Artist Steven Sanders has a remarkable talent for inventing things — imaginary, impossible things. His illustrations and designs allude to whole worlds.
When I worked at Atlas Games, and Steven was drawing things for our books as a freelancer, he once turned in an illustration that so captivated me that I wrote a complete comic-book script inspired by his vision of hieroglyphic holography. In the years since, I’ve always kept an eye out for projects where I could get a chance to work with Steven again. Thankfully, my in-final-development RPG project, Always/Never/Now, was one of those projects. Steven Sanders was the artist I trusted with the beloved characters of my best friends — and Steven brought them to life with his own brilliant combination of character design and technological understanding.
Now Steven Sanders aims to inspire everyone — the whole planet — with a new world of his own devising. The project’s called Symbiosis and the Kickstarter campaign is alive and well. (He’s providing art and updates to the world-building project via his Tumblr page, too.) With our help, Steven Sanders can make Symbiosis into a beautiful artifact of a rare book, a handsome e-book, and a Creative Commons world ready for us to play in through our stories, our games, and more — wherever we are.
Curious about the scope and style of Symbiosis, I wrote Steven with a few questions about the project from a writer’s and gamer’s perspective…
Will Hindmarch: The themes of Symbiosis serve as commentary on our real-world relationships with technology, but the world of Symbiosis looks as alien as it is tangible. Is Symbiosis‘ world ours in some other time or is this a wholly new place—a new universe—you’re creating?
Steven Sanders: Ultimately, this is something I’d like to leave up to the reader, but for me, it’s on a different planet or maybe the far far future. One of those “after our civilization has been destroyed and rebuilt” sort of things. Perhaps a different Earth in a different universe. A key component of the technology of Symbiosis is the “bio-ether.” The bio-ether shares a lot in common with the ether used in obsolete physics for models of mechanical gravitation. This bio-ether is generated by two layers of bacteria. One in the deep crust, and another in the stratosphere, near the ozone layer. The two belts create a sort of “pressurized” zone of bio-ether between them. This sort of thing isn’t on the Earth as we know it, so some adjustments are necessary to time or place.