Lizard Brain is a shared blog about Science Fiction and Fantasy from Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck.

A Shadow in Summer on Fantasy Faction, with extra added my teacher used to tell me . . .

by Daniel Abraham

First of the Long Price Quartet, and darn spiffy cover art if I do say so myself.

Well if you’ve read A Shadow in Summer and want to talk about what I got right and wrong in it, or if you’ve wanted to read it and talk about it with someone, or if you just really enjoy spoiler and would like to get a good understanding of the book without actually reading it, October is your lucky month.  Your friends and mine at Fantasy-Faction are looking to start up a conversation about the book.

I have to admit, I look on these with a mixture of delight and trepidation.  You may remember the short story club’s conversation about The Best Monkey.

Looking back at A Shadow in Summer, I have to admit I would do one thing differently.  Specifically, I would add one simple, declarative sentence on page 231 of the hardback that would clarify and dispel the one persistent criticism people have of the book.  But as my old teacher, Fred Saberhagen said, if it’s not on the page, it’s not on the page.  The joy of being a writer is living forever with our petty failures.

So anyway, if you’re up for it, by all means go talk the book over.

6 Responses »

  1. Huh, what’s the most persistent criticism people have of the book? I fell dizzyingly in love with Shadow, it started my campaign of the last year to read everything you’ve published; it’d be interesting to know what people complain about.


      The big complaint — some would say “plot hole” — is that the plot against Heshai is so byzantine. If you want him dead, drop a roof tile on him, or fill him full of knife sized holes. Much easier than all this make him complicit in a forced abortion.

      Me? I was thinking of the thing as a proof of concept run to see whether the andat would make reliable allies against the poets. Killing any one of the poets in a way that could be traced back — or even just assumed to be supported by — Galt would be suicidal. If the andat themselves could be brought in on the plot, all of a sudden there are some interesting possibilities.

      Except, of course, that the andat are about as reliable as an electrical problem, and the scheme fails utterly.

      There’s a bit of dialog that would have been the perfectplace to make it all clear:

      “It didn’t work, Amat. It failed. The poet’s alive, the andat’s still held. They see that it can’t work, and so it won’t happen again, if you’ll only let this go.”

      “I can’t,” she said.

      Change that to something like:

      “It didn’t work, Amat. They tried to make the andat into our agent, and they failed. Now that they see that things like Seedless can’t be made allies, they won’t try. It is ended, if you’ll only let this go.”

      “I can’t,” she said.

      That’s not perfect, but it gives the gist. It’s not a change to the story. It’s just a point where I could have been clearer. Clarity’s always a problem, because I know what’s going on, and sometimes I’ll think I’ve made it obvious just because it’s obvious to me.

  2. Well, you *could* have… a Directors Cut so to speak, couldn’t you? I mean, Neil Gaiman has “Author’s Preferred Edition” versions of AMERICAN GODS and NEVERWHERE. Presumably, then, there are editions which he does not prefer. And then there’s good ol’ Stephen King, who did that crazy rewrite thing with THE STAND. That wasn’t a very good move, imho, but it just goes to show that it *can* be done. On a related note, a close friend of mine still hopes that one day GRRM will re-release versions of AFfC/ADwD and put the characters who pop up “again” in the latter book “back” into the former… So it all depends.

    If it’s not on the page, it can be put on the page. Otherwise nothing would get written in the first place! 😀 If you think that a small change in the text would vastly improve it, then go ahead and do it. Although, yes, you can go quite mad that way.

    (See also: George Lucas)

    Greetings from Tallinn,


    • Yeah, I could in theory do that, but I’m not that guy. If I keep fiddling with something like this, there will never be a final version, and the story will never be over. Better to have something with a little flaw that is complete.

  3. What was the statement you’d add, Daniel? I was a big fan as it was, but now I’m curious what criticism you received.

  4. We are all looking forward to reading the book 😀 Thanks for bringing our book-club to the attention of your visitors! 🙂