Thursday, October 17, 2019

"How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse"

K. Eason is a lecturer at the University of California, Irvine, where she and her composition students tackle important topics such as the zombie apocalypse, the humanity of cyborgs, and whether or not Beowulf is a good guy. Her publications include the On the Bones of Gods fantasy duology with 47North, and she has had short fiction published in Cabinet-des-Fées, Jabberwocky 4, Crossed Genres, and Kaleidotrope. When she’s not teaching or writing, Eason picks up new life skills, ranging from martial arts (including a black belt in kung fu!), to Viking sword and shield work, to yoga and knitting.

Eason applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse: Book One of the Thorne Chronicles, and reported the following:
From page 69:
What they meant, of course, was you won’t understand anyway, dear and you’re a princess and what does a girl know about war? More galling: they invited Jacen, as Crown Prince, to attend Council sessions, though no one believed he would actually go. Jacen was eight, too impatient for chess and more interested in playing at war in Duty Calls than in doing much of anything else.

So Rory read, from the Vizier’s violated files, the field reports from the generals, the briefings from the new Minister of Espionage, and the ever-growing lists of the dead. She read, and taught herself to understand politics and tactics and strategy, supplemented by discussions with the Vizier (for broad generalities) and with Grytt (for specific details).

Her chess game, to the Vizier’s delight, improved. So did her Duty Calls high score, to her brother’s dismay.

Rory also taught herself to understand wartime economics. Included in the field reports were financial reports and projections, treaties and trade agreements, intricate deals and bargains for munitions, and raw materials, and exclusive trading options. She learned which of the vigorously declared neutral kingdoms, conglomerates, networks, and worlds were genuine in that declaration, and which were making secret deals. She learned that the Thorne Consortium had a long-reaching spy network, and a brave, clever military that won most of its battles. But she also learned that the Thorne Consortium did not have limitless resources and was, in fact, nearly bankrupt. The Free Worlds, with their vaster collection of colonies, were winning as slowly and inexorably as the days and weeks of her minority were falling away.
Page 69 gestures at the very core of How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse. The birth of Rory's little brother and the presence of an archaic law means she's demoted from heir to spare, but this is the first time she's realizing what that demotion means politically and personally. She's still the princess, but she's just the princess; the limits of her social and political worth comes from arbitrary conditions unrelated to her own competence. It's all seriously unfair, but it's also somewhat liberating. Rory discovers that being overlooked and underestimated is a kind of freedom. Stymied by the councilors and forbidden to attend meetings, Rory hacks her way into the Council files, and learns... oh, so many things about the business of war, about strategy, about politics. But page 69 also marks the end of Rory's childhood. It's where she learns about the ugly reality that her homeworld is losing the war. That home is vulnerable and maybe finite. And, most importantly (for Rory, for the plot) page 69 is where she learns that knowledge is real power, and how to seize that power for herself. It's the beginning of her political education, marking the first time she picks up the tools that she'll use to navigate the political fallout of her social status to small-p princess and (eventually) destroy the multiverse.
Visit K. Eason's website.

--Marshal Zeringue