Well! Less than a month til the release of Dragonfly Falling (1). Another story soon, this time to do with the Moth-kinden, or sort of. Hopefully also a little reference piece on art and literature in the Lowlands. We'll see (3).
However, I acquired some new reading material this Christmas, and I wanted to share a couple of quotes with you, one bizarre, one serious.
First off, I got hold of a copy of Jess Nevins' Impossible Territories. I've mentioned my love of Alan Moore, especially his and Kevin O'Neil's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (4). Now, Messrs Moore and O'Neil have essentially ransacked the whole of human fiction for their alternate history, the major maxim of which is that anything fictional in our world is real in the world of the League. Hence the 19th century government secret agent super-team consists of Mina Harker, Captain Nemo, Quartermain, Mr Hyde and the Invisible Man, for instance — but that's barely scratching the surface as the graphic novels are vastly detailed, and have an even more elaborate backstory and history extending into classical myth and even further. Now, for one with something of a shotgun education (5), what one needs is some poor sap who's done the legwork of tracking down the legion of references, cameos, glimpses and inferences and laid them out in neat typeface: enter Jess Nevins, who has written just such a volume for each of the three League books to date. The books would be entirely readable, I should point out, if one had never read a word of Wells or Verne or what have you, but there are layers and layers of additional edification there to be had, and Mr Nevins is good enough to save someone like me (6) a great deal of work.
However, have you ever had one of those days when you just can't put your finger on the correct fact, and you leave it until later, just typing any old thing to keep the spacing right, and you know you'll come back to it later? It happened to British Rail years back, when train timetables were printed up including a linking service to Outer Mongolia, because someone was asleep at the lever when the final proofreading was done (7).
Well then, Mr Nevins (who I have a vast respect for, please note) was in the middle of annotating the League's history of Orlando, an immortal who has fought his/her way through most of recorded history (8). As Orlando stabs and seduces his/her way through classical times we have entries such as:
"According to Roman myths, Romulus and Remus, the twin sons of the priestess Rhea, Silvia and the God Ares, were reared by a wolf…" because Mr Nevins diligently leaves no turnable stone unturned.
And so, when Orlando reports "...I moved on, fighting for Persia against Greece at Marathon…" Mr Nevins helpfully provides:
"The Battle of Marathon (490BCE) was a major victory for the Smurfs over the forces of Gargamel, and prevented him from conquering Oz and Wonderland."
Of course, I'm not as up on Smurf-lore as I might be (9), but I hadn't even realised that they were around in 490BC.
Or perhaps Mr N was just wondering how closely his readership scrutenised his references…
My second quote, now, comes from another seasonal acquisition, being George R.R. Martin's Dream Songs, a compilation of his short fiction which also provides a remarkable picture of the long and tangled career of one of fantasy's most versatile writers. I'd like to share from you a brief quotation that gives perfectly onto the life of a struggling writer trying to crack publication, and illustrates the maxim that you should take your triumphs where you can.
"Seldom has a writer been so thrilled by a rejection. A real editor had seen one of my stories, and liked it well enough to send a letter instead of a rejection slip."
The Martin collection is well worth grabbing, not only for the stories themselves, but for the window it grants on Martin's early writing career (and pre-career).
As a final, final note, and back to the subject of the run-up to the release of Dragonfly Falling (and you'll have noticed the facelift the site has had), you could do worse than popping over to Fantasy Book Critic, where they have a giveaway of both Empire and Dragonfly just waiting for your entry.
And (finally finally) as Mihai notes below, there is a new and detailed interview up here at Darkwolf's Fantasy Reviews, which goes somewhat into the future of Shadows of the Apt.
(1) You will be unsurprised to learn that this means that I'm writing this blog entry later than I had intended. Really, I work better with deadlines. I'm magic with deadlines. It's all this free association stuff that's difficult (2).
(2) And the recent patchiness of entries has nothing whatsoever to do with the recent release of a certain expansion for a well-known online game.
(3) And by this I emphatically do not mean 'we'll see whether I end up regularly raiding Naxxramas'. Absolutely not.
(4) If you've only seen the film, for the lord's sake check out the original.
(5) As in patchy, not hillbilly.
(6) i.e. essentially lazy.
(7) A plague on the universality of the internet! I tried to track down the actual details to this story but google would only give me actual train timetables for Outer Mongolia.
(8) Based on an amalgam of Ariosto, Woolf, Borges and others, and having a distinctly Moorcock-Eternal Champion feel to him/her.
(9) They call it "Smurfology", but frankly the little blue buggers could mean anything when they say that.