Developing Bahia for Nightfall

I wanted to write a story about the Mars colony in the Dusk universe and wanted to particularly write about its destruction as it is a precursor to some of the events in the main storyline in the trilogy. The inhabitants of Mars are not acutely aware of the nature and motives of their aggressors, but they manage to band together in a way that reflects some of the important overall themes of the main narrative itself.

Before I began to construct the narrative of the Martian plight, I had one caveat that I wanted to attain in writing the story. I wanted to create was a colony that had survived because of the richness of its blended culture, but I also wanted it to represent cultures in our past that had developed depth by survived through or standing against adversity.

I began historical research, and I had found a few directions of interest, but for months, a unifying thread that did not feel forced eluded me.

Balé Folclórico da Bahia

Then, by an interesting turn of events, a friend with cultural ties to Brazil gave me tickets to see Balé Folclórico da Bahia live because he was unable to attend and did not want the tickets to go to waste. Not only was the performance fascinating, but from what I did understand of Capoeira and the Bahia region, the ‘narrative’ of the stage show itself, and with the roda (the r sounds like a h) circles dramatized on stage, a direction presented itself by the time the curtain fell.

Balé Folclórico Capoeira

There was now even more history to study, but now, the more cultures I entertained, the easier they fell into place because the idea of the quilombo, with a little imagination, easily accommodated them.

A quilombo, also called mocambo, in colonial Brazil, a community organized by fugitive slaves. Quilombos were located in inaccessible areas and usually consisted of fewer than 100 people who survived by farming and raiding.

Encyclopedia Britannica
Capoeira on Mars

The quilombo of Palmares in Bahia, had between 20,000 and 30,000 members at points and survived for a century. Many anthropologists consider the quilombo communities the first truly multicultural communities on the planet. The infusion of these cultures in Brazil developed samba and capoeira. This helped me develop the idea that the physical demands of the expression of these arts would be instrumental in centering a culture that would be presented with overwhelming mental and emotional demands over the course of more than half a millennia—and it could accommodate cultures from all over the world. These cultures develop into a unique Martian culture through passionate expressions of a love for life in an environment that makes that love easy to forget.

Arangetram on Mars

There was a good deal of study on the science and geography of Mars, but NASA had a wealth of information on that. The next was balancing the resilience of the culture with the Lovecraftian nature of their aggressors, and then telling a story—ultimately a love story—that the essential thematic elements could flow around and enhance.

Bahia is the first entry in Nightfall, a collection of short stories by Ashanti Luke.

Next: What is the Dusk Timeline?

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