Cuil Levels: The Black Tree Series

So I noticed a lot of you have been peering at the Cuil Levels post this week. I figured it was about time to get started on introducing each series to you and explaining how crazy each one is.

Since The Black Tree series came out first, and since it spawned the entire Cuil Effect Project, it’s suiting that I start with that.

As a reminder, Cuil Levels are from 1-7 and in ascending order for the amount of craziness/presence of surreality/ratio of queer to straight people. And Level 0 is downright bizarre and uncomfortable for everyone, including me. Anyway, the Cuil Level for The Black Tree series is (drumroll please!): Level 7.

Now let me explain why. If you don’t feel like killing me at the end then I think we’ll be just fine. If you do feel like killing me at the end you just might be one of my characters. All I can say is, “I’m sorry… I’m so, so sorry.”

The Black Tree series is the epicenter for all of the insanity that spills out across the multiverse. The cracks in the multiverse start here (although the characters are still trying to figure out the who, what, and where of it). The series follows an ever-growing group of Others (aliens, gods, or any other creature that isn’t human but could maybe pass as one) as they try to stop all of the intergalactic wars that keep cropping up. They usually end up getting sidetracked by bullshit, vengeful gods, and one ridiculously evil elf. Many of the characters share a lot of traits in common with humans but then there are moments when you’re definitely glad they don’t live on Earth anymore (like when some of the crew bear witness to the way Razi throws up).

There are also rather surreal moments where they break the fourth wall in a variety of ways, impossible things happen, and they react to events in unexpected ways. A few examples: one character is outed as a god and no one comments on it; in one scene that’s getting hot and heavy one character mentions it’s a teen movie and sex would change the rating, so they decide to skip to the next scene where they beat the shit out of each other instead; there are a few discussions about the differences between the me that’s writing and the me that’s in the story; and at one point, one of my characters sits me down and makes a bid for their free will.

Another odd thing about the Black Tree series is that there are a few books missing. The story still makes sense (um, relatively speaking) and most of the blanks are filled in, but it can be an odd experience to start reading and then suddenly see some new characters or a conversation referring to something that wasn’t there. So, books one and three are published together, with an explanation of the events between them in the middle. Books four and five are also missing, and an explanation of their events is in the beginning of book six.

Speaking of which, book six is published along with book seven, because book six is super short. Books ten and eleven have also been published together because book ten is short. This is very unconventional and unorthodox, I know. The secret literary society will probably hunt me down and kill me soon for bastardizing the book-writing process in such a way. If it doesn’t drive you insane, then I like you already.

As time passes in the Black Tree universe (in a warped way), events get weirder, and more alternates (people from the alternate universe) pour through the cracks the characters begin to realize that one (or a few) of them messed up along the way. But by the time any of them find out what went wrong, things have gotten very, very bad. The only way to fix it is to go back in time to correct it. That’s where the 13th book leaves off.

We’ll see if that works. I’m still waiting for Book 14 to come out. Guess I should remind the me that’s writing to get cracking on typing it up and getting it ready for publication.

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