|August 2012||December 2012||Now available!|
Talent is what, if you succeed, people who don’t know why will say it’s because of. And if you don’t succeed, people who don‘t know why will say it‘s because you haven’t got it. Talent is the Snark; but the Snark is actually a Boojum, and the name of the Boojum is Luck. People do not want to believe in Boojums, so they try very hard to hunt for Snarks.
The ebook of Death Carries a Camcorder has just gone up for sale at Amazon.com. Our 3.6 Loyal Readers should be warned that all the essais in the book have previously appeared in this space, but I am making them available in ebook form to reach a slightly different readership. Other ebook retailers will be added soon, and a print edition is in the offing.
(And thank you all for your support!)
The trade paperback edition of Lord Talon’s Revenge is now for sale via CreateSpace for the trifling price of $16.99. I know some of my 3.6 Loyal Readers have been waiting a long time to get their hands on a printed copy. Well, here is your chance – with apologies for the delay.
The book should be available on Amazon within a few days, and from other fine booksellers when and if they discover that there is such a book.
(An introductory epistle to my serial in progress, Where Angels Die. Comments are most welcome.)
Hannon, first Baron Vail, Lord and Chatelain of Angel Keep, Knight Commander of the Most Noble Order of the Ram, Brevet Colonel of the Host of Assistance in Northern Anai,
to His Serene Excellency Kimraz li Jansun, Rector General of the Covenant of Justice, Commander Palatine for the Pearl Islands, greeting. May the Ram of Heaven continue to bless you and your Order.
It is still summer by the calendar as I write these words, but already the first snows are falling. It is the demons’ own weather, and as always, it heralds their attack. Already the demons, or rather, the wretched mortals whose bodies they have taken, have fallen upon us in main force. Not three days ago, we drove off their first assault with great loss to ourselves. We are trapped within our fortifications by the storms, and no strength of troops can be sent to our aid. I am sending this letter by my hardiest and most trusty messenger, with Prince Jasru’s prior approval, in the hope that he may get through safely: for I have desperate need of Your Excellency’s help.
It was agreed between you and His Highness that there should be five paladins of your Order stationed here at Angel Keep, to repel the demons and give succour and exorcism to the souls they have possessed. Three of our five have fallen in battle. I entreat Your Excellency to send at once three tried and battle-hardened paladins in their place; more if you can find them. We cannot hope to resist the demons without your help.
Also, of your courtesy, send word to your sister Order, asking them to send several experienced Daughters of the Covenant of Mercy at the earliest fair weather. Our own Angels are sufficient in number, but young and untested, and the tumult of battle has shaken their courage. Our chief D.C.M. is a lady of spirit and capacity, but in Your Excellency’s private ear, she is not entirely satisfactory as a leader.
Timely gifts are double gifts, as the poets say. We live or die by the speed of Your Excellency’s help. The men you send will decide whether Angel Keep shall stand or fall. By Heaven and the Ram of Heaven, send them soon!
Given under my hand on the thirteenth day of the fifth month,
in the year 839 from the coming of the Ram,
HANNON, LORD VAIL.
My recent medical difficulty knocked more out of me than I suspected. I have been mired neck-deep in lethargy for the last three weeks, with just enough vim or zorch to go about getting the various tests and pokings and proddings that the doctors ordered.
I still have not repaired my keyboard, since, to my dismay, that turns out to be a hugely expensive procedure. [Read more...]
I have been quiet (here, though noisy in other people’s comboxes) for a few days, because I have had another bout of annoying health.
Last Wednesday night, my usual neck-ache (now definitely diagnosed as ‘severe torticollis’) spawned a headache of the ‘Why is a work gang of little crimson devils driving a railway spike into my right temple?’ variety. I eventually decided that I needed to go to the hospital, but while I was trying to find some way of getting there that did not involve paying $300 for an ambulance, the pain increased to the point where I decided to give in and call 911. While on the phone, I lost the power of speech, except for the ability to scream in pain every time I tried to talk. They sent police, who decided (after I regained the ability to speak) that I was not in pain and had faked the whole thing; and they arrested me under the Mental Health Act (which gives the police powers of detention but not of arrest) and hauled me to the hospital in the local version of the Black Maria.
Once there, I could talk to rational people who did not presume to tell me what was not happening in my head. The loss of speech worried the duty physician (almost as much as it did me), and the upshot was that they CT-scanned my head, told me to take ibuprofen for my neck (I had run out; fixed now), and made me an appointment at the Stroke Prevention Clinic. I had one stroke three years ago; it would not do for me to have another.
The clinic, in turn, ran a battery of diagnostics, and set me up for an echocardiogram (performed today) and a two-day bout with a Holter monitor (now in progress). The echocardiogram revealed that I do actually have a heart, contrary to popular legend. Other results still to come.
In other news, I have managed to spill liquid into my laptop when a bottle of Coke Zero fizzed up on me. The computer still works, but the keyboard is damaged; the 1, Q, and Backspace keys do not work at all. I have plugged in a cheap external keyboard for now, but I am going to have to get the thing repaired. This will knock a day or two out of my working time in the coming week.
I regret to say that I have not accomplished much in the way of work during all this. I hope my 3.6 Loyal Readers (and Allied Benefactors) will forgive me.
The paperback edition of Writing Down the Dragon is now for sale at Amazon.com, as well as the Amazon stores in the U.K., France, Germany, and Italy. Thanks to the magic of Kindle Matchbook, if you buy the paperback, you can download a free copy of the Kindle ebook as well. Yes, you can eat your copy and still have it! Cheap at half the price!
Prydain, of course, is just the Welsh name for Britain; you can find it now on any U.K. passport, though Lloyd Alexander did not live to see that. Thanks to Mr. Alexander, the name has acquired a second meaning: it is also the name of a Secondary World, a parish or precinct of Faërie, which serves as the setting for one of the founding texts of modern fantasy. The Book of Three has, I am told, never been out of print since its appearance almost fifty years ago. This fact alone is enough to make many a modern fantasy writer weep with envy. One could, I suspect, fill a very large bookcase with the fantasy trilogies of which Book One was already out of print by the time Book Three appeared. But Prydain remains, partly because the publishers of children’s books are not afraid of their own shadows, and are not too proud to take the profits of a hardy perennial.
My own acquaintance with the fictional Prydain began when I was ten, and read all five of the original books out of the school library; a couple of years later, I acquired my own copies, which went missing in a house-move many years later. Last year, during the enforced idleness that followed upon my fall down stairs, I was delighted to find a complete set of the paperbacks, no longer virginal but still alluring, on a sky-high shelf at a second-hand bookshop within bowshot of my current home. I adopted them and took them home, and packed my bags for a visit to Prydain, to see if the tales retained their charm for an older and more jaded reader, or if they belonged in the vast category of trash that I only enjoyed because I had not yet learnt to tell my good taste from my bad.
I am pleased to report that the books seem as good as they ever did to me, or better. I understand, now, how Alexander produced some of his effects, and where he got some of the odder ingredients for his confection. I still like the same bits I liked as a boy of ten, and dislike most of the bits that left me cold then; but now I can appreciate the ingenuity of the good parts, and at any rate account for the others. I read the books this time with a curious sort of double vision — one eye in childhood, the other in decrepitude, with a lifetime of parallax between them. This gives me a perspective and depth of field, as it were, that would be hard to get in any other way. [Read more...]
Then Victoriana took a little toy harp and began. The noises of the toy harp were so strange that John could not think of them as music at all. Then, when she sang, he had a picture in his mind which was a little like the Island, but he saw at once that it was not the Island. And presently he saw people who looked rather like his father, and the Steward and old Mr. Halfways, dressed up as clowns and doing a stiff sort of dance. Then there was a columbine, and some sort of love-story. But suddenly the whole Island turned into an aspidistra in a pot and the song was over.
‘Priceless,’ said the Clevers.
‘I hope you like it,’ said Gus to John.
‘Well,’ began John doubtfully, for he hardly knew what to say: but he got no further, for at that moment he had a very great surprise. Victoriana had thrown her mask away and walked up to him and slapped him in the face twice, as hard as she could.
‘That’s right,’ said the Clevers, ‘Victoriana has courage. We may not all agree with you, Vikky dear, but we admire your courage.’
‘You may persecute me as much as you like,’ said Victoriana to John. ‘No doubt to see me thus with my back to the wall, wakes the hunting lust in you. You will always follow the cry of the majority. But I will fight to the end. So there,’ and she began to cry.
‘I am extremely sorry,’ said John. ‘But—’
‘And I know it was a good song,’ sobbed Victoriana, ‘because all great singers are persecuted in their lifetime – and I’m per-persecuted – and therefore I must be a great singer.’
—C. S. Lewis, The Pilgrim’s Regress
‘The Island’, in this particular allegory, is the particular experience, partly aesthetic and partly religious, that Lewis referred to elsewhere as ‘Joy’. If you want to inspire Joy in your audience, and you fail, I can heartily dis-recommend this method of dealing with it.
I am pleased to announce that Writing Down the Dragon has passed the final review at CreateSpace. The print edition is now available to order!
This handsome trade paperback (if I do say it myself) is available for $11.99 plus shipping from the CreateSpace e-store:
The book will be available from Amazon stores in the U.S. and Europe within the next week. Readers in other countries (including Canada, alas) should use the link above.
ETA: I discovered a minor formatting glitch in the interior layout. I have resubmitted the interior file, and the book has been temporarily removed from sale while the new file is being reviewed. I apologize to anyone who tried to buy the book today and could not.
ETA(2): And now the review is finished, and the book is once again available. It should be on Amazon proper within a few days.