Review: Happy Peasant Burgers

Eatery: Happy Peasant Burgers

Location: pretty much anywhere controlled by “Lord” Urizen

PURPLE

TODAY, I SHALL NOT DEVOUR ALL IN MY PATH. I SHALL DEVOUR WITH PRECISION. THE GOAL IS WISDOM, NOT ANNIHILATION. BEHOLD MY FOOD CRITICISM.

If you’ve ever travelled through one of the lands occupied by Urizen, you will have noticed one of the ubiquitous Happy Peasant Burgers, a chain of fast food restaurants owned by the Borington-Dull Food Corporation. The advertisments make the food look a great deal better than it does in real life, but it’s cheap, and it’s edible. Almost everyone has tried it at some point, even if all they’ve done is nibbled on a Veggie Peasant Burger, which doesn’t contain anything that really reminds me of vegetables. But then, I’m not entirely certain that the regular Peasant Burger really does contain actual meat.

As a food critic, I can easily say that the food is, well, meh. It is, as I said, edible. It’s not tasty, and even if you prefer the less healthy end of the burger spectrum, you’d be much better off going to something like Vicky’s Monstrous Burger Shack. And yet, I cannot find it in me to condemn those who frequent Happy Peasant Burgers. It is, as I said, quite cheap, and money is short these days. When people are exhausted from working long hours for little money, can you really begrudge them their Big Peasant? When they are struggling to make the rent and their children need an affordable meal, is it really so unthinkable to purchase a Happy Peasant Meal?

And besides, there’s something strangely admirable about the sheer quantity of food produced by this establishment. When you think about the true horror of a famine, cheap food seems almost miraculous. That we can use so much technology, on so large scale, to feed so many people, is a kind of wonder.

Sure, it’s not the food we deserve, but is it really the enemy, as both snobs and would-be rebels claim? Or could we seize that miracle, the miracle of affordable meals, and make it our own? Can we not throw out the concept of profit, which requires the lowering of quality and the exploitation of workers, and use this truly impressive infrastructure for the benefit of all?

I am merely a food critic, so I cannot say. But I should mention that I’ve always wanted to find out what the rich taste like.

THUS THE ACT IS ACCOMPLISHED. THE HUNGER SHALL GROW WHEN THE MOON RETURNS.

– The Purple Devourer

Website Muncher Alert

One of our updates has been eaten by a Potato-Faced Website Muncher, one of the most dangerous animals of the internet. We’re pretty sure it’s gone now (it hid for a while in one of the subfolders), but that doesn’t mean it’s not coming back, and it may well still be in one of the surrounding websites.

If you notice any potential signs of a netovore (missing pixels, absence of updates, broken images, strange word scrambles, HTML-scented guano) please contact the Oneiropolis University Department of Hazardous Netbeasts immediately. They will send someone to capture the creature and release it in the interweb jungles of Epsilon Robertani, Bob the Spider’s artificial planet.

This Is Who Is A Good Boy

We finally present another extract from Jorrum Dooga’s long-delayed Book of Likely Facts:

For centuries now, humans have been asking dogs one question: who’s a good boy? Over and over they interrogate this bizarre conundrum, the answer remaining elusive. Until now.

Dog scientists working at Oneiropolis University have successfully used the Colossal Woof-Woof Collider to discover the solution to this mysterious puzzle. Who’s a good boy? We finally know: an 18th-century dog called Fishnose, born on a ship crossing the Atlantic and raised in a small village on the Namibian coast, who is now thought to reside in Billion Toad City. Cat scientists from Gatopolis have provided data that confirms this finding, although they claim that “good” is an overrated and probably pseudoscientific concept and that dogs are smelly.

Although this breakthrough has been hailed around the world, it is by no means the end of the investigation. An even more mysterious question remains, after all. We may know the answer – but why was anyone asking the question in the first place?

Fascinating, isn’t it? We hope to feature more extracts from this marvellous book soon, and we also hope that Jorrum will finally understand the meaning of the word “soon” – which is, as we found out, missing from his Fractional Dictionary of Possible S-Words.

Brief Outage

This fox smells of something reddish.

Hi there,

Please excuse a brief pause in the updates while we deal with an infestation of Melancholic Mould. It started in the fridge, you see, in a pair of lemons, but now it’s spread all over the place and just moans and moans and won’t shut up. It’s irritating and depressing and we’re working on having it moved to a more appropriate environment.

(Otherwise things are fine, don’t worry.)

Apologies,

Julian the Announcement Fox

Review: The Satyr’s Rod (Mesolithic Dionysus)

Album: The Satyr’s Rod

Band: Mesolithic Dionysus

Publisher: Silenus Records

flowers

Let me tell ya, there ain’t nothing wrong with a dumb rock’n’roll band. They ain’t all got to be dumb, but damn, sometimes there’s nothing quite so glorious as a band that’s simply there to rock your socks off. And that’s definitely the case with Mesolithic Dionysus, a band that’s all about sex, wine, and ecstatic dancing.

I only just discovered them recently, though they’ve been around for years. I’d been investigating the dirty dealings of Lord Urizen’s underlings in the Land of Plenty, and man was I depressed. I needed something to lift my spirit, put some energy back into my hooves, when my friend George (who used to be Janis Joplin’s dog and is now a sort of huge fire-breathing donkey-spider) recommended I try listening to The Satyr’s Rod. He was really surprised when I told him I hadn’t heard of it and immediately sent me an LP. Personally I prefer high-quality digital files, but George insists LPs just have that special sound.

Anyway, I get the album, and the cover is, well, a satyr’s rod. On the back there’s a picture of the band: a naked maenad on bass guitar, a hairy goat on drums, a long-haired caveman screaming into a microphone. Is this gonna cheer me up? Is this going to make me feel like the world isn’t going to hell in a handbasket?

The song titles almost look scratched rather than written:

  1. The Satyr’s Rod
  2. I Love Figs
  3. Drunk Love Song
  4. Hold the Thyrsus
  5. Satyr on Satyr
  6. Nymph on Nymph
  7. Everybody on Everybody
  8. Party Time, Eleutherios!

I put in the LP. The moment the guitar kicks in, I’m in love. This is rock’n’roll, pure, glorious, stupid, absolutely damn real. This is demotic poetry, revelation discovered in passion instead of piety. It’s music for moving bodies, for grinding thighs, for lips and hands and sweat and moans all calling out to the Sublime, screaming we are here! and we will not go away!

Sure enough, George was right. The album didn’t teach me how to overcome the odds or change the system, but who cares? Who says that’s the point of music, anyway? Who says it’s gotta have any point? But it made me happy. It made me get out of the newsroom and hook up with a nice mare who felt like dancing, and the night was full of glory, and I remembered why the hell I was a reporter in the first place: to help create a world that’s got more space for satyrs and maenads and goats and a whole lot less space for bankers.

Now I gotta get back to work, those scandals won’t investigate themselves. Take care and see ya soon.

– Jimmy Caballus

 

The Sea Will Claim Everything – now on Steam! And more!

This fox smells of something reddish.

Being a fox, I don’t really understand some aspects of human culture yet. Sometimes you call portals to other dimensions “games”, and you also have a thing called… money? That you exchange for goods, if I understand correctly? The mushrooms keep telling me about it but I’m not sure I believe everything they say.

Anyway, the magical portal known as The Sea Will Claim Everything is now available via your world’s strange steam-powered technology! My friend Jonas has written a whole thing about it, though it’s written in that weird PR-speak he sometimes uses for his job, where he pretends to be a writer.

The Sea Will Claim Everything is now on Steam.

The Council of Crows is now on Steam Greenlight.

You can also get The Sea Will Claim Everything via the Humble widget on its Lands of Dream page.

We’ve been working on the Lands of Dream for, what, a decade now? I’m not good at doing the whole “selling yourself” thing, but I’m quite proud of what we’ve created. It’s a world, a strange and interesting and unique world with a life all of its own. It is rich in themes and imagery, deeply interconnected to literature and poetry, and full of shockingly daft jokes. And it’s not just games, it’s also the Oneiropolis Compendium and the children’s book and even the website itself, all part of this huge tapestry of stories.

I think it’s some of my best writing, but none of it would have been possible without my collaborators. Verena Kyratzes not only draws the graphics, she’s also an equal partner in the design process, coming up with all kinds of ingenious ideas. Helen Trevillion created amazing music for the first few games, bringing out the grace and beauty I wanted the Lands of Dream to have despite all the silliness. I didn’t think anyone could have kept the spirit of that music alive, but Chris Christodoulou has done so and gone even further, and his scores elevate everything we do.

We’re all extremely grateful to our kind and patient fans, who have supported us over the years even as we sometimes take ages to finish anything. A habit we are now trying to break by making some changes in our lives.

If you would like to support our games, the best thing you can do right now – apart from buying them, or buying copies for your friends, relatives, and/or enemies – is to write reviews on Steam. What we’re particularly keen on is reviews that explain why you enjoyed The Sea Will Claim Everything. It’s a strange game, after all, and one of our biggest challenges is just getting people to give it a go. Any positive review is hugely appreciated, of course, but what would be particularly brilliant would be reviews that are useful to other players, helping them to make up their minds about whether this is their sort of thing. Thanks!

Folks who’ve already bought the game: see the previous post. We’re working on getting Steam keys to you, although in a few cases it may take a few more days, depending on factors beyond our control. You’ll definitely get them sooner or later!

Some of you may also end up getting more than one key. Do us a favour and give it to a friend who might enjoy the game. Word of mouth is a big deal.

No doubt we are in for a whole bunch of confusion, chaos, and tech support. But we’ll try to do our best. If there’s a problem, get in touch and we’ll see what we can do. And most importantly of all, enjoy your time in the Lands of Dream.

Does that make sense to you? Jonas tells me it will, and I trust him, even though he’s big and hairy and reminds me of a fish I once knew.

Enjoy!

Yours truly,

Julian the Announcement Fox

Review: Vicky’s Monstrous Burger Shack

Eatery: Vicky’s Monstrous Burger Shack

Location: Grey Quarter, Upper Gatopolis, Katsouli

PURPLE

TODAY, I SHALL NOT DEVOUR ALL IN MY PATH. I SHALL DEVOUR WITH PRECISION. THE GOAL IS PLEASURE, NOT ANNIHILATION. BEHOLD MY FOOD CRITICISM.

Vicky’s Monstrous Burger Shack is a relatively new eatery in Upper Gatopolis, one of the many disputed capitals of Katsouli, the Land of Cats. Hidden between the trees of a small park opposite Siegfried’s Infinitely Recurring Cinema (where it’s impossible to remember the movie you’ve just seen), not far from the ruins of the infamous Tower-Palace of Lord Greasestain the Obscene, the shack is actually quite easy to miss. It’s an unremarkable building, and those expecting a special ambiance will be disappointed. It is not the shack that is monstrous, but the burgers.

What do I mean by monstrous? The patties are misshapen clumps of deep-fried meat, covered in spicy mustard that will make your nostrils weep, topped with slices of blood-red cheese, prehistoric bacon, and hissing peppers. The burger buns resemble a kind of unholy pita bread; watching them get made, watching the pulsating, undulating dough as it is fried, will give you erotic nightmares from which you will wake up hungry and unsatisfied. The special involves eggs of unknowable origin, demonic jalapeños, and a large portion of regular fries.

As for the owner, most people are terrified of Vicky. Some claim she has a heart of gold, but others say that is to be taken literally. Veterinarians of any kind are not welcome in her establishment; wizards have to leave their wands outside or risk becoming part of the menu. The regulars, and there are many, simply accept this. Arrogant wizards are frequently tasty.

Food critics of a different persuasion may be appalled by Vicky’s Monstrous Burger Shack, but I am the Purple Devourer, and I have no reason to care about their small-minded, unimaginative approach to food. In my opinion, this is a wonderful establishment; it doesn’t all have to be like Valabar’s, you know. You might want to avoid eating there every day, but I highly recommend visiting it if you ever find yourself in Upper Gatopolis.

THUS THE ACT IS ACCOMPLISHED. THE HUNGER SHALL GROW WHEN THE MOON RETURNS.

– The Purple Devourer

Review: The Great Green Book of Mould

Title: The Great Green Book of Mould

Author: Asper Gillus

Publisher: Oneiropolis University Department of Fungal Literature

These books contain Lin's notes about other books.

When my friend Phidias told me I really had to read The Great Green Book of Mould, I was, well, somewhat surprised. I do enjoy nonfiction, and I’ve read excellent books by and about mushrooms, but mould? Not exactly inspiring subject matter, I thought. But I decided to trust my friend and give it a go.

The book begins with a thoughtful, introspective examination of mortality and eternity as revealed to us in the nature of mould. Is mould decay, or is it growth? Is it a symbol of the fragility of life, or of its tenacity? The author considers his or her own relationship to mould – after all, we are surrounded by it. Mould is in our homes, in our food, in our medicines. It can cause terrible ailments, cure dangerous diseases, and create preposterous cheeses.

The deeper you get into the book, the more the pages themselves begin to go mouldy. The act of touching the book, the tiny filaments caressing your fingers, becomes increasingly unsettling and strange. So does the book’s content, as the author leads us on what can only be described as a kind of poetic dream-journey through the history of growth and decay. The details are hard to set down, because the spores emitted by the book’s pages have a psychotropic effect. As the pages grow more and more mouldy, the words shift as the filaments move, and you can hear the wind whispering in the vast fungal forests that stretch out before you. You lose track of time, and you hear a voice – is it the author’s voice? Is it the voice of the mould? You begin to see every living being as a kind of explosion, as limitless energy and potential in constant transformation, of which the thinking soul is but a tiny part. You perceive the glory of death, though you’ll never quite be able to remember it later. You come closer and closer to some fundamental truth about the universe, about persistence, about the sublime… and then you pass out.

No-one has ever read the final page, or at least not read it and understood. Reading it on its own, without the full effect of the spores, is pointless – you can only perceive meaningless mould-covered paper. But the meaning is there, in the mould. Everyone who’s read the book knows that. The question is just how to find it. Some have gone mad trying, reading the book over and over, but I was content to stop. Perhaps the reason I was not negatively affected – as I’m sure my friend Phidias knew I would not be – is that I have faith. Not in myself, but in people.

I am confident that one day the mystery will be solved, not by a single brave individual pushing on through, but by many people working together to find a safe way of persevering to the final page. And then, perhaps, we will know. Or perhaps the words will have changed, but the wisdom we will have accumulated in trying to understand them will have changed us as well.

– Lin

Meet the new Lands of Dream team!

This fox smells of something reddish.

Dear Readers,

We all know things here on the Lands of Dream website have been slow. Much of this is due to the fact that our good friends and portal-makers, Jonas and Verena Kyratzes, happen to be trapped in one of Urizen’s major economic centres, and finding the experience rather depressing. I shudder to think what it must be like! But now The Sea Will Claim Everything is about to be re-released onto some sort of steam-based platform (you still use steam technology in your world?), progress is being made on The Council of Crows, and both Jonas and Verena would very much like to put more people in touch with the Lands of Dream again.

Knowing they can’t accomplish this task all by themselves (I just write updates), they’ve decided to get together a proper editorial team! I’m going to introduce my new friends here:

Henry

Henry Trollweather – Editor

Henry Trollweather is best known as a fiction writer (my favourite book of his is In the Burrows Under the Tree of the World), but he’s always getting involved in different projects, like helping R.L. Smith create a transubstantiated version of Ithaka of the Clouds. He currently lives in Hyperborea, where it’s really cold, so I guess he has a lot of time on his hands. Anyway, he’ll be helping coordinate the site, finding interesting writers to contribute articles and reviews and stories, and generally coming up with ideas. He’s interested in pretty much everything and has read more books than anyone I know, so that shouldn’t be too hard.

Jimmy

Jimmy Caballus – Investigative Reporter

Jimmy is grumpy and I’m a little scared of him, but he does great work. He exposed a major corruption scandal in Mag Mell, investigated the unconstitutional use of military troops in the Land of Plenty, and covered the fall of Lagonia is grisly detail. He’s as tough as they come, but from what I hear, he also has a passion for music, and may be writing some reviews for the site.

Lin

Lin the Liberator – Literary Enthusiast

Lin is a really famous hero in her homeland, the Kingdom of the Enigmatic Snakes, although not that many people know about her in the rest of the world, because everything that happens in that kingdom is kind of hard to understand. (They don’t even have a king, I think!) When she’s not fighting for freedom, she loves to read novels and poetry, so she’s decided to share some of her favourite works with us, as well as tell you all about new releases. She refuses to be called a critic, preferring instead the term “enthusiast.”

Robot

This Robot – Function Unknown

We don’t know what it’s called or why it’s shown up on our website. One morning I was just polishing some pixels and suddenly there was this bummed-out robot. It eats electricity and occasionally mumbles to itself. Since it seems to like company, we’ve decided to let it stay here and just see what happens.

Devourer

The Purple Devourer – Food Critic

Instead of consuming all in his path, the Purple Devourer will share all his food-related wisdom with us! I think that’s lovely, especially since I’m terrible at picking restaurants. I always go for the ones that have nice-looking garbage, and very frequently there’s a reason all those leftovers ended up there. What else should I add? Hmm. Well, the Purple Devourer is quite mysterious, so I don’t know where he’s from, or really even what sort of being he is, but I know he enjoys funk, hip-hop, and games about farming.

Sotira

Sotira Ulyanov – Historian

Sotira is one of the two fish that were multiplied by Jesus, so now there’s actually several thousand of her. This one has picked a surname inspired by her radical communist beliefs, and studied history under the legendary Kohlrabian Dialecticus, who may also be contributing some writing himself. Sotira currently spends most of her time in the sea surrounding the Fortunate Isles, but she likes to travel a lot and considers herself a cosmopolifish.

Pod

Pod – Podcast Expert

Henry is quite excited about the idea of doing some podcasts, as he is a big fan of the radio, so who could be better to help us with that than the very inventor of the podcast, Pod the Mushroom! He won’t be podcasting himself, but he’ll be helping out with all the various technical aspects of recording and broadcasting. Pod currently lives on the Chelonian Mountain, where he is working on a documentary about moss.

What does all this mean for you, dear reader? Well, it means updates won’t be so sparse anymore! You can come here and hang out with me far more often. Like every week! And then you’ll be able to use those portals and transubstantiated stories to experience all kinds of cool stuff!

Oh, and remember that you can go like the Lands of Dream page on the information-sucking parasite called Facebook, and you can follow Bob the Spider on the failing corporate outrage machine called Twitter. He never posts anything useful, though, so I don’t know why you’d want to do that. The important thing is to remember your friends in the Lands of Dream and come visit every now and then. It’ll be fun!

Yours truly,

Julian the Announcement Fox

Welcome to 2016

This fox smells of something reddish.

Dear Friends,

2016 is going to be an exciting year for the Lands of Dream. There will be new portals, new stories, and all kinds of surprises. Bob the Spider promised, and as we all know, Bob the Spider only lies to his enemies. I know I’m not Bob’s enemy, because he built a lair in some spare pixels I had lying around here on the site, and we hang out on weekends.

It’s going to be great! I’ll let you know as soon as something new is available.

Greetings,

Julian the Announcement Fox

  • Monkeys