Victory Not Vengeance

I have talked about my ‘Big Four’ literary (fan boy) influences on my writing, so now I’m going to talk a bit about other influences. Specifically, music. More specifically, I want to talk about the influence of a criminally overlooked electronic project by the name of VNV Nation.

VNV Nation logo via Bandcamp

Musically and lyrically, VNV Nation evoke all kinds of thoughts and feelings, managing both melancholy and euphoria simultaneously. The VNV in the name stands for Victory Not Vengeance. As per their website, the “meaning behind this stylised motto is that one should strive to achieve, not sit in bitter regret.” A good motto to have, wouldn’t you agree?

But it is the themes of their earlier works that inspired me in my writing; the albums Praise the Fallen and Empires (which is the greatest album of the last few decades in my humble opinion). In particular, it is the song Solitary from the 1997 album Praise the Fallen  that has buried itself in my mind, returning to the surface every time I sit down to write;

And if rain brings winds of change let it rain on us forever.
I have no doubt from what I’ve seen that I have never wanted more.
With this line I’ll mark the past as a symbol of beginning.
I have no doubt from what I’ve seen that I have never wanted more.

Sever the line to the guilty past, to the ones who brought us nothing
Spoke of futures brave and proud and brought only hate and war.
Lined the roads with hollow praise. Marked the land with paper statues.
Shadows fell on their futile ways and then there was nothing more.


Solitary, VNV Nation – from the album Praise the Fallen (1997)

As per their motto, a lot of their work (in my interpretation of it, anyway) deals with looking to the future in order to deal with a darker past. A future that is entirely in our hands and we can do with what we will, in the hope that something good comes from our actions i.e. aspire for victory, not vengeance. Maybe I’m missing the point entirely, but that’s what I see their general theme to be. There are also several songs that appear to question religion, or at least question blind faith.

As the stars appear 
I know I’ll find you staring at the sky.
Pointlessly reaching for some light 
You hope to guide your sorry way.

Your body bleeding.
Your body burned.
Your body scarred.
Around the cinder of your heart

A God of love.
A God of care.
A God of hope.
A God of words.
A God as lost as you and blind
to fill your hollow soul again.
You seek a God to stand above you,
wrapping healing arms around you.
You’ll find another God of pain, 
a God of suffering and tears.
Give yourself unto your God.
Sacrifice yourself again.
Burn your thoughts erase your will 
to Gods of suffering and tears.
Tie hallowed bonds around your hands.
Kneel before this seat of shame 
to Gods as lost,
Gods as blind, 
Gods of suffering and pain

Saviour (Vox), VNV Nation – vocal version from Burning Empires (1999)

Sometimes though, despite our best efforts the future can end up being worse. Without going into possible ‘future spoilers’ for my traditional fantasy project (if I ever get round to writing the damn thing), this is something that is at the forefront of my mind when I have been concocting the story and world-building. Too often, I think, fantasy stories end with a deus ex machina, or an overtly happy ending.  I suppose that this has led to the recent trend of grimdark. I don’t intend to go full grimdark with my work (my original idea was far too dark to give any sense of fulfilment to anyone who would read it), but neither do I want to go full happy ending, as I feel it is a bit of a cop-out.

A big part of the traditional fantasy project will deal with the impact of religion and faith in general on society, how this faith can be warped and how the impact of new revelations about said religion can affect society. I guess this will parallel a lot of real life impacts of religion in our own world. I’ll be posting more about my thoughts on building religions for my world at a later date.

That’s all for now. Do yourselves a favour and go listen to VNV Nation. Until next time, aspire for victory, not vengeance.


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