söndag 28 april 2013

Trodax in the mine

Below is a scene from the novel "Svavelvinter" translated into English by Martin Andersson a couple of years ago for his fanzine. I publish it with Martins and my publishers kind permission for the benefit of Fito García and other international guests. Fito recently started a spanish blogg about the RPG "Svavelvinter". This text might have been published before but not recently I think.

Magister Trodax Draconicus, Dragonwarden by decree of the Emperor, was still stuck in the mineshaft when darkness fell over Marjura. He was trembling from the chill. The sparse light that had been seeping down from the ventilation shaft in the dragon’s mountain hall died inexorably away. The Magister had borrowed dark-vision from some poor night rat which surely wandered blindly around outside, but even the night vision of beasts has its limitations in total darkness. During the day, Trodax had quenched his thirst after the previous evening’s inebriation with the metallic-tasting water on the bottom of the shaft, but he was terribly hungry and thought mostly of the housekeeper’s delicious dishes back in his own warm cottage. Besides, he had eventually been forced to pollute the water and therefore did not want to drink of it again. Neither the beast nor the knight had been heard all day long. The wizard now realised that he had to get up, dragon or no dragon, so he would not die a drawn-out and painful death in the mine. Nobody would come looking for him since everybody was scared to death of the beast’s lair, which furthermore was strictly off limits by order of the Bailiff.

However, the walls of the shaft were so smooth and so slippery from dampness that he just scratched his fingertips sore without managing to climb a single ell. He had tried using sorcery to summon beasts to his aid, but they were as afraid as the humans of the dragon. The only one who had responded to his plea was an old half-blind male badger, who, for obscure reasons, wanted to be eaten. It looked down at him sadly from the edge of the shaft, thinking aloud: “You not great-serpent. You soon dead”, and wandered off to meet a wolf further down the valley, which had to serve as an angel of death in the dragon’s absence.

The wizard made a desperate decision to change into animal form himself, though preferably only halfway. He needed strong bear claws if he was to get a grip on the rock wall, but at the same time did not dare to completely assume animal shape, as there is always a chance of losing your mind when the blood of the forest courses through your brain. The animal in him could panic and drown itself. It is, however, much more difficult to stop a transformation into an animal halfway than to allow it to complete itself; so difficult that the art is attempted only by true masters among animists. Trodax was not an especially skilled wizard, but had only a vague theoretical notion of what to do. Desperately he commenced the ritual, then tried to break it off halfway by thinking of the most non-magical phenomena he could imagine; scenes of dumplings and trimming nostril hairs were forcibly driven through his mind. The magic tore and pulled on his limbs in conflicting directions. His skin alternately grew bristles and sucked them into the pores again, but after having oscillated between various forms for a while an equilibrium was reached. Unable to see in the pitch-darkness, he gingerly touched his face and found to his delight a set of thick claws at the tips of his fingers, which at the same time had become shorter. And he was no longer cold. Yet he was still able to utter human speech, albeit with the thickness of an animal tongue. The half-completed transformation was a brilliant feat and he congratulated himself on his own skill and drive.

Now it was time to climb. He pushed off with the strong bear legs and could not help roaring with triumph when he managed to heave himself up by the cracks offered by the walls of the well. At once he fell down again and splashed into the water, but now he knew that the climb was feasible, and more cautiously made his way upward. After half a dozen ells, however, he noticed that the shaft narrowed so that the walls were leaning inward, and there he got stuck, whimpering unhappily, unable to move further. It was now completely dark in the mine, but he knew from earlier in the day that the narrow part was transitory, so he should be able to move on if only he managed to pass the overhang. Slowly and cautiously he freed his right paw, while his three other limbs clung cramp-like to their minimal holds. He groped upward for something to hold on to and to his delight got a grip on a protrusion of rock. There did not seem to be much else to hold on to around it, but the rocky edge offered such a good grip that he would be able to hang freely from it by both paws and heave himself up. Hopefully it would then be possible to move on. He moved his other front-claws to the rock as well and then let go with his hind legs so his body lost touch with the rocky wall and swung freely but steadily. Trodax strained his muscles and with all his animal strength heaved himself upward. Then the rock came away from the wall.

At first he did not realise what was happening, but just fell for a second before crashing down below the surface of the water again. When he surfaced, Trodax heard something gushing down into the water with great force from the hole where the rock had been. He swam toward the sound and was almost knocked unconscious as if by a giant plummet when he came under the flow. It was the thick cranial bone of the bear form that saved him. He groped more carefully in front of him and felt a torrent of something incredibly heavy streaming down through the water. Trodax realised that he had coincidentally laid bare a vein of liquid mercury. He had heard tell that the mountain men, before the dragon had taken over the mine, used to listen to the echo in the bedrock and then drilled through it to draw off the hidden deposits of metallic mercury thus discovered. The job was said to require more musicality than engineering and was therefore suited for the mining people who had come to Marjura from eastern Milacke on Trinsmyra long ago.

Trodax wanted to shed a few tears of despair, but the bear eyes lacked that ability. Imagine drowning in mercury before even finishing the fifth volume of his series on the life of dragons, now that he had gained so much new knowledge during the past day! Then he realised something strange: the surface of the water was rising and slowly bearing him with it up through the shaft as the mercury streamed down. The ascent was slow, and in his exhaustion he tried to put his feet down, since the bear paws were not particularly suited for treading water. His hind legs found springy support against the mercury. The wizard sank to his knees in the metal but was then able to keep his balance by paddling with his paws in the water, which was pushed upward by the heavier mercury. In this manner Trodax Draconicus was borne upward through the shaft. A few ells below the rocky rim the movement ceased, probably because the vein of mercury was drained, but from here it was an easy climb up to the mining tunnel.

He cautiously lumbered through the dragon’s mountain hall toward the entrance of the mine, ready to be attacked at any time by the lurking beast. But nothing happened, and soon he stood facing the night wind from the valley running down toward Pik Pustula. Master Trodax did not, however, allow himself the peace of mind to enjoy his recovered freedom. The dragon was airborne! He had to warn the soldiers and have them light the beacon on the mountain! In his half-finished animal shape he hastily scampered down the slopes without noticing the twigs lashing his furry body. There was fire aplenty in the valley, but when he came to the camp the barracks were deserted. The Magister discovered to his horror that it was his own cottage that was on fire. He dashed up, and there in front of the roaring flames sat an elderly soldier, quietly watching the conflagration. While running Trodax had reassumed his human shape; he was now shivering with cold from his swim in the icy waters of the mine, but the fire was so hot that he was unable to move closer than a dragon’s length.
“We must light the beacon at once”, he tried half-heartedly, suspecting what the answer would be.
“They already know. It flew toward Arhem hours ago”, the soldier informed him, blowing his nose in his hand and proffering his bottle of strong drink. Trodax eyed the bottle with disgust but decided for the second time within a day to get drunk.
“The boy came in just as it started”, the man continued, nodding toward the burning house. “Nothing much to do.”
“Was it the dragon snorting fire?” the wizard whispered.
“No, the cook probably left the stove door open and a spark set fire to oil that someone had spilt on the floor.”

They gazed in silence into the fire which spellbound their eyes as fire-beings have always done. A sense of peace came over them, the calm that appears when everything is already too late.
“I saved your books, Master Trodax”, whispered Mok-mok the goatherd boy, who had been hiding among the bushes. The wizard gave a start. It was the first time that the child had spoken since his parents were eaten by the dragon. Mok-mok was sitting on a pack of bound parchments. The sight of them made Trodax cry with emotion. He walked up and kissed the boy on the forehead so hard that his lips left a round mark in the goat dung.
“Master, your ears…?”
Trodax Draconicus felt and discovered that his ears were still round, small and hairy like those of a bear. He did not know it then, but the wizard would have to live with those ears for the rest of his life.

fredag 19 april 2013

Nära miljonen nu

Idag summerade jag mängden text jag skrivit så här långt i tredje romanen. Sedan jag rensat bort allt kladd fick jag siffran:

973 618 tecken

Detta ska jämföras med:
Svavelvinter 1100 000 tecken
Slaktare små 1300 000 tecken

Eftersom jag ännu inte är riktigt klar så skulle jag gissa på att tredje boken blir något kortare än Svavelvinter, kanske 1050 000 tecken eller så vilket jag tycker är helt lagom.

En annan trevlig sak som jag noterade är att jag faktiskt började skriva först under september 2011. Alltså har jag åstadkommit dessa nästan en miljon tecken under bara ett och ett halvt år vilket förbluffade mig själv. Det ger också hopp om att sista boken inte ska behöva dröja så förfärligt länge sedan den tredje delen har kommit ut eftersom handlingen börjar bli mer given nu när jag vet vad som måste avslutas. Jag räknar dock inte med att börja skriva sista delen förrän vid årsskiftet eftersom resten av detta år kommer att gå åt till att redigera.

En sporre hur som helst!

tisdag 16 april 2013

De övergivnas armé

Ja, jag påbörjade just ett kapitel med den titeln.

Än sen då? Jag vet inte vad ni trodde ...

Uppdatering: Min tanke var förstås att parodiera den famösa boken från 1997, men nu sedan jag fått tag i den och ögnat igenom texten så har jag nästan gett upp ansatsen, helt enkelt för att skriften är så befängd att den knappast går att parodiera mer än den parodierar sig själv. Några exempel:

"Under mellankrigstiden användes den tyska scoutrörelsen för att utveckla heroiska ideal bland ungdomarna. I Sverige används idag scoutstugor ofta som samlingspunkter för levande rollspel."
(Ni förstår själva allvaret!)

"En förändring kan innebära att rollspelaren isolerar sig i sin spelgrupp, har rollspel som enda intresse, blir inbunden och försjunker i grubblerier, utför självskärningar eller plötsligt väljer en militant framtoning. Detta bör ses som alarmerande signaler, som kräver någon form av ingripande."
(Ekar inte detta av hur man såg på onani under moralisk stenålder?)

"En förändrad inställning till moralbegrepp och samhällssyn skulle kunna leda till att rollspelshobbyn plötsligt byter skepnad och förvandlas till en militant, politisk rörelse."
(Scenariot borde väl kunna avskrivas vid det här laget liksom farhågorna för en epidemi av ockult inspirerade mord?)

På sätt och vis är det lite synd att boken är så dålig för jag tycker själv att det fanns en del att diskutera när det begav sig men författarnas rumpdrattande omöjliggjorde seriös diskussion. Jag var exempelvis själv aldrig förtjust i excesserna i Kult. Det lutar åt att kapitlets titel får vara kvar som en liten näsknäpp, men de parodiska inslagen blir ganska begränsade helt enkelt för att det inte finns så många kopplingar att göra. Vi får se vad det blir - ni som jag.

söndag 7 april 2013

En rappare i Trakorien

Rapparen Petter läser som bäst Svavelvinter vilket jag tycker är väldigt kul. Kan är tydligen gammal rollspelare och pratar om hur spelandet blev ett bättre alternativ till "att dricka fulsprit" i parken. Kul tycker jag!


Aftonbladet (Idag)

fredag 5 april 2013

Ge synpunkter på Svavelvinter!

Så här under slutskrivandet av tredje boken börjar jag tänka på konfluxsviten som helhet och känner mig på det hela taget fylld av tillförsikt. Jag har länge tänkt att när serien är klar så ska jag gå igenom första romanen Svavelvinter igen och redigera en del eftersom den skrevs ganska långt före de andra böckerna. Det gäller i synnerhet de inledande kapitlen som skrevs ett par år innan resten av romanen.

Jag sett ett mönster bland omdömena att en del läsare har svårt att komma in i serien, även de som sedemera kommit att uppskatta böckerna. Det gäller exempelvis signaturen Annica på Bokus, Anita Oscarsson på tidningen Kulturen och även Lotta Olsson på DN. Motståndet kan ibland bero på det digra persongalleriet och på de många delhandlingarna, förhållanden som ligger i svitens natur och som jag inte kan eller ens vill åtgärda utan att göra våld på helheten eftersom allt så småningom vävs samman. I själva verket har min ambition varit att skapa en sammanhängande väv av berättelser i analogi med det övergripande temat om världen som väv. Andra har svårt för den språkliga stilen där jag emellertid är bunden vid det jag har påbörjat och måste slutföra romanserien på liknande sätt. Böckerna kunde förstås ha skrivits i en annan stil, men valet är gjort och omdömet blir till stor del en fråga om tycke och smak.

Det jag skulle vilja ha är era synpunkter på är om och i så fall hur själva inledningen på Svavelvinter kunde göras om för att läsarna lättare skulle komma in i serien. Ni får gärna ha synpunkter på hela boken eller på Slaktare små i samma avseende. Jag kommer inte att göra något just nu men det är bra att ha det i huvudet och gå och fundera.

onsdag 3 april 2013


En lite lustig och helt oplanerad sak hände när jag satt och skrev igår. Två av berättelsens aktörer, A och B, båda välkända för läsarna, möttes för första gången. A fällde en inledande replik som bara dök upp och jag insåg att B skulle uppfatta orden som ett förtäckt hot. B svarar i sin tur skarpt för att markera position och resultatet blir att dessa två redan från början ogillar varandra och kommer att försöka sätta varandra på plats framgent. Deras motsättning är emellertid inte fientlig utan snarare en kamp om prestige och rang. Jag blev själv lite förvånad över utvecklingen men anade när jag tänkte efter att personernas relation i fjärde boken kommer att bli intressantare på detta sätt eftersom båda samtidigt vet att de måste samarbeta och egentligen har samma mål. De delar dessutom en hemlighet som ingen annan får känna till.

Jag ville mest förmedla hur en enskild scen plötsligt kan förvåna även författaren trots att denne tror sig ha grepp om vad som kommer att hända. Ofta öppnar sådana oväntade vändningar nya möjligheter och inte minst intresset för att skriva vidare. Jag kan plötsligt se konsekvenser en halv bok längre bort och kommer mer eller mindre medvetet att styra skrivandet åt det hållet. Märkligt!