The War of the Encyclopaedists: A Chapter 16 review

Sorry for the week hiccup, I was traveling around. Now we’re back to Encyclopaedists.

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 Blade of Blades: Throne of Thrones.

Chapter 16 is a Corderoy in Boston chapter.

Corderoy is energized by his upcoming date with Sylvie. I should note here that the text has little hearts around it like this: ♥Sylvie♥.

After a shower, Corderoy did twenty push-ups, dressed, and went out to buy some Funfetti cupcake batter, a can of Funfetti frosting, a jar of sprinkles, and–he almost forgot–a cupcake tin.

I’ve never heard of Funfetti. Like, this is seriously the first time I ever came across the brand. I must have eaten some as a kid but just never noticed. It’s kind of weird that the specific brand is so clearly identified. Is it to indicate time period?

He did more push-ups, showered again, shampooing his pubes this time, then put on his brand-new pair of boxers.

Sometimes I feel like this story veers into too-much-information but I must say, I am loving (loving) the hyphen action.

Then Tricia:

“Got a date or something?”

“How’d you know?” Corderoy said.

“You’re grinning like an idiot. And you haven’t showered twice in the last week. Who is she?

“Just someone I met.”

“I want the dirt later,” she said.

Did Tricia and Corderoy become friends? They must have been hanging out a lot when he was working for Kerry’s campaign, but this new camaraderie kind of took me by surprise.

Also, it’s funny how the excitement of a new romantic adventure can supercharge even the most clearly depressed guy. My point is that in the war of head versus crotch (the idyllic plane of intellect and the dark abysmal realm of reality) the crotch is surprisingly more potent then you’d think.

After five minutes, he took a swirl of Tricia’s Listerine, which burned the hell out of his mouth, but that’s how you knew it was working.

Again with the specificity of brands. It’s not a bad thing, I’m just curious about that. Also Listerine burns but I suspect Corderoy has an untreated dental condition (easy to believe given how neglectful he is and how alcoholic he happens to be).

Then some Shakespearean magic?

What he saw did not augur well for the future of his romantic life.


Tricia’s cat, Smokey, was standing on his bed, back arched, tail up, midloaf.

The colloquialism “midloaf” is new to me. I only realized after the fact that the cat was shitting on his bed.

I had a cat that would take a crap in my room all the time. Despite that I loved him. But the crapping thing happens (I think) as a form of communication. Something is plaguing that cat and he’s unhappy about it. Or he can’t get to his sand box. The point is he’s making a statement as well as being an omen presaging Corderoy’s doom. There’s a lot going on in this scene.

Then the inevitable but unfortunate roommate-walks-in-on-a-roommate-masturbating scene.

He shut her door, picked up his Tupperware, and left the house with an image burned into his visual cortex: Tricia, grabbing for the bedsheet, something purple buzzing between her legs.

Tupperware is capitalized? Oh, and lo there is another omen! First a cat craps on a bed then a person masturbates on one. Things are definitely heading south in terms of prophecies and divinations.

Incidentally, I’m surprised Tricia didn’t lock the door.

Also I bet Corderoy totally killed the mood.

But I digress.

Corderoy sets out on his adventure to Lotus Yoga and Dance Studio in Brighton. I suspect this a real place.

Having arrived too early, Corderoy ends up hanging out in a playground.

Staring through the chain-link fence to the baseball diamond, he thought of that scene in Terminator 2 when Sarah Connor clutches at the fence and all the children are incinerated by a nuclear blast.

I love Terminator 2. That’s a pretty wicked scene. Good movie, but probably not the best headspace while prefunking for a date.

It starts to rain, really sealing the deal on this date is going to go horribly imagery.

His Northwest pride was deeply ingrained, and he was proud never to have carried an umbrella. But what he was slowly realizing in his first few months in the East was that in Seattle, it only misted, in other parts of the world, it rained.

That which he prided in himself is pretty dumb in Boston.

That’s kind of his whole college adventure it seems, right down to the meteorological experience.

He opts to enter the yoga studio.

Corderoy had never been in a yoga studio and felt slightly uncomfortable with the ambient spirituality–the purple and yellow walls, the exotically confused Indian/Celtic music, and the overly even cadences of the hostess’s speech.

Can confirm: that’s kind of how yoga studios are. Except they also smell like incense.

Class gets out, no ♥Silvie♥.

He goes to the bathroom and upon returning, fearing that ♥Silvie♥ had slipped by him, he enters the class basically. Corderoy meets a woman who I assume is kind of the teacher.

“You here for Contact Improv? First class is free.”

He’s definitely not here for that. I’ve got a very limited dance background and this sounds like fun.

I have nothing really more to add.

She was stunningly beautiful, and Corderoy felt the same disturbing attraction to her that he sometimes felt toward anime characters.

He’s ashamed when attracted to real women and ashamed when attracted to anime characters. This guy can’t win.

Her name is Tanya and she cajoles him into dancing.

Tanya stood there with an easy smile, holding her palm out to Corderoy as if directing traffic, swaying back and forth almost imperceptibly. Corderoy scanned the room once more. ♥Silvie♥ wasn’t there. Finally, after about fifteen seconds, he caved: he leaned into Tanya’s hand.

15 Seconds. 15 seconds is a surprisingly long time to be ignoring someone who is clearly trying to engage with you. I suspect it wasn’t actually fifteen seconds but kind of a generically small unit of time.

“Newton overlooked the question of how it feels to be the apple. We can transcend the law of gravity with the swinging, circulating attraction of the centrifugal force.”

Even the hippies in Boston had an academic patois.

Well yeah, Newtonian Mechanics don’t really apply when something is spinning.

Circular motion is a complicated beast because… well, look. I can’t remember why. The point is that centripetal and centrifugal forces in play and things get strange. That being said, we do have equations for it, so you don’t get to transcend the law of gravity.

At the very least because gravity is patient.

He Contact Improvs for a while.

A skinny guy falls into him:

… Corderoy realized that this skinny, mulletted hippie had given him his entire weight, had entrusted a stranger with the job of directing his momentum and with keeping gravity from smashing his only and irreplaceable body into the Earth.

Ha, humans are the thing that can allow the Improv kids to transcend gravity.

Skinny guy is named Gregg. They go out for drinks. Corderoy orders drinks without checking with what Tanya and Gregg are drinking.

“Not much of a whiskey drinker,” he said, pushing his shot towards Corderoy. “You have it.”

But Gregg does take a beer.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” Tanya said. “I tried to tell you earlier, but I can’t. I’m allergic to alcohol,” and she slid her beer and her shot over to Corderoy. What the fuck.

People can be allergic to all kinds of stuff. Corderoy is still trying to connect through the only way he can, only to find that these ways are blocked in the alien landscape of Boston.

Corderoy tells them about the ♥Silvie♥ situation.

“Sylvie,” Corderoy said. “And probably never seeing as how…” He took a few big swigs of Tanya’s beer. Fuck it. Why not? “She’s gonna die soon. Cystic fibrosis.”

“That’s awful,” Tanya said.

“If only all relationships were like that,” Corderoy said. “With a pre-set termination. No awkward breakups.”

Corderoy’s relationships with Mani had a pre-set termination and technically no awkward breakups.

Just an interesting coincidence.

Now would be the time to apologize, reverse course. But that would be boring. After the rush of unearned physical intimacy in the yoga studio, he needed intensity, drama, and if the only to get that was by being an asshole, well…

Now, it’s supposedly the Improv Class that’s altered Corderoy’s behavior, just like the time he read a part of Ulysses and got all weird. But he’s also drinking.

Still, I think the physical intimacy is good for Corderoy is he can not freak out. But I write this as he’s freaking out. Gregg and Tanya leave because being an asshole isn’t a 100% sure way to make friends. Anyway ♥Silvie♥ doesn’t contact him at all. He’s been ditched.

He hangs out and drinks for a while, giving out Funfetti cupcakes. Then he goes outside, sits on a curb, shoves a cupcake in his mouth and throws up.

Then he goes home, bowed but unbroken. You can tell the fight is still in him.

The cat shit was still on his bed.

I can believe Tricia didn’t go in his room, so yeah, no one cleaned it up. Still, a good ending metaphor for a shitty evening.

The next day Corderoy makes bacon. I kind of don’t believe he has bacon.

Tricia came into the kitchen and poured herself a glass of milk, then stood near the counter drinking it. It sickened Corderoy to see the opaque film clinging to the glass after she tipped it back.

I can’t tell what sickens him exactly, I assume this is hangover related. Also, people drink glasses of milk? I haven’t seen someone do that in years.

They then discuss what happened the night before.

My buddies back in Seattle used to say, ‘I’m gonna go masturbate the penis now. You wanna order a pizza in a bit?’ It was like, this is a thing I need to do, like taking a shit. Natural.”

So as Tricia masturbates in a bed it’s roughly equivalent to the cat taking a shit in Corderoy’s bed, natural. This quote is actually pretty important, so try and remember it.

It kind of reads like a comedy bit, which still seems weird to me because Corderoy seems to be on top of things, as opposed to their relationship in the beginning of the book.

Tricia agrees to buy new sheets. Frankly, would someone tell me what was wrong with Smokey?

Corderoy looks for ♥Silvie♥ on MySpace but she’s gone. Profile deleted. So much for the immortality of information, right?


2 thoughts on “The War of the Encyclopaedists: A Chapter 16 review

  1. Because I can’t help it, even though I know it’s totally superfluous: it’s still Newtonian mechanics with spinning objects. But the reason why all the normal equations don’t work is that they all assume inertial (no net force) reference frames. Spinning necessarily implies a net force somewhere.


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