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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Opera Vita Aeterna

I've been informed that it is customary to make Hugo-nominated works freely available to the public during the voting stage, so here is "OPERA VITA AETERNA", a nominee for the 2014 Hugo Award for Best Novelette. Click on the title link or on the cover image to download the free epub. If you prefer Kindle format, there is also a mobi version available for download.

There has been a fair amount of discussion of the novelette online, almost entirely by people who not only have not read it, but know absolutely nothing about it. I would suggest that anyone who is genuinely interested in excellence in SF/F literature simply read the work and judge it on its merits. And for those who are more interested in thought-policing the genre, they can simply do as some have suggested, "rank a nominated work below “No Award”", and thereby provide us with an accurate measure of the degree to which SF/F fandom is influenced by the politically correct Left.

From the Amazon reviews of THE LAST WITCHKING:
  • The masterpiece of the trio, though, is Opera Vita Aeterna. At its core is the dialogue between an aging monk and a long-lived elven sorcerer in unwitting search of his own salvation. Day again employs both allegory and tremendous subtlety as the more experienced and intelligent elf is perplexed and impressed by the power of eternal truth. Aeterna is both clever and touching and might be the best story Day has produced to date. 
  • Opera Vita Aeterna: This is a brilliant, five-star story, and the best in the book, in my opinion. For me to rate a story as brilliant, it must be beautifully written, have complex characters, and leave me with a note of lingering intangibility. The elf Bessarias is on a quest for God, whom he doesn't necessarily find. Through his searching, though, he leaves an important legacy behind him. There lies the intangibility--no personal, cathartic moment, but, instead, a glimpse of something far greater.
  • Opera Vita Aeterna is a deeply catholic work of the height of beauty, the power of events long after the events are forgotten, and the complexity and density of the Christian model of hope. Its most elegant turn is its ability to transform a deft and intriguing story about a strange sorcerer's encounter with a rural cloister into a meditation on the nature of eternity. It is rare to describe a story as both restrained and florid, but its details are so rich and believable and its voice is so even. Read it, then read it again after reading Summa Elvetica.
  • All too brief, it balances the darkness of this book's title story with a reminder that though darkness may engulf the world and seem to triumph, within the light there is a power that endures, which darkness cannot comprehend. All together, The Last Witchking is a significant offering by Vox, one I am still digesting and will read again.

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56 Comments:

Anonymous Andy April 20, 2014 1:14 PM  

Congrats on the award Vox. I wouldn't be too concerned with the ankle-biters. Out of curiosity though, where are these discussions taking place?

It's been awhile since I read the short story, but I remember every short story in that book being exceptional. Do you have a timeframe in mind with regards to when you will be publishing the next book in the Throne of Bones series?

Anonymous Don April 20, 2014 1:26 PM  

Interesting that every positive review was marked as 'unhelpful' by an anklebiter. Odd, you'd think they'd have something better to do. But then you'd remember they regularly spend their time here so they can be offended.

If the anklebiters and hollow people can honestly read this story they will be the better for it. Perhaps it's like Gollum and the lembas. They choke on wholesome good things.

Anonymous VD April 20, 2014 2:01 PM  

Do you have a timeframe in mind with regards to when you will be publishing the next book in the Throne of Bones series?

I'm shooting for December 2014 for Book Two in Arts of Dark and Light.

Blogger Rantor April 20, 2014 2:24 PM  

And for forty bucks, you too can join LONCON as a supporting member and vote on the Hugo Awards. The results could be epic.

Anonymous FUBAR Nation Ben April 20, 2014 3:22 PM  

Vox, are you going to be releasing any short stories in the interim?

Blogger Paul, Dammit! April 20, 2014 3:59 PM  

Downloaded... and thanks!

Anonymous Dave April 20, 2014 3:59 PM  

Congrats on the nomination. Not a big fan of fantasy but downloaded free copy to see what all the hubbub is.

Anonymous Philalethes April 20, 2014 4:07 PM  

Thanks for the free e"books". I enjoyed the story. It certainly deserves at least the attention it's getting now, if not the actual award. I haven't read any of the others, and probably won't, nor will I be voting, having left off being an SF fan ca. 1968. Btw, I have little Latin, but shouldn't it be something like "Opera Vitae Aeternae"?

(Oh, and thanks for the dedication. :) )

Anonymous dh April 20, 2014 4:13 PM  

I am considering a scholarship fund for any members of Dread Ilk who would like to be voting members. Apropos nothing else I think it is time that we SHOUTED DOWN these CON's which actively discriminate against the poor voters, as well as the minority writers. They have "othered" us, and firmly established a white-male power structure that has monopolized the system and granted themselves privilege and voting rights by way of the spoils of their capitalist hegemonic machinations.

Do we have anyone else would like to contribute to the fund? Anyone in need of a scholarship?

Anonymous A Visitor April 20, 2014 5:04 PM  

Congrats on being nominated Vox! Thanks for the free copy. Happy Easter, too! (would've posted that on AG but since I don't have/feel like submitting my info for one of those accounts, had to say it here).

Anonymous LL April 20, 2014 5:15 PM  

Love the updated header. "Hugo nominated. SWFW-purged." Gives me warm fuzzies!

Anonymous Doug Wardell April 20, 2014 5:29 PM  

LL April 20, 2014 5:15 PM

Love the updated header. "Hugo nominated. SWFW-purged." Gives me warm fuzzies!


Haha, I didn't even notice. :D I nominated Opera Vita Aeterna based on merit, but I can't say that I'm not deriving a great deal of satisfaction from watching the reactions.

Blogger tz April 20, 2014 5:32 PM  

Of all.the Selenoth works, this is the jewel, at least so far. Summa Elvetica (san serif) is a mount, but ther is yet no.crown.

Blogger tz April 20, 2014 5:38 PM  

@LL SWFW-purged?
Single white female witch? Or do.you mean SFWA?

Anonymous Pseudo-Nate April 20, 2014 5:52 PM  

The dissonance in the comments at the Radish is pretty amazing. They seem to want to deny that "getting your fans to vote for you en masse" is what popular vote IS.

Anonymous jack April 20, 2014 6:00 PM  

Reread the nominated last night. Excellent about third time around. Am reading the Witchking again just for the fun of it, you know.

Anonymous Scooter Downey April 20, 2014 6:07 PM  

Just finished A Throne of Bones. Excellent, Vox. Well done. The perspective jumping war scene at the end was original and enthralling, and Marcus's climactic scene gave me chills.

Anonymous scoobius dubious April 20, 2014 6:08 PM  

"but shouldn't it be something like "Opera Vitae Aeternae"?"

I think it might even be Opera Vitae Aeternitatis, but I'd have to look.

It's been a long, long time.


Anonymous Scooter Downey April 20, 2014 6:11 PM  

EDIT: Corvus, not Marcus.

Blogger IM2L844 April 20, 2014 6:26 PM  

Opera Vita Aeterna is a phenomenal little work of art. For it's modest gauge, it's brilliant in it's depth. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It will definitely be one of those rare pieces I plan to re-read on occasion.

Anonymous LL April 20, 2014 6:29 PM  

@tz, I think those are the female elves on Selenoth? I correct myself, SFWA.

And it is really too bad that so many will refuse to read the story. It says a lot about them, their positions, and their assumptions. Even I assumed Vox could not write a beautiful high fantasy series and here I am, a huge, HUGE fan of this world he has created. My own assumptions stopped me from proceeding into ATOB because I thought it was some sort of religious war book. Like the Crusades or some such. And then I was blown away by the book. At least I read them before judging their content, versus the many many folks who appear willing to throw the story away before reading it and then turning around and voting it not worthy. Such hypocrites

Anonymous Rocktransformed (Once, Kyle In Japan) April 20, 2014 6:35 PM  

I re-read Opera this afternoon and thoroughly enjoyed it. It completely deserves to be nominated. Long live the crimethink.

Anonymous VD April 20, 2014 6:55 PM  

"but shouldn't it be something like "Opera Vitae Aeternae"?"

No, perche non e' latina. Come "Vox Popoli" e' una mista di latina e italiano. Mi pare tutti sempre dimenticano che parlo italiano.

Anonymous Philalethes April 20, 2014 8:15 PM  

Mi pare tutti sempre dimenticano che parlo italiano.

Well no, I hadn't forgotten (I had to turn to Google to translate this sentence), though I hadn't noticed that "Vox Popoli" isn't standard (classical) Latin until you mentioned it a while back. But "opera vita aeterna" doesn't look like Italian either. (Nek estas esperanto; sed mi detemiĝas.) Then I just noticed the phrase in the "quote" at the opening of Summa Elvetica, which I think I'm going to read next; apparently it's Latin enough that Google translates it as "the works of eternal life". Which is what I would have guessed until I noticed it was not properly declined. So is it a kind of "vulgate" Latin as spoken in Armorr, or by the Church in Selenoth?

Anyway, it is a fine story, just the kind I like: a "historical" setting, a religious theme, a spiritual transformation. (I'll bet my late friend Avram Davidson would have loved it, if that means anything to you.) Fan friend Ted White introduced me to Raymond Chandler and John D. MacDonald in the mid-60s, and in the decades since I've found those kinds of stories, along with a return to a childhood love of historical fiction, have provided what I need in terms of exploration of human nature, life, etc., without the unnecessary distraction of an "unreal" setting. The "future" ("gay" or not) doesn't interest me, but the past—especially when combined with the timeless theme of spiritual inquiry and faith, transformation and redemption—does. (My favorite writer in recent years has been Ellis Peters; Cadfael is someone I'd really like to know.) Your "medieval" fantasy world looks like fun, but it also has some depth (the comparison with Tolkien is apt); I'll be looking into it some more. Please continue, and may Fortune smile on your efforts.

"It was the same ten thousand years ago, and will be the same ten thousand years hence. Centuries roll on, but the human problem does not change—the problem of suffering and the ending of suffering." – Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

Blogger Nate April 20, 2014 8:21 PM  

Scoobs have you hit Awake in the Night Land yet?

Anonymous Philalethes April 20, 2014 8:29 PM  

Meanwhile, perhaps there should be a kind of qualification: that one must affirm one has read all the nominees in a category before one may vote there? This campaign to blackball this story all unread is ridiculous.

When I was a fan, certainly there were lots of disagreements, even feuds that occasionally became rather heated—but they were just personality conflicts, not Stalinist ideological purges, and seems to me everyone knew they really weren't important. I've been away from fandom since the 60s, and what I've learned recently about its present character—for a bunch of people who're supposed to be "different", it certainly seems to mirror the worst aspects of the ever-more-decadent society at large—does not interest me in returning. When I was a fan, the Hugos meant something. Well, I guess, so did a lot of other things that have been turned into parodies. Guess I'm getting old.

Anonymous Randy M April 20, 2014 8:33 PM  

I very much enjoyed this story. Congrats.

Anonymous LL April 20, 2014 8:35 PM  

I commented on that Radish site a couple of times, I was not an asshole, and I think I'm blocked because I tried to follow up and it did not even go into moderation (it says you are in moderation when you comment) and the comments have not appeared. Why does pointing out the hypocrisy in a nice way garner a blocking? My email is valid, all she has to do is email me there and I'd respond, it's the same one I've been using for years. I don't think I've ever been blocked from commenting on a website, let alone when I was nice! Honestly, I can understand when people are idiots, but I've seen lots of idiocy here on VP and people have gotten a LOT of leeway before they hit the wall! I'm truly astonished. And it takes a lot to surprise me.

Anonymous scoobius dubious April 20, 2014 8:49 PM  

"Scoobs have you hit Awake in the Night Land yet?"

The first part of the first story ("Awake in the Night") is posted at Amazon so I read that much; found it suitably impressive, and deeply disturbing. It has a genuine nightmarish quality (with the emphasis on genuine). I'm reminded of "Eraserhead" not because the two are alike, but because of their common commitment to absolute integrity and faithfulness to their horrific vision.

At the moment I'm still so techno-backward that I haven't got a Kindle, so unless it gets brought out in hard-copy I may have to wait til I get up to speed. Might try reading The Golden Age or something else of his if it's in dead-tree form. But I can easily see why everyone is so impressed. Makes me want to go and check out the 1912 original, too.

Anonymous scoobius dubious April 20, 2014 8:57 PM  

Apples and oranges, granted, but are fans of Night Land familiar with Serpieri's bizarre graphic novel "Morbus Gravis"? It lacks the dignity and grandeur of what Wright is up to, but it has the same claustrophobic vision and the same sense of creeping evil. There are certain conceptual commonalities. Plus it's got a hot babe running around half-naked for most of the book, no arguments here. The rest of the series gets increasingly absurd and kinky and I shortly gave up, but the first one is a pretty good dose of pure evil in a fairly coherent conceptual framework. Plus, hot babe.

Anonymous LL April 20, 2014 9:11 PM  

scoobius, you have a computer, obviously, so just download the kindle reader (for free) or one of the other readers and read the books on your computer. Hell, you can even do it on your cell phone, if you're one to have one of those snazzy smart ones! I have a Nook, which is Barnes and Noble, but I have the Kindle app and read the amazon books just fine. I'm reading this nominated novelette on it again, as a matter of fact.

Blogger Tommy Hass April 20, 2014 9:13 PM  

I know this is embarrassing for this place but I'm gonna ask anyway: how does Vox Dei lead to Theodore Beale. I know one is supposed to follow the Latin into the Greek but I don't know Greek that well. I do know that Theodore means "Gift of God" while Vox Dei means "Voice of God".

What gives?

Blogger Eric Wilson April 20, 2014 9:19 PM  

Tommy,

As VD said once that I remember. Vox is obviously voice. But Dei in Latin is God, and God in Greek is Theos, or Theodore. So, the nom de plume is Voice of Theodore.

Blogger Nate April 20, 2014 9:23 PM  

"The first part of the first story ("Awake in the Night") is posted at Amazon so I read that much; found it suitably impressive, and deeply disturbing. "

Indeed. I sincerely hope you get to finish it. After finishing it... like so many others my head still swam around in it... trying to grasp the enormity of what I'd just attempted to digest... and after a while I thought of you. I thought of your criticisms of the shallow nature of fantasy... and I thought... This is the book Scoob has been begging for.

OpenID malcolmthecynic April 20, 2014 9:23 PM  

What program should I be using to open the e-book on my computer? I've tried notepad, Adove, Wordpad, and of course Microsoft Word, but none of them are helping me out here.

Anonymous LL April 20, 2014 9:28 PM  

@malcolmthecynic, depends on the extension, but none of those.

If it ends in .mobi, try this.

If it's a kindle version, try this.

If it's in ePub format, try this.

Blogger Positive Dennis April 20, 2014 9:46 PM  

I can recall only two books that effected me more than this story—The Moon is a Harsh Mistress and the Egyptian by Waltari.

Blogger Brian April 20, 2014 10:48 PM  

Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to thy name give glory, for the sake of thy steadfast love and thy faithfulness!

Anonymous Anonymous April 20, 2014 11:02 PM  

Congrats on the nomination. In the milieu of authors, even acknowledgement is remarkable. I read that story and thought it well done and satisfying and wished for a little more. On reflection, that's saying a lot!

Anonymous waGuy April 20, 2014 11:13 PM  

I enjoyed the story. It definitely left me wanting more. I tend away from fantasy, but the mix of theology and elves has me interested.

The past few months on the blog has brought me back into the scifi world. I had been convinced it had jumped the shark. But the authors that have been mentioned here have proven to be very fun reads.

I am currently going through kratman's books.

Anonymous Biff April 20, 2014 11:42 PM  

>my late friend Avram Davidson would have loed it-

Any friend of Avram Davidson is a friend of mine.

OpenID malcolmthecynic April 20, 2014 11:45 PM  

Wow. That was brilliant. One of the best short stories I've read in years.

You most assuredly have a chance to win, Vox.

I'm interested in the religion represented. Obviously it was deeply connected to Christianity. Was it meant to be a form of Christianity, or something different that took heavy inspiration?

OpenID malcolmthecynic April 20, 2014 11:47 PM  

By the way, thanks a lot LL. The Kindle app worked well.

OpenID bornlib April 21, 2014 1:01 AM  

"Love the updated header. "Hugo nominated. SWFW-purged." Gives me warm fuzzies!"

I think it would be even better if it were in chronological order.

"SWFW-purged. Hugo nominated." would further hint at the irrelevance of SWFA.

Anonymous rho April 21, 2014 2:33 AM  

Congrats on being nominated for a Hugo. Is this a Participation Hugo, or a Retaliation Hugo?

Anonymous VD April 21, 2014 3:47 AM  

Is this a Participation Hugo, or a Retaliation Hugo?

A Protest Hugo, I should think.

Anonymous rho April 21, 2014 4:01 AM  

"Protest" implies a subservient position.

Blogger Cataline Sergius April 21, 2014 6:30 AM  

So many puppies are smiling!

Anonymous Eric Ashley April 21, 2014 9:36 AM  

DH, if I took your money, I'd be obligated to at least take a serious look at each of the nominees, and I fear that might be a little painful.

I thought Vox Day was Voice of the Day (as in 'this time and community of civilized humanityh'), like Rush's 'cutting edge of societal evolution'.

Anonymous Jill April 21, 2014 12:46 PM  

Some little punk went and down-voted my VD reviews. A little desperate?

Anonymous Don April 21, 2014 3:26 PM  

All you need to know about radish site is that Andrew is a frequent commenter.

Anonymous scoobius dubious April 21, 2014 5:27 PM  

Somebody's a little fussy, I see.

Anonymous scoobius dubious April 21, 2014 5:34 PM  

Oops, apologies, wrong thread. I thought my stupid little joke about Hugo, Man of a Thousand Faces, had been deleted, but now I see that it has not been. Not that I care so much about a stupid little joke, but it speaks well of the integrity of the blog owner, dunnit. Cheers!

Anonymous Isaac Valenzuela April 22, 2014 12:20 AM  

Congrats Vox, on the nomination. It was well deserved! I found the story very moving, and am eager to jump back into Summa Elvetica, and the rest of AODAL proper.

Blogger Lee August 28, 2014 11:26 AM  

would love to read it but the links don't work I get error 404

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