The Jewels of Aptor: Io9 Art Column Goes Live Today

UPDATE: Our column on the amazing artwork of Ian Miller is now up on io9. Enjoy!

Our io9 feature on artist X? goes live soon, and will include an excerpt of this trippy, really imaginative “script trailer” based on a novel X? has been working on.

Who is X? ? Check back later and I’ll have updated this post with the reveal. In the meantime, feel free to speculate. Note: Those who google the text below to cheatingly figure it out will be pilloried, tarred, jarred, and feathered.

Bonus points to those who know where the title of our column “Jewels of Aptor” comes from.

HOLLYWOOD GOTHIC / the film / TRAILER Ian miller © 1977 The broken Diary /novel all rights reserved

This script has been registered with the WGAw intellectual property rights registry. Registration no: 1073974


Setting:— Los Angeles
Opening scene:—Rolling view of desolation
Specific location:— Wiltshire Boulevard /Ruins of Academy building / basement / film archives.

fire wind and rain spike the landscape.
A siren wails continuously somewhere in the distance.

In an uncertain space beneath the rubble, amongst a cluttered of wires, pipes and spilt film, stands a small viewing machine . The screen flickers with footage from Robin Hood, starring Errol Flynn and Basil Rathbone. Heat damaged sound track drawn and distorted echoes through the ruination.

Nearby, crushed beneath a concrete pillar lies the body of Edward Schrimmer.

Description:- Disabled Vietnam veteran / Cavalry helicopter pilot / Shot down east of Da Nang 196— /Rehabilitated / Artificial left leg and hand / employed as janitor of Academy Archives.
Interests:— Old movies, especially those featuring Basil Rathbone, Errol FLynn. The drawings and paintings of Durer and Bruegel. The organ music of Bach and the music of Jimmy Hendrix (especially: All along the Watch towers and the Wind whispered Mary ) Anything to do with electronics. Painting miniature mediaeval military figures.

He was seldom seen outside of the basement area, preferring isolation and old film footage. The Management indulged his insular habits and allowed him to set up home in a small unused store room, adjacent to the Archive area. He shared this space with a stray cat, which wandered in one day and decided to stay.

Weather:- Rat grey skies / mist / rain / deep mud.

Things move in the slough, but are heard rather than seen. Only the dead expose themselves.

Edward Schrimmer is not dead.

His body twitches spasmodically and the fingers of his torn right hand worry feebly at a can of spilled film. Ruptured power cables, drawing power from an unknown source, wreathe and arch in the pressed spaces around him, splashing the broken concrete with acid light and blue fire.

The rain spits and steams in the hole where the building once stood.

The cables, one ensnares his body, glow like heat elements in an electric kettle, boiling the sump fluids in which he lies part submerged, brewing up a rare cocktail of bubbling emulsions, which spit and rush flux like through the pit. He is consumed in a blistering fisson, a searing fusion of broken parts and and things elemental—

Time passes—

The collapsed building begins to shake and heave as though a gaint lung is at work inhaling and exhaling from somewhere deep within.
Ever so slowly, a grotesque edifice of fused and squealing scrap, starts to push upwards out of the hole; a kinetic furore, spitting hot white friction at the wet night sky.

Cocooned inside this rising ferment, safe now from further hurt, Schrimmer undergoes a bizarre physical metamorphosis. His crushed chest and backbone, are reconstituted from steel plate and plastic. fashioned in a grotesque approximation of the original.

During this transformation, the grinding melt goes on around him unabated.
A Jack in the Box Diner sign explodes, shooting up into the sky, in a blister of light, like a star shell.

Bugs and birds, decapitated heads, severed limbs, and a myriad of other remnants, all victims of the collapse, find new form inside the Heap. Metal girders, push up and out, twisting like soft toffee, fusing in skeletal configurations, that are quickly coated by the virulent liquids fountaining up from below; Liquids which quickly skin over and set hard.

The Heap continues to grow, hissing and spitting as it does so.
In the rain and mist, in the darkness, it looks from a distance, like a mediaeval Keep.

The basement archive is transformed into a vaulted hall, a parody of something Gothic; an amalgam of tin, plastic, concrete and steel, woven and fluted in scratched and torturous convolutions. Gargoyles and television monitors leer side by side, from column tops.. shorting cables spit light in place of candles.

Acetylene sparks irritate the shadows.

Schrimmer, his head part hidden, beneath a Flemish style helmet, his torso corseted in rifled steel, sits erect, on a throne of polished scrap, watching the genesis around him.

The sounds of Jimmy Hendrix and Bach ‘s organ music, reverberates through the vaulted hall. Basil Rathbone playing the Sheriff of Nottingham flickers over the vaulted ceiling

The Heap continues to grow.

A perimeter wall of igneous steel and concrete, rises up around it and within its confines, a New World, begins to fashion itself. The regenerative melange at work within the Heap, flows out to touch and bond; carrying in its flux something sentient and mediaeval.

A theme park is borne / one world only: Mediaeval.

Assembly lines appear, old Ford Cars style, serviced by bedraggled survivors, drawn inside the protective skirt of the perimeter wall. Overseers, creatures from the mound, direct these wretches.

A Hospice is created to treat them, and the worst afflicted become creatures of the Heap; half this, a little bit of that, but free from the awful pain.

Schrimmer is not overtly harsh in his treatment of those, gathered in. They are viewed with benign indifference. They are a resource, serfs, a feudal asset.

Strange Boschesque style machines festoon the site, sporting fish heads, cavernous maws, scissor blade appendages. Cranes move everywhere, lifting prefabricated sections of rampart into position.

The Flux flows and joins.

In the grey desolation, beyond the scaffolding and welded plates of the Wall, hostile elements quietly gather, mutants, demented creatures, Transmogrified beings, comic cuts, animated characters, befouled poisonous things, all chuckling fit to kill.

Schrimmer names them the: “Children of Mordred”

They have driven out the rats ( for the moment ) but the cockroaches prove a tougher proposition. An uneasy truce is called and the city and its environs are divided up between them. They get the North and the Roaches the South. Both elements flourish in the slough and multiply at such a rate, that all other living things are driven out or overwhelmed. the Heap offers sanctuary to many of these displaced beings.

The Mordants both repelled and exited Schrimmer. They were the stuff of pestilence and plaque, essential elements in any mediaeval drama.

The Animations and Comic Cuts, were something else however; not even Bosch could have anticipated these horrors.

They had been nothing more than paintings and drawings, on paper and plastic cells, and now they were alive and violent. They were soiled slithers, two dimensional forms that killed by wrapping their plastic and soiled paper bodies tight around the faces of their victims, until they suffocated. with each kill, they sucked and got a little fatter.

In company with these nasties came the Theme Park Effigies ; large headed creatures, from which the human wearer’s were now inseparable. They were things that wailed and moaned constantly.

In his desire for authenticity, Schrimmer admitted a small number of the Mordants into his domain, the rest, he killed off at every opportunity with a growing army of mechanical knights; some part human, others part bird or animal. which he formed into Chapters, after the fashion of the Teutonic Orders / knights Templar / Lithuanians etc.

He was, however, extremely frustrated, by the slow progress of construction. The walls were unfinished, and the general fabric of his New World lacked the refinements he so desperately desired. More upsetting still, was the absence of a queen, a beautiful woman / damsel in distress. What women there were, had been sorely blistered by the BURN.

Rose petal skin and Pre-Raphaelite looks were in short supply.


  1. Lane says

    I very nearly said Michael Cisco meets Steve Erickson. A trick question? A collaboration between the two?

  2. says

    Well, remember, it’s someone primarily known as an artist. Since we’ve got until tomorrow the person who guesses right will get an advance copy of Life Sucks, the new graphic novel from First Second. Two guesses each, resetting from now, and the contest ends the minute the io9 column posts, whenever that is.

  3. says

    “The Jewels of Aptor one is easy- Delany’s first published novel, I think. Or second. One of his firsts.”

    I may be wrong, but I think The Jewels of Aptor is the second Delany published novel, the first being “They Fly, at Ciron”.

    hmmm – Michael Whelan?

  4. says

    Good guess, but his surrealism is more full-bodied. This is the kind of surrealism stewed in corrupted English city-scapes and foetid bars, among other things.