Looks like it’s time for another author’s note.
I have two more chapters and one last interlude planned for Book One, so that should be wrapped up by mid-April. After that there will be a Passover bonus chapter, then onward to Book Two. I can’t promise that “then everything will finally start coming together”, because I actually have more exposition and plotlines to introduce, but by the middle of Book Two there should be a notable change in speed as some larger-scale designs start to make themselves known.
Matthew Arnold (relevant coincidence) is doing an Unsong audiobook podcast (!) – currently up to Chapter 5.
Commenter “Pirindiel” has written a functional version of Llull. Well, sort of functional. You still need to add the Vital Name. Which you might want to hold off on doing until you read the rest of the book and learn a little more about how that works out.
Joseph Hertzlinger points out that Congress is considering a resolution to “recognize magic as rare and valuable”. First step to an American Board of Ritual Magicians?
Operia2 from the Unsong subreddit has drawn a sufficiently creepy depiction of Thamiel. Also on the subreddit: chapter titles, klipot, flag.
Comments worth highlighting – correspondence between divine Names and articles in various languages, Jesus’ name derived from the Tetragrammaton in French, and this comment by Sniffnoy which I declare to be Official Foreshadowing.
Wiki articles and websites related to concepts in the story: Agloe NY, AGLA, mono- and di-grammaton, derivation of Adam’s name from notarikon, when will the Messiah come?, Ha’Ari and the shattering of vessels, the Star Prophecy, Thamiel, serpent/Messiah correspondence, I TEGO ARCANA DEI.
I will be in the Bay Area for most of April. I have a couple of meetups planned for interested readers.
One of them will be 7 PM on Friday April 15 at 3806 Williams Rd, San Jose [MAY HAVE TO CHANGE, WILL GET BACK TO YOU]. Another will probably be somewhere in Berkeley on the afternoon of Sunday April 17th but I still need to confirm the location. There may be others (past tradition has been to hold one at the Gogmagogplex in Mountain View). Although these will be probably be dominated by readers of my other blog, if there’s enough interest and a few volunteers I can also arrange a sneak preview/dramatic reading of Interlude Zayin. There will be more concrete meetup announcements posted soon on my other blog, so watch that space.
I recently learned that Astro Teller, the real-life grandson of Edward Teller, is the head of Google X Labs. And has a degree from Stanford in “symbolic computation”. And has written a fiction book about a man who creates a self-aware AI. I knew none of this when I wrote the first few chapters of this book. Needless to say, nothing is ever a coincidence.
If anyone with artistic skills would like to help make a beginning image for Book 2 similar to the beginning image for Book 1, please let me know. The relevant skill would be drawing a scene with a ship. I can tell you more if you contact me. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just better than what I could do myself. Email me at scott[at]shireroth[dot]org if you’re interested. (already got some people, thanks)
Official foreshadowing? Oh my.
And, uh, the Thamiel link doesn’t seem to point to what you want it to point to.
After that there will be a Passover bonus chapter
YES YES YES this is the best thing ever! OMG!
Passover is basically made up of kabbalah.
 The whole thing with the Rabbis on how many strikes the Egyptians got in Egypt vs. the water, and counting the words. Just this would be great fodder.
 The beginning of it being in Aramaic exactly for this “angels don’t understand” reason that was already alluded to.
 The symbolism of four (cups, sons, questions) together with the tetragammon.
 And, of course, the two classic O(n**2) songs — the counting song, which is like the scholastic version of 12 days of christmas (and, of course, going up to 13), and the metal version of 12 days of christmas with everyone eating/beating/killing each other.
I was kinda contemplating writing unsong fanfic for passover, but I didn’t feel like I understand it enough for that. So I’m happy Scott is doing that…
And two different alphabet songs, don’t forget.
DUDE, don’t forget THE ENTIRE OMER?
Like, that is literally taking the Cartesian product of the Sephirot with themselves:
Chesed b’Chesed, Gevurah b’Chesed, Tipheret b’Chesed, …
If we as a fandom don’t collectively get together to do a daily micro-fic, I am going to SCREAM.
I was honestly unfamiliar with the Sephirot x Sephirot way of counting the Omer! So, let me state it for everyone else since I had to look it up: It’s only the lower 7 sephirot. Because, y’know, otherwise you’d get 100 days instead of 49.
Do we have a central place to co-ordinate this daily micro-fic you speak of? Please suggest a Schelling point 🙂
This will be the first time that I’m in the Bay Area in time for a meetup. Could someone give me the lowdown on the etiquette around these things? Specifically, I was assuming that the meetups were just a “show up if you’re interested” thing, but since this is happening at a person’s house I’m very much not sure about that.
Speaking of foreshadowing, is anyone doing prediction book on unsong?
If so, I want to register a 70% prediction that unsong turn out to be the good guys (as determined by my own subjective feelings)
I’m willing to put down an 85% prediction that NOBODY turns out to be the good guys.
Look at your name, you’re obviously biased towards nobody.
This is true.
But I also follow the auspicious example of Odysseus and the captain of the Nautilus. And, considering the subject of this work, a little caution around names is nothing to scoff at.
(Scott feel free to delete this if too much speculation is bad etiquette for this page.)
I doubt they are purely good guys, but I’d bet at 80% certainty that their motives will become much more sympathetic. Only 20% that they are “the good guys”.
Scott wrote long ago that he’d like to see a fantasy story where magic was propertized in order to encourage the development of more magic, because the government wants there to be as much as possible to fight some greater evil. This seems to roughly go along with UNSONG’s mandate.
And given the timing of the founding of UNSONG, it seems like this “greater evil” is Thamiel and that the inspiration was “Comet King’s assault on Hell failed because we need more names of God” or something like that.
But, given that the Vital name could lead to all names being discovered within a matter of months (days?), that whole system might become useless. UNSONG and the kabbala-industrial complex might thwart a Second Altruist’s Crusade for reasons of preserving the status quo that they get rich off of. Or UNSONG might have been infiltrated by Thamiel, and giving them the Vital name would be disastrous.
Who knows, there’s a lot of ways this could play out.
I thought the Comet King, having “gazed at Adam Kadmon bare”, was implied to already knew all the Names.
Given the above discussion of klipot and the fact that Malia Ngo is probably a demon, it seems plausible that Thamiel could sort of be a good guy.
I can see them being the ‘good guys’ in the same way the guys behind mutant registration and the sentinel program could be considered the good guys. It sucks to have your name put on a government registry, but it also sucks to die because someone with the x gene turned into a living fluid and accidentally incinerated your neighborhood. Similarly, devolving magic power to the people sounds great until someone discovers the Atom Splitting Name or the Smallpox Name.
*Obviously* one of your Bay Area visits should be to Ithaka itself…
I still maintain that the real-life form of Llull is much too slow. Isn’t the point of Llull that it goes through names inhumanly fast?
not everyone can keep up with your speed, LHC
>Astro Teller, the real-life grandson of Edward Teller, is the head of Google X Labs. And has a degree from Stanford in “symbolic computation”. And has written a fiction book about a man who creates a self-aware AI.
TITLED EXEGESIS. If that’s not foreshadowing, I don’t know what is.
Re: Astro Teller. I think reading UNSONG is going to turn me a kabbalist. At first I was able to read “nothing is a coincidence” and chuckle. Not anymore. Things like this shouldn’t happen unless we actually live in Aaron’s world!
There are many more non-coincidences than there are coincidences.
But the coincidences are so BIG
I hereby claim ‘Thamiel did not have a mustache’ as the official rallying flag of my faction in the great unsongian schism to come.
JESUS SAVES / SATAN SHAVES
How can he annihilate all of the joy and happiness in the universe if he can’t annihilate his own facial hair?
So is the Passover bonus chapter going to lie outside the structure of “books”? Or will it just be a chapter posted outside of the usual update schedule? If the former, will there be other such extra-book chapters?
I just realized something. At some point in the story, Elijah has to show up. There’s going to be a Passover bonus chapter. Elijah shows up every Passover. Could Elijah make his first appearance in the story in the Passover bonus chapter?
The podcast is really quite good! Is it available at iTunes yet? I couldn’t find it from a cursory search.
’caused by phytoplankton’ IRL: https://www.theguardian.com/science/2016/jun/01/plutos-perplexing-polygonal-patterns-caused-by-convection-scientists-suggest-sputnik-planum
Also: ASTro Teller’s second novel is called “Among these Savage Thoughts.” I’d call that an Amazingly Serendipitous Title. (This is not a coincidence, because nothing is ever a coincidence.)
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