The War of the Encyclopaedists: A Chapter 10 review

I’m currently reviewing chapters of War of the Encyclopaedists by Gavin Kovite and Christopher Robinson. As a Dune novel it’s pretty awful. This is pretty great reading material if you want to start writing fantasy novels. I feel like I’m learning a lot about the craft of writing just by obsessively pouring over these chapters.

Look forward to my own upcoming novel tentatively titled The Sword Star of Space Weapons.

Table of Contents located here.

Chapter 10 is a Corderoy Chapter and short. Which is good for me since I’m pretty tired.

Corderoy goes home after his class taught by Professor James Joyce Reference. This is where we meet his roommate and new significant player in the War of Encyclopaedists, Tricia.

She’s watching politics related news.

Corderoy goes to the fridge and see the refrigerator magnet he scoffed at earlier, off-screen.


Nice try, Novel, you can’t fool me into thinking that Mani isn’t a ghost. It’s kind of a meta thing in my eyes, since a book written by two men would naturally raise the question of female characters, who should be written as people.

This quote shows up just as we meet a woman. Just sayin’.

Tricia is established as a kind of “realer” version of what Corderoy pretends at. She’s more left wing than him, actually studies the topics she speaks on, and is hyper-aware of injustices.

Personally, I think the novel undermines her. For example:

“I actually read The Road to Serfdom,” she’d said in their last argument.*

which leads to the footnote:

*Tricia, in fact, had read just under half of The Road to Serfdom.

I would argue that Tricia’s arc is really about her dealing with the hypocrisy of herself, her purpose, and her ideals. Whereas Corderoy is struggling with a vacuum of ideals and purpose.

I think when it comes to Tricia, the novel itself takes the position that she’s wrong.

This kind of makes sense given the authors’ own admission that Tricia, in earlier drafts, was more of an antagonist.

They talk about Star Wars and Tricia gets into a high level of political correctness that I think the novel despises:

“That’s even more offensive. It’s like blackface. It has to be a white guy running the Galactic Empire.” A devilish grin.

“But black people–I mean, African-American–love Star Wars.”

“Just like they love fried chicken.”

She’s pretty good at finding things to be offended by, though in this instance she’s just trying to rile Corderoy.

Oh I forgot earlier there was some tattoos introduced. Tricia has a tribal symbol from the Oglala Sioux, relating to some charity work she did among them. Corderoy has a tattoo of the Rebel Alliance insignia from Star Wars. Obviously you can see that Tricia’s “realness” cred is higher than Corderoy and that rankles him.

She smokes American Spirit on principle. She worked with Native Americans. She campaigns for politicians. She’s got too much street cred for Corderoy, because she doesn’t need the shield of irony. But what she has is hypocrisy. She’s over compensating because of privilege guilt. Which, sure, ok.

Another tattoo comes up while Corderoy enters one of the book’s masturbation scenes.

the small tattoos on her lower back, cello f-holes

If the tattoos are the Carebear Logos of the characters, Corderoy is a nerd who likes scifi, Tricia is an activist and warrior for causes, and that makes Mani an… INSTRUMENT.


Anyway Corderoy finds the experience of masturbating without pornography to be quite novel.

He specifically thinks about her in sections, her hair color, her tattoos, the hole in her pans, and the feel of her mouth. My thinking about about this is that he’s doing the very thing that made him feel guilty earlier, he’s kind of partitioning a woman into parts. But masturbation, like sex, is the domain of crude matter, and I guess you can’t afford hypocrisy in that country.


3 thoughts on “The War of the Encyclopaedists: A Chapter 10 review

  1. I’m not sure “hypocritical” is the right term for Tricia. She’s the pseudo-antagonist because she really believes in things and is willing to put herself on the line in defense of those beliefs. She’s a social justice paladin. This contrasts with Corderoy, who is a pure nihilist. He wears all his beliefs as mere affectations. Basically the only things he truly, honestly loves are Star Wars and Mega Man, and he keeps the intensity of those loves down deep inside because he’s afraid of people making fun of him, like he makes fun of everything else. I’d argue this makes him much closer to a hypocrite than Tricia.

    The real problem with Tricia, from the book’s perspective, is that Tricia’s worldview is too big. She cares too much about things that she can’t possibly actually really understand. This is the real purpose of pointing out that she only read half of The Road to Serfdom. It’s not gratuitous; it shows that she has firm opinions about giant topics based on incomplete information.

    And because the authors identify with (are) Corderoy and Montauk, the way the narrative points this out is by making fun of her. Because that’s what they do. So the cosmos conspires to make everything she tries to accomplish come off as insincere, pointless, or naively counterproductive by turns.


    • You know, that’s a really great observation that’s changed how I see Tricia.

      Up until this point I kind of saw her anti-nihilism as portrayed by the book as foolhardy and doomed to failure, but you’re right. She’s got a problem of scale.


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