Fiction

As part of rebranding and reissuing my fiction, I have dumped the old name associated with the cycle of novels in favor of Habdvarsha. The old series name was imposed by an early publisher, and has never suited the world of which I write. From here on out, all novels and other stories integral to the cycle will be labeled, “A [whatever] of Habdvarsha,” but Habdvarsha should be understood in a larger context than just prose fiction. It includes the whole of this imaginative output, including visual and other works.

The first three novels by Robert Stikmanz have left confusing tracks in the world. To cut to the chase, I have repudiated all previous releases of these stories, and undertaken fundamental revision of each. Changes to the novels are comprehensive. The fictions have been stripped to their plots and created anew. Going forward, readers should take care to acquire only the Stikmantica editions. Nothing earlier remains canonical to the Habdvarsha cycle.

Prelude to a Change of Mind, Author’s Edition

Prelude to a Change of Mind represents the egg in the nest from which Habdvarsha hatched. It is the origin story of the narrative arc that drives the entire cycle. It is first in the Habdvarsha chronology, and the first title in the cycle to ever see print. In August 2018, Stikmantica released a new, extensively rewritten edition, Prelude to a Change of Mind, the Author’s Edition.

The story is that of Meg Christmas, found, as the book begins, sick unto death in a remote mountain camp. Beings out of legend arrive to save her, emerging from an alternate realm where they live in exile. Before the tale is told, Meg must rise to return the favor.

A quiet, intimate adventure, Prelude to a Change of Mind boasts dire peril and brave feats, tea with the dvarsh mage, Ekaterina Rigidstick, poems by intrepid intuit, Jack Plenty, and talk with both about the nature of reality and conditions of being. There is also a distinct erotic thread that simmers along until the exciting conclusion.

There have been three previous editions of Prelude to a Change of Mind, most recently that of Blue Moose Press from June 2010 through December 2014. The new Author’s Edition from Stikmantica supersedes all earlier versions. It is a very different book than its predecessors.

Entranscing

No plan existed for Entranscing until pressure from a publisher and editor for a sequel to Prelude to a Change of Mind became convincing. The Habdvarsha narrative arc always assumed a history like this connected the first novel to later fiction, but without specifics. Once Entranscing described the details, the world of the dvarsh expanded beyond two dimensions.

From outline through fourth draft, the original version of Entranscing was born in thirteen weeks, much to the detriment of the first release. The plot structure consciously emulates those of serially published novels from the pulp sci-fi heydays of the mid-twentieth century. Each chapter has an arc and a hook, the first to up the stakes and the second to keep one reading.

The novel is currently being rebuilt from the original outline, with a projected Stikmantica release in late 2019.

Sleeper Awakes

The mother book from which the world of Habdvarsha derives, Sleeper Awakes chronicles a traveler, Boyd, made homeless by monstrous catastrophe, and hunted for the very fact of his survival. Part bildungsroman, part finger-snapping beat fantasy, part green anarcho-social surrealist manifesto, part comic aside, part Daoist meditation on the nature of being, part—you get the picture. If you are a reader who must fit every title on your shelf into a pre-existing category, this is not a tale for you. Although it is third in the Habdvarsha chronology, it was the point of departure for this entire peroration.

I began writing Sleeper Awakes in May 1984. Through all the changes it has seen, the story has always begun in May of some year—not this one; another. For twenty-five years I worked on this book, pausing for repeated detours to create related works and materials to flesh out a world, but always centering on, around or near Sleeper Awakes. This is the tale in which the dvarsh trio—Mathilde and Ekaterina Rigidstick, and their cousin Jackanapes Plenty—first came to life as agents of an exiled civilization hidden in an alternate reality. In the course of discovering the culture of these characters, I began developing the dvarsh oracle, Nod’s Way, as well as the Dvarsh language and decorative/illustrative tradition. Ekaterina became Ekaterina and Jack became Jack in the first draft of this story. For the longest time this book was THE book, the big project. Unfortunately, the version that eventually saw print was unsatisfactory for a host of reasons. Subsequently, I disavowed the published version. Sleeper Awakes remains a priority for revision and new release. It’s always hanging there, watching, eyeing progress and keeping process on track. Look for a new, canonical edition as soon as circumstances permit.

Rose Moon & Death on the Toilet

Two works, a novella and a short story, wrapped by one cover, these fictions are episodes from the later life of Bigger MacGregor, a recurring character who enters the Habdvarsha universe as a boy in Sleeper Awakes. The novella, Rose Moon, is an explicitly erotic, near-future fantasy mixing ancient adversaries and hot sex. The story catapults an inventive man into a dangerously vague pocket of reality. Is the person who walks unexpectedly into his life an ancient goddess, or a psychopath with powerful drugs?

“Death on the Toilet” is a short story set fifty years on from Rose Moon. Late one night, Bigger opens the bathroom door to find himself drafted as a substitute Grim Reaper. He struggles to hold onto his humanity while keeping the appointments that wait for no one.

Published under the Stikmantica imprint, Rose Moon & Death on the Toilet is available from the Market on stikmantica.com.

Dvarsh language and cultural artifacts

Dvarsh, An Introduction may be the closest thing to a genuinely wonderful book that I have yet produced. It is a completely solid, practical reference for the language it presents. It is also a work of sly wit, an elaborate conceptual toy, and a fantasy. The only thing I might add to the description in the Market listing, is that it is the most challenging book I have attempted to date.

Dvarsh Workbook began as a set of drills for personal use. Almost at once, I recognized their usefulness to anyone studying Dvarsh, and the workbook was born. What I did not realize right away is that Dvarsh Workbook has its own audience, independent of its purpose as a companion to Dvarsh, An Introduction. Providing a vocabulary of about 250 words, simple verb tenses, bare bones grammar, and a cluster of useful phrases, the workbook teaches, traveler’s Dvarsh. In other words, basic conversation skills useful on any journey through the dvarsh homeland.

Nod’s Way, or Hidden Dragon, the ancient oracle of the dvarsh, also has a past from which I am wresting it. Looking back now at the first edition, it’s hard to see anything about it that is not wrong. Producing a new incarnation is currently Project No. 1 at Stikmantica HQ. I won’t return to work on the novels until Nod’s Way sees light in utterly reimagined form. Check out the Nod’s Way Design Scrapbook on dvarsh.org for a view onto its path to rebirth.