An Interview with the Documentarian of The Lost Journals of Ven Polypheme
By Susan Chang, Editor
Five years ago, archaeologists discovered fragments of the Lost Journals of Ven Polypheme, a Nain explorer who lived during the Second Age. Susan Chang, Project Director for the archaeological dig, interviews Elizabeth Haydon, Documentarian and Restorer of the Lost Journals, on the occasion of the publication of the third of these infamous magical writings, The Dragon’s Lair.
SC: Tell us about the Lost Journals of Ven Polypheme. Where were they discovered, and what is your role in bringing them to light?
EH: This priceless historical find was unearthed entirely by accident when a builder laying the foundation for the latest in a string of Chili-dog restaurants came upon a cache of writings stored in an ancient sea chest in the ruins of the long-lost seaside city of Vaarn. Having no personal life to speak of, and having dedicated myself to the restoration of such manuscripts, I was called in to help save the fragments of these journals for posterity.
This is a finding of immense historical value. The Lost Journals were rumored to have been written in the Second Age, at a time when magic was very much alive in the world, and are believed to contain the secrets of where it could possibly still be found. We owe this magnificent discovery to the public’s growing taste for Chili-dogs.
Three authenticated journals were found at this dig site. The first two, The Floating Island and The Thief Queen’s Daughter, have already been painstakingly restored and released to the public. The third journal, The Dragon’s Lair, is finally complete and will be available, after a tour of Europe by train, in bookstores and libraries everywhere.
A leather notebook was also found; it contained paintings of dragons of all different sorts.
SC: What do you think is the significance of this notebook?
EH: At first we had no idea what it was. But as the project progressed, we have come to believe this may be the only pictorial record of the ancient dragon race that lived in earlier ages of history. It may also contain clues to where such beasts might still be hiding.
SC: Is there anything unusual about the third journal, The Dragon’s Lair?
EH: Yes. It documents Ven Polypheme’s first, and possibly last, face-to-face meeting with the dragon Scarnag, known as the scourge of the ancient world. Their brief exchange was so intense that I needed electroshock therapy after working on it.
SC: Have any other journals been found?
EH: A new dig site has revealed several similar notebooks. I am currently working on one entitled The Tree of Water, which I hope to have done in time for presentation at the Mango Festival of Toodaloo next year.
The Dragon’s Lair, Book 3 of The Lost Journals of Ven Polypheme (0-7653-0869-X; $17.95/$19.95 CAN), was released by Starscape in July 2008. For more information about the series and its author, please visit elizabethhaydon.com.
How to prepare a Vlad Taltos novel
By Steven Brust
Crush four cloves of garlic with kosher salt and finely chop two medium onions.
Sauté quickly in rendered goose fat in a cast ironic pan.
When the onions become pulpy, add in several large slices of Michael Moorcock tropes. Cook lightly, so they remain recognizable.
Turn up the heat, and gently add in a world created by Fritz Leiber and four tablespoons of Hungarian paprika. Cook until almost blended, then turn down the heat.
While these simmer, in a separate saucepan, pour in Roger Zelazny’s aesthetic and lay Raymond Chandler’s voice on top. Mix vigorously until it looks original.
Finely chop several Hungarian folktales, add in a smattering of epistemology, and pour into saucepan. Sprinkle with wit, if there’s any lying around.
I don’t know how many it serves, but when it works, the leftovers are satisfactory.
Jhegaala (A Tor hardcover; 0-7653-0147-4, $24.95) by Steven Brust will be released on July 8th.
Let me tell you about my lightbulb…
By Daniel Abraham
Q: How many new writers does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: Well, let me tell you about the lightbulb I’ve been working on . . .
It’s always a little awkward talking about books I’ve written, and especially the ones I think are really good. It’s like saying “Isn’t my kid amazingly talented?” Even if your kid is juggling twenty full wineglasses while explaining the implications of Godel’s Theorem, you still sound like an ass for pointing it out.
But here’s the thing. I wrote these books because I love to read, and these are the kinds of books I like reading the most. I get excited and enthusiastic when I talk about them, and I wind up waving my arms and illustrating things in the air and repeating lines. I lose all sense of ironic distance and dignity.
So let me tell you about that lightbulb I’ve been working on.
Eight generations ago, the world came apart. The great empire in the east fell into civil war, and the magics they used against each other turned jungles into deserts, slaughtered millions in an instant, and set the world on fire. There are even stories that the stars changed places. The only surviving province – too peripheral to be drawn in – still exists, as the Cities of the Khaiem. And the power they have, only a sliver of what the Empire wielded, is enough to make them the masters of the world. A few men, called poets, can translate an abstract idea into human form. Once that translation is made, they control the result. Bind the idea of water moving down, and you can stop the rain or make a river pause in its flow. The problem is these thoughts-made-flesh aren’t natural. They aren’t willing slaves. And once lost, they are increasingly difficult to recapture.
The four books of the Long Price Quartet follow a couple of main characters through the changes in their world and the changes in their lives over the course of a whole lifetime. The first book – A Shadow in Summer – has them in their late teens and early twenties. A Betrayal in Winter comes fourteen years later. They’ve become different people, lived lives that didn’t take them where they expected to be, learned to see things in a different light. The certainties of youth aren’t so certain anymore. The principles they’re willing to sacrifice themselves to are a little more suspect.
One of them has been framed for murder. And the other one’s hunting him down.
I built the Long Price books so that you could pick up any of them, turn to page one, and dive in. If you wanted the history, you could read the earlier books. If you wanted to know what happened next, there are the later ones. And the larger story – the one that they all sketch out when you put them together – is as wide and complex and humane I could make it. A Betrayal in Winter in particular is a murder mystery, a tragedy, and a meditation on power and the price that power demands.
Seriously, I think you might like it.
The Third Book in Daniel Abraham’s Long Price Quartet, An Autumn War (ISBN: 978-0-7653-1342-3 / $25.95) was released in July from Tor, while the second book in the series, A Betrayal in Winter (ISBN: 978-0-7653-5188-3 / $7.99) is now available in paperback. You can visit his website at: danielabraham.com.