Monday, December 1, 2008

That there's a bad elf...

The gentleman on the right has killed twelve men in battle. How do we know this? Well, that's what the title says, true, but it's all about the braids in his hair. Years ago, in an unfinished novel, I posited a highly warlike culture among elves, and one of the ways in which they show their battlefield accomplishments is by adding a braid in their hair for every opponent they've killed in battle. Of course with the more successful of these long-lived warriors they might run out of hair long before they run out of dead enemies that need honoring. So they have attachments that show one braid equals ten dead enemies, or a hundred dead enemies, and so on.
        This fellow is wearing one braid with a ten-dead-opponents sigil, plus two single-opponent braids. Therefore he's claiming twelve enemies killed in battle. Tough little guy, huh?
        Matthew Sturges, my friend and longtime writing partner (and future Fine Fellow here -- bet on it) borrowed, with my blessing, this practice for one of the characters in his excellent novel Midwinter, which was published once in very limited release some years ago, but a substantially new version of which is due out in a major release from Pyr Press later this year. He also borrowed my notion that the reason the queen of fairy is often called Titania and other times called Mab is because they are two separate individuals, one of which is queen of the seelie court (Titania) and the other queen of the unseelie court (Mab). In fact Matt was so busy borrowing ideas I left lying around that I was able to lift his wallet without getting caught. Okay, that was a joke. Not a big joke, mind you, or even a funny one, but a joke nonetheless. One day we'll try to add up all of the good ideas I've borrowed from Matt. It's the nature of our business. When it's done above board and openly, it's a sign of the generosity and general goodwill among folks in our racket. When it's done clandestinely, surreptitiously and without permission, it's a sign that a new Harry Potter novel is about to be published.
        Okay, now that was a much better joke.
        But seriously, folks, the reason I point this out is to mark a bit of territory, so that later, when my own prose work comes out using the same ideas, I'll have this item to point to, to demonstrate that I don't steal all of my best ideas from Matt -- just most of them.
        My sketchbooks in this period of time show many examples of tough, warlike elves, so this must have been when I was beginning to work up ideas for that as yet unfinished novel (which I won't name here, since it needs substantial reworking before -- if ever -- it sees the light of day). The notion of very tough elves -- as opposed to the prissy, twee, fancy-pants, emo versions in so many other fantasy worlds -- is not new to me. Not by a long shot. My first exposure to the idea was with Ralph Bakshi's cult favorite animated feature Wizards. It's a very flawed, but still remarkable, film.


Matthew Sturges said...

Bill, I appreciate your magnanimity in this regard very much. When the book was one among many Clockwork Books, most of which interrelated in some way, it was de rigeur for this sort of thing to take place. Having the novel republished gave me pause, though it was difficult to imagine how to excise either of those elements from the book, even if I wanted to, which I didn't. The loan of your ideas has been noted in the acknowledgments to the new edition of the book, and I remain ever grateful for them.

Larry said...

I still remember reading both of your novels as the chapters were posted on the old ClockworkStorybook. You saved me from many a boring hour at work with that site (but I still wonder what happened to Johnny Under and how Sam Bowen got out of hell).

Anonymous said...

I didn't realize that last post wouldn't use my real name, and I know how Bill feels about that. So I'll sign this one,
-Larry Manekin

Chris Opperman said...

You're a classy guy, Matt.

Thomas Mann had to write a disclaimer about Arnold Schoenberg in his novel "Doctor Faustus" because the character of Adrian Leverkuhn was based somewhat on Arnold and Adrian composed music using Arnold's twelve-tone system. Schoenberg was upset because some composers mistakenly believed that the twelve-tone system had actually orginated from Thomas Mann's book!

Anyway, I have to write up something serious about the amazing awesomeness of Doctor Faustus so everyone will read it.