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Your search for the tag 'rj on fantasy' yielded 72 results

  • 1

    Interview: Oct 21st, 1994

    AOL Chat 1 (Verbatim)

    Batlar

    I have noticed some similarities to The Lord of the Rings. Was Tolkien an inspiration for for you?

    Robert Jordan

    I suppose to the degree that he inspires any fantasy writer in the English language, certainly.

    Tags

  • 2

    Interview: Jul 19th, 2005

    Week 17 Question

    You have said before that you write High Fantasy and not Sword and Sorcery Fantasy. What do you feel the future holds for those of us who are so in love with High Fantasy? Do you consider your next works to be High Fantasy? Who else do you consider as writing High Fantasy?

    Robert Jordan

    If I knew what the future held, I would make a fortune on the stock market, but my next works—tentatively titled Infinity of Heaven—will definitely be High Fantasy. At least, I think so. Others may disagree. That is the slippery difficulty with sub-genres. Everybody has an opinion, and those sometimes differ. As a short—not at all attempting to be all-inclusive and in no particular order—list of who writes High Fantasy in my opinion: Robin Hobb, Jacqueline Carey, Robert Holdstock, Tim Powers, Guy Gavriel Kay, George R.R. Martin, Tad Williams, J.V. Jones.... Wow, this list is getting long. But I'll add one more. When John M. Ford finishes Aspects—he's let me read some excerpts—I think you'll call it High Fantasy. Then again, he may disagree. There's that difficulty again.

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  • 3

    Interview: Jan, 1991

    Starlog Interview (Verbatim)

    William B. Thompson

    Since the books meld elements of Celtic, Norse, Middle Eastern and American Indian myth in a largely Medieval setting, obligatory comparisons with J.R.R. Tolkien surfaced almost immediately. Jordan accepts them with resigned good humor.

    Robert Jordan

    "On the one hand, I'm flattered. On the other, I would have to say it's overplayed. On the third hand, Tolkien encompassed so much in The Lord of the Rings and other books that he did for fantasy what Beethoven did for music.

    "For a long time, it was believed that no one did anything that did not build on Beethoven. For his part, Tolkien did provide a foundation while himself building on an existing tradition. Although it's difficult now to forge a singular place in this foundation, people like Stephen R. Donaldson are doing it. I hope I am as well."

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  • 4

    Interview: Jan, 1991

    Starlog Interview (Verbatim)

    William B. Thompson

    Throughout the years, genre fiction always has suffered from a sort of stepchild reputation, in part because so much formulaic, derivative, clumsy work has been produced in the various categories. Then again, as Jordan points out, much the same can be said of any literary form. Regardless of the fictional landscape he explores—fantasy, Westerns, historical—he rejects the creative straitjacket whose constraints allow no deviation from a basic genre formula.

    Robert Jordan

    "Genre survives; Moby Dick is an adventure story, for heaven's sake. William Shakespeare wrote comedies. Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote mysteries. What dooms a book is believing you have to stay within the guidelines. And with each book you write, in whatever genre, you must strive to make it better than the preceding one. You hope one day to write The Canterbury Tales, something that will last 1,000 years."

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  • 5

    Interview: Jan, 1991

    Starlog Interview (Verbatim)

    William B. Thompson

    Crafting his stories in a highly visual style, Jordan joins a celebrated list of contemporary fantasists and science-fantasy authors composed of such names as Joan Vinge, Fred Saberhagen, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Anne Rice, Roger Zelazny and Donaldson.

    But Jordan sees fantasy splitting into altogether too many lines to assay broad trends.

    Robert Jordan

    "You have, basically, magic realism, high fantasy and sword and sorcery, and between these reside at least a half-dozen other sub-genres. So, it's hard to see specific overall directions in the field."

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  • 6

    Interview: Jan, 1991

    Starlog Interview (Verbatim)

    William B. Thompson

    Yet fantasy literature, with its exemplar in Tolkien, is an enduring form chiefly because it touches a deep chord in the human psyche: a desire for simpler times, with a clear distinction between good and evil. More, says Jordan, fantasy offers its own well-ordered but thematically unlimited universe.

    Robert Jordan

    "In hard, technological science fiction, we've gotten away from a view of the eternal conflict between good and evil. Indeed, we see everything drifting through a shade of relativistic grey. While I agree that there are many ambiguous, grey issues, there is also good and evil. And the only areas of fiction in which the distinction is clearly delineated are fantasy and horror.

    "There used to be this perception that science fiction had to be hard and technical and that people were mere window dressing to help communicate the science. Of course, this was rarely true of the best SF, which stood out for the very reason that it didn't follow the strict guidelines on what that sort of fiction should be. By contrast, people are central to fantasy. And although there is no magic in my books, no incantations, the 'wizards' still tap into the power that drives the universe."

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  • 7

    Interview: Jan, 1991

    Starlog Interview (Verbatim)

    William B. Thompson

    Just because Jordan happens to write fantasy, it doesn't follow that he sees life in heroic or romantic terms. Quite the contrary, at least since he began conjuring fantastic visions.

    Robert Jordan

    "Before I began writing fantasy, I did have something of a romantic sense of the world. I was flamboyant and sort of an oddball as a kid. I still am in some ways. I made it through Machiavelli's The Prince by age twelve, which may have begun to cure me of romantic illusions."

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  • 8

    Interview: Jan, 1991

    Starlog Interview (Verbatim)

    William B. Thompson

    In the realm of fantasy writing, Jordan has been less influenced than simply entertained by such works as Donaldson's Thomas Covenant series and the horror writing of Stephen King.

    He never reads fantasy when he is in the midst of writing it.

    Robert Jordan

    "I read fantasies in between books. When writing, I make it a point to read other genres, plus philosophy, history, biography, mythology."

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  • 9

    Interview: Nov, 1993

    Trinity College Q&A (Paraphrased)

    Robert Jordan

    His first Conan novel he wrote because there was money offered. Having discovered that it was fun to write Conan, he wrote five more including the novelization of the second movie, and then spent a year convincing people that he was not going to write any more Conan...he was quite adamant on this point.

    His first novel was accepted and then rejected, sold and then rights reverted to him...he says he will never publish it as it is not very good, but keeps it as it seems to be lucky for him.

    He regards being taught to read at an early age and reading anything and everything he could get his hands on as being very important to his decision to write, and to what he writes and how he writes it...he writes Fantasy because it allows more straightforward discussion of good and evil than fiction set in the modern world.

    (I got the impression that learning to read at age three is considered precocious in the USA...just another example of how far you colonials have fallen. :-) )

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  • 10

    Interview: Mar 1st, 1994

    Robert Jordan

    Does evil need to be effective to be evil? And how do you define effectiveness? Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge managed to murder about 25-30% of Cambodia's population, destroy the country's agricultural and industrial base, fairly well wipe out the educated class inside the country (defined as anyone with an education beyond the ability to read; a good many of those went too, of course), and in general became so rabid that only China was willing to maintain any sort of contact with them, and that at arm's length. Their rabidity was the prime reason that they ended up losing the country. (though they are still around and still causing trouble.) In other words, they were extremely ineffective in attaining their goal, which was to seize Cambodia, remake it in the way Pol Pot wished (and still wishes), and export their brand of revolution abroad. Looking at the death toll, the cities emptied out (hospital patients were told they had one hour to leave or die; post-op patients, those still in the operating room, everybody), the murders of entire families down to infants because one member of the family was suspected of "counter-revolutionary" crimes, the mass executions (one method was for hundreds of people to be bound hand and foot, then bulldozed into graves alive; the bulldozers drove back and forth over these mass graves until attempts to dig out stopped)—given all of that, can you say that Khmer Rough's ineffectiveness made them less evil? Irrationality is more fearful than rationality (if we can use that term in this regard) because if you have brown hair and know that the serial killer out there is only killing blondes, you are safe, but if he is one of those following no easily discernible pattern, if every murder seems truly random, then it could be you who will be next. But "rationality" can have its terrors. What if that killer is only after brunettes named Carolyn? Stalin had the very rational goal (according to Communist dogma) of forcibly collectivizing all farmland in the Soviet Union. He was effective—all the land was collectivized—and to do it he murdered some thirty million small farmers who did not want to go along.

    But are the Forsaken ineffective or irrational? Are they any more divided than any other group plotting to take over a country, a world, IBM? True, they plot to secure power for themselves. But I give you Stalin v. Trotsky and the entire history of the Soviet Union. I give you Thomas Jefferson v. Alexander Hamilton v. John Adams, and we will ignore such things as Jefferson's hounding of Aaron Burr (he tore up the Constitution to do it; double jeopardy, habeas corpus, the whole nine yards), or Horatio Gates' attempted military coup against Washington, with the support of a fair amount of the Continental Congress. We can also ignore Secretary of War Stanton's attempts to undermine Lincoln throughout the Civil War, the New England states' attempt to make a separate peace with England during the Revolution and their continued trading with the enemy (the British again) during the War of 1812, and... The list could go on forever, frankly, and take in every country. Human nature is to seize personal advantage, and when the situation is the one the Forsaken face (namely that one of them will be given the rule of the entire earth while the others are forever subordinate), they are going to maneuver and backstab like crazy. You yourself say "If ever there was the possibility that some alien force was going to invade this planet, half the countries would refuse to admit the problem, the other half would be fighting each other to figure out who will lead the countries into battle, etc." Even events like Rahvin or Sammael or Be'lal seizing a nation have a basis. What better way to hand over large chunks of land and people to the Dark One than to be ruler of those lands and people? The thing is that they are human. But aside from that, are you sure that you know what they are up to? All of them? Are you sure you know what the Dark One's own plans are? Now let's see about Rand and his dangers and his allies. Have you been skimming, my dear? What makes you think the Tairens, Cairhienin and Andorans are solidly behind him? They're plotting and scheming as hard as the Forsaken. Rand is the Dragon Reborn, but this is my country, and we don't need anybody, and so on. And then there are those who don't think he is the Dragon Reborn at all, just a puppet of Tar Valon. Most of the Aiel may be behind him, but the Shaido are still around, and the bleakness is still taking its toll, since not all Aiel can face up to what Rand has told them about themselves. What makes you think the Seanchan will fall in behind Rand? Have you seen any Seanchan volunteers showing up? Carolyn, half of these people are denying there is a problem, and half are trying to be big honcho themselves. Read again, Carolyn. The world Rand lives in is getting more frenzied and turbulent. Damned few are saying, "Lead, because you know best." A good many who are following are saying "Lead, because I'd rather follow you than have you call down lightning and burn me to a crisp!"

    As for lack of challenge, I refer you again to the question about whether you really think you know what all the Forsaken are planning. Or what Padan Fain is up to. There is a flaw inherent in fiction, one that is overcome by suspension of disbelief. We do always know, somewhere in the back of our heads, that the hero is going to make it through as far as he needs to. After all, if Frodo buys the farm, the story is over, kids. The excitement comes in trying to figure out how he can possibly wiggle out, how he can possibly triumph.

    In Rand's case, let's see what he still has stacked against him. The Cairhienin and Tairens are for the most part reluctant allies, and in many cases not even that. At the end of Fires, he has Caemlyn, but I don't see any Andoran nobles crowding around to hail him. Illian still belongs to Sammael. Pedron Niall is working to convince people Rand is a false Dragon, and the Prophet is alienating ten people for every one he convinces. Tarabon and Arad Doman are unholy messes; even if Rand manages to get in touch with all of the Dragonsworn—who are not organized beyond individual bands—he has two humongous civil wars to deal with. True, he can use the Aiel to suppress those, but he has to avoid men killing men too much; there are Trollocs waiting to spill out of the Blight eventually. We must always remember the Trollocs, Myrddraal etc; the last time they came out in force, it took over 300 years to beat them back, and the Last Battle doesn't give Rand anywhere near that. Altara and Murandy are so divided in any case that simply getting the king or queen on his side isn't going to work; remember that most people in those two countries give loyalty to a city or a local lord and only toss in their country as an afterthought. Davram Bashere thinks Tenobia will bring Saldaea to Rand, and that is possible since the Borderlands would be one place where everyone is aware of the Last Battle and the Prophecies, but even Bashere isn't willing to make any promises, not even for Saldaea much less the other Borderlands, and I haven't seen any Borderland rulers showing up to hand Rand the keys to the kingdom. Padan Fain is out there, able to feel Rand, and hating him because of what was done to him, Fain, to make him able to find Rand. The surviving Forsaken are out there and except for Sammael, nobody knows what they are up to or where they can be found. For that matter, who knows everything that Sammael is up to? Elaida, in the White Tower, thinks Rand has to be tightly controlled. The Salidar Aes Sedai are not simply ready to fall in and kiss his boots, either. Aes Sedai have been manipulating the world for more than three thousand years, guiding it, making sure it remembers the Dark One and Tarmon Gai'don as real threats, doing their best, as they see it, to prepare the world for the Dark One breaking free. Are they likely to simply step aside and hand over control to a farmboy, even if he is the Dragon Reborn? Even after Moiraine decided he had to be given his head, Siuan was reluctant, and Siuan was in Moiraine's little conspiracy from the beginning. And the Seanchan...The last we saw of their forces, they were commanded by a Darkfriend. As for the Sea Folk, do you know what their prophecy says about the Coramoor? Do you think working with them it will be any simpler than dealing with the Aiel, say?

    Now, what and who does Rand have solidly in his camp? Perrin knows what is needed, but he's hardly happy about it. What he really wants is to settle down with Faile and be a blacksmith; everything else is a reluctant duty. Mat blew the Horn of Valere, but it's hidden in the Tower, and frankly, if he could figure some way to go away and spend the rest of his life carousing and chasing women, he would. He'll do what he has to do, but Light he doesn't want to. The Aiel are for Rand (less the Shaido, still a formidable force), but the Dragon Reborn and the Last Battle are no part of the Prophecy of Rhuidean. That is all wetlander stuff. Besides which, they are still suffering losses from bleakness, people throwing down their spears and leaving, people defecting to the Shaido or drifting back to the Waste because what Rand told them of their origins can't possibly be true and if it isn't then he can't be the Car'a'carn. Rand has declared an amnesty for men who can channel and is trying to gather them in; they, at least, should give their loyalty to him. But how many can he find? How much can he teach them in the time he has? How many will go mad before the Last Battle? There is still the taint on saidin, remember. For that matter, can Rand hang onto his own sanity? What effect will having a madman inside his head have? Can he stop Lews Therin from taking him over?

    I know that was supposed to be a listing of what Rand has in his favor, but the fact is that he is walking the razor's edge, barely hanging onto his sanity and growing more paranoid all the time, barely hanging onto putative allies, most of whom would just as soon see him go away in the hope that then everything would be the way it was before he showed up, confronted by enemies on every side. In short he has challenges enough for ten men. I've had people write to say they can't see how Rand is going to untangle all of this and get humanity ready to face the Last Battle. What I say is, what you believe to be true is not always true. What you think is going to happen is not always going to happen. That has been demonstrated time and again in The Wheel of Time. You could call those two statements one of the themes of the books.

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  • 11

    Interview: Apr 23rd, 1995

    Interviewer

    Jordan, a veteran of the Vietnam war, has definitely connected with his audience, both male and female. And he has some definite thoughts as to why fantasy literature is so popular.

    Robert Jordan

    Two things, really, I think. One, you can talk about good and evil, right and wrong, and nobody tells you that you're being judgmental. And the other thing is, in fantasy there's always the belief that you can overcome whatever obstacles there are, that you can make tomorrow better. And not only that you can, but that you will, if you work at it.

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  • 12

    Interview: Jun 17th, 1995

    Robert Jordan

    The reason Robert Jordan chose to write fantasy was its opportunities to build cultures and experiment with them, in a way and with a freedom to comment that is unachievable with a "realistic", domestically based world.

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  • 13

    Interview: Oct, 1994

    Dave Slusher

    Tell us a little about the origins. Basically in any type of fantastical literature, you don't have the crutch of being able to pillage our own history so much. You have to make everything from the mythology and the basis of the culture up. I would imagine this was a pretty tall task for this series.

    Robert Jordan

    It's complicated. My degrees are mathematics and physics, but one of my hobbies has always been history. And also what now is called, I suppose, social anthropology. Those were hobbies of mine from the time I was a boy. It became relatively easy for me to create a "fake" culture simply because I had studied a good bit about how cultures came about. And I was always willing to ask the question of result. If you begin by saying: I want this, this, this, and this to be true in the culture I'm creating. But, you then say, if A is true, what else has to be true? And if B is true, what else has to be true? And more than that, if both A and B are true, what has to be true about that culture? Then you add in C and D, and you've started off with four things that you wanted to be true in this culture, and you have constructed the sort of culture in which those four things can be true—not the only culture in which they could be true necessarily, but one that holds together.

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  • 14

    Interview: Oct, 1998

    Waldenbooks

    The Chicago Sun-Times calls your work "A fantasy tale seldom equaled and still more seldom surpassed in English." This is rather high praise! What does fantasy mean to you? Why would you decide to write epic fantasy?

    Robert Jordan

    It is certainly high praise—embarrassingly high! I chose fantasy in a large part because of its flexibility. It is possible to talk about right and wrong, good and evil, with a straight face in fantasy, and while one of the themes of the books is the difficulty of telling right from wrong at times, these things are important to me. There are always shades of gray in places and slippery points—simple answers are so often wrong—but in so much "mainstream" fiction, there isn't anything except gray areas and slippery points, and there isn't 10 cents worth of moral difference between "the good guys" and "the bad guys." If, indeed, the whole point in those books isn't that there is no difference. Besides, while I read fairly widely, fantasy has been in there since the beginning. My older brother used to read to me when I was very small, and among my earliest memories are listening to him read Beowulf and Paradise Lost. I suppose some of it "took."

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  • 15

    Interview: Oct 19th, 1998

    Andrew Wooster from Pomona College

    Do you feel that the fantasy genre of literature has any importance in society, and if so, what is its importance?

    Robert Jordan

    Well, I think it has too many levels of importance to go into all of them here, but the one that is very clear to me is the human need for myth. We have tried to scrape away, carve away, all the myths in our lives, but we do have that need. It can be demonstrated as simply as by looking at the rise of urban legends. Humans have a deep need for myth, and fantasy literature helps to provide that, I think. Or at least to provide an outlet for that need.

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  • 16

    Interview: Oct 19th, 1998

    Matt from Chicago

    Mr. Jordan, how did you go about coming up with the story line of Wheel of Time? Did you think about it over several years or did you have a set time frame in which you had to develop it? Any advice for someone trying to write fantasy?

    Robert Jordan

    My advice to someone trying to write fantasy is, go see a psychiatrist. As far as how I developed it, I certainly didn't have a deadline set. Many years ago, more than 15, not as many as 20, certain ideas started poking around in my head, rubbing against one another, and this slowly became what is the Wheel of Time. I really don't know that I could explain it any better than that. At least not if I don't go on for hours. For that matter, if I go on for hours, I'm not sure I can explain it any better than that.

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  • 17

    Interview: Nov 1st, 1998

    SciFi.com Chat (Verbatim)

    Moderator

    Welcome, Robert! We're thrilled to have you with us here. Why do you think "The Wheel of Time" series has struck such a chord with fantasy readers? Do you have any speculations about its amazing popularity?

    Robert Jordan

    No, I don't really. I write stories...I try to write stories about real people. I'm really glad the books are popular. But, I don't really have any clue why they're so popular, except possibly the fantasy element. I think that we have a real need for fantasy as human beings. Actually Terry Pratchett says it quite clearly. He says that by believing in things that don't exist, we set ourselves up to believe in other things that don't exist such as justice and mercy.

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  • 18

    Interview: Mar, 2000

    Robert Jordan

    There are things I am saying, things I am talking about, but I try not to make them obtrusive. The necessity to struggle against evil, the difficulty of identifying evil, how easy it is to go astray, are very simple questions. In modern mainstream fiction, if you discuss good and evil, you're castigated for being judgmental or for being old-fashioned. Originally this was a way of deciding which was the greater wrong—'It is wrong to steal, but my child is starving to death. Obviously, in that situation it is better to steal than to let my child die of hunger.' But today that has been transmogrified into a belief that anything goes, it's what you can get by with, and there is no real morality, no right, no wrong—it's simply what produces the Platonic definition of evil: 'a temporary disadvantage for the one perceiving evil.'

    In fantasy, we can talk about right and wrong, and good and evil, and do it with a straight face. We can discuss morality or ethics, and believe that these things are important, where you cannot in mainstream fiction. It's part of the reason why I believe fantasy is perhaps the oldest form of literature in the world, at least in the western canon. You go back not simply to Beowulf but The Epic of Gilgamesh.

    And it survives pervasively today. People in the field of science fiction and fantasy are willing to accept that the magic realists are fantasy writers, but to the world at large, 'Oh no, that's not fantasy, that's literature.' Yes it is fantasy. And a lot of other things, that are published as mainstream, really are fantasy but not identified as such. We really have quite a pervasive influence.

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  • 19

    Interview: Oct, 2000

    Orbit Interview (Verbatim)

    Orbit Books

    What inspired you to write in the fantasy genre?

    Robert Jordan

    Some stories need to be told in certain genres, and fantasy allows the writer to explore good and evil, right and wrong, honour and duty without having to bow to the mainstream belief that all of these things are merely two sides of a coin. Good and evil exist, so do right and wrong. It is sometimes difficult to tell the difference, just as it can be difficult to know what is the proper thing to do, but it is worth making the effort.

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  • 20

    Interview: Nov 11th, 2000

    Richard from Kentucky

    In fantasy, the epic battle between good and evil is a physical battle. How do you personally cope with experiencing the world of WOT, and having to face the real world? Also, are you like C.S. Lewis in that you can't believe in the world you created, seeing as you made it? Thank you.

    Robert Jordan

    Well, I suppose I believe in the world I made as much as any writer believes in the world he or she creates—I can see it, feel it, smell it. But I certainly have no difficulties stepping outside the world in my head into the REAL world.

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  • 21

    Interview: Nov 11th, 2000

    Dave from Wautoma, WI

    Thanks for such a terrific series! I can't begin to tell you how many hours of entertainment it's provided. I was just wondering . . . provided that you get the time once in awhile, do you tend to read books inside the fantasy genre or outside or it?

    Robert Jordan

    I read more outside of the fantasy genre than inside, but I certainly do read fantasy.

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  • 22

    Interview: Dec, 2000

    Orbit Interview (Verbatim)

    Orbit

    What attracted you to writing fantasy?

    Robert Jordan

    I think that, in large part, I was led to fantasy because in fantasy it is possible to talk about right and wrong, good and evil, with a straight face. In so much else of literature, everything has begun to be rendered in shades of gray. It isn't that I don't believe there are gray areas, morally and ethically, but not everything is murky.

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  • 23

    Interview: Dec, 2000

    Orbit Interview (Verbatim)

    Orbit

    What differences do you think there are between writing mainstream and fantasy fiction?

    Robert Jordan

    None, really. In truth, given the appearance in more and more mainstream literature of ghosts, telepathy, the past impinging on the present, and other things that should be called fantasy, there is much less difference than, say, fifty years ago.

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  • 24

    Interview: Dec 12th, 2000

    CNN Chat (Verbatim)

    RawShock

    What got you into writing fantasy?

    Robert Jordan

    Fantasy is an area where it is possible to talk about right and wrong, good and evil, with a straight face. In mainstream fiction and even in a good deal of mystery, these things are presented as simply two sides of the same coin. Never really more than a matter of where you happen to be standing. I think quite often it's hard to tell the difference. I think that quite often you can only find a choice between bad and worse. But I think it's worth making the effort and I like to expose my characters to that sort of situation.

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  • 25

    Interview: Dec 12th, 2000

    CNN Chat (Verbatim)

    Almindhra

    Do you think literary critics take you seriously as a good writer despite your writing of fantasy?

    Robert Jordan

    Some do, and some don't. That's the way it always works. But I would like to add there is a lot of fantasy out there that does not call itself fantasy. The magic realists are fantasists. (A.S) Byatt is a fantasist. A good many mainstream literary writers are fantasists. So maybe the critics won't put things down, just because they are fantasy, quite as readily as they once did.

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  • 26

    Interview: Dec 12th, 2000

    CNN Chat (Verbatim)

    Moderator

    Why do stories of the titanic battles between good and evil seem to attract such a large and loyal audience?

    Robert Jordan

    Because most people believe in good and evil, in right and wrong. And I think most people would like to believe that they would stand on the side of good—of right—however they happen to define those things.

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  • 27

    Interview: Apr 4th, 2001

    Question

    You're a scientist, you have a degree in physics I saw.

    Robert Jordan

    Eh, yes. I'm not sure I'd call myself a scientist, but, my degree is in physics, yes.

    Question

    It'd be logical for a physicist to write science fiction, and not fantasy. How did you come to fantasy and not science fiction?

    Robert Jordan

    Because I write what I want to write, really, but I'm not certain I'd say that it would be logical for a physicist to write science fiction. Are you aware of the paradigm [and now I finally know how to correctly pronounce that English word] called Schrödinger's Cat?

    Questioner

    No.

    Aan'allein

    [This guy just lost all respect I could possibly have for him, and it's getting worse.]

    Robert Jordan

    It's a mind test in a way, really. If you can wrap your mind around it in the right way, believe it, then you are ready for higher physics. Imagine a cat, sealed in a lead box, and there's no way to look into the box. Inside the box there is a flask of cyanide gas. Attached to the flask of cyanide gas is a Geiger counter. The Geiger counter is pointed at an atom. The atom has a 50-50 chance, in any given second, of decay. Now tell me, is the cat alive, or is the cat dead?

    Questioner

    He's fifty-fifty.

    Robert Jordan

    No, no, no, is the cat alive, or is the cat dead? I'm not asking you to give me odds. Is the cat alive, or is the cat dead?

    Questioner

    Ah, he's alive.

    Robert Jordan

    No.

    Question

    Why not?

    Robert Jordan

    If you're an engineer...If you have an engineering mindset, you'll say that the only way to do it is to open the box and check. If you have the mindset that could take you into higher physics, you're willing to accept that the cat is alive and dead, both, and will be fixed in one state or the other when the box is opened. But until the box is opened, the cat is alive, and it is dead, simultaneously.

    Questioner

    Yeah, that's fifty-fifty.

    Robert Jordan

    No, it's not a fifty-fifty chance. A fifty-fifty chance says that it's fifty percent chance that the cat is one way, and fifty percent that it's the other way.

    Questioner

    So it's either way.

    Robert Jordan

    No, the cat is not either way; it is both. It is 100% alive, and 100% that the cat is dead, and both things are true. And must be acceptable as true. If you cannot accept this as true, then you are not ready for quantum...for the most basic quantum physics, much less getting into anything beyond.

    But the thing is that if you can wrap your mind around Schrödinger's cat, you can also wrap your mind around fantasy. As a matter of fact, the thing that I find very interesting is that...I don't really follow theoretical physics to any degree now, and haven't for more than twenty years. But when I find myself talking to a theoretical physicist, I sometimes get stuck on panels with theoretical physicists. I'm always afraid that I'm going to be left way behind because I haven't kept up in the area, but I find that I can keep up quite nicely. As long as...while they're discussing theoretical physics, I discuss theology. And ah, I find myself able to keep up quite nicely, talking about the same thing.

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  • 28

    Interview: Apr 4th, 2001

    Questioner

    In Holland there is some contempt to the genre of fantasy.

    Robert Jordan

    Well, there's some contempt everywhere.

    Quesioner

    Well, I can't speak for the rest of the world, but what do you think of that?

    Robert Jordan

    I think it's foolish. There are many more people who write fantasy than are tagged with the ghetto-phrase fantasist, or fantasy writer. If you read A.S. Byatt, or 'The Magic Realists' you're reading fantasy. If you read any novel which has ghosts or spirits or time-weaving back and forward... many, many supposed main-stream writers write fantasy. And they just don't call it fantasy, eh... the worlds in their books are not set in reality at all, and that is fantasy. And... eh, A Midsummer Night's Dream, the epic of Gilgamesh, which is ... all over, it's a fantasy. I like to think of science fiction and horror as subsets of fantasy. They're particular sorts of fantasy.

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  • 29

    Interview: Apr 6th, 2001

    Question

    The first specific question for Jordan was asked why he chose to write a fantasy series, instead of going for historical novels.

    Robert Jordan

    Well, in terms of history, I see some similarity to the writing of a fantasy novel and the writing of a history novel. In both cases you are presenting a world that is totally strange and alien to the reader. And if you don't believe that, read a good novel set three hundred years ago, one that really describes the life and you'll find very little recognizable in it.

    So there is a great deal of similarity there. The major difference is that if you're writing a good historical novel you must place the historical events where they actually happened, not shift them about at your own convenience. In a fantasy novel you can shift history for your own convenience. It's a great...a great aid.

    Question

    And that's attracted you because you felt your hands free to...

    Robert Jordan

    That's, that's a part of it. Another part of it is that I felt I could discuss things writing fantasy that I couldn't discuss writing in other genres, things that I would have to...sidestep.

    There's a great deal of the struggle between good and evil. I'm trying to decide what is good, and what is evil, what's right, what is wrong, am I doing the right thing? Not by preaching; simply the characters keeping face with a situation or they're gonna make a decision; they don't know enough, don't have enough information, and they don't know what the results are going to be; oh they know what the results are gonna be and they're wrong. We'll give them that. At least wrong a lot of the times. And they have to blunder on and blunder through anyway, cause that's all there is to do.

    But if I wrote about that, if I tried to say that there is a right, there is a wrong, there is good, there is evil, it's tough to tell the difference, but you really have to make the try. ... It's worth the effort to try. If I said that in a mainstream novel, it would be laughed out of town.

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  • 30

    Interview: Apr 7th, 2001

    Robert Jordan

    Fantasy is the literature of hope. In fantasy there is a belief that you can make a difference. Today may be bleak, but you can live through today. And tomorrow will be better. And maybe there'll be a different darkness tomorrow, but you can live through that, too, and you can make the light come, and the darkness go away. It doesn't matter how many times the darkness comes. There is always hope for something better. I think that that is the central core running through fantasy. And having said that...I have to apologize, by the way, I didn't get a lot of sleep last night. I'm a bit groggy, a bit punchy. And I'm trying very hard to hold on to my thoughts and to my line of reasoning and not go off on strange and awful tangents. I think what I'm going to do now is ask who would like to ask me a question.

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  • 31

    Interview: Apr 7th, 2001

    Question

    Is fantasy also disregarded in the USA?

    Robert Jordan

    Yes. There is an exception in [Edward Rothstein]...he works for the New York Times, a culture editor, not a literary editor. But that's very good. He seems to understand what I'm writing about. But fantasy is by and large dismissed as less.

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  • 32

    Interview: Jan 17th, 2003

    JD Urbanski

    I explained to him that I was writing my senior thesis for my BA on the role of genre literature in the literary community. The first question I asked was what did Jordan feel the role of genre literature, especially fantasy, plays in the literary community.

    Robert Jordan

    He answered, "Well if you're talking about fantastical literature in particular, I believe that Terry Pratchett summed it up best, but I'm not sure he's the actual originator of the comment. When we read fantastic literature, we are forced to believe in things that do not exist. It is a necessity for civilization that we have the capability to believe in things that do not exist. Because justice, mercy cannot be found with the most scientific instrument; they cannot be weighed on the finest scales. These are things that exist solely because we believe in them. They stop existing the moment we stop believing in them. So, by believing in things that don't exist, we prepare ourselves to believe in those that are necessary."

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  • 33

    Interview: Jan 17th, 2003

    JD Urbanski

    My second question was did he believe that genre books deserved to win the major literary prizes such as the Pulitzer or the Booker.

    Robert Jordan

    Before I had finished Jordan began, "Of course, of course. But you'll notice that some books that are fantasy are not called fantasy. Doris Lessing writes fantasy. A.S. Byatt writes fantasy. [inaudible name] is fantasy, writes fantasy. The magical realists write fantasy. If you write and deny that you write fantasy then you're acceptable for a major award and/or the accolades of the critics. If you say that you write fantasy, then you've marked yourself as living in the ghetto. So, I write fantasy and I wear my ghetto tattoos proudly."

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  • 34

    Interview: Jan 22nd, 2003

    Brandon

    Straight to the point. All of the plot lines will NOT be wrapped up at the end of the series. I attended the book signing at Chester County Book and Music Company today and someone a few people ahead of me asked a question that I couldn't hear, but RJ's answer went something like this:

    Robert Jordan

    No. The one thing I don't like about most fantasy is that everything gets tied up in the end. The people, the cities, everything finishes and it dries up. The book gets put on the shelf and collects dust. I want the world to be vibrant and still going. Some minor plots will go on and things in the world will stay alive.

    Brandon

    This is in NO WAY a direct quote. I have never been to a book signing and was somewhat struck and nervous about meeting him, plus I had no writing or recording equipment. The overall vibe I got was that he really does care about the world he has created and won't leave out anything major.

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  • 35

    Interview: Jan 22nd, 2003

    USA Today Article (Verbatim)

    Robert Jordan

    Fantasy—"fiction based on the unreal"—is his true calling, however. "It touches on dreams and hope. No matter how dire the situation...there is a presumption of things coming out all right."

    USA Today

    There are an estimated 65,000 fan Web sites devoted to Jordan's work. But The Wheel of Time series has not been made into a film or miniseries. (In the 1980s, Jordan wrote a series about Conan the Destroyer of film fame. The character was first created in the 1930s by Robert E. Howard.) Jordan promises that he will write "at least" two more novels in The Wheel of Time series.

    "What makes Jordan so popular, I think, is that everything he writes makes perfect sense," notes Swedish high school teacher Lars Jacobsson, 27, from Malmö. He has been a fan since 1995. "In most other fantasy books, there's always a point where you go, 'I don't buy that, that doesn't seem right.' In The Wheel of Time, that point has yet to come."

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  • 36

    Interview: Jan 21st, 2003

    SFRevu Interview (Verbatim)

    Ernest Lilley

    You didn't start out writing fantasy, you started out writing historical fiction under yet another name...

    Robert Jordan

    Yes, Regan O'Neal is my name for Historical Fiction. The first thing I ever wrote was Fantasy, at least I thought it was. It will never be published now because I'm a better writer now. I wrote this thing and I sent it to DAW books because I heard that DAW published first novels. So I sent it to DAW and got back a letter from Donald Wolheim that was exceedingly laudatory, and obviously he had written it at home and typed it himself because he had scratched out words and made changes in pen and his signature was cramped...and he made me an offer.

    And I asked for some changes in the contract. Nothing very big. I asked for some changes in subsidiary rights that I never expected to be exercised because I wanted to establish that I wasn't going to accept just anything that was offered. But I didn't know enough about the industry to know if I was being offered a minuscule advance or a fairly good advance.

    Ernest Lilley

    You wanted to establish a dialogue.

    Robert Jordan

    Yes. And I found out that he didn't like beginning writers to ask for changes. He thought that beginning writers should accept what was offered. So the result of my asking for the changes was that I got a letter back saying, "Dear Sir, in view of your contract demands we are withdrawing our offer. Sincerely, Donald A. Wolheim."

    I looked at the two letters and I didn't know why I'd gotten the second, as I hadn't demanded anything. It was actually a very diffident letter, and I had ended by saying, "If any of these requests seem out of line, please let me know." Thus throwing away everything, but I knew that I had no real knowledge of publishing.

    So, I decided to ignore the second letter because the first letter said; you can write.

    That novel that I thought of as a Fantasy was later bought by Jim Baen while he was at Ace as a Science Fiction novel. You may know that Jim doesn't think very highly of fantasy, so he bought it as SF while DAW had bought it as Fantasy. Then Susan Allison came in to replace him when he went to TOR and she didn't like it, so I got the rights back and it's sat on the shelf all this time.

    Ernest Lilley

    And what was this novel that we will never see?

    Robert Jordan

    Its title was Warriors of the Altaii, and you will never see it, or know anything about it. I have not destroyed the manuscript, because it has powerful juju...but in my will I have provisions to have that manuscript burned. But until then I'm afraid to get rid of the juju that resides in it.

    In a way that novel led to me meeting my wife, and it led to me getting my first novel published. Because she knew about that manuscript, when Tom Doherty got the rights to do the Conan novels, he needed the first one very fast so that it would come out the same time the movie came out. And he knew that I had once written a 98,000 word novel in 13 days.

    So he thought I could write something fast, and he was right, and I liked it. It was fun writing something completely over the top, full of purple prose, and in a weak moment I agreed to do five more and the novelization of the second Conan movie.

    I've decided that those things were very good discipline for me. I had to work with a character and a world that had already been created and yet find a way to say something new about the character and the world. That was a very good exercise.

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  • 37

    Interview: Jan 21st, 2003

    SFRevu Interview (Verbatim)

    Ernest Lilley

    I'm principally an SF reader, though I enjoy some fantasy. I think that one of the things I like about SF is that it tackles some big questions...but you write fantasy for the same reason.

    Robert Jordan

    Yes, it seems to me that the SF you like, as do I, so often the "ta-pocketa-pocketa" if you remember the old Walter Mitty movie, the ta-pocketa-pocketa takes over and the characters are just there to see that it happens at the right time. The best SF goes much beyond that and there certainly a lot of flaws in a lot of Fantasy as well, but perhaps that's the reason I decided to go with Fantasy instead of SF.

    Also, SF has absorbed something from mainstream literature, and that is something I think of as a moral ambivalence, which is the erroneous application of situational ethics. There really isn't anything that's right or wrong, there is no good or evil, it all depends on the circumstances.

    Ernest Lilley

    Post-Modern ethics for a Post-Human culture.

    Robert Jordan

    And I look at this and say, no, no. There is right and there is wrong and there is good and there is evil, and sometimes it's hard to tell the difference. But it's worth to try to tell the difference...you don't just flip a coin.

    Ernest Lilley

    Do you think that people are getting tired of this moral relativism?

    Robert Jordan

    I think so. Not to one value system. There are lots of value systems in this country. But I think that a lot of people want to believe in something, and they want a set of rules in life, or guidelines for life and behavior for what's right to do, or what's wrong to do and they may argue among themselves about whether this or that is right or wrong, but they want to believe in those things.

    Ernest Lilley

    Tolerance is good, but being not caring is a bad thing.

    Robert Jordan

    Yes, there is a difference between being tolerant and being a sponge.

    Ernest Lilley

    So, fantasy allows you to deal with moral issues, while SF focuses you on the technology though it grapples with them somewhat, it is a setting based genre rather than a character based one.

    Robert Jordan

    And the technology is very often much more important than the issues, it seems to me.

    I say this as someone who likes Neil Stephenson. I like Greg Bear. I reread Heinlein periodically...I love Science Fiction.

    Ernest Lilley

    Do you reread the Heinlein juveniles?

    Robert Jordan

    Absolutely. I hate what they did with Starship Troopers. I kept waiting for Heinlein to come out of his grave and beat them all over the head. They made it very blatant that we were going to have a Nazi future there...and it was clear that the people who made it had no understanding of Robert Heinlein, or what made him tick, or what he was writing about.

    Ernest Lilley

    Aside from mucking up the concept, and with all the CGI they used, I really hated that they omitted the central technology in the film, the powered suit.

    Robert Jordan

    Ah, yes. I didn't quite understand why they left that out. I looked at the whole movie and decided I didn't want to buy the DVD on this one.

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  • 38

    Interview: Dec 19th, 2003

    Question

    Which famous Science Fiction & Fantasy (SFF) figure (writer or character) would you most like to bring to a Christmas party? And which of your own creations would you invite to pull a cracker or two?

    Robert Jordan

    Robert Heinlein and J.R.R. Tolkien. I'd go for Mark Twain and Jane Austen, but you did say SFF. And writers are, one hopes, more fascinating than any of their characters because they contain all of their characters, who might be let out if the wine flows freely. Heinlein and Tolkien were two very interesting and very different men, with a few similarities I believe, and it is the precise mesh of differences and similarities that make for brilliant dinner table conversation. If I could have a third, I'd make it John M. Ford. I know exactly what sort of dinner companion Mike is, and his presence at a table with Heinlein and Tolkien would guarantee an evening of marvelous conversation. Between the three of them, they'd make sure that everybody sparkled, if only by being pulled along in their slipstream.

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  • 39

    Interview: Dec 19th, 2003

    Question

    And what SFF movie would you all collapse in front of after the [Holiday] feast?

    Robert Jordan

    Not one, I fear. The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers, back to back, in the expanded versions. Pull an all-nighter over brandy and cigars. Mr. Heinlein would be fascinated by the special effects and how they were done, as well as by the story, of course. Mr. Tolkien could grumble about what the movies had done to his books. I've never known a writer who didn't enjoy grumbling, at least in private, about what the movies had done to his book. And Mike and I could just enjoy. Maybe we'd toss in Pirates of the Caribbean and make it a true all-nighter. I went to a charity Halloween ball as Captain Black Jack Sparrow (hair beads by Elise Mattheson), and I am told the resemblance between me and Johnny Depp was amazing. Especially around the eyes. The eyes took two women half an hour to get done!

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  • 40

    Interview: Mar, 2003

    Tom Schaad

    Now, since the last book in the series came out, before Crossroads of Twilight, the world in America has changed quite a bit, as of September 11, 2001. Has that had any impact on the way you approach your work, or has it had an impact on the way people are looking at the work?

    Robert Jordan

    Well, for how I approach the work, I don’t think it has had an impact. For how I am writing the work, it almost certainly has because you cannot live through something without it affecting what you do. I would have to be inhuman to be able to filter out what I have lived through from my work. I don’t think it’s possible. As for changing how people look at the books, I think it has, perhaps, changed or intensified that. In the real world we have a great deal of uncertainty, a great deal of danger, and very little certainty of where we’re going, how were going to get there, what the end result is going to be. In fantasy, you face a great deal of danger, a great deal of uncertainty, but you have one particular certainty when you get into fantasy: you know that Evil is not going to win the final victory. There will be victories by Evil along the way, people you liked, people you loved may die, but in the end Good will win out. And that, I believe, has become even more important to people in their reading; that they can have that much certainty at least.

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  • 41

    Interview: Mar 29th, 2004

    Sci Fi Weekly

    How did you go from nuclear engineer to writing fantasy for a living?

    Robert Jordan

    Are you familiar with Schroedinger's cat?

    Sci Fi Weekly

    Yes—that's quantum physics. That's the theory that if a cat were put into a steel chamber with radiation, the feline would be alive and dead at the same time. This is because of the superposition of possible outcomes that exist simultaneously.

    Robert Jordan

    Schroedinger's cat is really a test in a way. If you can wrap your mind around Schroedinger's cat and accept that, than you are ready to take on quantum physics. I also think, if you can wrap your mind around Schroedinger's cat and accept that, than you are ready to write fantasy.

    I don't keep up with the current literature in physics. Occasionally, at conventions, I have been put on panels with physicists—because I have a degree in physics. The only way I can hold my own with the physicists is if I forget talking about physics and start talking theology. If I talk theology, they seem to understand what I'm saying and we get along quite well.

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  • 42

    Interview: Jan 6th, 2004

    Miami, FL

    Is it easier to write fantasy, since there are no boundaries other than one's imagination?

    Robert Jordan

    Well, there are boundaries, and everything has to make sense. And it's not easy to take things that are unreal and which the reader knows are unreal and make them make sense. So I actually think it's probably harder to write fantasy than it is to write some other kinds of fiction.

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  • 43

    Interview: Jan 6th, 2004

    Allentown, PA

    First off—LOVE your writing—amazing in all aspects. Question—How has the recent movement of fantasy from the traditional "geek" or "nerd" viewpoint to the mainstream affected YOUR personal views on the genre?

    Robert Jordan

    Not at all, really. I have always enjoyed fantasy, and I'm not certain that we have moved in the mainstream that much. There are a good many writers, from Doris Lessing to the magic realists, who write fantasy and they don't call it "fantasy," they call it simply "a novel," and they deny vehemently that they write fantasy at all.

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  • 44

    Interview: Jan 6th, 2004

    Philadelphia, PA

    Okay, let's talk turkey, lots of comparison to you and Tolkien as the legacy and the new master. How do you feel about all these suggestions flying about? You both are easily my two favorite authors of all time (with Douglas Adams edging in to a close second!)

    Robert Jordan

    I feel a little nervous about them and quite pleased. If you're talking the realm of high fantasy, being compared to Tolkien is like being a musician and being compared to Mozart. That's the good part. The bad part is, I'm not Tolkien I'm not trying to write like Tolkien. So one one hand I'm pleased, the other hand ambivalent.

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  • 45

    Interview: Apr 27th, 2004

    Wotmania Interview (Verbatim)

    Wotmania

    This must be a clichéd and obligatory question by now, but: Do you keep up with what other authors in the genre are putting out, or do you tend to read material from outside of the genre on your own time? Are there any other authors that you are particularly fond of at the moment?

    Robert Jordan

    I read both inside the field and outside. Inside, I’ll snap up anything by John M. Ford, Neal Stephenson, Greg Bear, John Varley, Tim Powers, Guy Gavriel Kay, Jacqueline Carey, Lois Bujold... Whew! The list is getting long, isn’t it? Suffice it to say that I read a lot of writers.

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  • 46

    Interview: Apr 27th, 2004

    Wotmania Interview (Verbatim)

    Wotmania

    Do you ever let compassion for a character affect or influence plot development?

    Robert Jordan

    Never in life. I like writing books where good triumphs, though seldom as completely as some would wish, but sometimes bad things do happen to good people. That is the touch of realism in the fantasy that helps make it feel real. One of them, anyway.

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  • 47

    Interview: Oct 2nd, 2005

    Robert Jordan

    For Margot, I'm sure that people will still want quasi-medieval fantasy, but other types are interesting, too. In Infinity of Heaven, one of the cultures involved will be at more of an early-to-mid Eighteenth Century level, complete with gunpowder weapons. I'd like to do some books set in a late Victorian or Edwardian world, and I have a stand-alone in mind that I might do eventually which is set partly in the present day and partly in various real historical periods. As you say, other writers are broadening the field, and that is good, to my mind.

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  • 48

    Interview: Jan 20th, 2003

    Rick Kleffel

    Now, why did you feel the need to create an entire world to tell the story of the characters you've created?

    Robert Jordan

    Well, fantasy offers certain flexibilities that are not available in mainstream fiction, for example. Mainstream fiction has mostly areas of gray. You can occasionally talk about stark blacks and stark whites in fantasy. Now, I believe there is such a thing as good and such a thing as evil. There is right, and there is wrong. 'Situational ethics' is the most misunderstood and misused term in the world, perhaps. There are times when it is difficult to say what is the right thing to do, and what is the wrong thing, or even to say what is good and what is evil. But in a great deal of contemporary fiction, the attitude seems to be that, because it's difficult to tell, 'Well, we don't really need to make the effort. We'll just drift along and do what comes our way, and if it's good, or if it's bad, or if it's evil, well, that's someone else's perception, isn't it? That's all it is.' Well it isn't. These things exist—good and evil, right and wrong—and it's worth spending a little time and a little effort to try to figure out which is which even when it's hard.

    Rick Kleffel

    Wow!

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  • 49

    Interview: Jan 20th, 2003

    Rick Kleffel

    Now, your books are described as fantasy, even by you, but they don't really read like what usually falls under that label.

    Robert Jordan

    Well, I'm not sure what usually falls under that label. I suppose you mean great fire-breathing dragons, or something, or damsels in distress. The problem is, of course, there are a lot of things that are fantasy that aren't called fantasy. You know, A.S. Byatt writes fantasy, and so does Doris Lessing. The magic realists are all fantasists. But, if you have ghosts, if you have ESP, if you have anything that is unreal, and unscientific, you're writing fantasy. But if you want to stay out of the ghetto—if you're afraid of that word 'fantasy'; you think, 'Aw, they slapped that word on me, I gotta be tarred, ah, never get out of it, never, never escape it,'—then you say that you're writing 'magic realism', or you're writing something else, that you are writing 'a novel', with perhaps a few....ahem, 'fabulist'—"'Fabulist', yes, that's a good one; we'll call them 'fabulist' elements..."—Well, I write fantasy.

    Rick Kleffel

    That's great.

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  • 50

    Interview: Jan 20th, 2003

    Rick Kleffel

    Now, one thing that I find quite interesting about the Wheel of Time...to me it has an almost science-fictional feel. The prime driving force for the world is the ability that many characters possess to channel the One Power. Could you describe your hierarchy of psychic powers and talk about how you've developed it almost as a technology?

    Robert Jordan

    Well, I did think of it as a technology. One of the worst things that any writer who is writing about magic or some non-magic method of doing things—some non-scientific method of doing things, I should say—the worst mistake that those writers could make is to think that everything goes, anything goes. There are always rules; there are always limits; there are always prices to pay; there are always trade-offs. Asimov may have been right that, uh...no, actually it wasn't Asimov, it was Campbell? It was...

    Rick Kleffel

    Arthur C. Clarke.

    Robert Jordan

    Arthur C. Clarke; you're right! "Any sufficiently advanced science will seem to be magic."

    Rick Kleffel

    Exactly.

    Robert Jordan

    But it only seems to be magic to you and me; to the people whose science it is, it is actually going to be science, and they will be very well aware of the limits and the constraints and so forth. So I designed this as if it were a technology; I said that the world had been previously powered by this technology; the technology of the Age before the Breaking of the World was based on the use of the One Power. Their machinery used the One Power; their flying machines used the One Power; their toasters used the One Power. The One Power was how they operated their society, their civilization.

    Rick Kleffel

    And yet, of course as the technology in these books has spread to those beyond the select—the Aes Sedai—the old social hierarchies of this world start to crumble.

    Robert Jordan

    Well of course; that always happens. I'm writing about a world at a time of change. Change is uncomfortable, and there are two sorts of people: there are people who don't want change, and there are people who do want change. Both of these people are going to be disappointed. The people who don't want change are going to be disappointed because the change is going to come no matter what. The people who do want change are going to be disappointed because the change is almost never going to be anything like what they want. And what I am writing about is a world where the changes are coming to their society, to their world—changes have been coming now for some time—and the characters have to live through it, ride these changes, and make the best of it they can.

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  • 51

    Interview: Jan 20th, 2003

    Rick Kleffel

    Now, [Wheel] of Time also has a lot of strong, decisive women characters. I need to know, what made you bring women to the forefront in a genre that is dominated by men in leather diapers?

    Robert Jordan

    Well, I decided at each point who was the best to narrate a scene, who was the best point of view character to 'see' a scene...who is the person I wanted the reader to 'see'...through whose eyes did I want the reader to see this scene. And after The Eye of the World, that came out to be—about half the time—women. The women are strong for a number of reasons. One, because I decided that women could talk about the feminist struggle a lot more than I could—a lot better than I could—therefore I would write a world where the feminist struggle happened so long ago that nobody even remembers it. If a woman is a magistrate, or a merchant, or a dockworker, or a wagon driver, or a blacksmith—well, somebody might say it's a little unusual to see a woman blacksmith because you need a lot of upper body strength for that—but for the rest of it, that's no big deal. That's just the way it is, and I thought this world would hang together because for 3000 years of created history, the major center of political power in the world has been the White Tower which is all female, and has been all female for 3000 years. But mainly, perhaps, I wrote a world with a lot of strong women because of my own family. See, all of the men in my family were strong. All of them. Because the women in my family killed and ate the weak ones.

    Rick Kleffel

    Okay! That'll do it.

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  • 52

    Interview: Jan 20th, 2003

    Rick Kleffel

    Now, how would you bring someone who has never read your books—and indeed might only have become aware of the high potential of the fantasy genre with the recent motion picture adaptations of The Lord of the Rings—to start the Wheel of Time? What would you tell them?

    Robert Jordan

    Well, if they liked The Lord of the Rings, I'd tell them The New York Times claims I'm the American heir to The Lord of the Rings—to Tolkien! The American heir to Tolkien; that's what Ed Rothstein said in The New York Times. But you would have to imagine Tolkien with no elves, no dwarves, no unicorns, no dragons, no hobbits—just people, written with an American sensibility instead of an English sensibility, and where Tolkien drew on the myths and legends of the English countryside and Norse myths and legends, I have drawn on the myths and legends of every country in the world based largely on the fact that we're a melting pot, and there are very few nations in the world that do not have people from the nation living here in the United States.

    Rick Kleffel

    That's great; the Wheel of Time is the melting pot fantasy!

    Robert Jordan

    Yes, you might put it that way.

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  • 53

    Interview: Dec 19th, 2005

    Robert Jordan

    (for kcf) I haven't seen J.K.Rowling's comments on reading and writing fantasy, nor any comments by Neil Gaiman or Terry Pratchett. Are you thinking of particular comments? It seems that you do for Rowling. For myself, I believe that the popularity of fantasy has expanded in the last decade or so, perhaps the last two decades, and expanded far beyond the level at which it began. The success of the Lord of the Rings movies and the Harry Potter phenomena are both results of this increase in popularity. Neither the Lord of the Rings movie nor Harry are causes. Nor do big budgets or modern special effects have much to do with this popularity. People flocked to the movies in droves long before there was any chance that more than a (relative) handful had actually heard about the special effects.

    The reason for the popularity of fantasy, and the reason science fiction is fading in comparison, is quite simple, really. Increasingly in books and films, including science fiction but also in everything from mysteries to so-called "main stream literary" novels, the lines between right and wrong have become blurred. Good and evil are more and more portrayed as two sides of the same coin. This is called realism. People by and large want to believe that there is a clear cut right and wrong, though, and that good and evil depend on more than how you look in the mirror or whether you're squinting when you do. In fantasy, you can talk about good and evil, right and wrong, with a straight face and no need to elbow anybody in the ribs to let them know you're just kidding, you don't really believe in this childish, simplistic baloney. That seems to be less and less so in other genres.

    Does that mean fantasy all has to be goody-goody on the side of right and black-as-the-pit on the side of evil. No. In my own work telling right from wrong is often difficult. Sometimes my characters make the wrong choice there. Sometimes they do things are quite horrific. But they try to find the right choice. This is the way I think most people see the world and their behavior in it—trying to do the right thing with the knowledge that sometimes you're going to make the wrong choice, and with "right" defined as more than simply being of benefit to yourself—and they want to read books that reflect this. Right and wrong are not simply different shades of gray. Good and evil are not simply a matter of how you look at them. (Have you ever noticed the use of "of course?' As in, "The actions of the suicide bombers is quite horrific, of course...." You know that a "but" is coming, followed by an explanation of why their actions, while "quite horrific, of course" are also "entirely understandable under the circumstances," which come down to "the death and destruction is all somebody else's fault completely.")

    As the view of the world, as expressed by the evening news and most books, has increasingly become that everything is really just shades of gray, people have grown more and more to want something that says choosing right from wrong may be difficult, seeing what is evil might be hard, but it is not only worth making the effort, it is possible if you try. Maybe not every time, but most of the time by and large. And that is the heart of the popularity of fantasy, and why it has grown. I suspect that somebody has a doctorate in the waiting simply by showing a correlation between the increase in popularity of fantasy on one hand and, on the other, the increase on the evening news and in most literature of the view that right and wrong, good and evil, are just matters of where you stand and how you're holding your head at the moment.

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  • 54

    Interview: Mar, 2006

    Robert Jordan

    I have talked before about turning the logic of physics into being a fantasy writer. The first part of it is a simple paradigm that you're given as an undergraduate: Schroedinger's Cat. An engineer says, "Well, we can't know if the cat is alive or dead. You open the box to find out." A physicist says (if he has the right frame of mind for quantum physics), "The cat is both alive and dead, and will be fixed in one state or the other when you open the box." If you can really wrap your mind around that, you're ready to write fantasy!

    I browse mythology, but I think if you've studied it too closely there is a tendency to be too grounded in it—an unwillingness to start twisting things and bending things too far. In physics, you expect it to twist and bend and you say, "How does this work? What can I come up with? Hmmm. I wonder how far this thing will bend?" At one time I really did want to get a doctorate in quantum optics but that was a long time ago, so I have not kept up with the literature at all (though I do like the whole notion of the particles, powers, and forces). Occasionally I've been stuck on a panel with physicists—I don't know why they do this to me, since I'm 30 years out of date! Most of the time I'm wondering what the hell they're talking about, but I've discovered a way that I can hold my own: I don't think about discussing physics; I discuss theology, and they think I'm discussing physics! That again says to me, physics is a great grounding for writing fantasy.

    Then there's the moral element. In fantasy you're allowed to have at least some dividing line between good and evil, right and wrong. I really believe people want that. In so much of literature there's total moral ambiguity: good is not merely the flip side of evil, it's on the same side of the coin. Quite often you can't tell the difference between the two. If you want to talk about good and evil in mainstream literature, you do it with a nudge and a wink to show that you're really joking, but in fantasy you can say, 'This is right, this is wrong; this is good, this is evil.' OK, sometimes it's hard to tell the difference, but it's worth the effort to try.

    Sometimes you're going to make the wrong call, but that doesn't mean you suddenly have to go on living and try to make the right call the next time, being aware that you have a belly button and that means you're going to make mistakes, sometimes big ones.

    Nobody has ever gotten up one morning and said, 'I am a villain' or 'I will be a villain.' What they say is 'I want power.' Serial killers want power, and so do rapists and a lot of other villains, but let’s stick with one sort as an example. You want power and you convince yourself that your being in power will be the best for everyone. That is the way most politicians work. But then there are the guys who say, 'I want power, and if I can convince them that it's the best for everyone, all to the good. I don't give a good goddamn whether it is or not, as long as it's good for me.' He doesn't think he's a villain; he's just trying to do the best he can for himself. But he's on the road to villainy. Unfortunately, so are some of the guys who said, 'This is going to be for the best for all the people involved.' If you do what you believe is the best thing in the world and the result is you deliver millions of people into slavery, as Lenin did in Russia, are you a villain? Yes, you are.

    A fellow in Russia, a politician who's a fan of my books, was asking me a lot of questions because he gives them to his friends. He said, "I tell them these are not a manual of politics; they are a manual of the poetry of politics." I'd never thought of them that way. But there's this scale: at one end is total purity in your beliefs, at the other what your enemies believe and are willing to do. Sometimes you can maintain total purity and still defeat your enemies—or win out over them, if you wish to use a less aggressive term. (It still means kick their butts into next week.) But sometimes you can't. If holding onto purity means that the other guys are going to win, then what is your purity worth? So you move just enough to counter them, but now you've danced onto that slippery slope of necessary evil.

    And it is necessary, that's the unfortunate thing. The world is not a textbook study—it's uncomfortably real. And that's where you have to start dancing very hard to make sure you don't swing so far over that your victory is no different from their victory. Often the media just give excuses: "He had a terrible childhood, so the fact that he killed 47 women with an ax is not totally to be held against him." Simplistic, true, but not far off the money really except in scale. I don't believe that many people are purely good, and most of those are ineffectual. We all contain shades of gray. But how dark is that gray? I used to pride myself on being a cynic until somebody said to me, "Oh, a cynic is just a failed romantic." These days being a cynic is too lazy an option.

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  • 55

    Interview: Jul 14th, 2006

    Robert Jordan

    For several people, a LONG way back, regarding my statements about good versus evil. I wasn't claiming a total monopoly for fantasy. Andrew Vachs certainly writes about a good vs evil environment, for example, yet Burke, his main character, blurs many of the distinctions. For Burke there is one real evil above all others—the abuse, especially the sexual abuse, of a child. And so say all of us. Anyone I'm willing to drink with, anyway. But remember Wesley, Burke's compadre, that stone killer who finally killed himself, if he actually did die, by blowing himself up along with a school full of children. Burke himself has stepped over any other moral lines often enough that only that one remains for him. Well, I think he would balk at rape, and loyalty to his self-adopted family is paramount to him. But nothing else would faze him in the slightest. That blurring, that acceptance of blurring, is widespread.

    I certainly did not maintain that my characters always have proceeded, or will always proceed, from the perceived correct action according even to their own beliefs of right and wrong, good and evil. People have a tendency to make excuses for themselves in what they see as special circumstances. It happens.

    The "realism" that I mock—and I will mock it—is that of writers who, in the final result, say, for example that there is no moral difference between the men who flew their airplanes into the Twin Towers and the men who hunt down terrorists. For those who think there are none such, I direct you to comments concerning the Spielberg movie "Munich." I have not seen the film myself and cannot comment on it, but both reviewers who seem to love the film and those who seem to hate it speak of the "equivalence" that Spielberg established between the men who carried out the murders of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics and the Israeli agents who later hunted them down and killed them. They are all supposed to be the same. Like hell, they are!

    I'd better get off this topic. Next I'll be going after fool college professors who call the dead in the Towers "little Eichmanns" and the fool professors and actors who seem to think September 11 was all a plot of the US government. Does Charlie Sheen have ANY brain cells?

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  • 56

    Interview: Oct 21st, 1994

    AOL Chat 2 (Verbatim)

    Question

    Mr. Jordan, are there any fantasy writers, beside yourself, that interest you?

    Robert Jordan

    It's a moderately long list, but ... Tad Williams, Holdstock, Ray Feist, Janny Wurts, Barry Hughart, C. S. Friedman, and really that's just the beginning, the ones that come off the top of my head.

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  • 57

    Interview: Oct 21st, 1994

    AOL Chat 2 (Verbatim)

    Question

    Why fantasy as a genre?

    Robert Jordan

    Why a duck? Why not a duck?

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  • 58

    Interview: 2004

    Robert Jordan

    Oh my books are fantasy, certainly. And I like the term. Of course, there are a lot of people who write fantasy who don't like the term. The Magic Realists don't like the term. You know, Doris Lessing—it's fantasy. And A. S. Byatt—it's fantasy. But there are a lot of people who write, as I say, they write fantasy and they're not going to allow "fantasy" to be put on the cover of their book because they think they're being consigned to the ghetto if that happens. Well, okay. I wear my ghetto tattoos proudly.

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  • 59

    Interview: Apr 10th, 2001

    Kurafire

    Has the Fantasy genre always been your favorite genre to read? Is it now?

    Robert Jordan

    No. I have no favorite genre to read, nor have I ever. I read any book that I think is good, in almost any genre. I mean I don’t read romance novels. Simply the fact that a book is supposed to be a good book, is enough for me to consider reading it. And maybe if I decide it isn’t a good book, it is not worth reading it. I’ll try anything; fiction, non-fiction...

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  • 60

    Interview: Apr 10th, 2001

    Kurafire

    You've said in another interview that your current working-title for your next series is "Shipwreck". Will it be another Fantasy series like Wheel of Time, or something completely different?

    Robert Jordan

    Oh it’ll be another Fantasy series. Do not say it’s like the Wheel of Time because it’s a Fantasy series, I do not intend to have any real connection between them. It’s a different world, a different universe, different cultures different laws, not simply a shift into the past or the future in the same world of Wheel of Time.

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  • 61

    Interview: 2001

    Rochelle O'Gorman

    Is this what you wanted to do when you were a kid?

    Robert Jordan

    I wanted to be a writer.

    Rochelle O'Gorman

    Why fantasy?

    Robert Jordan

    I'll tell you. I learned to read at a very early age.

    Rochelle O'Gorman

    How old were you?

    Robert Jordan

    Four. I never read children's books. The first book I read by myself, the second half of it, at least, was White Fang. My older brother would read it to me when he was stuck babysitting and somehow or other I began making the connection between what was coming out of his mouth and the words on the page.

    And I do remember. It must have a weekend, because it was the day and my parents came back and my brother put the book on the shelf and took off. He always read to me what he wanted to read, usually not children's books. And I wanted to know the rest of it, so I got the book back down and worked my way through it. I didn't get all of the words, but I got enough to do the story.

    And I remember a particular incident when I was five, which is when I realized that I really wanted to be a writer. I had finished reading From the Earth to the Moon and Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. I put those three books on the table, standing up on end, and I sat in a chair with my feet on the chair and my chin on my knees and I looked at those books and said, "I'm going to do that one day. I'm going to write one day, make stories like that."

    Rochelle O'Gorman

    How did you get from there to the world of fantasy?

    Robert Jordan

    Well, the short version is that in fantasy you can write about things that you can't write about in mainstream fiction, or even in some other genres and still keep a straight face today. Right and wrong are taken to be simply two faces of one coin. It's simply a matter of looking in the same mirror, but you're standing at two different points, that there's no difference. And I believe that there is a difference.

    Rochelle O'Gorman

    You mean in fiction today?

    Robert Jordan

    Yes, yes. In so much fiction it is a great effort to show just how many flaws the good guys have and just how many extenuating circumstances the bad guys had. They had terrible childhoods and were abused children and suddenly you find yourself feeling almost sympathetic toward someone who is out and out evil. I don't like that.

    I know too many people who had miserable childhoods—grew up in the slums and a ghetto and they did okay. They didn't come out bent. They didn't come out twisted, so I don't like that very much.

    I think it's hard to tell the difference between right and wrong. Sometimes a situation comes along and the only choice you have is between bad and worse. But I believe it's necessary to make the effort to try and find a difference. The other way it becomes very sloppy and it's very easy to just make your decision on the spur of the moment, without any thought about what you are doing. You never think that it's right or wrong, or you never even think about whether you are choosing between bad and worse. You're simply doing something for your own advantage.

    Rochelle O'Gorman

    That attitude, however, is very much a reflection of society.

    Robert Jordan

    That is a reflection of society, and it is part of society that I reject. I believe that you have to make that choice. I'm not going to tell anybody what to think, I'm not going to tell anybody what to do or what wrong is, but I think you have to try to make that decision yourself. And it goes beyond simply what's good for me today.

    I don't preach in my books. I just have my characters face some hard choices and have difficulty making their decisions. It's not always easy. It's not always cut and dry, and when somebody does something that is just for their own temporary advantage, to get a quick payoff, it doesn't always turn out the way they like it.

    Rochelle O'Gorman

    Do you manage to get this philosophy into your work?

    Robert Jordan

    Well, I try to. I try to. Again, what I am doing basically is telling stories. But I like to have my characters in what amounts to real life situations. That is, making hard decisions and finding out that the easy answer is quite often the wrong one, and that very often the right thing to do is the hardest thing to do. It's just a matter of fitting it into the story. I'm not preaching. I just try to reflect these situations and these things in the story.

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  • 62

    Interview: 2001

    Rochelle O'Gorman

    Do you read much fantasy?

    Robert Jordan

    I read everything. At the moment I'm reading an Andrew Vachss novel. The book before that was called The Code Book, about the development of ciphers and codes. The book before that was called Strange Victory, about the defeat of France in 1940—something that I think should be required reading for every member of Congress and every single person in the Pentagon.

    Rochelle O'Gorman

    So you're an eclectic reader?

    Robert Jordan

    Yes. Before that John Sanford and Patricia Cornwell and George Martin. I don't act as a tourist when I'm on (book) tour. I make my appearances, and in between time I put my feet up to rest them and I read.

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  • 63

    Interview: Aug 31st, 1999

    Robert Jordan

    Robert Jordan started writing about twenty years ago at the age of thirty, before that he worked as an engineer. He has degrees in mathematics and physics.

    He says, "I am a writer, I write fantasy .. I have written other things (and) I may write other things again." Going from the world of physics and maths to fantasy is not that big a step, he adds, "You have to have an almost theological faith for quantum physics."

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  • 64

    Interview: May 19th, 2004

    Robert Jordan

    Someone else asked if he reads in his free time, and what kind of books, and if he reads fantasy books; he replied that he reads anything, and fantasy too (but not while he's writing! else he gets angry if he reads things he could have written better) and he gave some names (Pratchett, Key [sic] ...).

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  • 65

    Interview: May 24th, 2004

    Chiara Codecà

    But why did you decide on fantasy literature?

    Robert Jordan

    Are you familiar with Schrödinger’s cat?

    Chiara Codecà

    I was not, but I checked when I found out that you mentioned it in another interview.

    Robert Jordan

    (Smiles) You did your homework. It’s quantum physics. It’s a theory that says that if a cat were put into a steel closed chamber filled with radiation you can’t know if the feline is dead or alive until you open the door. Until you do, because of the superposition of possible outcomes that exist simultaneously, the cat would be dead and alive at the same time.

    Schrödinger's Cat is really a test in a way. If you can wrap your mind around Schrödinger's Cat and accept that, then you are ready to take on quantum physics. I also think, if you can wrap your mind around Schrödinger's Cat and accept that, than you are ready to write fantasy.

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  • 66

    Interview: Sep, 2000

    Robert Jordan

    After military service I entered the Citadel—The Military College of South Carolina. Despite its name, it is, in fact, a university. At the Citadel I received a degree in physics and worked as a nuclear engineer for the Navy. Doesn’t it seem to you that that a fantasy author having an education in physics is somewhat out of the ordinary?

    Tahir Velimeev

    I would not say that. I know several Russian science fiction authors with an education in the natural sciences that have been successfully working in the fantasy genre ... By the way, we now come to how the writer emerged from the engineer.

    Robert Jordan

    Well, maybe there is more prosaic level—the abundance of free time. After an unfortunate accident I found myself in a hospital bed with a lot of time, and I read everything I wanted. And one day I thought that could well try to write myself. Having started writing in 1977, I’m determined to do so right up my dying day.

    Tahir Velimeev

    And why fantasy? Why not works about, say, the Vietnam War, which would seem more logical?

    Robert Jordan

    In my opinion, fantasy allows you to create new cultures, experiment with them, and apply a freedom to them that is impossible in the real world. Fantasy enables a brighter, clearer portrayal of the struggle between good and evil, allows you to speak more freely about what is right and what is not, and no one can say that your opinion doesn’t fit with what is generally accepted. And I think one of the cornerstones of fantasy is the belief that any obstacle can be overcome, and that if things did not work out today, they will tomorrow. Also in today's world fantasy concerns itself with myth, directing us to the deep layers of the human soul, and teaches people to believe in miracles ... The popularity of this literary genre is to a large extent determined by humankind’s aspirations for Justice...

    As for books about war ... I have a desire to write about the Vietnam War, about my comrades, and I hope that God will give me this opportunity. And for myself, I decided that this book will be released under my real name—James Oliver Rigney, Jr. ...

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  • 67

    Interview: Sep, 2000

    Tahir Velimeev

    What advice would give the veteran writer, someone who is trying to write fantasy?

    Robert Jordan

    My advice? .. Hmm ... Once when asked this question, I replied: "If you want to write fantasy—go to a psychiatrist!" (Smiling with laughter evident in his beard.)

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  • 68

    Interview: May 15th, 2003

    Dario Olivero

    Why is the genre fantasy so loved?

    Robert Jordan

    In fantasy one can speak of good and evil, of right and wrong clearly, absolutely. In real life you cannot see the outlines so clearly. In real life you can say: "I believe in good and ill, I believe that they exist," but then it's hard to say where they are and in what form.

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  • 69

    Interview: Mar 15th, 2003

    Robert Jordan

    "I never envisioned this success," he adds. But he also wants to make one point very clear. "Many writers deny writing fantasy. They don't want to be locked in the ghetto. But I don't care. I say, I write fantasy."

    M. L. Van Valkenburgh

    With the growing success of the genre, thanks in part to the Lord of the Rings movies and the Harry Potter craze, perhaps the ghetto of fantasy is becoming gentrified and other writers will eventually be proud to say they write it as well.

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  • 70

    Interview: Feb 7th, 2013

    Robert Moreau

    I asked Harriet what made Jim want to write fantasy.

    Harriet McDougal

    She said that originally he was against it, but she got him to write a Conan book, and he loved it and kept writing fantasy. So we have her to thank even more then just being an awesome editor.

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  • 71

    Interview: Apr, 2003

    Galgóczi Móni

    Do you by chance believe in reincarnation?

    Robert Jordan

    No, I don't. Actually, in my dilettante way, I study the legends and myths and their similarities and their relationships to each other. With a long view, the definition of fantasy can be traced there because this genre uses supernatural things but treats them as if they were real. Many people write fantasy, deliberately or not—well, they don't admit it, and what is more, they deny it because it is not really considered high literature. For example, I think the art of magical realism belongs to the fantasy genre, but I'm sure if I were to say so to one of these authors, he or she would not be happy.

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