of the meanings of Qapar, I knew, was 'Four Worlds.' This project was too big for conventional presentation in just one 'World'. It demanded something
And possibly sociology."
"This enormous archive of material consisted of histories, travelogues, memoirs and observations of people and places in a realm he called Qapar."
Missives from the Four Worlds
The Hidden Histories & The Four Worlds Project
Ultimately, what drives The Hidden Histories will be (we hope) the things which drive any good novel or series of novels: story and character. And as we gradually piece this project together, we will share bits and pieces here in the section devoted to excerpts. The first work in the series is The Name of the Father and we hope you will keep coming back to check on its progress and to taste the morsels we'll be previewing.
Although The Hidden Histories is first and foremost a series of novels, however, the Four Worlds Project is something which we hope will come to be much larger, and that starts with the creation of the site you are exploring now. Here's how it all started.
I first met Iain J. Christopher on a visit to C. William Halberd College
in Avalon, NY some years ago. At the time, I was the English editor for a major higher education publishing company and it was my job to visit colleges and universities across the country in hopes of finding and recruiting the scholar-teachers in the discipline of Composition to create new materials that would teach college students how to become better writers. But that was not what brought me to Halberd. I was there as a favor for a friend of mine, who was history editor at the same company. He had received a lead from a promising young professor. The professor in question had made something of a name for himself over some historical controversy and was trying to pitch a book to my friend. The proposed book would never sell, but my friend was hoping that since I was in the area, I might try persuading him to re-conceive the project as something a little more 'mainstream'. Like an Introduction to American History.
Iain made an immediate impression. His knowledge of American History, especially that of the post-civil war period, was profound. Unfortunately for my friend, Iain had not one iota of interest in writing "yet another entry in an already crowded field." Of course, any author worth anything always says that in the beginning, so I was not about to be put off by that. The usual tactic in such circumstances is to indulge them by asking them about their current area of research. In Iain's case, that prompted an extensive and impassioned discourse on the project he had attempted to bring to my friend, whose working title at that time was Confronting Questions of Historical Relevance: Elias Koenig and the Case for Virtual History. This man Elias Koenig, as it turns out, had generated several thousands of pages of manuscript over a span of several decades starting sometime after the civil war and concluding sometime after the turn of the century. This enormous archive of material consisted of histories, travelogues, memoirs and observations of people and places in a realm he called Qapar.
Over the course of the next three hours talking with Iain, followed by drinks, and then dinner, I became increasingly convinced of two things. The first, was that my friend the history editor was not going to see a project proposal for the survey course from Iain any time soon. The second, was that Iain had discovered a trove of material that was incredibly fascinating. But he was trying to sell it to the wrong audience. It turns out that the 'controversy' for which Iain had gained some small amount of notoriety was in the field of 'Virtual History' in which he had been repudiated even by the virtual historians whose investigations into alternate histories were aimed at revealing lines of inquiry that more conventional strategies left uncovered. According to them, investigating complex histories of places that did not exist, fascinating though they might be, were not the province of history, but of literature. And possibly sociology. But definitely not history.
As someone who had studied both literature and history myself, I was inclined to agree with Iain's critics. But having stopped one course short of completing the full major in history and spending the last fifteen years as a specialist in the area of English, I was entirely comfortable with texts having historical significance while having dubious historical veracity (my thesis had been on the Epic of Gilgamesh after all). What I said instead to Iain was, "It's hard to have historical impact if it is never read. Forget the historians and the academics -- you need to publish this for a popular audience." At the time, I still had some contacts from my days in trade publishing and I offered to put him in touch, but he demurred.
That was the last I had seen of Iain until about a year ago. I was out for a day of wine-tasting in the Finger Lakes and happened upon a vintner near Iroquois Lake, which was unusual as most of the wineries of the region cluster around Keuka, Seneca, and Cayuga. Iain was there with a woman whom he introduced as Sonja Fischer, who I would only later discover to be the great granddaughter of none other than Elias Koenig. We got to chatting and we both discovered a mutual fatigue with academic publishing. He with the small presses, and me with the big ones.
I asked him about the Elias Koenig project. Sonja visibly fumed, and Iain confessed he'd made little headway, thus his frustration. I suggested a different direction. At least one of the meanings of Qapar, I knew, was "Four Worlds." This project was too big for conventional presentation in just one 'World'. It demanded something bigger.
Over the succeeding months, something new emerged. Despite his initial hesitations, Iain is in fact a huge geek for table-top gaming and graphic novels. The Four Worlds came to represent a metaphor for the various genres / media in which we thought Elias Koenig's Qapar might eventually take shape: Web / Novels / Graphic Novels / Game Setting.
As the idea took shape, we were eventually able to find an artist-collaborator whom we thought could help us bring Koenig's vision to life in Kevin Enhart. His work powers this website and we are incredibly fortunate to have him on board. We look forward to bringing you all Four Worlds of Qapar together and hope you will keep coming back here to check on our progress.
It all starts here with you. The rest, as they say, is history - in the making.
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"According to them, investigating complex histories of places that did not exist, fascinating though they might be, were not the province of history, but of literature.
Explore the Four Worlds
The Name of the Father
Who's Who in Qapar: Notes on the
Characters & Peoples that populate
The Four Worlds
A Gazetteer of Qapar: Geographical notes
from noted Four Worlds scholars
Envisions: Concept art for Qapar
Still to Come:
Visiting: A Guide to Using The Four Worlds as a Game Setting