It is fun creating something with someone else. Arguably that may be my best memories.
Back when the Internet was still just beginning to become international, before the World Wide Web, I signed up for an email account and a handful of newsgroups at the Manhattan BBS (bulletin board service, the height of communication technology before the Internet – although the selling point of this one was that it did in fact interface with the Internet, still a rarity those days). Ironically, despite its name it was located in rural Norway. That did not matter – I was finally able to meet people with similar interests (well, some of them) from around the world.
One of my interests was a thick book of epic fantasy that I had recently bought, called “The Eye of the World”, by Robert Jordan. It was the beginning of a series called the Wheel of Time. I was delighted to find that there was a newsgroup dedicated to it, rec.arts.sf.written.robert-jordan. It was by pure coincidence / hand of fate that I stumbled into a group of people who were roughly as unconventional as I.
Over the next few years we gave the Wheel of Time more thought, probably, than the author had ever done. Accurate predictions and loony theories flew back and forth. But there is only so much you can get out of a book, and so we ended up discussing the real world (or in the case of socialists, a reasonable facsimile thereof) with much the same mindset. The friends, for lack of a better word, that I met in that invisible realm are still near the top of my “relevant” list according to Google. (Although they have been bypassed by the occasional erotica author. Long story.)
It has been many years. I long ago stopped frequenting the newsgroup. Most of us moved on to LiveJournal, and lately we have more or less regrouped in Google+, where we have a couple communities that preserve much of the atmosphere from back then.
A lot of other things have also happened over the years. Several of the regular have gotten married, notably some to one another. And there are Warders, a concept that appears throughout the books but is sadly absent in most other people’s minds, signifying a strong spiritual bond usually but not always between a woman and a man (or, in the case of the Green Ajah, a few men). This bond is intimate but not sexual, something that is evidently difficult for people in our culture to grasp. But among the people steeped in the lore of the Wheel of Time, it has turned out a very useful concept.
And now, nearly a generation later, the Wheel of Time series is completed. Years before that, looking at a picture of the author, a voice in my heart told me without hesitation that he was going to die before the series was complete. I believed for a long time that this revelation was by the divine Presence in my heart, but thinking back on it, it may have been the voice of reason. Be that as it may, it not only came true: The series was 3 books from its conclusion when the man best known as Robert Jordan left this world.
Luckily he had relented on his original plan to have his wife delete his notes and the already written final scene in case of his sudden demise. (It wasn’t entirely sudden, either.) Despite predictions from some of us, the series was not completed by Piers Anthony, but Brandon Sanderson. I suppose it could have been worse. I stopped reading the series a couple books before Jordan died, actually, and haven’t read the two first by Sanderson either. But that doesn’t mean I am not curious as to the legendary Final Scene. And today the last book is out.
Spoilers indicate that Jordan’s climactic scene – which was supposedly written at the same time as the first book – is indeed all that and then some. I may just buy the book when it comes out as e-book later this year … if I haven’t already gorged on spoilers so much that I more or less have read it already through middlemen.
The book is called A Memory of Light. But whether or not I eventually read it, I already have many memories of light brought about by Robert Jordan’s books. And to me, the way he helped bring people together will always be his greatest work.