26 November 2002
Just in case anyone out there thought that life was straightforward once you were established in a genre, that you simply sent out your work and it was accepted as a matter of rote, a matter of right - well, no. Nice letter from Gordon Van Gelder this morning, turning down 'Dragon Kings...' for F&SF. He did like it but he's got lots of fantasy backed up, and he just didn't need this one. Which reminds me - if only distantly, my ego is not this great - of a story I heard, one of the many versions of how & why the great library at Alexandria was destroyed. Allegedly, when Muslim forces took power in Egypt after the Byzantines were driven out, their leader was told of this fantastic collection of Greek texts and was asked what should be done with it. He is reported to have said, "If these texts support what we are told in the Qur'an, we do not need them; if they dispute what we are told in the Qur'an, we do not want them," and so the entire library was burned. This is, of course, apocryphal - no, worse than apocryphal, it's a downright libel. The library at Alexandria was destroyed a good four hundred years before there was any Muslim power in Egypt. But it's still a great quote.
Anyway, the Dragon Kings story will go elsewhere, and I will report as and when; there must be someone out there who wants a Chinese fantasy romance with added godhood. Meanwhile, the lovely Pete Crowther has asked if I'd like to write a novella for his PS Publishing imprint, a thing which I would adore to do, and which makes the second such invitation in a month; and my US agent seems to be joining my UK one in urging me to write one of my major novel projects on spec, rather than scrabbling around desperately for a commission. I still don't see how that would be possible, unless I do win one of the awards or fellowships I'm applying for, but the pressure may eventually get too strong to resist. I would love to do it; it's just that I also need to eat. See how we suffer...?
© Chaz Brenchley 2002
Reproduced here by permission of Chaz Brenchley, who asserts his moral right to be identified as the author of this work.