I came up with the idea of Eoten for the World Uncertain.
The name comes from Anglo-Saxon history/mythology and like a lot of cultures that haven't been carefully organised by nerds, the monster names, Eoten, Thyrs, Orcneas, all seem to be used in a variety of ways.
Eoten in the Anglo-Saxon world tend to be more awesome than horrible (or 'as; awesome as horrible). A linkage of the psychic back wash of a culture growing amidst Roman ruins, bits of biblical cosmology; the idea of fallen angels of old pre-genesis powers and partly good old traditional giants.
I intended to use them as a kind of Angel/Giant/Titan/Primal Otherness that unified everything I liked about Giants and Titans and Angels and Dragons and Demigods and made them into one infinitely-variable thing where there are giant primal things in the forest and you can go there and physically look at them if you want.
THE GOD OF ABRAHAM
So, the god of Abraham, like Tolkien’s Iluvatar didn't exactly need help to create the world, because they were omnipotent, but they sort of made help (out of themselves presumably).
In Sci Fi terms this is kind of like an AI breaking itself down into a series of semi-competitive partial selves and letting them loose to ensure that it has a distributed intelligence that can handle a bunch of hyper-complex interacting things and so it can devote highly specified attention to individual problems and possibly also as a bug-test to make sure there are no hidden flaws in the programme.
"Maybe another set of eyes would help."
"O.K. I'll make one."
And in storytelling terms it’s just really hard to tell a story about an omnipotent being that doesn’t have a cast of characters to talk to in the same way that it would be hard to tell a story that was just about Sherlock Holmes on his own without Watson.
(Actually, those would be dark and interesting, slightly modernist, stories).
I’m blathering. Anyway. God needs Angels to do build the world. They help make fire and trees and fish and whatever then bum off to the silver city to hang around while it all plays out.
DIVINITY AND DEEP-TIME
If we assume both the existence of Deep Time, all 5 to 6 billion years of it *and* the will of an omnipotent Creator God (two in this case), so that everything that has ever existed is all stuff they intended and built specifically, at least at the time it was built, then this Angelorium looks less and less like a small family firm where the workers all hang out at the end of the day and more and more like a giant corporation that has been through a lot of changes and several generations of workers, management and central product.
Because a lot of powerfully different shit has happened in the world. There was a whole billion years where nothing happened, and even that was something, kind of.
And all of that stuff, the Haden Era, the Boring Billion, the Archean Era the Cretaceous Explosion and all the various ages of life, all of those would require Angels. You would need a lot of Angels to create all life and being,
ENGINEERS OF CREATION
Perhaps the more potent idea here is a less materially-specific one.
Not the angels of specifically-identifiable biological processes, there is no reason to think that immaterial, immortal, divine beings would divide the world up in the same way we would.
In a sense, the patterns in which we divide the world is the pattern of our ignorance, we draw boundaries around the things we know and try to expand them, so the boundaries between any particular subject, the gaps between them, which exist in our minds and our philosophy, but not in reality itself, make up a kind of negative-image map of our non-understanding, and angelic beings wouldn't have that so they would seem incoherent to us.
They might think in impenetrable synergies, linking things together into portfolios of action, some things we could see and understand; the design of a limb or history of a species for instance, some things we could see and not understand, the spiral formations of certain pools and the branching patterns of a dinosaurs scales (obviously very clearly linked to something observing from outside time and cause-and-effect), and some things we simply could not perceive.
The angels of the Cambrian Explosion might be engineers of calcium, or they might be engineers of reality, shifting the balance of elements within a dying star so that there is just a little more calcium, allowing continents to collect in just a certain way, organising precipitation and erosion so that the right amounts would arrive in the ocean and be available and, at the same time, preparing the evolution of the molecular machinery that could move around little pieces of the element and assemble them into the bodies of single-celled organisms, then larger and larger and more complex ones, all at the same 'time' all the same process, though it reached back and forth in time by millions of years and encompassed the core of a solar system to achieve its goal; the weird, asymmetric, spine’ed thing.
But even that doesn’t really capture it at all because all I’ve done in the paragraph above is take material, comprehensible aspects and extend them through time. As for the non-material, non-comprehensible aspects, if the creation of reality did require them, how might they show up? Or “the darkness bear its fruit, and prove itself good, as much as the day.” ?
I don’t know. Reason blanches from the incomprehensible and won’t accept that it exists. My only guess would be something Foretan and something verging on madness.
So when I describe engineers of life and existence, I don't necessarily mean in a purely-material science fictional way. Some of the things they did would seem like magic to us, through they would be simple actions to them, and some would seem like transcendent poetry or divine madness, though they would be utterly reasonable states of being to them.
But, regardless of exactly how they did what they did, most of them would be very precise specialists, and most of them would have been fired.
And you can't fire Angels. Because they're you. You made them of you to design, lets say; calcium based skeletons, and they did really well and pretty soon almost everything had a calcium skeleton, and yes some of the original designs looked a little whacky but hey, its a sound technology, you know, that generation really laid down the core of a system that we've been working with ever since and we all owe a lot to them and no, they don't work here any more. I mean they were hyper-specialised workers and there's only so many asymmetric spine’d things you need and generally the company has moved on and we have better skeletons now.
The idea is a pretty simple combination of the general cosmology of the Abrahamic Religions and of the film 'Steve Jobs'.
There’s a scene in the film 'Steve Jobs' where Steve Wozniak wants Jobs to publicly acknowledge the Apple Two team who designed the product which made the company’s original fortune.
(And I couldn't find the clip online, sorry.)
"Just a few words, Just for the top guys."
and Jobs absolutely won't
"There are no* Top Guys* on the Apple Two team, they're *B players* and *B players* discourage the A players."
So I replace Steve Jobs with Conchodeus, and Steve Wozniak with Zoophoria, because the personalities kind of fit
Now we have the Apple Two team of reality, all the Cambrian Angels and Hadean Angels and the Angels of the Boring Billion, all still hanging around, purposeless after their primary work is done, not allowed to leave, not really encouraged to actually do anything, slowly getting weirder and weirder.
And none of them would have looked anything like people anyway, the angels of the Cambrian Explosion sure as fuck wouldn’t have looked like human beings and god knows about any of the earlier ones. They are not fully part of reality anyway so they can look like whatever they want.
And maybe they would be rather resentful of the main design, not entirely happy to be existing in a reality built around the needs of the latest product. Not demons. Not evil. Not concerned with mankind at all really, and not outsiders like Chthulu or whatever, they are not opposed to creation, just alienated from particular part of creation.
I'm guessing the most obvious and easy to encounter would be the angels of the Pleistocene, it was pretty recent, pretty explicable, some of their stuff (whales maybe) is still around, pretty similar to the current programming and they made stuff BIG, and probably they are BIG as well, and primal and powerful and animalistic like the animals they made. A supra-reality intelligence, but one with more interest in charismatic mega-fauna than in mankind. These would be the Animal-Head guys, the Totem-Pole guys and the Kaiju-guys. Horus VS Godzilla. Pliocene angels would be a bit like a big, burly, slow, kind-of-likeable IBM, an operating system for life that got superseded by something smaller, faster and more discrete, but they are still out there, thinking their big, giant, slow thoughts, these would be the things most like giants, Titans or Egyptian gods.
These would be pretty radical and very bitter. They built a whole climax culture thing and got pretty good at it, then god aced the whole thing with a giant meteorite. This is like Jobs firing his staff, shutting down the company on a whim.
They would be so pissed off. Arnolds Dinosaur Clerics come to mind. Imagine being the Betamax of creation, the abandoned code.
This is probably why birds tend to seem a bit evil, they are the last derivations of a a product line that was pulled from the shelves and pulped. Maybe the bird angels are just descendants of, or sympathisers with, the old Dinosaur angels, like a 5th column.
Obviously Dragons are Cretaceous Angels
Took me a while to connect those ideas.
These would look so fucking weird. Asymmetric, spines, all kinds of weird shells. These would be the ones most like Steve Wozniak, creative, cool, not really concerned with power structures, lovers of invention, just thrilled they got to work out some really cool ideas, and everyone had their own ideas in those days, everyone did their own thing. Maybe they are still doing some really innovative stuff with micro fauna.
I feel like Trilobites would be a theme here. Endlessly-unfolding puzzle-box Trilobite Angels.
These would be the kind of ultra originating geniuses of life. The angel-generation that worked out how exactly DNA would work, how energy transfer inside cells would work, how the lipid layer would work. Like the Tim Berniers-Lee or Charles Babbage of angels. Individually brilliant, concerned mainly with highly complex elements so close to the necessary operations of life that they would seem alien.
They would be geniuses and I feel like they would be very small. There’s no need to be any larger than a microbe when all of your work was done on the microscopic level.
(One day someone’s looking down a microscope and something unbelievably complex and intelligent and aware, turns towards the lens and looks back.)
They wouldn’t be alienated from the world as, so far as they are aware, all their work is still going on. Everything is still happening. Careful to watch for potential information degradation on the RNA transfers over the next billion years. These angels essentially decide what the rate of mutation is, what the speed of evolution is.
Maybe like giant, violent Victorian industrialists, or like bin men or moving guys.
you need a continent moved?
moon to big? too small? you want more moons? less?
easy fix, grab moon, smash into planet
there, bigger world, smaller moon, that good boss?
you need more water?
wait, grab comet
You maybe need an iron core for your world? We can do that.
You want it spinning?
Rotate or counter-rotate?
Counter-rotate for more tectonics?
maybe we should move move stuff around
more big stuff
you want that mountain range there?
ok boss, we will wait
It gets even stranger if you imagine a god outside of time, one that can view the entire history of its creation as-one. In that case, all the angels who ever did exist and who ever _will_ exist, all exist, sometimes as fully-embodied beings, sometimes as kind of peremptory idea-ghosts of what they one day will be. The angelic hierarchies of a future age of the world, one yet to be, yet still semi-present, whispering potentials of what might happen, angels of new species that will inherit the world when humanity is done
Oh, annnd yeah a new, cheaper but slightly less good version of FotVH is out. Was gonna hold off announcing till I had the new collected-blog-posts book ready to go but here you go now.