foreign, folk religion. The other, Salvatore, is an immortal, who has lived far longer than his memory can sustain, and he is locked in a pattern of seduction, betrayal, and forgetfulness while he steals and steals and steals all night. The narrator, and her husband, must find these two demon children. The demon children must be killed.

There is another thing found in the memories of Jona. That is compassion.

This trilogy was deeply inspired by my time living in Central Texas, in a particularly religious area. I was amazed at how harsh people treated gay and lesbian individuals, sometimes. It wasn't everyone, naturally, that was homophobic, but it was definitely in the air. I wondered what it must be like, then, to live and work in a place where so many people considered you a blight on the ground that ought to be locked away for the crime of existing. In this, I also considered that the very people who required this message of compassion were the ones least likely to ever pick up a book featuring a homosexual character. As a fantasist, I am able to rely on alternative metaphors. In this case, I have made the demon children just as naturally toxic as the verbiage would have you believe from some of these pulpits and pundits. I have made them literally a blight upon the earth. But, this is not what makes them monsters. In fact, I don't consider my poor, doomed creations monsters.

The city is far, far worse.

But, then, there merits another important moral and ethical question. When the city creates a system of intolerance and desperation that makes these demon children behave as they do, what is to be done with them? Do they deserve what happens? Do they deserve mercy?

The narrator would tell me, forcefully, that they do not deserve mercy. Her hands would shake if she said it. She would be uncertain, deep below where her faith doesn't touch her.

In the first book of the trilogy, the demon children discover they are not alone in the city. In the second book, Rachel and Jona fall in love, and their flame burns to the end of its time. In the third, everything falls apart.

Of course, only the first and second books are available at this time. Purchasing the prior two titles is how to argue, forcefully, that there ought to be a third and final chapter.

I have thought about this, about the place of honor in the city for our host, Matthew Quinn. I think the most honorable place in the city is aboard a ship, in the harbor, waiting for the wind to come and carry his caravel into the long horizons of the wider world. It is better than being in Dogsland when all the unraveling occurs.

Those of you interested in the first two books of the "Dogsland" trilogy and other material from McDermott should visit here.

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