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The Parallel Universe Chrons.
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2012 5:05 pm    Post subject: The Parallel Universe Chrons. Reply with quote

Ok. SRD calls you up. He values your opinion and wants to know if you think he has nailed it with The First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever. He says he is sending over the manuscript for you to give the once over and will be sympathetic to any suggested changes you would like him to make. So lets hear it folks; what changes, if any, would you like to see in the 1st Chrons. Here are a few suggestions. Would you like

i) TC to be less of a 'negative' charachter - perhaps even not a rapist (or would that destroy the whole narrative structure of the series)

ii) The Bloodguard not to desert the Lords in their hour of need but to be at their sides in the seige of Revelstone.

iii) Lena not to have been so totally destoyed by TC's bestial act and the ramifications of that act not to have been visited so hard on Trell, Triock etc.

iv) The start of LFB to have been faster ie the journey to Revelstone to have been shortened - I know a number of readers who have fallen at this hurdle never to finish even book one.

v) More background to have been given (ie Silmarillion style) to the Lands history and peoples to make (if possible) an even richer world for us to loose ourselves in.

Ok - all a bit hackneyed and unimaginative I guess, but lets see if any others have ideas of their own with which we can nod our heads in sagacious agreement (or cremate upon the pyre of their progenitors ludicrous vanity)
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2012 8:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What a sacrilegious thread!


There wouldn't be much I would have changed in the First Chronicles. They're the best of the three imo.

I suppose the plot of LFB was a bit too formulaic for my taste. They go on a mission and save the artifact from the smoky mountain. Maybe make Drool Rockworm survive the aftermath and develop him from there would have improved the story? Hide
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2012 8:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ok. "SRD calls me up."
We're already in a parallel universe...AFAIK, he only takes "advice" on method/expression/communication, not on plot/purpose/necessities.

More on topic, though...all things considered [I mean, the period it was written, who/what else was being written, why he wrote it] I wouldn't mess with anything that happens...maybe tighten up some language and re-order some presentation for flow/timing. I wouldn't make anything at all milder/more gentle/ameliorate anyone's suffering.
I MIGHT give just a LITTLE more background for Giants and Haruchai...but not for the Old Lords. I would probably give at least some general/mythical/brief blurbs that there WAS a lot more of the world, though not necessarily any detail OF those places/peoples.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2012 8:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

P the B: Some of the things you want to change - i, ii, and iii particularly - are necessary to story being told. The story is about those things. Removing them would be like removing white gold or Giants or Mhoram.

The changes you are suggesting sound like you are trying to make the story more accessible. More "easy". Not sure I can get on board with that. The things in life that are the most worthwhile aren't the easiest ones.
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2012 8:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good job, wayfriend. Your name won't be on the Heretics list Wink
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 20, 2012 4:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

OK. Starting with Shoe's observation - I'd have to agree that my reading pleasure has undoubtedly been the greatest (first time round) from the 1st Chrons - but I think I'd need to mention a few points. First, the Chrons were the very first fantasy novels I ever read, before Tolkein or anything else, and of all genre's it has given me the most pleasure. Small wonder then that the 1st Chrons would be my favorite of SRD's works - they had the feel of a new and beautiful discovery that could never be repeated. Secondly the three books were all available to me from day one. I read the entire trilogy in one glorious week of TC immersion, barely coming up for air at meal times. How could that ever be repeated by the piece meal fare of the presentation of the next six books. (Point. Saying the second series had been written first plot wise - how would this affect our take.)

The 'quest' form of the story and it's good vs evil format is perhaps hacneyed, but the very anti-hero presentation of TC - he 'aint nice - works to give it depth all the same. I liked Drool and can see where the idea of keeping him going comes from (indeed so did some cavewights at the end of WGW IIRC).

Vraith hits the spot bang on for me with his comment on Haruchai and Giant background. I wonder how much we lost in the editing - 'Gilden fire' showed us a little of the Haruchai story so I see no reason per se that SRD did not want to elaborate on the origins/home-life of these, his greatest creations. Strange in some way that we only really ever get to see the Ramen (the most 'human' of the ethnic groupings of the Land other than the stonedowners and woodhelvenin).

Wayfriend - you misjudge me Wink . Note the very carefull wording of my post "Here are a few suggestions. Would you like". At no time do I suggest that I would like to see these changes. These are things I have seen questioned both here and by other people who have read the Chrons who I have talked to. For me the 1st Chrons were and are the closest thing to a perfect 'book' I have ever read (well - them and The Wind in the Willows). Hence the reason I am still here harping on about them, what, 43 years later Laughing
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 20, 2012 5:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

peter the barsteward wrote:
Wayfriend - you misjudge me Wink . Note the very carefull wording of my post "Here are a few suggestions. Would you like". At no time do I suggest that I would like to see these changes.

Yes. I have misjudged you. My apology is tendered.

You know, I have heard the case for Donaldson ripping off Tolkien. I'm not sold. Any high fantasy set in a midieval setting is going to share some similarities in terms of the raw materials it is constructed from. The genre is replete from top to bottom with shared imagery. How many ancient evils have risen again? How many poor country bumpins were pre-destined to defeat the ancient evil?

The shear amount of newly imagined genius in the Chroncles is astounding. Sometimes you need to stand on the shoulders what's gone before to take it a leap ahead, I say.

Byt really ... Mt Doom is a mountain, and Mt Thunder is a mountain? That's a criticism? Yeesh.

As far as worldbuilding goes, and I include the backgrounds of the Ramen and the Haruchai here ... Tolkien's Middle Earth as a world was more central to Tolkien's art than The Lord of the Rings was. To be brief: the world was more important than the story. His characters lacked depth, and with few exceptions either were exemplars of their race or plot devices to advance a historical plot.

Demanding worldbuilding in every fantasy story is demanding that the setting be unnaturally important relative to the story. If you're writing a story that focuses on an internal struggle, worldbuilding only dilutes the story. I think Donaldson is right on the money when he says he only builds what he needs. Because it keeps the focus of his work where he wants it to reside... on Thomas Covenant.

If you ask every single person who thinks the Chroncles is a better work than The Lord of the Rings, most of them say (in one form or another) it's because of Covenant's struggle with himself.

So, I am very happy that Donaldson was not overconsumed by background worldbuilding. And that he was more concerned about the dream/reality dilemma than what the Haruchai did in 1412 of the second age.
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 20, 2012 6:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The first chronicles are the best. I have just completed a re-read and still was amazed at what else I picked up. I wouldnt change anything, because I love them so. I cannot think of another series I have read more frequently or bring up more in conversation that the first chrons.
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 20, 2012 7:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

wayfriend wrote:

You know, I have heard the case for Donaldson ripping off Tolkien. I'm not sold. Any high fantasy set in a midieval setting is going to share some similarities in terms of the raw materials it is constructed from. The genre is replete from top to bottom with shared imagery. How many ancient evils have risen again? How many poor country bumpins were pre-destined to defeat the ancient evil?

The shear amount of newly imagined genius in the Chroncles is astounding. Sometimes you need to stand on the shoulders what's gone before to take it a leap ahead, I say.

Byt really ... Mt Doom is a mountain, and Mt Thunder is a mountain? That's a criticism? Yeesh.


I think this was aimed at me? I wasn't against Mt. Thunder Smile quite the contrary. But the 'let's go rescue magical artifact' quest and the happy feeling at the book's end felt like Donaldson was made to write a standalonish book by his editor. I believe that if he had free reign we wouldn't have had the same book. We know for a fact it wouldn't have been called Lord's Foul's Bane.
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 20, 2012 8:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

shadowbinding shoe wrote:
wayfriend wrote:

You know, I have heard the case for Donaldson ripping off Tolkien. I'm not sold. Any high fantasy set in a midieval setting is going to share some similarities in terms of the raw materials it is constructed from. The genre is replete from top to bottom with shared imagery. How many ancient evils have risen again? How many poor country bumpins were pre-destined to defeat the ancient evil?

The shear amount of newly imagined genius in the Chroncles is astounding. Sometimes you need to stand on the shoulders what's gone before to take it a leap ahead, I say.

Byt really ... Mt Doom is a mountain, and Mt Thunder is a mountain? That's a criticism? Yeesh.


I think this was aimed at me? I wasn't against Mt. Thunder Smile quite the contrary. But the 'let's go rescue magical artifact' quest and the happy feeling at the book's end felt like Donaldson was made to write a standalonish book by his editor. I believe that if he had free reign we wouldn't have had the same book. We know for a fact it wouldn't have been called Lord's Foul's Bane.

I'm guessing it wasn't aimed at you...there are several places where the silly "rip-off" idea is explored, one includes a really absurd list of parallels, that Mountain thing is specifically one of them.
But I think you overestimate the editor's input/control from SRD's comments on it. I'm pretty sure he chose the structure precisely, completely, intentionally in order to people the outline with anti-types. TC himself being the dominant but not only. [look at what Kevin stands for...epic fantasy books are full of ancient real/mytholigized figures...but not often one like Kevin who embodies contradictions. [though that is way more common now...folk have learned, and prequels/sequels make so much damn money]

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 20, 2012 8:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think what we got mostly out of Lester's editorialship of the first Covenant books is 1) Covenant saying "Hellfire!" Instead of swearing up a storm. 2) Preventin Covenant from committing incest.

The first has become an endearing characteristic of Covenant while the second prevented this trilogy from being an even harder sale on our friends. Could you imagine? "Guys, this series is life-changing! But I got to warn you, the main character rapes someone in, like, the first chapter. But it's all right, because he has consensual sex with his rape baby in the second book. No, it's great!"
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 21, 2012 1:26 am    Post subject: Re: The Parallel Universe Chrons. Reply with quote

peter the barsteward wrote:

i) TC to be less of a 'negative' charachter - perhaps even not a rapist (or would that destroy the whole narrative structure of the series)


Aren't the TC Chronicles already a parallel universe!
You can easily imagine Covenant as the author. It fits nicely with his delemma. As to his character being negative, if he were transported into his own creation only to find that everyone around him has it all backwards and upside down, then surely Covenant is the one keeping it real and down to earth. Therein lies the paradox

I can't belief Covenant is a rapist no matter how it looks in black and white. Even when he was mad as hell he waited for the lights to change before he crossed the deserted street. Covenant obeys the law to the max. He must, or else the Land dies. Therein lies another

peter the barsteward wrote:

For me the 1st Chrons were and are the closest thing to a perfect 'book' I have ever read (well - them and The Wind in the Willows). Hence the reason I am still here harping on about them, what, 43 years later


me too
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 21, 2012 5:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The First Chronicles and the second were read back to back when i was 14 or so, They were actually forced upon me because i hated reading, I was getting bad grades in school due to lack of attention, and as punishment I was given LFB, one of my older friends suggested it to my mother, ... I would start a book and put it down, I had never finished a book bigger than the width of my pinky finger, so considering I would not change one thing in the chronicles, I hated the rape of Lena but found it necessary to give the pain needed to make TC such an anti hero... if he had not done that it would have been easy to forgive almost anything he did... Saltheart Foamfollower and Mhorams ability to befriend TC was what made me start to accept him with his flaws, I could change MANY things in alot of books I have read since but not this series. It changed the way I looked at reading.

only thing i would ask now is to be allowed to read the books before they edited them and removed sections from the original,
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 21, 2012 3:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

shadowbinding shoe wrote:

wayfriend wrote:

Byt really ... Mt Doom is a mountain, and Mt Thunder is a mountain? That's a criticism? Yeesh.

I think this was aimed at me?


No. Some people have made that critism tho: In LOTR, the quest is to get to a mountain; in LFB, the quest is to get to a mountain: it's a ripoff!

I have heard people claim the Giants are ripoffs of the Ents; Ramen, the Rohirrim; Revelstone is of course Minas Tirith. And then there's that pesky ring. No matter how very, very different these things are, the fact that there is one single characteristic in common (not hasty; horses; walls; is a ring) is an argument for plaguerism.

Orlion wrote:

I think what we got mostly out of Lester's editorialship of the first Covenant books is 1) Covenant saying "Hellfire!" Instead of swearing up a storm. 2) Preventin Covenant from committing incest.

I had not heard that. Any particular source for this?
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 22, 2012 12:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

wayfriend wrote:

Orlion wrote:

I think what we got mostly out of Lester's editorialship of the first Covenant books is 1) Covenant saying "Hellfire!" Instead of swearing up a storm. 2) Preventin Covenant from committing incest.

I had not heard that. Any particular source for this?



I do not believe Donaldson ever came out and said it directly (when does he ever?) but here are some relevant quotes that I have interpreted as such:
2004-ish

Quote:
Yes, Elena's incestuous feelings for Covenant were deliberate on my part. I thought when I wrote "The Illearth War", and still believe, that such ill-conceived attraction/hero worship both dramatized her essential imbalance and foreshadowed her tragic misunderstanding of Kevin. Strangely, readers haven't busted my chops about this very often. But Lester del Rey hated it. I had to tone it down quite a bit before he would publish the book. In retrospect, I think he was right: I did overdo it originally.

2005ish

Quote:
Less well-known is that fact that Lester also persuaded me to tone down the sexual issues between Covenant and Elena. I'm a natural-born over-doer, and in the original drafts I had thrown all caution to the winds. Lester helped me to see various ways in which excess can be self-defeating



As far as for the swears.... I can not find the quote (if it even ever existed... sigh...) that made me think this was so.
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 22, 2012 11:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Two questions pertinant to this topic are i) What was the epic fantasy background that SRD had in order build his work upon (I should know this, but aside fron TLOTR I couldn't name for sure one epic fantasy book/series that was published before the 1st Chrons) - maybe le Guinn, Morcock - I don't know). ii) Were the three books of the 1st chrons published/released simultaneously in the USA, or spaced out. In the UK I think they appeared all together - fantasy was such an unrecognised genre in those days that even TLOTR was to be found in the Sci-Fi section of bookshops (the reason I found the 1st chrons at all). Shoes comment about Lester del Ray pressuring SRD to write a stand aloneish book (LFB) imply this was not the case (and alsp raises the very interesting subject of to what extent any book can be considered a 'lone' production as opposed to a collaboration or even a team effort.)

In respect of a comparison of 'world-building' between TLOTR and the Chrons, I can't say that personally I ever found the Land less 'built' than Middle-Earth. I agree totally that Donaldson's charachters are deeper and more complex than those found in Tolkein's world (not to say that Tolkein would not have been capable of this - I think at this point he was just drawing the genre from the realm of childrens stories as exemplified in the hobbit (ie the world of elves, gnomes and witches) into that of a more adult one that could be found in the germanic myth's of the nibelung etc) but for me these complex charachters sit equally along-side a world of richness, depth and beauty unsurpassed in anything else I have ever read. (What would I give to be able to travel the Land, the Earth [is that what it is called] in it's prime!){Wayfriend - just re-noticed the point about the Haruchai in 1412 in the second age and yes - point taken}

KK's point about not believing that TC is a rapist is highlights the paradox of what we are in our 'real' lives and what we are in our dreams. Do we have controll of what we do in our dreams - I think not; Can we be heald accountable for where our unfettered minds run when we release the invisible reins of controll that are firmly held in place by the rigid grip of our waking minds. If not and TC is dreaming then no, he is not a rapist and never has been.

ditto Blackhawks 'ask'. I've said this before and was quite correctly told that it isn't a reasonable request because you are in effect just asking to see the 'work in preparation' rather than the 'work in itself', but I don't care. I want to see all those little unfinished and yes even discarded ideas that lie on the floor of the cutting room. Why can't we have a sort of 'directors cut' in the litterary world as they do in the film - preferrably one actually annotated by SRD himself giving reasons for the discard/changes and background to what we might have seen had the thread been pursued.
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 22, 2012 4:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

peter the barsteward wrote:
. Do we have controll of what we do in our dreams - I think not; Can we be heald accountable for where our unfettered minds run when we release the invisible reins of controll that are firmly held in place by the rigid grip of our waking minds. If not and TC is dreaming then no, he is not a rapist and never has been.

Others cannot hold one accountable for the imaginary/dreamworld...but that wasn't the point. TC can hold HIMSELF accountable, "dream/metaphorical" events can have "real/literal" effects. AND: IF it has real effects on/for/through the main character, then the reader is obligated to respect [or at least acknowledge] that reality/accountability.



BarBack,AKA,Peter wrote:

Why can't we have a sort of 'directors cut' in the litterary world as they do in the film - preferrably one actually annotated by SRD himself giving reasons for the discard/changes and background to what we might have seen had the thread been pursued.
[ Heh...there are writers who do that, but IIRC from the GI or somewhere, SRD doesn't just think most of the changes/cuts are a matter of different directions taken...he thinks they are actively, actually terrible writing, embarassing paths, bad ideas.
[[I THINK IIRC some of that stuff you might be able to see/get from his papers at Kent State? [now or eventually, I'm not sure?]]]

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the difference between evidence and sources: whether they come from the horse's mouth or a horse's ass.
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the hyperbole is a beauty...for we are then allowed to say a little more than the truth...and language is more efficient when it goes beyond reality than when it stops short of it.
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 22, 2012 6:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The only thing on the list I would take up would be (v). It would be great to hear more background by way of tales told around the campfire, etc, the way SRD does. But maybe less is more. The story could be slowed down by self-indulgent sidetracks... all the fireside stories that do get told have some bearing on the story's progress, which is as it should be.

You guys reminded me of the post from some forum where they guy talks about how Tolkien ripped off Rowling. After all, LoTR had a white-bearded wizard like Dumbledore, etc. It was so bad most people thought the guy who wrote it was just trolling, but it was absolutely horrifying. Very Happy
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 23, 2012 4:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm trying to think Vraith. Did TC hold himself accountable? He was certainly angry (angry with his situation, angry with what was being asked of him, even angry with the things that should have made him happy) but accountable? His take IIRC for the most part seemed to be "Did I request thee Maker, from this clay to mould me man - did I solicit thee, from darkness to promote me? Was TC a changed man by his experiences or did he just want to eschew the dangerous and seductive situation his (to his mind) fevered imagination had placed him in.

re the out-takes. If Gilden -fire was ever anyones idea of a bad idea or bad writing then we could stand some more of it. Laughing It was interesting from the quotes Orlion gave us below to see just how much influence LDR had on the finished books. From these quotes SRD sounds almost subserviant - not the way he has ever come across to me before. If he wrote something, an idea, whatever, then chances are that at the time he thought it good. It may not have been for sure - but at the final call it comes down to opinion. It is more for the chance perhaps of seeing how a work of this degree of merit gets it's shape, it's genesis if you like that such a release is worthwhile, rather than for an expectation of 'the Chrons, but twice as long with lots more stuff in it'. That the papers are to be placed with Kent State University at all shows the value of this. Hopefully they will appear online in due course so that others outside the academic sphere can also acess them.

DOTD - who was this guy! I've been saying that for years. It's just an example of Nietzsche's thing that events ripple in both direction through time. JRRT - you old plagarist you!
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 23, 2012 6:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

peter the barsteward wrote:
I'm trying to think Vraith. Did TC hold himself accountable? He was certainly angry (angry with his situation, angry with what was being asked of him, even angry with the things that should have made him happy) but accountable? His take IIRC for the most part seemed to be "Did I request thee Maker, from this clay to mould me man - did I solicit thee, from darkness to promote me? Was TC a changed man by his experiences or did he just want to eschew the dangerous and seductive situation his (to his mind) fevered imagination had placed him in.


He didn't START from the point of accountability...he learned it. It's a central [but not sole] thread. In part what he is doing now is teaching it [that's 3rd, but doesn't spoil anything].
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the difference between evidence and sources: whether they come from the horse's mouth or a horse's ass.
"Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else's opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation."
the hyperbole is a beauty...for we are then allowed to say a little more than the truth...and language is more efficient when it goes beyond reality than when it stops short of it.
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