Malazan Empire: How the HECK did he keep it all straight? - Malazan Empire

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How the HECK did he keep it all straight?

#1 User is offline   cliftonprince 

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Posted 27 March 2016 - 09:40 PM

How did Erikson keep it all straight. Is there anything on the Wiki or in these Forums that indicates what his working method was for staying organized?

I mean, he has imagined such a HUGE universe of implications, histories, political events, races, plots and sub-plots, warrens and magical houses and hovels and homes and so on, so ... How does he manage not to contradict himself? Does he indicate the use of software, or of some sort of note-taking method, or a special assistant secretary, or anything like that, anywhere?

I'm merely a Malazan beginner. I'm not particularly worried about learning all of the details of Erikson's many empire(s). No need to do that! I'm now halfway through my second Malazan Tale of the Fallen (I read Gardens of the Moon and am now halfway through Memories of Ice, having chosen to leave Deadhouse Gates for third, as is my option according to the reading-order suggestions from this forum) and I don't really think I need any more guidance among the Erikson universe's characteristics, than the actual guides given me by reading the books themselves. It's going fine.

Rather, I'm interested in learning to manage the details of my OWN empires that I write. I wrote here (forums, a week ago) about world-creating. I do that. I know a lot of details about a fictional planet which I am populating. But sometimes I go back and read a previous chapter and I say, "Hey, wait a minute, everything here is going to have to change to match there, or vice versa." Drat! How to beat that?

This post has been edited by cliftonprince: 27 March 2016 - 09:41 PM

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#2 User is offline   Puck 

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Posted 27 March 2016 - 10:05 PM

I can't think of any interview or anything regarding that, but I imagine one big part in keeping it all straight was that SE gamed extensively in that world, and that it was a setting which grew organically instead of being constructed on paper alone. Good times like years-long gaming in a setting tends to make stuff easier to remember. It also probably helped that he's an archaelogist and anthropologist and knows a lot of interim stuff by instict, like how societies work/develop, so the key points could be extrapolated from on the go. Another help might have been that he knew pretty much from the start (and I'm sure there are interviews on that somewhere) where it all would end, so stuff that wasn't in any way connected to either getting there or making whatever point he wanted to make had no need to be included to begin with.

That said, there are a lot of people who would probably tell you that there are a bunch of inconsistencies and plotholes in the series, and claim that he didn't keep it all together well enough. That really comes down point of view. Personally, I think there's a lot of stuff he made up as he went, but thanks to the gamed (and thus living) history of the setting, all he needed to do was keep it in line with that history, and it would automatically align itself with everything else, as everything came from the same background.

Just my thoughts, of course, can't claim to have hard facts to prove most of them.
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#3 User is offline   Esa1996 

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Posted 27 March 2016 - 10:28 PM

IIRC someone asked it from him in the 2014 AMA and he kinda jokingly denied that he kept it straight. :nuke:
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#4 User is offline   cliftonprince 

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Posted 30 March 2016 - 07:28 PM

Thanks to both of you'se (uh, "y'all"?) for the info.

I am going to look into the gaming that Erikson did (I presume, fantasy role-playing games). Had no idea. Forgive me, I didn't know this fact! (I don't claim to be an adept at his world at all.) That's really the answer to my question.

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Oh yeah, there it is, GURPS, all over the Wikipedia page, duh. Shoulda RTFM ... :nuke:

This post has been edited by cliftonprince: 30 March 2016 - 07:34 PM

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#5 User is offline   Gorefest 

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Posted 30 March 2016 - 07:49 PM

Yeah, quite a few of the major characters were roleplayed through between him and Esslemont. Probably also why there are so many duos around.
Bit confused about your choice to skip DG though and go straight for MoI. Don't think I've ever seen that recommended and personally I would imagine that it makes you run into confusion and spoilers. But do let us know how you find it.
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#6 User is offline   cliftonprince 

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Posted 02 April 2016 - 02:47 AM

View PostGorefest, on 30 March 2016 - 07:49 PM, said:

Bit confused about your choice to skip DG though and go straight for MoI. Don't think I've ever seen that recommended and personally I would imagine that it makes you run into confusion and spoilers. But do let us know how you find it.


Correct, I am reading in the order 1. Gardens of the Moon, 2. Memories of Ice, 3. Deadhouse Gates. I've finished the first two and I'm about 100 pages (one ninth?) of the way into Deadhouse Gates now (the group with Fiddler, Apsalar, et al., haven't left Ehrlitan for the desert crossing yet, but it looks like they'll be on their way tomorrow). I got this reading order directly from these very forums, this thread ... http://forum.malazan...d-order-thread/ ... and this image ... http://forum.malazan...-1414377387.jpg ... I didn't know it was particularly dissident or heretical. I'd just call it agnostic, I guess. ;)

Honestly, I wasn't sure I was going to read more than one book at all. But after starting Gardens of the Moon, I decided I liked it (barely) enough to continue reading the series, so I ordered used copies of the latter two online while still finishing the first. Memories of Ice and Deadhouse Gates thus arrived in the mail packaged together, so I could have chosen either as the book I would read second in sequence. I saw on the front page of the Wiki ... http://malazan.wikia...ki/Malazan_Wiki ... that a majority prefer Memories of Ice over any of the other novels, so I picked it for number two, reasonably guessing I might not have the fortitude for a third. But now Memories of Ice turned out to be enjoyable enough that I'm sustaining enough interest for number three. Not sure if I'll risk ordering four and five ...

I don't think this sequence will be a problem. It's turned out (though I didn't know it at the time) that by choosing this particular order, I have followed Dujek One Arm's Host across Genebackis, straight through from Pale (with flashbacks to previous action in the North) to Capustan and ultimately Outlook. Now that I'm amid Deadhouse Gates, it seems to me, that this reading order was rather intelligent. To the contrary, the jarring effect of jumping continents and leaving an entire war theater behind, by reading Deadhouse Gates in second place, would have been rather disorienting. My method has allowed me to read through to resolution in a large number of story-threads which I otherwise probably would have forgotten (wait, which one was Tatterhair? and who is this Whiskeydick again?). The potential for a "spoiler" (is Kallor really on our side?; what role does Captain Canoe-Go Pariah have in all this?; why is Quickie Bun omnipotent?; where do dinosaurs k'chunk Chain k'chunk Mail come from?) well, I'm not so far having many issues. And the reading-order JPG file says I shouldn't.

In fact, I have to admit that I'm a little confused as to why Deadhouse Gates is the usual second-place book. Aren't its plot and setting the least well related to the other books, among those three? Aren't the other two books more closely linked to each other than they are to it or, than it is to them? Or is that a spoiler waiting to happen ...

This post has been edited by cliftonprince: 02 April 2016 - 03:05 AM

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Posted 02 April 2016 - 11:11 AM

Meh, there's a few spoilers in MoI for DG, but nothing major.
Whilst it is a major translocation I didn't notice the jar (perhaps due to my long disconnect time between gardens and deadhouse)
I get your thought trail of following Genebackis the whole way through, but read and find out a bit more as to how DG does follow on a few storylines from gardens. Bearing in mind the DG and MoI happen sort of simultaneously (THE TIME LINE IS NOT IMPORTANT!!!) you could read either first without overly ruining either, once you get through DG you might picks few little bits out tha lt don't come as surprise to you, given that you've already found them out in MoI.
I may be a little bias, DG is my favourite Malaz book, out of the first 7 anyway, and I love the first 7. I lump the last 3 together as 'meh'
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#8 User is offline   cliftonprince 

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Posted 04 April 2016 - 12:31 AM

A point about spoiler possibility. I share this because I've learned that my reading order of second and third books is reversed from usual, and therefore my perspective will be novel relative to some forum participants, therefore maybe mildly interesting to them.

My reading in Deadhouse Gates has now progressed far enough (about 1/3 finished? ... the Apocalypse Dryjhna rebellion thing just started) that I have encountered several descriptions which might have been better experienced the other way around. I have heard about a few things in Deadhouse Gates which seem to be written as though the author would have preferred that I heard about them there before having read their explanations in Memories of Ice, rather than (as I am doing it) afterwards. It takes a bit to describe, because it's a missing emotion that I'm having. It's not just a plot issue; it's a question of lacking the full mysterious impact of certain revelations. The author's (seeming) intent, to make something seem eerie and ancient, may be a little tiny bit weaker on me than on someone who undertook the more common reading order.

These are parts in which (to-be-revealed-as Barghast?) centers of sorcery and gods are being re-discovered here and there-about the deserts of the Seven Cities continent. These locations come replete with cedar trees, boats, and magic. One was packed with shape-shifters and so forth. Well, I'm recognizing these locations as what Memories of Ice reveals, rather late in that novel, as old old Warrens and sorcery centers created during, or descending from, the time before the Houses, when there were Holds, way back. The way they've been described in Deadhouse Gates, there's a lot left out, and a reader unlike myself, who has not yet read Memories of Ice, might really be intrigued by the growing mystery. The characters who find these locations in Deadhouse Gates are on a quest to try to find them and to figure them out. In Memories of Ice, the same locations were just outright explained to us (to us readers, and to some characters) by Barghast shamans and others who would have no problem recognizing these places. Erikson doesn't trickle in the details, slowly, chapter by chapter, as characters discover the things and are confused by them, in Memories of Ice. There, he just outright dumps them onto us promptly, in service of other aims. The mystery of slow, confused progress isn't as necessary in Memories of Ice, not like it is in Deadhouse Gates.

It's not really a problem for me, in my experience of Deadhouse Gates, to be able to go, in my head, "Aha, I think I know more about it than do Icarium and Mappo (or than does Sormo E'nath)". I don't mind, and it doesn't perturb my understanding of the plot or of the characters' motivations. But a little bit of the mystery is taken out. They're octagonal rooms with dugout canoes and cedar trees and they have a musty smell like a swampland. "Oh," my head goes, "Sounds like the original Barghast thingummy where Cafal explained in Memories of Ice that his people originated on the sea but have lost contact with their elder Gods ...". I don't know yet, if I'm totally correct, and I don't mind if Erikson's story turns out to prove me wrong, that would be fine, I don't need to be "right" about it. But I do think I'm missing some of his intent of mystery and wonder, in the sense that my reader's eye is rather dismissive toward the whole swampy-rooms-in-the-desert mystery. Rather than getting piqued curiosity, I just jump to one of a number of reasonable links. Erikson seems in Deadhouse Gates deliberately to have described these things, and plotted them out, to be vague, powerful, redolent of ancient and long-lost past. I don't get much of that effect through the course of reading Deadhouse Gates. He wanted more mystery than I'm reading into them, and that lack is due to excess information which I gained in Memories of Ice. The passage of whole aeons, the transition of a continental area from swamp to savanna to Sahara, the departure of the peoples once there, a sea-wide continental migration, canoe-borne wars, but WHO WERE THEY and what do they have to do with the rising power in the main Deadhouse Gates plots? Erikson wants me to be intrigued and he leaves out necessary details; I'm rather more rational.

I've already seen this capable author explain past epochal shifts in ways that are related to changes in the Deck of Dragons, or in Houses, Holds, and Gods, and continental environmental changes. However, the mystery (of the octagonal rooms with cedar canoes) slowly being revealed in Deadhouse Gates relies for its eerie, curiosity-piquing effect, at least partly, on readers not knowing that the scope of explanation can go so far back as to link together the wills of the Gods and rearrangements of the Decks, Houses, Holds. So it's less mysterious to me. Too bad. Only a mild disappointment, of course, and I'll enjoy whatever explanation comes about eventually (does it have something to do with how Otataral got deposited all over the nearest next peninsula?). But I'm not undergoing the ideal experiential sequence here.

Make sense? Sorry to blather on so much about it. Short version: the mystery and eeriness are gone, I'm not all goose-bump-y, because I know that the ultimate explanation will be on the continental and epochal scale, since I've seen explanations on that scale already, and since I've encountered (what look like) these things (swampy rooms with ancient magic and canoes) already.

This post has been edited by cliftonprince: 04 April 2016 - 12:46 AM

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Posted 04 April 2016 - 08:29 AM

Interesting take, something Id never really considered, the amount of foreshadowing in DG for MoIs revelations.
Regarding Otataral, read and find out, that's explained over the course of the series
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#10 User is offline   Kanese S's 

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Posted 04 April 2016 - 11:32 AM

View Postcliftonprince, on 27 March 2016 - 09:40 PM, said:

How did Erikson keep it all straight. Is there anything on the Wiki or in these Forums that indicates what his working method was for staying organized?

I mean, he has imagined such a HUGE universe of implications, histories, political events, races, plots and sub-plots, warrens and magical houses and hovels and homes and so on, so ... How does he manage not to contradict himself? Does he indicate the use of software, or of some sort of note-taking method, or a special assistant secretary, or anything like that, anywhere?

I'm merely a Malazan beginner. I'm not particularly worried about learning all of the details of Erikson's many empire(s). No need to do that! I'm now halfway through my second Malazan Tale of the Fallen (I read Gardens of the Moon and am now halfway through Memories of Ice, having chosen to leave Deadhouse Gates for third, as is my option according to the reading-order suggestions from this forum) and I don't really think I need any more guidance among the Erikson universe's characteristics, than the actual guides given me by reading the books themselves. It's going fine.

Rather, I'm interested in learning to manage the details of my OWN empires that I write. I wrote here (forums, a week ago) about world-creating. I do that. I know a lot of details about a fictional planet which I am populating. But sometimes I go back and read a previous chapter and I say, "Hey, wait a minute, everything here is going to have to change to match there, or vice versa." Drat! How to beat that?


I would not read it in that order. The ending of MoI will spoil the ending of DG.
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#11 User is offline   cliftonprince 

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Posted 05 March 2018 - 07:44 PM

Necro-posting, resurrecting my own thread, sorry but ...

How does he keep it all straight? Sometimes he doesn't! The following mention on a Malazan Wiki page indicates that Erikson (Lundin) has forgotten at least one notion at least once in his otherwise superhuman writing career. He's human after all!

Quote

Dev'ad is expected to appear again in the The Karsa Orlong Trilogy. When a fan asked Erikson on his Facebook page whatever happened to the character, the author responded by saying, "oh crap, thanks for reminding me! When he appears in the first Karsa novel, you can say to your friends: 'That's because of me!' ".


from http://malazan.wikia...v%27ad_Anan_Tol

This little anecdote, I must tell you, it actually gives me hope. It makes it seem like my own writing might come to fruition, now that I know that the big projects by the big guys are, indeed, sometimes slightly out of control. Things slip. You just do your best. Try to make sure, keep notes, make a memo to yourself, forget and then remember and be reminded by someone else ... very nice. :(

Snarky comment to myself below ...

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#12 User is offline   Nevyn 

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Posted 05 March 2018 - 08:13 PM

He didn't keep it all straight.


He kept it all entertaining, and his style of narration plus lack of exposition has let him blur the edges where he didn't maintain things perfectly.

It is not a series that keeps every detail lined up. It is a series that can mess them up without affecting your enjoyment.
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Posted 07 March 2018 - 09:13 PM

also, the timeline is not important
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