Many readers have asked me what Daybreak was about since my original 1st volume came out back in 2014, and it’s a topic I’ve written about before. However in recent editing, I’ve realized that during part of the redux process, I’ve somehow forgotten the importance and criticality of one detail — the setting’s origins. As a result I had to retcon a scene back into the already-finished redux 1st volume.
As longtime readers know, Daybreak did not start off as a long story. I originally wrote four chapters as an ‘amusing experiment’, only to find my friends enjoying the story so much that I kept going. Daybreak’s long-term storyboarding and setting design didn’t start to materialize until much later, and this created many problems that were central to why I dropped all work on the story for years — until one day when I suddenly had an epiphany.
The core of the Daybreak setting really comes down to a giant “what if” scenario. In the Greek Titanomachy (aka “Battle of the Gods”), the Olympian Gods defeated the Titans and established their hegemony over the universe. Unfortunately most Olympian Gods are also terrible, awful beings — lustful, envious, greedy, and bent on hording power to themselves. The Titan Prometheus, despite siding with the Olympians during the Titanomachy, eventually betrayed Zeus and stole fire for the benefit of mankind. As a result Zeus sentenced him to eternal punishment by having his guts perpetually eaten by an eagle, regenerated, and eaten again.
In Daybreak, the Titanomachy is mirrored by a pivotal event in the setting’s prehistory — the Dragon-Demon Wars. It is the main ‘divergence point’ between the world of Hyperion and that of our own. It asks the important question: what if the dragonlords (modelled after the best of the Titans) won the war and gave humanity the power of the gods: magic itself?
How would having magic from the dawn of human civilization affect the geopolitical, social, cultural, and technological evolution of humanity as we know it?
This is the reason why the fantasy world of Daybreak so closely mirrors our own in terms of geography and history, while the continents are all named after Titans of Greek mythology (or in setting, the dragonlords). I wanted a close match with useful historical comparisons, which made Daybreak something of a ‘fantasy alternate history’ where many other ‘what if’ questions in our own history can be explored. However, I also didn’t want it to be ‘too close’ as that’d limited my artistic licenses in applying creativity and exploring other ‘what ifs’.
Similarly, the genderbender aspect of Daybreak plays a similar role.
Kaede was deliberately written as a protagonist who doesn’t identify strongly with either gender identities, and doesn’t fit well into any of the common boxes. She complains against the social expectations and gendered roles assigned by society to both sides, which is magnified by her two native cultures — both Russian and Japanese societies both have very strongly defined gender roles and biases (which also different from each other, i.e. the Russian concept of ‘masculinity’ is very different from Japan’s).
Being caught “in-between” on the gender spectrum allows Kaede to reflect on the evolution of gender expectations and roles on both sides, on why certain trappings came to be in the social evolution of Hyperion vs Earth. Psychology is not only one of my interests as a writer, but also a topic I consider vitally important to understanding the people and communities around me. And just like the evolution of nations and institutions, Daybreak’s setting is also a thought-experiment on how culture mores and societal expectations might have changed — when we mix magic with the same flaws of the human psych that we have in reality.
Alas, the setting is also where I made a minor mistake in the redux version. I focused so much more than the original on diving into some of the world’s major themes early –the technological differences, the effects of geopolitics on culture, etc– that I forgot to talk about the origin of it all, the divergence point. There was zero mention of the dragonlords or the Dragon-Demon Wars in redux Volume 1. Considering that this is the bedrock of the Hyperion setting that everything else is built upon, and it mentioned often by later explanations, that is simply not acceptable.
Hence I write a short scene and inserted it into Chapter 13, when Cecylia and Kaede were discussing the differences between their worlds:
(Volume 1 Chapter 13…)
“Aria told me you found our world fascinating, though I’m a bit surprised by how quickly you’re learning.” Cecylia gave an encouraging smile. “So how similar is your world compared to ours? Other than the part where your humanity never received the gift of magic from the dragonlords?”
“By ‘dragonlords’, you mean…”
“Yes, I speak of the dragons that descended upon Hyperion roughly four thousand years ago, and departed at the end of the Dragon Age.” Cecylia added. “We call them ‘dragonlords’ out of respect. After all, they protected our tribal ancestors during the Dragon-Demon Wars, not to mention blessed our forefathers with the ability and knowledge to shape magic. This is especially the case for the Dragonlord Hyperion — the son of the Holy Father whom ended the Dragon-Demon Wars.”
Kaede had to blink several times as she took all that in. She had been too focused on learning about the civilized history of this world, as opposed to the ancient history that, at least back on Earth, were more appropriate to anthropologists than historians. She had encountered mentions of the dragons during her reading, but they were mostly in passing as she had never focused her research on the topic.
“The world I came from had dragons also, but only in myths and legends,” the Samaran girl replied.
“Well, they’re certainly not limited to myths or legends here,” Cecylia grinned. “The legacy of the dragonlords is well researched and documented, from battlefield remains to the artifacts they’ve left behind.”
Clearly, I should pay more attention to the ‘prehistory’ of this world. Kaede made a mental note to herself before returning on topic:
“But aside from magic, I’d say this world and mine are extremely similar? In fact, Hyperion feels like what my world might have been if neither the Roman Empire…”
This should hopefully be enough to hold the gates open for other setting explanations referring to this event, at least long enough until Kaede had a chance to read about (and discuss) the events proper. Until then, mentions of the dragonlords will find itself into every corner of the setting, from the core from Trinitian Church worship to bloodline of many ancient houses to the origins of military arms.Author's Comment
If you've enjoyed this update, please take a moment to vote for Daybreak on Hyperion at TopWebFiction. Aorii isn't good at self-promotion so every bit of your support helps.
Thank you \(•ᴗ•)/
P.S. Please note that comments need to be approved (or your submitted email must have a previously approved comment) before they'll show up.