Ideas, Ideas – The Temple of the Dreamers

When Orah and Nathaniel enter the Temple of the Dreamers, high up on the mountain, I didn’t want them to immediately barge into the chamber holding the cocoons, a sterile room dominated by technology. Beyond needing to build anticipation, I felt the haughty dreamers would have embellished the place where they strove for immortality by creating spectacular anterooms as the approach to where their science worked its magic.

My ideas for the Temple of the Dreamers’ came from two places: the Valley of Temples in Agrigento, Sicily and the Chihuly Museum in Seattle (both places I would highly recommend you visit, if you ever get the chance).

Chihuly Glass Museum, Seattle

This museum is situated in the shadow of the space needle, and is one of the must-visit sites in Seattle. The striking display you see when you first enter is a room much as I described in The Stuff of Stars. A polished black platform hosts a myriad of multi-colored, serpentine figure that reflect off the polished surface of the platform, creating the illusion of snakes writhing up from water.

Of course, I had the benefit of knowing I was entering a glass museum (as well as the perspective of living in a less superstitious world than the one ruled by the Vicars). I imagined how my seekers would have reacted upon encountering such a scene, especially as they were trespassing for the first time on the realm of the mysterious dreamers.

But after Orah and Nathaniel passed through this anteroom, I still wasn’t ready to let them march directly into the chamber with the cocoons. I wanted them first to be struck not just with a sense of mystery, but also with a sense of awe.

The Temple of Zeus in Agrigento, Sicily

I found the right venue on a trip my wife and I took to Sicily. The town of Agrigento has a number of fairly intact Greek ruins, the most prominent of which is the Temple of Zeus.

This picture hardly does justice to its grandeur. For perspective, each of those steps is waist high, and though I’m six feet tall, I could easily fit inside a single groove of one of the columns. The structure is believed to have been 370 feet long and 185 feet wide, or about a thrid larger than a football field. At its peak, it rose 66 feet.

In this artists rendition of the original temple, you can make out the statues of Atlases holding up the portico. Each of these statues stood 7.5 meters (about 22 feet high).

I thought what better setting for the final chamber built by those who aspired to be gods. For added effect, I had the giant statues supporting a planetarium-style sky, complete with projected stars. Unlike the humbler world view of the Greenies, this showed the hubris of the Technos, men who viewed themselves as powerful enough to support the heavens.

As always, the secret to an author’s inspiration is simple: write often enough that the story is always in your mind, and be open to ideas wherever and whenever they flow your way.

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