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IT'S BEEN A WHILE

Posted by , 20 January 2006 · 1,072 views

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 Amrylin 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





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