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Interviews: Letter to Carolyn Fusinato

Summary:

Entries

8

Date

Apr 3rd, 1995

Type

Verbatim

Links

rasfwrj

  • 1

    Robert Jordan

    Dear Carolyn,

    The first thing I have to do is apologize on several grounds. First off because I meant to answer your letter the day after I received it, several weeks ago. Second, because of the sanctioning problem. Carolyn, when I refused to sanction your group, I did not intend to sanction any groups; it seemed to me that I would be playing favorites. Later, when the Robert Jordan-Wheel of Time Fan Club wrote me, I frankly forgot I had ever said that. I decided I would give them a non-exclusive sanction—clearly stated as non-exclusive—and I'm afraid by then I actually thought that is what I had done with you. To set matters aright, I hereby and herewith give your club, the Texas Darkfriends, a non-exclusive sanction from Robert Jordan. I am not saying that I won't do as much for other clubs—though not very many, certainly; there are the restrictions of the Fan Club Proliferation Treaty (PCPT, pronounced Pttttth!) to be observed, after all—but you are now officially an official Robert Jordan-sanctioned fan club. Or Wheel of Time fan club, anyway. Whichever it is you really see yourselves as.

    I will get any addresses of fan clubs that I know of to you, but I often do not even know of their existence. I will hear something along the lines of, "There's a fan club somewhere in Los Angeles. No, I don't know where, exactly, and I can't remember the name, but they hold meetings." That is just an example, by the way; I have not heard of any fan club in LA. I haven't heard of this role-playing group either, so far as I can recall.

    I am going to talk over with my agent the matter of letting fan clubs put promotional stuff in the back of my books. This is in no way a promise that anything will change, but who knows? I just have to look at all the aspects and talk with some people who know more about the matter than I do.

    I haven't gotten the newsletter with the Texas minutes in it. I look forward to it. I must admit the way so many of you guys call yourselves Darkfriends (as in various "Darkfriend socials" I've heard tell of) makes me a tad nervous. Uh, you guys don't think I'm really—heh-heh—the Dark One in drag, do you? (Grin.) If you do, I'm going to start packing hairbrush, and I won't be using it to brush anybody's hair.

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  • 2

    Robert Jordan

    Unfortunately, I am not on any of the 'nets. Mike Ford spends a lot of time on that, and frankly, it looks addictive. I don't think I can afford the time. (Semi-famous author found dead of starvation at keyboard! Internet addiction suspected!) Do you think you could send me copies of the photos?

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  • 3

    Robert Jordan

    Yes, there were a couple signings (well one, anyway) with 30 or 40 fans, and I am ashamed to say it was a blessing. I can remember when 30-40 fans made me grin with pleasure, but after signings with 200-300 people, each with 3 or 4 books, and a tight schedule to get to the next signing, 30 or 40 seemed like a rest.

    New York decides where I go on tour, as I think I've told you. Sometimes they make odd choices; they once planned to send me to Phoenix so I could visit my brother, only he lives in Tucson, he couldn't dump the classes he teaches to come to Phoenix, and we had just seen each other on a fishing trip a few weeks before anyway. It is possible for fans to get places added. (Within reason, anyway; I was told if I had gone to all the stores that wanted me on the last tour, I'd have been out for six months!) Anyway, both Washington, D.C. and Toronto were added to the last tour because of fan complaints about being excluded. They made enough noise, apparently, that Tor decided I should go.

    I think I got the December and February Chronicles. I think I did. My wife sometimes wonders how I can keep the plots straight when I can't remember which day to put out the garbage. I tell her it's an acquired skill, but I don't say which bit is the skill.

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  • 4

    Robert Jordan

    Majority rules, my dear? You should know that I am neither Democrat nor Republican; I am a monarchist. For the church for the laws, for the king, for the cause! For Charles, King of England, and Rupart of the Rhine! Ah, for the chance to re-fight Malvern Hill. God send this crumb well down!

    Ah, me. To do evil without doing wrong. What about the law of unintended consequences? An example, partly fictive, but possible. We have passed laws protecting harp seals. The result so far, an explosion in the harp seal population, an explosion in the orca population (they feed on harp seals, among others) and a sharp decline in commercial fishing in those waters (orcas and harp seals both like to eat the same fish that people do). Nothing evil so far, just fishermen and cannery workers out of work and some fishing towns in depressions, but here is the fictive yet possible part.

    Population explosions frequently result in waves of disease, quite often new and deadlier strains of something that has been around in the population with less effect for some time. As witness AIDS, Ebola, Zaire and the Devil's own litany of others, these things can be devastating. So, postulate that the explosion in harp seal population results in the appearance of a virus among the seals—call it Seal Ebola—and the next thing you know there aren't any harp seals left at all. (Some of these things do seem to come close to 100% lethality, and if you only have 90%, which is the rate among humans with Zaire, I think, you are left with 10% of the population weakened and in no shape to escape orcas or sharks and with systems weakened to where they would be easy prey for other illnesses that they usually shake off.)

    Worst case. Seal Ebola does not only infect harp seals. After all, most diseases that affect one part of a species will affect the rest. So seals vanish. All of them. Or maybe it's the orca explosion, and all the whales and dolphins that are wasted. The ecology of the oceans is thrown into a tailspin from which it might never recover. Now, will future generations record what we did as evil? If they use out present manner of viewing history—holding everyone in history to the standards of our time, usually more tightly than we hold most of our own populations, holding them to account as if they had our knowledge and lived in a world with our moral views, and condemning those ancestors who fail to measure up—if thy use that method, they certainly will. Would what we did be evil? I don't know. An act taken with the purest of intentions that resulted in the death of an entire species. The result could not be called other than evil, but does that make the cause evil? Now more than ever, I regret that Robert Marks, an old friend, died some years ago. This is the kind of question that would make him want to open a bottle of good brandy and discuss it for hours.

    "No man is an island, but every one a part of the main. Therefore, send not to ask for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee." John Donne.

    Don't worry about grinning over the fate of the poor string bean. I have heard people express the belief from the heart. Not from the brain, though; I think that they lacked that particular organ. Then there is the group of rather vocal people who believe that human beings have no more rights than any other animal ("a boy is a cat is a dog is a rat"), though they generally express it by saying that animals should have the same rights as people. To vote, perhaps? To hold elective office? We already see enough jackasses in public office.

    Don't worry too greatly about how much of what you said there that you actually believe. The purpose of the sort of discourse you engaged in is not so much to express belief as to explore ideas and possibilities. you say, if this, then maybe that, and if both things, then this other should follow. None of that is saying that you necessarily believe in any of the points, though it can lead to belief in various things. It is a good way to reason out what you do believe in. Much better than simply taking someone else's word for it. That is fine for 1 + 1 = 2, but not so good on points of morality, ethics, philosophy, or whether monarchist feudalism would function better than the mish-mosh of corruption, self-interest and idiocy we are saddled with at present.

    In the end, I believe that we ourselves define what is good or evil. Several hundred years ago, slavery was seen as good and right. I don't mean just black slavery; there were white slaves in Europe—and slaves in Asia, Africa and just about everywhere else—for thousands of years before the first black slave was brought to America. Helping a slave escape was theft of property at best and an abomination in the eyes of God—or the gods—at worst. Time passes, and our views alter significantly.

    If an Avatar of Pure Good appeared and told us that in order for Good and Light to triumph over Evil and Darkness, the human race must be extinguished, I think we would decide that old Av was sliding us the long con. And I think we would be right to. Not only as a matter of species survival—any species that is ready to slit its collective throats for whatever cause should go ahead and do it now; it isn't up to survival in a universe that, if not malignant (I do not believe that), is certainly neither benign, compassionate nor caring—but also because I would seriously doubt the Good- and Light-hood of whoever/whatever made such a pronouncement. The Devil can quote scripture, and all that.

    Footnote

    See RJ's previous letter to Carolyn for the beginning of this conversation.

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  • 5

    Robert Jordan

    There is more to making the Myrddraal sword than simply quenching it in a living body. Though I am not going to go into details here, it must be a human body. Trollocs, for instance, though much easier to procure, would not work. I wonder what you would get using, say, rabbits? A blade that made your wounds break out in Easter eggs?

    The piece in the game could be said to still be human—those pieces that came from humans, anyway; there were other sources too—though they are about the size of moderately large chess-pieces. They retain memories, souls, personalities, but they are part of the game now, permanently slaved to the game and part of it as surely as a cog in a clock is part of the clock. They have no personal volition, though they do have awareness. The only lives they can live are being used in the game. In the Age of Legends, these games were destroyed when found; the choice for the pieces was to remain part of the game or death, since removing them from the board/field meant death in any case. The game is all one, board and playing pieces together. And that is much as I will tell you of it. I don't want to give away what I might use later on, after all.

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  • 6

    Robert Jordan

    No the Amyrlin did not change five times in seven years. I didn't catch the error before the book was published, though the correct sequence is there in my master chronology. The line in The Great Hunt should have read that "four of the last five" were from the Blue. The correct sequence is: Kirin Nelway (Brown) 922-950 NE; Noane Mosadim (Blue) 950-973 NE; Tamra Ospenya (Blue), 973-979 NE; Sierin Vayu (Gray), 979-984 NE; Marith Jaen (Blue), 984-988 NE; Siuan Sanche (blue), raised 998 NE. The correction is being made in the body of The Great Hunt and in the glossary.

    That is the problem with doing books this large; sometimes even with all best efforts, something slips through when I think it has been made right. So there haven't been any lies [in answer to "does the Glossary lie?"]. Not even the "distance and location." You should have heard the howl I let out when that glossary entry was pointed out to me. "No! No, I changed that before the bloody book was published!" I have been working from the start that the Warder bond could be used as a sort of direction finder by both. Either can sense the direction of the other, though it gets more vague with distance, until with long distance the most you have is a general impression of, for example, "somewhere sort of to the west." Not distance, unless they are pretty close, except by using experience, figuring how far you've gone and how much stronger the feeling is. How do you think Moiraine and Lan never had any worries about hooking back up when they were separated? There have been hints at it and oblique references in several places.

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  • 7

    Robert Jordan

    Actually, if everybody was like me, I'd probably start carrying a gun. But then, they probably would too. Sigh. Good God! I just thought of something. Women with beards! No, no, much better if I am the only me.

    Slayer was a typo. It should have been Stayer.

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  • 8

    Robert Jordan

    Take care, Carolyn.

    Thanks again for writing.

    With best wishes, I am,

    Sincerely, Robert Jordan