And maybe I should have sequenced the novellas differently. I considered putting them in the order in which I wrote them, so that readers could discover the characters in something like the way I did. Instead, I put them in chronological order for the events within the stories, with the result that the novella I wrote when I knew the least about the characters is the one that gets the last word.
Burns proposes that I should have put the Ria story first, because its length allows the most relaxed, most accessible way of introducing the ensemble cast to the reader. I hadn’t considered that option. But I will say that several readers who found Jane an immensely sympathetic character when they read “Atlantis Cranks Need Not Apply” alone – it was the first of these stories that I wrote — find her much less sympathetic when they read “Atlantis Cranks” right after “And Ria’s from Virgo.” It’ll be a question to return to if these novellas ever see another round of publication after the whole series is finished.
On a cheerier note, I got to review a book I unabashedly loved over at Black Gate. Sebastien de Castell’s Traitor’s Blade hit nearly all of my sweet spots. Of all the books written by people who aren’t James Enge over the past three years, this one is probably my favorite. De Castell’s novel is full of swashbuckling, and failed states fallen into warlordism, and warrior-magistrates who put me in mind of my father and his fellow officers of the JAG Corps. Okay, maybe you don’t light up when besieged heroes break into a debate about the rule of law or sing their constitution to its traditional melodies, but I do. And if you don’t, that’s okay, because the sword-fighting scenes rock, and the first-person-smartass narration is endlessly entertaining.