Your Questions for the Author Answered

June 20th Question

Given the sheer amount of writing and years you have spent on the world of Recluse, it seems likely there are some things you established early on that have caused annoyance in later books. I certainly have seen plenty of things that cleverly show how things that certain characters (and readers) thought to be true were in fact not, but are there things that you have found more difficult to work around?

So far, I’ve managed to work around most items in the earliest Recluce books(that is, those I wrote first, in which the events take place after the earlier books) that might suggest contradictions, but occasionally a reader will bring something to my attention. In many cases, there’s no contradiction, because, as is often the case in the history of our world, the historians had an agenda to either excessively glorify or denigrate the acts of previous powerful figures. There also have been instances where I made a mistake, despite my best efforts.

June 19th Question

You worked a lot of great mythology into The Timegod, but there’s one reference I always thought I missed. At the end, Loki realizes that the bell told him where everyone had gone, and he understood it due to a recent language implant. I’ve always felt like that was more significant than I was picking up on. Is that actually a reference which went over my head?

It’s not so much a reference as a hint. The bell is inscribed with a Terran language. Sammis tells Loki that he can find Baldur and Wryan, and even Sammis himself, and gestures to the bell before he vanishes. The inference is that all the Scandinavian myths in our world come from Baldur, Sammis, and Wryan… because that’s where they went from Query.

June 18th Question

Why does the era of the books of Recluse not start, for example, with the arrival on the island or with the birth of the founder?

The dates in the chronology begin with the year that the rationalist colonists landed. Those dates show up in Magi’i of Cyador and Scion of Cyador. The term A.F., refers to After the Fall. Other cultures around the world may use other dates, but I used the founding of Cyad as the base date.

June 11th Question

Will there ever be any Film or Episodic adaptations of the Recluce series? If so, could you please elaborate?

I’m not aware of any plans of even rumors of plans to present anything in the Saga of Recluce in film, television, or the like. While I can hope, I’m certainly not holding my breath.

Although I’ve been occasionally approached about gaming possibilities over the years, those have not turned out, either, at least so far.

May 28th Question

Do you have a public appearance schedule for the rest of the year?

At present, I do not have any other public appearances scheduled for the rest of the year.

For personal and logistical reasons unrelated to my health, it’s highly unlikely that I’ll be making many public appearances in the foreseeable future.

April 29th Question

I’ve just begun reading the Ecolitan novels, and I notice that you have used the same system names as in The Hammer of Darkness: Fuard, Halston, etc. Do you consider all of these novels to be in the same timeline/universe? If so, what is the chronology?

In writing my science fiction, I’ve always considered the different “series”/books as possible varying futures from the present in which we live, or, as in the case of the “Ghost” books, an alternate present. That’s why certain names recur in various books. The Ecolitan books are set in a future somewhat different from The Hammer of Darkness, and there’s no real connection except the past.

Second April 7th Question

I just finished, and greatly enjoyed, From the Forest. My impression (having not re-read other Recluce books with chaos-wielding protagonists recently) is that Alyiakal learned a number of fairly advanced techniques (which I have always likened to lasers or energy weapons) quite quickly. I’m curious, if that’s the case, is that more reflective on Alyiakal’s unique talents, or on the benefits of having lots of order-chaos devices around to learn from. I’m also curious if there’s any genetic differences between the Cyadorans and the surrounding nations that affects the prevalence of order-chaos wielders. It seems that Cyador is much more sparsely populated despite their higher technology level and employ a lot of the same techniques as Recluce later does to rely on technology and technique when they are outnumbered.

Alyiakal isn’t really that much different from other Magi’i, nor does he have more in the way of devices or technology to learn from. What he does have is a very good tutor in Master Triamon, who makes Alyiakal really think about how to use chaos, Healer Vayidra, and the experiences of the Great Forest. No other magus has that range of experience. He also has the incentive to learn because he almost instinctively knows that he’ll be killed if he doesn’t. Because most of the inhabitants of Cyador are from the Rational Stars, that means there are definite differences in genetics from the inhabitants of the lands bordering Cyador. With the later fall of Cyador, many of the techniques for dealing with order and chaos are lost or forgotten, and have to be rediscovered, partly in Fairhaven, but largely in Recluce because greater mastery of order is required to fully harness the power of chaos.

April7th Question

Love the GRAND ILLUSION series and am desperate to know when you will release the next in the series.

I’ve taken a little break after finishing the latest four Recluce novels. I’m considering writing a prequel to the existing three Grand Illusion novels, but it will be a few weeks before I know whether that’s possible.

March 3rd Question

I have started to reread the Recluce series and also recently revisited The Lessons of History by Will and Ann Durant, a concise synthesis of their broader work in “The Story of Civilization.” The Durants’ exploration of historical cycles, the interplay of moral and ethical considerations, and the forces of progress and decline resonated with me, particularly in light of the themes you explore in the Recluce series. This parallel has sparked my curiosity about your own historical and philosophical influences. Could you share whether the works of Will and Ann Durant have played any role in shaping the ideas or themes within the Recluce series? I am interested in understanding how historical narratives and philosophical explorations might influence the creation of fantasy worlds that, while entirely fictional, echo with the weight of real human history and ethical dilemmas. Thank you for your time and for the worlds you’ve created — not just within the Recluce series — that have so deeply enriched my reading experiences and thinking.

While I’ve certainly heard of the Durants, I have to confess that I haven’t read any of their works. I have read history widely, particularly ancient history, beginning when I was quite young, and I continue to do so, although these days I peruse periodicals such as History Today and World Archaeology rather than larger tomes. On the more philosophical side, I’ve also read Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces and Edward Wilson’s The Meaning of Human Existence and who knows how many others.

March 2nd Question

I noticed three references in the first two Grand Illusion books to how the “burgher’s delight” was the lousiest thing on the menu. I just wondered…do you have a friend who’s a cheeseburger fiend, and you were teasing them? It felt like an inside joke. Just wondering.

No, the “burgher’s delight” just came out of my own musing. I was just thinking how unappetizing a slab of ground beef between two slices of bread sounds. What makes a hamburger or a cheeseburger is everything else.

Sonic Assault

The other day, my wife was in the university parking lot, about to drive home. Then out of nowhere, a car pulled up two spaces away, and suddenly she could hear nothing except rap music that totally drowned out her classic easy rock music. Both her windows were closed, but those of the other car were open, and the volume of the “music” from the other car was enough literally to vibrate her solid but modest SUV.

I own a somewhat larger SUV, used primarily once for book tours and currently to carry opera props and sometimes sets, as well as for occasional trips around southwest Utah. Yet I’ve also experienced the unpleasant and definitely unwelcome sonic assault and/or or the involuntary full-body sonic massage.

We live on a fairly quiet street, but we still get the occasional sonic bombardment from so-called music, even with our well-insulated windows and walls – and our house isn’t even that close to the road, and there’s a five-foot tall, four-foot wide thick pfitzer hedge between the sidewalk and the grass.

What’s become even more prevalent is the sound of barely muffled large diesel pick-up trucks, except they’re more like monsters that tower over my standard-sized SUV, and the majority of these behemoths don’t appear to be working trucks, not with all that chrome and nary a splat of mud or so much as a dent in sight, and seldom even with any cargo.

Sound pollution is increasing everywhere in the world, and it’s not as though trucks and music have to be that loud. So why is it happening?

Studies show that human beings regard high levels of sound as a form of power, a way to dominate the space around them. Certainly, we can see this everywhere, even in politics, where demagogues from Hitler to Trump have ranted and raved at high volume and amplified that volume as much as possible.

But what it signifies to me is obnoxious boors who ought to be stuffed into a sound-proof chamber and subjected to their own noise at volumes high enough to burst their eardrums – except then they’d just increase the volume more.

February 26th Question

Two questions if I may. Firstly, did Lerris and Krystal ever have children or was that part of the price paid in The Death of Chaos? Second, I find myself sympathetic to Ryba’s position in Fall of Angels, though slightly less so in The Chaos Balance. Do you think she would have truly turned on Nylan or was she driving him out to ensure he dealt with Cyador?

While I didn’t spell it out, or even hint at it, given what Lerris and Krystal have been through, they won’t have children or live beyond a normal lifespan. In the case of Ryba, she doesn’t perceive herself as being unreasonable, but only doing what she believes is necessary — given her scattered visions of the future. Nylan doesn’t like being treated like a tool and needs more affection. Since Ryba is so driven, a rift is inevitable. And, in the end, Ryba’s actions, through both Nylan and Saryn, do remove the unthinking mysogyny of latter-day Cyador and Lornth and effectively change the political structure of the entire west of Candar.

February 18th Question

I am reading and enjoying From the Forest. Could you include a map of Cyador to identify the place names in a later volume of the series?

Unfortunately, it’s not my decision as to whether a map is included in the book. I sent a rough map and my editor presented the idea. The higher-ups declined the idea of a map in the first book. I will bring the matter up again, but, while I control the text, I don’t control whether maps are in the book.

February 16th Question

I had pre-ordered “From the Forest” and recently received the book. As soon as I started reading it I found that I had read all of this before but I cannot remember where exactly. But I do remember the book and unfortunately already know the ending of course. Can you tell me where I read it before please?

The first seven chapters are an expanded version of the short story “The Forest Girl,” which appeared in the collection Recluce Tales. This was stated on the copyright page of the book. The rest of the book is entirely new and hasn’t appeared anywhere before [unless there are pirate editions somewhere else].

February 14th Question

I remember reading an Imager story where Renn and Seliora’s daughter is older, preteen, maybe. But I can’t find it. Where is it? I would like to read it again.

I’ve never written such a story. The only incident that I can recall is once speculating about how interesting it might be to write about Diestrya as teenager, but whether that was at a convention, online, or elsewhere, I honestly can’t remember because it was a while back. It’s also possible that someone wrote fanfiction about Diestrya when older, but I did not.

February 7th Question

Is there a map for the new series beginning with From the Forest? It would help me a lot (and others, I am sure).

There is, and there isn’t. That is to say, I submitted my hand-drawn map to Tor, and my editor did her best, but, presumably for reasons of cost, the higher-ups nixed the map inclusion, possibly because my maps are rather detailed and costly to produce for books. Since my talents do not lie in graphic arts on the professional level, that means no map.

January 19th Question

After Lerris reset the world, you haven’t added any stories post the sundering of Recluse. Do you have any plans to do so? That’s something I have hoped you would do, a more technological world, maybe with the beginning of order and chaos Magery.

Outside of the one story — “Fame” — that ends Recluce Tales, I haven’t written anything after the sundering of Recluce, and I have no plans to do so. That would be a very different world, and it wouldn’t be the same, not if I’m to be true to what I’ve already written.

Second January 8th Question

I wanted to say first that I adored your Grand Illusion series and bought each new volume as soon as they came out. I’m trying to write my own political fantasy series myself, and I was wondering if you had any advice for how you kept track of all the factions and alliances and whatnot as you wrote?

With lots of charts and notes, but nearly twenty years in the political arena helped a great deal. One of the important things to remember/plan is the overall political base of each councilor/candidate — beyond just party identity. While for a period of time, support for a charismatic figure, such as Hitler or Trump, can overshadow individual politicians’ political bases, that’s usually not the case. Also, a politician’s style and approach is influenced by his or her strengths and weaknesses. One who isn’t the strongest of speakers will likely use different strategies, such as developing a strong grassroots organization.

January 8th Question

In the Forum back on Tue Feb 10, 2004 1:12 pm you answered the question, in part: “The idea underlying the book (Gravity Dreams) was my thought about the difference in societies, i.e., how some societies evolve out of tribal and geographic identities while others are value-driven.” When I read your reply I tried to find history of a society which had evolved on a value-driven basis. I became somewhat confused by the more common evolution of a group based on ideological beliefs but none that I would call value-driven. Indeed, leaders with Core-values, i.e. fixed beliefs, which sounded to me like ideology. I thus have the question: would you please indicate one or two societies which evolved because they were value-driven? I suspect one might be the United States; another might be Ashoka the third Mauryan Emperor of Magadha in the Indian subcontinent who devoted himself to the propagation of “dhamma” or righteous conduct after (260 BCE),when conquered Kalinga after a brutal war.

The United States is indeed an example of a society founded on values, rather than having its values evolve from geography, tribalism, or religious beliefs. But so far as I can determine, all societies reflect values. I have to admit I’m at a loss for another example of another society consciously founded on a set of secular values, although my statement back in 2004 assumed that there must be others.

January 5th Question

In the world of Recluce, healers are nigh-universally associated with green. Unlike with order mages and chaos wizards, this does not appear to be the result of association with the actual magic/metaphysical system of the world. My general theory is that Anglorian medics wore green and given the lasting impact of Cyadoran culture the association just stuck everywhere, but I’m curious if there’s something else behind it.

Frankly, I hadn’t thought of your explanation. My feeling was that so often green is the color of life and healers’ duty is to preserve life. Of course, both your and my explanation both fit.