I Have No Arms, and I Must Type
Hi, this is Sarah, and today we’re going to talk about Lloyd Biggle, Jr. Or, more particularly we’re going to talk about one of Lloyd Biggle, Jr’s books, The Still, Small Voice of Trumpets. There will be some spoilers, but the point of something like The Still, Small Voice of Trumpets is not the solution, but the execution.
It was always one of my favorite space operas, and then about five years ago, I started to get the impression it was more than that.
Back when I was in a writers’ group, one of our friends, Alan Lickiss, used to start his comments on every story, no matter how silly, with “Well, I thought it was a metaphor for the human existence.” No, he didn’t actually think that, it had just become a running gag and it made people nervous about getting a critique laugh.
Well, more and more, up till a few years ago, I got the impression that The Still, Small Voice of Trumpets was a metaphor of the writer existence specifically as it existed at the close of the twentieth century and the first decade of the twenty first.
The novel’s main character is a diplomatic envoy, or perhaps a diplomatic operative. Earth at the time encourages democracy, but doesn’t impose it from outside. In fact, the motto of the department is “Democracy imposed from the outside is the worst of tyrannies.”
So these people go in and are supposed to ease things so the prospective colony wants democracy.
The planet our hero finds himself in has a culture (the people are essentially humans) so starved for beauty and art that they’ll risk their lives to get them.
The harpers who play before the king are the most highly respected artists, each with an adoring fandom. But the king is mad. The punishment for crimes in this world is to have your arm cut off. Periodically for no reason at all, he has one of these man mutilated and become pariahs, like other criminals, living in “camps of armless.”
They can no longer play and therefore cannot reach their adoring fandom. And since by custom the armless don’t exist, these men are the living dead.
If you’re not following along with the similarity, until two, three years ago, this is what happened to writers. Suddenly one of the mad kings of the NYC establishment, determined you must be thrown out of the field. Perhaps you really didn’t sell very well, but in the cases I know nine times out of ten the cover was horrible, or they failed to print enough books, or no one pushed them. But when you didn’t sell the fault was yours. The lightest punishment might be that you got told you couldn’t work in that field/series/subgenre anymore. This is how I ended up with a string of names and different series. Sometimes, they just shut their ranks against you. And some of these were inexplicable. For instance, not only did my friend Rebecca Lickiss’s second book, Never After undergo three printings, but it was an SF book club alternate selection. But her multiple proposals were all rejected by the house, and no one else picked her up. I have theories, but mostly it’s the act of a mad king.
If you stayed on, you had perhaps the hardest time. When people told you they’d just discovered your first series, ten years after it had gone out of print and asked why you weren’t writing more, you couldn’t say “The house dropped it on the floor and then refused to buy more.” You had to smile and say “Well, I just didn’t want to write it anymore.” And accept the anger from the fan.
And sometimes, you just disappeared. And you were so embarrassed, you stopped going to conventions or interacting with the fans, and people thought you’d died or had stopped writing.
In The Still, Small Voice of Trumpets, the main character finds a way to bring those dispossessed, mutilated men to the attention of their fans again.
And indie is doing that for writers, now.
My friend, Cedar Sanderson went to her first convention as a professional this last weekend, and there she met Christopher Stasheff, whom many of us thought was dead or had stopped writing. (The two often being indistinguishable for writers, themselves.)
She interviewed him for a post in my blog last Monday. You might want to read the full interview. This is how Cedar met him, and what she found out:
I did a doubletake, then caught my First Reader, who was serving as my escort, and brought him back to where the gentleman was now standing looking at the table of bookmarks and promotional goodies. It was Christopher Stasheff, who I knew was my First Reader’s favorite fantasy author, and neither of us had any idea he would be at the convention. Nor, as it turns out, had the concom; he had decided to attend with his son on the spur of the moment. We chatted briefly, and after I got home and was talking online about meeting this living legend, I came up with the idea of asking him for an interview.
You see, while we were chatting that first time, he had responded to my question of “are you still writing?” with “yes, but no one is buying.” He went on to tell us that his son has set up a website for him and they are beginning to release both his recent work, in snippets, and past work which has reverted to him.
Below, I know there will be links to Christopher Stasheff’s books. Buy one. Or two. Or three. I remember him as one of the best fantasy writers. For a long time, he was in exile, unable to reach his readers.
Now he and others are making their way out of the camps of the mutilated.
Think of your favorite writers, the ones who disappeared, and you don’t know if they’re living or dead. Maybe we should make a list of the disappeared and call them back to their fans. Because indie will let them return and reach us. This field was never about the intercession of a gate keeper. It was always about the relationship of the artist and a public who loves his/her art.
And now mad kings can’t keep us away from the fans anymore.
Hark, do you hear the call of indie? It’s the still, small voice of freedom.
[Charlie now.] I want to second Sarah's recommendation for Chris Stasheff's books. I honestly thought I'd read he had died, so I'm pleased to be wrong. (And how often do you see me write that?)
The thing is, he's got lots of books. So here's what I'm gonna do: I'm going to link four of his books instead of the usual two per author, and mix them into the others. Remember Rule 10: The whim of the editors is law, even with respect to the preceding rules. But I'm also going to strongly suggest you visit Chris's Amazon Author's Page for more books and more information.
Remember, tell all your writer friends to send the AUTHOR, TITLE, a SHORT BLURB, and an AMAZON LINK AMAZON LINK AMAZON LINK to firstname.lastname@example.org to be plugged here on PJ Media.
Deadlines are flexible, but in general the deadline for Friday is Tuesday the preceding week. So, for example, the deadline for March 7 was February 22.
That said, last week was a really big one, so some books are being put off until next week. Hey, we said the deadlines are flexible.
It really helps if you don't bother with HTML magic at all, because we just have to parse it apart to put it into the template. The ideal submission is like
My name as it's on the book cover.
no more than about 100 words.
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Rod Gallowglass must become a part of the local fabric to save the world from both itself and external forces that threaten its existence. But to do so, he must put aside his own convictions and beliefs, and become a warlock, in spite of himself. **
A grand adventure mixing science fi ction with elements of fantasy, this is the book that launched a whole series (fourteen books and counting).
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This 25th anniversary eBook edition of this classic story includes a new introduction by the author and new cover art by Anne Maria Brant!
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For once, he was right!
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The churl Dulain joined the Resistance in his youth - an exile Resistance, devoted to readying the churls for their next great attempt at freedom. Now that moment finally nears. Back on Melange for the first time in years, Dulain must now hasten that revolt... or die.
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After the original short story spent 21 months on the Top 100 Lists, Strangelets with a Side of Grilled Spam: Season One takes us through the entire post-apocalyptic saga.
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URL to article: http://pjmedia.com/lifestyle/2014/3/21/i-have-no-arms-and-i-must-type