Archive for November, 2010

Deadly Slugs Invade France

November 30, 2010

In November, 2010, the new Eclipse imprint of Bibliotheque Interdite released Orphanage’s French-language edition, Les Orphelins.  Take a look at Eclipse’s stylish youtube trailer for Eclipse’s November lineup (it was supposed to be their October lineup, but France was on strike-seriously) including Les Orphelins, here:

Eclipse also asked me to create a “Chinese Portrait,” a brief interview format popular with French readers.  In English, it read like this:

Robert Buettner’s Chinese Portrait
If you were a quality?  Perseverance (what I call it) 

If you were a flaw?  Stubbornness (what my wife calls it)  

If you were a work of art?  Something that hangs in the Louvre. It’s the only way I could ever afford a place in Paris. 
If you were a sound?  One hand clapping (without my wife); a symphony (with her)  
If you were a song/music?  Something too complex to be reduced to a ring tone.
If you were a word?  A short, meaningful one.

If you were a time period?  The late Cretaceous. Like life, lots of roaring and screaming, followed by a loud bang and chilly silence.

If you were a personage of fiction?  Yoda. What could be better than eight hundred years of life without a single text message?

If you were an animal?  Something that hibernates.

If you were a celestial object or body?  Mousetrap, a hollowed out moonlet that exists in my books. It serves as an interstellar crossroad. Why Mousetrap? Because I’ve met so many interesting people there.

If you were a motto/a quotation?  “Expect the worst from the gods of war, and they will seldom disappoint you.” – General Jason Wander, narrator of the Orphanage series

If you were a movie?  Le Course en Tete, the documentary about the cyclist Eddy Merckx.

If you were a book?  I already am. A novelist whose essence isn’t in the novel has failed.

You can see my Chinese Portrait here, as it appears in French on the Eclipse site/’blog, which you should check anyway, because it is wicked slick.  However, I’m pretty sure my patois American lost quite a bit in translation:

The Re-enchanted Man, Revisited

November 10, 2010

This post restates on this Veteran’s Day, 2010, my post for Veteran’s Day, 2008:

Most Americans know C.S. Lewis wrote The Chronicles of Narnia.  Fewer know that in the late 1930s he wrote science fiction set on Mars and Venus.

More to the point, on this Veterans Day, C.S. Lewis served as an infantry officer wounded at the Battle of Arras in 1917.

I am indebted to Baen books’ publisher Toni Weisskopf for recently pointing me to Lewis’ 1946 essay, Talking about Bicycles, which, as you may suspect, talks not so much about bicycles as about the four ways in which authors think – and write – about war.

“The Unenchanted man sees (quite correctly) the waste and cruelty and sees nothing else…the Enchanted man  – he’s thinking of glory and battle-poetry and forlorn hopes and last stands and chivalry.  Then comes the Disenchanted Age…But there is also a fourth stage, though few people in modern [1946] England dare to talk about it.  You know quite well what I mean.  One is not in the least deceived:  we remember the trenches too well.  We know how much of the reality the romantic view left out.  But we also know that heroism is a real thing, that all the plumes and flags and trumpets of the tradition were not there for nothing.  They were an attempt to honour what is truly honourable: what was first perceived to be honourable precisely because everyone knew how horrible war is.

“The war poetry of Homer…for example, is Re-Enchantment.  You see in every line that the poet knows, quite as well as any modern, the horrible thing he is writing about.  He celebrates heroism but he has paid the proper price for doing so.

“You read an author in whom love is treated as lust and all war as murder – and so forth.  But are you reading a Disenchanted man or only an Unenchanted man?  Has the writer been through the Enchantment and come out on to the bleak highlands, or is he simply a subman who is free from love mirage as a dog is free, and free from the heroic mirage as a coward is free?  If Disenchanted, he may have something worth hearing to say, though less than a Re-enchanted man.  If Unenchanted, into the fire with his book.  He is talking of what he doesn’t understand.  But the great danger we have to guard against in this age is the Unenchanted man, mistaking himself for, and mistaken by others for, the Disenchanted man.”

To serve is to leave forever the ranks of the Unenchanted, and of the Enchanted.  Whether you have emerged Disenchanted or Re-enchanted, thanks.