Archive for February, 2013

lotus_cover_pulp

(temporary cover art made with Pulp-O-Mizer)

Well, it’s been a little over half a month since I finished the first draft of The Lotus Imperiate. And, as you can see, I’ve made a lovely piece of cover art to go along with the book.

I don’t know what the scene is depicting. I assume that the young lady is Kitt Ashlocke, but in no place does Kitt wield a laser gun. Or have red hair. Or smile, for that matter.

I think that the man behind her is Taishoan. I believe I will give him a name for the purposes of this temporary cover. I will call him Li. Li’s a good Taishoan name. In fact, there’s already a character named Li in the first draft. This is a different Li. Let’s call him… McGillicuddy Li. McGillicuddy isn’t a Taishoan surname, but I don’t care. The universe of this cover art is already insane enough.

Wait… where was I?

Oh yeah.

One thing that you may have noticed about the cover art is the change in title. Book 1 is now going to be called Lotus. This wasn’t a hard decision. “Imperiate” isn’t a word that I invented, but it’s certainly not common as a synonym for “empire”, and so I was worried that there would be a person one day walking into a bookstore and saying to the clerk, “I heard about a fantasy novel that sounded kind of cool. It’s called The Lotus Something-or-Other. I think that last word started with an I, or something.”

You can imagine that I wanted to avoid that at all costs. Generally a title only works if it’s memorable, and because I didn’t want to confuse people by giving them hard-to-remember words, I changed the title, dropping the first and last words of the title.

So yes. The new name of my book is Lotus, and it will be book one of Song of the Lotus, which is my prospective name for the whole following trilogy. If all goes as planned, the following books in the series will be called Dragon and Black Sun. Or, as I’m going to refer to them for ease of remembering, Lotus 2 and Lotus 3.

The change in title isn’t the only change that I made, though. There’s quite a few others. Like, for instance:

  • The universe in D1 was a sort of uncomfortable mixture between steampunk and samurai epic. There were airships and magic trains, which are hallmarks of the steampunk genre. However, I didn’t feel exactly comfortable with writing an Asian-steampunk universe, for two reasons: while I was writing D1, a book called Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff came out (that was book one of The Lotus War trilogy, no less), and I didn’t want to draw unfair comparisons*; and more importantly, I don’t have much of a handle on steampunk. I enjoy some works of steampunk, like Girl Genius, but I don’t feel like I know the genre well enough to write a fully-fledged steampunk fantasy at this point. So I’ve scaled back the level of technology in the universe, from steampunk-level to the level it was about the year 1600. For those of you who don’t know, 1600 was a significant year in Japanese history, because it was the year of the Battle of Sekigahara, which allowed Tokugawa Ieyasu to unite Japan under his rule, and led to two-and-a-half centuries of Tokugawa family rule as Shogun (the Edo Period, in case you didn’t know). It’s also the year that one of my favorite novels of all time, Shogun, happens to be set, which isn’t coincidental: Shogun really gave me a love of East Asian culture and history, so it was natural to want to write a book set in that sort of time period. What this means is that, while technology will be more advanced than most traditional medieval fantasy, Lotus will still have a very feudal Japanese feel to it. This was the era of the great daimyo, after all, and was a few decades before Miyamoto Musashi wrote The Book of Five Rings, which is the book on bushido and swordplay. This necessitates a change in style, of course, but not an unwelcome one. 
  • Along with that, the Flying City, the citadel of the Lotus Lords (which is a magical city that flies in the air, as you can guess from the name) is gone. I had to think a lot about this, because the image of a flying city was one of the things that made me want to write my book in the first place. However, I felt that a flying city had to have a huge amount of infrastructure that wouldn’t exist in a 17th-century Asian environment. You’d need to have air travel to get to the city, or some form of teleportation (I had both). And since 17th-century Asia had a distinct lack of airships, and I thought that teleportation would be a direct hindrance to the story in Lotus 2 (which involves a lot of walking around from place to place), I couldn’t have either of those without seriously undermining the world I’d built. Which meant that both of them had to go, which meant that there could be no Flying City.
  • Apart from that, there were a lot of other changes. I can’t go into too much detail, not because I’m afraid people will steal my ideas, but because if I told you all that’s been changed, it would make absolutely no sense without the context of having read the book before. Suffice it to say, all the characters will be significantly different in Draft 2. Some will have new dimensions, and new roles to play in the story. Many people had their backstories changed. Two fairly important characters had their nationalities changed. One switched gender, because of the societal role that his/her gender plays would be directly contrary to the position of power I wanted to put them in. One character doesn’t even appear in Draft 2 at all. I felt that he didn’t have much character in D1, and most of the actions that he takes would impede a new subplot for one of the other main characters. And there will be sexings. Many new and strange sexings between characters that did not sex before.
  • That being said, the overarching plot remains mostly the same. For one thing, D2 is still primarily a heist story, and heist stories have a certain structure that works. For another thing, I feel that good storytelling stems from characters, and not from plot, as I stated in one of my earliest blog posts. When I write, I tend to go character first, plot second. That being said, the plots of books 2 and 3 will be significantly different, mostly because of the new role that one of the main characters in Book 1 has.

As of this writing, D2 (which I have started) has around 12,200 words, which is about a tenth of the length of D1. There’s a reason for the fact that I’ve written so much in such a short time. First of all, I’ve done a chapter-by-chapter outline of the book, and I’m writing D2 out-of-order: I’ll write whatever chapter I most feel like writing at that time, and then move onto the next one. This is a change for me because I wrote D1 in a huge lump, starting at the beginning and working my way through the whole book one step at a time. Writing this way feels more like writing a series of interrelated short stories, rather than a big indigestible book.

But there’s another difference, as well. The best way I can articulate them is in terms of relationships.

Writing a story is like a relationship. With a short story of less than 5,000 words, it’s a one night stand: you get it over with as soon as possible, and then don’t look back. When I was writing “Cassandra”, it was a passionate, monthlong fling. The whole process of writing the story took a month from start to finish. (Ah, “Cassandra”, when can I finish you? You and I have so many fond memories, and you’re so beautiful… I’ll have to give you a call sometime, my darling. Wait by the phone. When you see my caller ID, answer.)

A novel is like a fully-fledged longterm relationship. It’s hard work, and it’s not as easy as a month of passionate cheap sex, but you get to know each other. You know how to please each other. You know how to make the other sing. And there are rough patches, just as in any other relationship, but you work through them. Because you love each other. Because you care.

That’s the way I am with Lotus. When I began writing Lotus, it was awkward and uncomfortable for both of us, like it always is among new lovers. I was clumsy and hamfisted, and the book wasn’t performing to its full potential. But it’s been eight months this Thursday since I started writing Lotus, and because of that, we know each other. We’re both in it for the long haul. I know the book, and she knows me. We both know what’s right for each other, and we work together to make that happen.

And then there’s the actual physical writing. If a writing session is like sex, then at the start, I was nervous and awkward, and because of that, we both suffered.

But now we know each other perfectly. And the sex is amazing.

…Okay, this is getting seriously weird. For those of you who are confused, I DON’T HAVE SEX WITH MY BOOK. It’s a metaphor. Geez…

It’s gotten to the point where everything feels right between me and my book. And because of that, I’m writing more and better than I had before.

Right now, only one person has read my book to completion: my friend and beta reader Blake Hihara, who is currently in the LAND OF THE RISING SUN. (Kamisu, in Ibaraki Prefecture, to be precise.) And from what I’ve heard from my other betas, then the book is good. Yes, they say, it has a lot of rough places. But there’s still something there. Something is starting and trying to climb towards the light, to quote Pink Floyd**. Which makes me confident.

A few weeks ago, I announced to the world that I wrote a book, not knowing whether it was good, or whether I’d wasted the last seven months of my life. Because of both the positive feedback I’ve been getting, combined with the incredible writing sessions I’ve been having, it feels like it’s going to happen, for reals. And because of that, my goal of an actual, for-real publication date of 2018 (five years to do the process of rewriting, revising, and shopping for markets) doesn’t seem unattainable. It feels like it’s going to happen.

My basic plan of attack for the years between now and 2018 are as follows:

Now to mid-2014: Finish the second draft of Lotus. (So you know, the attempted finishing date of Book 1 will be very close to my college graduation.)

Mid-2014 to end of 2014: Revise D2, so that it gets to the point where I’m at a penultimate draft. Talk with beta readers, and revise accordingly.

2015 to mid-2016: Let the book sit for a while. Send my shorter work out to markets and get it published, so I won’t be a complete unknown when I send my work in to agents/publishers. That way, I’ll have a resume to work on. Work on Book 2, and hopefully get its first draft done. Revise D2, so that I can get it into Final Draft stage.

Mid-2016 onward: Send it to agents/publishers. When it gets rejected, rinse and repeat.

2017. Get the book accepted. Pre-publication process.

2018: Publication date… I hope!

2018 is still a while off, and I’ve got plenty of time between now and then. But it’s going to be five years of work.

This isn’t because I’m too lazy to send it out right now. It’s because I want it to be the best book it can possibly be.

Regardless, things are going to be interesting.

I’ll be doing State of the Book posts from here on out. Look for at least quasi-regular updates into the status of my book.

In the meantime, I’ll close with a gif, as is the custom of the Internet.

watertribe-live

Stay frosty, Canada.

~ Ian

* I’m not too worried about plot similarities between Stormdancer and Lotus, though. I haven’t read Stormdancer, but from what I’ve heard, it’s about a teenage girl with the power to talk to griffons, which is a world away from my deicidal heist novel. Basically, the only similarities between the books are the fact that they’re Asian-inspired fantasy novels with Lotus in the series’ title. I’ll take heart from NK Jemisin and Christopher Paolini, who both have series called The Inheritance Trilogy that are about as different as books can be.

** You know. Like I always do.

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Haven’t blogged for a while. Will have to rectify this in the near future.

In any case, here’s something awesome. Astronaut Chris Hadfield has a Tumblr, on which he posts pictures of the earth from space. OVER THE SAME INTERNET THAT WE ALL USE ON EARTH.

It’s a cliché to say it at this point, but at some point not too long ago, it became the future and we didn’t even notice it.

~ Ian

(Gorillaz, “Broken”)

on naming

Posted: February 18, 2013 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

Names are important. Every reader of fantasy novels knows this. And place names are also important, as I pointed out in one of the first posts I did on this blog.

But what’s more important is what place names reveal about the history of the land. The Danelaw as a political entity may be a thousand years dead, but it still exists, in the hundreds of Norse place names scattered around northern England.

With that being said, the place names in America are so chaotic that they’re almost schizophrenic.

Behind my childhood home was a creek. The creek was called Meder Creek (a Scandinavian name), and it flowed through a gully called Arroyo Seco (a Spanish name). Across the street from my house was another gully, which contained a creek called Moore Creek (English name). Both creeks flow to the Monterey Bay (another Spanish name), which is part of the Pacific Ocean (Latin name). There’s a nature preserve called the Pogonip (Costanoan name) which borders Henry Cowell Redwoods (Scottish name). You can find other Scottish names by driving up Highway 9 (Felton, Ben Lomond), and there’s dozens of Spanish names within an hour’s drive (Pasatiempo, Loma Prieta, Los Gatos, Gilroy, San Jose). And this is just within an hour’s drive of my house.

California has a stereotype of having towns with Spanish names. While this is true in some respects, it’s only really true in a narrow belt along the coast, beginning at Santa Rosa and extending south to the Mexican border– probably about ten percent of California’s area. This is because this is where the Franciscans established missions, and it helps that California’s most populous cities are located within this belt (Los Angeles, San Jose, San Diego, San Francisco, Pasadena, etc.). But when you look around the state, there’s so many more names than that.

In the Central Valley (English name), there are the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers (Spanish names), but also the Tuolumne (Yokutsan) and Mokelumne (Miwok), as well as the American River (which sounds English, but in fact has a Latin name). And scattered around California, there are towns with names like Anaheim (German), Sebastopol (Russian), South Lake Tahoe (Washo), and Eureka (Greek). The names reflect California. Although I hate the term “melting pot”, it’s appropriate, although I’d describe us more as a gigantic multi-cuisine pizza.

So, your assignment for today: Look at the names in the place where you live. If you live in New York City, try to find Dutch names (Stuyvesant, Bowery) or Algonquian ones (Manhattan). If you’re in New England, find out something about the English towns that your cities are named after (Boston, Salem, Hartford, Concord)– or just find French names in Vermont. People in Spain could examine Arabic or Moorish names of your hometowns, Australians can find out about the Aboriginal words that went into names of suburbs of Sydney, and those of you (if any) in Scotland could find the Gaelic roots of your local place names.

History is all around you, in the words that you use. You just have to look for it.

~ Ian

So, after resisting it for about a year, I’ve finally decided to get a tumblr.

This is something that I’ve been thinking of doing for a while, now. I guess you could call it “Ian jumping forward into a blog type that is used by people under the age of 30”, if you were feeling cynical. Not that there’s anything wrong with WordPress– it just didn’t seem suited for what I wanted to do with Blog #2.

So, what did I want to do with the new blog? Well, I’ve always kind of fantasized about being a radio DJ/podcaster/vlogger-type person, and while I don’t have the training required to be a DJ, or the time to really maintain a podcast or a vlog, I still wanted to do something that would:

1. allow me to share some of my favorite music with the world, and

2. not take a lot of effort.

So, I decided: what takes less effort than taking a song posted on YouTube and reblogging it on Tumblr?

LAZINESS ACHIEVED!

That’s what 24-Hour Nothing Hour is about. It’s sort of my own personal radio station, where I can post the music that I like, and maybe share introduce some people to that music. I’m going to be trying to update it daily, and if you want, you can request a song from the DJ (that is, me).

Be aware, though, that 24-Hour Nothing Hour is not Axolotl Ceviche. I’m very public about who I am on Axolotl Ceviche, for one thing, and I think you all have a pretty good idea of who I am and what I’m doing with my life based on this. 24-Hour Nothing Hour is different. I won’t be talking about myself on there. I won’t be sharing my thoughts on things, or stuff that happened in my day-to-day life, or any of my writing. That’s not what 24-Hour Nothing Hour is about. It’s not about me, but the incredible music, and I’m going to reflect that in the writing style that I use there. I tend to be snarky and rambly on Axolotl Ceviche. On 24-Hour Nothing Hour, I’m going to be much more terse and laconic, reflecting the more anonymized style that I’m going to be using there.

Axolotl Ceviche’s not going anywhere, of course. Axolotl Ceviche and 24-Hour Nothing Hour are both two very different side projects, and it wouldn’t make sense for me to turn one into the other. If anything, I’ll probably be posting fewer YouTube videos of songs and things on Axolotl Ceviche. I got pretty annoyed with myself for doing that over the last few months, because it felt like I wasn’t saying anything. So now, I can just post those videos to 24-Hour Nothing Hour, where I don’t have to say anything. Because, after all, that’s not the point.

Go and check it out if you like. I’ve already posted a song there (The Stone Roses’ “I Wanna Be Adored”), and there’s probably going to be many more coming.

In any case, it’s a new thing. And new things are important, if you want to live an interesting life.

~ Ian

In my high school years, I was really into swordplay. I studied European broadsword for three years, got pretty good at it, then decided that if I wanted to get any better, that it would probably take up too much of my life, so I stopped. (Well, there’s that, and there’s the fact that my instructor kind of got mad at me for being bigger than anyone else in the class.)

In any case, here’s a cool thing for you to look at. Wizards of the Coast has put a quiz up online to test your polearm identification. Can you tell the difference between a glaive, a glaive-guisarme, a guisarme, a glaive-voulge, a voulge-guisarme, and a voulge? Do you know your Bohemian Ear-Spoon from your bec-de-corbin, and your lochabar axes from your lucerne hammers? Well, if you want to test your knowledge of incredibly obscure weapons that basically add up to being all blades on long sticks, then check it out.

I scored 13 out of 22 and received a ranking of “Swashbuckler”, which I was pleasantly surprised at. See if you can’t beat it!

~ Ian

I like to point out to my ten or so regular readers things that you might find interesting, or cool, or something of that nature. And also, I like to point them to things that you guys might not have heard of. That’s probably why I haven’t posted a big long review of the last Wheel of Time book (well, there’s that, and there’s the fact that I don’t like Wheel of Time). 

So I wanted to do a review of this book I read. And, because I was all busy with the schooling and the noveling, I only got around to it right now.

So.

The Worm Ouroboros, by E.R. Eddison.

This is not the book The Worm Ouroboros. This is, in fact, Worm Ouroboros, which is a kickass doom metal band.

This is not the book The Worm Ouroboros. This is, in fact, Worm Ouroboros, which is a kickass doom metal band.

What is there to say about this book…? It came out in 1922, when it was completely ignored by the literary world, because 1922 was the height of modernism, and this book is decidedly not modernist. It went out of print after Eddison’s death, when it was republished in the sixties, in the brief period between the publication of Lord of the Rings, when the whole world WANTED MORE STUFF EXACTLY LIKE LORD OF THE RINGS RIGHT NOW, but before the publication of The Sword of Shannara, when a book that was exactly like LotR came out, and authors began a decade of wholesale Tolkien ripoff. There was some cool stuff published in that period, like the Earthsea and Elric books, but since there was more demand for fantasy than there were, you know, writers who actually wrote fantasy, editors basically brought every work of fantasy written between 1900 and 1960 and brought it back into print.

So, The Worm Ouroboros came out again, and was promptly ignored by the budding world of fantasy readers, because for one thing, it’s not like Lord of the Rings.

It’s been republished a couple of times afterwards. This is the cover of the current edition, which has been straight ripped from Amazon.

61J7RWEH2QL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_

That’s not the edition that I read, though. I read this edition, which came out in 1990.

You can tell it’s from 1990, because it has a blurb from Piers Anthony. That is because in 1990, people actually considered Piers Anthony to be a respectable writer, rather than an unreadable novel-recycling hack.

You can tell it’s from 1990, because it has a blurb from Piers Anthony. That is because in 1990, people actually considered Piers Anthony to be a respectable writer, rather than an unreadable novel-recycling hack.

 

In any case, I mentioned that it’s not like Lord of the Rings. Which is fine, of course. While both novels were written by saga-loving Englishmen who were born in the late Victorian era, The Worm Ouroboros is really about as different from Lord of the Rings as two works of fantasy can really be.

Well, actually, there are some similarities. For one thing, they both have a fondness for archaisms. However, Tolkien actually knew archaic languages (I mean, come on: the man was fluent in twenty languages, most of them dead), which means that his prose has a certain glamour about it, which gives the story a particular sense of tragic dignity that most modern fantasy lacks:

 

Suddenly the king cried to Snowmane and the horse sprang away. Behind him his banner flew in the wind, white horse upon a field of green, but he outpaced it. After him thundered the knights of his house, but he was ever before them. Eomer rode there, the white horsetail on his helm floating in his speed, and the front of the first éored roared like a breaker foaming to the shore, but Théoden would not be overtaken. Fey he seemed, or the battle-fury of his fathers ran like new fire in his veins, and he was borne up on Snowmane like a god of old, even as Oromë the Great in the battle of the Valar when the world was young. His golden shield was uncovered, and lo! it shone like an image of the Sun, and the grass flamed into green about the white feet of his steed. For morning came, morning and a wind from the sea; and darkness was removed, and the hosts of Mordor wailed, and terror took them, and they fled, and thief, and the hoofs of wrath rode over them. And then all the host of Rohan burst into song, and they sang as they slew, for the joy of battle was on them, and the sound of their singing that was fair and terrible came even to the City.

(The Return of the King, V.5, “The Ride of the Rohirrim”)

 

Tolkien has been criticized for his anachronistic language, but nobody can deny that he knew how to write in that style. (In fact, I would argue that this specific scene might be the greatest scene ever written in all of fantasy, if it weren’t for the fact that two other scenes in Lord of the Rings, the “death” of Gandalf and the ring-destroying scene, might arguably outpace it.)

In contrast, Eddison didn’t write archaically like Tolkien did. His style is like a chaotic mashup of The Faërie Queene, Christopher Marlowe, Norse sagas, and Victorian poetry. Compare the scene from Lord of the Rings with this passage, which appears early on in The Worm Ouroboros:

 

Now while they rested, a flittermouse flew forth from the Witchland booths and went widdershins around the wrastling ground and so returned silently whence she came. Lord Gro saw her, and his heart waxed heavy within him. He spake to Corund, and said, “Needs must that I make trial even at this late hour if there be not any means to turn the King from further adventuring of himself, ere all be lost.” 

Corund said, “Be it as thou wilt, but it will be in vain.” 

So Gro stood by the King and said, “Lord, give over this wrastling. Great of growth and mightier of limb than any that you did overcome aforetime is this Demon, yet have you vanquished him. For you did throw him, as we plainly saw, and wrongfully hath the Red Foliot adjudged you evenly matched because in the throwing of him by your majesty’s self did fall to earth. Tempt not the fates by another bout. Yours is the victory in this wrastling: and now we, your servants, wait but your nod to make a sudden onslaught on these Demons and slay them, as we may lightly overcome them taken at unawares. And for the Foliots, they be peaceful and sheeplike folk, and will be held in awe when we have smitten the Demons with the edge of the sword. So may you depart, O King, with pleasure and great honour, and afterward fare to Demonland and bring it into subjection.” 

The King looked sourly upon Lord Gro, and said, “Thy counsel is unacceptable and unseasonable. What lieth behind it?” 

Gro answered, “There have been omens, O King.” 

And the King said, “What omens?”

(The Worm Ouroboros, Chapter II, “The Wrastling for Demonland”)

 

If you’re not accustomed to reading Ye Olde Laynguaygge, don’t worry. There were a lot of times when I had to read a page four or five times just so I could understand what the hell was going on. Lord of the Rings is famous for being a difficult book, even for people who love fantasy, but The Worm Ouroborous is far worse. This is mostly because Tolkien chose to write in a deliberately archaic style, but he was actually fluent in Oldespeak. He knew that kind of writing inside-out. Compared to Tolkien, the Eddison passage is cumbersome and clunky. Tolkien’s writing was the pounding of hoofbeats over hard turf. Eddison’s was often the squelching of a Honda Civic getting bogged down in quicksand.

That doesn’t mean that The Worm Ouroborous is bad, though. On the contrary– there are parts that are actually quite good, if you can tolerate or understand the cod-Elizabethan prose. There are some quite memorable passages, including the dark sorcery worked in Carcë and the quest to Koshtra Belorn in search of Lord Goldry Bluzco. And, while I probably would have cut out about two hundred pages of the middle (which is a lot, considering that it’s a five hundred page book), it’s still an interesting read.

It’s just… different.

In this post-Tolkien world, we’re used to our fantasy worlds being “secondary worlds”. We expect maps and histories, languages and economies, court customs and peasants’ fables, so that if the story were to disappear entirely, we’d have a sense that the world would still exist. We even have an entire word for writing the setting-related backstory for a fantasy novel: worldbuilding (WHICH IS TOTALLY A WORD EVEN IF WORDPRESS’S SPELLCHECK DOESN’T ACKNOWLEDGE IT). You get this impression from Lord of the Rings. To paraphrase C.S. Lewis, every step that the Fellowship takes on their journey kicks up dust that has seemingly seen thousands of years of history. Middle-earth is a world, rich and diverse, which means that if we stop following the Fellowship and instead just stay at the Prancing Pony or Rivendell or Meduseld for the rest of the War of the Ring, things would still happen. It feels like a place.

This isn’t the case with The Worm Ouroboros’ world, which is rather tellingly called Mercury. Yes, it’s the planet Mercury, but it’s not the cratered sun-baked world that we expect from seeing space probe photos of the actual planet, but instead a bizarre dreamworld. Also, notice that “mercury” is also an element, which is slippery and shiny and liquid, just like Eddison’s world of Mercury. (I ask you: have you ever tried to put your finger on a bead of mercury underneath a glass slide? I haven’t, of course, because mercury is HIGHLY TOXIC, but I’ve talked with people who have, and they say that it’s quite tricky.)

The whole feeling of The Worm Ouroboros being a fever dream or one massive acid trip is amplified by the fact that the story is actually being shown from the perspective of a person from Earth, an Englishman named Lessingham, who falls asleep and dreams about a hippogriff that takes him to Mercury, where he acts as a silent spectator for the events of the novel. The dreamlike state is amplified by the fact that the novel repeats itself, like the titular snake eating its tail (or a Dream Theater album). When we get to the end of the book, we start again at the beginning. And even more telling, the events of the first half of the book are mirrored as we get to the second half. It doesn’t feel like an organic story. It feels like a series of Jungian archetypes bouncing off each other.

While Middle-earth feels real and solid, like post-Tolkien fantasy worlds from Discworld to Westeros, Mercury is light and insubstantial. Even the myriad castles and palaces feel like Disneyland sets made of candyfloss and plaster. You could give them a good solid kick, and they’d crumble to reveal a fifty-year-old Korean woman furtively smoking a cigarette while half-in half-out of a Minnie Mouse costume. The characters feel like people who could never exist outside of Mercury itself, while you feel like you could meet Frodo or Aragorn (or, for that matter, Sam Vimes or Tyrion Lannister) while walking down the street. The Worm Ouroboros doesn’t have the solidity and realism that most fantasy worlds have.

And yet, I sort of like it anyway.

It’s strange. The Worm Ouroboros is a collection of things that should never work in a fantasy novel thrown together in a chaotic stew, and yet somehow it works. You don’t need suspension of disbelief to get through the book. You have so much disbelief that it circles around and goes right back to belief. Sort of an insane thing to say, but it’s true. There’s no other way to explain it. The Worm Ouroboros is so surreal and sheerly weird that it all somehow falls together.

Should you read it? I don’t know. I don’t know you, and “doing the Worm”, to coin a phrase, is hardly for everyone. In fact, I read a post on Tor.com recently that had Jo Walton, a Hugo-, Nebula-, World Fantasy Award-, and everything else under the sun-winning author, claiming that she’d never finished The Worm Ouroboros, even though she’d tried many times. (Or something of that nature.) It’s not for everyone, in the way that calamari or head cheese isn’t for everyone. But hey, I like calamari (not so sure about the head cheese), so if you’re a person with strange tastes who happens to want something unusual to try, you might as well try The Worm Ouroboros.

That’s a terrible final paragraph, isn’t it? “I don’t know exactly what it is, but it’s certainly a thing.”

Meh. There are lots of things in the universe, and The Worm Ouroboros is certainly one of them.

For lack of a better term.

~ Ian

I’ve found that whenever I see the word “tumbler” written in text, meaning a small glass with a rounded bottom that is easily knocked over and is usually used for drinking liquor, I find that my mind declares, “That’s wrong,” and “corrects” the typo to “tumblr”.

…I think I spend too much time on the Internet.

~ Ian

EDIT: OH CRAP I ALMOST FORGOT HAPPY VALENTINES DAY FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO HAVE SIGNIFICANT OTHERS (NOT THAT I’M BITTER FOR STILL BEING SINGLE (OKAY MAYBE A LITTLE BIT))

It seems that the band of misogynistic trolls that roam the internet have found a new word to dismiss any male who does not share their belief that women are only good for making meals and sexing them up. They accuse them of having a “mangina”. Which is a not-very-clever portmanteau of “man” and “vagina”, as I’m sure you can guess.

The question I have to ask is: why this term? Obviously it makes them feel clever and witty, because as we all know, insults = debating prowess on the internet. But the whole problem with the term is, simply, the targets of the insult don’t find it insulting. Why would they, after all? If you don’t believe that it’s shameful or demeaning to have a vagina, then why would accusing someone of having one be shameful or demeaning?

The trolls are not well known for their logic or creativity, but if I may, I suggest a new insult for them that’s far more clever than accusing someone of having a vagina. It is: “Cromulent Shitwaffle”. No, it doesn’t make sense. But at least if you use it, then you’ll find that you might actually insult someone, rather than just leaving them shaking their heads and sighing.

~ Ian

a story

Posted: February 10, 2013 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

I was at the bookstore yesterday, and I saw a hipster-type guy talking in an incredibly pompous and longwinded fashion to a girl who was clearly bored out of her skull. He seemed to be trying to impress her with his intellect (it was NOT WORKING), and so he kept talking about some writer whose name was “Bourgé”.

Naturally, I assumed that he was talking about some existentialist French writer, some guy that hung around a lot with Sartre and Camus and smoked cigarettes while being pompous and annoying. It was only until he started talking about how the streets in “Death and the Compass” match up with a dream version of Buenos Aires that I realized that he was talking about Borges.

Which, by the way, is not pronounced “Bourgé”, because Borges WAS NOT FRENCH. His name is pronounced “BORE-HESS.” GET IT RIGHT, HIPSTER DUDE. YOU LIVE IN CALIFORNIA. YOU SHOULD AT LEAST KNOW HOW TO PRONOUNCE SPANISH WORDS CORRECTLY.

It’s like the people who pronounce the second word in “Axolotl Ceviche” like “seh-veesh.” IT IS “SEH-VEE-CHAY”. NO EXCEPTIONS*.

So, yeah. Before trying to impress a girl with your intellect, always make sure you know how to pronounce the name of the writer you’re rambling about.

~ Ian

*Okay, fine: I’ll admit it: ceviche can be pronounced “theh-VEE-chay” if you’re in Spain. But I am not in Spain, and the kind of Spanish spoken where I live is a dialect of Mexican Spanish. Therefore: “seh-VEE-chay”.

FINALLY

Posted: February 8, 2013 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

Today, as of 5:40 PM, the first draft of The Lotus Imperiate is finished.

………

Holy crap, you guys.

I wrote a book.

~ Ian