Author's Notes

There is a Peanuts strip where Charlie Brown meets a new kid called "five". He asks the new kid where he got the unusual name and the exchange goes something like this.

"Everybody in my family has a number. My dad says everybody is going to be a number one day"

"So this is his way of fighting back?"

"No, this is his way of giving in"

This story is, in a sense, "my way of giving in" to the general tendency of Fantasy literature to boil down to tourism. A bunch of people team up and go around looking at interesting places and going "ooh", the whole business of saving the world becomes rather secondary. So I decided to write a story in which the protagonists are specifically setting out to just go around looking at things. The cunning plan is that instead of having a fantasy story that gets bogged down in travelogue, I will wind up with something that appears superficially to be a travelogue but is actually a properly realised fantasy story.

Like "Wheels Within Wheels" this is set in a very up to date fantasy world, with far more modern concepts than you usually get in fantasy.

Like "A Land of Two Suns" I will be adding a set of notes on my thoughts, ideas and fears about this story. This is intended to be a longer piece, so keep an eye out for updates.

CHAPTER ONE

This chapter is rather short and a little dialogue heavy. Unfortunately I couldn't think of another way to open. I needed to set up the premise for the story, which is simply "three fops decide to go on a tour of the world, because it beats the hell out of anything else they could have done". I am a little upset with myself that the three protagonists are all youthful, pretty and well educated - I rather feel I could have been more original in my choices. On the other hand, I'm going very much for a 18th-19th century Romantic Movement feel so a certain pretty boy quotient is rather mandatory.

It is likely that some people will have problems with the way a lot of the characters speak. The sub-Vancean garrulous patter may get a little wearing after a while. Still, again I'm presenting three fops here, and a love of the sound of their own voices is a big part of the way they work.

I could, I suppose, have made this one an introduction, but that would have felt a little disingenuous. It could also have been a prologue, but that would have been still worse.

In case anybody is wondering, yes there was a reasonable amount of stuff just thrown about in conversation that makes no sense if you don't know the setting. Bear with me, things will be made clear in time.

Additions: The first chapter underwent a rewrite, I felt that the them- boarding-the-ship bit made more sense as the end of chapter 1 than the start of chapter 2. I also feel that anything under 1500 words is a bit short to really qualify as a "chapter", even in this medium.

Much of this story is a reaction against traditional quest-and-travel fantasy. The fact that the characters begin their journey overladen with luggage - for example - is a specific reaction against the fact that an awful lot of fantasy characters seem to happily trek for miles with no provisions whatsoever. So I thought it would be a nice change of pace to write about people who consider three different sets of eveningwear and an astrolabe to be "essentials".

Further Additions: I also could not help but feel that Concord (the city in which they start off) felt a little empty, and some of the dialogue needed polishing, so there was a small amount of rewriting again.

CHAPTER TWO

The conversation with the playwright in this chapter serves two purposes. Firstly, it introduces a character, secondly it allows me to experiment with worldbuilding techniques. The aim with this section is to give the impression of a world in which there is Stuff Going On. The reason for introducing a playwright rather than any other sort of character to fill the role is that I want to push the idea of the story being set in a dynamic and evolving world. One where people have stuff to do in their spare time apart from Saving The World From Dark Rulers - hence the introduction of a playwright. I also wanted to give the impression of history and shared cultural heritage, as well as a sense of otherness to the world of the Tour. By having the characters allude to a famous story of their own world I hoped to make the world feel at once more fantastical (since this story is not one of our own) and also more real (since real worlds have stories like this in them). Of course odds are I've just confused everybody.

Hmm. there's probably more to say about this chapter, but I'm kind of tired.

The chapter was also edited for punctuation (you may note that Elizabeth Sammond's speech is now littered with dashes rather than ellipses, I understand that this is the more correct punctuation).

Incidentally, in case it isn't obvious from context "Surcaptain" is an honorific, much like "Sir" in our own world - since the Kingdom the tour starts off in is an island chain, its culture is more maritime than equestrian.

CHAPTER THREE

I had actually intended this chapter to be longer, but I think that too much beyond 3000-4000 words gets to be a bit of a strain on a computer screen, so I effectively broke it down into two chapters - after the duel seemed a suitable stopping point anyway.

The duel its self isn't terribly important. It's the conflict between Simeon and Justin that's the important thing, not the conflict between Simeon and Surcaptain Edmund. Most of what happens in this chapter is in order to either establish character. That being said, I always worry about fight scenes. I've never fenced, and know very little of the technical aspects of the art. I hope that the duel at least came out plausible.

I am faintly worried that I overplay the "absolute bunch of useless fops" angle in this chapter. Justin in particular is turning out to be even more of an upper class twit than I intended him to be (the other two at least having demonstrated some practical skills). Ultimately I'm trying a delicate balancing act here, tying to create characters who are sympathetic, but basically a bit crap (indeed I rather hope that the fact that they are a bit crap will make them more likeable - the theory is that it's easier to sympathise with flawed characters).

I'm fairly happy with the rate of introduction of characters, there's a fairly complex cast behind this, and it's a matter of introducing them quickly enough to get them all in, and slowly enough to have them all make an impression.