OF THE CITY OF THE SAVED...
NOTES: TITLE PAGE AND PROLOGUES
Please believe me when I say that these notes are not required reading for the novel. It was and remains my full intention that Of the City of the Saved... be entirely comprehensible to the reader on its own terms, without access to sources of esoteric information. Nothing in these notes – including those parts which put the story in context within the Faction Paradox universe – are at all essential to understand the book.
What they are, in fact, is mostly an excuse for me to witter on about mythology, theology, science fiction, forteana, history, language and Faction Paradox continuity, as well as (occasionally) the experience of writing, and of being edited and, as it were, designed. They tend towards the discursive and open-ended rather than the precise and explanatory. I hope this makes them of some interest for those who have found things to interest them in Of the City of the Saved..., but if not, please do feel free to go and do something else.
If I underline something in the near vicinity of a reference to The Book of the War (such as the City of the Saved, for instance), and it doesn't seem to be an actual hyperlink, then the chances are there is an entry in The Book which you can look up. This is a vague attempt to use The Book as a hypertext source, in a postmodern web-literate sort of way.
A WORD ON “SPOILERS”: These notes are intended to be read either in parallel with the novel – taking in the notes for the chapter you've just read, for instance – or en bloc once the novel has been read in its entirety. Please note that, if you read these notes ahead of the book itself, you will encounter references to parts of the story, including some important revelations, which you haven't come to yet. Don't say I didn't warn you.
...of its diverse citizenry and of its sundry divinities, with a disquisition on the protocols of history: As far as I'm concerned, the book's title is simply Of the City of the Saved..., complete with ellipsis. The “full title” shown here is an attempt to mimic the experience of reading a well-known old book (such as, for instance, Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World, in Four Parts, by Lemuel Gulliver, First a Surgeon and then the Captain of Several Ships, or the slightly less impressive Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There ), whose full title turns out to be rather different from the one you're used to. The “Of” at the beginning mimics the classical Latin style of entitling treatises – such as Lucretius's marvellously generalist De Rerum Natura, or Of the Nature of Things.
The title is also a practical joke against librarians and bibliographic researchers, each of which professions are obliged, whether they want to or not, to take the version appearing on a book's title page as the correct one. (I've been both – and it's hilarious, take it from me.)
Frontispiece: While Jim Calafiore's artwork from The Book of the War, depicting The Unkindnesses from the Eleven-Day Empire, is very nice, I had wanted to include instead Jim's similarly shaped and sized illustration of the Timebeast Assault. The image (recalled by Urbanus on p49) is one of my favourites from The Book, and I now own Jim's original drawing. However, This Town Will Never Let Us Go had already used the Unkindnesses illustration, and it was felt that a uniform design for the novels was more appropriate.
(I won't be annotating the whole novel in quite this depth, incidentally.)
THE STORY SO FAR
This two-page segment was contributed by Lawrence Miles, as a painless way of easing the reader into some of the more baroque concepts intruduced in The Book of the War, including the Great Houses, Faction Paradox and the City of the Saved itself. Despite my best efforts to explain everything as I went along, I have to concede that this was probably a good idea.
The City of the Saved, Resurrection Day: This brief prologue elaborates upon the basic concept of the City, for the benefit of anyone who not only missed The Book of the War, but hasn't read the back cover of the novel they're currently holding. It's all that remains of what was originally going to be the Prologue to the novel, Tobin's resurrection scene.
In an earlier draft, all the Citizens were to have received notes, but Lawrence Miles rightly pointed out that this was cumbersome and rather twee. In the final draft, they are known to exist (the sidebar “The Population Question” on p93 mentions them), but those who received them appear to be rare. Two characters apart from Tobin claim to have had notes, but without any particular evidence [pp7, 197]: it's clear that they become something of a status symbol among the Citizens.
Voces Populi: “Voices of the People”, the plural of “vox populi” (often abbreviated in a media context to “vox pop”) and the first of many Latin words and phrases in the novel. These speakers flesh out and clarify the background of the City, before we reach the narrative proper. It turned out, rather pleasingly, that there were eighteen of them, as many as there are viewpoint characters in the main body of the novel: three further voices were excised from the novel in the final edit.
None of them is based on anyone real, incidentally, although a couple of them may recall specific fictional characters. There may even be a good reason for this.
Hong Kong or Babylon or Siloportem: In The Book of the War, Siloportem is one of the capital cities of Posthumanity, the culture made up of humanity and its descendants after the destruction of the Earth. The name isn't mine: I don't know which of The Book's authors did invent it, but it crops up again in Lawrence's audio dramas, Movers and Labyrinth of Histories. In these, it seems the name is pronounced “Seel-a-port-em”, with the emphasis on the fourth syllable and a rolled “r” in the third. Some readers have derived mild entertainment from spelling it backwards.
Aksum at its zenith: Aksum or Axum was (and still is) a city in Northern Ethiopia. It was the centre of a substantial trading empire from the 3rd to 6th centuries AD, during the course of which it became a Christian kingdom (albeit a highly cosmopolitan one) allied to the Byzantine Empire. Although I haven't made a close study, I have tried to describe it accurately here.
Invincible Man, they called me: Given later revelations about the City's “remake” population, it's possible this superhero's life story may not be as straightforward as he believes.
Oh-my-Dagon: Dagon is a Phoenician deity, mentioned (as an idol worshipped by the Philistines) in I Samuel 5 vv2-7 and elsewhere in the Old Testament. Traditionally he is identified as a fish-god, and he appears in this capacity in H.P. Lovecraft's short story ‘Dagon’ (1917).
Buy Of the City of the Saved...:
- at Peculiar Tomes
- in ebook format from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com
- in paperback from Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com
- direct from Mad Norwegian Press.
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Of the City of the Saved... cover © Steve Johnson 2003.