Wednesday, June 17, 2009

After Thingy...

Almost two weeks on (!) I surface from the Sea of Words - the Pontus Logia - to say what a swell time I had at Conjecture 2009; met many amazing folk - organisers, readers, writers and editors alike - though no one from here (thank you for asking Portals). Apologies to you Klesita for not letting you know earlier, would have been great to meet you - I could have answered you questions that are still rattling about my noggin, directly... How about I do so now anyway.

The one most on mind is...

One of the things that intrigues me more is how Clementine, been so far away from everywhere and more over been so far inland, became a centre of power. Most centres of power become that because their position is strategic in one way or another. What is strategic about this place?

I must admit when I look at the placement of Clementine/Benevente on the map I do scratch my head a little and wonder how it got to be so powerful. Its strategic significance is not nearly as relevant in the current (MBT) period as it was at the time of Dido and her most immediate heirs when that central portion of the Half-Continent was full of refugee peoples from the arrogance and subsequent collapse of the Phlegms. Clementine's current significance is that it guards the only passage across the great rift the Marrow and is the historied home of Dido's line, preserved now more because it is convenient for the member states to have it that way rather than its actual strategic importance. Does that help?

Alyosha has a triplet of inquiries still outstanding:

1) Near the beginning of the first book Fransitart says to Rossamund, “Say yer prayers and clean yerself afore th’ meal.” Never after, however, is there any mention of prayers, priests, religious beliefs, etc. Are there religions in the Half Continent? Do folks worship the emperor, Roman-style, or do any of the claves have a religious character?

Do you know, this is the hardest aspect for me in the whole invention... To put it simply folks worship any manner of things: Providence (not very common any more), the false-gods, monsters, ancient and potent therimoir swords, the heldins, an idea (re: many of the calendar claves). The most prevalent "religious" position of most Soutlanders is like a humanistic atheistic cross with certain superstitious fears of monsters.

2) The patrolled portions of the Wormway are dangerous, the lampsmen regard the Ichormeer with fear, and even the far-traveling Europe has never followed the road past Haltmire. In your Explicarium you tell how the family of the Warden-General of Haltmire perished due to wandering just a little way along the Wormway into the Ichormeer. Does anybody actually travel through the Ichormeer from Haltmire to Worms?

Not very often, no. In fact it requires a concerted effort to effect a full traversing of the Wormway, and the passage through the Ichormeer was a great military undertaking, lead by Imperial Engineers.

3) The origin of the lahzars is shrouded in mystery; but, an origin there must be. One of the other mysteries you weave into your story is the sad, strange tale of Biarge the Beautiful, and I wonder if the two mysteries are related – if Biarge’s mad experiments to save Freyr are in some way the source of the dark knowledge that birthed the lahzar-creating surgeries?

Hmmm... I like where you are heading, sir...

Now to dear Headtrip Honey, niggled by a couple of questions:

You stated somewhere that you imagined Europe to be about 29. In Lamplighter, we learn that she and Lady Vey were at school together (the calendar-training one). And we also know that Threnody is around 13/14. So how old is Lady Vey, and how old was she when she had Threnody? Because their being schoolmates would suggest she is close in age to Europe (although I suppose it doesn't HAVE to be so), and 29 would be awfully young to have an almost 14 year old daughter.

I have revised my sense of Europe's age just a little since penning (and now re-penning) Book 3, shall we say somewhere betwixt 29 and 33ish. Either way, her contemporaneous attendance with the Lady Vey at a calendar clave does not automatically mean they were/are the same age. Claves are not schools - people from all paths join them - and even schools in the Half-Continent do not function the same way as we find familiar. As for her age when bringing forth Threnody into the world, the Lady Vey was quite young, though certainly not 15.

Her second question is much simpler:

How does one pronounce Threnody's name?

(capitals indicate where to stress the word - I can perhaps hear certain more North American folks possible calling her 'thren-OH-dee'; that is not how I hear it in my noggin or say it, but then again I am Australian...)

Please, keep "overthinking", ma'am...

Excellent queries (as ever). If I failed to answer one of yours, could I ask you to please ask it again...? Now, back to editing for me...


portals said...

Excellent! Questions!
Will we ever find out more about Licurius?

Anonymous said...

That was really interesting– a bit like getting to read part of the explicarium before book 3 is published!

-LotR fan

Anna said...

Mr Cornish, are you still editing? Or is the book on it´s way to what ever destination that is next? I am having trouble with my impatience. I have some strange itches in my fingers, just longing to hold book 3 and let my mind sink into that world.

Thank you so much for your kind words on Facebook! It still feels so unreal. I dive into Lamplighter when I need to take my mind off it.

Anna said...

Just one more thing. for the past months I´ve been thinking of the poem about Swill. I have not got the whole text but this is my version:

honorius Ludius Gotius Swill
doesn´t save life´s as much as he kill

Well, that was good to get that line out of my head.

D.M. Cornish said...

Yes, yes you will Portals.

Glad you liked it LotR fan, pleanty more where that came from.

Honoured to be able to offer you some small token of support Anna. Yes I am still editing, closing in on last third of book but BIG WORK yet to come. We are almost there however compared to say, oh, thi time last year. Exellent doggerel verse, btw!

I invite all of you to post up a ditty of one of your favourite characters, or whoever else you fancy. Let's get poetical!

poulabla = a seller of rat-sausage stew.

portals said...

He's special.
How's astronomy in the HC? Do the people take a particular interest in the sky?

monday said...

Licurius is indeed special. if i had any rhyming talent at all I'd write him a limerick.

the details and questions about Europe's age have sparked another probably pointless thought: what is the average length-of-life on the H-c? Cause I got to pondering about how you were lucky in the Middle Ages to live past 40 [if you survived as an infant, even], and how very different that was from early biblical times, when old people hung around for hundreds of years before dying off, and, well...the everyman-unterman situation is worsening for humans, right? sort of a major natural disaster-type situation, right? or an infestation or a plague, even? so would the general populace at this point be living relatively long, say 70 or 80 years, or starting to die off earlier?

portals said...

Monday - I would guess that they had a shorter life expectancy than us, but longer than than of people in the renaisscance. The internal relationships of the HC seem quite good, so I would expect that the only thing people die from is monsters so i don't think that early deaths would bring down the average to much. I'd say about 60-70.

Mr. Cornish,
Does the Empire have any enemies ouside of the monsters?

Klesita said...

Thanks for the answers, the placement of human settlements has always fascinated me.

Sorry I have been so out of contact lately but work is keeping me very busy and I also have had some visitors from overseas.

Would you publish a more complete map of this world and not only the half continent? Have you created the rest of the world already?

Arecep: a winter sweet usually eaten by the poor in Clemetine similar to what we would call fudge made out of goat milk and sugar that maybe flavoured with 'ajenjo' (a ginger-like root) that grows in the Beneventium region.

Alyosha said...

Here’s a verse about one of my favorite MBT characters. I want to note that I’m an engineer, not a poet, but it seemed unsporting to ignore Master Cornish’s request for verses after he’d done such a fine job answering our questions. Another thing worth mentioning is why I picked the character that I did to versify about. HeadtripHoney (I think) mentioned a while back that she and a number of her lady friends were fascinated by Sebastipole. I can understand. He’s one of those rare guys who can achieve the mental coolness needed to keep his act together, and yet remain open to deep feelings. Because, I’m a guy – for perhaps the same reasons, just expressed in a different way – I’m instead fascinated by Lady Dolours.

Lady Dolours:
Sword in maiden form.
How true it seems to be
That sorrow is your name,
Your heart weighed down with sighs.

Though bitterbright
Pierces the darkness,
And vanquishes the threwd,
It cannot do the same
To shadows in your eyes.

Alyosha said...

And here's a more ditty-ish offering

Curious Licurius
Had trouble keeping friends;
Was quick to offer insult,
And slow to make amends.

Anonymous said...

Excellent questions and answers! Thanks for sharing the editing process with us Mr Cornish.

I too have been wondering what the life exp[ectancy was on the H-C?

Zakk said...

threnody, threnody, let down ur wig
the monsters are fighting
and you are a pig
fish for a fish
and fosh for a fosh
life is for living
And you are a squash

Thanks ev'ry one, I'm here till tuesday.

monday said...

*solemn, serious applause*

Winter said...

I've been away awhile, but it's so nice to come back by the MBTblog. And all of the answers in this post are a wonderfully interesting reward for doing so, and perhaps and admonishment to stop by more often. Glad to hear that work progresses well on Book 3. Can't for it! :)

RottenPocket said...

Not much time to write anything interesting, but the first thing that comes to mind is the Life-expectancy Monday brought up.

As to Portals' answer, I don't think it would be 60-70 on average. Since the people are restricted to closed in cities, and have a trade in Coal- that ontop of the constant threat and mystery of Monsters, wouldn't it be about the same as the average expectancy of people of the Victorian era? (30-40yrs) Even with the remedial practices unique to Half-continetians...

I mean, yes we have seen some matured old folk in the series, but many are hidden away within walls as clerks, or retired sea folk, and opposite that we've seen an aweful lot of young AND matured men die.

Just a thought.

monday said...

also arguing towards shorter life spans is the fact that if our friend Swill and his like are the rule rather than the exception, the medical trade may not be, ahem, up to part with our incredibly efficient modern system.
[and i wrote that last phrase with a totally straight face.]
seriously, I don't see all the complicated technology and discovery and the rest of it as being much of an aid in this area, really. to the absolute contrary.
and anyway I get the subtle but unmistakable feeling that the world is fraying at the edges... if the H-c isn't in a true crisis situation [monster-induced, more than likely] it soon will be. that isn't going to make the old men live longer and the new babies survive.

Zakk said...

Thankyou very much.
I'd like to thank...

Alyosha said...

I promise that this will be my last MBT ditty, but I found that making them up was more fun than I had expected, and so I couldn't stop at just one.

My children, you asked for a story today.
Quiet ‘ye then, and hear ‘ye the lay
Of Lady of Herbroulesse, Threnody Vey.
When just a small child, both bonny and gay,
The poor lass was cathared – her mother could pay
For the surgeries done to poor Threnody Vey.
She asked for her mother to send her away,
Was sent to the lighters and thought she could stay,
Did Lady of Herbroulesse, Threnody Vey.
A lighter by night and a sentry by day,
A poke-pole for work and a pistol for play,
Had Lady of Herbroulesse, Threnody Vey.
What happens then? I’d tell if I may,
But only Master Cornish may say
What happens then to Threnody Vey.

monday said...


more! :D

Klesita said...

Alyosha you are getting good at this!

On the age-related subject I agree that life expectancy in the H-C has to be shorter than longer I would think that 40-50 maybe 60 years top.

Sorry for not contributing to the poetic theme going on but I'm particularly bad at it, even in Spanish.

Emily Z said...

Aha! Thank you sir.

I figured I might be assuming too much regarding the Lady Vey and Europe's ages.

And that is exactly how I decided on pronouncing Threnody's name, so I am glad to be in the right.

Although I must admit that when I first read her name I did toss around the "thren-OH-dee" pronunciation. But "THREN-uh-dee" seemed more likely given its similarity to "MELL-uh-dee" (melody).

Alyosha said...

Thank you for the kind words. But I must keep my promise that my last ditty is... my last. So, instead, I'll offer someone else's work:

Tank yee, tank yee,
Tank yee, tank yee,
Tank yee, tank yee,
Tank yee true!

- attributed by a majority of leading MBT scholars to camp cook (and poet) Sequecious of Sebastian

noelle said...

Oy, it's been a long time since I've commented...I've been touring Colombia for the past month!

I'm afraid that I haven't a head for poetry at all. Not that I haven't tried on occasion, but I tend to fall into "free verse," AKA, nothing like poetry at all. Otherwise I'd love to try :)

About pronunciation: yesterday I discovered that I've been pronouncing one of my favorite character's last name wrong for seven years. It struck me quite a blow. Not that this is unusual for me, for while I'm fairly well-read I tend to mispronounce things all the time.

So now I just want to make sure that I'm saying Rossamund's name right: I've been saying ROSE-uh-moond, which may not be correct. What is the correct pronunciation?

portals said...

Been a long time. Back from camping!
Excellent little poems and ditties. I may try one later.

monday said...

welcome back, N and P

portals said...

I think I've got another dry-spell coming up. I'm off to America! I'll try comment from there though.

I had a bizarre dream. I think there was a man who refused to be operated on by Surgeon Swill.

Zakk said...

The bogle was a'creeping
the nicker was a'sleeping
and then perhaps the most scary thing awoke -
NICOLE KIDMAN! Run for your lives!

But seriously - she is scary.
D.M, i read lotr. Not exactly mindblowing, but definitely worth reading.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, but I can't help but say that Paris Hilton is a Milli-Millillion times scarier than Nicole Kidman =D

Maha, just pictured Paris Rampaging the countryside as a Nicker: **deep gigantress voice** "Thaaaaat's Hoooott!!!"

Ehem... Now on a more relevant item...

Ben Bryddia said...

Hi all, been away a bit longer than intended,
The writing tips site is an interesting resource which I hope to tap in future.

More emmediately, I have a question for Mr. Cornish. After watching Disney's Mary Poppins, I got to wondering what kind of chimeny sweeps service all those tall city chimenies. Who comes to clean the wayhouse or military chimenies? What are the sweeps called? Are they mostly children?

And another question, where in the Half-continent would you like to live?

Vertica: one of several names for a simplistic, semi-gothic style of archetecture usually built by the rich in inner cities. While vertica does allow more light to penetrate the building, the surrounding buildings offer a poor vista trough the high windows.

portals said...

Ben's question has made me wonder- Do people anywhere in the H/C keep bogles as slaves or workers?

D.M. Cornish said...

I love the way you all provoke me think deeper into things.

...and Master Alyosha, you are a gem, sir; your verse flattering and delightful.

As for my favourite place to live in the H-c? Well, given that as its "creator" I would be immune to any harm from my own "cretions", everywhere!... though at the moment I have a deep fascination with the deeps of the oceans with all their scry enormous beasts and the massive glowing gretchens. As for one habitable place, I have written somewhere in Book 3 that t'would be rather nice, or with Mama Lieger perhaps... Hmm.

Zakk said...

hmmm indeed.

Scarylady said...

Um...hello, I'm quite fond of your books and I have a question, one I hope you haven't had to answer multiple times already; what is Sebastipole's first name? He doesn't sign it in the letter he writes to Rossamund in Lamplighter (not that someone of his seniority would necessarily have to give it to someone of Rossamund's rank) and it doesn't seem to be mentioned anywhere else. (and is it my imagination, or is the name "Sebastipole" a mix of his parents' respective countries of origin, Sebastian and Pullux?)
Thank you.