Survivors from the Synthetic Age

Please note that the Survivors from the Synthetic Age exhibition is in development. We will use this page to document our progress as we conduct further fieldwork and research in the newly explored western regions. Please check back for updates.

We know, of course, that our ancestors were capable of creating materials that exceed the bounds of Nature. The peoples who lived before – and probably caused – the Twin Terrors were in possession of scientific secrets, and masters of alchemical process, that allowed them to create materials that had never before existed on our Planet, most famously the Synthetic Plastics. We know that they worked with these just as we work with stone and metal, creating and forming objects of both practical and ritual significance. But until now, it was universally believed that all such objects were destroyed in the era of the Twin Terrors, when the Dragon battled with the Kraken, when humanity fled for the safety of the Underland.

Indeed, when our forefathers emerged to repopulate the Surface some 200 years ago, they found a devastated landscape, blasted by the Dragon’s fires and eroded by the Kraken’s floods. The great stone and synstone structures created by our ancestors were reduced to piles of rubble; the landscape was coated in the dust of runaway plastifires and glazed with nurdelglass, the seas rimmed with a scum of plastiglomerate.

Despite their command of the secret powers of polysynthesis, our ancestors had been unable to protect themselves or their civilization from the destruction wrought by the two monsters. Indeed, we believe that the Dragon and the Kraken were incarnations of our planet’s anger – Nature’s way of fighting back against humanity’s folly. Plastics were crushed, burned or melted in the melee, leaving us with the familiar plastiglomerates, nurdelglass, nurdelstone and plasti-ash. Through the Dragon and the Kraken, Nature sought to wipe out all traces of man’s attempt to exceed Her limits.

Thus it is all the more surprising to find what we display here amongst the remnants of the Plastic, or more precisely Synthetic, Age. The objects in this collection are all remarkable – perhaps unique – survivors from these bygone times.

Loch Indaal, G Laird, CC-BY-SA2.0

Found in a single region of one of the newly re-explored western regions, they perhaps raise as many questions as they answer.

Remarkable relics

The objects on display here were found as our scientists and scholars continue to explore the Surface, pushing further west and north along the fringes of the ocean. They are the only surviving examples of formed, worked plastics and syncretes known to date. It is clear they are formed from the same materials that now cover the Surface as plastiglomerate, nurdelglass and nurdelstone. Yet they retain their original forms – some familiar, others more alien. We have no idea how these items came to be saved from what we had previously understood to be the total destruction of plastic artefacs during the Twin Terrors.

At present, the precise location of the site where the objects were discovered remains secret in order to protect the continuing scientific explorations of the area.

The site contains evidence of the foundations of at least two constructions dating back to the pre-Terror era.

Objects 1-3

  1. Vessel for storing and pouring liquids. Possibly used in alchemical generation of synthetic materials. It is believed that the inscription “BRU” refers to a witch’s brew; the meaning of “IRN” is unknown.
  2. Copper pipe, possibly part of alembic or other distilling equipment used in syncrete or plastic production, crushed in the mayhem of the battling Dragon and Kraken.
  3. This wheel is an intriguing combination of metal and a synthetic material that imitates the sap from certain trees. Its diminutive size suggests that it is unlikely to have been used for transportation. Some scholars have suggested that it was used in the alchemical processes of plasti-creation.

War or ritual?

These fragile pieces would not withstand much force in battle. It is therefore more likely that they had a symbolic or ceremonial purpose. The purple colour of the helmet has been the preserve of royalty in many cultures for many centuries.

Symbols of love – or coercion?

Knots have been used throughout human history to symbolise love and family ties.  These objects, formed out of precious synthetic plastic, are likely to have significant sociocultural significance and may have been exchanged as tokens of deep commitment.

8. Broken ring

Similarly, rings have often been exchanged in ceremonies that bind the participants into a pairwise unit or “marriage”. This particular example has what appears to be a deliberate break, perhaps signifying the end of the pairing.

9. Thorn bracelet

What is perhaps more disturbing is the so-called “thorn bracelet”. It has been suggested that such devices were used to control the wayward or those seeking liberation from the marital bond.

The cause of the Fall, or evidence of an emerging awareness of the need to change?

The final items in this exhibition are perhaps the most mysterious.

Debates about these objects rage. Do they demonstrate our ancestors’ ultimate disrespect for Nature, simultaneously replacing and caricaturing Her beauty with an insultingly more durable simulacrum? Or are they evidence of a nascent resistance, the beginnings of a movement that felt a need to return to the Natural?