Our article on the ‘Punk genres, such as cyberpunk and steampunk, is now availbable.
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Like a mechanical octopus rising from the deep, the various ‘punk genres of speculative fiction can be surprising, amusing, and frightening! The ‘punk genres often blur the lines between different types of speculative fiction. They also share a lot of common themes, such as antiauthoritarianism and disestablishmentarianism. The commonality of these themes is largely responsible for the use of the word “punk” in their names. The views expressed in early cyberpunk works – which birthed the entire movement – reflected those of the punk subculture of the 1970’s and 1980’s.
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Cressus is the southernmost city on the northern peninsula. Situated near the Cressian Oasis, there is a sufficient water supply to sustain the city. Surplus water is still imported from Shem, and then traded to the lands of Kosh in the south.
Cressus lies near the edge of The Great Sand Sea and is plagued by regular sand storms. Outlying villages near the city are also subject to raids from the nomadic orcs of The Burning land to the southeast, although they rarely venture so far north.
The city itself is walked and features mostly simple sandstone architecture. The wealthier district is dominated by large palaces with towers topped with brass minurats that shine in the sun. The wealthy traders of Cressus trade lumber, food and water from the north for precious metals and gems from the Emerald Coast beyond Koth.
The government of Cressus consists of a council of the wealthiest merchants in the city called the Circle of Gold. Each of the twelve merchant princes controls their own private army. There is no organized military if the city itself, and the council must work together to police and defend their interests. Corruption is rampant within the government, and quarrels between the merchant princes often lead to small civil conflicts.
Most of the common people live in a maze of small homes clustered around the outside of the city walls. Most of the poor barely survive, and while work inside the city would afford them a better life many cannot afford the tax simply to pass through the gates.
Shem is a bustling trade port at the mouth of the Azure river, the only major river on the continent of Erimos. It is supplied with an abundance of fresh water, boasts massive amounts of fertile farmland, and is the heart of all trade in Erimos.
Because of the desirability of the land that it controls, the city-state of Shem must constantly be on alert against potential rivals. The military power of Shem is unrivaled on the continent, mostly thanks to an extensive reliance on slave soldiers to bolster their ranks. Slave labor, also, is the backbone of their economy. Slaves work the marshland farms around the mouth of the river and provide a food surplus that allows the city-state to trade these essential resources for boundless wealth.
All of the other city-states on the peninsula trade with Shem, but invariably there are conflicts related to the valuation of the Shemmite commodities. These conflicts often lead to war, but the military power of Shem has never before been defeated.
The government itself is lead by a Sultan, and this title is passed on via heredity. There is also a council of viziers from among the most wealthy merchant houses. The city-state is ruled with a heavy hand, and every grain and coin is counted by a merciless bureaucracy. Violation of the law, especially theft from the state, can be met with harsh punishments. It is not uncommon to see the corpses of criminals crucified along the roads leading into and out of the city itself.
The city-state also controls land along the river all of the way to its source at the Pasha Oasis, the largest oasis on the peninsula. A sizable town has grown around the oasis, called Maresh. It is large enough to be considered a city, itself. The main purpose of the settlement is to support the garrison that guards the oasis and patrols the eastern reach of the city-state’s holdings.
This is for an upcoming desert-themed sword and sorcery project that I am working on.
Stay tuned for more!