Wednesday, December 29, 2004


This is about writing and what you think about when you write but its more about what's going on on the far side of the world.

At the end of The Brother's War I had to blow up a large island, a land mass about the size of Iceland, in the climactic battle between the two brothers. It was in the world's "bible" as an established fact that the island was destroyed in the blast, and my job to report it. A fellow author, more logical than I, pointed out that if you vaporized a landmass of that size, you're not just going to have earthquakes and tidal waves, you're going to have an epoch-ending, dinosaur-killing, comet-comes-from-the-sky type of event. I concurred, but using the forces of "magic" as an excuse, backed off the level of destruction to the point that everyone nearby would perish at ground zero and then worked my way outward - incineration, seaquakes, earthquakes, tidal waves, and finally bone-shredding sandstorms at the furthest point from the destruction. As inspiration, I did research on Krakatoa and other major events and tried to translate it into human terms.

And to be frank, I rounded down on the devastation, since I needed to have some characters left after I was done. One escaped in an apocalypse-proof box (the advantage of a magical universe). Another became a god. Another teleported out (again the advantage of magic) but lost an arm in the process. The rest were lost, their last moments recorded just before the flash, just before the quake, just before the wave hit. Survival is an open question. It was an attempt to make this apocalypse personal and in some way understandable. As fantasy, it worked, though as reality it was less than accurate.

I've been thinking about the end of the book for the past few days, as first the reports and then the pictures have come in from the Indian Ocean. An event that is a minor shrug of the planet compared to my fantastic immolation has sunken islands, slain villages, destroyed communities and killed over 80k outright. It has recarved the coastlines and literally made the world skip a beat. I watched the footage and kept thinking "All those people they're showing. They're dead now." And for those who survived, the prospects are equally chilling - disease and hunger come ashore right after the first big swells.

So yesterday Kate and I got paid for some short stories we wrote. Its not a lot, but good money. I looked at Kate (I confess to being the tight-fisted one in our relationship when it comes to charities) and suggested a number. Kate matched it from her check. We made a contribution through Oxfam, to whom we have contributed before and who is concentrating on Sri Lanka and Indonesia. There are many, many others pitching in, including working with the Red Cross and trying to make supporting as easy as possible.

Go do. Time is of the essence.

More later,