Log in

The Book of the Gear

External Services:
  • gearworld@livejournal.com
From the notes of Senior Librarian Vo the Eighteenth:

Throughout the centuries, one of the most popular forms of writing has been the “travel narrative,” detailing the adventures, generally untrue or highly embroidered, of the author. While these are an exceedingly common form, and much can be dismissed as outright lies, the works of Eland the Younger stand out as exemplary.

This is not to say that Eland was accurate. Far from it. Although he never admitted to embellishment or outright lies, it strains credibility to believe that his more fantastical tales are anything but fabricated. However, even his harshest critics must admit that Eland had a sharp eye for detail, and an excellent knack for ferreting out answers to puzzles. His journals, while often humorous, also contain an unusual ring of truth in how disorganized they are—there is no sense of an overall plot, no neat resolutions, and few acts of personal heroism, although he is quick to praise the courage of those around him, particularly his dour servant and constant companion, Heinrich. His notebooks contain many sketches and studies of the world around him, and many atrociously scrawled (and frequently misspelled) field notes. He was not a great artist, and he was often simply wrong in his assumptions, but they are nevertheless full of the sort of detail that would indicate that he was wrong in person.

In short, Eland’s works read as the record of a traveler and observer, rather than as a polished travel narrative designed to lionize the author.

Spanning some forty-five years of travel, Eland wrote more than thirty volumes of his Terra Absurdium during his lifetime. Due to their rambling, disjointed nature, and often tedious detail, they were never popular works, even at the height of the craze for such narratives. While authors like Sajek and Lord Percival Wetherstock wrote gripping tales of swashbuckling adventure, man against beast, man against nature, man against man, man against frequent and improbable woman, Eland did not. His publisher is supposed to have remarked once, in despair, that Eland needed to go out and shoot some lions and make love to some native women, or possibly the other way around, if he expected to bolster his sales at all, but if Eland did either, the records have not survived to the present day.

By far the most cryptic of his work are undoubtedly the Books of the Gear. These were so baffling that Eland was never able to find a publisher (and indeed, there is no record that he tried very hard.) Only the initial journals and the fragmentary manuscripts written by Eland during his own efforts to make sense of his experiences remain to the scholar.

It has been believed for many years that the Books of the Gear were outright fabrications, but I have come to believe otherwise. Eland the Younger was no fool, and I suspect that if he had invented something, it would have been more plausible and more sensational, rather than the frustrating, incoherent, and ultimately unpublishable Books.

These works are not well organized and often fragmentary, and while I will endeavor to present them in as close to chronological order as I can piece together, the reader should be aware that there are frequent gaps, incoherencies, and outright contradictions. Whenever possible, I have attempted to verify Eland’s writings against other sources, but our information about the clockwork labyrinth, the “gear world” Eland the Younger describes, is so fragmentary that Eland’s writings must often stand on their own. Additionally, past librarians have often jumbled these sources together with Eland’s own work, so that one may occasionally find fragments from other writings related to the subject, or inclusions from other volumes of Terra Absurdium, or in one case, for no reason that I can determine, three volumes of the formerly lost work "Ganesh's Guide To Tchang Cooking," rendering the process even more frustrating.

I make no assurances as to their ultimate accuracy. Let the reader beware.