Netscape users - click here to hear the music for this page.
Q: When will the first chapter be posted?
A: As soon as I have the list established. If you're reading this, it's probably already up.
Q: How often will new chapters be posted?
A: A new chapter will be posted no less than once a week (though usually I'm able to manage three a week, mondays, wednesdays, and fridays).
Q: Are all the books finished? Are all the chapters already written?
A: No. At the time of this writing (8/29/00), Book II is finished (and is being posted as quickly as I can), Book III is a work in progress, and Book IV is in the planning stages. Book I is finished and posted, and the "Published Version" is now availble from DenMark Publishing. The 'Published Version" of each work will have MIDI tracks not available in the e-serial version, and will also have the advantage of being on your Hard Drive - no waiting for pages to download, and no swearing profusely when the internet isn't cooperating ;)
Q: Well, if the current book you're posting is done, why don't you post it all at once, then?
A: That kinda defeats the purpose of a serial, doncha think?
Q: Well, why post it as a serial, anyway?
A: So people can not merely enjoy reading it, but can also comment on what they've read so far with other readers and with the author, me. Also, reader input as to what they like (and didn't like) and want to see (or don't want to see) will be considered in the plot of future novels.
Q: Well, okay, but the wait drives me crazy =P
A: As it stands, I am trying to make sure that I am posting no faster than I am writing the next book. That way, once everyone has read one book, the next will be completed and ready to be posted while I work on the following book, and so on. =) My plan is to complete no less than one chapter of the second book a week - no matter how busy I may get, I can certainly devote a few hours to each book in an entire week and crank out at least one chapter. However, even if for some unknown reason I can't, no worries - the book being currently posted is done, and there will always be at least one chapter a week of it being posted.
Q: How do I read the chapter at the site?
A: Well, if you're reading this, you're nearly there =) Click the 'Back' link at the bottom of this page, then click the link that says 'Currently Posted'. Or, you can click here. If you want to start at Chapter One, click here.
Q: No, I mean if I am looking at the e-mailed chapter, how do I get to the site to read the chapter there and hear the music and stuff?
A: Well, at the top of each chapter, there's the title of the novel, the copyright notice, and the author's name (me). Just below that is a link you can click to go directly to that chapter, right on the site. It's the little link that says "Click here to read this chapter on the member's website instead!" Unfortunately, AOL users can't use that link with the standard AOL-mailing program, so you AOL users in the audience will have to remember to go to http://Welcome.to/Oerth to read the page at the website.
Q: I'm reading the story on the site, and it stops at chapter two (or three, or whatever), and I know the story is up to chapter five (or six, or thirty, or whatever). What's wrong?
A: You need to hit 'refresh' on your browser to see updated pages and new links to new chapters that have been added to the site. You can also set your browser to automatically check for new pages every time you visit a page - check your browser's internet settings.
Q: Can I forward the chapter I just received to my mom/dad/brother/sister/friend/etc?
A: Please don't =) Instead, send them this link: http://xaa.tripod.com/PopUp.htm. That way, they can subscribe for themselves, just like you did.
Q: Can I tell all my friends about the Oerth Saga?
A: Please do =) Please tell everyone about this free e-serial, and how to subscribe. Tell your friends. Tell your family. Tell your co-workers. Tell your boss. Tell your dentist. Tell the clerk at the grocery store. Tell the cop that pulls you over for a speeding ticket. Tell people on the furry fan lists on Usenet. Tell total strangers on the street. =) If you would like banners or buttons to put on your webpage to help Oerth grow, click here.
Q: Wait - why have chapters posted to the list *and* to the site? Why not just one or the other?
A: Because sometimes the internet is finicky, and you might not be able to get to the site. As I often like to put it, "The Internet is a vast and grand accomplishment of Humanity, with all the permanence and stability of an enormous pyramid of bowling balls, held together with vaseline." With both an e-mail list and a website, you will always (or nearly always) be able to read the latest chapter. At the same time, the website also allows you to hear the background music I have written for each chapter, see illustrations of the characters, and so on.
Q: Okay, but why not put music and the background pictures and stuff into the e-mail? Can't you just have the music and background image sent with the chapter posted to the list? My e-mail program supports that.
A: Yours might, but not everyone else's does =) Some people wouldn't be able to hear the music or see the background picture. Also, some ISP's, particularly AOL, often reject mail like that.
Q: Can I post to the mailing list?
A: Yes - please do. I encourage discussion of what everyone is reading =)
Q: Hey! I'm no longer getting chapters in my e-mail! Am I unsubscribed or something?
A: It appears that several ISP's, notably hotmail.com, tower.net.au and flashmail.com, are bouncing the e-mails from the Onelist/Egroups mail server. If you are on these ISP's (or if you're on another ISP that's also bouncing mail), there are two possible solutions: 1) Talk to your ISP, and ask them to work on the problem. 2) Open a free "Redirect" account by going to http://www.bigfoot.com - set up a Bigfoot e-mail account that re-directs the mail to your normal ISP's mailing account. Then, tell me what your Bigfoot e-mail address is, and I'll send the chapters there - from then on, the chapters will appear in your normal e-mail account. You can, of course, still read the chapters at the site. Believe me - if you were unsubscribed, you would know - I will tell you if I ever do anything like that.
Q: Hrm... Okay, I can live with that. Meanwhile... This 'Xaa' Character... How do you pronounce his name?
A: Well, basically it's pronounced like "Zzah", but in the story, his language is constructed for people who literally do not have human mouths, voicetracts, or vocal apparati. The name, spoken by the character himself, would come out as more of a rumble.
Q: Will there be more information on his language and how he talks in the story?
A: Yes. ;) Language, expecially how the characters sound to each other, is an important part of how they relate to each other.
Q: Uh-oh - are you gonna beat us over the head in this story with some long-winded linguistic analysis like Professor Tolkien did in LOTR?
A: No. ;) You'll be given a clear 'feel' for how he sounds and speaks, but that's it. Just because I've done some studies on how his internal anatomy would be arranged and how the language he uses would sound like and how it would be constructed doesn't mean I feel an urgent need to cram a theoretical biology and linguistic discussion down your throat. ;)
Q: But wait - that stuff might interest me!
A: Well, it won't appear in the story, but here's a bit more on the language of Xaa and his people: First, to get a feel for the way his language sounds, imagine if you will the language of a people who have a vocal range and expressiveness similar to that of a tiger. In construction, they have only five vowel-sounds ("ah", "eh" "ih" "oh" "ooh") and about two hundred constonant sounds. They also have nine common aspirated constonants that simply cannot be spoken by a human throat, because we are unable to make the rumbling "thrumming" that underlies them. But, we can come close ;) Try this: Pull your voicebox down into the "throat clearing" position, making the same sound that you would while clearning your throat (deeper, really - go way low... try to rumble or growl). Got that? Good! Now take your tongue and put it in the same position you would for making the 'L' sound of the word 'love". Now rumble again. Got that? Great! Okay, now keep rumbling, and pull your tongue down to the bottom of your mouth, like making an "ah". Got that? Good! Now put it all together... Rumbling "Laaaah". Guess what? That's the word for "water." And after doing this, you probably need a drink of water, anyway. I know I do ;) Oh - and if Xaa was saying it, it would sound like this.
Q: Wait - what about Merle? What does she sound like? What's her language like?
A: Well, as what her language is like, for the purposes of making the book a lot easier to read, it's all written in English. The language of the Little People of the Wild Wood isn't spoken much here on Earth ;) As to what she sounds like... Well, here's Merle saying "Good morning, my name is Merle."
Q: Hey! In Chapter Seven, you mention a Mus-Roar. What does that sound like?
A: A lot like this.
Q: What other characters do you have sound files for?
A: Well, here's one of O'dmemet saying his name, and here's another of T'Vril saying her name.
Q: What about that character, 'Amani', in the second book? What does she sound like?
A: Well, Amani communicates by telepathy, not sound, but if she were talking to you, she'd "sound" something like this.
Q: Hey, that's pretty neat! Will you do audio files for all the characters?
A: No, I don't have enough space on my site. Just a select few - but there will be more audio files to come as the saga progresses =)
Q: What about pictures? Are you going to do more pictures?
A: Well, I'll be doing basic renderings of the main characters which you can see on the Character Art Page, but in general I'll probably not do more than that. Early on in the series, I tried to make the site more interactive with a 'Reader Art' page, but no-one seemed interested in submitting artwork for it, so I dumped it.
Q: Hey! Some of the chapters have Java applets in them! Should I have Java enabled for this site?
A: Yes, you should. See here for why you should have Java enabled for this site.
Q: Hey, I like the MIDI music, but my sound card doesn't really reproduce it that well. Is there any way to turn it off? Can I improve what I am hearing?
A: The answer to both questions is "Yes." =) First, to stop the music on any page, just click "stop" on your browser. Second, if you would like to improve what you are hearing, and actually hear real musical instruments instead of a mediocre OPL3 FM Synthesis from your sound card, then what you need is a program called a soft synth. If you have Windows, you have a wide variety of choices available to you - Yamaha XG (the top-of-the-line model, the SY-XG50, is about $40 and has a 90-day 'trial' period), Roland GS (the industry standard, it runs about $60), and even the one I use, WinGroove (also the cheapest, at $20). If you have a Mac, you have far fewer choices, but don't despair! The Roland GS has a Mac version. And yes, for those of you who are totally broke, there is a freeware soft-synth out there - but I can't really reccomend it.
Q: Is there a page I can go to and listen to all of the midis without having to browse all the chapters again?
A: Yes - click here for the Soundtrack Page for the first book, and click here for the soundtrack page for the second book.
Q: Help! I recently upgraded to AOL 5.0 (or installed Quicktime or Apple Quicktime) and now I can't hear any midis at all!
A: Well, I can tell you right now that you used to be listening to midis on Crescendo. The problem here is QuickTime - QuickTime designed it's program so that it destroys the registry entries of Crescendo, then refuses to run because they have a running feud with the creators of Crescendo, LiveUpdate (and you thought Bill Gates was bad?). For a more complete discussion of this problem and some possible fixes, see here. You can also try the LiveUpdate homepage, here.
Q: Can I have your ICQ? Do you have AOL Instant Messenger? Can I send you snail-mail?
A: Sure - but please remember that I'm usually busy writing, and don't take much time to chat. =)
The first thing to try if you want to communicate with me is email. I prefer using email for nearly all online communication, whenever possible. My email address is email@example.com, and I check my email automatically every 5 minutes. If you send me an email, I will usually reply almost immediately, if I'm online. If I'm not online, I'm usually asleep - but I'll reply to your email as soon as I wake up. In all cases, the best way to get hold of me is by email.
Now, the primary program I use for online chat is AOL's Instant Messenger service. Reasons: 1) It's free. 2) It comes with a news ticker (Jim Loves News). 3) Using it doesn't render me vulnerable to spam or DOS attacks, like ICQ does. 4) It doesn't crash my computer every now and again, like ICQ does. On AOL's Instant Messenger service, my screen name is Jim Farris 0 Xaa.
On those rare occasions AIM is down, you can still contact me via email. =)
More questions will be posted as they are asked (or as I think of them).