Yesterday, we did three stories — "Pædomorphosis," "Postcards from the King of Tides," and "Rats Live on No Evil Star," working our way through the typescript for Tales of Pain and Wonder. That brought us into 1998. And to a point where my writing style was beginning to shift away from my earlier Neo-Faulknerian antics. There is a good bit of revision going on for this edition; only for style, not ever for story. I have tried, however, in the earliest stories to keep the changes to a minimum. But I went sort of nuts on "Postcards from the King of Tides." I think it's the story that marks the point where I'd begun to feel that my voice was changing. Most of the "compounderations" now fall flat on my ears, and try though I may, I cannot hear the original rhythm. So, I was rather merciless about either cutting them out or splitting them apart in "Postscards from the King of Tides." And the perspective of nine years allows me to see that I have done the right thing, as "right" a thing as I may ever do in such inherently subjective matters. Here's a convenient example of the evolution of my style from 1997 up to now:
Originally, "Postcards from the King of Tides" included the "compounderation" plasticloud. When the story was first published, In Candles for Elizabeth (1998), that's how it read. When the story was revised for the trade paperback edition of Tales of Pain and Wonder, sometime in 2001, I split it into plastic-loud, recognizing how easily plasticloud could be misread as plasti-cloud. And yesterday I shortened it to simply loud, trusting that the reader probably understands that cassette tapes are plastic. Anyway, I believe that the stories will be better and the collection stronger for these edits, which is important to me, as I expect this to be the last edition of the book for quite some time. I would rather this book be a better book than it has ever been before than a historical artefact documenting how I wrote in the nineties.
And artists who do not evolve are dead.
Just to give you an idea how surreal Second Life can sometimes become, Spooky ("Artemisia Paine") and I ("Nareth E. Nishi") found ourselves — at two a.m. — frantically lifting the entire Abney Park laboratory and all its content and the old tree outside and the tree's shadow by about two meters, because the Mayor found it necessary to raise the sea level by a couple of meters. I know this has something to do with the two additional Babbage sims that are coming online soon, one of which is to be the Vernian Sea. But sheesh. Two a.m. It was three before we were done. But at least I finally got rid of that stray wormhole hidden beneath a crate behind the lab. Also, if you've been following Professor Nishi's journal, things are getting interesting.
Right. Now I finish the coffee, answer the email, kick the platypus, and get to it.