The World of Talisman

The world of The Talisman Prophecy is the world of the 30th century.  A relatively tactical but still just as lethal and devastating nuclear war that took place in the early 21st century has changed to world we know today.

Little is known about the exact cause of the nuclear devastation, but of course it was always the enemy that initiated the strike.

Temperate Landscape

Temperate Landscape

The results of the Nuclear fallout and long-term radiation and the resulting nuclear winter has changed the face of the earth as we know it.  The reduction in visible light spectrum during the first 300 years after the event and the prolonged exposure to high-energy radiation has changed all green plant life to reject only the red, purple, UV and orange light spectrum and absorb all others.  The result is an alien landscape, tinged in red.  Its like the fires of a thousand suns of the holocaust continue to glow hundreds and thousands of years later.

Common animals, descendants of dear, foxes, wolves, eagles and vultures and many other fauna continue to inhabit the now natural and vast landscapes purged from our human influence of the 21st century.

No significant structure, buildings or remnants of our current civilisation remain apart from some highways and the large scars in the earth we call open mines.

However, the survivors of the Holocaust have adapted over the centuries to their environment.  The major civilisations and cultures in the Talisman Prophecy are The Mutes, The Confederation and The Iron Masters.

The ConfederationNote, the Confederation was called The Amtrak Federation in the books and in accordance with  Patrick Tilley we are going to call them now the Confederation -are the direct descendants of the American Military that were entombed in the nuclear shelters and bunkers in the southern states of the US.   They have adapted to the life in underground cabins, safe from all overground radiation.  Their near Spartan military culture requires complete dedication and loyalty of every citizen to serve the Confederation and eventually recapturing the Overground.  About 300 years ago, so in the early 27th century the first overground missions were conducted and first contact with the surviving overground population, The Mutes was made.  The main directive of the Federation to recapture the Overground requires a complete purging or genocide of the Mutes from that realm.  Over three-hundred years of warfare against the mutes has resulted in the development and creation of sophisticated and heavy machinery ideally adapted to the purpose at hand.  The Trackers, or infantry or Trail-Blazers use gigantic Wagontrains to conduct raid parties into the territories.  These Wagontrains are over 7 stories high, house between 1000-1200 personnel and have a contingent of up to 20 SkyHawk Mk1 reconnaissance and attack aircraft.  More about the Confederation and concept art development coming soon.  See below for some of the current concept art being developed.

collage of concept Art by Alex Jaeger for The Talisman Prophecy  from 2008

collage of concept Art by Alex Jaeger for The Talisman Prophecy from 2008

– note, exchanged the individual images for a collage, in preparation for Confederation subsections coming soon.

SkyHawk Mk1 concept study by Evan Shippard

SkyHawk Mk1 concept study by Evan Shippard

The Mutes are the direct descendants of the overground survivors, people like you and me who managed to be in the right, or wrong, place at the right time.  The radiation and harsh living conditions have resulted in a reduction of mental capacity which is mainly expressed in the lack of long-term memory of the larger population.  The looks and skin colors have also mutated to include skin coloration similar that likens to camouflage that make them near invisible in the open.  However, near superhuman strength and endurance and lightning fast reflexes give the Mutes the edge to survive on the Overground.  The Culture is similar to the pre-industrial American Indian and tribal or even Australian Aboriginal cultures.  In any case its familiar but alien at the same time.  They live in clan groups and fiercely defend their ground turf for food and hunting and water.  Some large tribes have been reported to be over 1600 head strong.  Despite their mutations, some individuals have developed more unusual and powerful capabilities, reported as Mute-Magic in the Federation (and any mention thereof is a 1st class offense punishable by death).  There are three capabilities, Wordsmiths, Seers and Summoners.  The Wordsmiths have near perfect long-term memory recall and pass on the entire cultural history of the world and their clan to the next.  The Seers have the ability to see the past and the future and some can also read others minds.  The Summoners have the ability to channel the earth and sky forces through their being and evoke object levitation, earth quakes, mind control and the conjuring up of large storms.

The Iron Masters are the descendents of the asian continent, with the ruling class being what we nowadays recognise as Japanese.  The Culture is equivalent to the feudal 16th century Japan with all its beauty and crualty. The multi-class society is ruled by the Japanese classes and the lower classes is made up of other asian races.  The Iron Masters arrived at the northern western coast of the US continent in the late 26th century and have created a powerful and efficient empire in the north of America which stretches all the way to the East Coast.

13 Comments

  • rosano rosano says:

    Nice concept art! The “…alien landscape, tinged in red…” reeks of shooting in outback australia. Any other thoughts on the look for that? bleach bypass? remove green channel?

    Any further thoughts on the feel of the vehicles? worn and used? put together by spare parts? or clean and pristeen? Same with the outfits – ratty, or slick?

    I haven’t read the books, but i’m really keen on seeing more concept art. Would love to see the look of the Wordsmiths, Seers, Summoners, and The Iron Masters. Iron Masters reek of ancient fuedal outfits, but with a modern update.

  • Brent Brent says:

    Have you considered using the original cover art of the books. Book 2 that was published by “Sphere” (I think in the 1987 reprint) has a Wagon Train on the front cover. When reading this I would always flick back to the cover just to imagine that huge ugly square and very 70-80s hummer like rolling along the overground. It would be nice to see some of that style popping up in the film.

  • charles charles says:

    Loving most of it but I must confess, I always envisioned the technology as having a far more steampunk look despite being future technology. After all, it comes from the First Family and they’re nuts on that old steam engine stuff. But maybe the story’s been adjusted to make that less significant.

    *meh* Despite it’s advanced electronics, I just guess I always thought of it as looking like something you’d kick if it broke down, rather than something you’d fiddle with.

  • It’s very difficult to find, but there was an art book and concordance released for the series in 1988, DARK VISIONS: AN ILLUSTRATED GUIDE TO THE AMTRAK WARS. Amongst other things it had impressive schematics and illustrations of the wagon-trains, Skyhawks, divisional bases, way-stations and so on. It was pretty good. Based on the concept art, they’ve stuck very close to the Skyhawk Mk. 1 design but gone in a different direction with the wagon-trains.

    The technology was always very spick ‘n’ span, very 1980s and very ‘spartan’ and efficient, not really steampunk. Depending on how they approach it, the steampunk look would be more appropriate for the Iron Masters (since they actually use steam technology). If they’ve moved the Iron Masters to the Pacific North-West instead of New England, then obviously they can’t use steamships on the Great Lakes to get about. Maybe instead they have airships to do their trading with the Mutes? Of course, then you need a reason why they need to get the secret of flight from Cadillac. Interesting.

    • charles charles says:

      Yep, I’ve read that illustration book. Certainly I agree with you it should not be steam punk it’s self. I simply mean it should be a little more in that direction. The Federation were a mob about order and practicality which suppressed culture. I always pictured the wagon trains as brutish, solid and intimidating as opposed to neat, fancy and graceful.

      If I use Star Wars as an example, it’s like the difference between a Naboo N-1 Starfighter and a Rebellion X-Wing. The first was 70% about show, like a military parade uniform but the X-wing was all about practicality.

      But the other important one to remember is that while the setting is in the future, the Amtrak technology was not futuristic or more advanced. It was just 80’s/90’s technology applied in a different way.

  • Barbara rinasedai says:

    The landscape pic definitely looks too Australian for me to even think of as being part of the Amtrak scenery. I don’t mind the train, although is is perhaps a little sleek. The helmet design for the soldier bothers me greatly however. It looks too much like a stormtrooper for my liking, and I am pretty sure that that is a place that you really don’t want to go. Perhaps something more like the fremen of Dune would be better. A face mask that is more like a dust mask that fastens at one side, perhaps and can be removed for talking? I only hear stormtrooper voices when I look at these masks, LOL! I look forward to seeing more and even more to the finished product, which I am sure is quite a long way off as of yet. It seems as though you are people who care about the books as a body of literature and as such will not destroy them too thoroughly. I hope that Patrick will have some real creative control though.

  • Jaikaiman jaikaiman says:

    I must admit that its funny really, we’ve all read the books, but all imagine different things about landscapes and vehicles and people lol.

    For me, the Federation is crisp and clean, and as such their vehicles would be too. The federation is all that matters to them, and pride in your work and in your studying is paramount. I feel the vehicles would reflect that attitude, spick and span as much as possible.

    The concept art for the Wagon trains is great, showing the hugeness of the beast brings home how much fear it may have instilled in the mutes. Sky Hawks are pretty much how I imagined them. As for the Helmets, yep, Rinasedai is right, they don’t do it for me either…having said that, think about the reasoning behind the design. The helmet is designed for protection, not only from missiles (thrown by mutes) but also from the elements. Remember that the federation has been brainwashing the soldiers from the beginning that the overground is poisonous, so the full face mask with built in filtration seems about right. Not sure about the Green goggles, maybe that helps when looking at a completely red/blue landscape…

    I actually have the book Dark Visions, stored safely in the loft, if there is one thing from that book that I would love to see realised exactly as is…..Clearwater! Yum what a beauty she is.
    I can’t tell you how excited I am by this project…..I think I’m going to burst.

    If there are any casting folks out there reading this, then I would love to play Mr Snow 😉

  • charles charles says:

    Yeah, the mask might need some readjustment, but as Jaikaiman pointed out, they’re designed to provide protection from radiation. I do like how the full length view gives me the impression of the old west. I guess what they’re chasing is an environmental suit, adjusted for the practicality of military work, possibly with some influence from John Wayne movies *lol*

    The image of the scenery looks VERY Australia (I should know, I live here) but its just one photo and we have to remember that the entire world is a sort of redish brown in sky and plants (which is pretty much how Australia looks *lol*).

    I guess You’re right about the Federation being all spick and span but I still wouldn’t view them as producing graceful or sophisiticated machines as much as machines that give of a solid, practical, stoic feel. However you are right that it does nicely display their gargantual size which I think the old designs never really did quite as well.

    However, having said all that, I read that the “Confederation” (not Amtrak Federation) is more the survivor of military nuclear bunkers, not so much some slightly futuristic underground subway system as the books held. I’m not worried with adjustments like that but if there is a slightly alternate background to some of the groups in this story then that easily explains away any adjustments to the original technology and style of the Confederation. Plus Tilley based a lot of the technology and ability of those involved on technology dating back to pre-internet days.

  • Stumbler Stumbler says:

    I am really excited to hear about the continued development of this project. I discovered the series a few years ago, and was an instant fan. Having browsed this site, I do have a couple questions/concerns about some of the changes made.

    The changes in names are to be expected, esp considering Tilley himself wished to change the title of the series after the fact.

    As I see it, the biggest question lies in how the story will be changed by moving the Iron Masters (IMs) from the East to the West coast of the US. I will say this change makes obvious sense, as I never really understood how the empire began on the East Coast in the first place. That being said, however, it sounds as though significant alterations to the original storyline will need to be made for the film adaptation. For instance, a substantial part of the history behind the IMs is that the strength of their empire was created by trading with the Mutes, who occupy the middle-American plains, via the Great Lakes trade routes. How will this effect that whole story-arc?

    Specifically, allowing for part of the empire to be set “in the north of America which stretches all the way to the East Coast,” would seem to require changes in the geographic layout of the Plainfolk’s turf, as well as earlier interactions between the Mute clans and the IMs. On this issue, I’m probably nit-picking, but part of the elusive/ mysterious nature of the IMs, from the Plainfolks’ POV, is their geographic isolation on the Eastern side of Appalachia.

    I’m also very curious to see how the level of technology used by the Federation, or the Confederation, is presented. Will we still see VHS-type tech to store information, or will we see a full change into modern digital IT? Again, how will that effect the overall storyline?

    On the issue of how to present the Wagon-trains, I like what I see so far. Can’t wait to see how ‘the Lady’ looks after the Now/Then battle.

    Regardless of how these issues are resolved, I’m already excited by the ideas and images currently being unveiled. Can’t wait to see the final product!

  • bill bill says:

    I found this website after searching for images of the wagon trains, can’t wait for the movie!
    Have a look at this you tube video, it was the original idea for the Wagon Trains:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nvmnc0TJFto
    if the link doesn’t work try searching;
    Bigfoot 5 & LeTourneau Alaska snowtrain

  • Bear b_stan says:

    Well I read the series in the 80’s and still reread it every so often, so I was over the moon when I heard about Tilly finishing the series and a movie, can wait, let’s hope they do both justice and stay true to the originals, and not a stupid half hearted effort like King did to the finish the “dark tower” series.
    OK well I admit that the scenery Pic does look a bit like Aussie. But being an Aussie it always was how I pictured it.
    I think relocating the Iron masters is a big mistake, being someone who has been to the actual places in the books and imagined how it would look, I really believe it will complicate and change the story.
    The wagon trains do look great but a bit to futuristic in my mind, as the technology used by the Federation was supposed to be based and not to have developed much past the original 80’s technology. And as for the quality and presentation of equipment and uniforms anyone who has served in the military will know that if it looks neat, functional, ugly and freshly painted that’s all the brass wants to see.
    As for the sky hawks they seem faithful but I always imagined the trailblazers dressed in a similar uniform (though suitably camouflaged) to the late 80’s NBC suits used by the yanks and her allies.

    I have the book Dark Visions, in my collection and think it would be a good guide to follow as it was done closer to the period when the books were written.

  • Bear b_stan says:

    For a look at 80’s NBC suits go to
    http://www.gasmasks.net/refs/refs.htm
    scroll down to
    Nuclear, Biological & Chemical Warfare

  • bill bill says:

    I used to have acopy of te Dark Visions book as well.However due to years of moving houses etc i have lost it :/.
    Recently I did a quick model of a wagon train from memory. be aware it is very raw, ie no detail, I did it to try and visualise the size going from the short descriptions in the novels.
    I have placed them on a facebook page;
    http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=81&id=100000192991578&l=2ce808cbb3

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