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Do not look directly at these snippets of Sunless Skies' cosmic horror

As we continue to turn the one known human-friendly planet against us, the rich and hopeful look to space. Mate, we’re purpose-built for Earth yet couldn’t make this work; do you expect we’ll fare better with what – and who – awaits us up there? Sunless Skies [official site, Failbetter’s follow-up the the oceanic horror of Sunless Sea, will let us explore that possibility. Announcing that their Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign will launch on February 1st, Failbetter have shared a few flavourful snippets of their cosmic horror. Would you believe they’ve managed to make black holes even worse?

Failbetter explain:

“Wells are Sunless Skies’ version of black holes. Wounds in the world. Fathomless. Hungry. Well-winds, flickering with candle-flames, push unwary captains into their pull. Certain unspoken cults gather at their rim to perform distressing rites. If an enemy is too inconvenient to kill, the courts of the heavens consign them to a well. Do not stray too close. Ignore any voices within.”

Good. Lovely. Not that planets are necessarily much better:

“To each thing its place. For all that thinks, a name. For all that lives, a death. These laws can – given the right circumstances – be reprieved, bent, or overturned. What holds true in our bijou corner of the universe may not be true everywhere. An example: beyond our solar system, planets are rare. They are places of expression and experimentation for the bright regents of the heavens; warded, prized, inviolate.”

Grand, I’ll go rile up some ancient space gods, shall I?

“Just like real space, traversing the High Wilderness is hard. It wasn’t intended for us, and our presence there is considered an act of aggressive hubris by the celestial powers. We are not welcome, here.”

At least it should provide pretty journeys for space touris- oh, no.

“This close, the light of the stars has a dangerous allure. Too much exposure can cause sky-madness. Skyfarers fit stained glass in their locomotives’ portholes to filter the light, and pad their brigs so an afflicted crewman may be confined in safe isolation until they can be offloaded at port.”

Hit Failbetter’s post for more. These may only be hunks of background information on the game’s world, pages out of a lore book, but Failbetter have proven with Sunless Sea and Fallen London that their ideas often turn into beautiful and awful things. I’m keen to explore this setting across quests and stories. All of this may yet change, of course. I have heard reports of the Button Moon theme song blasting out the Failbetter office.

February 1st is when they’ll launch a Kickstarter for Sunless Skies. It’ll be a fair wait before we get to actually play it ourselves.

If you too like to imagine yourself drifting in a void boiling away to nothingness before the eyes of uncaring gods, you might enjoy this recent article about William Hope Hodgson, a cosmic horror writer enjoyed by Lovecraft himself. The post’s is a bit sensational in places but hey, Hodgson was also a bodybuilder who saved a man from shark-infested waters so y’know he could be pretty sensational himself. This was the first I’d heard of him so I’ve made a note to check out his work.

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Alice O'Connor

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When not writing news, Alice may be found in the sea.

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