Dayton, OH CoT signing 16 January 2003 - report by Tim Kington

report from rec.arts.sf.written.robert-jordan

This is going to be long, but hopefully worth reading - Jordan gave some very surprising answers at this signing. The signing was scheduled to start at 7, and I got there exactly at 6. There were about 70 people there at the time, and in the end about 300 showed up. When you showed up, you got a number. You were allowed to take two books through the line the first time, and then if time allowed, you could go through again. I was glad to find out that you didn't have to buy the book there.

While we were waiting, my friend Josh and I were playing Go, which is the game stones is based on. I thought this was common knowledge, but a lot of people came and asked us if we made it up from what's in the books. So, for the record, the game is Go, it's the oldest known board game, and, IMO, the best. If you want to learn how to play, check out {http):// for the rules, and (http):// for a program that will play against you on a small board.

Jordan showed up around 7, and gave a little speech. He said there will be at least two books, and that he will not write a word more than he has to. He talked a little bit about what his next series will be, which he is calling Shipwrecked or Fantasy Shogun for now. I got the impression that he would like to finish WOT so that he can start writing the next thing already. He said he has known the last scene of the last book since 1984.

Then he said that someone has figured out who killed Asmodean. My impression was that it was in a letter someone sent him. He said that he didn't tell the person he was right, and he's not going to tell us who it is because he enjoys watching us squirm. He said that if we would have figured it out a few books ago, he probably would have told us, but now he's having too much fun. He also said that the guy used only clues that were available in the first five books to do it. He then thought for a moment and said he may have used one or two things from later books.

Next, he gave the correct pronunciation of some of the names: Ny-neeve, Egg-wain, Sigh-deen, Sigh-dar, Ice Suh-dye, Tell-arahn-ree-odd (but the r's sound French), Shawn-chan. Later he said a few more, so I'll throw them in here: Taim is Ta-eem, Sem-ih-rawje, moeg-head-ee-en, Asmo-dee-en. He was a little ticked off that people call Egwene Egg-wee-nee.

At this point the signing started. They would call a range of numbers, and those people would go stand in line. With 300 people around, it was really hard to hear, so even though I was about 15 feet away from his table, I didn't hear anything for a while.

Then it was our turn to go up. My friend Josh and I had been talking about how Rand and Mat spent a week in Rhuidean, and so he asked how long Mat was hanging. A: Long enough. Long enough for what? A: Long enough to be ALMOST dead. (Emphasis mine) I was pretty sure this was where Mat died and lived again, but I guess that's out of the question now.

I asked how Gray Men make decisions without a soul, and he said that a soul and a brain are two very different things.

After that I wandered around for a while, waiting for the line to diminish, but after about an hour, things quieted down enough that RJ could be heard easily, and people from the audience started asking questions while he kept signing.

First someone asked something about him learning to read. He said that he had only read one children's book - something about a pig, I think - and that the first book he ever read was the second half of White Fang. His brother had started reading it to him, and he wanted to finish it himself. He talked about a book that came out in the 40's which he said was the first bodice ripper, and that he read it when he was 5. He said that he was confused for quite a while after that and got in trouble for calling girls "wench". A while after that he got his first library card. He was disappointed to find out that he was supposed to stay in the children's section of the library, and that the librarian wanted to read The Velveteen Rabbit to him. He made a habit of sneaking into the adult section, grabbing a book at random, and taking it back to a reading room in the children's section. He found that if the book wasn't any good, he could leave it on the table there, and it would get returned to its proper place, but if he liked it, he would put it in the shelves of the reading room, and it would stay there until he was done with it.

Someone asked what he's reading right now, and he said Salt, which is, I guess, actually all about salt. There were other questions like that and he recommended the fantasy of C.S. Friedman, John M. Ford, and Guy Gavriel Kay. He also recommended the essays of Montaigne(sp?) and Guns, Germs, and Steel.

He talked a little bit about when he realized women are different from men. He said a woman (friend of his mother's?) in a summer dress picked him up, and he could feel the dress sliding over her, and he thought "She doesn't feel like mother." He could smell her perfume, and thought "She doesn't smell like mother." Then she went to put him down, and her grip slipped, and his face was buried in her cleavage. She set him down, mussed his hair and called him precocious. He ran off to look 'precocious' up in a dictionary. Now that he had noticed women, he was trying to figure out how they got to be that way. He could see that if you took a boy and scaled him up, you basically had a man, but he couldn't figure out how the little girls he knew could turn into women. He decided it must involve cocoons.

Someone asked about how he writes women so well. When he was a teenager, he didn't have much luck with women despite being very pretty. He mentioned this to his uncle, and he said, "You like to hunt deer, don't you?" "Yes." "You know a lot about deer?" "Yes." "You know their habits, when they get up, where they like to forage, what trails they tend to follow, etc.?" "Yes." "Well, do you think that hunting deer is more important than hunting women?" So he started to study women.

He was asked if he had anything he would like to say about his time at the Citadel, and he said no.

He served all over Vietnam. When asked, he rattled off about 15 or 20 different places. The only ones I caught were the delta and the rubber plantation. He was a gunner. He said he wanted to be a point, but his eyesight wasn't good enough.

He was in the Army, and he talked about how the Air Force is full of slackers. He went to an Air Force base once and he was driving a car that had Admiral's stars on it (his dad's?) When he pulled up to the guard at the base entrance, the guy was about to give him a typical lazy Air Force salute, then saw the stars on the bumper of the car, and levitated a couple of feet off the ground. He asked the guard where the hospital was and got directions. When he got to the hospital, people were running in all directions, doctors were hyperventilating, running around holding paper bags over their mouths, and the place was chaos, all because there was a two-star on the base, and nobody knew who he was because the idiot at the gate didn't think to ask.

He listens to music while he writes. Usually classical, but also ethnic music occasionally. When he's not writing he likes jazz and old-style country. He also likes the latest music from Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson now that they don't care what people think any more.

He was asked who his favorite character is, and, of course, he said it's the one he's writing at the time. They asked who his favorite character will be when he's done with the whole thing. He said he doesn't know, but there are some that have a lot of him in them. Lan typefies the ideals that he aspired to while growing up. Perrin has a lot of him as a young man in him, and Mat acts the way he acted as a young man. His wife says he's Loial to his toenails, but he doesn't see it.

Someone asked about WOT jewelry. He said there's a company coming out with Great Serpent rings, and Asha'man pins. He mentioned the weapons you can get from Museum Replicas (I think that's who's making the jewelry, too). They supposedly have the Heron Mark Sword, Seanchan Sword, Fain's Dagger, and Perrin's Axe. I can only find the Heron Mark Sword, so maybe the rest are forthcoming.

Someone said that there are rumours that he has played online in some WOT MUDs. He said that he hasn't. A company called ToyVault is supposed to be coming out with some WOT toys. The first one they're going to make is a stuffed Trolloc. Seriously.

Alright, now for the questions. Let's get the RAFOs out of the way first:

Q: How many seals are still intact?

Q: Is Moiraine coming back?

Q: Will the Ways heal now that the taint is gone?

Me: Is Mesaana now fitted with a mindtrap?

Me: Taim is clearly not Demandred, right?

RJ: (Disgusted) I've said that before, and it's not Taim, it's Ta-eeem.

Q: Is Olver Gaidal Cain?

RJ: No. I didn't really think that this would last as long as it has. The timing is wrong. He has another reason for being there besides being a red herring, though.

Q: He's too old.

RJ: Yes. Time in TAR and the real world run at different rates, but it never runs backwards. You may spend an hour in TAR, and a day has passed when you get back, or you may spend a day, and an hour has passed when you get back, but you'll never go in on Tuesday and come back on Monday.

Q: Is the difference in time constant?

RJ: No. It's fairly random. Sometimes fast, sometimes slow, sometimes the same as real time.

Q: It's different for different people, then?

RJ: Yes. Unless they're together in TAR. Then the same amount of time passes for them obviously.

Q: When Rand went to see the rebels in ACOS, and Fain was there, why didn't Rand just waste him and gate out of there?

RJ: When Rand visits the rebels, he has a specific goal in mind. He's just been to see the Sea Folk, and things have gone his way there, so he's going to see what the Dragon Reborn can do about the rebels. Killing an advisor and Traveling away is not going to help him accomplish his goals. He's not a fool.

Q: Will Shara get any screen time?

RJ: Read and find out. I don't know, actually. There are things that need to happen that might have to happen there, but it will be a lot easier if I can make them happen somewhere else.

Q: Is the world of the books another world?

RJ: The intention is that the world of the books is our world at a different time. The conceit is that time is a wheel, so if you go far enough into our future or into our past, you come to the time in the books. Because of that, they have legends that originate in our time, and we have legends that originate in theirs.

Q: (inaudible)

RJ: Yes, the Champion of the Light has gone over in the past. This is a game you have to win every time. Or rather, that you can only lose once--you can stay in if you get a draw. Think of a tournament with single elimination. If you lose once, that's it. In the past, when the Champion of the Light has gone over to the Shadow, the result has been a draw.

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