Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

Tom the Merciful

The Steel Remains

92 posts in this topic

Yes, far future earth or something. See the old Steel Remains thread, with input by Morgan, about some possible crossover with his Takeshi Kovacs novels.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Similarly, with our willing suspension of belief, Archeth has been using krinz for an extended period of time (years!!) without the usual side effects that would occur to someone in our time period using crystal meth - namely, psychosis and really, really bad teeth :)

One of the things that I do want to ask you about, Mr. Morgan, if you have a minute, please...

I have noticed that intense stimulant drugs figure into at least two of your worlds (I have read TSR and the Kovacs novels), with krinz and tetrameth being used heavily by the respective characters. Is there a particular reason for this, or is it coincidence?

Edited for spelling. And also to let you know that I really enjoy your novels, particularly The Steel Remains!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, intense stimulants can be fun....... (though I confess my personal experience in those areas is fairly limited; certainly my teeth are still in pretty good shape!)

Really, drugs of this sort are just a helpful intensifier for the characters' physical functions and emotional states. Tetrameth and krinzanz both telegraph a certain amount of extreme capacity in their users, and also a hollow desperation, a sort of end-of-tetherness which supercharges the fiction. And substance abuse (possibly for similar reasons) is an old noir staple from way back. Even the old school noir heroes like Spade and Marlowe were chemically dependent, albeit on a legal poison (though bear in mind that alcohol had been a proscribed substance in the US not that long before Chandler and Hammett were writing, so it probably still had a semi-forbidden cachet clinging to it that we now have to go to drugs like cocaine to feel.

Incidentally, for what it's worth, I always imagined krinzanz as being relatively benign compared to something like Crystal Meth (which, no two ways about it, is fucking bad news poison of the worst kind). Krin is meant to be a relatively natural substance - think opium rather than morphine (though of course it's a stimulant, not a narcotic) - thus not requiring particularly developed technology to extract, and being relatively compatible with the metabolisms of naturally occurring creatures like humans Long term abuse of krinzanz would certainly have its down sides - it'd put a strain on your heart and circulatory system, and probably tip you towards the psychotic end of the spectrum (though, in a world this brutal and apt to military slaughter, how could you be sure that was the cause?).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I want to thank Richard Morgan for the detailed answer, very cool of you.

The "suspension of disbelief" contract goes both ways between author and reader. By simply picking up a fantasy novel I gave the work the benefit of the doubt, but the language issues I mentioned were just too jarring to create a believable setting for me. Even assuming the setting is a future earth, there just wasn't enough evidence in the text to put my concerns to rest.

If others have no problem with it, great. After all, I'm just a humorless, pedantic prick who doesn't know how to have fun... :D

All fantasy novels will inherently contain some of these these artifacts--for instance everyone and their brother (including GRRM) uses the term gunwale in pre-gunpowder settings, which of course makes no sense at all (gunwale=gun wall).

Compare that to a Tyrion who sports a bowler cap and monocle and loudly exclaims "f'shizzle my n'izzle" every other page. OK, a gross exaggeration, but you get the point. The trick I think, is to limit the jarring elements so that the reader isn't distracted by the artifice of the fiction. This allows the characters, plot, and themes to then take center stage, as they should. Of course, many readers don't notice or could give a fuck less...but hey, I'm a details man.

Westeros for instance, seems like a real place to me, where the World depicted in the Steel Remains just seems artificial.

Then again, perhaps that was your intent. Unfortunately, for me, that doesn't equate with a pleasurable reading experience.

But props where props are due--a great change of pace to have a male gay hero (or anti-hero). Hopefully, we'll see more of this in all media (AKA the Omar effect.) And the non-judgemental depiction of drug use is a nice change too.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Saliently, a very fine recent translation of The Iliad, uses very modern language and allusions (Achilles sounds like a gung-ho U.S. Marine). I think the approach to language and diction can create different effects on readers. LotR re-written as a post-9/11 "War on Terror" modern epic would sound very different -- and bring different things to mind -- than how it is written.

Not that I'd want it changed, of course. But of course, to a lesser degree, GRRM too is anachronistic in his language. His characters speak in a more "modern" way than what was traditional for the sort of fantasy he writes, even if he retains some formality and certain archaics phrasings for flavor.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Saliently, a very fine recent translation of The Iliad, uses very modern language and allusions (Achilles sounds like a gung-ho U.S. Marine). I think the approach to language and diction can create different effects on readers. LotR re-written as a post-9/11 "War on Terror" modern epic would sound very different -- and bring different things to mind -- than how it is written.

Not that I'd want it changed, of course. But of course, to a lesser degree, GRRM too is anachronistic in his language. His characters speak in a more "modern" way than what was traditional for the sort of fantasy he writes, even if he retains some formality and certain archaics phrasings for flavor.

Sort of related to the current debate, the main reason I couldn't stand Baz Lurhmnan's "romeo and Juliet" was that it was in a contemporary setting but maintained the shakespearean dialogue. That really pissed me off. If you're going to modernise the story, modernise the dialogue too. If not, keep it in it's original setting. I would have been happy with either scenario but it seemed the film went for the easiest options.

Back on topic.

Always nice to see Richard pop up and join in the discussions. Hope "the Dark Commands" is coming along nicely. A lot of authors (probably their marketing folks) recently have been sticking characters on their covers (Abercrombie, Mark C Newton). Do you have any interest in the covers to your books one way or another, as most of your books have avoided character portraits and seem to draw the line at silhouettes? Gotta catch that fantasy market that loves to see the characters though. Maybe you could spare the prudish (and worse) by depicting Ringil engaging in some fun with another guy or extradimensional being ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have to say, I vastly prefer the silhouettes. That way, I can safely read a book with its dust jacket on in public. With the typical fantasy novel (think Robert Jordan or Robin Hobb covers), I have to remove the dust jacket so I don't get totally embarrassed when reading it in public.

On the other hand, the original US cover for AGoT (Jon Snow, on the horse) was a good cover that I didn't have to hide.

I just don't want to look like I'm reading total trash meant for teenagers while at the airport, in case a co-worker wanders by.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I have to say, I vastly prefer the silhouettes. That way, I can safely read a book with its dust jacket on in public. ...

I almost always use book covers since I read a lot in the subway & in public and I also find the covers of lots of fantasy books really embarrassing. Strangely, I find that the UK covers are generally better and more "adult" looking than the US covers.

to language: I didn't find the use of faggot, gunmetal etc jarring at all. I'm kinda surprised at the idea, actually. I really don't want to read books in traditional languages or languages appropriate to the setting and time (since I'd have to learn them or they would get in the way. I felt that way about A Clockwork Orange) and the words mentioned that are used in TSR really set the perfect mood and context for the story being told. Works for me. Keep it up, Richard!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I remember talking to my editor way back when, just after I got my first book deal; as gently as possible, he said "we wouldn't expect to tell you how to write your novel, and similarly we wouldn't expect you to tell us how to sell it". Wise words indeed, and I tend to live by them - I generally get to see the covers for approval, but the underlying assumption is that I will approve because a lot of people whose job it is to do this have spent time and effort trying to get it right. So far that's worked well - I've liked all my UK and US covers (to a greater or lesser extent, depending), but even if I didn't like one, I would tend to assume that I was the one out of step. Eg - I really liked the initial "art-house ambiguous" redesign of my UK MMP covers when it was briefed a couple of years ago; but evidently the market didn't and so we went with the original artwork and a stripped back logotype instead - which as it happened I also liked, but that's not the point - point was, I never doubted that the market analysis and buyer feedback gathered by the publisher was on target, and my airy arthouse inclinations weren't; a conviction that subsequently proved accurate, since I can still count on the fingers of one hand the number of readers I've met to date who liked the arthouse covers better.

That said, I really don't know what I'd do if publisher market analysis told me my fantasy novels would really benefit from cover art featuring Penthouse models in chain-mail bikinis swooning against fur-clad swordsmen with bare muscle torsos straight out of gay porn......

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
That said, I really don't know what I'd do if publisher market analysis told me my fantasy novels would really benefit from cover art featuring Penthouse models in chain-mail bikinis swooning against fur-clad swordsmen with bare muscle torsos straight out of gay porn......

Maybe you ought to stop putting those in your books then? ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
That said, I really don't know what I'd do if publisher market analysis told me my fantasy novels would really benefit from cover art featuring Penthouse models in chain-mail bikinis swooning against fur-clad swordsmen with bare muscle torsos straight out of gay porn......

Add more sex, of course, and see what SubPress comes up with for illustrations. :P

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, since we've got Richard here, I'm going to ask one more serious question.

How easy is it for you to write about the other, as in - non-male, etc? As in the torture scene in Altered Carbon, where Kovacs was virtual-reality placed in the body of a woman at the Wei Clinic, and also Archeth in The Steel Remains (as I assume you're not a female/lesbian, judging from the picture of the author on the back cover of the book :) )

I also have to say that Ishil was one of my favorite minor characters in TSR. Probably something resonating from my misspent youth, with my mom waiting at the kitchen table to give me a talking-to as I was sneaking back in the house...

I hope Ishil shows up briefly again in future books - it would be so much fun to see what her social circle thinks about Ringil - especially with the setup for the next books. Really, what do you say over coffee, when someone brings up your kid being the Dark Lord :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
That said, I really don't know what I'd do if publisher market analysis told me my fantasy novels would really benefit from cover art featuring Penthouse models in chain-mail bikinis swooning against fur-clad swordsmen with bare muscle torsos straight out of gay porn......

Now that would be embarassing to read on the tube :) Then again I spent 3 weeks last month reading a book with a rabbit on the cover (Watership down). I've tried to redeem myself with a non-movie cover of "The road" on the tube now. I wouldn't dare read a comic, other than "Watchmen" on the tube.

The second edition covers for "altered Carbon" and "Broken Angels" were a little weird but the other covers in that range were fine. I guess it's always worth a try when reprinting as, outside hardcore collectors, it's the people who didn't buy it the first time you are out to get.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Chat -

Writing the Other: certainly, it isn't easy, but in a sense, once you're successfully published, you tend to be out looking for new challenges anyway (one of the reasons I couldn't settle for an endless series of Kovacs novels). So writing a credible female character, or a gay one, does give you a sense of sharpening your craft, and that usually makes it more than worth any extra effort required.

That said, sometimes it can be rather less effort than you'd think - there are occasions when all it really feels like I'm doing is applying a modicum of human (and humane) sensitivity to the character in exactly the same way as I would to a more "normative" protagonist. And, without wishing to spout a load of bollocks about being in touch with my feminine side, a standard issue male hero sometimes feels further from my "self" than, say, a smart and resourceful woman. So sure, it was a stretch to get inside Ringil's head sometimes (esp bedtimes!), but it was also hard work doing, for example, the straight-arrow all Amercan church boy in Black Man. To me, genuinely religious people are far more alien and Other than anyone gay or female.

Ishil? Yeah, one of my favourites too; I lavished a great deal of creative love and care on her. It's interesting - guys like GRRM and Joe Abercrombie sometimes come in for a lot of stick for being "sexist" because they refuse to moderate the essentially medieval genderscape of their work in deference to more modern reader sensibility. But to me (and to them, I imagine) an essentially medieval genderscape just offers you a plethora of opportunities to demonstrate just how unbelievably tough and smart and resourceful any woman would have to be to succeed in such a shithole period of human history - and out of that can come some truly extraordinary and compelling female characters. Hopefully, Ishil Eskiath is one such....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
(one of the reasons I couldn't settle for an endless series of Kovacs novels).

I could!

(yes, I read the whole thread just to toss in that two word reply.)

Is ya kidding? If there's one thing the world needs more of right now, it's Marxist heroes who know how to kick ass.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

New Gollancz catalogue says that The Dark Commands is 448 pages long. That would be 100 pages more than the first book. Synopsis:

The king of noir SF is taking on Fantasy, and winning!

Ringil, Egar and Archeth are back. In a world still cursed by slavery, a corrupt aristocracy and a vicious church, justice is in short supply.

In this sequel to The Steel Remains Richard Morgan brings his trademark visceral writing style, turbo-driven plotting and thought-provoking characterisation to the fantasy genre, producing a follow-up to his first foray into fantasy, and taking Ringil and Co. on the beginnings of a hopeless quest.

Maybe we are going to see a not-so-traditional fantasy quest?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ooooh!!!! I read the synopsis on Amazon, and they seem to have a typo. Ok, more than one, and some grammatical errors - can we bring back the Oxford comma, PLEASE??? But, still, a tantalizing couple sentences.

Ringil, Egar and Archeth are back. In a world still cursed by slavery, a corrupt aristocracy and a vicious church justice is still in short supply. Ringil, Egar and Archeth will fight for it but they need to fight for survival first. Archeth's position in court is still tenuous and the secrets of the departed Kiriath are casting a worrying light on the present. Egar is still caught between his tribe and his memories of life in the Empire and facing the challange of a jealous shaman. And Egar RINGIL, struggling with his own identity still faces prejudice and the horror of a prophecy that could put him at the centre of evil. And all the while the demon Takavech plays his game with mortals. And have the Dwenda really gone?

Fixed that for them on the name. Hmph.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites