Sunday, 2 January 2011

Encyclopædia Hyboriana FAQ

Right, lads and lasses, I figure I might as well post a few factoids about my intentions for the Encyclopædia, just to give you a better idea of what it'll entail.

How many separate entries are there?

As of right now, 1,052. This may change as entries are conflated or divided, based on whether a given entry deserves its own spot, or should be absorbed into another.

What's the word count so far?

The master document, which has a fair portion of the information on it, is almost 54,000 words: out of that, about 10,000 is completely neat and tidy. There's still a metric boatload of information spread across dozens of files which hasn't been collated and applied, though.

In sculpting analogy, the 54,000 is the giant block of clay, with the 10,000 representing the completely carved sections -- but there's still a lot of clay in the studio to pile on.

Will it be as extensive as the Hyborian Age Gazetteers?

If they were, I'd never get the thing done!  The average length for each entry is about 200 words, though that can vary from as little as 100 to as much as 2,000. So while it'd be awesome to do something like a Hyborian Age Gazetteer in book form, it would take a lot longer.

Does the world really need an Age of Conan Encyclopædia?

I think it does, and I think it's been a long time coming too.  There are Hyborian Age resources out there, but they all utilize the work of other authors, leading to confusion.  There are times when one can easily believe, for example, that Howard called the City of Thieves "Arenjun," or called the tribes allied with Tombalku "Mindango," and "Bigharma." There have been calls for such a resource on the Conan Forums, and such great Howard minds as Steve Tompkins believe it to be necessary.  Indeed, there have been previous attempts, the most recent being Scott Oden's, but he eventually decided to concentrate on his historical fiction.

So you're essentially doing this because you hate pastiches?

Not at all - in fact, I hope this will make better pastiches.  The pastiches which have come before have persisted through to new continuities, and this leads to its own problems.  Let's take Age of Conan as an example.  The developers say that their aim is to use mostly Robert E. Howard material, and use elements from the comics and pastiches only to fill out the world.  However, where does the line between using some pastiches stop?  In filling out the north, they use elements of de Camp stories, such as the Yakhmar of "The Lair of the Ice Worm."  But if "The Lair of the Ice Worm" is canon, does this mean other de Camp stories - like the hated Conan the Liberator - are canon too?  If not, why not?  And if de Camp stories are canon, does this mean other pastiches are canon - even the very bad ones? This is bad enough when one considers quality, but then there are the cases where pastiches conflict with the game itself.  A famous example is the use of a quote describing Cimmeria as "a treeless land"... which kinda contradicts the very wooded hills of the game, not to mention Howard's description.

So many RPGs, games, books and other pastiches have been influenced by the pastiches that have gone before. The Encyclopædia will allow new pasticheurs to start from the ground up: just Howard, nothing from anywhere else.  No more Brylukas, Hydragons, Giant Mantids, and Spider-Things of Poitain running about the wilds of "Hyboria"; no more Arenjun, Haloga, Ianthe, Pathenia, or Uttara Kuru muddling up the map; no more Queen Vammatar, King Ferdrugo, Jenna, Thulandra Thuu or Sigurd of Vanaheim photobombing group photos; no more Cobra Crown, Herat of Tammuz, Atlantean Sword, or Mamajambo's War Club littering the treasuries of the age.

Besides, I'm sick of the Yakhmar turning up everywhere, and I even think it's one of the cooler* de Camp creations.

Are you going to publish it through Hulu, the REH Foundation, or another publisher?

That all depends on how Paradox/CPI want to do it (assuming they let me!): hopefully I can get a license and permission to do so.

Will the Encyclopædia be a super-elite-collector's-limited-extended edition hardback, or an affordable paperback?

Given the choice, the latter.  I'd rather take after Barbara Barrett's Wordbook or Paul Herman's The Neverending Hunt than the lavish, gorgeous tomes A Means to Freedom and Collected Poetry.

Why "Encyclopædia" instead of "Encyclopedia"?

It's a tip to the hat towards the Encyclopædia Britannica and other tomes using the spelling. Besides, I love the æ ligature. I played about with different ideas: Lebor Hyborianach, Codex Hyboriana, The Hyborian Lexicon, even something quirky like Cyclopedia Hyboriana. I wasn't sure whether to go with Nemedian Chronicles or not, but I'm fairly satisfied with Encyclopædia Hyboriana.

Why "Encyclopædia Hyboriana" instead of "Encyclopædia Hyboria"?

Hyboria is a pastiche term, and is loaded with all sorts of possible misinterpretations: the idea of the land, or even the planet, being called "Hyboria" paramount among them.  Rather than contribute to any possible misinterpretation, I decided to use a cod-Latin term with the "-a" suffix to give a general feel without using "Hyboria."

Anyone else with any questions, feel free to fling them over!

*I never apologise for puns.

1 comment:

  1. Any more news on the Encyclopaedia Hyborian? Have you got a release date for the book? I eagerly await the final version of the book and will be one of the first to buy it!!! This Encyclopaedia is what Robert E Howard fans have been waiting for years!!!