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Following the Chimeric Star

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The Hinterian

       SINCE 1928


Following the Chimeric Star; Rebel Yell or Defeated Whimper?

By Sylvester Altmann  - 07/06/2022

In 1988, a book by screenwriter Tomass Sídlaŕ was published in the nation of Walneria. Released to little fanfare and middling reviews, 'Following the Chimeric Star' languished in relative obscurity until the year 1995. In that year, the book caught a second wind in the form of Walneria's youth population buying it in droves. Once one looks into the themes behind the novel, it isn't hard to see why. 

The protagonist, a young man named Petŕ (translated to Peter in Anglish translations) is on the cusp of adulthood. The final obstacle to the adult wurld is the Matura, a set of four exams in the Walnerian school system. After failing his first attempt, Peter is informed he must retake them in five months, and has his personal possessions confiscated by his father to facilitate this, who later locks him in his room to force him to study for the next Matura season. To this reader, this is an example of symbolism that couldn't be overlooked. The Matura exam is, in the context of the novel, more than a simple exam. It represents adult life, in which it is difficult, seemingly unfair and arbitrary in what must be done, and a hurdle to doing what one really wants to do in what few years one has left in retirement, with the father figure representing society as a whole, punishing and segregating those who do not wish to play by the rules.

It is after Peter's father locks him in his room that we are introduced to the second main character, a girl named Star. Although this introduction polarised critics, being considered at the time an abrupt segue, with the hindsight of knowing the book's plot, and with a greater modern appreciation of surrealist literature and other artwork, this sets the stage beautifully for the two character's relationship. As this book is pushing thirty five years old, I have no guilt in spoiling the reveal that the character of Star is only able to be visited by Peter in his dreams. This, to me, represents several things. For one, it is a representation of leaving behind childish notions, and joining the adult wurld with one's feet placed firmly on the ground, or rather a lack of desire to do so. Peter is 19 years old, an age at which we are expected to focus on the real wurld; jobs, exams, and social relationships. Yet Peter is more than willing to spend his waking hours fast asleep. 

My second theory regarding this character is that she is a representation, as corny as it may sound, of following one's own dreams, or forging one's own path. In all the instances where Star and Peter are together, they are alone. In their first meeting they are in a park after dark, and in their second at the summit of a hill overlooking a city. This to me represents marching by the beat of one's own drum, living a life alongside society but not partaking in its rules and rituals.

The author seems to be endorsing this view of living voluntarily segregated from society. From the cool air of the park to the distant lights of the city twinkling, the segments dedicated to Star are beautiful. This is a harsh contrast to the real wurld, in which the TV speaks of recessions and wars, and the colours are lifeless and muted, filled with dour and angry people who fill Peter's life. 

The rest of the book continues in this fashion. Peter’s experiences of the real wurld become duller and duller, and the dreams only become more and more vibrant. Peter is coerced into a dull, arduous job, and is paid far less than a job of this type would normally demand. Finally the day of Peter’s exams comes, and after failing the exam, due to bad luck on his part, Peter finally decides to reject reality, and overdoses on his sleeping pills, entering a black void, with just him and Star.


To say the book sold poorly in Hinteria would be an understatement. The novel didn’t break into the top 100 bestseller list, and languished in obscurity, found only on the bookshelves of college students who wish to seem wurldly. However, just as how the book got its second wind in Walneria in the mid 1990’s, in Hinteria the turn of the new millennium also came with a jump in sales of the book. This can partly be attributed to a recent publication of the book being released in Anglish, but I believe the root cause of this is an uptick in internet usage. To a modern Hinterian, once can easily replace the dream wurld Star inhabits with the online one many inhabit today. It is no secret that the number of young Hinterians are choosing to opt out of society, living alone in small apartments and communicating solely via the net.

Hinteria, particularly Nowhere City, in 1988 was perhaps the most work centric place in our little patch of Argis. Hustle culture prevailed, and everywhere one looked one was being reminded, if you aren’t working hard, you aren’t living. These days, the definition of living has changed. Hard work, it seems, gets you nowhere. Just like Peter, millions of young Hinterians are being thrust from youth into the hard wurld of work. The issue is that it seems there is no work out there. Jobs require years of previous experience for roles intended at university graduates, leaving only the toil of minimum wage paper pushing and burger flipping. And for those lucky few who manage to get a coveted role, a so-called real job? They gain the prize of working 50 hours a week and an apartment a few square feet bigger than their unemployed peers.

However this is not to mean that this is a good ending. Peter is abandoning the real wurld, after all. Everything that he sees, touches and feels is completely fake, all within his mind. And despite the allure of tuning out and dropping off, what is there to greet you? An idyllic paradise, or a void of blackness, metaphorical or not? Rates of depression are known to be higher amongst those who have chosen to leave society. Many of these people go weeks, months even, without speaking to another human being. In the end, it’s all a matter of perspective, whether you’re on the inside of life looking out, or on the outside looking in.

Edited by Hinterlands
formatting fix (see edit history)
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