drcpunk (drcpunk) wrote,

Finding Tremontaine

How did I find Tremontaine?
I have always been here.

I don't recall when I bought Swordspoint, but I do remember reading it while walking through a department store, to the annoyance of my mother, who wanted me to pay attention to the clothing shopping we were there to do. Not unreasonable, but... book!

I don't remember whether I read Thomas the Rhymer before or after Swordspoint.

Josh and I went to many of Ellen's readings back when she was working on what we thought of as "the Katherine book". But, that wasn't the Riverside book that came out next. That was The Fall of the Kings, which she and Delia wrote. Well, actually, first the novella version of that came out, and that confused the heck out of me when I read the novel. Now that I've heard the term "proof of concept" applied to the novella, it makes a lot more sense.

But, when I read the novel, I was annoyed that it wasn't The Katherine Book, and annoyed that it wasn't another Swordspoint, and annoyed at a few other things. And normally, that would have been that -- I'd have kept the book on my shelf, reread it in a decade, and realized a few things I hadn't known on a first reread.

Then, it became a finalist for the Mythopoeic Award for Adult Fiction in a year when only three items made the ballot. (Originally, there were four, but that's a long story for another time.) I'd been on the Adult Fiction committee for... oh my. Eight years already. And, I'd recently read one of the nominees, so it was fresh in my mind, but I felt it was proper to reread the other two. Also, this was the year Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix had come out, I think, and while I knew I would read it, I really didn't want to deal with it just then. No, I definitely wanted to reread The Fall of the Kings.

And, to paraphrase James Branch Cabell, it finally dawned on me that perhaps Ellen Kushner did not want to keep writing Swordspoint over and over again, and perhaps she and Delia were not trying to write Swordspoint when they wrote The Fall of the Kings.

With that in mind, I could read the book that was there, not the book I had expected to see. And, it was a much better book than I remembered. Oh, I had some issues and opinions, as well as some questions.

Well, I think Ellen had answered one of the questions privately before I reread the book, and if I were to go into more detail there, she and Delia would probably be honor bound to send a swordsperson to challenge me, which would be unfortunate. I have had fencing lessons, but I think they have too, and if they sent Racheline, that would be particularly unfortunate. I remember being rather proud of myself at having scored a single touch on her the one time we fenced, which almost certainly means she handed me my ass after that. And, while it's possible that she hasn't fenced in a while, neither have I, and I'm fairly sure she's both younger and in better shape than I am.

But, I digress. The point is that I had Opinions, and I started to write them down. And, when I had a long, rambling letter, I emailed it to Ellen. She read it and asked if I'd like to be a beta reader and continuity checker for The Privlege of the Sword, aka The Katherine Book. There was, of course, only one answer.

So, I had the e-manuscript for the book, which I printed out and read. Josh put it on his Device, and read it that way. As this was 2005, tablets weren't quite there yet. He had something that wasn't a Palm Pilot, but was roughly the same size. And, he brought it to the second Glasgow WorldCon, aka Once More, With Ceiling. (That would be another long story.)

We went to Ellen's reading at the convention, of course. She had thought she had a half hour slot, and had planned accordingly, but she actually had an hour slot. This meant that she ran out of reading material. Now, if we had not been there, all would not have been lost -- she would have simply had a longer Q&A session. But, as we were, Josh noted that he had the entire manuscript available on his Device, and which section would she like to read? (In Birmingham, for Tolkien 2005, he looked up something online that folks half remembered. This was before we all had Devices that could do such things.)

And, when The Privilege of the Sword came out, it was even better than the draft I had read, though I was not sure how that was possible. Among other things, Ellen had added a very brief scene that I had not realized needed to be there. She also corrected my copy of the book, as that scene was missing a line in the trade paperback version. (That is to say, she corrected my original copy of the book; I have since acquired two others. It happens.)

I've also read most of the Riverside short stories. I have two in anthologies which I still need to read.

So, when we heard about Tremontaine -- I don't even recall exactly how we heard. Ellen's mailing list? Twitter? Facebook? One of Ellen and Delia's readings? All of the above? It wasn't so much a discovery as a welcome back. There's more, so much more than there had seemed to be.

This should not be a surprise. The City, particularly Riverside, has its roots in our city, New York City. I have always been here. And I am always discovering new things about it.
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