Perfecting the Space Opera — Second Stage

Book Keeper's Library Crew

For the first time since you began visiting the Bookkeeper, you actually see him outside of his room. Well, sort of. Walking down the corridor you see the old man’s head pop out of his doorway, give a brief survey of the area, and then spot you. Upon seeing you, he jumps out into the open, throws up his hands and begins yelling in your direction.

“Quick! There is no time to waste! We have so much to talk about!”

You quicken your pace, not knowing exactly just how urgent things are, but knowing enough about the Bookkeeper to realize that this is a big deal. As you enter the room, you feel something bump into the back of your knees, knocking you onto your rump and into a rolling chair piloted by Abraheim himself. You feel your body lurch forward as your inertia continues despite the screeching halt of the chair beside of the old, worn desk.

“Have a seat!” he yells, jumping over to his chair.

“My, oh my, do we have a lot to discuss today. So let us begin.” He cracks his knuckles, pops his neck, and takes a deep breathe.

“Hopefully by now it is no secret that I am a fan of a good science fiction story. The story told through Claudio Sanchez’s The Amory Wars is one of my all time favorites. Honestly, my love for this story is about 60% plot and characters, and 40% delivery.” He gestures towards the stack of CDs, comics, and books on his desk.

“The story of the Amory Wars is told through a multimedia approach. Its delivery to the audience comes first in the form of music, through Coheed & Cambria’s concept albums. For a while, before the existence of the first version of the printed comic for the Second Stage Turbine Blade, listeners had to piece bits and pieces of the larger story together through the lyrics of each individual song. Due to Sanchez’s songwriting style, sometimes this can be easy, other times, it is a little more nuanced.”

“But before we dig into the story proper, let’s break it down to the basics. First, the setting.”

Abraheim draws a symbol on a piece of paper. 

“This is the Keywork.While being one of the iconic symbols of the band, it also serves as a type of map, or symbolic representation of the Amory War’s 78 planet universe called “Heaven’s Fence.” The planets are organized in a triangle, with a beam of light connecting each planet and serving as their energy source and life force. This beam of light is known as “the Keywork” in the story. More on the Keywork later.”

“In the Second Stage Turbine Blade album, you have a few different characters introduced. The first being Coheed and Cambria Kilgannon, and their children: Josephine, Matthew, Maria, and Claudio. You are also introduced to one of the antagonists of this story, General Mayo Deftinwolf.”

“Now, herein lies part of the beauty of the story, for me at least. The album gives you just enough information to recognize that there is a story going on, and what some of those plot points might be. In the early days, there was a lot of guess work going on, and some of it was open to interpretation. Sanchez’s lyrics come across less as an actual narrative story, and more of the words, emotions, and descriptions of characters and events. This is not always true, but it is at least common throughout the albums. The vague nature of many of the songs helps build intrigue and investment, if the music is something you get into. And the fact that it isn’t trying to force a narrative onto the listener, and has lyrics that can have personal significance outside of the actual story.”

Abraheim plops a comic volume onto the desk. 

“It is with the comics that the story really becomes fleshed out. We are able to get the depth of characters, backstories, and explanations of events that the music can’t provide. When listening to the album and then reading the comics, or visa versa, part of the experience is making those connections between each. In this way, the comics become a story medium for the music, and the music becomes an extension of the story.”

“In a basic sense, the comic provides the story proper, but the music lays the emotional foundation. To have one without the other is still to read or listen to a work of art — two things equally awesome and powerful in their own right. But when joined, and enjoyed in tandem, that is where you get the complete story.”

“As always, I do not want to spoil the story for you. I want you to discover it on your own, but there are certain things I feel I need to reveal to you for the sake of context. Yes, you know me. I always want to provide context. So I will give you the exposition, from the music and comics combined. In short, Coheed and Cambria are husband and wife, with four children. In reality, Coheed and Cambria are organic machines known as IRO-bots, and were members of a group called K.B.I. before their memories were erased many years ago. Coheed is approached by Mayo Deftinwolf, who reveals this truth to Coheed, and explains that he has passed a virus on to his children that could lead to the destruction of the Keywork. Coheed is then given a choice — to kill his children to stop the virus from triggering, or to allow the Red Army to do so for them. This is the event where it all starts.”

“So, next week I will reveal a little more about the story in this “chapter” of the Second Stage Turbine Blade so that the story of the next album will make sense, and then begin discussing In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3. I will try not to include anything that greatly spoils the story. So if you are interested and want to check the story out, you have a little bit of time. If you are interested in hearing more but don’t care about spoilers, then you and I can continue next week.”

As the old man gets up from his chair, he turns to you.

“If you have never gone out and explored a story I’ve recommended before, do an old man a favor and take a look at this one.”

With that, he neatly stacks the comics and CDs back on his desk, and begins walking you towards the door.

“Until next time, my friend.”