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  1. #16
    Lemurs!!! Moderator Erfael's Avatar
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    Ficus, I took it to be that Stone had at least some connection to Violet. I didn't find it entirely clear which of them was in the other's pocket or whether Stone allowed Violet to think he was with him only to betray Violet in the end. ***just now seeing the response from Walter*** We realize that he was Marais' attache, but do we know why he killed Violet? That's where our slight confusion is there. We know they're connected if only in that Stone went and killed him, but I'm not sure exactly how.

    Walter--"....my dear friend, Susan Stone, who has championed this book from its earliest incarnation." Like her so much she got the bad guy named after her?

    Also, I'm curious what you mean when you say that the prologue was changed due to marketing reasons. Is that simply the old "Publishers want things to start of with sword fights or explosions," or is there something else to that? I'm just curious. I didn't mind the way the prologue bounced back and forth at all, but I think a Q&A could have been very interesting, too, leaving the reader with many questions since the people involved would have all known the in-material, thus making it not completely necessary to explain it all, but set up a lot of questions the reader would want answered.

    I also always find that excerpts from documents and such at the beginning of a chapter add a lot of flavor to the world in a SF book. It seemed that all of the excerpts were relevant to the chapter that followed. Some chapters didn't have these lead ins, and I was always a little disappointed to get to a new chapter that didn't have one. I would have liked to have seen some that weren't necessarily on point just to flesh out the world even more. We're bright enough to figure out which ones are relevant to the flow and which ones are window dressing.

    Erf.

  2. #17
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    Originally posted by Erfael
    Ficus, I took it to be that Stone had at least some connection to Violet.


    I leave it as an exercise to the reader. Stone clearly killed Violet - he used the special gun. Violet must've figured something out. . . but what it was, no one ever finds out (so far, at least) :-)


    Walter--"....my dear friend, Susan Stone, who has championed this book from its earliest incarnation." Like her so much she got the bad guy named after her?


    Good question. No, Sue has taken that pretty well . . . Stone was just the name I chose at the time. Sue read this book, its sequels, and the three books that chronologically precede it before almost anyone else.


    Also, I'm curious what you mean when you say that the prologue was changed due to marketing reasons. Is that simply the old "Publishers want things to start of with sword fights or explosions," or is there something else to that?


    Got it in one. My editor told me when he first saw the book many years ago, "if it's going to be a war book, it's got to have more war in it."

    The editor did suggest the epigraphs at the beginning of the chapters, however. I particularly like the First Lord's appearance before a committee of the Assembly - it lets me explain how jump works without having to bore you with many pages of techblob.

    Walter.

  3. #18
    Seeker of Stuff Moderator Kamakhya's Avatar
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    Thank you Walter for the great response. I must admit, your response does give me some incentive to read at least the second book.

    Walter states:
    First off, don't worry about "raving" in front of the author. If you aren't willing to take good comments with bad, you shouldn't be releasing books to the general public.
    That is a good approach. You can't please everyone all of the time! As I stated earlier, I am not a big fan of military sf, but I could enjoy other aspects of the book.

    "raving" in this context is a good thing. I wanted to "rave" (e.g., wow, what a fabulous book. You must read it!) about this book with you in the audience.

    To answer the criticism of the first part of the book: you should know that the original first scene of the book was the interview between McMasters and Torrijos - the battle at the beginning was told in brief flashback. Because of the way the book is marketed, it was required that there be the sort of descriptive scenes which you found uninteresting.
    Yes, I understand. I gather that this book was marketed as military and hard sf. There are plenty of readers who really want to know how the ship is built, driven, etc. I am not one of them. As Erf mentioned before, the cover and comments on the cover left me none too excited. They promoted this sort of "hard sf" aspects.

    Don't get me wrong, I don't mind some discussion of the science involved (I wouldn't be into SF as much as I am if I couldn't handle scientific details) but, some of the descriptions seemed more like padding than contributing to story setting and/or plot. I enjoyed the history of the earth-zor conflict. That set up the story nicely.

    i understand that you find the religion insufficiently alien. First, your description is a bit short of the mark: the zor believe in four forces (esesLi, esGa'u, esHu'ur, and esTli'ir) each of which provide a different part of the explanation of how the world works.
    LOL...I knew you would pick up on that! You did mention the other two forces in book 1, but not in sufficient detail to make a mark on the reader. I caught the references, but they were so negligible that I paid them little attention. To be honest, it was very hard to grasp the meanings of the Zor language. A little glossary would have been very helpful. While you do a decent job of explaining the words and concepts, the average reader will forget what each word means or implies within 25 pages.

    The Dark Wing operates independently of either "good" or "evil". The exposition of these forces does make them more alien - at least that's my intention.
    I see what you mean. Thank you for clarifying this for me. I think that the importance you set on "esLi" as opposed to "esGa'u", in terms of the Zor themselves, reflects the dichotomy we see in Christianity. After all, what would god be without his fallen angel, satan; much like what would esLi, the bright wing, be without esGa'u, the dark wing. They both need each other to exist.

    The similarity of the colored bands to the colors of the Intel agents is what's called a "red herring".
    A nasty trick at that!

    Next, Sergei has a conflict with Stone just before Marais commits a treasonable act: he tells Marais that he must make his intentions clear to the other officers before asking them to commit treason along with him. I thought that was fairly clear. He - like most of the other commanders - is forced to choose between the need to fulfill the mission and his oath to an Emperor who would thwart it. It is intended to play up the difference between the views of bucolic civilians and professional soldiers.
    Ok, so for Sergei, completing the mission is more important than his personal qualms. I understood that. But, I just can't grasp it emotionally, nor does it make any logical sense. The military may work that way, but I sure don't! Maybe that is why I don't like military sf!

    Surely, there are examples of military rebuking their commanding officers that they know are insane. Then again, look at Hitler's commanders. So, ok, I guess I see it, but it just doesn't sit right for me (pacifist that I am!).

    I have been told that scapegoating is actually quite common
    I have no doubt! You are right. To the average citizen, this would seem natural, but to the reader who has followed the events as they occurred it is a travesty!

    Thanks again for the explanations and insights into your meanings and thought processes. I can see now that you are just too darn smart for your own good! You have some wonderful ideas and an intricate plot, but you are apt to lose your reader through intricate plot tactics. What seems clear to you may well be lost on the reader who is new to your universe. The language and concepts of the Zor were very complex and difficult to follow at times. The military motives were difficult to follow for this pacifist reader. You hinted at much, but left little to chew on. The concepts that were hinted at were too vague, they needed a little more explanation to get the reader to want to see where they went. This is hard to describe. I just don't know how to put it. No one wants concepts force-fed, yet they do want to understand the point of view. I can see it is a tricky balance.

    Keep up the great work!

    Kamakhya

  4. #19
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    Originally posted by Kamakhya
    A little glossary would have been very helpful.
    I offered to do this, and was discouraged from doing so - no maps, no glossaries, no appendices. Perhaps I should put a glossary up on the web site?



    much like what would esLi, the bright wing, be without esGa'u, the dark wing. They both need each other to exist.


    Small clarification. esGa'u is not the Dark Wing; he's the Deceiver, the Lord of Despite. He's in charge of the Bad Guys. The Dark Wing isn't one of them - not at all. It's important to understand that the zor differentiate between the force that destroys and the force of, to not put too fine a point on it, evil.


    Ok, so for Sergei, completing the mission is more important than his personal qualms. I understood that. But, I just can't grasp it emotionally, nor does it make any logical sense. The military may work that way, but I sure don't! Maybe that is why I don't like military sf!


    I can accept that you can't grasp it emotionally, but I differ whether it makes logical sense.

    Look. War in and of itself is immoral. It involves destruction and killing, neither of which I advocate or encourage. I think I'm basically a pacifist at heart, whatever my writing may convey. I'm pretty sure I couldn't do what Sergei did, much less what Boyd did for a living.

    Nonetheless, faced with a destructive, dangerous war that had been going on for longer than I'd been alive (Sergei is only a few years younger than I am right now), and seeing a solution at hand, I might be tempted to make sure it was carried through: if not for me, than for generations yet to come. That's the conundrum, and that's the line of thinking.

    As for Hitler's commanders, most of them were willing to carry out the plan, but in some cases would have been more than willing to put a bullet through his head given the chance. The best commanders never got the chance.


    Thanks again for the explanations and insights into your meanings and thought processes. I can see now that you are just too darn smart for your own good! You have some wonderful ideas and an intricate plot, but you are apt to lose your reader through intricate plot tactics.


    Wait until you get to the third book; but thanks for the compliment. I assume that my readers are pretty smart too, and can keep up (or even guess ahead).

    What seems clear to you may well be lost on the reader who is new to your universe. The language and concepts of the Zor were very complex and difficult to follow at times.


    Every architect of a universe faces that. I could give you more details but it would mean sacrificing narrative continuity. As for the complexity of the zor language and culture - well, they're aliens - if they were too readily understandable you wouldn't find them alien enough.

    Walter.

  5. #20
    \m/ BEER \m/ Moderator Rob B's Avatar
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    Limited posting time the past couple of days, however I will post more when I finish the book and have a bit of time.

    Walter, thank you so much for joining in the discussion.

  6. #21
    \m/ BEER \m/ Moderator Rob B's Avatar
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    OK, finished the book and have time to post my thoughts.

    I liked the book as I said in earlier posts. I thought all the characters were well fleshed out and believable in the context of the story and the "world" of the novel.

    As much as I liked Marias' character it seemed rather quick how the zor and humans were able to accept each other as allies rather than enemies.

    That being said, I can accept Sergei's initial support of Marias in that Marias was driving towards the solution that Sergei had been wishing for his whole life, the end of the war. I think as a veteran of the war, he was tired of fighting it and saw past the beaurocratic propoganda that the Empire tried to perpetuate in stopping Marias. I saw Segei as serving humanity and the Empire (as the collective humanity) taking precdence over serving the Empire as goverment.

    I agree with Kam about the Wing movements in the speech, it really adds a depth to the culture of the Zor and also further shows how alien the creatures are--humans had to really think unlike themselves to see that as part of the way the Zor communicated.

    Stone's status as esGa'u. In the secret organization the color missing from ROY G BIV was Indigo, I simply thought Stone was agent Indigo, a rogue agent at that. I didn't initially think he was anything more than that, but as the story unfoloded, I came to realize he had a much bigger part in the scheme of things.

    As I said earlier with the comparision of Doc Smith's Lensman series--the higher forces at play in the sense that the zor refer to working/fighting a greater force than humans and the whole thing with the four forces/roles of power of esesLi, esGa'u, esHu'ur, and esTli'ir.

    I am really looking forward to the remaing books in this saga.

  7. #22
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    Originally posted by Fitz
    OK, finished the book and have time to post my thoughts.

    ...

    As much as I liked Marias' character it seemed rather quick how the zor and humans were able to accept each other as allies rather than enemies.
    Not all zor were so quick to accept this notion - the High Lord's choice was not something that Lord HeU'ur found palatable. But there was no choice to not follow the High Lord - the alternative would be to become idju.

    What the interaction between zor and human will be like in the future . . . take a look at Book 2. :-)

    Walter.

  8. #23
    \m/ BEER \m/ Moderator Rob B's Avatar
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    I realized that not all the zor accepted the human/zor alliance so quickly and that there was some dissention. Within the context of the pacing of the novel, the end of the war was right. After 60 years of fighting a war it seemed quick, but either that is a consequence of war or illustrates how strongly the zor adhere to the religous/mystical beliefs.

  9. #24
    Walter,

    Thanks for a most enjoyable book - it was really my first foray into science fiction outside of the star wars novels, and I quite enjoyed it!

    I was particularly fond of your character interactions, my favorite scene being the scene in the wardroom on the Lancaster where the Zor meet with Sergei, Chan and the officers. I was able to get a feel for the Zor from that scene - the perspective change from human to zor also helped that. Most enjoyable scene.

    Stone was referred to by the Red agent - I believe - when he said "we have lost our informant on the Lancaster" - or at least that is how I took that. Was I incorrect in that? He was playing many sides of the fence it seems. He was Marais's aide, he was an Agency operative, and still playing for a third side. Correct?

    I too thought the Zor gave in to the humans rather quickly. The first scenes depicted the Zor as fierce warriors. I was expecting many hotly-contested battles n the rest of the book. But after those scenes, it seemed the fleet had an easier time moving into Zor space. I understand the reasoning behind the Zor philosphy change (and their beliefs) but it did seem a rather quick end to 60 years of war.

    It didn't lessen my enjoyment of the book any. I approach these types of novels with a "suspension of reality" if you will. The universe is yours to do with as you please, so I don't get hung up on what is realistic and what isn't.

    The characters of Marais and Torrijos were well developed. I loved the statement Sergei (and the 60+ officers) made at the trial by resigning. I look forward to seeing their involvement in the rest of the books.

    I'm not much of a reviewer or critic, as I usually take a book as face value (I don't usually read into them too much). The dark Wing was most enjoyable, and I look forward to the rest of them.

  10. #25
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    Originally posted by CybrGamr
    Stone was referred to by the Red agent - I believe - when he said "we have lost our informant on the Lancaster" - or at least that is how I took that. Was I incorrect in that?
    Incorrect, actually. There was an agent in the fleet, but it wasn't Stone.


    I too thought the Zor gave in to the humans rather quickly. The first scenes depicted the Zor as fierce warriors. I was expecting many hotly-contested battles n the rest of the book. But after those scenes, it seemed the fleet had an easier time moving into Zor space.
    Well, there were several hundred thousand zor casualties that put paid to that idea. There are a couple of battles that are not described.


    I understand the reasoning behind the Zor philosphy change (and their beliefs) but it did seem a rather quick end to 60 years of war.
    The only other outcome would be xenocide, so while that's true it is possibly the only other way the war could've come out.


    I'm not much of a reviewer or critic, as I usually take a book as face value (I don't usually read into them too much). The dark Wing was most enjoyable, and I look forward to the rest of them.
    So do I!

  11. #26
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    Off Line for awhile

    Folks,

    I'm going to be offline until late next week - I'm on vacation and don't expect to get to a browser much.

    I've tried to reply to comments and questions in a timely fashion, but it'll have to wait until I get back - so if you ask a question or want a clarification, don't think I'm being rude or ignoring you if it isn't handled for awhile.

    This is a great discussion thread and I've enjoyed participating.

    Also, I've just added some new events to my schedule on my homepage - so I hope to see some of you in the near future.

    Walter.

  12. #27
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    Back from Europe

    I'm back from Germany, and ready to jump in again. Looks like everyone else took a vacation too :-)

    Should have some exciting news for everyone shortly.

    Walter.

  13. #28
    Lemurs!!! Moderator Erfael's Avatar
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    Welcome back, Walter

    As we near the end of the month, I'd like to dredge something up from the beginning of the month and maybe kick a little life back into this one.


    Mr. Hunt, I am curious to hear (perhaps toward the end of the month after we hash things out a little more here) what some of your thinking was as you approached the writing. I am also curious (not necessarily at the end of the month) what some of your biggest influences are. I have a few that I might pick, but I'm curious what you have to say about it. Erf.

    Excusing the Mr. Hunt at the beginning, I would like it if you would let us in on some of your thinking as relates to issues you wanted to address, some sylistic thoughts you may have had, and some of your biggest influences in shaping this story and its world. I look forward to hearing from you again. Erf.

  14. #29
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    Re: Welcome back, Walter

    Originally posted by Erfael
    As we near the end of the month, I'd like to dredge something up from the beginning of the month and maybe kick a little life back into this one.





    Excusing the Mr. Hunt at the beginning, I would like it if you would let us in on some of your thinking as relates to issues you wanted to address, some sylistic thoughts you may have had, and some of your biggest influences in shaping this story and its world. I look forward to hearing from you again. Erf.
    The first objective in doing something like this is to tell a good story. No one will read a science fiction novel for its philosophical underpinnings unless it's also interesting, entertaining, and/or fun to read.

    That being said, I did have some objectives in mind. First, this is a war book, but I'm not a war hawk; war is a nasty, destructive business that involves killing people. In the end, there's nothing glamorous about that. There's a scene late in the book involving Yuri Okome and Sharon MacEwan in which Yuri, an old veteran, points out to Sharon that she's offended that there's a part of this war that isn't "honorable", and that's too damn bad. The fact is, realistically, the glory of war is only enjoyed in retrospect.

    Second, I intend to portray my concept of history in this series: that it's a wave phenomenon (things lead to other things) but also a particle phenomenon (single events and more particularly single people can completely change its course). Also, some of the great history-changing people emerge from nowhere and disappear to the same place. Their origins and their ultimate fate remain a mystery. You'll see more of that as the series progresses.

    Stylistically, I've maintained the structure of two parts per book - and there are four books in all; thus, eight parts, corresponding to the zor fondness for things in fours and eights. I've tried to inject a certain numerical consistency in large and small things throughout the book; particularly observant readers will notice them. (There are even four oblique Masonic references in the book. :-))

    Hope that begins to answer your questions.

    Walter.

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    Re: Back from Europe

    Originally posted by hotc
    I'm back from Germany, and ready to jump in again. Looks like everyone else took a vacation too :-)

    Should have some exciting news for everyone shortly.

    Walter.

    And here it is:

    Tor Books has made an offer on the next two books in the series. The third book, The Dark Ascent (working title), is in their hands, and will be published some time in mid 2004. The fourth book, The Dark Crusade (working title), is currently under development.

    This is very exciting, as Tor has never bought a book from me without having the manuscript in hand. Their interest in the rest of the series, and by extension in my writing, is most gratifying.

    More details to come on my web site.

    Regards,

    Walter.

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