By Chet Yarbrough
By: Michael Bunker & Kevin G. Summers
Narrated by: Robert Rossmann
Legendarium attempts to break the mold of book publishing with a story that examines the value of literature while tweaking the nose of the industry. Michael Bunker and Kevin Summers attack traditional methods of book selection, publication, and marketing. In the course of the story, the subjective nature of blogger’ book critics is skewered. Presumably, the dual authors’ writing agreement is that each writer refines Legendarium until both are satisfied with its story line and quality. With principle consistency, the story of Legendarium is self-published by Kevin Summers.
Legendarium is a story about two people who are magically recruited into a fantasy world. One is a successful author; the other is a creative writing teacher/blogger/ book critic/wannabe’ author.
The successful writer’s latest book is panned by the creative writing teacher in his blog. The conflicts of these two characters have multilayered meaning. Despite publishing house rejections, the author believes his book is good enough to self-publish. There seems some justification for the author’s opinion because a number of book critics consider the author’s self-published book good–to very good. However, the teacher/blogger/book critic infers self-publication infers inferiority. Herein lies the skewering of book critics in general, and blog critics in particular. The critic’s judgment is based on an issue unrelated to the quality of the story or the writing.
Ironically, both the author and teacher agree that many classic books of literature would not be produced in the 21st century because of publishing industry ineptitude. They argue that industry’ publishers, editors, and marketers miss the inherent value of a creative writer’s contribution to ground-breaking literature. Undoubtedly, inept criticism compounds public’ misconception of good-to-great literature.
Legendarium is a place, a different-dimensional world; i.e. it is a master library, populated by the spirits and stories of great writers. The spirit images of Kurt Vonnegut and Tolstoy recruit the author and teacher to save Legendarium from spirit eaters (creatures that remind one of the Dementors of Rowling’s Potter series ) that are changing well-known and beloved stories of great writers. Classic stories are acted out in this fantasy world with the author and teacher becoming participants in scenes of great books like Moby Dick.
The two recruits are given the task of stopping spirit eaters who change great, and not so great, works of fiction. The task is to find a magical sword to kill Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky. If the Jabberwocky’s head is not severed by the magical sword as it is in the original story, Lewis Carroll and his reader’s lives will change.
The spirit eaters will consume the author and his created characters’ spirits if the story is changed. The point being made is that a great author’s story may never have been published because changes make the author’s story less great. A great author may never write another story because he believes he cannot write a publishable book, or worse, a great author may become morbidly depressed and kill himself. Like the flap of a butterfly’s wing that pushes wind over a threshold of destruction, change in a great author’s story affects many lives that are touched by a writer’s tale. The inference is that book industry handlers are devolving into spirit eaters by changing or rejecting stories that would become classics if not interfered with by publishers, marketers, and inept critics.
Legendarium is interesting but Bunker’ and Summers’ criticism is not new. Writing great fiction will always be difficult and writers will always be challenged by book publishers, marketers, and critics that disagree. Self-publishing is more likely to clog the pipeline of good fiction than reveal tomorrows’ classic. Most would agree that great fiction comes from appreciation of its public, but every public has its own reason for appreciation.
Winnowing poorly written books by publishing houses and able critics seems preferable to adding self-published books to an already flooded market. Bunker and Summers have written an entertaining and creative story which puts the lie to an opinion. But heck, it is only a lie from another blogger.