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This page was misfiled. Again. It is from Terra Absurdium vol 4, and… - The Book of the Gear [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
gearworld

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[Jan. 23rd, 2006|09:44 am]
gearworld
This page was misfiled. Again. It is from Terra Absurdium vol 4, and furthermore, it was folded into a very unflattering bit of origami depicting what appears to be a shrieking monkey wearing senior librarian’s robes. The acolyte responsible left three years ago to become a belly dancer, which job she was, in all honesty, rather more suited for, but she obviously could have had a lucrative career in creative paper folding, too. - Vo

Margin note from Acolyte Wen: I had to recopy this page from the archives. When I suggested it’d be faster to unfold the origami one, the old coot about took my head off. The origami’s got pride of place on his desk now. I think he’s finally going senile or something.



We had been traveling in the desert for weeks. The oasis we were shooting for had been dry, covered over with sandstorms, the palm trees dying and dead. We had little hope of making the next one. Our horses had died, all but two of our camels had died, and one of those camels was under our guide and going with all speed in the other direction.

It was hot, and it was dry. My nose was dry. There was sand under my eyelids, and I was too exhausted to care. Heinrich was in even worse shape than I was—my people are basically adapted to desert and savannah, and his are a people of mountains and streams and snow. His eyes were rimmed with red and his fur hung in dehydrated folds.

I had just about figured out how it was going to go. Probably tonight, the camel would die, and we would eat it. Sometime tomorrow, Heinrich would die, and I would tearfully eat him.* The day after that, I would make a last, tragic entry in my journal, and then I would die, and the sands would eat me.

I was wallowing in the mental image of the memorial ceremony that would be held for me back home, in absentia, when we staggered over a rise and ran smack into the middle of a bazaar.

It was being held in the ruins of an old city, a brightly colored riot of tents and brazen-skinned natives, and glory of glories, the glitter of sunlight on water. I sat Heinrich down—this last shock had been too much, and he was probably not going to make it another ten feet—and went to the water with the reverence of a worshipper approaching the altar of his god.

It was muddy and brown and the camel had its muzzle stuck in right next to mine. It was indescribably sweet. I couldn’t drink much, or I was going to be ill, but I refilled every waterskin we had, and stuck my entire head into the trough, so that droplets fell like jewels off my eyelashes, and stung like a scorpion in my chapped nostrils.

I walked back, sloshing and leaving a trail of dark drips behind me, to Heinrich, only to discover that he was gone. At that point, I was far beyond any capacity for panic—I looked around dully, wondering if perhaps I had mistaken the place where I had left him. Then I heard his voice raised, hoarse and dry and exultant.

Some things are stronger than exhaustion, stronger even than death. I found him swaying in front of a table full of small packets of spices, manned by a toothless crone as bald as a snake, who wore an eye-searing pink sari and was grinning the grin of one who is about to make a great deal of money.

“Give me your wallet,” Heinrich rasped. “She has curry.”



*Translator’s Note: He’s probably not joking. In the original drafts of the rather shocking 8th volume of Terra Absurdium, Heinrich and Eland are forced to eat one of their sherpas, who had frozen to death the night before. This was censored by the editors as too sensational for the readership of the time, and did not make it to print, although people did wonder when the narrative suddenly came up short a sherpa.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: mearn4d10
2006-01-23 02:26 pm (UTC)
Yes, for the Great Cooks, Curry Is Thicker Than Water.

*ducks*
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[User Picture]From: wineandlemons
2006-01-23 06:02 pm (UTC)
Dude. Firefly quote love. <3
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[User Picture]From: mearn4d10
2006-01-23 08:48 pm (UTC)
Firefly Quotes are love...hey I should make one of those banners for that! *runs to Photoshop*
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[User Picture]From: vorpalmuse
2006-01-23 10:51 pm (UTC)
ICON LOVE!
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From: (Anonymous)
2006-01-25 02:23 am (UTC)
Icon Love
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From: rayjaysuyin
2006-01-23 02:35 pm (UTC)
Well.. we know who has his priorities in order...
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From: rayjaysuyin
2006-01-23 02:38 pm (UTC)
And, so what if he dies? At least he'll be properly seasoned.
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[User Picture]From: shadow_exe
2006-01-24 09:21 am (UTC)
"we know who has his priorities in order..."

Yeah, Senior Librarian Vo does, judging by the note about the origami.
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[User Picture]From: timtylor
2006-01-23 02:42 pm (UTC)
The origami’s got pride of place on his desk now.

That figures. Politicians over here buy and treasure unflattering cartoons of themselves.
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From: jachra
2006-01-27 05:17 am (UTC)
Maybe the girl belly danced for him?
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[User Picture]From: fatfred
2006-01-23 02:42 pm (UTC)
Coffee, meet keyboard!
Bwahahahah!
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From: design4life
2006-01-23 03:33 pm (UTC)
I just love this series! This is one of your best posts yet. Oh, no screaming banshees (or steam jacks or whatever) but your descriptions were stellar in THIS post. Loved the phrase: so that droplets fell like jewels off my eyelashes, and stung like a scorpion in my chapped nostrils.

And even if I'd just met Heinrich, you told me so much about him by having him rouse from a dehydrated stupor at the sight of Spices! (Curry--ha ha I can relate.)

M'dear if you changed these characters to humans and tweaked a few things--you could totally sell this to a REAL publisher. ie: one that pays you money, and royalties and prints a goodly number and DISTRIBUTES to bookstores. Ah, but that's another post.

Fabulous! More, more.
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[User Picture]From: ellixis
2006-01-23 03:53 pm (UTC)
Why change the characters to humans? Their species is such an essential part of what they are that by the time you figure it out, it makes complete and total sense.
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From: design4life
2006-01-23 04:07 pm (UTC)
Well, perhaps. I can apprieciate the genre, but the wider world generally isn't accepting of animals as characters except in children's lit or as supporting roles in sci-fi/fantasy. This isn't childrens lit nor should it be. It is fantasy, but I just think that it would be more compelling if the main character were human and my bet is that an acquisitions editor would agree.

However--don't stop Ursula! It's a great story so far regardless of species!
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[User Picture]From: siege
2006-01-23 05:54 pm (UTC)
That's just their problem. You can't mangle a mature and intelligent story, nor make it strictly for some random authority's idea of what average children should read, without losing quite a lot in quality and readability. An editor who can't see a good story because they think certain kinds of characters are only suitable for children is not someone I'd want reading over my work.
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[User Picture]From: timtylor
2006-01-23 07:36 pm (UTC)
I know you can't generalise too much from one example, but Walter Moer's Rumo made it into print and into english translation despite its more-or-less animal characters.
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[User Picture]From: padparadscha
2006-01-23 09:45 pm (UTC)
Well, that's their problem.

Great icon, by the way.
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From: (Anonymous)
2006-01-24 03:36 am (UTC)
I dont have any troble identifying with diferent species, a labrador dog was my babysitter when i was young, and i have lived with animals all my life, they are a lot nicer that some humans i will say
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[User Picture]From: shadow_exe
2006-01-24 09:24 am (UTC)
"wider world generally isn't accepting of animals as characters except in children's lit..."

Then, clearly, the wider world is somewhat racist, no? Anyway, the wider world doesn't read much fantasy unless Hollywood packages it in nice bitesize nuggets; good fantasy fiction has a (rather eccentric) fandom of it's own, especially in Britain.

What species is Heinrich, anyway?
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From: rayjaysuyin
2006-01-24 02:57 pm (UTC)
Heinrich is "Just like Ursula, only Horrible"

*Runs away cackling evilly*
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[User Picture]From: ursulav
2006-01-23 04:18 pm (UTC)
Err, just to clarify, I DO get not-insignificant royalties from my current publisher, small press though they be!

I suspect the whole thing's a bit too weirdly formatted and random and adjective heavy to actually appeal to an editor, and I'd definitely balk at changing the characters to human--it'd undoubtedly be more publishable, no question, but they're cast in my head as these various species. With any other setting, I'd be willing to make significant alterations, but Gearworld is just so personal a vision that I suspect editing would be well-night impossible for me to deal with. "Why not change this bit here?" "Err...because that's not how it happened!" and so forth.
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[User Picture]From: mcity
2006-01-23 04:22 pm (UTC)
Up until this point, I didn't realize they weren't human.
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From: design4life
2006-01-23 04:23 pm (UTC)
And that's fine too. We're appreciating it, so thanks for sharing your vision with us!
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[User Picture]From: cavalaxis
2006-01-23 04:45 pm (UTC)
As a faux cartographical/anthropological manuscript, I can see it doing fantastically. Have you ever seen "De historia et veritate unicornis"? Here's a cover pic.

Still, Gearworld is fantastic. Definitely the coolest thing I've found on LJ to date.
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[User Picture]From: pandoras_closet
2006-01-23 08:20 pm (UTC)
Actually, and this just occured to me, Vertigo would be heavily interested in Gearworld, anthromorphs and all and your art style is perfect for it.
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[User Picture]From: reyfox
2006-01-25 05:03 am (UTC)
Vertigo? I'd think Dark Horse, maybe, Vertigo seems too gritty for something with the whimsy of Gearworld (except when they're doing their numerous Sandman spinoffs).
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[User Picture]From: pandoras_closet
2006-01-25 05:45 am (UTC)
Possible. The publishers of Transmet might be another possibility.
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[User Picture]From: daetrin_n
2006-01-24 04:55 am (UTC)
You know, I can imagine this done in the style of Expedition by Wayne Barlowe. With a similar style of sketches, panels, art bits, and the like. I'm not sure how good a seller it was (though I have a copy!), but I'd fork out a LOT for a similar-style Gearworld book.

In point of fact, this IS structured similarly, with lots of mini-stories and descriptions fleshing out the world. And I don't see the nonhuman characters being all that much of a problem...
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[User Picture]From: tuftears
2006-01-24 10:43 pm (UTC)
Speaking of royalties, I picked up Digger vol. 1 at FC! It is awesome!
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[User Picture]From: ursulav
2006-01-25 04:08 am (UTC)
Wonderful!
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[User Picture]From: cjtremlett
2006-01-23 07:02 pm (UTC)
Heck, I think she could do it as is!

There's a market for it, definitely. Maybe not a -huge- publisher, but one of their smaller imprints or something.
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[User Picture]From: sofish_sasha
2006-01-23 04:30 pm (UTC)
droplets fell like jewels off my eyelashes

That is without doubt one of the most beautiful combination of words I have ever read.
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[User Picture]From: perkyrusalka
2006-01-23 05:25 pm (UTC)
Aww, he kept the origami! Obviously, mockery is the sincerest form of flattery.
Thank you for posting this. I needed something kind of silly this Monday. I've been reading about the Peloponnesian war all morning.
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[User Picture]From: cuprohastes
2006-01-24 03:49 pm (UTC)
It it mockery or monkary?
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[User Picture]From: padparadscha
2006-01-23 09:44 pm (UTC)
*wonders what species the Sherpa was*

*finds self imagining what seasonings Heinrich used on the Sherpa*

*realizes that this is IN NO WAY proper to speculate about*

*lies down*
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[User Picture]From: sofish_sasha
2006-01-23 10:39 pm (UTC)
Sherpa... A yak? :P
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[User Picture]From: sauergeek
2006-01-24 05:49 am (UTC)
A mountain goat.
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From: (Anonymous)
2006-01-23 10:35 pm (UTC)
Bellydancer or Acolyte... how do you choose?????

the pain! the pain!

--thyreal
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[User Picture]From: vorpalmuse
2006-01-23 10:53 pm (UTC)
I'D die for curry anyday.

Oh ye gods. Curry.
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From: (Anonymous)
2006-01-24 03:35 am (UTC)

great job

I SO want to read the eniter Terra Absurdium series.

I would gladly buy a book that was nothing but excerpts from Terra Absurdium. The little quips from Vo are golden.

-jr
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[User Picture]From: aubri
2006-01-24 04:40 am (UTC)
I thought Vo was a woman?..
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From: rayjaysuyin
2006-01-24 03:00 pm (UTC)
The Head librarian in the "Digger" series is a lumpy old man by the name of Vo.. We've pretty much assumed this is the same guy.
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From: (Anonymous)
2006-01-24 09:52 pm (UTC)
Huh. That's odd. I would've sworn... okay then! I guess it was just a few posters saying they'd thought Vo was a woman, and it turned into a brainworm and got stuck on me.
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From: (Anonymous)
2006-06-10 06:58 pm (UTC)
It's the same VO!?!?!?!?!?! Ok...now things are making sense (as much as they make around here)...
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[User Picture]From: cuprohastes
2006-01-24 03:48 pm (UTC)
Aha! Heinrich + Curry spices + Sherpa = Mongolian barbecue! OR sherpa as the case may be.
Then again, unless the Sherpa was a bear or a Gazelle, does it count as cannibalism?
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From: (Anonymous)
2006-01-24 06:02 pm (UTC)
OMG!! So horrible, but so fantastic.. Mongolian Barbecue.
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From: (Anonymous)
2006-01-25 02:28 am (UTC)
although people did wonder when the narrative suddenly came up short a sherpa. This made me laugh.

I love the curry.
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