Short Update

I’m going to be starting the online serialization of a ~170,000 word Hitherby-related project shortly. Target is end of this month. However, I have things I need to do first that I can’t do while there’s construction across the street, and I don’t know how long that will go on or how functional I’ll still be when it stops. Still, if we are optimistic, assume that you’ll be seeing some cool stuff starting shortly before September.

Best wishes,

Jenna

Forthcoming: Enemies Endure

I have a new novel coming relatively soon—I’ve just finished the “junk whole sections and revise whole characters” stage of editing and am moving on to the “read over and over again, tweaking paragraphs, sentences, and words as I go” stage.

This is Enemies Endure.

It’s a ~163,000 word Hitherby legend from late chapter 2 and early chapter 3; it’s mostly new content, but some key parts are revised versions of existing legends.

I’m still making decisions on how exactly I’m going to proceed—things like:

* will I serialize it or just release it in ePub/createSpace form?
* will I focus on getting the ePub out or the print form out?
* will I kickstart, stick with stuff I can do myself, or both?

Once it’s out, then I’ll be taking the Unclean Legacy off sale, and possibly having a sale on Fable of the Swan. Or … not!

This is also a reminder that Unclean Legacy is currently available in print form from CreateSpace (see sidebar), and that there is a forthcoming Nobilis supplement:

Nobilis:Antithesis
minibook 1i, a Diary of Deceivers
(176pp, currently written, edited, mostly laid out, and about … 80%? art-complete?)

Because apparently when I sit down to just write a little bit about Deceivers, literally aiming for a 32-page supplement to dump out there for .99, a beautiful 176-page book is what happens. It’s actually going to be awesome; it’s just kind of goofy how unexpected it was. ^_^

More details on that as they come in.

Best wishes,

Jenna

Short Story for Fighting for Gwen; Unclean Legacy up on CreateSpace

Hi!

I’ve contributed a short story to Fighting for Gwen, because …

Well, a lot of reasons. Mostly, Elizabeth was really kind to me on a few occasions, and Shreyas too. Plus, Gwen sounds awesome.

I just heard back that (a) I am pointing at the correct link to publicize; and (b) that my story is going out on the 30th of this month. So there you are!

It’s called the Prince’s Rule, it’s a pretty awesome fairy-tale romp, and I guess that the cheapest way to get it is to donate $10 to what will eventually turn either into helping the Sampats or helping autistic people in general, which should get you at least three other stories by other people too.

**

In other news: I can’t get a copy to look it over myself right now, so I don’t want to do a serious sales push until I hear back from someone who bought it, but https://www.createspace.com/3753902 is An Unclean Legacy in print form.

Best wishes,

Jenna

Fable of the Swan Available Monday; Unclean Legacy on Sale

On Monday I am releasing a new book: Fable of the Swan. It’ll appear on DriveThruFiction, the Kindle store, and Smashwords; some of those versions might sneak through as early as “in the next few minutes or hours.” I don’t know!

Here’s the summary:

**

A world fell into the void. It put down roots there.

Somewhere in that world is Town. Its main urban center is Horizon, all overbuilt and Gothic. That’s where Principal Entropy keeps his School. He’s God or the Devil, the stories say, although they’re a bit ambiguous on which.

I started School about 5 years ago. I’ve known Kseniya pretty much that whole time—a foot taller than me, stronger than all the boys, with the blood of giants and magicians coming down to her from both sides. I didn’t meet most of the others until a year or two later—not Vanessa, who wanders the basements like a spirit in a wan white dress; not Giselle, who’s something of a fiend for checkers; not Mikhael, who does chemistry for Lee Scathing and is a bona fide Christian; and certainly not Elya, who I can’t actually remember but who probably was nice.

Mom was a scientist—I mean, ordinary science, I mean, clean science, not the other stuff. I don’t have as much to remember Dad or Desmond by.

This is the story of my first kiss, how I was struck by a dodgeball and achieved enlightenment, and how and why I plan to turn into a brass cephalopodan war machine and rip up Death.

I’m kind of the boring one, though; it’s really rather more about my friends.

Fable of the Swan is the first book in the “Chuubo’s Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine” transmedia project, with more books and RPG products forthcoming from Jenna Katerin Moran and Eos Press.

**

I’m also putting An Unclean Legacy on sale for a bit—ideally until my next book release—at $.99. If you’ve been curious, now’s a good time to pick it up!

I’ll add a link to all this on the sidebar soon.

Best wishes,

Jenna

Forthcoming in March: “Fable of the Swan”

I am not yet in a position to restart Hitherby or decide if it should be restarted.

However.

I wanted to let you know that my next novel, “Fable of the Swan,” the first piece of the Chuubo’s Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine transmedia project, should be ready for electronic release soon—roughly a week.

After that I’ll be picking up some scattered strands of my life, possibly including Hitherby.

“Fable of the Swan” has thematic connections to Fable of the Lamb, so you may want to reread that. Actually you may want to reread that anyway; it’s one of my favorite Hitherbies, although it’s full of spoilers if you haven’t read the rest. ^_^

Letters Column in January 2012: “Holy Thursday, Batman!”

The problem with “God values free will, and talking to people would compromise their free will” is that our concept of god is based on the Bible, and in the Bible God talks to people all the time. (In at least one case, he struck someone blind, and the person only regained their vision after they agreed to be God’s direct servant.)
— David Goldfarb, on And Three Points is the Game

Oh, man, it’s supposed to be based on the Bible?

looks once, sadly, at her tetrachloradic divinity device, then puts it away in the closet, folds the closet after it, and pastes a sad-face sticker in the air whereupon it used to be.

**

There are a bunch of possible responses to that, and I’m disinclined to try for a serious discussion of non-Hitherby theology here, but here’s the one that amused me the most:

What if the Bible’s made of legends, not histories? (Using Hitherby definitions, obviously.) It’s the sort of thing God would say if he did talk to people. *shrug*
— Xavid, on And Three Points is the Game

“This is going to be LEGEND. . .

three days pass

**

Beautiful as always. An unexpected origin for Tainted John, for me at least.

On a more general note, with the progression of my contemplative path, Hitherby Dragons is gaining a deeper resonance for me. I suspect it is half-secretly an elaborate metaphor or instruction for the process of awakening.
— villum, on Green

When we are not ready to wake up, the world is full of comforters and pillows. When it is time to wake up, it is full of alarums shouting. That is not narrative! That is simply life. ^_^

… although, hm, technically I suppose that is a broken metaphor since it is if anything the other way around when one is actually in bed.

This is why I’m not a guru, y’all. My allegories are more backwards than a pollening tree at a Claritin convention!

**

Caught up. I’m glad you’re writing Hitheryby again.
— ScrewyAnathema, on Green

Yay!

**

I wonder who John’s father is. Is it the monster? the fiend that came to pick up micah?
— durroth, on Green

A casualty.

**

Why does John’s father have to be anybody other than an abusive asshole? Not everything has to be tied into the storyline.
— David Goldfarb, on Green

Oh, I could make a point of it—of his normalcy, of the fact that the real world is full of people like John’s father, and kids like John. I could say “here is a wonder. Here is a brightness. In Liril’s neighborhood, there was a perfectly ordinary, mundane boy who was both abused and going to become an abuser. A boy who didn’t have a compass. And she decided, before she left to deal with her more magical problems, that she’d step in and save him, because he was too young for his awfulness to count.”

And that would be meaningful, because this is a story of the end of the tyranny of the mundane. It’s a story of how magic went away, and everyone was happy, only, now? There’s no magic to stop things like John’s father from doing whatever they like. It’s a story about how sometimes, because there’s no such thing as magic, people sometimes just suffer, and it’s not their fault, and yet they keep on suffering anyway. About how, in fact, everybody just keeps on suffering anyway, but also, sometimes? For some people? It’s this unbearable, unimaginably

awful thing.

I could do that. I could write that. I totally could.

But there isn’t a kind of god that saves you. There isn’t a magic that rescues. That’s the wrong analogy. This isn’t a story about how Jane and Martin will appear in your lives and make things better, or Liril and Micah, and certainly not Melanie.

John’s history ties into the storyline because the point where magic enters his life is the hook for magic to change it.

So here’s where it started. Here’s where it came from.

John’s father was in Santa Ynez when the monster broke the Dominion at Elm Hill. His father was made sick by the breaking of a King that humans have no pacting with. He drank that breaking, ate that breaking, breathed that breaking; it was in the groundwater, and the soil, and the sky. He was there when when the monster’s truth asserted its supremacy—not at Elm Hill, not in the monster’s employ, simply, well, nearby. It poisoned him.

He was a casualty.

Of course, not everyone who gets sick on the monster’s leavings goes on to hurt others. That’s just the easy road. That’s what happens when people are bright enough to figure out that their suffering is unfair, but a bit too dim or broken to realize that that doesn’t make it justice when they pass that suffering on.

Aside, in January 2012: “Of the Pontiffs and Magistrinae and their Wailing”

Hm.

So I was working on a tetrachloradic divinity device in response to the way that an omnibenevolent omnipotent omniscient God should really be intervening a lot more often, and, apropos of nothing, found myself wondering if it is in fact true that God does not talk to people in dramatic, externally observable and trackable events all the time. Oh, sure, there’s no evidence for it, and there would be such evidence by definition, but

You can totes build a perfect mapping between the real world and a world where that happens. It is easily space-time isomorphic.

Now, that mapping? It isn’t a simplification. It’s got to be practically a complication. And I’d even go so far as to say that that is why we do not experience it. That we tend not to experience things that add that much Kolmogorov complexity to our experiential world unless we’re schizophrenic (or human) or whatever. but

I’d also guess, using my way undernourished computer science intuition, that the additional complexity of an active interventionist God is less than logarithmic in world-size, and possibly even constant. So what does it even mean to say that that world isn’t so?

Now that may make me seem like I’m all apologetic for the Lord and stuff, that I’m being a good theodicist, but OK, that’s not quite true, because look, this bit here? This bit is where I go off the rails of apologetics and crash right into a brain controlling a trolley.

My instinct is also that getting from here to a perfect world is quadratic.

And that is so much worse than merely bad apologetics that it will probably actually be described by future archaeologists as a crude biologically-prototyped example of the computational heresies that would later tear apart the allegiances of the pontiffs and magistrinae of the First Artificial Church.

Letters Column in January 2012: “Because, Otherwise, it Would Be Wrong.”

More than half of the people around you are sharks in disguise. They wear their fleshy human faces so that we do not know. However you can spot them by their plover fish and their inability to breathe on land, if you try. By their vastness. By their rows of teeth.

Why have we allowed them into our homes? Onto our streets?

Ultimately it is probably the fault of all those people who voted for Nader. This is what you get, Nader voters. This is what you get.

**

I tend to think of God as valuing free will; choosing to walk the path of righteousness is only meaningful if you had a free choice and reasonable alternatives. If God doesn’t give answers, you can’t really be sure whether you’re rebelling against God or rebelling against a false interpretation of God, or something.

It also reminds me of the old question of, say, whether it would be morally good to sell your soul to the Devil to feed starving children.
— Xavid, on And Three Points is the Game

Dude . . . um . . . that’s not what children eat.

Seriously.

The Devil is misleading you. The Prince of a Thousand Lies hath thee in thrall. What most children eat is not made of humans at all(*), but even if it is, even if they are vicious wolf-raised free-range anthropophagous orphans, they’ll still prefer something that’s more meaty than a soul. Now, I suppose that if you’re not a dualist, you could argue that the Devil intends to feed your enfleshed soul to the hungry orphans, but that’s not only sophistry but it’s a pretty easy moral choice to make to boot: human trafficking is always wrong.

Even if you’re just exporting someone to the nutrient pits to be torn apart by starving children while the Devil laughs! Even if it’s yourself!

You probably aren’t even allowed to traffic humans to feed God.(**)

(*) I mean, except for nursing children, of course. But frankly by the time they graduate from nursing school they aren’t really children any longer. That’s the horrible irony of it all. It’s even worse if they become doctors, sharks,(***) or pharmaceutical researchers! Although I don’t mind you taking a moment to think about Doogie Howser and more generally Neil Patrick Harris so I can make a Barney Stinson as Jesus joke tomorrow.

(**) although seriously after all these years of transubstantiation he is kind of owed. That’s not the joke. It’s not Barney’s flesh. That would just be ridiculous. Nobody would want to eat a purple dinosaur. I mean, except for starving children. But even they would probably not attach spiritual significance to it.

(***) you don’t know pain until a baby shark tries to nurse from you. Particularly if it is a robot shark. I mean, seriously. Also, that plover fish? NOT HELPING. Let the robot baby nursing shark cry. Your nipples will thank you for it. I thank God every day that I failed out of the Young Ladies’ Squaline Robotics and Finishing Academy before the mandatory nursing seminar.

**

I am pretty messed up from running out of all money and all food that was not oatmeal for a fair few days but now it is resolved. However if I seem a little visceral and bleak, like my words are an undersea-installation shell encrusted with barnacles and through the window-glass are peculiar vibrating, darting globules of darkness—well, then, that is why!

Incidentally that is what they sound like to me. I’m not just being random! Though that description doesn’t capture the golden hue of the thing or the rust on the pipes.

**

It took me this long to realize that the non-chibi pictures of the Fox and Hound, like the last panel in #27, are from Prosaic Reality. Before I’d thought it was a way of providing contrast and highlighting the Chibi style of the rest of it, but in Nobilis “two different styles” isn’t just art; it’s the way the world works!

Is there any other area for comments on it?
— dave.o, on And Three Points is the Game

There was not!

There is now. You could go over and say something cool about the guest art for this week or last week! But at the same I was using ComicCMS as an experiment. I wound up taking the comments down when I made a test comment and lost all my queued posts or something. It was sad! So I switched Chibi-Ex over to WordPress.

**

From Should Siggorts?:

These are the signs of the coming of a King: corrupt actions. Fear and hatred. The pollution of the groundwater, so that sinks run with green water and with black.

Right now these little hints just tease at me, but I look forward to the day I’ll be able to look back over it all and see the connections I couldn’t see now.
— dave.o, on Green

It is probably just another Nader reference. I can’t stop talking about him! I think it’s some kind of disease. One where you Ralph things up. But only if you eat them first. BUT it’s bad to feed people to children. Even politicians! So if you’re going to eat a politician make sure you’re old enough first, and please also make sure that you haven’t downloaded any illegal content lately.

Because, otherwise, it would be wrong.

Letters Column in January: “Why Does God Allow Bad Theodicies?”

Your idea of obedience not being good and rebellion being right makes me think about young Vincent idolizing his father, who is almost certainly evil, and the Monster, sitting on the throne of the world as he does, being functionally similar to God (in a less-than-omnibelevolent way).
— Xavid, on And Three Points is the Game

Why, good sir, are you really accusing the monster of not being perfectly benevolent?

What would that even mean?

How would you even define goodness, if the monster hath all of it not?

Er, I mean, haha, yeah. What was I talking about there? That was crazy. I slipped! Bad theodicy, Jenna. Bad theodicy!

The thing I was meaning to say is: the funny thing about “Vincent and the Devil” is that Vincent really is damning himself just fine on his own. The Devil isn’t manipulating him. This isn’t a story of the Devil tricking him. If anything, it’s a story of how and why Vincent is so dedicated to his path that the Devil himself couldn’t sway him from it.

Now, if it were a story about the Devil, and one day when we talk more about the Devil it will retroactively so be, then I’d have to talk about why the Devil bothered trying; what he hoped to get out of this; what he does get out of it, out of tempting or trying to save Vincent, I mean. But this isn’t a story about the Devil. It’s a story about Vincent. Vincent is very, very scared of being damned and doesn’t listen to anybody who suggests that possibly his path might lead that way already.

At least, I guess, not if they’re the Devil. Admittedly, he’s a rough one to listen to; in a lot of stories, you know, listening to the Devil isn’t ever the right thing to do, and Vincent doesn’t know he’s not in one of those.

And, heck, counterfactuals are trouble in general.

Maybe Vincent is in a story like that. Maybe walking away was the right thing to do. Maybe Vincent would have hurt more kids, or wound up dying worse, if he’d gone with the Devil’s offer; though I think I explicitly said late in Vincent’s story that that’s not how things are.

**

“How beautiful!”
— Rand Brittain, on And Three Points is the Game

Hahaha. Yes, exactly. Well spotted!

**

I’m trying to come up with motives for a God who doesn’t give answers, and who allows for and appreciates rebellion, at least in some forms. Perhaps God himself has a question he can’t answer, and the universe is an attempt to create something greater than himself that has the answer. Or God wanted to create something greater than himself out of benevolence (or boredom, if we’re being cynical), and by necessity such a thing has to have answers God doesn’t have. Making God imperfect is the easy way out of theodicy though. Perhaps God was perfect in himself when he was the only thing that existed, but as soon as he created something other, things got complicated. Along the lines of mathematical systems of sufficient complexity lacking some proofs, say any world complex enough to have the subject-object relation by necessity lacks some answers.
— dave.o, on And Three Points is the Game

Infinities are difficult. One theodicy I encountered at some point pointed out that even if the world were not perfect, the capacity of a perfect world to imagine this world, or the possible existence of this world as part of an infinite series converging to the perfect world, would suffice to give this world a certain kind of reality. And how are we to know that that is not exactly as much reality as it actually has?

I think ideas like this are relatively inadequate, though, because they have the feel to me of a transitional theodicy—that they’re a different way of invoking “God,” in this case abstract details of the structure of mathematics, and that a deeper understanding of that invoked God will restore the need for a theodicy. It may be totally legitimate to dodge the problem of suffering in the real world by invoking possible worlds and mathematics and limited knowledge, but if you take that dodge far enough you’ll wind up—

I suspect!—

Right back in a conundrum again.

**

“That’s bad number theory!” Six protests.

And Seven is close in on her now, and with a knife held in her trembling hand, and Seven demands, “Silence!”

And all becomes tableau.

Until finally, Seven withdraws a bit and says, “What you say is true, but like any other problem in mathematics, the difficulty may be resolved using limits.”
Six’s Story