This article is part of an on-going series intended to clarify and expand upon elements of the dystopian novel The Rise and Fall of Shimmerism and its sequel Hemegohm’s Tendril.
The title Hemegohm’s Tendril is an anagram. I’ve debated for years whether or not to tell anyone this—but there it is. From the expression’s first appearance in chapter 67 of the novel The Rise and Fall of Shimmerism, to Horim Fildsbel’s final vision in the sky above Emcast in the story “The Gulf of the Architect” in Hemegohm’s Tendril, little is truly established about what it is, what it wants, or why it may—or may not—exist. That is the point, however. By design, there must be something very large and mysterious hanging above the heads of every character—in both the novel and the short fiction cycle.
The novel and short stories have all emerged from bouts of automatic writing, usually after story elements manifested in a state of half-sleep or within a dream. Though the term “automatic writing” itself is a bit cringe-worthy, I can’t negate the fact that a lot of what has emerged has come from a wholly subconscious source.
The protagonist Simon Shadow employs the use of an artificial intelligence program during the creation of his sacred book (as part of the process of creating and registering his new religion; see chapter 16 of the novel). He later employs an algorithm to extract the two most frequently used words within the body of every single religious work throughout the colonized worlds: golden and shimmering; thus, he generates the title of his work: The Golden Shimmer. The title itself is a nod to the golden mean in philosophy (Simon exists in a dystopian realm, and his writings are aimed squarely at the World Order’s excesses), as well as the golden ratio in mathematics and even the concept of the golden age—or in this case, the lack thereof.
As previously noted, the novel was published in March, 2001, and the expression “hemegohms tendril” (lacking the apostrophe) manifested in October of 2004. I woke up with it stuck in my head, and I immediately knew it described the Tigris spider problem in the novel. When I had the chance to update the novel in November of 2004, I decided to add the expression to Ren Pello’s dialogue in chapter 67, primarily because the idea of the Hemegohm as a hyper-dimensional species parasitic to humans was already in play, though unnamed. The expression had also begun to influence the novel’s sequel, which I subsequently abandoned after a strange event linked to a set of Scrabble tiles, wholly inspired by the film Rosemary’s Baby.
I had collected the expression’s tiles from the bag—hemegohmstendtril—and then I stirred the tiles around on my desk. Almost immediately, I formed the word THE. The G tile was close by, and just adjacent was the O tile. It took only a matter of seconds for me to pull together GOLDEN. The other letters were in disarray, but the two M tiles stood out. I placed them together, and all that remained were the S, H, I, E, and R tiles. You can probably do the rest. Just as I did.
I now understood this would be the title of whatever followed The Rise and Fall of Shimmerism. Admittedly, there are other anagrams within the novel, all meticulously and quite consciously crafted. Yet this anagram—Hemegohm’s Tendril—came from a very mysterious place—a realm which over the subsequent eight years bestowed a fully-formed trio of stories in much the same way.
The Hemegohm’s Tendril soundtrack for this series of short stories has been released via Bandcamp for $5US. Consisting of a loose assemblage of ambient tracks recorded between 2002 and 2011, all are linked to the creation of the triptych of short stories that comprise the work. Tracks 1 and 7 are previously unreleased. Track 8 is from the “After Math EP” which has never been fully released online.