Hypnotica: A Short Story Discography

“The Yoshira is a dream city, and there are breeds of magicians here that only exist between sunset and sunrise. The most famous ones, the ones only the Yoshira can make, are the dreamwrights, who play their music for the ghosts and the dreamers, carrying their tools in their bones…”

Almost a year since the first draft was completed, my short story “Hypnotica” is going to be serialized on The Fantasy Hive! It’s one of my crazier, fantastic story, and I’m glad I finally get to share it. Here’s the description:

“Hypnotica” revolves around dreamwrights, mages who use music to shape dreams into surreal raves, and the Yoshira, a ghost-city that exists at the boundaries of waking and sleeping. In “Hypnotica,” two dreamwrights are left picking up the pieces of their lives after one of their shows in the Yoshira turns into a nightmare.

The two main characters, GRIN and NO-FOOT, were based off of different electronic artists, while the Yoshira was based on the Yoshiwara, the famous pleasure district in Japan. I wanted an image that conveyed the wonder, mystery, and danger of the story (as well as incorporate triangles), so one of the editors at the Hive, A.Z. Anthony, created this:

hypnotica chris mahon fantasy hive

Since the story is so heavily rooted in music, I’ve made a list of the songs that inspired it to celebrate!

1. Daft Punk, “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger”

As I said in my previous post, the idea of the story originally came from the Alive 2007 concert and the 2014 Rolling Stone interview with Daft Punk, the masked electronica artists whose crazy, elaborate light shows turned concerts into dream-like, surround-sound experiences. This was one of my favorite songs in the Alive 2007 set, showing the two of them rocking out atop their pyramid.

2. Aphex Twin, “Come to Daddy”

Aphex Twin was the inspiration for GRIN, the virtuoso composer partner to NO-FOOT. In the story, GRIN wears something akin to a hannya mask, which mimics Aphex’s famously creepy grin. “Come to Daddy” is one of the songs I have on constant repeat, and the signature scream at 2:36 became the inspiration for a key moment in the story.

3. Deadmau5, “I Remember”

When I needed calming, lullaby-like songs while writing, “I Remember” kept coming up. It lulls me into a trance, and its echoes and synthesizers brought to mind pictures of the dreamscapes and slow-motion dances in the Yoshira.

4. Black Midi, “Pi”

At one point in the story, GRIN composes something called a “death waltz,” a piece of music that’s so complicated it’s considered physically impossible to actually play. The original inspiration was a piece of music called “Fairie’s Aire and Death Waltz,” but the Black Midi series helped me visualize what it would sound like.

5. Me!Me!Me!

Besides being one of the most disturbing, sexually charged videos I’ve ever seen, the song is an ultra-catchy mix of something like Vocaloid singing, J-Pop, hardcore EDM, and glitch music. I wanted to capture the energy, vividness, and pure insanity of it all in the dream sequences of the story, especially the final one.

6. Knife Party, “UKF Birthday Set”

Besides Daft Punk’s Alive 2007 show, the  UKF set Knife Party played a few years ago became one of the main soundtracks I listened to while I was sketching out the mechanics of narcomancy and trying to visualize what NO-FOOT and GRIN’s shows would look and sound like.

7. Cowboy Bebop, “Blue”

I wanted the story to be a bit melancholy, something that touched on both the freedom of dreams and the knowledge that you have to wake up and leave it all behind. At heart, though, this song is about transcendence, and as I went through seven drafts, I found that transcendence was at the heart of the story, too.

8. Paprika Soundtrack, “Parade”

Anyone who’s seen Paprika remembers the insane parade scene. This song seemed to sum up the chaos, madness and bursting imagination of the Yoshiwara.

Hypnotica: A Short Story Discography

Hypnotica: New Short Story and Sketches from Joel Clapp

9 months after its inception, my new short story, Hypnotica, is out for submission to fantasy magazines!

If you want to learn more about the inspiration behind it and how I fleshed out the magic system in the story, you should check out the posts DREAMWAVE: FANTASY WRITING, QUANTUM THEORY, AND DAFT PUNK and NARCOMANCY: MORPHINE, LUCID DREAMING, AND BINAURAL BEATS.

If you want a taste of the story, I’ve included a short excerpt below, along with sketches from my friend Joel Clapp. Hypnotica is the story of dreamwrights, mages who use music to shape dreams into surreal raves, and the Yoshiwara, a ghost-city that exists at the boundaries of waking and sleeping. The sketches depict the setting of the story, a ruined city carved into the side of the mountain, named Ibiza. In the story, the protagonists, two narcomancers named GRIN and NO-FOOT, travel between Ibiza and its mirror reflection in the dream world, the Yoshiwara.

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“The Yoshiwara is a dream city, and there are breeds of magicians here that only exist between sunset and sunrise. The most famous ones, the ones only the Yoshiwara can make, are the dreamwrights, who play their music for the ghosts and the dreamers, carrying their songs in their bones.

Each night, the flesh-and-blood bodies of dreamwrights fill the coma houses in Ibiza like stacks of wood, and their sleep-selves find their way to the other Ibiza, the one that exists in dreams. That mirror-city is the Yoshiwara, whose streets and buildings match the waking Ibiza only loosely. The Yoshiwara is where they make names for themselves.

            These days in Ibiza, shrines and cults spring up around the celebrities, the dancers and the artists, and for a while their autographs are exchanged like gold for anything and everything. Invitations from the courts of the drug lords and architects flood in, and gold flows as freely as the liquor when they go out.

            But standing over all the petty celebrities, towering like the ruined buildings of Ibiza, are the dreamwrights and their names. DEKAY. OZO. ENAF. Their fans paint buildings with their names in the middle of the night, writing love notes in twenty-foot-tall letters. Their fans carve their names onto tables, wooden joists, scaffolding, tattoo them across the skin, weave them into robes and scrawl them onto the margins of menus in tea houses. The popularity of dreamwrights is measured by the ubiquity of their name. But for every one that makes a name, a hundred wither away into addiction, and no one remembers them.”

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Hypnotica: New Short Story and Sketches from Joel Clapp