Monday, August 12, 2013

Inspiration in Fantasy

I'm sitting out here on the deck fighting off yellow jackets and trying to wean five kittens (who are not enthused with the project), recovering from Spocon and working on the revisions for The Mask of God. While my editor thought they would be extensive, they're really not, a matter of clarification, putting back in some already-written scenes I had deleted for length, and emphasizing some characters in a couple of places. I am 3/4 of the way through the little stuff and will soon go back for the bigger revisions.

As I sit here working on the lead-up to the climactic scene, I am reminded of a couple of conversations I had at Spocon over the weekend. It was a fun and fairly relaxed convention here in Spokane, and there was time for leisurely speculation as well as panel discussions. There are always many history buffs among fantasy readers, and of course, being a history major myself, I'm one of them. There will be no doubt in the mind of anyone with even a passing knowledge of medieval European history as to the origin of the big battle in The Mask of God, but I'm not tellin'. Half the fun of reading fantasy is trying to guess what inspired the author.

This book had a lot of influences, from recent Middle Eastern history to not-so-recent Middle Eastern history to the Dark Ages to Anne McCaffrey's Pern series for the notion of an Earth colony long cut off from Earth. My mythical colony, however, remembers its origins, and you see signs of the colonial Founders everywhere even though their tech is no longer usable. It reminds me (as does every power failure at my house) of how dependent our society is on our power sources, and how much would be lost if our digital knowledge goes down along with the power. That is my only objection to ebooks and the mad rush to digitize everything and get rid of paper. A flip of a switch and it's gone. We have already seen how readily governments embrace the idea of censorship, and how few qualms even the U.S., the supposed bastion of freedom, has about spying on its own citizens. Denying knowledge to the citizenry on the pretense of "national security" is only a short step once all the knowledge depends on public power sources and data banks.

So. The plausibility of a colony fallen from starfaring technology to swords and armor (even if not the type of armor we'd normally think of), is actually even greater today than it was 24 years ago when I set the first words of this series to paper (yes, it's a series now, not a trilogy, being so long). I have a very clear vision of the monks in my Mt. Sinon monastery squinting at their precious digital reader, transcribing the works on disc by hand to paper....

And now, I suppose, it is time I went out and read "A Canticle for Liebowitz", a classic with which I have, alas, but a passing familiarity. My inspiration for the work at Mt. Sinon was The Book of Kells, that glorious icon of medieval calligraphy.

Okay, five kittens who are missing their mom sitting in my lap all at once is at least four too many. It would so help if I could catch the mother (like, four months ago). They're so cute but I really don't need more cats! Anybody need a kitten??

Off now to gently point them at the food bowl, which at least they have figured out...

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