From the minds of Courtney & Alex Simonds
Hey folks, Courtney here.
When my partner Alex and I started living together in 2007, I’d been writing a script for an anime for six years — since I was thirteen. As I rounded into adulthood, I was trying to take this idea I’d had since I was a kid and turn it into something to be taken seriously. Poor Alex was such a good sport, listening to me rant at length about the problems in a story clearly written by a child. (I’ve always been one of those people that needs to talk a dilemma out. Things get a mite crowded up in the ol’ braincan sometimes.) Occasionally they even offered advice.
I will never forget that muggy evening in our shitty one-bedroom El Cajon apartment. We’d been together for about a year and a half. I was verbally puzzling out a character and Alex went, “You know, that sounds a lot like one of mine.”
The dam broke open. I learned that Alex had created an entire universe over a decade and a half, based on emerging science and theology and influenced by great works of science fiction, as a place to escape to. A coping mechanism against undiagnosed mental illness and unaddressed trauma. They ultimately found they weren’t able to put it down on paper and had given up on it by the time we met. I had the writing potential but couldn’t world-build; I found research mind-numbingly boring. (Ask me how I did in school.)
We learned that aspects of our separate universes fit together like puzzle pieces. A couple of our characters were damn near the same (hello, Chani). And so, over the next decade, we worked together to put all of Alex’s ideas down and weave them into a coherent story.
Alex had called it Metaverse, because it was a ‘meta’ — transcending — ‘verse’ — universe. At the time, we had no idea ‘metaverse’ was already a word with a definition. Alex thought they’d made it up. Our Metaverse was never and has never been a digital universe.
Since 2007, we have written half a million words, self-published two books, spent three years writing The Golden Paladin for this lovely publication, Tumbleweird … and just as we’re readying our third novel in the current series, ‘the metaverse’ explodes into public consciousness, driven by companies like Facebook, and techbros who use ‘the metaverse’ to pimp out their particular brand of NFT.
At first we were going to ignore it and keep on keepin’ on. Our Metaverse wasn’t their metaverse. The same word could mean two different things, right?
But the more time passed, the more it weighed on us. Our books would be buried under an avalanche of digital ‘metaverse’-related things, making marketing (already like pulling teeth in a market that actively disrespects both small businesses and self-published people) that much harder. Highly progressive people with directly progressive stories, we might get inadvertently associated with other incredibly harmful things that have taken on the ‘metaverse’ mantle. People looking for stories about a digital universe would be confused to find out that ours isn’t one. We might be accused of jumping on a bandwagon. We might even get sued.
I think my breaking point was seeing an ad for ‘The Metaverse’-flavored Simply Juice. (Which doesn’t even freaking make sense. Is it digital juice? Do you spend real money on it and get only a picture or a link in return?)
This universe we’d created from the depths of our own respective traumas and life difficulties, which got us through depression and homelessness and horror and gave us a little bastion against the brutality of the lives led as neurodivergent, chronically ill, mentally ill people — the universe we had painstakingly crafted to also be a bastion for others in similar situations — its name was now cheapened beyond redemption, by forces outside our control.
We’d already taken the two published books down to do massive re-edits on them, and so we figured — fuck it. We’re going to take some time, rethink some things, and come back out swinging. It was an emotional process, shifting the identity of something so tied into our own. But on the other side, we found enlightenment.
Welcome to the Metacosm
A metacosm is defined in three ways:
- A system that encompasses cosmos systems (macrocosm, mesocosm, microcosm)
- A transcendent field of higher forces beyond the macrocosm (created world)
- A manifestation of God
Which of these definitions is our Metacosm?
Metacosm has always been a place of concept. A playground for the ‘what ifs’ of imagination. What defines sapiency? What would it take for a looney cartoon character to exist in a space with real physics and rules? What is a soul? How big a sword is too big? That sort of thing. We don’t seek to answer these questions definitively, but offer possibilities and encourage like minds to come up with their own conclusions.
And that hasn’t changed.
So, welcome, friends. Enjoy the playground of the Metacosm Chronicles, and please don’t shove the kid in front of you off the slide. (Unless they really, really deserve it.)
Courtney Simonds is one half of the two minds behind Metacosm, the other being her partner, Alex Simonds.