Saturday, March 9, 2002

RJ's Blog Posts Post Knife of Dreams

This article contains copies of RJ’s blog posts after Knife of Dreams was published.


A TOUCH OF THIS AND THAT BEFORE THE MAYO - March 31st, 2006

First off, many, many thanks to all of you who have offered your prayers and/or good wishes. There are far too many of you, both here on the blog and elsewhere, for me to acknowledge you all individually, but believe me, you have my thanks.

I promised you some answers before I go off to Mayo, so I will give you some here. A few.

For Sidious, thanks very much for posting the overview of amyloidosis, but after conferring with my hematologist, I have to disagree with you on one point. You say that amyloidosis cannot be stopped, but it can be. The treatments have altered and progressed tremendously in the past ten years, and even in the last five. The best result obtainable would be a total remission, a complete cessation of amyloid production. But even a sufficient decrease in production can lead eventually to a decrease of the quantity of amyloids deposited in my heart. There are a lot of quirks in this thing, it seems. As an example of just how atypical amyloidosis can be, I offer this link to a survivor’s story:
http://www.amyloidosis.org/casehistories/story.asp?story=32
Amyloidosis offers very peculiar symptoms, and very peculiar responses to treatment.

For Emma, and some others who urge me not to give up, I have stolen a mantra from Lance Armstrong and adapted it to me. “Amyloidosis picked the wrong body to hang around in. That punk should never have climbed into the ring with me. No retreat, no surrender. That mother is going down for the count. He is going down.” Sounds corny, but I can picture amyloidosis now. It looks a lot like Sonny Liston before he fought Ali the first time, back when Ali was still Cassius Clay. Liston was considered unstoppable. More than that, he looked unstoppable. He looked meaner than mean. Liston frightened everybody. In fact, he was mean enough that Ali went into that fight afraid. Look at the films if you don’t believe me. Ali won, but he didn’t expect to. I think he expected Liston to demolish him. Well, I look at amyloidosis and I see Sonny Liston with his shaved head and his stone-cold killer’s stare and his face that not even his own mother could have imagined with a smile. Only I know he can be beaten. That punk should never have climbed into the ring with me.

Various folks have asked about making donations, and I see that Jason at Dragonmount has already put up the information about donating to the Mayo Clinic Amyloidosis Program. Thanks, Jason. I think its best to keep the giving centered at one place. That way there is more chance of it having an effect. Maybe for me and maybe not, but remember what I said. Amyloids pop up in all sorts of places, and it is entirely possible that amyloid research will eventually lead to a cure, or at least an effective treatment, for Alzheimer’s. Your donation may just help with that, and that would be something to feel special about.

For Gerald Clay, who is Doctor House? The name isn’t familiar to me.

Perrab asks whether it was the pipesmoking. No, not at all. At one point recently, when they were trying to find out why I had a cough, I not only got two chest X-rays in one week but also a CAT scan of my chest. It turns out that despite all of my years smoking pipes and cigars I could be a poster boy for clean lungs. They are absolutely sterling! I’m thinking of licensing the film to Switzerland, Sweden, Iceland, various Rocky Mountain resorts and other places that supposedly have clean air. I am talking pristine!

A few people seem confused over what I mean by saying that I need thirty years to complete the books in my head. That entails a lot more than The Wheel of Time. There is A Memory of Light, of course, the last main sequence novel of WoT, plus two more short prequel novels. Then there are, possibly, three “outrigger” novels set in the WoT universe. There are the two trilogies of Infinity of Heaven, set in quite another universe. Plus there are several other novels and a handful of novellas that are set in neither universe. A few of them are actually set in our own universe, though not always without a twist. So there are a fair number, even to spread out over 30 years.

Several people wonder whether I’m upset over the possibility of losing my hair, or counsel me not to be upset. I’m not upset. One of the things I’ve noticed as being a possible help in all of this is that you make light of what you can make light of while saving the heavy work for where heavy is needed. Losing your hair is a sort of rite connected to chemo. I shall be a little disappointed if I don’t lose my hair, most especially since I have conned a number of male relatives into promises that they will shave their heads when and if I lose my hair. The chance of seeing that whole lot bald as so many eggs might be enough to make me shave my head if the chemo doesn’t do the job. Yes, I think it just might be enough. Keep this under your collective hats, okay? I’d hate for any of them to find out and spoil the joke.

For Pat, who asked subtly, yes, I am, but like my father and grandfather before me, I don’t advertise. We like to believe that no man in this country should feel in danger because of his beliefs, but times change. History tells us that, even here. Political practices we see as unthinkable were carried out as a matter of course by Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln. Who can say what tomorrow will bring, or next year, or next decade? So should you ask me again, I have no idea what you are talking about unless you are inside the walls of a Lodge.

I am taking a great many books with me to Mayo. There is a B&N not far from our hotel, but on the evidence, I, at least, may not feel up to much in the way of book shopping. So I’ll finally get around to reading Erickson, and I’ll have a tall stack of mysteries and thrillers, many of them older books by John Dickson Carr and Carter Dickson (the same fellow, for those who don’t know; the master of the sealed room murder). Mainly I’ll be setting myself up to laugh as much as possible, though, so I have a large number of Terry Pratchett novels, plus Donald Westlake (with apologies to Terry, the funniest man currently writing in the English language), P.G. Wodehouse and Tom Sharpe, an Englishman now deceased, I believe, but with a sense of humor so skewed and a world-view so outre that Carl Hiassen seems flat and ordinary by comparison. And I like Hiassen a lot. A number of his books are in that carton already winging its way to our hotel in Rochester.

Since we can’t read all the time, and no one really wants to watch television much more than they absolutely must, we have also sent up a Scrabble set, a backgammon board, a go board (though we will play go-moku, the simple version for teaching children) and a set of Apples to Apples, a game that Mike Ford and Elise Matthesen introduced us to.

For A’rrien, my prayers go out to you and your wife. I hope that she is getting better and recovering swiftly. I find it remarkable under the circumstances that you were willing to put even five minutes into posting to my blog.

For Jen, whose mother had a bad reaction to Reglan after an ASCT, thank you very much for the information, both from your comment on the blog and from the e-mail forwarded to me by a mutual friend. I have printed out the information you sent, and it will go with me to the Mayo among my papers. Again, thank you very much.

Several people have cautioned me against planning to make the June trips when I’ll be having the chemo in April, but I intend to make that trip if I need a wheelchair to get on and off the airplane and a chair to sit in to fish. That is part of my commitment. No retreat, no surrender. From day one, I push back. Amyloidosis picked the wrong body to hang out in. Come late June, I’ll be there in Seattle, and in Anchorage, and if I have to wear a mask, that’s just fine, because I WILL be there.

Well, there are a whole slew more questions waiting in the stack, but I am going to knock off for the afternoon. Tomorrow, Harriet and I leave for Minnesota, but my younger brother Reynolds arrived night before last, my close cousin Wilson arrived yesterday afternoon, and another cousin, Tom III, is expected to arrive any moment. It will be the first time in about 25 years that all four of us have been together. We are all having dinner at a good steakhouse tonight, and I’m looking forward to it.

Some of you may be wondering why I’ve come out and told you so much about is going on with me. It’s simple, actually. Over the years I’ve done my best to stomp on false rumors about my health, or about me having been hit by a bus or the like. As near as I can figure, rumor has had me dead about three times, possibly four, and near death’s door at least that often. So I looked at this in two ways. One, this was all going to be a prime source of rumors once word began leaking out. And it would leak out. So I might as well start the damage control early. Two, since I had stomped all over those earlier rumors, maybe I owed it to you to come clean from the start. Between the two points, I decided I would be open. I’ll post from time to time at Mayo, though I won’t make promises about how often or at what length. There will be times when I’m too sick to post; that much is a given. There will be other times when what I might have to post would be nothing you care to read. I do promise that I’ll try not to bore you.

So until my first post from the Mayo Clinic, you guys take care.
All my best,
RJ


SORRY ABOUT THE PREMATURE ANNOUNCEMENT - March 24th, 2006

Well, guys, the letter in Locus is indeed from me. I had hoped to be a little more focused with this and get a post up here before anything came out in Locus, or anywhere else public, so you would get it first, but I flat forgot that Charles has his on-line version of Locus now, too. Sorry about that.

Don’t get too upset, guys. Worse comes to worst, I will finish A Memory of Light, so the main story arc, at least, will be completed. And frankly, as I said, I intend to beat this thing. Anything can be beaten with the right attitude, and my attitude is, I have too many books to write yet for me to just lie down. Don’t have time for it. Besides, I promised Harriet I’d be around for our 50th, and that means another 25 years from this month right there. Can’t break a promise to Harriet, now can I?

I had intended to go on with a few answers to questions when I made this post (I see some interesting ones), but that will have to wait, I’m afraid. I have a few other things to get done first. Maybe I’ll be able to get that up this afternoon or tomorrow. No promises, though. Before I go to Mayo, though, I promise. And updates from the Mayo as I can manage.

Oh, yes. When the hair goes, with the chemo — as it is very likely to do — I’ll post some before and after shots, just so people showing up in Seattle and Anchorage won’t think we’ve run in a ringer. Yes, I plan to keeping those signings in late June. The chemo and recuperation should be finished by mid-to-late May, so I can make it. Hey, there will be big salmon running in Alaska at that time, and I never passed up a chance at big fish in my life.

Again, sorry that you got the news in such a raggedy fashion. I really did mean to handle things more smoothly.

Take care, guys. Until the next time.

All my best,
RJ


APOLOGIES - January 21st, 2006

I just reread my post, and it seems the spell-check demon struck again. My apologies.

RJ


IT BEEN A WHILE - January 20th, 2006

Sorry about the long stretch without a post, guys, but things were a little hectic here for a time. That has a tendency to happen, especially around the Holidays.

I’ve noticed here and there that some of you have caught errors — sometimes mine, sometimes printers’ errors — and commented on them. When you do that, would you please give the chapter where you found the error and also the edition — American, British, hardcover, trade paperback etc — as well as the title, and the printing if you can. You can find the printing number on the same page with the copyright notice. In the American editions, there will be a line of numbers at the bottom of that page, something like this:

15 14 13 12 11 10 9 8 7

The last number in that line on the right is the number of that book’s printing.

In the British editions, the entire printing history is given on the copyright page, a list of which years reprints occurred and how many times during that year.

That helps me to find where the error is located, if there is one. For example, somebody said that he or she found Verin channeling saidin in Lord of Chaos. Check as I can, I cannot find that anywhere in the book, and neither can my assistant Maria. Maybe it is there, but I can’t find it.

I haven’t been giving RAFOs much of late, mainly because some of you put entirely too much weight on that answer. Sometimes I give it because I intend to or might use something involving the answer in a future book and I don’t want to give it away ahead of time. Sometimes I say RAFO because the answer, while not particularly important in and of itself, will give clues toward something I want to remain hidden a while longer. Rather than start empty arguments, I’m going to be sparing with the RAFOs, at least here in the blog.

For various folk, I will write the two additional prequel novels eventually, but I can’t say exactly when. If the idea I have for the outrigger novels proves strong enough to actually do those, I’ll probably do them first if for no other reason than they would be more complex and thus, to me, more interesting.

The list of questions that look to me as if they deserve answers keeps building up. At the moment, it stands at 110 pages. I’ll answer as many as I can, but who can say whether I’ll ever reach the bottom of the list?

Now.

For Anonymous (Arctice), who wants to know why the MMORPG was canceled, I’m assuming you mean the online version of the PC game. The computer game was a victim of corporate takeovers, I’m afraid. Legend/GTI did the original game, which got extremely good reviews, and they were eager to go on to do further games and also add-in modules for the first game. Plus there were to be the online “tournament” versions, as I seem to recall them being referred to back then. In the middle of all the furor, suddenly all I was getting from Legend/GTI was silence. When I finally made contact with them again, I learned that they had been bought by a French company and told to go in a new direction. I asked what that direction was and learned that they’d been told, “You’ll know it when you find it.” I haven’t seen a game from Legend/GTI since and my royalty statements for the game come from Nintendo now. The rights have actually reverted to me, and shortly the extended period I gave them to dispose of games in stock will also expire, so if anybody out there happens to own a gaming company….

If that isn’t what Anonymous (Arctice) was talking about, I apologize. You will have to elucidate further.

Now, somebody says that I said I am conversational in Spanish and French and can read German. I didn’t say exactly that since it isn’t exactly true. I used to be able to get along fairly well in Spanish and French, and when I spend a week or ten days in France my French starts coming back. I think the same might happen if I spent some time where Spanish is spoken. Long, long ago I could read German after a fashion, but I was intent on being able to read papers in physics and mathematics, so I could barely slog my way through a German menu, something I wouldn’t want to even attempt now. I know very little Russian, mainly obscenities and curses. Purely soldier’s Russian, you might say. Frankly, I was more fluent in Vietnamese than in Russian, and my Vietnamese was never more than enough to get by.

For Heartclaw, I doubt I’ll ever write any further books about the Fallon family, but who knows? Let’s just call it very unlikely.

For NaClH2O, a quiet word in your shell-like ear. Hoppin’ John does NOT use black-eyed peas. Only someone who’s from away, or even from off, would say such a thing. Cow peas, also called field peas or red peas in some regions, but NEVER black-eyed peas. And don’t forget the other requirements, collard greens and benne seeds (sesame seeds for most people; benne is the West African word, used locally here). The smoked pork, preferably from the ham hock, should be in the Hoppin’ John, of course.

For ben, of course women can be ta’veren. None of the major female characters in the books is ta’veren, though. The Wheel doesn’t cast ta’veren around indiscriminately. There has to be a specific reason or need. (I tossed in the “major” just to leave you something to argue about.)

For kcf, the Terry Pratchett/J.K.Rowling broo-haha seems much overblown to me. J.K.Rowling said some silly things to which Terry made sensible replies only to have the headlines alter what he had said. And then the headline writers tried to cover themselves by altering the headlines online. Neil Gaiman, as near as I can make out, pointed this out. Enough said, and I wouldn’t have dipped a toe in even if the sell-by date wasn’t long past.

For Anonymous (The Grey Jedi), the sword forms are all my creations, but they, and their names, are patterned on sword forms used by the Japanese and Chinese. No, I am not a student of any of these sword forms. I own books illustrating a fair number of them, however.

For kolp, Oberonus and NaClH2O, what Taim did to those Saldaeans wasn’t Compulsion. They just don’t have the intelligence left that would be needed for anything too exacting.

For mmwhiterose, Siuan was raised to the Amrylin Seat so young for several reasons, most of which I have pointed out pretty clearly in the books, I think. The preceding years had seen a number of Amrylins die after only a short time in office. In New Spring: the Novel I showed one reason why the pool of potential Amrylins, Aes Sedai with experience, was reduced over part of that same period. And then there was the impasse over several candidates, none of whom could gain enough support, so that Siuan became a compromise candidate who was raised in part because various Sitters thought they could influence or control such a young Amrylin. Just as it is unusual for a sister to be raised to Sitter before she had worn the shawl for a hundred years, it is unusual for a sister to be raised to the Amyrlin Seat short of having worn the shawl for a hundred and fifty to two hundred years, and above two hundred years is most common.

For NapoleonCoplin, the part of a Dreamer that enters Tel’aran’rhiod can be thought of as the Dreamer’s consciousness, but it is any case not corporate. That is, it has no physical reality outside of Tel’aran’rhiod. A Dreamer might make a gateway from the Unseen World to the Waking World, but there would be nothing physical that could step through and exist outside of the Unseen World.

For Anonymous, there is a map of the entire world in the Guide, and also a map of the entire continent that holds Andor etc. Shara lies on that continent, east of the Aiel Waste. The inhabitants of this world think of there world as “the world” or as “the Earth.” While there have been cultures on our planet that have given fanciful names to their worlds, most have referred to it as the world or earth.

For those who think I might log into a WoT chat room, forget about it. I browse the message boards periodically, but my time at my computer goes into writing.

For Wristrule, now and then a book gets bound upside down. They aren’t really rarities of any sort. At least, not to any great degree. Thanks for the offer, though.

For those of you who think the razor that Mat gave to Tuon is a zebra, it isn’t. I was thinking of a horse I once saw a picture of, an American paint, which in memory seemed to fit my description (white meeting black along dead-straight lines) very closely. In fact, the memory fit so well that I decided not to check whether the actual horse looked the way I recalled it. The recollection made a terrific image.

For Majsju, the oath against lying does leave room for sarcasm. It is intent and result that matter. No sister can intentionally speak an untruth either with the intent of passing on false information or with the belief that false information might be passed on. Thus the careful slicing and dicing of words. But if someone were to hold up a piece of white cloth and ask whether it was black or white, someone who had sworn the Three Oaths would be capable of saying that it was black as a matter of sarcasm. But not if, for example, the person asking the question was blind and thus might well take the statement for truth rather than sarcasm.

Various people have commented on Egwene being dumb with Rand, in particular contrasting how Pevara leaped immediately to a conclusion that he was ta’veren where the same information took Egwene to possible Compulsion. Pevara has a clean slate regarding Rand. Insofar as Compulsion goes, to her it is a forbidden weave, suppressed so effectively among women who come to the Tower that despite the fact that many wilders have some form of it as their first weaving, by the time the White Tower is done with them many of those same women can no longer make the weave nor, in some cases, even recall how to. How, then, does this young man come by Compulsion? Much more possible, however unlikely, that he is ta’veren. Egwene, on the other hand, grew up with Rand. She largely evaded the training that would have set the same thoughts regarding Compulsion in her head that Pevara has. Whatever Egwene has learned about Rand and now knows intellectually, there is a core of her that says he is Rand al’Thor rather the Dragon Reborn, or least before being the Dragon Reborn, and if Rand were in any way ta’veren, surely she would have noticed it during their years growing up. On the other hand, he has surprised her, and others, with abilities and knowledge of weaves, such as Traveling, that they didn’t expect. If he is pulling strange weaves out of nowhere, who is to say that Compulsion isn’t among them? It would certainly fit the information, after all.

For Isabel, hi, cutey. Regarding the scene at Dumai’s Wells, the places they had Traveled to were not in the safety of the wagon-circle, where they were, but beyond it, among the Shaido. As for Illian, I was too crude in reinforcing something I had established earlier and wanted to reinforce, i.e. that you do not need to know a spot at all to Travel from it if the place you want to travel to is only a short distance away. Regarding Sharina, and other women who learn to channel at age, she will indeed grow younger in appearance. No, she will not achieve an Aes Sedai face without the Oath Rod, but where she has previously looked, say, sixty, she will look perhaps thirty-five, with accompanying changes in hair color. Think of it as analogous to slowing, which older women also do.

Now, regarding knives and the use and throwing of same. For NaClH2o and File Leader both, the blade length depends. I just did a quick survey around my desk and environs, coming up with six knives that qualify if you allow the one-piece Ek with the parachute-cord wrapped hilt. The balance of it is just right. All have at least a slight protuberance demarcating the end of blade/beginning of hilt or vice versa. Blade length varies from five inches to seven inches. The protuberance is all you need to keep your hand off the blade in a fight, really, and as for blade length, you’ll have be pretty thick if I can’t reach all of your vitals with five inches of steel. Heart or kidneys are all that really count in the trunk. Plus which, more often than stabbing I would be going for the blood vessels on the inside of the wrist, the inside of the elbow and/or the outside of the neck. Easier and quicker and surer to reach. If it isn’t a knife fight, just a killing, then you come up from behind and insert your blade, parallel to the ground, into the side of the neck below the earlobe (distance to be adjusted per size of target), and thrust clear through to the other side thus slicing through the carotids, the jugular, the windpipe and the vocal cords. Some like to sweep the blade outward, slashing open the throat, but this is overly flamboyant, allows a lot of blood to escape (you might want to hide the sucker, after all), and sometimes allows him to get out something like a loud grunt, perhaps sufficient to alert others you would just as soon remained unalerted for the moment. Some people prefer doing a Wingate, but I think it’s iffy, myself. You give the guy that added split second to react. And as for getting cut, one reason for throwing a knife rather than getting in close is to avoid getting cut. That doesn’t always work, of course, Witness Mat after the visit to the hell.

For Jacham, I am not saying that there is no relative evil, no shades of gray. What I am saying, and complaining about, is that allowing shades of gray has led us all too often to believe that there is nothing except shades of gray. All truths are equal. By that reasoning, Hitler’s reasons for murdering millions of Jews, and others, in the death camps carry as much validity, and are as “right,” as any other opinion regarding him and the camps. You might say that I have front loaded that, but it wasn’t so long ago that I heard of a number of students in a college class who refused to write papers which called on them to condemn the Holocaust, not because they didn’t believe it happened and not because they were Nazi sympathizers, but because doing so would have required them to be judgmental. All versions of the truth must be given equal weight. That’s the current thinking. And it’s bull. Yes, there are gray areas. Yes, there is relative evil. But that is all too often today taken as an excuse to say that it’s all relative. One man’s perceived evil is another man’s inconvenience. That last is a quote from a man, now dead, who was a terrific writer and a great intellect. I could never argue him down on that one, however. But I never stopped trying. Relativism or no relativism, however many shades of gray you want to call up, evil still exists, and if you won’t expend the effort to figure out where and what it is, then one day it will swallow you whole.

Well, not so long as some of the more recent posts, but times is running short, guys. See you again soon, I hope.

All my best,
RJ


THIS AND THAT - December 19th, 2005

First off, thanks to NaClH2O and to Anonymous. I didn’t know that Pentangle had gone on beyond their first two albums. I remember walking down the corridor in my hooch in Nam and hearing music coming from a doorway that made me duck in and ask who it was. The next time I could get by the Air Force PX, I picked up Pentangle, and later the second album. After that, I heard nothing, so I suppose I simply assumed they had vanished like so many other musicians. They’re like writers, you know. I can’t recall the number of albums I’ve listened to with excitement, like the first novels I’ve read with excitement, only to never hear from the artist again. In any case, I’ll look up the early Pentangle stuff on CD and hope the others are as good as those first two. As for Anonymous nominating Fairport Convention as heavily influential on the music that followed, they just don’t make the cut. I heard Fairport Convention when they first came out, as well as later, and never thought I was listening to anything that was coming close to the envelope much less pushing it. When I heard those first few notes from Pentangle, they stopped me dead. I knew it then. Envelope? Forget the stinking envelope, gringo. These guys were so far beyond the envelope, the light from the envelope was a rapidly diminishing flicker in their wake, struggling hopelessly to catch up. Over the horizon? They were over the event horizon and out the other side. Today, maybe it wouldn’t sound so fresh, but the fact is, where rock ventures today, Pentangle was running for the sunrise better than thirty years ago. That’s why so often when I listen, I find myself thinking, been there, heard that, long time gone.

Okay, down to the books and stuff. There are so many questions on my printout already (95 pages) that sometimes I doubt I’ll ever get to all of them. It may take a long, long while to get to the older questions or comments. I’ll do my best, though, for those that seem interesting in one way or another or won’t give away what I don’t want given away. But I’m not going to tell you how many hit points Lan has or whether Callandor is a plus-100 Sword of Ultimate Doom in ordinary sword usage, though. In those cases it’s because I don’t know and, more importantly, don’t care.

For Emma, and sundry others, my apologies. No, not about twitting Emma. That’s too much fun to apologize for. But the questions she had Sander hand in on the tour really were about Asmodean, not Nynaeve. I don’t know why, but for some reason when I think “questions from Emma,” the name “Nynaeve” simply springs into my head. Anybody out there think they have any explanations for this phenomena? It is a puzzlement.

For someone — Marigan, I think, but my notes are a little wonky right about here — the Crystal Throne is not the High seat of the Tamyrlin, none of the Forsaken were among the Nine Rods of Dominion, and the “Rods” were symbols of office. Mil Tesen was really just a peddler who happened to be in the right place to pass on news of Morgase’s supposed death to Gawyn. Not everyone is somebody other than who they seem, you know. And finally, Da’concion means “the Chosen Ones” in the Old Tongue, which is used with more frequency among the Seanchan than among inhabitants of the eastern side of the Aryth Ocean.

For Begona, I’m afraid there aren’t any further signings until late June of 2006. And those will be in Anchorage, Alaska and Seattle, Washington. If you send a letter snail-mail to Tor Books, they’ll forward it to, and I’ll send you some bookplates — if you want actual books signed, you must include the return shipping container and postage — but that won’t get you autographs until February earliest, I’d say.

For several people. Nynaeve could Travel after depositing Lan in Saldaea because she had “learned” that spot by Traveling to it. Remember, if someone Travels to a place, they now know the place they have Traveled to as well as if they had spent time there learning it.

For Weasel, my idea of the game of stones hasn’t changed, though my way of describing it may well have. I try not to describe things the same way all the time. It gets boring after a while. I mean, think of Homer, who used some of the first macros. He gestured so, and the scribe taking the story wrote, “When first dawn with rosy fingers caressed the sky,” or he gestured thus and the scribe wrote, “They sat at the oars row on row and smote the wine-dark sea to foam.” Okay, okay; every time and culture has its catch-phrases which haven’t yet become cliches. (Though they will. For anyone who has attempted, foolishly, to connect with a son or daughter or any other young person, especially one under the age of 25, by attempting to use their speech, take heart. Remember how you talked at 25, 18, 15? Nowadays, it would be good for a laugh from the younger set, right? Well, in another 15 years, the insular speech those younglings use today will be sufficient to send them scurrying from the room. And better still, sufficient to set their kids off in attacks of giggles and/or near-terminal eye-rolling. What goes around, comes around.)

For sheep the evicted, who has heard that I assigned various numerical strengths in the One Power to Rand, Ishamael and others based on a scale of 100 points, no I did not. I have said that in my notes I have such a scale that I use to keep track of everyone, but its main use is for the lesser characters, in particular Aes Sedai, so that I can check on who should defer to whom, who should only listen a little more attentively to whom, and so forth.

For Deadsy, who has a truly incredible lingerie (or is it just underwear in general?) fetish, some people in this word wear silk smallclothes, and some have their sigils embroidered on their smallclothes. Some Aes Sedai do use pigeons to send cake recipes, but only in cipher and only to people they have never met. It’s an Aes Sedai thing.

For David, Warders don’t slow. They age at a natural pace, but they do maintain vitality and vigor beyond the levels associated with most ordinary men. That said, I recently saw a photograph of a man in his seventies who had an absolutely ripped six-pack. In fact, from the neck down, if you were told you were looking at somebody in his 20s or 30s, you’d just think he was in incredible shape. And he wasn’t bonded to anyone. Also, Aes Sedai can release a Warder from the bond. In fact, I have said that most Aes Sedai who have time to realize that they are dying will release any Warders they have in order to spare them the effects. I’m pretty certain I have said that publicly, by the way.

As an aside, I saw somewhere that I supposedly said that Sharina Melloy will not grow younger. If I did, then I misspoke. Sharina will not grow young, but she will grow younger in appearance, as will any other older women who begin to channel. For Sharina, by way of example, she will “regress” into apparent middle age, but no younger.

For kcf, one of Cadsuane’s ornaments is a ter’angreal that can interfere with weaves. That is how she was able to disrupt Semirhage’s use of Illusion.

I haven’t seen J.K.Rowling’s comments on reading and writing fantasy, nor any comments by Neil Gaiman or Terry Pratchett. Are you thinking of particular comments? It seems that you do for Rowling. For myself, I believe that the popularity of fantasy has expanded in the last decade or so, perhaps the last two decades, and expanded far beyond the level at which it began. The success of the Lord of the Rings movies and the Harry Potter phenomena are both results of this increase in popularity. Neither the LotR movie nor Harry are causes. Nor do big budgets or modern special effects have much to do with this popularity. People flocked to the movies in droves long before there was any chance that more than a (relative) handful had actually heard about the special effects.

The reason for the popularity of fantasy, and the reason science fiction is fading in comparison, is quite simple, really. Increasingly in books and films, including science fiction but also in everything from mysteries to so-called “main stream literary” novels, the lines between right and wrong have become blurred. Good and evil are more and more portrayed as two sides of the same coin. This is called realism. People by and large want to believe that there is a clear cut right and wrong, though, and that good and evil depend on more than how you look in the mirror or whether you’re squinting when you do. In fantasy, you can talk about good and evil, right and wrong, with a straight face and no need to elbow anybody in the ribs to let them know you’re just kidding, you don’t really believe in this childish, simplistic baloney. That seems to be less and less so in other genres.

Does that mean fantasy all has to be goody-goody on the side of right and black-as-the-pit on the side of evil. No. In my own work telling right from wrong is often difficult. Sometimes my characters make the wrong choice there. Sometimes they do things are quite horrific. But they try to find the right choice. This is the way I think most people see the world and their behavior in it — trying to do the right thing with the knowledge that sometimes you’re going to make the wrong choice, and with “right” defined as more than simply being of benefit to yourself — and they want to read books that reflect this. Right and wrong are not simply different shades of gray. Good and evil are not simply a matter of how you look at them. (Have you ever noticed the use of “of course?’ As in, “The actions of the suicide bombers is quite horrific, of course….” You know that a “but” is coming, followed by an explanation of why their actions. while “quite horrific. of course” are also “entirely understandable under the circumstances,” which come down to “the death and destruction is all somebody else’s fault completely.”)

As the view of the world, as expressed by the evening news and most books, has increasingly become that everything is really just shades of gray, people have grown more and more to want something that says choosing right from wrong may be difficult, seeing what is evil might be hard, but it is not only worth making the effort, it is possible if you try. Maybe not every time, but most of the time by and large. And that is the heart of the popularity of fantasy, and why it has grown. I suspect that somebody has a doctorate in the waiting simply by showing a correlation between the increase in popularity of fantasy on one hand and, on the other, the increase on the evening news and in most literature of the view that right and wrong, good and evil, are just matters of where you stand and how you’re holding your head at the moment.

On the large scale, the gender relationships in the Wheel grew from the very beginnings of the books, really. I recall seeing a paperback book back in the 70s, a fantasy novel about a young woman who wasn’t allowed to become a magician of whatever sort it was because she was a woman. The notion struck me as interesting, since it was the first fantasy novel with that theme that I had ever seen, but what really stuck with me was this. That novel was a simple reflection of the then-current mundane world, but what about if it were men who were not allowed to become whatever it was? Now that would be an interesting twist, and unexpected. Why would that be, and how could it be enforced? As Harriet has often pointed out, many of the world’s gender inequalities stem from superior male upper body strength. (To which I usually say, “Oh, dear! Isn’t that awful and unfair!” While pulling off my shirt and flexing my biceps, to be sure,) From that genesis grew the division of the One Power into a male and a female half with the male half tainted, giving a reason why men not only would not be allowed to become Aes Sedai, as they were not then called, butmust not be allowed even to channel, again as it was not then called. From that, and from the history that I was even then beginning to put together for this world, though I didn’t realize it then, came the result of 3000+ plus years when men who can wield the ultimate power, the One Power, are to be feared and hated above all things, when the only safety from such men comes from the one stable center of political, and other, power for those 3000+ years, a female center of power. The view I then had was a world with a sort of gender equality. Not the matriarchy that some envision — Far Madding is the only true matriarchy in the lot — but gender equality as it might work out given various things that seem to be hard-wired into male and female brains. The result is what you see.

Now as to communications and the lack thereof, these things are not commentaries on any sort of technologies. They are a commentary on the human navel. Do you really know anybody who actually tells everything he or she knows to everybody? Even when they really need to know? Maybe especially when they really need to know. Do you really trust people who think they always know what other people really need to know? May I postulate that this person has few close friends, those quite quiet when around him or her? There are a thousand reasons why we don’t tell everything to everybody, including often things that we should tell. Maybe the information puts us in a bad light, so we withhold information, or perhaps shade the truth a bit. That’s one of the most common. Or maybe we think the other person must already know because it is so obvious. Which can add the factor that we don’t want to appear foolish for pointing out that the sky seems to be blue today. Or maybe we just didn’t bloody well think of it. It has always struck me how unrealistic, how incredibly fortuitous — you think ta’veren are centers of unrealistic coincidence? Huh! — books are where almost everybody learns everything they need to know as soon as they need to know it, where almost nobody of any note or importance ever has to make decisions based on incomplete information, information that the reader may know is at least partly wrong. Lord, even when they just learn almost everything they need to know exactly when they need to know it, matters seem just too far-fetched. No, it isn’t a commentary on technology. Just people.

For Sandar, you know very well that Emma would be disappointed if I stopped tugging at her pig-tail. Now as to the fellow who went mad in the cell next to Padan Fain and the other who committed suicide, neither is evidence for Lanfear’s presence. Which is just as well. Repeat after me, slowly. Lanfear — did — not — free — Padan — Fain — in — Shienar. Nor anywhere else, for that matter. There were two prisoners in the cells with Fain, both of them Bordermen who had some knowledge of Shadowspawn. And in the heart of the fortress here comes a troop of Trollocs and the Light alone knows what else. Put yourself in their place. Put yourself in a cage. You can’t get out. You are in the dark. And here comes your worst nightmares walking in. Only it’s worse than nightmares, because you know that these nightmares are real. You know what they do to human beings. You know they sometimes keep people alive a long time so they can have fresh meat. People don’t need arms or legs to survive, so they can feed off you for days, maybe weeks. And you can’t get out. You can’t get away. You just have to shiver in your cage and watch them open up another of the cages. While you wonder whether they’re going to open your cage, too. How do you escape? How can you get away? Maybe suicide is an option? At least it’s quick. Quicker, anyway. But make up your mind fast, sport. While you’re dithering, your mind might decide to make its own escape. That won’t stop you from being butchered slowly, but at least you won’t know it’s happening. Maybe you can see why Lanfear wasn’t necessary here?

Okay, that’s it for now. I need to get back to writing.

All my best, guys.
RJ


I’M BAAAA-AAACK - November 22nd, 2005

Well, I’ve recovered from the tour, gotten a little work done on A Memory of Light, and I’m slowing down for the Thanksgiving descent of family on the house. And our descent on various other relatives. You know how it goes. So I thought I’d post a short one.

Thanks for the CD, Deadsy. I liked it. It seems very reminiscent of Pentangle at times, but then a lot of groups do. I saw an article somewhere or other that claimed Pentangle had more influence on the music that followed than the Beatles and as much as the Beachboys. The second is quite a claim to make. Remarkable for a group that did two albums — anybody out there old enough to remember vinyl? Hey, I still have some of my 45s! – in the late 60s then vanished.

For Min17 and anyone else who hasn’t seen any of the posts about my tour appearances — if the usual methods were followed, every word I said was posted at least once – there will be one more main sequence novel. At some point in the future I will do two more short prequel novels. I have signed the contracts for a trilogy — the first of two planned — entitled Infinity of Heaven. And Harriet and I will be doing an encyclopedia once Book 12 is complete. I’ve said frequently that I wouldn’t write in this universe again once tWoT was done unless I had a really great idea. I may – I say again, may — have had such an idea. I have to poke at it for a year or two to see whether it’s strong enough. If it is, I’ll do two or three “outrigger” novels following some of the characters on another story arc. If it isn’t strong enough, then I’ll let it die a quiet death.

Once again, for fans in any country other than the United States who want me to tour there, bombard your publisher with requests. With the exception of Canada, however, where you’d need to bombard H.B. Fenn, the distributor. I’ve done Canada (three times), Britain, Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Hungary, Italy (twice), Turkey, Australia (twice) and New Zealand (twice). I did appear in Russia, but that was for the Congress of Russian Science Fiction Writers. So you can see I’m willing to travel. But tours have to be set up by the publisher in-country.

I saw some complaints about the “reviews” posted on tWoT at Amazon.com, but you have to realize that a lot of people post at Amazon just so they can flame something. If you disagree, whether with the reviews or the ratings of which sort of reviews were most helpful, make your own posts. Seems to that a year or so back, maybe a little longer, Amazon let a glitch slip in so the reviews were no longer anonymous. Turned out some well known mainstream authors were putting up posts lauding their own books. And others criticizing the work of writers they didn’t like. Red faces all around. Amazon fixed the glitch and nobody talks about it much any more.

For Son o’merc, I came up with the Almurat Mor character without benefit of the fan sites. In fact, until I saw your question, I wasn’t aware that there were any particular postings about Mor.

For kcf, Tuon is stating a misbelief, really, a Seanchan urban folk tale, if you will. The Seanchan no longer know about Foretelling — though they are beginning to hear reports – but they have memories of the knowledge, you might say. There memories have gotten twisted into the widespread belief that any damane can tell your fortune. This belief is strengthened by the fact that some damane actually can Foretell, and more of them than on “this” side of the Aryth Ocean, a facet of sul’dam remaining in the breeding pool with the result that there are a higher percentage of women who potentially could channel among the Seanchan than on the Eastern side of the ocean. And also a higher percentage of many Talents.

For Kison, education in this world is a very sometime thing. In the Two Rivers, where literacy is valued, parents teach children, and if, say, old Jondyn is known to be knowledgeable about history, parents send their children to him. This education is not as broad as that they might receive in a school, but then, the education given in many schools as late of the 19th Century would hardly stand up to today’s standards. Rhetoric was given as great a weight as mathematics when it wasn’t given more. Modern languages were deplored, and not taught even at university level. Parents teaching children is the general model followed. Sometimes a village might hire a sort of schoolmaster, but this is usually thought to be a waste of money since the parents between them have enough knowledge to teach most subjects to the extent necessary.

Someone asked how difficult it is for a blind person to channel, but I didn’t make a note of who. In any case, it is difficult but not impossible. The different flows have different feels, though saying they have different flavors might be as accurate. In the comic, we use colors, not because they actually have colors but because they also can be told apart by sight. Someone who was blind and who tried to learn to channel would be able to differentiate between flows of the Five Powers. The difficulty would be in learning to make the weaves.

Also, in KoD, Beonin does speak wrongly, and as much as I would like to call it an editing error, it is such only in that neither the editor, the copy editor, nor my assistant caught it. Homer nodded, and I blipped. It will be corrected in the next printing.

And for Min Farshaw, I always wanted to a writer. I decided when I was five years old that one day I would write. There have been scenes I didn’t like writing because of what was happening in them. That has happened fairly often.

Oh, yes. Emma. You didn’t think I’d forget you, now did you? Your rather long — very long — list of Nynaeve questions was handed to me, so your minion did his job. He also told me you would have been there yourself except that you had been grounded! Aha! I knew you’d been lying about your age.

Well, take care, guys. The tour was fun, but it’s good to be back home. It’s good to be alive. It’s good to back at my desk, writing.

Bye for now.
RJ

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