We were half-playing poker at my table at Meilori's, waiting for Mark Twain and Freud to show up. Steven was wearing a black Stetson with the right side of the brim tacked to the crown.
I smiled, "Did you know that John B. Stetson once sold the hat off his head to a Colorado mule driver for a $5 gold piece?"
Steven, his black shirt reading "In my novel, I'm plotting against you," snorted, "Must have played poker with Twain."
Freud slid into the seat beside me and waved away my offer to start a new game. "We will wait for Clemens. It is always so much fun to see him deal off the bottom."
He turned to Brust. "Explain to me this Cool Stuff Theory to Literature of yours."
Steven smiled wryly. "All literature consists of whatever the writer thinks is cool. The reader will like the book to the degree that he agrees with the writer about what’s cool.
And that works all the way from the external trappings to the level of metaphor, subtext, and the way one uses words.
In other words, I happen not to think that full-plate armor and great big honking greatswords are cool. I don’t like ‘em. I like cloaks and rapiers.
So I write stories with a lot of cloaks and rapiers in ‘em, ’cause that’s cool. Guys who like military hardware, who think advanced military hardware is cool, are not gonna jump all over my books, because they have other ideas about what’s cool."
Freud nodded. "So then The Novel should be understood as a structure built to accommodate the greatest possible amount of what you call 'cool stuff.'"
Samuel Clemens slid in beside Freud. "Why, young fella, I know exactly what you mean. "
He lit up a cigar. "A stupid person can make only certain, limited types of errors; the mistakes open to a clever fellow are far broader. But to the one who knows how smart he is compared to everyone else, the possibilities for true idiocy are boundless.”
Steven looked pained at me. "I am truly scared. I actually understood that."
I grinned at him and said, "My novels are all linked. Your Vlad Taltos novels seemed of one world. Do you see the Vlad books as episodes or as part of an ongoing narrative."
Steven said, "I wanted each story to stand on its own, and I also wanted each one to fit in as part of a larger whole. I wanted to never tell a story I didn’t feel like telling, and I wanted to make sure I told the whole saga."
I said, "Roger Zelazny coined the term science fantasy. In your mind, when you think about your Dragaera novels, do you think of them as being science fiction or fantasy?"
Steven said, "Oh, yes. Absolutely."
Clemens snorted, "You're funning with Roland."
Freud shook his head. "No, I believe Steven is merely referring to Roger Zelazny's term."
I said, "You jump back and forth in the time line of Vlad Taltos. I haven't read Tiassa. Is there anything you want to hint about it mysteriously?"
"You want to know if it is going to move backward: Yes. You want to know if it is going to move forward: Yes."
Freud lit his own cigar and looked to the ghost of Mark Twain. "I take it back, Clemens. He was, as you say, 'funning."