Readers ask ... ... Janet und Chris Morris, as well as Tempus Thales and (a bit) Nicodemus (Part 2)

Leser fragen ... Janet und Chris Morris Readers ask ...
... Janet und Chris Morris, as well as Tempus Thales and (a bit) Nicodemus
(Part 2)

Zur deutschen Übersetzung We already have had an q&a on wednesday with Janet and Chris Morris as well as Tempus Thales. But our readers are curious, too.

We have called our readers, to ask question at the writers and Tempus Thales. This has been very successful. Janet, Chris and Tempus responded. Here is the result ...

Zauberspiegel-readers: As a lay person, what do I have to understand by a company with “non-lethal weapons”? What is a non lethal weapon? And is this concept also available for fantasy? A hero who doesn’t kills with his weapons? Is there some connection between these worlds of Janet and Chris Morris?
Janet Morris: Janet Morris:  There is now much nonfiction (and a little fiction) written about nonlethal weapons, beginning with our Nonlethality:  A Global Strategy, which has a list of technoloogy areas and capabiltiies to be developed.  Some of these techincally easier capabilities, such as bean-bag rounds and electrical-discharge weapons and some electromagnetic capabilities, have already appeared in conbat, in print and sometimes in tv and movies.  Some of the nonlethal papers can be accessed through the footnotes on Janet Morris or Chris Morris’ Wikipedia pages. 
The point of developing nonlethal weapons and capabilities is simple and pragmatic:  in a global society, it makes no sense to kill the customer.  The world is becoming increasingly casualty intolerant.  International law requires the winner of a conflict on foreign ground to rebuild non-military assets and infrastructure destroyed during conflict.  The winner of a war no longer annexes the land, people, and wealth of the loser state.  So the economic driver of warfare becomes the restoration of safe global trade, and this is best accomplished as nonlethally as possible.  However, nonlethal cannot mean non-harmful or non-threatening:  nonlethal weapons must be able to overcome lethal weapons and effectively project military power with minimum destruction and loss of life.  We say nonlethal weapons should be life-conserving, environmentally friendly, and fiscally responsible.  Enough nonlethal capabilities across the spectrum of confict to make this goal a reality do not yet exist.  Arguments abound about how and when force should be projected, and how that force can be made ovewhelming.  When nonlethal force can overcome lethal force, then nonlethality will be the goal of all civilized states.  However, accidental, incidental, and corollary casualties must be expected and accepted, since any item with mass will kill you if we drop it on your head from a height, and even a dry-cleaning bag or a pencil or human hands and feet and teeth can be lethal:  it is the intended effect of the weapon or capability that defines an item as lethal or non-lethal, not its metric of lethality.  If the intent of warfare changes from killing the enemy to restoring order and limiting destruction, rather than maximizing it, then nonlethality will be achieved in principal.  In practive, humans are not equally civilized, and killing will always be with us.  If the most civilized find ways to defend themselves without killing, then the justification to kill in self-defense no longer will power aggression for its own sake.  One statistic says that over 160,000,000 humans were killed in warfare during the 20th century alone.  Lethal force has not reduced the zeal of mankind for conflict, or become vastly more discriminate.  Although over the centuries great military minds have flirted with the possibility of defeating the enemy without fighting, the technology and shift in thinking have not heretofore coincided.  Now they can.  Nonlethal capabilities may be the first real change in warfighting strategy in ten thousand years of recorded history.  As such, it is worth our effort and our attention – and yours.
Chris Morris: Writing science fiction, we often encountered problems due to the technological fragility of space habitats; adversaries with kineticenergy weapons immediately put the entire colony at risk when shooting started.  The only responsible way to restore order –Roddenberry caught on early – is to use scalable force technology (phasers on stun) instead of compromising the integrity of the entire environment and killing everyone in pursuit of the bad guys. Morrises’ Law states that the more high-tech dependent the target, the more vulnerable the target is to low-tech attack.  Modern militarys have the same problem:  they are massively overpowered to counter low intensity threats.  Innocents and the environment suffer disproportionately, defeating the intent of the benignpeace keeping or policing force, and turning the host population into enemies. This space habitat is Earth.
Sun Tzu famously stated in his treatise, On War, that the acme of military skill is to defeat your opponent without fighting.  If you understand this assertion, it remains to devise means to do so.  The United States and other nations have been making institutionalized efforts to reduce the destruction of warfare by identifying force projection technologies that are life conserving, environmentally friendly, and fiscally responsible. In 1989 Janet and I authored the whitepaper, Nonlethality: A Global Strategy (available at; it is the document that led to the establishmentin1996 of the U.S. Department of Defense’s Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Program (JNLWP).  The white paper recommended that in order to achieve peacekeeping and policing mission objectives military units need a range of options between talking and shooting to deny hostile access to strategic assets (check points, fooddistribution sites, religious sites, armor storage areas, command and control centers, fuel repositories, barracks, vehicles, convoys, etc.). The JNLWP’s Executive Agent is the Commandant of the United States Marine Corps. In this instance we actually wrote a doorway, and walked through it.
Familiar non-lethal weapons are mounted horse patrols, water cannon, pepper spray, beanbag rounds, baton rounds, sting ball grenades, tear gas, caltrops, and variants of police riot gear.  More sophisticated systems, effective against heavily armed perpetrators (suicide commandos, truck bombers), are in development and testing phases. 
In Germany the center for nonlethal technology development is Fraunhofer Institut.

Zauberspiegel-readers: What do Chris und Janet Morris read? What movies and tv-series do you watch?
Janet Morris: I read source materials:  mythologies, mythopoeic thought, classical works, ancient and modern philosophy, technical material, geochronometry.  For perspective on literature, I like Harold Bloom, and C.S. Lewis.  I like Dwight Eisenhower and Winston Churchill and Einstein.  I like the puzzles posed by the philosophy of time and of space-time and the problems inherent in understanding the universe and our place in it.  I like Roger Penrose.  I often reread Homer and Hesiod, read different translators‘ ideas of what was meant; and Virgil, and Aristotle’s metaphysics and Sophocles and Aristophanes and Diodorus and Plutarch.  I enjoy puzzling over Sappho fragments.  I sometimes go back and revisit the pre-Socratics, for the inspiration I get from seeing what mind alone can accomplish.  Herakleitos is my favorite.  Zeno of Elea is important to me.  I read far less material developed after Constantine:  his political influence caused too much redaction for my taste.  I reread mythologists and fantastical authors from ancient times, and later authors such as Shakespeare and Marlowe and Spenser and Milton and Byron and Keats and Yeats and Shelley.  I do like Mark Twain and Kipling and Orwell and Edgar Rice Burroughs, Arthur Conan Dolye, Wodehouse, Evelyn Waugh.  I like Robert E. Howard and Tolkein and Hesse.  I like Marguerite Yourcenar.  I like Marcus Aurelius and Solon and the Cynics and the Stoics and some of Julius Caesar.  I like ancient historical work in transliteration:  Babylonian wisdom texts, texts of the ancient near east.  I like Confucius.  I occasionally read biographies or biographical novels.  I read very little modern work, finding it mostly too derivative, since my time is limited and I have many things I yet want to read.  However, I read authors whose work I may buy for my Hell series, when I read contemporary authors at all.  When I read fiction, I want to be transported into a different mind and have a transcendent experience.  There is not a great deal of that sort of fiction available from any one epoch.  When I was younger, I read extensively in science fiction and fantasy, but much less now.
As for television, I like the old Blackadder series, Hugh Laurie, David Frye, Branagh’s Shakespeare productions, and British comedy in general, and historical or mythical miniseries; I watch some of the current science-fiction series and fantasy series or movies or miniseries, to see what is new.  I have a poor memory for movies and tv detail, but a very good one for the written word.  While doing nonlethality, we were subjects of, or guests on, many tv shows -- news and science and technology shows -- and that experience made us suspicious of truth as it is presented by tv news and documentaries.  I have copies of a dozen or so movies I truly like, and sometimes I will watch those, but I usually use tv to make me sleepy.
Chris Morris: We read the great fantasy writers – Shakespeare, Keats, Yeats, Spenser, Byron, Marlowe, Milton. We love Harold Bloom as a stylist and critic.
We watch Fringe and anything with Peter O’Toole. The 300.

Zauberspiegel-readers: How important is it for the two of you to have a good looking outfit of  your books?
Janet Morris: The physical longevity and quality of a book are important to me:  I hope for archival paper and sewn bindings, strong boards that are at least linen-covered with legible stamping.  I have had many commercial books with small print and now want a comfortable print size, generous margins, and a cover I like.  I prefer art from the masters when I can get it.  I want readable titles with copy that tells the reader what the book is about, rather than comments about sales figures or blurbs from reviewers or other writers:  all of that becomes meaningless over the years.
Chris Morris: Critical.  The appearance of the book expands or restricts the readership.  We try not to unintentionally limit the book’s appeal to this or that genre.  We consider our books to be mainstream and yes, literature.  They should appear so.

Zauberspiegel-readers: Did you have teething problems, venturing again to writing? What was it like to get back to writing after so many years?
Janet Morris: I never stopped writing.  I wrote nonfiction, often on tight deadlines, for a very powerful readership.  Most of this work was not for public distribution and some of it is published but attributed to government agencies or to military services or nongovernmental organizations.  Nevertheless, I always wrote every day.  So the change was to make the time and have the liberty of writing fiction once again.  Writing policy or analysis is very different from writing fiction:  I think nonfiction engages the opposite side of the brain from fiction.  When writing the first few pages of The Sacred Band, the first fiction I had written since the 1990s, it amazed me that images materialized so effortlessly and completely in my mind’s eye:  this is the joy of fiction – you are transported.  I had been wanting to write that first chapter of The Sacred Band long before I put it on paper, so whatever ‘teething,’ if any, occurred long before I typed the first page.
The magical thing about writing fiction is the physical feeling of exhilaration that one gets after a good day of fiction production:  this is probably endorphins, but whatever it is, I can always tell from the way my body feels how successful the work was on that day.
It was extremely liberating and heady to begin again with Tempus and this story, The Sacred Band, which I had wanted to write for so long.  It took a great deal of thinking before committing to saving the forty-six of the Sacred Band of Thebes who are not buried with their brothers.  We had already created the Sacred Band of Stepsons in their honor, but it was a long time before we realized how to tell this tale of bringing the Bands together, and do more with them.  The Sacred Band is, in many ways, the book I had always wanted to write:  it is not strictly fantasy, or strictly historical, or strictly mythical:  it some of each and it is my favorite of our joint works.  The Sacred Band is a mythic novel, in a long tradition that begins in ancient times.
Chris Morris: Easy.  Our old teeth are much sharper now. 
We were fortunate to know Isaac Asimov, Janet as a young girl, and both of us as adults.  He keynoted the first Nebula Awards dinner we attended in NYC and exhorted us all to write as broadly as we could, not accept the label of ‘sci-fi writers,’ but to go wherever our audience needs us to go.  He said, “If you can write this stuff [sf], you can write anything!  Don’t let ‘em lock you into a ghetto!”  We took him to heart.  We miss his influence.  And him.

Zauberspiegel-readers: What can we expect from Janet und Chris Morris next?
Janet Morris: More Tempus and Niko.  More Sacred Band of Stepsons fiction.  Next will come “The Fish, the Fighters and the Song-girl and other Sacred Band Tales,” which contains six of the previously uncollected Sacred Band stories from Thieves World®, plus a new novelette, “The Fish, the Fighters, and the Song-girl,” and interstitials, similar to the way we structured the interstitial material in “Tempus,” which collected the original Tempus and Niko stories from Thieves’ World® and elsewhere, and had a frame story from Niko’s perspective.  This book has been reissued now and is called “Tempus with his right-side companion Niko.”  And we are doing more Heroes in Hell (HIH) books:  we have put together a new group of writers and with them we are doing more volumes in our Heroes in Hell series.  Just now we are launching the first of these, called, “Lawyers in Hell,” to be followed next year by “Adventurers in Hell,” and more volumes of HIH are planned.
Chris Morris: Our work needs a wider audience; publishing is in our blood – so far books, music, technology forecasting.  We want our stuff to diversify into other media forms, graphic novels, film (video), cloud-based entertainment delivery systems, and are building a creative core group to carry those plans forward.

Zauberspiegel-readers: They are currently working at the Hell series with several authors. Who are the authors ? Could you call it promotion of young writers and would German writers have a chance to participate?
Janet Morris: The authors in Lawyers in Hell include:  Janet Morris, Richard Groller, Nancy Asire, CJ Cherryh, Edward McKeown, Bruce Durham, Michael A. Armstrong, Allen Gilbreath, Michael H; Hanson, Kimberly Richardson, Reborah Koren, Larry Atchley, Jr., Sarah Hulcy, David L. Burkhead, Chris Morris, Scott Oden, John Manning, Michael Z. Williamson, Jason Cordova, Leo Champion, Bradley H. Sinor.  Some of these authors are veteran Hellions, who wrote with us in the original Heroes in Hell series, such as Michael A. Armstrong, CJ Cherryh, Nancy Asire.  Some are authors who have made names for themselves in historical fiction, sf or fantasy.  And some are brand new authors, never before published.  In HIH, it became our custom to find new authors and publish their first stories, or debut an author who had done novels but never short fiction.
Part of the joy for us in the HIH series is promoting new talent.  And of course we are hoping for German authors:  we are open to all authors who can write in English or provide good translations of their work.  But in Heroes in Hell there is a great deal of time spent among the authors‘ group preparing to write, and reading the background material which is all in English, and talking with the other writers on-line, so the ability to come onto Facebook and participate with the other writers in the private working group there is critical.  Everyone helps each other.  People share characters and story lines, while following our main story arc.  There are no unsolicited submissions to the Hell series:  A writer must contact us to be invited, and agree to our terms and conditions, before beginning.  Writers interested in writing for Hell usually contact me through the Heroes in Hell product/service page on Facebook.
Chris Morris: 1). The authors are listed on the cover(s).  2). Yes. 3). Yes.  Just need to solve translation and voicing/editing issues.

Zauberspiegel-readers: Does Tempus Thales ever wake you up?
Janet Morris: All the time.  Both from sleep and from stupidity.
Chris Morris: No.

Zauberspiegel-readers: Have you ever been interviewed before? If so, what did you think of the process? In addition: Nico could explain how he feels, because he is ignored in this q&a?
Tempus Thales: I have never allowed such a thing before.  It is more complicated than I expected.
Niko:  If the commander asks me to do something, I do it.  He invited me to come, so here I am.  I don’t understand what you mean by explaining how I feel.  How I feel about what?  I am here with Tempus, where I want to be.  I have been with the Riddler a long time, and this is not the strangest thing that has happened.  Long ago, my rage drove me to maat, my discipline of will and equilibrium, justice and balance, and those drove me on, to the Sacred Band and the Riddler’s service, where I am – finally and correctly – Tempus’s right-side partner, learning day by day what my commander has to teach.  I became, at long last and great cost, first an avatar of Enlil on his own, then favorite of Harmony.  I am honored to be on the Riddler’s right:  this last, alone, is enough to say about me.

Zauberspiegel-readers: Which storm god do you prefer to be an avatar for, Vashanka or Enlil? And why?
Tempus Thales: If one must be in the service of a storm god, I much prefer Enlil’s service:  he is an ancient, fierce, and canny god, but he is wise and his passions are those of Nature itself.  He is more powerful than any other storm god, and his reach is vast.  His vision sees far.  He is not craven, or foolish.  But he is the Storm God of the Armies, and what he wants is war.  What he achieves is achieved through strife.  Younger gods cannot compare with him, nor do I miss the unbridled fury or callowness of young storm gods such as Vashanka the Pillager.

Zauberspiegel-readers: Tempus, what types of paradigms between modern society and classic society fits or fails with the ideals of the Sacred Band?
Tempus Thales: The Sacred Band puts dedication and honor above all, and loyalty to one another, and sacrifice when needed:  shoulder to shoulder, to the death, with honor; life to you, and everlasting glory:  this is the way of the Sacred Band of Stepsons.  It is the ancient way, the way of building greatness for all, not greatness for one.  This is not generally the modern way, except among small bands of military professionals.  I have traveled in time, to New York City, to America, to Sandia where the world was barely alive anymore until we went there and brought thirteen young gods into being to reinvigorate Nature there.  The future relies too much on technology and not enough on inspiration and morality, but they will learn the lesson or die of not learning it.  I have said, Nature has a surer plan than mortals can devise.   And this is so.  From Lemuria, we brought to the future of man a new chance, but that chance resides in Nature’s mind, not simply in their own hands.  Selfishness destroys all it touches.  Humanity must be Nature’s partner, not its tamer.  All that we know is as nothing when compared to the inherent intelligence of the natural order.  As Herakleitos, I have spoken of this.  And Herakleitos on his own has spoken of this.  Learn, or die.  That is always the same, for animal, man, or civilization.
When humanity loves itself so well that it devalues other life, it makes a crucial error:  what would it be like, to live on alone, with no birds or grass or sky or creatures of the field or the air?  What would be the point?
The Sacred Band venerates life, even as it takes life.  It lives close to the earth and the sky.  It honors the gods and serves the human spirit.  And the gods honor those who fight in battle.  This is not just the battle of arms:  it is the battle of civilization.  Taken together, these things sum to the Balance.  We never lose track for long of ourselves or the natural order of things.  We serve the Balance, and it steers us through all things.  All people can do this, but only few truly do, in any age.  Many people choose to be loyal to nothing greater than themselves. Without a shared ethos, little of worth can be done.
So man will thrive, or not, according to how much he can discipline his nature.  In the Sacred Band, we honor the world and serve the gods, even Niko’s God in Man, with bright purpose.  We know why we are where we are.  We serve with unflinching determination and unwavering loyalty:  to the death, with honor.
So our world is illuminated by our purpose.  Few, in any age, can say as much.  It is not when a man lives, but how he lives that really matters.  Niko said, Men are fools who forget what really matters while time goes by.  And he is correct.
So we make sure that we remember, every day, what we have learned.

Zauberspiegel-readers: Fo you plan to return to either Sanctuary or Wizardwall in the future? I feel that there are things unfinished that await you and Nikkos there.
Tempus Thales: We will go north to Nisibis, to Wizardwall and beyond, to Lemuria and even farther.  You are correct:  much remains to be done.  We embark on a new campaign.  In fact, we have already started.  When our chroniclers tell that story, much will be revealed that now is still hidden.  The Unified Sacred Band will have its trial by fire.

Zauberspiegel-readers: What is it like to be Tempus? Can you live with yourself?
Tempus Thales: Of course I can live with myself:  I could not live without myself.  I am not responsible for the foolishness of mankind, nor their venality, nor their hatred for one another and for anyone different from themselves.  I go from war to war; I deal death and destruction and in the process teach the wisest something abut life.

Zauberspiegel-readers: What does Tempus tell the readers? Do you have a message for them? If so, what would it be?
Tempus Thales: It is not up to me to tell you how to spend your lives, but spend them you will – for nothing, or for something.  We say it is better to die for something than for nothing at all.  Our message, if we have one, is in our actions, not our words:  we honor one another; we fight for life and freedom of the human spirit, each in our way.  We are students of the world around us.  We treasure every day given us by the inscrutable gods.  And we love one another and the work that we do, because we believe in our purpose.  So if I must give you advice, I will tell you to think before you act, then act boldly; be loyal to your highest purpose; take care that you live every day completely, and without regret.  Find your ethos, hold your loved ones close, and look death in the face, for it is coming.  Hear our tales and learn what you will – or not.  I will say this:  you have one mind, one soul, one swing through life.  Make it matter.

Zauberspiegel-readers: If you're really desperate and at the end are what sustains you? What drives you to not give up?
Tempus Thales: I have long ago lost the ability to walk away from the unknown.  I live in the knowledge that all things end, but that in each ending is a beginning.  What sustains me is my heart, my purpose.  Every breath is a triumph.  Giving up is not an option:  what difference would it make, staring death in the face, to give up?  Die one day, die the next:  all is strife, until death takes us.  Once I said, "Life is a gift from heaven. How you live it is your worship. What you learn is your catechism. What you teach is your ritual. What you take is your blessing. What you give is your sacrifice." That is still true.

Zauberspiegel-readers:  Now that you have Enlil, does Tempus ever miss Vashanka?
Tempus Thales: Miss Vashanka?  Would I miss mindless anger, lust uncontrolled?  Vashanka was and is and always will be a craven god, self-indulgent, cruel and vainglorious in his overwhelming passions.  When gods are fools, what can men expect?  Vashanka is a god of rape and pillage, of sack and plunder.  Too many times he left me to fight his battles for him.  And now Vashanka has a young avatar as callow and impressionable as he himself – a better match for the Pillager in every way.

Zauberspiegel-readers: What would you do if Nico wasn’t not on your side in certain situations?
Tempus Thales: Fight through, as I always have.  Niko’s life may take him in new directions.
Do as I always have:  Fight on other days without number.  Forever.

Zauberspiegel-readers: Speaking of Nico. He isn’t complete ignored. Here is one for him: What's with selecting virgins all the time? Do you get a quantity discount?
Nicodemus: An impertinent question, but I will give you an answer:  The young girl or boy has a special beauty.  The young deserve a good start, some gentleness, some tenderness.  A virgin is free from disease, untainted.  Should you lie with a virgin, where no other has been, if there is offspring, there is no doubt about parentage.  When I was young, I was mentored; then later, abused.  I know the difference.  Only the virgin has true innocence and innocence must be handled with care.  Much depends on the one who introduces an innocent to the joys of love.

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