Hi all, Just this month OSC has begun the process of writing the final volume of the Tales of Alvin Maker. Don't know how long to complete, but it has begun.
Posts: 780 | Registered: Jul 1999
| IP: Logged |
OSC sent out the first two chapters to Uncle Orson On The Fly subscribers, and they are really good.
Honestly, I can't wait to read the epic conclusion to the series that I've been reading since I was 13 years old! (I have no idea how I got to be 35 so quickly. My stars.)
So many memories. Identifying way too intensely with Al Junior as he learned his moral sense with nighttime experiments with cockroaches and weaving little bug-baskets to build against the entropy of the Unmaker. Thinking about religion through the contrast of Reverend Thrower's hypocrisy and the Miller family's sincere faith. Being half Native American and feeling known when reading Red Prophet, traveling in the Greensong with Ta-Kumsaw to Eight-Face Mound and finding the miniature world-in-microcosm, crying as the massacre happened, marveling at the epic visions seen in the whirlwind of the tornado. Seeing the horrors of slavery on Cavil Planter's farm, and saving Arthur Stuart from the Finders. Having a literary crush on Little Peggy/Miz Larner, delighting in the Jane Austen-esque scenes with Mistress Modesty, and falling in love with Al and Margaret as a couple. Courtroom dramas with Daniel Webster and identifying way too intensely again with Verily Cooper. Meeting Becca Weaver and seeing the threads of her endless Loom, in which we are all woven. Comedic romps with Cal and Balzac and Napoleon. Talking with the birds with Arthur Stuart and Audobon, and defending Purity from slimy Micah Quill's Witch-Hunt, where every word is twisted. Traveling through the Crown Colonies with Peggy to try to end slavery, and helping Fishy. Riding on the Yazoo Queen, meeting the Grinning Man and Lincoln and Johnny Appleseed. Staying at the boarding house with Hatrack's own Moose and Squirrel. Looking into the crystal ball and trying to heal people of the Yellow Fever with Dead Mary, and escaping Nueva Barcelona with La Tia and the slaves and the French across a bridge made of ice and self-sacrificed blood.
And looming over all, the ominous storm clouds gathering on the horizon promise Civil War, with only the dream of the Crystal City offering hope that America might heal its soul.
The Alvin Maker series introduced me to William Blake (and, through him, the rest of the Romantic poets). A girl I knew in 9th grade bonded with me over our shared love of OSC books, and she became my first girlfriend. The historical aspects led me to other alternate histories like John Crowley's wonderful Aegypt cycle; the rich undercurrent of strong myth and references to Alchemy and blacksmiths and folkloric beliefs led me to Mircea Eliade and other scholars of comparative mythology and Hermeticism and history in general, which became a lifelong passion. (P.S. Hey, speaking of Millstones, has OSC ever read Hamlet's Mill by MIT Professors Giorgio de Santillana and Hertha von Dechend? Highly recommended, if not.) I became a history major in college, in part due to the love of history I gained from reading these books. (I was young enough when I started reading the series that I didn't quite pick up on the differences between the alternate history and our own until a reread a few years later, haha.) Lurking on Hatrack when I was a teenager gave me an online home when I was doing my own wandering for a few years, and a few lifelong friends that I still keep in touch with a little. And I finally got to meet OSC with a bunch of Jatraqueroes for the Crystal City signing tour back in 2003, when I had just moved to Portland, Oregon. Even got to work on Intergalactic Medicine show, which is still to this day one of the best jobs I've ever had.
Best memory of all: when I was in High School, I was going through a lot of family drama and depression, and I would retreat every night to the top of the bunkbed that I shared with my brother and just read and reread the series until I fell asleep; it was my only escape. Especially Prentice Alvin. That book gave me something that I desperately, desperately needed at the time: a vision of a community of good people doing the best they could to be good to each other, like when Alvin meets Horace Guester and Po Doggly on the boat to help Arthur Stuart:
quote:Alvin marveled for a moment at how smooth the two of them fit together. He didn't even have to ask -- he knew from how they acted that they'd done this sort of thing a good many times before. Each knew what the other was going to do, so they didn't even have to think about it anymore. One man did his part, and the other his, and neither even had to check to make sure both parts were getting done.
Like the bits and pieces that made up everything in the world; like the dance of atoms Alvin had imagined in his mind. He'd never realized it before, but people could be like those atoms, too. Most of the time people were all disorganized, nobody knowing who anybody else was, nobody holding still long enough to trust or be trusted, just like Alvin imagined atoms might have been before God taught them who they were and gave them work to do.
But here were two men, men that nobody'd ever figure even knew each other hardly, except as how everybody in a town like Hatrack River knows everybody else. Po Doggly, a one-time farmer reduced to driving for Dr. Physicker, and Horace Guester, the first settler in this place, and still prospering. Who'd've thought they could fit together so smooth? But it was because each one knew who the other was, knew it pure and true, knew it as sure as an atom might know the name God gave him; each one in his place, doing his work.
All these thoughts rushed through Alvin's mind so fast he hardly noticed himself thinking them, yet in later years he'd remember right enough that this was when he first understood: These two men, together, made something between them that was just as real and solid as the dirt under his feet, as the tree he was leaning on. Most folks couldn't see it, they'd look at the two of them and see nothing but two men who happened to be sitting in a boat together.
But then, maybe to other atoms it wouldn't seem like the atoms making up a bit of a iron was anything more than two atoms as happened to be next to each other. Maybe you have to be far off, like God, or anyhow bigger by far in order to see what it is that two atoms make when they fit together in a certain way. But just because another atom don't see the connection don't mean it isn't real, or that the iron isn't as solid as iron can be.
And if I can teach these atoms how to make a string out of nothing, or maybe how to make iron out of gold, or even -- let it be so -- change Arthur's secret invisible signature all through his body so the Finders wouldn't know him no more -- then why couldn't a Maker also do with people as he does with atoms, and teach them a new order, and once he finds enough that he can trust, build them together into something new, something strong, something as real as iron. [...]
Like I said, Alvin hardly knew what thought it was he had. But he didn't forget it, no, even sliding down the bank into the mud he knew that he'd never forget what he thought of just then, even though it'd take him years and miles and tears and blood before he really understood it all the way.
quote:Now, with this plow, he had done it, not by accident, but on purpose; and he'd taught the gold to be something stronger, to hold better to its shape than anything he'd ever Made before. But how could he teach it more, teach it to act, to move in ways that gold was never taught to move?
In the back of his mind, he knew that this golden plow wasn't the real problem. The real problem was the Crystal City, and the building blocks of that weren't going to be simple atoms in a metal plow. The atoms of a city are men and women, and they don't believe the shape they're shown with the simple faith that atoms have, they don't understand with such pure clarity, and when they act, their actions are never half so pure.
But if I can teach this gold to be a plow and to be alive, then maybe I can make a Crystal City out of men and women; maybe I can find people as pure as the atoms of this gold, who come to understand the shape of the Crystal City and love it the way I did the moment I saw it when I climbed the inside of that twister with Tenskwa-Tawa. Then they'll not only hold that shape but also make it act, make the Crystal City a living thing much larger and greater than any one of us who are its atoms.
The Maker is the one who is part of what he makes.
Wow, that's news all right - thanks so much for sharing it! So looking forward to it - and at the length he's threatened it might be, it should only take a couple years to write, right?
I remember thinking at one point that it would be cool if the character of Papa Moose ended up serving by helping to keep the tabernacle clean - a sort of janitor, as it were *grin* - but that was some time ago, and someone else has now held the mop far longer than he.
I just finished reading the series again a couple months ago (for the uncountableth time) - and I still experience many of the same emotions you've described, Zotto!, including the specific scenes you've excerpted. Goosebumps pretty much every time I read certain parts, or tears if I've been drinking too much coffee.
If he needs any extra readers to help remind about conflicts or continuity issues or anything, please let us know!