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Thursday, July 13, 2006

Twenty Epics Launch Party

So David Moles' and Susan Groppi's new anthology, Twenty Epics is out today (direct from the printer, from Amazon, and possibly even at your local bookstore, if you ask). The polypotent Meghan McCarron also organized us an online launch party, hosted at David Moles' blog. Wherein we all kinda blog about the book and our stories and do the linkety-linkety thing.

I saw a pre-review copy of the book at Wiscon and it's a hilarious and beautiful work. It has a map of where all the epics are located, in real and unreal places. It has an index, so you can see on what pages gods (pp 137, 139, 143, 144, 197, 202, 245, 255, 256, 258, 262, 264, 265, 266, 267, 272, 275, 276, 277, 285, 291, 294, 300, 302, 304, and 306), gossip (p 201), and Hostess Ho-Hos (p 120) appear. It's a great collection of people, and I can't wait to read the stories.

My own story is "A Siege of Cranes", which I originally wrote in January 2001, during the last week of my paternity leave when Aviva was born. I typed it one-handed, the other hand supporting three-week old Aviva as she lay on my chest and regarded me as all that was necessary and sufficient for the goodness of the world: one hell of a cure for writer's block (or writer's hesitation, for that matter).

The story was inspired by a rejection from Black Gate, originally, wherein Dave Truesdale wrote "The editor tells me we are in particular need of colorful,action-adventure sword & sorcery tales, being well stocked on most other types of fantasy." I thought, why not? So I tried to write a colorful action-packed sword & sorcery tale... a picaresque series of encounters with strangeness. I thought a depressed and grieving family man would be an interesting hero. Aviva was so new and I was being rewired into a new kind of being, like someone who sniffs Tree-of-Life in Larry Niven's Ringworld series and becomes a Protector. I was completely responsible for her, and acutely aware that the world could take her away any time. I was terrified.

So I didn't really succeed in writing a sword-and-sorcery romp. It was too dark for that. It was about losing everything that mattered.

It's set, more or less, in the world of Sanctum, an online strategy fantasy game that I helped program back in the late 1990s. As such the world is a collaborative creation, its monsters, nations, and houses of magic dreamed up by me, Jamey Harvey, Ethan Ham, Lee Moyer, John Mueller, Matt Hulan, Jason McEachen, Walt Carter, Leslie Power, Marcus D'Amelio (am I getting that right?) and others, on white boards and flip charts over pizza, while burning through our angel investors' money. Not that much of the world makes it into the story, of course. It's a big world.

Writing flavor text for the Sanctum cards was one thing that brought me back to writing, after a ten-year hiatus. It's a great game (and you can still play it, long after the investor money ran out, due to the heroic efforts of a nonprofit called NIOGA).

I spent five years revising this story, on and off. I have eight drafts on my hard drive tracking a slimming-down from 82KB to 62KB. I did the last major revision of it after I sold it to 20 Epics, sparked by a few comments from Mr. Moles and Ms. Groppi. There's nothing more fun than an editor who pushes you.

If you get ahold of the book, let me know what you think.

Posted by benrosen at July 13, 2006 08:35 AM | Up to blog

Wow. Neat stuff.

I worked at Digital Addiction long ago, but after you left, I believe. Worked with most of the people you listed (and I believe you got Marcus' last name correct). Neat to hear the world is still in progress at all.

That is all. Carry on, months later. =-)

Posted by: John at September 14, 2006 09:28 PM
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