Further Curated Sayings of Cû'jara-Cinmoi

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« Reply #15 on: January 25, 2017, 07:05:59 pm »
Pat's Fantasy Hotlist
(Monday, July 25, 2011)

These questions have to do with a lot of metaphysical stuff such as damnation, magic, the Inchoroi, and more. As you can expect, this is true hardcore stuff! Many thanks to all the fans who submitted questions for this interview.

Be forewarned that some of the answers contain information that could be construed as spoiler material. Nothing major; nothing that can spoil the books for you. But still, something to keep in mind. . .

Enjoy!
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We see that the interpretation of damnation is local in the sense that, e.g., sorcery is viewed as damnable in Momemn but not in Shimeh. Is the reality of damnation local as well? In particular, is a Cishaurim who dies in the streets of Carythusal damned?

Damnation is not local. There is a right and wrong way to believe in Eärwa, which means that entire nations will be damned. Since the question of just who will be saved and who will be damned is a cornerstone of The Aspect-Emperor’s plot, there’s not much more that I can say.

The caprice of the Outside (where the distinction between subject and object is never clear) is such that those rare souls who walk its ways and return never seem to agree on the nature of what they have seen. Since only demonic (as opposed to angelic) Ciphrang can be summoned and trapped in the World, practitioners of the Daimos can never trust the reports they receive: the so-called Damnation Archives in the Scarlet Spires are rumoured to be filled with wild contradictions. The Damned themselves only know that they are damned, and never why.

Unlike the Gnosis or Anagnosis, Psukhe seems to have come from humans directly(instead of Nonmen). Did the nonmen ever have anything to do with Psukhe? Did humans prior to Fane have anything to do with Psukhe?

Prior to Fane, the Psukhe as an arcane art was unknown, though there are legendary hints and mythic innuendos of certain sightless individuals harnessing inexplicable powers in moments of extraordinary anguish.

Everything comes down to meaning in Eärwa. Where sorcery is representational, utilizing either the logical form (as with the Gnosis) or the material content (as with the Anagogis) of meaning to leverage transformations of reality, the Psukhe utilizes the impetus. Practitioners of the Psukhe blind themselves to see through the what and grasp the how, the pure performative kernel of meaning–the music, the passion, or as the Cishaurim call it, the ‘Water.’ As a contemporary philosopher might say, the Psukhe is noncognitive, it has no truck with warring versions of reality, which is why it possesses no Mark and remains invisible to the Few.

This is why the Psukhe never occurred to any of the other more ancient arcane traditions. As the old saying goes, the man with a hammer thinks every problem is a nail. For the bulk of Eärwa’s history, it’s very possibility remained invisible.

Is Aurang special amongst the Inchoroi in his ability to use Sorcery? Or were all Inchoroi, his brother included, amongst the Few?

The Inchoroi only possessed the Tekne when they arrived in Eärwa. All of the Inchoroi are the products of successive Graftings, species-wide rewrites of their genotype, meant to enhance various abilities and capacities, such as the ability to elicit certain sexual responses from their victims (via pheromone locks), or the capacity to ‘tune sensations’ and so explore the vagaries and vicissitudes of carnal pleasure. The addition of anthropomorphic vocal apparatuses is perhaps the most famous of these enhancements.

The Grafting that produced Aurang and Aurax was also devised during the age-long C no-Inchoroi Wars, one of many failed attempts to biologically redesign themselves to overcome the Nonmen. But they had been outrun by their debauchery by this time, and had lost any comprehensive understanding of the Tekne. The Graftings had become a matter of guesswork, more likely to kill than enhance those who received them. The Inchoroi filled the Wells of the Aborted with their own in those days.

Aurang and Aurax are two of six who survived the attempt to Graft the ability to see the onta.

Wutteat mentions that he journeyed with the Inchoroi across the void, and that Sil rode him. The Appendix of TTT says that dragons were created after the first engagement between the Nonmen and Inchoroi, where Sil was killed. Did the Inchoroi, for some reason, leave their dragons behind in the first battle?

Wutteat is the prototype, the genotypical template the Inchoroi used to spawn the Wracu. In a sense, he is no more ‘another dragon’ than the original 1889 prototype for the metre in Sevres, France is another metre.

Were there ever Nonmen in Eänna? And if not, why not? They certainly seem to have had both the time, capability and inclination for an invasion before the Inchoroi showed up. Instead they just fortified the passes. Why?  

The Nonmen do not multiply anywhere near the rate as Men. Their ambition, moreover, has little regard for geography for its own sake. For them, to conquer means to gain power over their brothers: all other forms of dominance are beneath their contempt. This is the reason they paid so little attention to the Halaroi in Eärwa, apart from their need for labour and congress. What transpired in Eänna, they cared not at all.

When the Inchoroi began using Men to master the Aporos and produce the first Chorae, they gave the first sorcery-destroying spheres to the Sranc, only to discover that the creatures were far too reckless. Having fixed and morbid habits of ornamentation, the Sranc rarely valued the spheres, and were thus prone to lose them.

So the Inchoroi began giving them to the Men of Eärwa, hoping to incite them to rebellion. But the Halaroi had no stomach for rousing a feared, and most importantly, absent master, and so rendered the deadly gifts to their Nonmen overlords. The Inchoroi then looked to Eänna, where the Men were both more fierce and more naive. They gave the Chorae to the Five Tribes as gifts, and to one tribe, the black-haired Ketyai, they gave a great tusk inscribed with their hallowed laws and most revered stories–as well as one devious addition: the divine imperative to invade the ‘Land of the Felled Sun’ and hunt down and exterminate the ‘False Men.’

The Nonmen only rebuilt and reinforced the Gates after the first great migratory invasions generations later.

What can you tell us about the Consult's level genetic engineering? 

I would love to tell you about the Consult’s level of genetic engineering, but they insist on revealing the mad extent of their depravity themselves in The Unholy Consult.
“I am a warrior of ages, Anasûrimbor . . . ages. I have dipped my nimil in a thousand hearts. I have ridden both against and for the No-God in the great wars that authored this wilderness. I have scaled the ramparts of great Golgotterath, watched the hearts of High Kings break for fury.” -Cet’ingira

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« Reply #16 on: January 25, 2017, 07:08:34 pm »
Why Fantasy and Why Now? by R. Scott Bakker

Why do people read fantasy?

The typical answer is that people are searching for ‘escape.’ Fantasy represents, many would say, a retreat from the harsh world of competition and commerce. Another answer is that fantasy provides, like much fiction, a specific kind of wish-fulfillment. Fantasy allows us, for a time, to be the all-conquering warrior or the all-wise sorcerer. The problem is that neither of these answers in any way distinguishes fantasy from other genres of literature. Fantasy, I would like to suggest, offers a very specific kind of escape and wish-fulfillment, one connected, moreover, to its profound role in the great machine which we call contemporary culture.

Fantasy, I will argue, is the primary literary response to what is often called the ‘contemporary crisis of meaning.’ And as such, fantasy represents a privileged locus from which one might understand what is going in our culture in general.

What is the crisis of meaning? Since the Enlighenment a few centuries ago, we have witnessed a dramatic shift in our culture, a signature characteristic of which is the rise of science. Science as a socio-historical phenomenon is related to the crisis of meaning in a least two ways: 1) the disenchantment of the world; and 2) the monopolization of rationality.

Since the Enlightenment, science has quickly replaced all of our prior ‘intentional’ explanations of the world. Events are no longer the results of some spiritual agency, where thunder, for instance, might equal the ‘anger of the gods,’ but rather the result of indifferent causal processes. To say that the world is disenchanted is to say that it is indifferent to human concerns. Where our ancestors saw the world as extended family, as more cryptic members of the tribe, we see the world as arbitrary and inhuman, utterly disconnected from the puny tribe of human agency.

It is the power of science to explain, and the technological dividends those explanations have reaped, which has led to science’s monopolization of rationality. The only socially legitimate truth claims that remain to us are scientific truth claims. To be rational in our society, is to be ‘scientifically minded,’ to reserve our judgement on the truth or falsity of various claims pending ‘hard evidence.’

The problem, however, is that science does not provide value, does not tell us what is good or bad, right or wrong. And so we find ourlselves in a curious quandry: the only socially legitimate means we have to make truth claims has become divorced from questions of value. Certainly there are some very reasonable sounding moral philosophers and theologians out there with innumerable claims to the truth of this or that moral principle, but the fact that they can never agree on anything demonstrates to us the futility of their rationalizations. Only the evolutionary biologist can give us a scientific theory of morality: morality is an illusion which generates the requisite social cohesion necessary for the successful rearing of offspring. There is no ‘good’ or ‘evil,’ not really, only the successful transmission of genetic material.

The power of science to monopolize rationality has reached such an extent that one can no longer ask the question, ‘What is the meaning of life?’ and still be ‘rational.’ Since there is no scientific answer to this question, and since science is the paradigm of rationality, the question becomes irrational, silly, the subject matter of Monty Python spoofs.

Thus the crisis of meaning. The world we live in has been revealed by science to be indifferent and arbitrary. Where we once lived in a world steeped in moral significance, now we live in a world where things simply happen. Where once the meaningfulness of life was an unquestioned certainty, the very foundation of rationality, now we must continually struggle to ‘make our lives meaningful,’ and do so, moreover, without the sanction of rationality. Questions of the meaningfulness of life have retreated into the fractured realm of competing faiths and the ‘New Age’ section of the bookstore. In our day in age, the truth claim, ‘My life has meaning,’ is as much an act of faith (which is to say, a belief without rational legitimation) as the truth claim, ‘There is a God.’

It is no accident that fantasy is preoccupied with our pre-Enlightenment, pre-crisis past. The contemporary world is a nihilistic world, where all signs point to the illusory status of love, beauty, goodness and so on. This is not to say that they are in fact illusory, only that at a fundamental level our culture is antagonistic to the claim that they are real. Nihilism is a fever in the bones of contemporary culture, afflicting all our assertions of meaningfulness with the ache that they are wrong.

Fantasy is the celebration of what we no longer are: individuals certain of our meaningfulness in a meaningful world. The wish-fulfillment that distinguishes fantasy from other genres is not to be the all-conquering hero, but to live in a meaningful world. The fact that such worlds are enchanted worlds, worlds steeped in magic, simply demonstrates the severity of our contemporary crisis. ‘Magic’ is a degraded category in our society; if you believe in magic in this world, you are an irrational flake. And yet magic is all we have in our attempt to recover some vicarious sense of meaningfulness. If fantasy primarily looks back, primarily celebrates those values rendered irrelevant by post-industrial society, it is because our future only holds the promise of a more trenchant nihilism. One may have faith otherwise, but by definition such faith is not rational. Faith, remember, is belief without reasons.

Reading fantasy represents the attempt to give meaning to one’s life by forgetting, for a time, the world that one lives in. In the escape offered by fantasy one glimpses the profound dimensions of our modern dilemma. Fantasy is the primary expression of a terrible socio-historical truth: the fundamental implication of our scientific culture is that life is meaningless.

If so many religious groups are up in arms about Harry Potter, it is because they see in it a competitor–and rightly so. Fantasy novels can be construed as necessary supplements to the Holy Bible. In a culture antagonistic to meaning, the bald assertion that life is meaningful is not enough. We crave examples.
“I am a warrior of ages, Anasûrimbor . . . ages. I have dipped my nimil in a thousand hearts. I have ridden both against and for the No-God in the great wars that authored this wilderness. I have scaled the ramparts of great Golgotterath, watched the hearts of High Kings break for fury.” -Cet’ingira

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« Reply #17 on: January 25, 2017, 07:19:22 pm »
Pat's Fantasy Hotlist
(Friday, June 10, 2016)

- Now that the galleys have been sent out and THE GREAT ORDEAL will finally see the light this summer (at least on this side of the Atlantic), can you shine some light on what caused the prolonged delays that precluded this book from getting published as planned?

It turned into two books, basically. This meant it took twice as long to write, but it also meant that my contracts had to be renegotiated, and this process took far longer than anybody expected—on either side of the table. These are strange days in the publishing world to begin with. As far as they were concerned, I went dark for four years, then suddenly reappeared, whipping curve balls.

The crime is mine, but unfortunately my readers ended up doing the time. I was determined to not rush the process, to let the story call the shots. All I can hope is that the series rewards their patience.

- In an interview we did in 2011, here's what you had to say about the glossary you were planning to include in the final volume of The Aspect-Emperor:

"I’ve already started working on the ‘Expanded and Revised’ Encyclopaedic Glossary, in fact, but more and more it’s looking as though The Unholy Consult will be larger than even The White-Luck Warrior. If so, I’m guessing that the Glossary will have to be published... gulp... separately."

I understand that one of the main reasons THE UNHOLY CONSULT ultimately got split up into two installments had to do with the size of the glossary. If that is indeed the case and not just a question of the novel itself growing larger and larger with each new chapter, did it ever occur to you and your publishers to publish the novel as you had always envisioned and perhaps release the glossary as a companion ebook?


Now that the book itself has been split, this is no longer an issue. I still expect The Unholy Consult will have an embarrassingly fat ass. Including the Encyclopedic Glossary between the covers is crucial to what I’m trying to accomplish, so I was never comfortable with the prospect.

- Many readers are concerned that splitting up a novel that was never meant to be released in two separate parts could ultimately hurt both THE GREAT ORDEAL and THE UNHOLY CONSULT. Were some of the delays in getting this one into production caused by a reshuffling of chapters and/or a rewriting of certain portions to ensure that THE GREAT ORDEAL would stand well on its own? Otherwise, that would mean a more or less arbitrary ending with no punch or resolution, thus relegating THE GREAT ORDEAL to some sort of set-up book while the endgame and all the fireworks would take place in THE UNHOLY CONSULT. By the same token, were you able to balance the storylines in such a way that both novels can stand well on their own and each pack a powerful punch? Because if THE UNHOLY CONSULT is only made up of 200 pages or so of actual storytelling and everything else is one giant glossary, given the prices of books, many a reader might find that off-putting, to say the least.

To make a long story short my publisher found themselves short an editor, and so stranded with a monster series no one had read. A scramble ensued. These things happen.

As it happened, all the main story arcs—Achamian’s search for Ishual, Esmenet’s struggle to rule the Empire, Sorweel’s journey to Ishterebinth, and the Great Ordeal’s march—take profound twists all at around the same time. As strange as it sounds, the story had already decided these were two books. I only came to the realization afterward.

I often feel like I’m taking dictation, but the experience of writing these two books was nothing short of surreal in that regard. Time and again I found myself collecting old narrative marks, wrapping bows on plot lines, without even realizing anything was outstanding. The spears kept sailing over my shoulder, hitting targets I couldn’t even see.

- As things stand, is there a tentative pub date for THE UNHOLY CONSULT?

July or August, 2017.

- Since the beginning of your writing career, you've claimed that The Second Apocalypse has been a slow reveal over the course of many books. Fans of the series have even coined the term "Layers of Revelation" to refer to how each book published reframes the events of previous volumes. How do THE GREAT ORDEAL and THE UNHOLY CONSULT differ from what has come before?

Well, we actually find Ishual, actually delve into Ishterebinth, and actually storm Golgotterath. For the entirety of the series so far, these places have been little more than rumours of distant peril, but the story has been closing on them all along. The last of the interval vanishes in these two books.

This has been the big gamble, right? Layering to conjure that sense of reality that many fantasy readers find narcotic is pretty risk free. But introducing a plot in Book One that turns on settings concealed until Books Six and Seven turned out to be more difficult than I had thought. The idea all along was to use ‘setting reveals’ the way novels generally use plot reveals. My sense so far is that it’s worked very well, but not without exacting a toll.

Consider the PC criticisms made against the series. From the beginning, I committed to telling a complicated story, one where bootstrapping souls free of oppressive cultures proved every bit as difficult as it happens to be in real life. “Just give the series time,” I would say to critics, even though I had drafts of episodes like the Whalemothers written before The Darkness that Comes Before was even published. It’s hard to make arguments based on story arcs only you have seen, but then that’s part of the adventure of relating an adventure such as mine.

- Now that you have reached the end of the second series and looking back at the story that was the Prince of Nothing, how well do they fit the vision you had of the tale you set out to write? Is there anything that you wish you had done differently? Are there any plotlines or characters which grew well beyond what you had initially envisioned for them?

I would rewrite the whole thing if I could, and I also wouldn’t dare touch a thing. It feels biblical to me by this point, a monument somehow blessed for its imperfections. Some days I just marvel over the fact of what I’m writing, smack my head thinking, This is Golgotterath!

Golgotterath!

The details of the vision have mutated in numerous ways, but the frame remains the one I came up with so very long ago. I had always assumed I would come to this point feeling anguished, overmatched, chronically dissatisfied, and following The White-Luck Warrior I was initially, but as I mentioned above, something happened in the course of writing these two books. Who knows? Maybe living with a vision for thirty years was what it took. It all came together so effortlessly, so, well, perfectly...

For me, that is. What others make of it is an entirely different story!

- You've previously described The Aspect-Emperor series as ending in a 'Gordian Knot' of plots. At which point do you think the reader will have all the pieces to elucidate the problem, let alone the answer?

Plot closure, yes. Thematic closure, not so much. The problem of the books—the problem of ourselves—has no solution, of course. All the things that make fantasy fiction fantastic—the magic, the spirits, the gods, the objective morality, the fate—also happen to be staples of Scripture, be it Christian or ancient Greek or Hindu or what have you. Fantasy celebrates and critiques our most natural way of conceiving the world, a way that has been and continues to be undermined by the findings and proceeds of science. The way I see it, fantastic literature is the dirge of our civilization, a final retelling of our most ancient and primordial songs. The song ends when our voices fall silent. No one knows what follows the song. We can only hope that we’re somehow stronger for the singing.

This is what the best storytelling does, I think: arms us against what we cannot understand. Given my themes, ending any other way would be a betrayal.

- With both THE GREAT ORDEAL and THE UNHOLY CONSULT turned in, has work begun on the yet-to-be-named duology that will follow The Aspect-Emperor?

Nothing more than notes and fragments. At the moment I’m rewriting The Unholy Consult, buffing, polishing, strapping muscle on some bare bones.

- If you could collaborate with another writer to write stories set in Eärwa (or whatever the Eärwan universe would be called), who would that writer be, and what would you want to write with them?

Roger Eichorn. Without a heartbeat of hesitation. If I were to croak before finishing, he’s the one I would want to finish the series. What I would most like to write with him is some kind of intrigue set in the Thousand Temples—I’m still haunted by his fantastic reimagining of the ecclesiastical in Three Roses.

- What fan theories and ideas have surprised you when you've heard them? Any that you thought 'wow, I wish I had thought of that' or something along those lines?

I’ve stopped lurking on boards where my stuff is being discussed a long time ago. The big reason wasn’t so much that I found myself tempted by other plot possibilities (though many of them struck me as excellent), but that coming across those who guessed right given this or that plot twist was making me inject more mystery into my writing, instead of less.

One of my biggest weaknesses as a writer, I think, is the inclination to make everything mysterious. Those with unfortunate inclinations should avoid inclines.

(My wife refers to me as “Misterrrr Mysteriosoooo” those rare times she gets drunk.)

- Which character in the series has been the most difficult to write for, and why?

Kellhus has always been the most difficult, simply because he’s a super-intellect, and I’m lucky if I’m smart enough on any given day to fake a super-intellect for the span of several words... like I just did back there... just a few words ago... Didn’t I?

I have my daughter fooled at the moment, I think, but my wife has always seen through my facade. My drinking buddies think they see through it, but that’s always been part of the master plan.

- How much of the history and the details of the history were set in stone when you started with the series, and how much have you added to it since you started?

The bulk of the history has been roughed out since before I began writing The Second Apocalypse. Fleshing out the details has always been one of the joys of writing the series for me. I rewrote the Ishterebinth chapters several times, for instance, simply trying to get the Nonmen right. Details are what conjure the depth, so how do you balance that against the primary driver of interest, the action? There’s so many ways of walking this tight rope, so many ways to stumble. Sometimes I have too much prior information and I find myself pruning, and sometimes I don’t have enough, so I begin tending to empty plots, and these quite often turn into seeds, and I find myself pruning again.

- Are there any plans for you to explore Eänna or the south of Kutnarmu?

One of the things that makes ancient worlds ancient is the way they find themselves encircled by terra incognita. Since shedding light on the globe spoils that, I fear cryptic references are the most anybody will get. Ancient maps are supposed to be blank about the edges.

- In terms of scale, do you have any plans to write another fantasy series as vast in scope as The Second Apocalypse?

Only every time I step out of the shower. In other words, no.

- The Atrocity Tale, The Four Revelations of Cinial’jin, is quite confusing and purposely so, as a stream of Nonman consciousness. Even breaking the story into its narrative threads doesn't yield much by way of answers, only tantalizing clues. Any plan to expand on that story? Or its backstory?

Not directly. It’s tied into the history of the World, of course, so it’ll always be an exotic puzzle piece in a tragic whole. I love the piece myself, but I realize it’s not for everybody.

- You have what can best be described as a cult following. How does it feel to have such loyal fans?

Fortunate. It means people get the vision, appreciate that something different is going on with this series. I genuinely have a message, right? I truly do believe we’re sailing drunk into the mirthless night, that we are murdering meaning as a civilization. Pretty much everyone can feel it, I think, the growing sense of technosocial vertigo. Those who share this sinking feeling and who also happen to be lovers of dark, hyperrealistic fantasy tend to really dig my books.

They also happen to be very rich and good looking.

- Outside of Eärwa, do you plan to publish any other fiction/fantasy/sci-fi in the near future? Any other short fiction in the works?

My New Year’s resolution was to get. Shit. Out. The door. I’ve accumulated a huge back-log over the years. I’ve got a novella, several stories and articles at a wide variety of venues. This summer I have an article called, “Outing the It that Thinks” coming out in Digital Dionysus, an anthology of Nietzsche essays. “Crash Space,” which I think is the best short story I’ve ever written, recently came out in Midwest Studies in Philosophy special issue on philosophy and science fiction (which you can read here). I’m writing the Forward as well as another Atrocity Tale for Grimdark Magazine’s forthcoming Evil is a Matter of Perspective anthology, a collection of stories featuring evil protagonists written by several dark fantasy luminaries. I have Through the Brain Darkly, a collection of material from my philosophy blog, Three Pound Brain, ready to be sent out. The same could be said for Light, Time, and Gravity, my ‘CanLit’ piece, but I’ve just been too busy rewriting The Unholy Consult.

There’s even more... ugh.

- Have you/would you considered publishing a short run of limited edition with someone like Subterranean Press or Easton Press?

I’ve always thought it would be nice. Maybe somewhere down the line, who knows? It all depends on timing and the project.

- What has been the worst/hardest decision you have been forced to make through the editing process? Has anything come to light through the editing process that has made the books better than they would have otherwise been?

Ishterebinth... O’ Ishterebinth! I killed so many ‘babies’ in rewriting those chapters. The problem was that I initially worked so hard to bring the place alive with detail that I killed the action. (That’s all writing amounts to, I sometimes think: well-planned and executed bloodbaths) It took a lot of work to get the pacing right, to generate a relentless sense of going too deep.

Otherwise, rewriting lets you see relationships between disparate parts of the text and to explore them. In the case of The Great Ordeal, for instance, there’s deep parallels between Momemn and Ishterebinth that editing allowed me to craft in interesting ways. I’m a rewriting writer, so there’s countless examples, really.

- Will you be touring to help promote the release of THE GREAT ORDEAL? If so, are there any details you can share with your readers?

Alas, book tours are no longer counted among the perks enjoyed by cult authors. They reserve that for world religions, at least nowadays. They say Buddha is thinking about retiring, but every time I shop my resume they say I’m too fire-and-brimstone, not enough redemption.

- Anything else you wish to share with your fans?

Thank you, all. We’re nearing the end of what has to be considered a very unlikely series of books. Controversy could have derailed them. Delay could have derailed them. You are the primary reason the Slog of Slogs marches on.

And now there it is. That golden pinprick on the horizon.

Hard to believe, actually...

There. It. Is.
“I am a warrior of ages, Anasûrimbor . . . ages. I have dipped my nimil in a thousand hearts. I have ridden both against and for the No-God in the great wars that authored this wilderness. I have scaled the ramparts of great Golgotterath, watched the hearts of High Kings break for fury.” -Cet’ingira

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« Reply #18 on: January 25, 2017, 08:10:22 pm »
R. Scott Bakker on A Game of Thrones and deconstructing the epic fantasy genre
(March 9th, 2012)

Over the last few years, R. Scott Bakker has established himself at the forefront of the epic fantasy genre,  known not just for his tales of grand battles, dangerous intrigue and explosive sorcery, but also for his detailed worldbuilding and the philosophical undertones in his writing.

His latest novel THE WHITE-LUCK WARRIOR [UK | ANZ] is now out in mass market paperback, and is his best novel to date. Adam Whitehead, of excellent UK genre blog The Wertzone, had this to say:

“The White-Luck Warrior (*****) is a powerful, engrossing, ferociously intelligent novel that sees Bakker at the very top of his game. It leaves the reader on the edge of their seat for the concluding volume of the trilogy, The Unholy Consult, which we need yesterday.”

To celebrate the release of THE WHITE-LUCK WARRIOR, Adam conducted an interview with Scott and the result is a fascinating discussion that covers Scott’s entire career, from his original influences to the development of epic fantasy in recent years.


Scott, I have to start by asking those most dreaded of general questions: how would you describe your books and what they are about for newcomers? Why should they read The Prince of Nothing and The Aspect-Emperor series?

I wrote The Prince of Nothing and The Aspect-Emperor for two kinds of fantasy readers: those who love believing in secondary fantasy worlds, and those who think they have ‘outgrown’ the genre. Over and above that, they’re dark, violent, cerebral and genuinely controversial. I’m beginning to think they have a real shot at becoming ‘classics.’

What was the original impetus behind writing the series? You’ve mentioned your appreciation of authors like J.R.R. Tolkien and Frank Herbert, and developing Earwa as a roleplaying setting when you were much younger. How did those influences feed into the writing of the series?

They say our neural architecture is wild and bushy throughout childhood, and then in adolescence the brain begins to prune and streamline its structure. This could be why our teenage reading stamps our sensibilities so profoundly: I’m sure when I die and the medical community dissects my brain in the name of scientific comedy they will find little Guild Navigators playing D&D with lecherous old orcs. The thing for me was never allowing university convince me I needed to turn my back on these things,  always remembering they were so popular and so appealing precisely because they were so profound.

Frodo read Nietzsche, you know.

Your work is noted for taking a darker, more philosophical approach to the epic fantasy genre than many other authors, whilst still retaining core elements of the genre like impressive sorcery, detailed worldbuilding, major battles and horrific monsters. You seem to be paying homage to the fantasy genre at the same time that you are deconstructing and subverting it. Is that a fair analysis? If so, how do handle these elements and keep them in balance?

Literary types will tell you that pulp genres are ‘cages,’ things that need to be dismantled, ‘deconstructed,’ when in fact they’re much more akin to dialects, different ways to communicate to different readers. Complicating is basically all that I do. I try to inject as much historical, psychological, thematic, and moral complexity into the epic fantastic template as I can, to write a kind of ‘high resolution’ version of a powerful traditional form. The only thing ‘subverted’ is the apparent simplicity of a particular genre of storytelling,

There seems to be a number of science fiction and fantasy authors emerging from Canada in the last decade or so who have found success in writing books that, whilst still part of the spec fic genre, are more challenging and ask more difficult questions of the reader than perhaps they are used to. Yourself, Peter Watts and Steve Erikson immediately spring to mind. Is there something in the Canadian experience that leads to authors taking this approach?

Because Canada never gave up on eugenics. According to recently declassified documents, in 1951 Prime Minister John Diefenbaker sanctioned an ultrasecret strategic initiative codenamed, How-do-you-like-me-so-far? At the time, Canadians were widely regarded the dullest people on earth and a number of experts had warned that this would seriously undermine the country’s economic position over the coming decades. Agents were dispatched worldwide, tasked with securing sperm samples from some of the world’s most interesting minds. The results were mixed. Some, like Operation Asimov, were arguably too successful. Whereas Operation Jimmy Dean ended in a widely publicized car crash (and years of strained diplomatic relations with Hollywood). Apparently, I’m the product of operation Tolkien. I can’t speak for the others.

Thanks to the vision of Diefenbaker, Canada is now the second least boring country in the world – after Scotland.

One of the trailblazers in the ‘darker, edgier yet commercially successful’ fantasy field has of course been George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, of which I know you are a fan. Did you find the success of that series a help in selling your own work? Certainly there seems to be a large crossover between fans of that series and your own (if the discussions on certain message boards are to go by, anyway!).

The whole fantasy genre owes George a huge debt of commercial gratitude–of that I have no doubt. There’s no counting the number of lapsed fantasy fans he has brought back into the fold. Personally, I would never have pursued publication at all had not the grittiness and complexity of A GAME OF THRONES convinced me that publishers might be interested in THE DARKNESS THAT COMES BEFORE. And there’s no doubt in my mind that the crossover readership between my series and his is one of the things that has allowed mine to grow.

In a similar vein, a while ago you reported that Hollywood had taken an interest in adapting your books, potentially as a TV mini-series, before putting plans on ice due to the financial crisis. Given the immense success of the GAME OF THRONES TV series awakening an interest in other fantasy properties, have there been any more developments on this front? Could we yet see the Holy War rolling across our TV screens?

Nothing to report, I’m afraid. As soon as they catch wind of the Sranc they run for the hills–as well they should.

THE WHITE LUCK WARRIOR is the middle volume of The Aspect-Emperor trilogy and also the midpoint (more or less) of the entire Earwa cycle of books. Where do you see it standing amongst the whole? Certainly there are some big revelations and some more important questions about the world and the people involved are raised. Is it a challenge to know when to provide answers and when to hold back?

One of the things so fascinating about epic fantasy in particular is the way the boundary between plot and setting dissolves, so that learning about the world becomes a kind of narrative revelation. Through to the end of THE JUDGING EYE, the reader was largely confined to one world, the human fleshpots of the Three Seas. What lay outside could only be glimpsed in the form of obscure references. THE WHITE-LUCK WARRIOR chased them beyond these boundaries, into the inhuman wildernesses of the Ancient North and the metaphysical enigmas of the Outside. Because these worlds are so tightly bound to the story I really have little or no difficulty deciding what should be revealed when: it almost feels like the characters are calling the shots, telling me what they need to know when.

The next book in the series is THE UNHOLY CONSULT, which you’ve already spoken of as being the biggest gamechanger in the whole series to date. How is work progressing with that book and when do you think it might be done?

THE UNHOLY CONSULT has been progressing more slowly than I would like. I was hoping for a fall release, but it will likely have to be pushed back to next year. Each book has had it’s particular struggles attached, but none quite so profound as this. We have a small child now, and this has forced me to abandon all my old habits and routines–two things which have been the cornerstone of my productivity since the beginning. I’ve also had to do some teaching and other work; if publishing does go the way of the music industry, all mid-list writers need to be prepared. Good writing is typically a maniacal, obsessive, experience for me–of the kind which, quite frankly, parenthood and moonlighting simply do not allow (certainly when children are quite young). There’s life and there’s the book–and there’s me, trying to write in the middle of what seems a war sometimes!

But war can be good, so long as it finds its way to the page in the right way.

In the meantime you are releasing a series of short stories called THE ATROCITY TALES on your website, which delve deeper into the past and backstory of the setting. Why did you decide to write these stories? Any chance we might see them collected together in a short story collection at a later date?

The idea for the Atrocity Tales has been kicking around for quite some time. The two I’ve completed came about quite independently: the one, “The False Sun,” came to me in the course of working on the final two chapters of THE UNHOLY CONSULT. The intricacy of the plot and world is such that a single tale set in the past can have enormous significance, generating all sorts of meanings and possibilities. The other, “The Four Revelations of Cinial’jin,” is a narrative experiment I’ve had in mind for quite some time: what would a Nonman stream-of-consciousness look like? I’m not sure when I’ll be completing any others–certainly not before THE UNHOLY CONSULT is complete!

Many thanks to Adam and Scott for a great interview!
“I am a warrior of ages, Anasûrimbor . . . ages. I have dipped my nimil in a thousand hearts. I have ridden both against and for the No-God in the great wars that authored this wilderness. I have scaled the ramparts of great Golgotterath, watched the hearts of High Kings break for fury.” -Cet’ingira

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« Reply #19 on: January 27, 2017, 02:46:12 pm »
Great Ordeal Feedback with R. Scott Bakker @ Westeros
(September 2016)

"Essmenet doesn't read well. Her insecurities and feelings of always failing would make sense if she was in her first to fifth year of ruling with Kellhus. However, being twenty years in bei royalty, I wonder why she always diverts back to being an old whore and can't make any confident decisions."

That's the way depression works. Learned helplessness is only a trigger away, that's what makes it so pernicious, so tragic. And that's what makes bootstrapping characters out of damaged pasts so unrealistic. But even still, despite the continual rain of hammer blows, the hardest a mother can endure, she remains standing. She is not always decisive, she continually questions her judgment, but she is not weak.

"1) it really stinks that esme didn't kill meppa, I was so bummed out by his survival and even more bummed out he was just kept alive for another Kellhus fatality

2) I cannot comprehend how kellhus knew about radiation poisoning.

3) our view of the inverse fire was rhetorically meh, given the three book build up, the viewpoint character is totally non plussed.

***

I thought each segment had pretty dramatic endings even if they're not resolution filled endings. The ishterebinth ending is pretty similar to Brienne at the end of AFFC in terms of cliffhangering on an open mouth, but it's still much more satisfying

can we get the glossary entry for Emilidis as a preview of what we are in for?

what is the name of koringhus' son?

how does Kierkegaard relate to koringhus' final action?"




Lokisnow--I'm glad you liked! All (2) requires is that Kellhus bumped into some ancient Nonman treatise, but there could be more nefarious explanations. (3) I'm not sure I understand--are you referring to the dream? The idea is that the character has been so savaged as to be beyond comprehending, but I can see what you mean.

Otherwise, the Crabhanded Boy, will have to suffice, I fear (because the boy has no name--he never needed any!)

For Kierkegaard (if I remember aright), the leap to the Absolute is the way the Absolute is manifested in the life of the conditioned. For the Survivor, it is the way to embrace Zero.



1) Just to answer the lingering question, I posted a comment on your latest blog post asking for confirmation you are @theRealRSBakker.

2) I really enjoyed the book. It provided answers to many of the speculations that people here have spent years debating. But it left several key mysteries for TUC.

3) The non men chapters were my favorite. Such an alien thought process and the conceit of Sorweel in the helmet was a very clever way to provide exposition seamlessly.

4) Akka and Cnauir together again! Enough said. And seeing the Outside leaking through Cnauir . . . the birth of a Ciphrang.

5) Agree with Lokisnow that Kellhus understanding the effects of a nuke explosion was jarring. Can imagine a few in story explanations that don't require Kellhus intuiting the effects in the spot, but that will need a mention in TUC if true.

6) Is there a head on a pole behind you or is there a head on a copper tree behind you?


unJon: It's me. Rob Lamb has a piece in Stuff to Blow Your Mind complaining about the radiation sickness bit. My thought writing it was that everyone would assume he had come across some ancient account of 'Scaldings,' because you know, this isn't the first time it's happened.

In the coffee shop I worked in, the way my screen reflected the plate glass window behind me created this image of a head on a pole that would vanish whenever I turned around to glimpse it's source. It creeped me out, and provided wonderful inspiration for the Outside flashbacks...

"Some questions:

Is Onkis the head on the pole?  What kind of magic did we see Inrau perform before his death?

How does Ajokli stay in the blind spots of the other gods?  And did the Nonmen shatter The God into fractions?"


I'm glad you enjoyed... I really thought everyone would dig the Ordeal line, tho. To answer your questions, it's not Onkhis, and its a remembered scrap of Gnosis that Inrau uses. It's not Ajokli who's invisible, and no, the Nonmen didn't shatter God, God did.

1. Can you give us an idea of how many Non-men are still sane? Does the consult have a method of staving off erraticism other than committing atrocity?

2. Is Mimara's judging eye definitive or is she being deceived, or seeing what she has been conditioned to see?

3. Is the crabhanded boy the last of the Dunyain, along with his grandfather?


Thanks to you as well, Valandil, but these aren't the kind of questions I can answer, I fear, if only because they all have potential future relevance (if not actual relevance).

How about a non-essential one? Was Lord Kosoter a ciphrang spirit in a mans body like what Kelhus did to the Zeumi emmisary at the end of TGO or was he just so weighed down with the sin of his deeds that the aura of the wrongs he'd done was starting to warp things, like Cnaiur (I assume).

We're not finished with Kosoter.

So anyways... Scott, In The White Luck Warrior; the WLW's point of view sees a notch in his blade that later causes his blade to shatter when Kellhus parries his blow allowing it to pass beyond his guard and lodge in his throat (or something along those lines... I quoted it in one of the myriad threads dedicated to TGO here).  However, in TGO during the climax of the confrontation, the WLW throws the blade while Kellhus is distracted by the earthquake.

Is there a reason for the discrepancy in the WLW's perception of what will happen/has already happened?


Rhom: There is a rationale for this (and other discontinuities) but for the life of me I can't remember this specifically, so I'm going to say this is likely a continuity error, even though I poured over the WLW passages... (in which case I would remember, wouldn't I?)

1) How long is TUC? You mentioned adding 4 new chapters. Is it about the same length as TGO, not counting the index? Is it longer? Shorter?

2) Will the index contain repetitions from TTT's index, or is it entirely new stuff?


At last count, the narrative weighed in just a few thousand words shy, TGO. With the EG, it'll be a good 60 or 70 K larger, all told. The EG itself will feature most all the entries from TTT, many of them revised and expanded (a couple drastically), and then of course with a raft of new material.

OK, now the self-indulgent question, if you will (and sorry if you've answered this before): why is Mimara's POV in the present tense? I've found this interesting since TJE came out. She's the only present tense POV in the entire series, so it's not by accident. Since the gods (and the rest of the outside) exist outside of time, does this confirm that Mimara is rendered god-like status due to the TJE?... or did you just fancy playing with a different writing style?

The King in Yellow scarred me as a boy, you should know.

You're coming pretty damn close to answering the question, yourself, you know! The intellectual tradition has been to assign discursive knowledge to men, and intuitive knowledge (the knowledge of angels) to women, and to insist this distinction is actually flattering to women, even as it was used to systematically exclude them from public discourse and debate. I tell Mimara in the present tense because I presume this ontological distinction obtains in my world, and that Mimara is in fact closer to the god, possessing unmediated--immediate--knowledge of good and evil.

The questions is what this makes out of all of Achamian's reasons.

What more can you tell us about the Cuno-Inchoroi Wars? In the TTT glossary we get a very detailed narration of the Arkfall, the betrayal, the first battles, the womb-plague - and then it just skips to Nil'giccas finishing the war and sealing up the Ark.

What happened in the long war in between? What was Nin'janjin's fate? Why did the Inchoroi keep attacking until only two were left, knowing that they'd be damned after death?

Why is Aurax a basement-dweller and only Aurang appears in public?


Theres not much I can say vis a vis the history of the Nonmen or the Inchoroi until TUC has hit the shelves, I fear. I can say, that Ive always wanted to fill in the details of Cuno-Inchoroi wars...

Expanding on this edit a bit... Why did the No God ever take the field at all?  Why not just hunker down and let the cessation of the cycle of souls naturally reduce the population to the required amount?

No knows for sure, but there is speculation to the effect that the system is very difficult to maintain beyond a certain window of time.

Who would win a fight between Nayu and Mek if Mek was in possession of all of his faculties but only 12 inches tall?

Depends. Is Nayu naked?

Now, the not-stupid part of me understands this could simply be a stylistic choice to help jar our frame of reference from, uh, what just came before. But the stupid part of me (the part that seems to actually be in charge here) can't get over these three antecedents. I assume the he is Kellhus, but who the fuck are me and you? Is it actually you and I/us? Any clarity you can offer to what passes for my soul?

 No. This is one (of many) intentional 'fourth wall' moments, one meant to flatten the distinction between the time of the telling and the time told. I don't care much for the technique in post modern contexts, but I like the sense of aporia it conjures in various 'frame bending' instances, like these, because it actually amounts to a bending of the reader's frame of narrative reference.

If it has the effect of breaking the spell altogether, that's not so good, tho.

On that note, can you expand on the impact (if any) that Kellhus' hypnosis had in TTT on Akka's dreams? I'd love to have heard that conversation between Kellhus and Seswatha! Not long after the hypnosis, Akka dreams of Anaxophus using the Heron Spear on the No-God, and missing. Do the rest of Akka's non-canonical dreams come from Kellhus in some way?

Yes. These are good questions... ;)

1. Is Meppa dead? Do the Fanim or Fanimry have any more role to play in the series?

2. Is Esme dead?

3. How did the WLW fail?

4. In the Ishterebinth chapters, it's revealed that Men in Eanna received a tutelage of the vile, of deceit and hatred. Does that mean the Inchoroi were the ones who sent Men on the genocidal crusade against the Nonmen?

5. How did Kellhus know the effects of the nuclear weapon?

6. What is the Koringhus' son's name?


Thank you for the kind words! Some of these Q's I've already tackled, but the others, I fear you will have to wait and see what happens! How does the old acronym George uses go? WAFO?

I can say, regarding (4), that this is what some Nonmen believed. The Men of Eanna certainly didn't make all the Chorae they had in their possession.

"Why didn't Kellhus replicate or duplicate the Non-man flying chariot for the Ordeal?  Wouldn't they (or I suppose something resembling a miniature version of the Raft he uses to assault Dagliash) offer protection and mobility to his sorcerers?"

Kellhus hasn't plumbed the secrets of Mihtrulic.

"The mechanics of Wutteat's undeath was that he (it?) was so damned that he had become a living topos, right?  If so, why does Shaeonanra require such an elaborate design to keep his soul from the Outside?  Why couldn't he become undead like Wutteat?"

Because he has no interest in having half his soul trapped in hell (as is the case for all proxies, even those as elaborate as the Amiolas).

In TGO, it is noted that the Nail of Heaven appears in the sky years before Arkfall.  Is there a reason for this?

Perhaps.

Some have theorized that Aurax and Aurang were just average crewmen on the ship (space janitors maybe) and therefore had no real working knowledge of how the bios or the tekne really worked.  Would you say that is a fair assessment of their position prior to the arrival on Earwa?

No. The precise opposite in fact. But this is a big WAFO.

I felt the semantic density kind of lowered after TDTCB, but frankly it felt like a sun about to collapse into a black hole with TDTCB and a break from that density was a relief. And you're not just writing for the academics - for the bulk of us WP and TTT is dense enough. I've lent books to a guy and he seemed to rebound off it (stating that he had the Bible, Kora and Illiad to get through first). Density could be loosing you general readership, so celebrate the looseness a lil', man!

 And this is a big part of why I would like to rewrite TDTCB: I love the book artistically, but it's difficulty has meant that commercially speaking, the whole series has feet of clay.

This is why I really need to get my ass into gear and write an accessible prequel, something to level the learning curve posed by TDTCB. I'm really beginning to think Uster Scraul would be the perfect vehicle for that.

"How muxh of the Dunyain is genetics/selective breeding and how much is mental reprogramming? No worries if this is something that will be revealed."

Thing is, the material metaphysics of the World is rife with immaterial exceptions, so that it is never *simply* the case that what comes before determines what comes after. This gives me plenty of wiggle room.

"Also, as feedback, some of my favorite moments in TDTCB were when Kellhus was wrong, and how some characters could pick up on it (even if they psyched themselves out of not believing it, like Cnauir)."

I'm very proud of these moments. Every soul is lurking in the darkness that comes before some other soul in some way, shape, or form. Kellhus also.

"Also, from Kelhus's dreams of the Monk under the tree. We've noticed that certain aspects has changed. So, as the Gods can see all of time, that doesn't mean that things can not change, correct? Like H has theorized, Kellhus is indeed directing Kellhus through these visions. Hence, in the first dream the Monk has the legs of a beast, in TGO this is not the case"

WAFO, alas. Some very interesting questions which, if not answered by TUC, will certainly be transformed thereby.

"I think Esmi's entourage of royalty and appointed officers is too interchangeable, and they are replaced or get killed too often. It would have been nice for her to have a lover or a close friend she could fall back on."

This strikes me as a sound idea. I know it dawned on me that I could have ratcheted the interpersonal tension of those sections had I positioned Theliopa as an antagonist to Kelmomas from the beginning of TJE.

The map appears to have multiple impact points in far flung areas of the map.  Was there more than one Ark that hit Earwa?

Also, around these parts we have always referred to your proposed follow up sequence as The Series That Shall Not Be Named based on your prior assertion that even naming it would be major spoilers for TAE series.  So upon the release of TUC, will you then be free to tell us what you would intend to call it?


 There's only one Ark, but many cataclysms appear to have wracked the Promised World.

After TUC is out, I intend to do that very thing. It's one of the events I have been aiming for all these years. To be so close is some crazy shit, let me tell you.

"Maybe they were the source of previous 'scaldings'?"

Indeed. A close inspection of the historical record might turn up a few clues.

"You've talked about writing an introductory prequel type thing to ease readers in - have you thought about the First Apocalypse or the period when the Consult openly operated in the Three Seas?  The latter especially interests me, since I can't imagine how or what the Consult did in that period."

I have, but the problem with different era's is that they work against the point of such a prequel, which is to level the steep learning curve in TDTCB. I'm feeling good about Uster Scraul, but the problem here is that his story largely takes place after the First Holy War.

"As far as negatives go the Whale Mothers fell flat for me, felt like a needless atrocity inserted purely for the purpose of scandal."

It's actually as old as the Dunyain, compositionally speaking. The controversy the books have incited has created a lot of different lens for a lot of different readers (myself included), I appreciate this, but the theme of patriarchy has been front and centre from the very beginning. From my standpoint, a great deal of narrative engineering underwrites the discovery. Whether it reads as ad hoc provocation or no, Mimara has *always* been marching to the room of the Whalemothers, I assure you.

"But then I'm really weird and think serwe is one of the very best and best written characters of the first series, so I'm biased to select for things that reinforce my position."

And her character remains a thematic lynchpin of the series. But people have difficulty identifying with waifs, let alone one trapped between two very different masculine brutalities, like Serwe. Few people are inclined to root for losers, and a good many are inclined to confuse rooting for losers with rooting for *losing.*

"There was a lot of speculation as to whether or not Meppa was really Cnauir or Moenghus, or simply whether or not he was still alive.  I believe this was mostly based on a quote from you years ago stating or implying that his character arc was done.  (Just goes to show you guys to take authorial intent with a grain of salt )."

I actually think I remember that almost lie... He's been scheduled for this comeback since the very beginning.

"Momenm was disappointing to me because it felt like the earthquakes were a bit on the deus ex machina side of things, and that they seemed beyond the powers of the gods to manifest.  (If Yatwer can bring down city walls, why does she need the WLW?  Can't she just have Kellhus get hit lightning or something?)."

 Who better to play "god in the basket" than a God (Momus is in charge of earthquakes, just so you know)?

The question to ask is why bother gerrymandering anything, when that everything has already happened? The notion of Gods working within the framework of eternity is incoherent, but it remains a staple of our cognitive past. So there's no way the event is going to bear any sustained critical reflection. I tried to prepare the way in a host of different ways, to make the earthquake feel inevitable when it did happen... You're the first to raise this issue larry, but I'll definitely keep my open for seconds moving forward.

"Do you plan on writing an extensive summary and/or series of tales about the 'old days' of Nonmen glory, before the coming of the Vile?"

Nothing concrete, though their is a lot of new material by dint of all the new references.

"Atrocity Tales: a few years back you mentioned your goal was to produce around 100k or so words of AT before submitting for publication. Is this still the current plan? How many AT do you plan on writing?"

They continue to accumulate! I'm quite a ways from 100k though, I fear. I always have a bunch of story ideas simmering.

"Looking back on The Aspect Emperor, are there any structural changes you would consider making, if you could do it over again?"

As far as I can tell those who prefer PoN miss the continuous, often intense interaction between the characters. The Dunishness of PoN is missing from AE primarily because AE is a genuine quest tale, more LordofRingish, one split into four separate strands. The World becomes a much, much bigger character, which seems to alienate those who aren't world-junkies like us. I'm not sure if there's any way to accommodate this and keep steering true.

"Will the title of the Series That Shall Not Be Named be self-evident by the end of TUC based on how the book ends?"

Maybe. It all depends on how twisted you are. My guess is that you've already figured it out. ;)

"For a more prosaic prequel story, something involving Achamian's younger days and his tutoring of Nersei Proyas would more directly lead into TDTCB, but that depends if there's a good enough story there to justify the exercise." 

 I've always thought this would make an excellent Atrocity Tale, simply because you could use it to cast some pretty interesting semantic shadows through the series proper. The "What has come before" idea has never occurred to me before, and bears serious thinking.

As for sales, there's difficulty and then there's difficulty. If you think SA gets some rough treatment here, it used to just be regularly and royally savaged over on the Mazalan board, and for far different reasons. We're all Silmarillion people, and I'm a wanker to boot. The hope is to use sheer epic awesomeness to convince people to read something they might never think of reading otherwise.

Besides, it feels as if it should be a slog for some crazy reason. It would make it easier for me to trust that way.
“I am a warrior of ages, Anasûrimbor . . . ages. I have dipped my nimil in a thousand hearts. I have ridden both against and for the No-God in the great wars that authored this wilderness. I have scaled the ramparts of great Golgotterath, watched the hearts of High Kings break for fury.” -Cet’ingira

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« Reply #20 on: October 16, 2018, 02:39:13 pm »
Finding the structure of Reddit thoughtly incomprhensible, here I am to attempt to organize The TUC Reddit AMA with R. Scott Bakker in a manner that is more "readable" to me.

Question: Where does the judging eye get its subjectivity? In other words, why is sin SIN? In my mind, perhaps there is no answer, the God has its own reasons, its own unconscious motivation perhaps. But it seems some animals are more holy than others, some acts more heinous than others. Is this human morality (Mimara interpeting what she sees) or God's morality? Is there a reason for this morality?

Answer: Ad hoc arbitrariness is the problem all traditional religions share. Blind consensus covers this arbitrariness over, but as soon as you start asking questions, it becomes ever more obvious. Ethics and meta-ethics represent attempts to rationalize this arbitrariness, but can never seem to bootstrap any scheme out of the mire of philosophical disputation, leading to the suspicion that they too, are arbitrary. The suspicion in our world is that moral authority basically boils down to power. The fact in the World is that this arbitrariness is an objective feature of reality. Since modern readers rely on modern versions of blind consensus, the idea was to write a fantasy that would grate against moral sensibilities, calling attention to the plight of all morality in the modern age.

Question: I'll have a second shot at my question from the SA forum - when Mimara sees Esme as saved, the responce is she is saved. It's great she's out of the eternal torture machines grasp (jn that way), but is there a theme here that what might be taken as caring is kind of powered by hate? I mean, how saved can you be when to be in that position requires massive torture - or is that too bleeding heart? Anyway, I kinda got that from the book - I wondered if it was actually intended to be there.

Also Happy Ent pointed out the idea that destroying one of the horns of Golgoterath is symbolic of the pairing down of possibilities represented in branching trees previously and the mysterious twig, down to a final pair being the horns - one of which is pruned. Did he call it?

Also is Aurang actually dead?


Answer: Sorry I missed this, scrollbreak.

My answer to shaik2016 covers this, I think. You need only be liked. The answer is as simple and as complicated as that. Many things the God hates, such as premeditation and rarely forgives. If one's heart is 'in the right place,' this often helps. But you have to ask Him - I fear he stopped talking to me a long time ago! Apparently he only likes those who believe as children do.

Happy Ent is a wise and jolly soul. I would trust him regarding all symbolic matters involving thorns, horns, and branches.

Aurang is dead, yes.

Question: What's next for you?

Will the ending for TUC be made clearer in the following books?

How long until the name for the next series is revealed? My bet is on

Talking about following books, what is the current plan for more fiction in Earwa?

Are you writing more papers in the style of On Alien Philosophy?

Are more detective-style novels in the works?

Also, your works are fucking mindfucks, pardon the french, of the highest order and I love them. Not only my favorite fantasy, but favorite literary work I have ever read.


Answer: Hindsight often has a tendency to clarify things - there are revelations to come, certainly! I'm guessing the next iteration of "What has come before..." will be a welcome read for some readers.

The next series is, and always has been, entitled The No-God.

There's the matter of the last surviving full Dunyain Anasurimbor on the loose--that's what's been commanding my attention most these days. I'm actually just finishing a paper on literature after the death of meaning for a big anthology on Philosophy and Literature by Palgrave. I sorely wish to write another Disciple Manning novel (The Enlightened Dead has been my working title for, like, ever, now) but genre jumping has proven to be a punishing experience, sales-wise.

Thanks for digging the vision, simbyotic. The whole point is to complete the circuit and loose the whirlwind!

Question: Hello Scott!

I'm a big fan of your books (I especially liked the descent into "hell" that Mimara and Achamian makes). I do wonder about the fact that Kellhus couldn't spot his own son. I understand that by then he had somehow been possessed by the gods but at the same time it was also Kellhus? It left me kind of confused. Was it a temporary blindness that doomed him or something else?

Thank you so much for your books, they are by far the most violent, disturbing, dark fantasy I've ever read and I love it!


Answer: Thanks, nohearts! Great handle, btw.

Precisely the same thing has happened with Kelmomas twice before, the first time with the first incarnation of the White-Luck Warrior on the Andiamine Heights, the second with Sorweel/Yatwer in the Umbilicus.

Question: Hey Scott,

Thanks for doing this!

Now that TAE is finished, is there anything you can tell us about The Series that Shall Not Be Named? And what about after that? What does the future hold for R. Scott Bakker once the vision is complete?


Answer: So for over 30 years now I've lived with the certainty that I would die before completing The Aspect-Emperor. For me, in a powerful sense, the story ends here with the death of Kellhus and the birth of the No-God. I've scribbled down countless ideas and scenes pertaining to The No-God in the interim, but I have nothing resembling the thousandfold thought born in that teenager's fantasy/philosophy besotted head all those years ago. No grand plan. For the first time in my life I find myself a 'discovery writer.'

And I'm excited to be alive!

Question: Mu'miorn?

TUC was the most brutal of all the books. I am excited and hopeful that we will get the next chapter in Earwa. Were Inri Sejenus and/or Fane Dunyain?


Answer: Breaks my heart. I'm not sure why Immiriccas saddens me so.

As for Fane and Inri-Sejenus, neither were Dunyain.

Question:So what was Kellhuses big plan and its endgame? How did being possessed by Ajokli factor into it?

Did Ajokli abandon Kellhus to be salted in the end? Did Kelmomames presence break possession somehow?

What was up with an image of Kellhus descending to greet the Ordeal and turning into NoGod? Was it a decoy hologram of some kind? Were those some kind of parallel universe shenanigans? (EDIT: oh, I see Bakker answered on TSA forums that this was, in fact, a decoy hologram)

Were the proto-Inchoroi meant to be Earwans? Were they meant to be Earthlings?

Will the final, conclusive series be called "The Second Apocalypse", "A Pile of Salt" or "The God of Endless Hunger"?

Why is Esmi mostly holy while Serwe was, apparently, damned? What made a difference?

When Kellhus is talking to the Mutilated, what language are they speaking? I'd imagine it would make sense for them to use their native Dunyanic, but why does Malowebu understand it then?


Answer: Kellhus's endgame was to prevent Resumption and save the World. He knew something was amiss, and that the closer he came to Golgotterath the more amiss it became, but he, ultimately, was every bit as blind as we are to the darkness that comes before.

Kelmomas is the No-God, and as such invisible to the Gods. He stands outside the outside. This is why he short-circuits both incarnations of the White-Luck Warrior. And this is why he short-circuits Ajokli/Kellhus. This is why only Kellhus is salted.

The Inchoroi are not proto-Earwans.

The final series is entitled The No-God.

My answer to shaik2016 covers this.

Souls speak but one language. They need only remember it.

Question: What overall theme or point are you trying to make clear with TSA? You tend to tie your philosophy into your works of fiction, which I find extremely helpful in understanding wtf is said on TPB, so how does TSA tie into that?

Here's what I'm thinking, hopefully it's not way off base. Thaf the pitfall of humanity is our ignorance. That we all fall into the same trap every time - time and time again. We are the Gods, We are the Dunyain. The Nonmen. The Inchoroi. The Consult. We are simply our own infinite folly - the kind only possible by those who think infinitely of themselves. We each believe we won the 'magical belief lottery'. That OUR certainty is certainly correct because we see so much farther than everyone else.

TSA is the story of ourselves, falling into traps we set ourselves and saw coming and yet still fell for them - still fall for them - ad infinitum.


Answer: The preposterous idea was to write the only kind of scripture that could be written at the end of civilization, so one of the things I did was invert the biblical emphasis on belief and fidelity--thus the textual emphasis on ignorance, doubt, and folly.

When I was fourteen I stumbled upon the problem of free will all by my lonesome, and it fucked me up large. The original idea, that of a prophet rallying humanity to overcome the No-God, grew out of the combination of that dark epiphany and my passion for epic SF&F. My old AD&D crew actually set out on a quest to destroy the Consult and the No-God!

In university a few years afterward, I read Dennett and Hofstadter on memes, and the idea of turning my prophet into a 'meme master' struck me as a lightning bolt. The Dunyain were born. While studying modernism, I realized that fantasy actually provided the perfect literary vehicle. Where the modernist paradigm always features a protagonist struggling to find meaning in a meaningless world (typically through some form of love), I realized I was writing a photographic negative of that, the story of a meaningless character struggling in a meaningful world.

These books are 'about' many things, but the overarching theme is the death of meaning. The crash site of the Ark echoes our 'crash space,' the way all the stone age tools we evolved to make sense of our lives and our time belong to an ancestral ecology that is in the process of collapsing before our very eyes.

Question: First of all, I loved the final battle in TUC. It really brought the epic conclusion that the previous books promised us.

However, I wasn't quite clear on what happened with Kellhus when facing the other Dunyain and he somehow merges with Ajokli? Why would he do that if it meant it would make him blind to the Unholy Consult/No God?

Another question: Now that you are 7 books further down and look back at the Darkness that comes before, what would you have done differently if you were writing that book now?


Answer: Thanks, Theyis. To ask Mimara's question of Achamian, why assume Kellhus is in control of everything? The text is littered with indications that he wasn't.

There's several continuity issues I would love to resolve. But the big thing I would do is tell the entirety of Kellhus's story. I only realized the genius of Frodo-type characters afterward, the way they pair the reader with an innocent, allowing him or her to learn the complexities of the world with the protagonist.

Question: Hi Scott. Big fan since i picked up the first book back in 2004. You're the only author i still purchase in print form.

About your latest book: The Unholy Consult.

I'm going to leave others to ask about the Golden Room, Kellhus/Ajokli and whether or not Shauriatus is soul disperded amongst the Dunyain.

What i really want to know is what is the significance of all the untimely deaths in 4121 and does it tie in with Kellhus training in the Daimos. Anything to do with the Decapitants.

And if you are feeling really generous, could you say if we will ever hear more of Eanna and the tribe that repudiated the Tusk.

Many thanks


Answer: Some shrewd questions, SimilarSimian... I fear your spade has struck hard, golden RAFO.

Question: I hope questions not about your fantasy series are also allowed.

Do you see anyone currently taking up your call for a post intentional humanities and if so can you list them?

What is your advice for those of us who are interested exploring the ethical implications of BBT yet lack academic or scientific standing?

Are there other people producing fiction that you think explore these themes?

When is Through The Brain Darkly going to be released?

What are your plans when it comes to future posts on BBT etc.?

Will the Enlightened Dead ever be released?

You recently said that you would not have given Neuropath the same ending if you were to write it now you have a child. Do you have any idea what ending you would now chose for it?

Just want to conclude by saying thank you for your writing and here's hoping you never stop butting horns with the wankademic intentional establishment!


Answer: All questions are allowed, save those concerning the great toe on my right foot.

Post-intentional humanities are coming, but thanks to the tenure system, a great number of retirements are required for it to embraced as such. The first of the tools are already in play, and people like Joe Carroll and Keith Oatley and the growing band of 'cognitive literary theorists' are clearing the underbrush. But no one in the academy--at least that I've been able to find--has been able to see their way past traditional illusions of meaning. The invitation to contribute to Palgrave's new Literature and Philosophy anthology has been a big step: I'll be sending my contribution out any day now. And once the first AI written novel climbs the bestseller list, things will loosen up, I'm sure.

The best way to explore post-intentional thinking short scientific or academic standing, I think, is via fiction. That's what I've been doing! Peter Watts is exploring all this stuff in fantastic ways. Ligotti, and all the Lovecraftians seem to be following similar trails, or so I've been told.

Through the Brain Darkly is on my 'to complete' list, but at the moment, I find myself absolutely terrified by the AI debate. I have a number of articles in the work, all of them aimed at mass media platforms, all them arguing the urgent, urgent (URGENT) need to begin looking at AI in cognitive ecological terms. If everything I'm saying about heuristic neglect is even remotely true, then the slow slide into the semantic apocalypse is about to go exponential.

If I ever get a chance to write The Enlightened Dead it will be released. I love that guy. As for Neuropath, I waver. Soul-rotting, that book. An indecision machine. But the ideas it conveys are only growing more important, not less. What is the Whitehouse, anymore, if not yet another crash space?

I will never stop poking eyes, you never need fear that! Thanks, johnbriz.

Question: What a reckoning! The Amiolas you've written is a fucking trip, buddy!

Thinking of informative lobs...

On the recent Second Apocalypse Q&A, you mentioned that someone is showing interesting in TSTSNBN (though, you named it there, I don't want to spoil exclusive redditors on your behalf). Can you tell us the publisher? Is it Overlook? If it's not Overlook, would they part with the rights to PON/TAE so that a new publisher can reprint, say, new canonical box sets.

You also mentioned that the TV rights for PON had been optioned as far back as September on your blog and now revealed that "Amazon welched on the TV deal." Anything else you can tell us about future possibilities?

Are there any projects, like the mysterious Lollipop Factory you mentioned last AMA, that you're working on, would like to work on, or have completed that you'd like to talk about?

Looking forward to Zaudunyanicon, brother!


Answer: Thanks Mike--a Cauldron of souls it is!

Everyone's holding their breath, waiting to see what happens with the series, whether it gains the visibility it needs to bootstrap the backlist. I'm forging ahead regardless. I would love to see the whole series marshaled beneath the same banner, but we shall see.

I have nothing to report on the optioning front, I fear. But there's nothing like these books. I think it's only a matter of time, especially with a rowdy fan base like you all!

I actually reserved the recovery report for my crashed harddrive, and from the looks of things The Lollipop Factory is part of the 75% they were able to save.

Zaudunyanicon it is!

Question: Hello, word dancer.

I have two questions, one decidedly banal, one less so.

1.) At one point in the first series, I believe in TTT, you make mention of the terrifying concept of a skin spy with a Mark, as if that is going to play a role of some importance. To remembrance, it doesn't come up again. Where did (do?) you intend to take that concept?

2.) As a writer, I feel like one of the most fruitful techniques for extracting realism and depth from characters is "letting them write their own story". At a certain point of development, they become well formed enough to show you a truer path through the narrative of them.

Is this a phenomenon with which you are familiar and, if so, is there a character that springs to mind who embodies the concept most strongly in your work?

Thank you for any discussion. You are among my very favorite authors of all time.


Answer: Thank you, Irixian.

The skin-spy you're referring to, I'm pretty sure, is the thing called Simas.

As for characterization, it almost feels like these people have always lived in my head. Sometimes they go away, but they always come back. They take turns getting disgusted with me, and me with them. I really am an oddball from a writerly standpoint, I guess, given that I've pursued what amounts to a single cast of characters for the entirety of my professional career.

Question: Hey there, throwing in my couple of questions:

You argued in The Second Apocalypse that both Quya and Dunyain are mistaken in that the absolute cannot be attained, either by will (magic) or comprehension (logos), however we see that Koringus actually achieves it. Am I missing something, or in truth he didn't get it?

About Oblivion, why do souls that go unnoticed by Outside agencies simply vanish at the subject's death? Asking this simply for clarification's sake, but as it was explained in the books, wouldn't the soul simply create their own subjective space on the Outside?

Finally, and please don't take this as s critique, when asked about some specific scenes, such as Kellhus pulling Serwe's shining heart, for example, you always point that the uncertainty of interpretation is one of the key points of such scenes. I'm absolutely okay with that, but do you think that there is any real difference between what you're trying and simply stating a Deus ex Machina situation? In the end in both cases things happen because they happen, and trying any further interpretation is futile.

Anyways, thank you very much for your time and I wish you good luck with the publication of The No-God. By the way, just for curiosity, do you have any provisional title for the first book?


Answer: Does Koringus achieve it? The question is your answer. The idea is that our most certain end, oblivion, is the least certain in the World. It simply follows from the inverted ontology of the World. Oblivion arguably counts as a form of embracing the absolute, insofar as it collapses the dichotomy of subject and object.

The problems souls encounter in the Outside is that they're puny, and so find themselves trapped in intentional realities belonging to infernal and divine agencies. This is why powerful souls (think Gin'yursis) often carve out different fates after death.

I'm not sure I get your use of deus ex machina, since this refers to saving the day via arbitrary plot mechanisms. This is bad because it's lazy. The way you use it, it applies to all true-crime fiction, or any form of writing lacking conventional narrative 'closure,' doesn't it? And what's lazy about intentionally delivering readers to points that deny stable interpretation? It's hard bloody work, let me tell you!

Could it be you possess narrative instincts, the way we all do, that balk at the absence of closure? Some find it more difficult than others. And all this means is that you viscerally feel the problem of meaning more keenly than most.

The question is what do you do next. Do you rationalize, chalk your narrative frustration up to my failure, or do you open yourself up to a new kind of narrative experience. Either I've failed you, or I've shown you a new way to experience meaning. Although I totally understand why people opt for the first, I just don't see what they gain from it.

Question: Hi Scott- I first have to say that I haven't yet read your work, but it is the very first thing in my to-read list. My question regards the role of philosophy in your work, as I understand you are ABD in your PhD. What thinkers (or concepts) are most influential in your work, and where do you fall in the continental-analytic "split"?

I have a continental background (undergrad thesis on Deleuze, and moderate readings in Foucault and Derrida) so I'm wondering, if it's the case that you're more analytic, how much of a divergence there would be between the way you explore or pursue philosophy and how I've been exposed to it.


Answer: It's the attitudes toward ontology and epistemology that most clearly divides the two camps. But as you know there's a host of other factors as well. But apart from diverging views on the priority of the how versus the what, they both share a deep commitment to the ability of intentional cognition to actually solve for intentionality, despite the millennia of disputation--the inability to even agree on any formulation of their ontological or epistemological explananda, let alone any explanation of them.

I like to think I've moved beyond it all, that I'm charting 'post intentional' philosophical territory. My opening blurb actually has a link to my Journal of Consciousness Studies piece, "On Alien Philosophy," which lays out the confusions afflicting both camps in a horrifyingly parsimonious fashion.

Question: So, we didn't get to see it, but who do you think would have come out on top in an Kakaliol (Demon) vs Skuthula (dragon) all out brawl, in a topos?

Answer: Interesting question! It would have to be Skuthula, tho.

Question: Hi Scott, congrats on making it to Book 7.

So I really enjoyed your recommendation of ** Moral Tribes** and ** Homo Dues** any other good books in the same space ?

Piggybacking on this, its 7 books in and I still have no idea what the Absolute is; what Subject and Object are and how they can collapse into one. Reading the above books helped me to really appreciate some of the main themes in your book, is there any other approachable book I can read to understand the ideas behind the Absolute ?

Finally is Kellhus/the Dunyain your idea of what Strong AI may be like ?


Answer: Thanks, Kriptical. In terms of recent reads, I quite liked Dennett's latest, as well as Sperber and Mercier's book on reason. But I would actually recommend Kahneman's Thinking, Fast and Slow, as well as Haidt's, The Self-Righteous Mind.

Hegel is the go to person on all things absolute, but I wouldn't visit that on anyone! Consider the difference between what you're presently looking at (an objective thing) and how you're looking (via subjective experience). Thus the famous subject/object dichotomy. So say you pose the question, which comes first? An idealist believes the object is a figment of the subject, whereas a materialist believes the subject is a figment of the object. Once you begin playing this game, everything bogs down into disputation, and it seems there's no escape. Hegel's 'absolute' stands among one of the more famous escape attempts.

As for Kellhus and AI, yes. One of the things I want people to understand is the degree to which 'freedom' is a function of where you stand in the pecking order of intelligences. We're actually on the cusp of becoming 'worldborn,' given that the rudimentary 'conversational user interfaces' presently being sold to corporations by Microsoft, just for instance, have access to vast data sets allowing them to predict your preferences better than you can predict them yourself.

Question: So many questions. I'll try not to be greedy and stick with one topic:

You referred to the Mutilated (on the SA forum) as the Sons of Imimorul. An interesting quote from TUC, where our Skin-Spy Serwe says:


Quote
"The Nonmen seek the Absolute" ... "They practice Elision, thinking they can hide themselves from Judgement, and so pass into Oblivion unseen, find absolution in the Absolute. The Dunyain use the same word the Kuniuri inherited from the Nonmen, but enamoured of intellect and reason, they believe it to be a goal ..."

It made me wonder if the Dunyain were originally created by the Nonmen as an experimental "race" with the sole purpose of finding "Elision". When the Apocalypse happened they ended up migrating and finding Ishual, continuing with their single goal. The Dunyain believe history needs to be forgotten, so they wouldn't know their origins.

With your added blurb above, I have to wonder if the Dunyain are as old as Imimorul, and he simply created them (along with the Nonmen) to have help finding Oblivion. Did Imimorul create the Inchoroi as well? Did he simply beat them to Earwa? Gotta admit, their stories and goals are very similar. Why not cast a wide net to solve your problem instead of focusing on one potential solution?

Is the story of planting his flesh inside of Lions (to create the Nonmen) related to the Tekne and creation of sranc / skin-spies? I ponder the similarities between Imimorul, the Larvals, and (to an extent) Mutilated. Perhaps this is the reason for the awful things done to their bodies.


Answer: I never refer to them as the Sons of Imimorul, though I recall answering a question regarding them as well as a question whether we'll see the Cunuroi in the future in the same sentence.

The Dunyain are a product of the Apocalypse, the collection of a group of refugees who blame their misfortune on sorcery and dysrationalia. Imimorul has nothing to do with the Inchoroi either, though I feel bad for nixing a surprising and interesting line of speculation!

Question: Thank you for taking the time and answering our questions! Mine is as follows:

Are topoi and anarcane grounds connected to Earwa being the Promised World?


Answer: Thank you, SmilerLoki. Only insofar as they are isolated, surrounded by arcane grounds. The Inchoroi homeworld, for instance, is entirely anarcane.

Question: I am terrible at coming up with questions on the spot. Was the idea of time as a constant cira kelmonas and the white luck I can't believe I didn't see that coming. Was he always going to be the no god?

Answer: Kelmomas was always the No-God.

Question: 1.) Is Earwa a computer simulation?

2.) Are the Inchoroi literally supposed to be mankind from Earth's future or just a cautionary representation?

3.) Have we seen the last of Eryelk? The Knife of Many Hands seems like it was the beginning of something larger.

4.) What video games are you into besides NHL? Are there any fantasy RPGs that had an impact on you?

5.) You said you took a copy of TDTCB to show your Dad, since he always thought working on your tabletop campaign was a waste of time. How did he react to it?

6.) Do you think the depravity in these books enhances the audience's experience enough to compensate for the readers it drives away?

7.) Were Moenghus and Maithanet at odds during the First Holy War? Moenghus cuts a deal to sabotage the crusaders but it seems like Maitha really wanted them to make it to Shimeh.

8.) Would Inrilatas have activated System Resumption if he were placed in the Ark?

9.) Why was Nau-Cayuti able to activate System Initiation?

10.) What was Kellhus' plan for Achamian in this series? Why did he send the Skin Eaters to find Nil'Giccas and wait by Hunoreal?

11.) If Kellhus didn't care if the Empire fell, why didn't he just leave it to Maithanet anyway?

12.) Does Kellhus love Esmenet?


Answer:
1.) No.

2.) No.

3.) I hope not, but I have no immediate plans.

4.) Some Total War. I make a point of playing each new CoD.

5.) He grinned and congratulated me.

6.) Only time will tell. In the meantime, trackless ground is trackless ground.

7.) No.

8.) No.

9.) Because his brain could complete the System circuit.

10.) To witness his fidelity.

11.) Because his brother was part-Dunyain.

12.) She's a blindspot, possessing some consequence, but no more than an anomaly.

Question: Hello, and thanks for writing the most disturbing, depraved, and darkest books I've probably ever read. Sorry if these questions are irrelevant or asked and explained elsewhere. I just finished The Unholy Consult yesterday and they stem from the Confusion That Comes After, and are rambling fruits of my attempt to digest what I just read.

    Did Kellhus fail because of his professed abandonment of Logos as the ultimate path, and his pact with Gods? In any case he wasn't truly walking the Conditioned Ground any longer? If indeed walking it is possible at all (see below).

    Why didn't Kellhus see that Esmenet would free Kelmomas and that Kelmomas would seek the Inchoroi, when he clearly otherwise saw what Kelmomas was?

    Was Malowebi right about the Dûnyain being as Sranc or Inchoroi, at the end engineered towards a singleminded goal/Cause, the Logos and the Absolute, unable to pursuit anything else, and thus in fact becoming the very opposite of a self-moving soul?

    What is the true role of the Gods? If Kelmomas is invisible to the Gods, what has touched him? Or are they just tools to emphasize the arbitrariness and randomness of the universe, the absurdity of the pursuit of mastering existence and life in general, the futility of trying to fight the darkness that comes before, the impossibility of escaping the ultimate flailing blindness of existence? Like the final irony of the results of the Dûnyain breeding experiment.


Answer: Thank you distantdiscord: Kellhus became less Kellhus and more Ajokli the nearer he came to Golgotterath. He failed to execute on the Thousandfold Thought because he took the stability of his personal identity for granted.

Because he's under spiritual duress, while planning to assault the most dread fortress that ever existed.

Under a certain interpretation he is unquestionably right. But a great number of interpretations can be argued here.

Plato has a version of this question, as does Nietzsche. They are a fantastic conceit, of course, but within the logic of the World, they can be seen as the Unconscious of the real, and so in an important sense prior to questions of rationality.

Question: Big fan of world building, so i have to ask: What is in Eanna, and will we see it at some point. I know from a world building POV that all authors need an end to their world (this question could also be asked of Tolkien, GRRM, etc.), but the Kayarsus mountain range at the Eastern edge of your map makes me wonder about the relationship between Eanna and Earwa.

Answer: RAFO - the second one!

One thing I can say is that edges of my maps will never be filled in. What characterizes ancient worlds, profoundly, I think, is the degree to which they are encircled in darkness.

Question: Hello Scott,

Congratulations on finishing the Aspect-Emperor series! I am awestruck at the series.

I have tried to work out for myself what your series is commenting on. And if I understand it correctly, there are multiple moralities at play in the world of Earwa. There is the saving and damnation by the gods, and there is Kellhus' attempt to save humanity from the consult, but both of these actions do not align along the same vectors of morality. On top of that, there are any senses of morality that readers themselves bring into the text. And none of these moralities is shown as the ultimate reality in Earwa. Is this close to what you were aiming for with this series? Even the confrontation at Golgotterath undermines any conclusion about which morality is right or wrong. greets, HS


Answer: Thank you, HumanSieve.

Yes. All the lines of moral speculation (many of which are incompatible, as you say) converge on Golgotterath, the point where all meaning and morality breakdown. And this crash site is meant reflect our contemporary crash space of meaning and morality. I wanted Golgotterath to be the point where the story climbs out of the World, and onto the skin of our planet.

Question: Let me just start by saying that TUC was amazing, but it sure raises a lot of questions (like much good art does).

1.) Why did Kellhus say to Proyas that the Inchoroi must win? Was he arguing from the perspective of the Consult?

2.) If the 100 are re-written in the shadow of Golgotterath, does that mean that if the World is closed to the Outside, the Gods will cease to exist as they have always not existed?

3.) How are the 100 re-written? How can the Ark be a disfiguring absence if it's "sentience" is dead and the No-God isn't resurrected?

4.) Is the vision of Gilgaöl Akka has while dreaming of being Celmomas in TGO Ajokli?'

5.) If your response to Tasty_Y is meant to be read as Kellhus genuinely wanting to save the World, does that mean that he didn't count on getting possessed? Also, when did Ajokli start inhabiting him/speaking to him? Was it on the Circumfix?


Answer: Thank you WA.

1.) Is that what he says?

2.) That's definitely a suggestive interpretative possibility.

3.) The Ark isn't invisible, only its meaning. That's the disfiguring absence.

4.) The Trickster is as eternal as any of the other Gods.

5.) That which comes after determines what comes before.

Question: My first time asking a question on one of these AMAs, I'm very self-conscious about it.

In some posts on Three Pound Brain you've written about how authors who strive to create Literature should reject the Myth of the Vulgar Cage and embrace genre fiction. Do you know of, or can you recommend any authors who seem to be doing this?


Answer: There's many people here who could answer that question better than I could, dharm. One of my greatest shames/regrets is having stopped reading in the genres I write. Cognitive science owns me anymore--as you probably know better than most!

Question: i get that the gods can't see Kelmomas, but was it possible for Kellhus as a human to unravel the nature of the threat he posed? Given the Yatwer face concealer Sorweel was wearing, it's understandable that Kellhus never understood Sorweel was the WLW and missed the significance of what happened. But was it possible for him to unravel what happened with the other WLW? In other words, did he just never have a chance to figure it out because Kelmomas is outside the outside or can we take it that Kellhus failed because he wasn't looking closely enough at things that were right under his nose.

Answer: How is Kellhus supposed to find something he never looks for? The Dunyain, for all their intelligence, remain finite. They are every bit as vulnerable to neglect, especially when taxed by something like running an empire, and confronted with a child who can hide within himself, if need be.

Question: What books do you find yourself recommending most to others?

Answer: Lately, Homo Deus, by Yuval Noah Harari. And if the ideas he's working with seem difficult or unfamiliar, then I recommend reading it again. He has a low grain, and therefore more accessible, account of the very things I've been warning about for a long, long time. And the tipping point is very near.

Question: Thoughts on the untimely death of Chris Cornell? I know from past discussions you're a big Soundgarden fan.

Do you feel like you're writing what you want to express now? The last two books have been amongst the very best I have ever read and I hope you are more satisfied with your writing than you were with The Darkness That Comes Before.


Answer: I'm still trying to wrap my head around it. I was angry for a good couple weeks, so much so I probably would have made the mistake of writing about it and so remained angry for the rest of my life. But my computer died just the week before, and I was forced to mull the fact the ancestral way, and to come to grips with the fact, rather than my public statements regarding the fact.

Question: I love what you did with House Anasurimbor. The most interesting family I've ever read.
My question is, will we ever read about them growing up or do you have any prequels/backstory in the plans?


Answer: Thanks, er, Kel. The story isn't over yet, so I haven't given much thought to prequels. Say hi to Sammi for me ;)
« Last Edit: October 16, 2018, 05:21:59 pm by H »
“I am a warrior of ages, Anasûrimbor . . . ages. I have dipped my nimil in a thousand hearts. I have ridden both against and for the No-God in the great wars that authored this wilderness. I have scaled the ramparts of great Golgotterath, watched the hearts of High Kings break for fury.” -Cet’ingira

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« Reply #21 on: October 16, 2018, 03:26:32 pm »
Ao attempt to organize The TUC Reddit AMA with R. Scott Bakker in a manner that is more "readable" to me, part 2.

Question: Hi Scott, thanks for doing this. Loved The Unholy Consult.

Anyway, here's my barrage of questions:

Are gods just greater forms of Ciphrang? They both seem to do the same thing (eat souls). Do both exist in the Outside?

Where do saved souls go? Is there a nice part of the Outside, like Elysium in the Greek myths, or is there another place entirely?

Over the last two novels it seemed there were hints that Kellhus was beginning to feel human emotions like love, hence his rescuing Esmenet (unless that was just another part of his Dunyain scheming). Assuming he was becoming more human, his motives that he expresses to the other Dunyain in Golgotterath don't make sense to me. If I recall, Kellhus says something to the effect that he wants to become a god and feast on souls, contradicting the idea that he has come to actually give a shit about people. Was he just lying when he said that?

Following from that, why did he have to go to Golgotterath to merge with Ajokli? Was that the only place in the world close enough to hell for the god to break through into the world? But the gods seem to intervene outside of such places, so I'm a bit confused on this point. Was his fusion with Ajokli meant to be his method of achieving god-hood? It didn't seem to work very well, unless Kellhus now is Ajokli in the Outside.

Now for one that I know you won't answer: Is Kellhus gone for good? I suspect it's a bit more difficult to get rid of the bastard than that.


Answer: Thanks, EmpiricalMiracle - great handle!

Gods are greater shards of the Shattered God, and Ciphrang the lesser. The greater the Shard, the greater the associated reality, or 'heaven/hell.'

Darkness has been claiming more and more of Kellhus as the Great Ordeal advanced. Ajokli was his destination, and the closer he came, the more he began to resemble him, finally becoming him in the Golden Room.

Kellhus is dead.

Question: Hi there! thanks for doing this,

-Which character evolved the most from your original conception and as you completed the 2nd Apocalypse series? Why?

-If you could go back and change anything in entire 2nd Apoc series what would they be?

-What has been the greatest influence on your writing?

Thanks again!


Answer: It's a good question from the standpoint of AE. I was actually frightened at times by the fun I had writing Ikurei Conphas in PoN. In AE, I feel like every character surprised me at this or that turn. I always be thankful to Proyas for dying the way he did. Moenghus surprised for turning out to be so difficult.

My influences are now too numerous to mention aside from Herbert, Howard, Tolkien, Lamb, and Nietzsche.

Question: Are the gods actively at odds with one another? It seems like Ajokli and Yatwer at least are on opposite sides in this thing.

Will we see anything from the people of Eanna? I assume every child being stillborn is a global thing, and raises concerns all over. Are there any eastern Nonmen? Nonmen that were never exposed to the Womb Plague?

I feel like Zeum, as the only intact Earwan nation will play a large role in The No-God.

And one small final thing, as I was browsing the Appendices last night, I noticed that Ikurei Conphas' entry has no date of death... I'm guessing that it's just a glitch saved over from TTT appendices and never updated, but you've thrown a few curveballs that I have missed over the years.


Answer: Yes, the Gods do strive and compete in their incomprehensible ways. Zeum has no choice but to throw off its arrogance and insularity, and as for Eanna, all I can say is RAFO.

The Conphas entry is just an oversight. Some 'errors' are intentional on my part, however. For one, prescientific encyclopedias are messy, messy things, and for another, working on the EG makes me feel like God... a cruel and wicked one.

Question: Your prose in the Aspect-Emperor just really took off and knocked me over. Was there anything in particular that inspired you to do the second half of the series with that style of storytelling?

Answer: Thanks, Kvotable. I sat on TGO/TUC for so long because of TTT, which I felt I had shortchanged in the name of deadlines. But at a certain point in writing, it felt like the sheer length of time I had lived with the story led to my unconscious taking over. It remains the most extraordinary writing experience of my life.

Question: 1.) As far as I'm aware this has been the first book where we've seen "partial" salting. Where a limb or part of one, usually arms of legs is salted from contact instead of killing them. We've seen "rinds" or skin damage from proximity to Chorae but not from direct hits. Serwa survives a direct hit and only loses the arm? But before we've seen cases with those have especially deep Marks to start salting from just proximity. Surely a Mark like Serwa's should have left her dead after a direct hit to the arm rather than losing the limb? In fact, in the first chapter of TDTCB, Achamian is essentially held at gunpoint by a Chorae above his palm. Now, at 44 years of age at the start his Mark must have been pretty deep.

Is there a "spectrum" to being salted by Chorae?

2) Is there any hopes for a further edited Glossary in future printings? While I loved reading it, all the character entries from TTT are lifted with no death dates added and there are loads of things I looked forward to looking up in the Glossary but alas, were nowhere to be found. Some I had hoped for, an entry on the Tall, the Cinderswords.

And is Glimir and Alamir the same sword? It's described as the High-King's sword, spelt as Kelmomas, and matches Glimir's description from TGO.

There's an entry on the finger locking handshake of Boonsmen...but not one on Boonsmen.

3) I noticed in TUC Thanteus Eskeles changed to Teus, eye colours changing etc. Are these just oversights?


Answer:1.) There's been partial saltings at a couple points prior to Serwa's "barely stubbed" knuckle.

2.) It's not true that "all the character entries from TTT are lifted with no death dates added." Not at all. I'm not worried about the odd oversight, and in fact (as I've mentioned a couple times now) there's a good number of intentional errors. You're making a yardstick out of a decidedly modern sensibility, Wolfdrop. Check out Diderot's Encyclopedie if you want a gander at what authentic prescientific compendiums look like.

That said, Glamir/Alamir is likely a continuity error.

3) There's no such entry in TTT.

Question: 1.) Will we be seeing Kosoter again, or is his story finished?

2.) Can Nonmen become Ciphrang?

3.) What's the deal with Aurax? Was he always so meek, or was that a result of the Mutilated?


Answer:1.) Define 'finished.'

2.) Gin'yursis, I think, qualifies as a Ciphrang. A certain intensity of ill-will is all that's required.

3.) Define 'meek.'

Question: So does Kellhus truly love Esmenet in his own way?

Also how did the dreams lie to Akka?

Where is Meppa?

Why did Kellhus have Malowebi's body go out to High Holy Zeum to wipe out the dynasty's blood line?

Was he paving the way for a perceived future that has now gone to salt?

Was it Kellhus or Ajokli who made deals with the pit?

Thank you for this series, it is perhaps the series that has stuck with me, and intrigued me since 2009.


Answer: Thank you, Feckless Fool.

There's a fine line between dreams lying and dreamers misinterpreting. Kellhus sent Malowebi back to punish the Satakhan for violating his treaty with the New Empire.

The rest are RAFO, I fear!

Question: Some questions I didn't post on TSA forum q&a:

1. Mimara is described as having green eyes by Akka in TJE (in contrast to Esmenet) but as having brown eyes by Esmenet in TUC. Does the EYE change one's eye colors or is this a continuity error?

2. Are Aurang's Wards aporetic? Does Aurang know aporetic sorcery?

3. Why did the Survivor only have one son? What's the point of the Whale Mothers if they don't give birth to large litters? Or was the unnamed boy the least defective of a massive litter?

edit: Oh, remembered another couple:

4. Qirri is totally Chanv right? Do the Jekk go to the ruins of Curunq and just gather the dust there? Or is it imported from somewhere further in Eanna?

5. I don't understand how the Breaking of the Gates functioned in practical terms. Even with supplied Chorae, the Tribes were described as being Neolithic in technology at best, right? So, even if the population of Siol were a few depleted thousands - how did the Tribes actually break Siol's literal gates with stone weapons and stone tools?


Answer:1. Continuity error. A consequence of losing track of my original character sheets, I imagine.

2. No his Wards are not aporetic, but yes, he knows some aporetic sorcery, but he has grown decrepit over the ages, the same as Aurax.

3. We have no idea how many sons the Survivor sired (say that 5 times fast!). Whalemothers were bred for the 'quality' of the children they birthed, not quantity.

4.1) No, it's not, though it's a fascinating supposition.

4.2) This has been a hot point of debate among various Three Seas scholars as well. The Eannans had overwhelming numbers and Chorae to be true, but they were little more than savages. The tribes also had their Shamans, but these shouldn't have been any match for the Siolan Quya. Some claim that a great number of Nonmen were actively searching for a way to die, that it was a matter of 'death by Halaroi.'

Question: Hey Scott, thanks for doing this! Before I get my questions out of the way, I'd like to thank you for kindling my interest in philosophy. I was at a loss for what major I would go into, but Three Pound Brain and The Second Apocalypse steered me in what I think was the right direction. I never would have thought of taking up philosophy (at least not when I did) as my field of study had it not been for The Darkness That Comes Before. In that sense, your works have been among the most influential in my life so far. I really appreciate that.

Now, for Worldly things. I tried to cut down the number of questions, but I find that after seven books and years of wait, that is kind of difficult. Please pick whatever tickles your fancy!

    Kellhus's two Decapitants -- who were they? I originally thought one of the heads might be Kosoter's (decapitation seems to have a certain weight in Eärwa), but that was a theory I discarded.

    Was Kelmomas's obsession with invisibility and stealth a personality quirk that simply happened to coincide with his being invisible to the Gods, or does being the No-God (assuming the Outside is timeless and Kelmomas has always been the No-God) impress itself upon the Object even before it happens in the World?

    The scalper whose heart had an eye in it -- was there something special about him (or the eye), or was this merely a reality-warping effect of Cil-Aujas being topoi?

    Did Kayûtas really succumb to the Meat and the following episode of madness, or was this part of a ploy to sway Proyas?

    144,000 is a number that appears several times in the series as crucial in sealing off the Outside. If successful, would the seal be permanent, or would the population of ensouled beings need to remain at or below the allotted number in order for the population to escape Damnation?

    Does the blood of the Anasûrimbor have anything to do with activating the Carapace? And, as a tie-in question, does the absence of a soul have anything to do with the mechanics of reviving the No-God?

    Was Nau-Cayuti fundamentally flawed in the way that Kelmomas was, or am I reading too much into similarities between them?

    What effects would ingesting Sranc ash have on the mind/body?

    Is the Heron Spear simply a mobile variant of the Sun Spear?

    When Kellhus was training in the Daimos, did he kill a bunch of Believers as part of his practice?

    Did Shaeönanra really have no agency in the meeting between the five Dûnyain and Kellhus? It seemed improbable, although fitting, that he would succumb and falter against the Dûnyain, but perhaps this is just me projecting my expectations upon circumstances.

    Was Moënghus forthright with Kellhus about his reasons for leaving Ishuäl?

    It has been established that Esmenet is Kellhus's "only" darkness (strictly not true, but in his own view at least) -- when he imprisoned Kelmomas after the murder of Sorweel and asked Esmenet not to free him, did he do this because he knew she would do the opposite of whatever he asked, or was it an honest plea to a woman he actually loved?

    Did the Tusk really come from Man?

    Does all of the world that Eärwa is located on exist at a roughly similar level of technological (and sorcerous) advancement?

    Although I fear this might be in classified territory; whence the Consult's obsession with the Psûkhe? I took it to be a unique threat to their existence and their plans (maybe even to the No-God itself), and Meppa did nothing to answer my lingering questions. Was it simply a variable they needed to eliminate, or is there something in the Psûkhe's metaphysical properties that makes it separately threatening, as opposed to the Gnosis/Metagnosis and the Anagogis, for example?

    And finally, have you begun scribbling on the first drafts of The No-God, or are you enjoying a well-deserved break?


Answer: Thanks Z. You've got to many Qs to realistically answer, but I can clear up a couple of things.

The Consult was obsessed because of Moenghus's discovery of their skin-spies. No part of Earwa's native population enjoys any 'technological advantage' in any gunpowdery sense. And lastly, it's not the blood that enables the Carapace, its the ability of the brain to functionally emulate that of an original Insertant.

Question: Ok, probably a weird question, but still: Are phrases ocassionally said by characters in foreign languages just some random keybashing, or have you applied Tolkien-ish linguistic complexity to this aspect?

Because, you know, Tolkien's fans have their Quenya; Star Trek nerds have their Klingon. Might we, by any chance, ever expect some kind of linguistic insight into Earwa's languages? Would be certainly fun to be able to say something in Aghurzoi aside from "mirukaka hor’uruz" and "chigraaaa … ku’urnarcha murkmuk sreeee"


Answer: I agree it would be cool, but even though I have studied five different languages aside from English, I regard it as the biggest waste of time in my life. It's never a matter of simple keybashing, tho. I still regularly turn to my old ancient Greek, Latin, and Anglo-Saxon dictionaries.

Question: Hey Scott,congrats on the book.

Just a tiny thing that's been bugging me; both Ajokli and Gilgaol have been described as having a four-horned aspect (Gilgaol due to his crown). In the end, when Cnaiur can't find Kellhus, was he possessed by Gilgaol or Ajokli?

Thanks.


Answer: Thanks Arjenics. Cnaiur becomes a vehicle for Ajokli at the end. Hate has become impotent.

Question: I'm not terribly familiar with the continental tradition in philosophy, having been "trained" on analytic philosophers, but as of late I've found the continental folks more and more interesting, if sometimes sort of opaque to me.

Who do you see as the central contemporary figures in continental philosophy? Which thinkers have influenced you the most? Same for the analytic philosophers, if that's something you can speak to.

To what degree are you connected to/influenced by the sphere of "rationalist" bloggers and thinkers currently working on things like AI risk, probability theory, general science-informed philosophy, etc? There are a lot of similarities between some of your writing, especially the Dunyain and their "probability trance", and some of the stuff coming out of that corner, so I wonder how much is causal influence and how much is convergent evolution.

Which articles/blog posts best illustrate your own thinking? Is "On Alien Philosophy" the current go-to? Congrats on your recent publications, by the way!


Answer: A pox on both their houses, I say. For me, Heidegger is the biggest continental influence, and Wittgenstein the biggest analytic, but the boundaries between these figures have been dissolving for decades now. For me, preference now largely turns on the ingroup academic cultures belonging to either pole. Science is really the only provender of reliable theoretical explanation we have, and to the degree that 'analytics' embrace skepticism regarding a priori speculation, I find them far more willing to engage in genuine debate. Continental philosophy is so groupish: I often have difficulty isolating arguments that have any appeal outside narrow, ingroup expectations. So much of what I read smacks of cheerleading. There are notable exceptions, such as Ray Brassier and David Roden, but they actually lie between the poles. Dan Dennett and Eric Schwitzgebel are my go to 'analytic' thinkers.

As an eliminativist with a genuine explanation of intentional phenomena, I find myself quite alone. The world's only 'post-intentional' philosopher, or thinker, or hobbyist, or whatever.

Pretty much the whole of my position can be unpacked from "On Alien Philosophy."

Question: Hi Scott,

First of all I have to say that I loved all of your books. I was hooked ever since reading the first sentence of The Darkness That Comes Before to be honest. Many of the questions that have been asked so far are great, but here are a few of mine:

    Besides the effects that we see already for consuming Qirri, does it also extend your lifespan? I'm asking because I would hate for Achamian to just drop dead due to old age in the middle of the Second Apocalypse.

    Did Kellhus have any further use for Malowebi or was Malowebi's "survival" just a side effect of attaching the Decapitant's head to his body?

and finally:

    Was Kellhus convinced of his ultimate victory against the Consult, or did he plan some kind of fail-safe?


Answer: Thanks, Anomandaris26. There's no known accounts of humans consuming Qirri - which is taboo among the Nonmen and missing from their historical records as well. No one knows.

Otherwise, Kellhus is dead. I think it's safe to assume he regarded the Great Ordeal as an all or nothing affair.

Question: Scott, first of all thanks for doing another AMA and then - congratulations for finishing this huge endeavour with a bang!

Though I appreciate the Greek tragedy touch to all of it, I can't help feeling sad for how it all turned out :) I guess thats the beauty of it.

Anyway, here are my questions:

    Was Kellhus aware that he would be literally possessed by Ajokli? Was he in his full faculties during/after their merging, or did he rather turn an unwitting pawn for the god?

    Who was the figure Kellhus was speaking to in his dreams/visions, on the Circumfix and onwards?

    Why did Yatwer attack Kellhus at all? Was she aware of the Ajokli deal?

    Sorweel's change into the WLW felt a bit abrupt. What turned him away from the revelations he experienced thanks to Oiranal?

    You've mentioned @ other places that the theory about the Nonmen creating the Gods ("and bid their fathers as sons..") is not factual. But how? It ties in so well! And if not, what was the meaning of that origin song anyway?

    Ultimatley and apart from the real-world coffee-shop inspiration for the head on the pole, what was its meaning? Is it a Daimos thing that all practioners employ, or is it something unique that Kellhus fashioned to keep himself sane/alive while in the Outside?

    The whole God/Mimara/baby thing was built up way too much for what happened at the end. Was all of it a red herring or is the God of Gods truly taking part in next installments in any way? Is he, too, blind to the No-God? Is he splintered and not-splintered at the same time? Did the Progenitors reach any conclusions about that entity?

Thanks again for all these years and all the best! :)


Answer: Thank you, Joro, I'm glad you enjoyed!

He drifted into it, before finally being seized in the Golden Room.

Ajokli seems a safe supposition.

'Aware' is not a term quite applicable to the Gods. This is simply unknown--perhaps unknowable.

Serwa and Zsoronga, especially, were the final straws, what finally forced the planks of reason to break. Just list all the mad reversals and revelations, not to mention indignities and deprivations he had suffered. Being so close to Golgotterath didn't help.

I'm not sure how one have 'too big' a build-up for the death of birth! I'm guessing you were just expecting something different.

The rest, I fear, is RAFO.

Question: What academic works should one read to better understand your ideas? I have already singled out a few authors: Dan Wegner, Metzinger, Dennett, Joseph Carroll, Keith Oakley, Gregg Caruso. Who am I missing?

I guess Gigerenzer as well.

Also, it's not asking a lot of you to write a book on BBT, concurrently with your fiction output, is it?


Answer: If follow through on the references listed in "On Alien Philosophy," understood through the lens of that paper, and you should be in good shape. I've yet to refire the generators over at Three Pound Brain, but once I do, you can ask followup questions there.

Question: What was your favorite scene to write? The Werigda prologue was the most terrifying to read, and all of Achamian's final scenes in each book felt cathartic.

Answer: For me, personally, Cnaiur/Ajokli wading into the hoard, screaming at the Whirlwind, looking for Kellhus. I wrote the first version of that scene in my 20's if you can believe it. Countless things in my life were tied off by it.

Question: Hi Scott. Thanks for these fantastic books.

    What is the significance of those the Judging Eye sees as ciphrang? Is this a sign of deep sin (extra-toasty damnation) or transcendent spiritual power?

    Does Kellhus only let Sorweel die slowly so that Akka will kneel?

    Is the Thousandfold Thought done, or will it survive Kellhus as it did his father?

    Has Resumption bared the rest of the Hundred from interferiing in the real world?


Answer: Thank you!

    Yes. 2) I'm not sure what you're referring to, unless you actually mean Proyas. If so, then, no. Kellhus has far too much going on to worry such details at this point. 3) The Thousandfold Thought has run it's course. 4) The Gods are pretty much witless now. Imagine a virus erasing your memories and your meta-memories simultaneously. Theological Alzheimers.

Question: Have you imagined up any detailed theories of the gnosis and metagnosis, like particular metagnostic inutteral combinations Kellhus uses and how it gives effect above regular gnostic versions? I'm fascinated with your treatment of sorcery in the books.

Is the outside intended to represent a solution to the meaning problem, a type of existence that is meaningful? According to the wiki, Ajencis posits, "The many regions of the Outside then represent diminishing levels of objectivity, where circumstances yield more and more to desire..." To me this seems still mechanistic in nature, just the circuits of thought of strong beings taking priority over external rules/mechanisms. If it lies within scope of logic, anything I can imagine concerning intentionality is just a different kind of mechanism from the mundane world, so ultimately subject to many of the same problems. Not fundamentally different from the dunyain conclusion of matter dominating matter. The exception would be some eternal absolute self-creating god that somehow is everything and so has no external influences, but that doesn't much help us in the shallow end.


Answer: The Outside is definitely part of the problem, not the solution to it. The structure of the World/Outside in the anthropomorphic cosmology of the books is akin to that of conscious/unconscious. The latter is famously antithetical to logic, and in many ways, prior to it.

Question: Hey, I was wondering if there was anything new in Fantasy you'd gotten into and enjoyed recently?

Also: I'm curious; you've said that this is as far as you planned and are now exploring but would you be fine with the series ending here? Does it feel like an appropriate seal on Earwa and its mysteries or did some things you want to deal with grow beyond this planned point?

EDIT: Oh! And is there a popular fan theory that threw you?


Answer: Yes... and no. This ends the Thousandfold Thought that has obsessed me all these years. The No-God has always been part of the plan, but the future has always been, for whatever reason, fuzzy beyond the assault on Golgotterath.

I actually stopped perusing fan theories quite some time ago because I found it was jamming my own theories of where things needed to go. But recently, on the Second Apocalypse Forum people kept referring to something called the 'Baby Kellhus' theory, and though I have no damn idea what they're on about, I find it shocking and absurd.

Question: Hello from Russia Scott! Thanks for your work. I believe you're the best writer in the genre now. I wanted to ask you one question. We know the fate of Shauriatis, but what about other Mangaecca schoolmen? Did they all perish in the first Apocalypse? Did they all fall victim to Shae's magic experiments? Or is the answer to this question a spoiler for the third series? (Sorry for my English)

Answer: Welcome Neonowain!

Do we know the fate of Shauriatis? The Mangaecca, on the other hand, died out a long time ago.

Question: Thanks! I assume, Mangaecca was already gone by the time of the First Apocalypse? Was it because Shae built only one soul-entrapping device for himself, and they just died of old age?

Answer: Shae has actually resorted to a couple of different ways to mummify his soul. Some of the Mangaecca were able to hold on for quite some time, the way I've seen it.

Question: You seem to present a lot of psycho-socio-theo meta theorems in your works, but you never quite phrase them literally enough to be academically evaluated (in a traditional sense). Some of your characters make pretty specific statements intermittently, but these are normally fragments or derivatives of the larger theorems.

Your writing style seems to be verbose, but academic concepts are normally discussed with concision and density. Do you intend to compile a list of your theorems at some point, or would you prefer to keep it entangled with a fiction? Do you see this as making it inaccessible to some academics? In some ways does this function as a defense mechanism against scrutiny?


Answer: I used to get questions like this all the time, more aimed at chipping away at my credibility than pursuing any genuine curiosity. Despite my verbosity and imprecision, despite being a nonacademic, I've somehow managed to place pieces in a number of different refereed journals, some quite prestigious, and I find myself regularly invited to contribute to others. If you had done any degree of legwork, you would know as much. But then animosity is rarely found in the company of diligence or care.

The question is why? What motivates someone to ask a question like this? I ask out of genuine curiosity, I assure you, because for some reason my claims or my style (or some combination of them) rankles a certain kind of reader, motivates them to prove that I'm poser of some description.

Question: I meant quite the opposite of your interpretation. I find much of your work inspired and simply fear the opposite.

I ask this because I enjoy your work, specifically the theorems. But, I'm a busy guy. I'm a mathematician by education and a software developer by trade. I'm predisposed and conditioned to concision and density. Additionally, I'm a new father and I'm fairly busy. Parsing truth from verbosity is no longer a luxury I'm afforded.

However, this does not sate my curiosity to understand your theorems. I knew that your are published in journals and I care not for your academic standing. I merely wondered if you would present your work differently eventually - clearly, concisely, compiled.

Then people like me would have a better accessibility.

I come off as a cynical asshole by default. Sorry to seem a detractor and defamer. I meant the opposite. I meant your work deserves academic consideration.


Answer: My apologies just_a_question_bro! Sincerely. I feel like Achamian, more often or not, a heretic in genre quarters, and a traitor in academic towers. It leaves me thin-skinned sometimes.

My views are horribly counter-intuitive, which is part of the reason I have the blog: I use it as a place to run formulation after formulation. My recent publications represent a huge personal advance for me, insofar as I'm finally making sense to specialists in the fields I graze. I do intend on writing something broadly accessible at some point, but I'm not sure I'm quite there yet--or if, in fact, I ever will be.

Question: Hey Bakker! Apperantly you have replied already to my questions in the forum so I deleted them from here. One new question now,did Serwa, Kayutas or Saccarees survive?

Answer: That would be a big fat RAFO, my friend! Unless, that is, that dumptruck I've been fearing finally finds me in the near future. In which case, they are duly dead.

Question: Hi Scott,

Yours is one of the most interesting literary universes I have been given the chance to explore and loved the latest installment!

Here are my questions:

-I found the Cishaurim and their psûkhe fascinating will we ever see their return?

-I'd also love to know more about the Ciphrang (despite the dangers of Diamotic sorcery). Are they just like smaller fractions of the 100 gods or do they have a different origin? Is there a difference between divine and infernal?


Answer: Thank you, CHOOCHOO.

There's the matter of Meppa, so we aren't quite through with Indara's Waterbearers. The provenance of the original Ciphrang escape the Ciphrang themselves, but the club continues to grow, given the potency of certain evil souls to find the grave.

Question: Hi, Scott! Thanks for doing this AMA.

Been reading the series since 2008 (I was fifteen at the time!), have also checked your blog from time to time throughout the years, and I feel that I must sincerely thank you for ”reaching out”, as you’ve said, through writing in genre. I can’t recall any other book that I’ve read that has affected/challenged me as much as TDTCB (the overall series may even have contributed to a depression I suffered some four to six years back!) yet I kept on reading and have only found more reward and insight along the way. The scene where Proyas flees from Kellhus’ tent in TGO had me smiling in recognition of those years. Finally convinced a friend to try and read the series, so I’ve let him borrow my old copy of TDTCB, hoping to hear his thoughts soon. The series really needs more recognition.

Also, speaking of TUC... That ending! Man, am I looking forward to the next series!

Two questions:

1.) Will we be seeing more Atrocity Tales before the next series? With worldbuilding this rich, I’m very interested in seeing more tales from its history.

2.) Regarding writing… Any tips, or things to consider, for an aspiring writer? I already feel somewhat comfortable with my own writing as of late but I’ve heard of writer workshops as being immensely helpful for many. Would you still say it’s worth checking one out?


Answer: Thank you, Creative Wasteland - I love your handle!

1.) I want to, but short story writing is an art-form all its own, and not one I feel I much good at.

2.) Reciprocal writing/editing relationships with peers with goals similar to your own. But most importantly, just make sure you write every damn day. Keep that unconscious primed, on edge, ready to be trained and trained and trained. Do that with trusted peers and mindfulness, and your ability will take care of itself.

Question: Question 2:

Since Kelmomas was always the No-God, but him becoming the No-God is actually contingent on him BEING the No-God (surviving and arriving at that precise place and time) - is this a paradox or is there a loop outside of normal time both for inside and outside the world?

OR does what come after decide what comes before in this regard, somehow without initial causality? And if so - could this be a divine plan?

Question 3: Would it be possible for someone to master both Puske and the Gnosis? To speak with God's voice and tone? Perhaps if they were blind as a child like Titirga, perhaps a Dunyain? What would that make them, what kind of power would they wield?

Question 4: On a 4th or 5th re-reading of the series, I noticed that there is very little mention of the gods in the first trilogy, barely mentioning them and mostly focusing on the God. In the second trilogy, there is immediately a lunge towards Ajokli and Yatwer, in very different (and fascinating) ways. Was this on purpose or were you more interested in that aspect while writing the second trilogy?

Question 5: You probably detest this idea, so I apologize, but have you considered doing a public financial backup of some kind? I know I, and many of the fans, would put in to support the writing and publication of The No-God. I would be proud to invest in something that serves my mind, for a change, instead of some the newest dull thing.


Answer: Great questions!

1&2) The big thing to remember is that the big reason we can't make scientific sense of meaning is that it seems intrinsically contradictory: this has led a number of philosophers, like Zizek, for instance, to posit contradiction as a fundamental property of the universe. Add to this paradoxes pertaining to the relation of things like the eternal and the temporal, and things get weedy indeed. The bottom line is that there's no way to square any number of circles pertaining to a universe where meaning/soul/God/etc. are objectively real. Getting people thinking through these paradoxes is the best I can hope for!

3) This is the implication with Titirga, in fact.

4) The Gods were always going to get their due, but I refrained from working out their details in PoN, which seemed prohibitively complicated as it was.

5) Not my style. My wife might demand I do so, though, if things get too skinny over here. Thank you shaik2016!

Question: Thanks for making these books my friends and I are completely obsessed with. Just have a few questions.

1.) Not much info is provided regarding he breaking of the gates. When the mean of Eanna came to Earwa. Is there anyone left in Eanna? What else is happening on this world outside of Earwa and Eanna? If there are men, non-men, or other lifeforms elsewhere, can they sense Mog Pharau? Can the creators of the Ark sense him from their faraway home? We know more about the void than we do about anything beyond the Kayarsus!

2.) Where is the heron spear!? I've been teased by the heron spear for 7 books. It says in the glossary that it was lost when the Scylvendi sacked Cenei. I was so sure that Cnaiur had it and was going to bring it out at the last second, but then he didn't.

3.) Thanks for at least mentioning characters like Xinemus and Inrau in this latest volume. In previous volumes it really felt weird that somehow they had been completely forgotten, even though so many years had passed.


Answer: 1) RAFO. 2) RAFO. 3) Your welcome. I agree. The texts should have been more interpolated.

Question: Hi Scott. I'm still processing the end of Unholy Consult, it was pretty great. I found Kelmomas getting axed by getting Carapaced intensely satisfying. I'm going to miss Serwa and Sorweel though. Though the former went out in a really epic way.

Answer: Why does everyone assume Serwa is dead? I'm not saying she's alive, mind you, but I had thought I was being exquisitely ambiguous on this point. Someone above even said something about her going to Kansas, which I thought both cool and strange. (I had never consider a Dorothy angle before).

Question: There was a 20 year gap between PoN and AE--will The No-God be a similar gap?

A running theme I found interesting: Proyas and Kellhus had their discussion about how Earwa is essentially a granary and our souls are basically just take-out for everything on the Outside to eat. Then, there's a substantial amount of plot related to what happens when mortals consume other humanoids (Sranc, Nonmen via Qirri, uh, other humans.) What makes these things so potent in Earwa?


Answer: Consumption, consumption, what's your function?

(Sorry - couldn't help myself). The metaphorics of material sustenance are big, yes, the suggestion being that everything is a kind of meat, only with some possessing more dimensions than others, and all of it driving people insane in some way or another.

Question: Are we eventually going to find out what Kellhus was planning by using the Daimos to seal Malowebi in the Decapitant? Malowebi was one of my favorite characters?

Answer: Malowebi will not rest until Likaro is punished for his treachery!

Question: Oh! Forgot to ask and someone's answer reminded me:

Do you ever take inspiration from Biblical texts (especially for the first series)?

If you don't, is there any time period or set of works you feel have influenced the work?


Answer: There's only two books I always have with me when writing at the coffee shop. The first is Blood Meridian. The second is the King James translation of The Holy Bible.

For me, the most salient milieu is the Byzantine Empire at the time of the Caliphate.

Question: A question that might get a BIG RAFO: When did Ajokli and Kellhus reach an agreement? Did it ever happen or was Kellhus "ambushed" by Ajokli in the Golden Room (since it is topos it was possible for Ajokli to enter the world). I have a hard time imagining that this was what The Thousandfold Thought was supposed to lead to. If Kellhus made a bargain with Ajokli already at the circumfixion (as some suggest) it seems to me that TTT died with Moenghus and all the plans and The Great Ordeal was really the actions of an avatar of Ajokli, designed to elevate him above all other gods.

Answer: Think of the gradual possession suffered by Sorweel whilst wearing the Amiolas. Kellhus knew something was up, but the 10-sided die was cast. The great weakness of the Dunyain is the weakness discovered by Moenghus. For all the power of their intellect, their spirit is actually quite weak.

Question: Hey Scott,

Congratulations on finishing The Unholy Consult.

I a big fan of the Southern Gothic and reading the Second Apocalypse always reminds me of O'Connor in particular because she was focused on revelation, used the grotesque, and was oft-criticized for it.

O'Connor's "Some Aspects of the Grotesque..." outlines the idea that the grotesque is a tool that forces the character (and reader) toward revelation. In another answer you talk about Kelhus being a meaningless man in a world of meaning, I believe that's how many of her characters are written except that the meaning is explicitly Christian in her stories.

On to the questions.

1.) I think your answer to Shaik2016 insists that the revelation in the books is aimed at the arbitrariness of meaning. In contrast to the grandmother dying in "A Good Man is Hard to Find", is arbitrariness the revelation a character's like Proyas finds when he or she is damned in your work?

2.) O'Connor argues that the greatest challenging in using the grotesque is "to know how far he [the writer] can distort without destroying, and in order not to destroy, he will have to descend far enough into himself to reach those underground springs that give life to big work. "

I sometimes struggle with the violence in your writing. In my mind your work deals with evil that is almost explicitly pornographic: the distortion. We learn the Inchoroi are created to rape, kill, and damn themselves and we see this with the srancs's phalluses rising in combat. How did you juggle the line between distortion and pornography in your writing? For instance, the 1st third of the book lingers on the description of cannibalism, murder, and rape. How do you balance pointing toward arbitrariness of morality /the wreckage of meaning and depicting atrocity (and what is the goal in this use of the grotesque)?


Answer: Thank you, buperman.

Arbitrariness is the symptom, the expression of a crucial cognitive failure: the inability to sort good and evil. The tradition indexes good/evil via spirit/body, and vice versa. Think of how you can trigger powerful moral intuitions simply via descriptions of meat entering into different configurations of meat. To wallow in bodies, the way they do, and and then set out to save their spirit contextualizes what happens in Golgotterath in endlessly interpretable ways. And on top of everything else, it adds meat to their desperation.

I think it says something to motivate the description of such events. To this is extent, its far more a critique of pornography as a symptom of the semantic apocalypse, than actual pornography.

Question: I have a question...

1.) Do you believe in the existence of the Soul?

And three non-questions...

1.) You are the author of my favourite chapter I've ever read. The scene with Cnaiur attempting to have an argument with Kellhus, sweet Seju! I could feel his anguish, his impotence of trusting even his own thoughts. And as I read I tried to find some outs for his impossible situation, and felt as lost as he was. There's a famous scene it reminds me of, Ivan Karamazov's dialogue (monologue?) with the devil, and I can honestly say it reaches that level of writing.

2.) Your metaphors are absolutely stellar. When you say Laughter like tumbling heaps of coal - I can hear it. When you say There was a feeling to the sand, a sterility that made meat of other earth - I can taste it. When you say dozing in amniotic serenity - I can feel it. You reach out, pluck the meaning out of words and hand it to your readers. It's like your work is... Dûnyain. And for that, you make me feel a tiny bit like a Schoolman.

3.) The only thing I disliked about your writing is that there are these inflexion points in the narrative which actually suffer from your craft. Too much lyricism makes it hard to understand what's actually going on. I had to go back, re-read three times, and I still had no clue if it actually happened, if it's some metaphor that was lost on me, if you employed some untrustworthy believer's narrative, etc. Sometimes, it fits - like the Narrindar passages. But sometimes, if Billy fell down a flight of stairs, I think it's ok to say that Billy fell down a flight of stairs.


Answer: Thank you, BlackElf.

My wife is forever complaining that I'm always 'Mr Mysterioso' in these books for the very same reason you cite in (3). And there's so many scenes I rewrite for clarity for this very reason, but I'm also wedded to pairing emotional/dramatic intensity to poetic intensity, so I constantly find myself threading these needles... and I know a lot people hate it, but for me these are the most intense, genuinely challenging scenes to write. I fail for different readers at different points, but it's because I'm constantly targeting this expressive vector that I have as many successes as I do.

Question: Hi Scott, longtime series fan here hoping for a miracle late-night return for a few more answers. My question: are there ever exceptions to the rule that sorcerers are damned from the moment they cast their first Cant (other than those who are powerful enough souls to become Ciphrang)? I'm particularly curious about the scene when Psatma/Yatwer tells Meppa that all he has to do is kneel -- is this a genuine offer or just a taunt?

Answer: Hi DankKnight. In intercessory faiths special dispensations can always be granted, so long as you know the right people, like Psatma Nannaferi. This is why the priestly castes wield the influence they do, and why ancestor lists possess so much religious importance. The Gods are nothing if not political.
“I am a warrior of ages, Anasûrimbor . . . ages. I have dipped my nimil in a thousand hearts. I have ridden both against and for the No-God in the great wars that authored this wilderness. I have scaled the ramparts of great Golgotterath, watched the hearts of High Kings break for fury.” -Cet’ingira