The Tékumel Novels

I think most Tékumel fans developed their interest via role-playing games,  However, Barker’s most extensive published explication of the world of Tékumel was in his Tékumel novels.  Altogether, he wrote five Tékumel novels, and all can be collected.

The Man of Gold

Barker became acquainted with science fiction publisher Don Wohlheim through miniature sculptor Bill Murray, who produced the first miniatures for Tékumel, as discussed in this post.  Wohlheim was a collector of 54mm and 90mm miniatures, which Murray produced.

The acquaintance led to a deal and Wohlheim’s DAW Books published the first of Barker’s novels, The Man of Gold, in 1984. The book has a short biographical blurb on Barker that says he had worked on developing the world of Tékumel since the age of ten.  The same blurb directs readers to the Adventure Games booklets on the Tsolyáni language and to the imminent publication of the Swords and Glory sourcebook by Gamescience (both of which will be discussed in future posts).

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Growing Up with Tékumel: Early Writings of M.A.R. Barker

Many people daydream but few can imagine detailed and extensive worlds that stay internally consistent over long periods of time. M.A.R. Barker had that gift.

I do not want to exaggerate. Barker’s Tékumel did change  over time. And much of Barker’s Tékumel clearly drew from experiences later in life studying Klamath, Indian, Mayan, and other cultures, as well as his advanced study of linguistics. However, Barker’s early writings and other evidence show that lasting elements of Tékumel developed very early, as early as high school.  Barker wrote that his youthful fascination with science fiction, Hollywood adventures of the 40s and 50s, and pulp magazines partly shaped his fantasy world.

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