What is the Ascension Epoch?
The Ascension Epoch is a shared universe for fiction. This means that all of the characters and stories under the Ascension Epoch header exist in the same reality and may sometimes come into contact with one another. This concept should be familiar to anyone who reads superhero comics or has watched a TV show crossover.
It is also an open content collaborative fiction project. The idea was to encourage fans to add their own characters and stories to help flesh out the universe, or if they wanted to go a different route, ‘fork’ the stories into a separate, but related, continuity.
You can read a lot more on this subject on our About page.
What is the genre?
The setting is geared towards stories of heroic adventure, so there’s a little bit of everything. One of the most important parts of the background is the existence of people with supernatural powers, so expect a lot of fiction that fits within the superhero or action genres. Many of these also feature strong undercurrents of mystery, romance, comedy, paranormal/occult, and horror. The modern day setting can be considered near-future science fiction as well as urban fantasy. The background is an alternate history that diverges from our own, mildly at first in the 18th century, and then significantly in the late 19th century with the invasion of H.G. Wells’ Martians. The period around the Martian war and the early 20th century has a certain Steampunk vibe to it and lots of ‘lost world’ explorations. Stories set in the distant, mythic past would be equally at home with epic fantasy, sword and sorcery, or theo-fiction.
What sorts of ideas informed the creation of the setting?
The primary purpose of any fiction is to entertain, and we have always had a lot of fun reading comic books and novels, role playing, and writing our own original stories and fan fiction. In that sense, this project was conceived to tell the kinds of stories we liked while hopefully avoid some of the missteps and shortcomings we found in other works that we enjoyed, particularly comic books.
In particular, we want to emphasize continuity of story and character which, for some reason, seems to have fallen out of favor in the American comic book industry. This means that we avoid retcons and periodic reboots as well as embrace the idea that the events of our stories will have a noticeable impact on the setting. If you think it’s silly for a book to have powerful super-beings, fabulously advanced technology, and periodic alien invasions, yet look exactly like the world outside your window, you will probably find the Ascension Epoch a breath of fresh air.
More profoundly, we were strongly influenced by our Catholic faith. The central conceit of the setting is a Christian one, inspired by C.S. Lewis’s “Space Trilogy.” Although there are many fantastic creatures and entities from non-Christian myth, they are reimagined somewhat from a Christian perspective. Next in importance is the influence of libertarian/voluntaryist principles: we were very interested in showing a world where voluntary associations, localized government, and polycentric legal systems flourished instead of aggressive, centralized states. In accordance with these dual fonts of inspiration, the setting is consciously celebratory of peace, liberty, the voluntary society and virtuous behavior – even if the protagonists sometimes have trouble living up to these ideals.
What sort of media is involved?
Anything and everything. The project’s founders are primarily interested in prose fiction and sequential art (that is, comic book style), but any sort of medium is fitting. Poetry, sculpture, costumes, movies, music, radio drama, fine art, stage plays, custom action figures…whatever! It’s all welcome.
What public domain works are incorporated into the setting?
Far too many to list in this short space. The big ones are the War of the Worlds; the proto-science fiction of Jules Verne; the Barsoom, Pellucidar, and Tarzan stories of Burroughs; the weird fiction of Bierce, Blackwood, Lovecraft, and Machen; and copyright-expired works of the Golden Age of Comic books from defunct publishers like Nedor, Chesler, Fox, and Lev Gleason.
Please note that while some sources were incorporated as-is, most were altered or reinterpreted somewhat to make a more coherent and appealing setting.
Open Content Questions
What is meant by ‘open content’?
You’ve probably heard of open source software; open content is the same idea with creative writing and art. The Ascension Epoch stories are released under a Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike license. This means that anyone is free to reproduce or modify them or create derivative works, whether you want to give it away for free or try make money off of it. The ‘attribution’ part means that we ask you to include some notice acknowledging the original creators of any stories or characters you use, while the ‘share-alike’ part means that you are required to release your original Ascension Epoch related stuff under the same license.
The only exception to the Creative Commons license are works that are already in the Public Domain, which you can use in whatever way you like, with no attribution or other requirements. The Ascension Epoch makes use of a lot of public domain resources, from ancient mythology to the classics of 19th century literature to 1940s comic book characters whose copyrights have expired.
Why did you choose to make this project open content?
We think that the concept of intellectual property is nonsensical and unjust, and that no one can claim exclusive ownership of an idea or an expression. Furthermore, IP laws have done a lot to hinder the arts and especially dislike the way it distances the creativity of fans from the works they love. We would like to see the creative arts freed from the iron grip of hacks, lawyers, and rent-seeking corporations.
Is artwork also covered by this Creative Commons license?
Yes, and so is everything else featuring the stories or characters of the Ascension Epoch, except for artwork already in the public domain.
I want to write something using Ascension Epoch characters or stories, but I don’t like your license. Can I use a different one?
In general, no. Freedom of information and getting away from the restrictive ideas of ‘intellectual property’ are major goals, so we don’t want people trying to copyright their stories to prevent others from reproducing them freely (hence the share-alike requirement). Also, since this is a collaborative project, we want everyone to be able to build on each other’s works.
How do I submit something?
For now, you can email whatever you have to me. In the future, we will probably have some forums and submission forms to use.
So I can contribute whatever I want to the Ascension Epoch project?
Pretty much. Feel free to write/draw/sing about the characters and events in whatever way you’d like. If you don’t like the direction we’ve gone down, you can go in your own. But if you would like your work to be considered canonical (more on this below), then it cannot contradict any already established events and must fit within the general themes and ‘feel’ of the Ascension Epoch.
If I write something based on the Ascension Epoch, do I have to submit it to this site?
No. As long as you adhere to the terms of the license, you can put it wherever you want. You do not need our permission or approval. We would love it if you let us know about it, however!
Are contributions without Christian or libertarian themes welcome?
Of course. Anyone is free to take the stories, characters, and ideas in whatever direction they want. Moreover, there is enough room in the setting such that one could easily produce work fit for canon that does not touch on these themes. Indeed, one could even write a story without any super powers or anything paranormal referenced and not seem out of place. However, we obviously have an interest in maintaining those perspectives in the canon and may choose to not host material that contradicts it.
I want to contribute financially. How can I help?
You can buy our books. We are also working on other items, like t-shirts, posters, calendars, and sketch cards. In the meantime, you can buy stuff on Amazon through the advertisements on our page or by following the links to books that we sometimes recommend.
Is there a fictional ‘canon’ to the setting?
Yes. Although you can contribute whatever you want, the original creators and editors have a certain idea of what constitutes the ‘real’ setting, characterization, and plot of the Ascension Epoch.
Canon/Apocrypha/Schismata/Bat Country: What are they and how are they determined?
There are four categories of continuity within the Ascension Epoch.
Canon are those stories that are considered ‘the gospel truth’ by the project founders. If a story is canon, it does not contradict previous stories and feels at home with the spirit of the setting. The sole determiners of what is or is not canonical are the project founders. This does not mean that canon is ‘better’ than non-canonical material, but we will be emphasizing the canon over the others.
Apocrypha are those stories which do not overtly contradict anything in the established canon, but have not been formally adopted as canon. Apocryphal works can be considered for elevation to the canon. We presume the bulk of submitted work will be apocrypha.
Schismata are those stories that contradict the established canon in significant ways, either accidentally or because of an intentional ‘fork’ in the continuity. Otherwise though, they are still recognizably part of the Ascension Epoch setting. These can be considered “Elseworlds” or “What If?” type stories.
Bat Country is the weird domain of those works that not only contradict the canon, but veer off into truly strange directions. If you’ve written a story where the Void Knights are actually a bunch of anthropomorphic ponies or the East End Irregulars are re-imagined as transforming robot cars, you are in Bat Country