Cambridge, MA KoD signing, 13 October 2005 - report by Allen BryanEdit
posted at rec.arts.sf.written.robert-jordan
BOSTON BOOK SIGNING REPORT
RJ's looking good! More gray in the hair, but much trimmer; he's lost weight. One question was about his health; he says he lifts 3 times /week, swims (less often than beofre), and walks. At his latest physical they had to give him an injection to speed his heart, and his blood pressure **still** didn't break 120/80 (double-chcked). He's in fantastic shape.
Introducer gave a five-minute laudatory speech, empathizing with the long suffering of the fans and making reference to Hemingway's character and the Ambassador to Saudi Arabia as other famous Robert Jordans. RJ himself thanked him ("the check is in the mail") and stated that the name was generated so that he could have different names in different genres. All the names were generated from his initials; his real name is reserved for contemporary fiction, originally for a novel on Vietnam that he will now never write. (Everything that needed to be said Vietnam has now been said many times, he said.)
He gave the standard remedial pronounciation guide, and was exasperated that people didn't use the glossary pronouncations. Look back there people, there's stuff not in the main storyline!
Book Twelve will end the main sequence if he has to personally go to New York and beat the publishers at Tor, even if it runs two thousand pages and they have to invent a new way to bind the books (shudder). There will be two more prequels a la New Spring, and there might -- very big MIGHT -- be another trilogy in the same universe. Have to chew on it a year or two, he says.
If he doesn't find a way to write it into the plot in Book Twelve, RJ is contemplating announcing Asmodean's killer at the time of the publishing of the paperback of Book Twelve. He wants to let us stew a little longer, though.
Blah blah Infinity-of-Heaven-cakes. IoH's culture will be even more stratified than Seanchan's, but as close as we will get to seeing Seanchan culture. However, one thing about Seanchan: you really can be born a peasant or slave in Seanchan and rise through skill and luck to become an assistant and confidant of the Empress herself. That's a point in its favor; it's fluid.
I got the first question: The Gasp Moment. I won't reveal the Gasp Moment (thank you, said RJ), but why write it in? There doesn't seem to be a plot reason, so it must be a literary reason. You said on your blog it was painful to write, so why??
RJ: Because Hell on Earth is about to break loose! Haven't you people got that in your heads yet? The Shadow is winning, it's the fifteenth round, our boy is on the ropes and the Shadow feels great and has tremendous punching power! Three minutes to go and there's only one chance. The Gasp Moment is their reaction to this.
My internal reaction: wow. nasty.
Other questions, not necessarily in order:
Is the Asha'man bond involuntarily linking? No. (Waste of a good question; that's in the FAQ.)
Does the rate of slowing depend on your strength in the Power? Yes, basically; you age at 1/X your normal rate, with X being dependent up to a point on Power strength. The Power acts as a natural rejuvenator on you; even at the point of death you won't look or feel worse than a normal 65-year-old. (RJ had to hem and haw a good bit to avoid revealing that slowing != the Ageless Look -- there were several spoiler people in the audience, including one who was working on Book Six at the moment.)
Another couple of Asmo questions: "I'm not going to give you a chapter to find." However, he emphasized OPPORTUNITY as the key to knowing Asmo's killer, even over motive (which got a mention). Graendel and Lanfear theorists, you may start grinding your axes.
Mesaana: Do we have enough clues to know her identity. RJ: I think so, but I'm not absolutely sure. Her Third Age role has been at least
RJ was amazed that few women were asking questions after the first woman asked her question (about the seventh speaker), specifically asked for women to ask (none did at that moment, but two more did later) and later specifically favored women asking questions over men. Interesting there -- he ascribed the behavior to being at Harvard.
The Seanchan Empire is so detailed. Did you enjoy writing some cultures more than others? --No, I enjoyed them all. But it's really about people; people can be interesting even in a boring culture.
I got a few more questions in as he signed my book:
1) Dyelin is like Cincinnatus of Rome. True or false? -- True, pretty much, except Dyelin was never really offered power; she had it for a little while as Elayne's not-quite-authorized regent, but otherwise wasn't really called upon to save Andor the way Cincinnatus was called upon to save Rome. Otherwise, yes. (Be'lal, whoever you are, I win a cookie.)
2) Demandred does not use a Third Age persona. True or false? -- RAFO.
3) The Thirteenth Depository has never been revealed by a non-channeler librarian for three thousand years. How is this possible? -- Because there are no non-channeler libarians; the librarians of the Thirteenth Depository are all Aes Sedai.
"Brown Ajah?" I asked.
He hesitated a moment. "Yes."
I couldn't ask any more -- he was already signing the next book -- so I said good night (Thank you!) and left.
However, one more question formed in my mind as I walked home, along with a nonloony theory. (Hint to anyone going to a later signing!)
Behold my new Purple Ajah Theory:
The Purple Ajah, or Second Foundation Ajah, is real but not so cohesive as that. It is simply that the Purple Ajah consists of the libarians of the Thirteenth Depository.
It all fits, doesn't it? As the librarians, they have more detailed knowledge of the world than anyone else in the entire world, including the rest of the White Tower. By 13th Depository Tower law, they cannot reveal the existence of the 13th Depository; but nothing stops them from acting on information IN it. So if Verin had been a 13th Depository librarian, she would know things that almost no one else would know -- and use that knowledge.
Granted, most of the contents of the 13th Depository consist of the secret political history of Third Age Randland; but who knows? Secret techniques and prophecies could very well be in there as well.
Well, there you have it folks: RJ Does Boston.