Friday, August 22
I am familiar, in broad outline, with the events of the Dark Nest and Legacy series. Haven't read 'em because I've been too busy with the Prequel and OT eras.
As to the specifics of your question, however, I can't give a satisfactory answer. Part of this is due to the simple fact that neither Jacen nor Vergere was originally my character (in fact, the only characters in TRAITOR who were original to that work were the World Brain and Ch'Gang Hool, the Shaper Master -- who was basically just a walk-on, anyway -- and the various extras). Vergere was the creation of Jim Luceno, I believe, and Jacen's roots go so far back into the EU that he was already well-established by the time KJA picked him up for the Young Jedi Knights.
In the Literature forum over at TheForce.Net, there are several lengthy threads discussing the validity of the choices made for Jacen and Vergere. There is really nothing I can add to the discussion, largely because my opinion is exactly that: my opinion, no more. When you come right down to it, on this point I'm exactly on the same level as all of you: a reader trying to assess someone else's story.
But due to my privileged position as a Star Wars novelist, my opinion would be given more weight by the fans than it actually deserves -- it would tend to tip the perceptions of, at least, my particular fans, and even others would be tempted to end arguments with "Well, Matt Stover says . . ." I've decided I just have to keep it to myself.
Sorry for a lengthy reply that doesn't end up saying much. It is what is is.
And that's as far as I am willing to go on the subject.
Except perhaps to point out once more that what a story means is what it means to you as you read it. Nothing more . . . but more important: nothing less.
And thank you, Joe, for pointing out that Barra Coll Eigg Rhum is based on the Fabulous Robyn -- though the truth is deeper than that: Robyn invented her in the first place, and (graciously, at my request) gave me permission to write books about her, back in the Bad Old Days. As opposed to the Bad New Days. I used Robyn herself as the model to fill in the nooks and crannies of the character, that's all.
Monday, August 18
Sunday, August 17
The fear is gone
I'm sittin' here waiting
The gun's still warm
Maybe my connection
Is tired of taking chances . . .
Or, y'know, maybe it's 4 AM, and maybe I'm up because my wife, the Fabulous Robyn, is competing in the Pleasant Prairie Triathlon this morning. This is only her second tri, and we have to get her to the staging area by around 5.
And maybe that song is going through my head because it was the unofficial theme of the Navy SEALS she used to hang out with in the Phillipines, back in the 80s, and I wish some of them could see her now. I'm pretty sure they'd be both surprised (a little) and proud (a lot) of the extraordinary woman she grew up to be.
Friday, August 8
I've only published five short stories, so far as I recall.
"Br'er Robert" and "In the Sorrows" are available free online -- a quick Google search should be able to find a Web archive.
"Precursor" is in the DAW anthology LEGENDS: TALES FROM THE ETERNAL ARCHIVE, and is out of print.
"Equipment" is available in the back of the mass market edition of SHATTERPOINT.
And you can find "The Persian, the Coon, and Bullets" in the forthcoming CATOPOLIS anthology, because the editor's a friend and she asked nicely. And paid well.
For the record, the opening story of BLADE ("Zero") was originally sent around as a stand-alone novella, and was soundly rejected by such luminaries as Gardner Dozois (and a couple others I currently disremember). He said it was pretty well done, but not outstanding enough for his magazine. I thought he was wrong, so I put it in BLADE OF TYSHALLE.
It's still my favorite sequence of that novel.
For Snooty English Major --
Thanks. I mean it. But sign your posts.
For all the rest of you folks:
Yeah, Star Wars is good entry level stuff -- and if any of my original work sold that well, I'd be a much, much wealthier man. Which is my point. I'm limping into middle age, and I'd like to get Robyn and myself that little acreage with a nice house and lots of trees. And maybe a swimming pool . . . and, yeah, I wouldn't mind the helicopters and the armored fortress.
A thank you to everyone for the kind words and assorted ego-boostage. Which will likely trigger another mini-essay on The Tyranny of Praise . . . which relates, oddly enough, to the King quote.
Hmm. Something there, I think. Check back later.
Thursday, August 7
There are a number of female HD fans (judging by my fan mail and store-signing experiences), many of whom seem to be particularly engaged by Hari and Shanna's unhappy relationship, and Hari's damn-the-torpedoes commitment to it.
Women sometimes seem to have a more difficult time with BLADE, though a substantial percentage of the positive reviews that book got came from female reviewers.
The real problem with gathering feminine readership for the Acts of Caine, it seems to me, is that HD depends on an SFF-savvy reader -- for it to have full effect, the reader should already be well-versed to the point of exhaustion with the various tropes that the story is twisting into less-familiar shapes. Which seems to be more of a guy thing, overall.
Make sure the woman you lend the book to has already read Conan and Bran Mak Morn, Elric and Hawkmoon and Fafhrd & Gray Mouser and the like, and I'm pretty sure she'll like Caine.
This is a problem with male readership as well. As one editor at Del Rey told me:
"What stops Caine from being more successful is that he's only accessible to people who are already hardcore fans. Write something 'entry-level' -- not necessarily Harry Potter, but even more grown-up entry-level like most of Jonathan Carroll or Neil Gaiman, something where someone who knows nothing about SF and fantasy can enjoy it -- and you're golden."
Unfortunately for me and my career, I've never been able to pull something like that together, outside of Star Wars.
Though I haven't given up on it. Not quite.
Wednesday, August 6
His testimony . . .
Now I feel bad for all the nasty things I've been thinking about him. Mostly.
Hey, I don't want to discourage fan activity; I need all I can get. But selling ARCs in advance of the book's release is still a Major No-No.
Tuesday, August 5
I just heard from my editor that the current market conditions for mm reprints makes a re-issue of an 800-page novel from 2001 kind of problematic. (My understanding is that minimum print run is something like 5,000 copies, and none of the big chains can be counted upon to carry a re-issue.)
It looks like he's gotten the go-ahead to produce an e-book version, and also format it for print-on-demand. So some version of the novel should be available (provided any and all potential contractual issues can be swiftly worked out -- because the contract for Blade is from 1998, before there were such things as e-books and POD) for those folks who really, really want to read it before they pick up Caine Black Knife.
So, overall, not bad news. As news goes.
By the way: some turd is spamming Stover-related sites, selling discounted ARCs of CBK off eBay.
Screw this guy. He's taking money out of my pocket.
ARCs sold as collector's items are one thing. I'm okay with that. But selling discounted ARCs as a substitute for the actual book costs me money that I just can't fucking afford. If any of you feel the need to actually grab one of these, do me a favor and buy the real one too.
Monday, August 4
I know, he was a difficult man to admire unreservedly. He had opinions (especially about Western culture, the United States, and certain ethnic groups) that many people found -- and still find -- troubling.
But the books --
A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch marked me for life.
An anecdote from the NYTimes profile by Michael T. Kaufman:
"Mr. Solzhenitsyn was banished to a desolate penal camp in Kazakhstan called Ekibastuz. . . .
"At Ekibastuz, any writing would be seized as contraband. So he devised a method that enabled him to retain even long sections of prose. After seeing Lithuanian Catholic prisoners fashion rosaries out of beads made from chewed bread, he asked them to make a similar chain for him, but with more beads. In his hands, each bead came to represent a passage that he would repeat to himself until he could say it without hesitation. Only then would he move on to the next bead. He later wrote that by the end of his prison term, he had committed to memory 12,000 lines in this way."
Also from the profile:
"Grigori Baklanov, a respected novelist and writer about World War II, declared that the story was one of those rare creations after which 'it is impossible to go on writing as one did before.'"
"He wrote that while an ordinary man was obliged 'not to participate in lies,' artists had greater responsibilities. 'It is within the power of writers and artists to do much more: to defeat the lie!'"
I am humbled by his passing. He is one of the writers who can remind us why the shit we do counts for something.