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Purple and Black (2009)

por K. J. Parker

Outros autores: Ver a secção outros autores.

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1104249,249 (4.18)2
"When his father, brothers and uncles wiped each other out in a murderous civil war, Nicephorus was forced to leave the University and become emperor. Seventy-seven emperors had met violent deaths over the past hundred years, most of them murdered by their own soldiers. Hardly unsurprising, then, that Nico should want to fill the major offices of state with the only people he knew he could trust, his oldest and closest friends. But there's danger on the northern frontier, and Nico daren't send a regular general up there with an army, for fear of a military coup. He turns to his best friend Phormio, who reluctantly takes the job. Military dispatches, written in the purple ink reserved exclusively for official business, are a miserable way for friends to keep in touch, at a time when they need each other most. But there's space in the document-tube for another sheet of paper."--dust cover flap.… (mais)
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When the third son of emperor inherits after murderous family wars, he and his college friends try to rule as they had philosophized about in their youth.
  ritaer | Jan 31, 2023 |
One of the better epistolary stories I've read--funny, realistic, and ultimately had a very relevant point about student idealism and the difficulties of its application to reality. I'm not sure if Parker did more with these chars--there's some University overlap, and a Gorgias Professor in "Let Maps to Others."

A reluctant monarch isn't new, but Nico is a student who wanted to be far away from all that murderous business. And then it got so murderous that the third son of a third son (I believe) became emperor, and installed all his University friends in high places, and they all get to try out those high ideas they once talked about over late-night drinks.

Parker is really, really growing on me. ( )
  Adamantium | Aug 21, 2022 |
In “Pale Fire” by Vladimir Nabokov, a deposed monarch edits and comments on a friend's poem? Or “The Unfortunates” by B.S. Johnson, a man returns to review a dire football match in the hometown of a lost friend? Or "House of Leaves" by Mark Z Danielewski, a neer-do-well collates the academic writings of a blind man pertaining to clips of film detailing a mutating and horrifying house? Nope. Definitely “Purple and Black” as the best of the bunch.

I could illustrate what I think about “Purple and Black” by making a morbid pun by route of a cliché of my own: clearly, clichés need not be buried, as they live in whatever written "universe of discourse" in which they occur. So I’d jump worlds in my diction, and create a kind of liar's paradox or trompe l'oeil of words. The two worlds, Nicephorus’ and Phormio’s are neither one of them solid at the same level of reality, yet they're both portrayed. And Parker did it; maybe it wasn't the guy you imagine typed it, but it was the voice that's talking through words. They're not the same.

The items in any collage novel, whether it be epistolary, email, list, picture, &c., are put into the text in a certain order for a certain effect yielding a certain infinite cornucopia of meanings. Yet, Parker, as a human writer, who cannot escape being a creature who cannot actually transition out of our world & into a book (unlike “Thursday Next” in a Fforde novel), also cannot be, in the universe of the novel, involved in choosing which items, out of an imaginary infinitude, are put forward to tell the text's story. Nor may that writer choose the order of said items. This is done, in any collage novel, by a necessary fictitious narrator/arranger who may or may not speak, but, nevertheless must act by assembling & perhaps editing the materials of the story. Epistolary novels may indeed be centered upon absence, and require piecing together by the reader in our world, but they have come from utter blankness, and first been pieced together compositionally by their narrator, from specific writings of characters we do not know, who in their own universes have obviously (e.g.) sent more emails that the ones which we see in the trompe l'oeil novel in question, which is a fiction inside a fiction inside a fiction, even though this status is invisible as an attraction, in the same way the performing magician (who is nothing more than an invention of her/his/its creator) employs sleight of hand in making children gleeful.

I’ve read this piece of extraordinary SF in Parker’s “Academic Exercises”. This is my second read. Better than the first, because this time round I read it in standalone mode. Some people say they feel they don't have time to read SF. Bad and stupid move. Read “Purple and Black”. Much better than most of the crap labeled as classics (or Mundane Fiction as I like to call it).



SF = Speculative Fiction. ( )
  antao | Dec 17, 2020 |
An epistolary novella, consisting almost exclusively of the exchange of missives between a newly-ascended emperor and the friend who he sends off to hold the frontier for him. It also is a meditation on friendship, on youth and its ideals, on politics and its lack of ideals, on the ethics of power.

It's also (as one has to come to expect from Subterranean Press) a beautifully made book, a pleasure not just to read but to handle as well, the two-coloured print reflecting not only the use of different inks in the narrative (purple for official communication, black for private exchange), but also the fact that there is more to things here than what is apparent on first sight.

While (judging from my experiences with K.J. Parker's Fencer trilogy) this author's novels, brilliant as they undoubtedly are, tend to get bogged down somewhat in detail, there is nothing of that here - Parker seems to thrive on the novella form, and this book is as entertaining as it is fascinating. It's a brief read, but it's guaranteed to haunt its reader for a long time after closing it, and to provide food for many thoughts. ( )
4 vote Larou | Sep 16, 2009 |
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Nome do autorPapelTipo de autorObra?Estado
K. J. Parkerautor principaltodas as ediçõescalculado
Chong, VincentArtista da capaautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
s.BENešArtista da capaautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Schmidt, JakobÜbersetzerautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado

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"When his father, brothers and uncles wiped each other out in a murderous civil war, Nicephorus was forced to leave the University and become emperor. Seventy-seven emperors had met violent deaths over the past hundred years, most of them murdered by their own soldiers. Hardly unsurprising, then, that Nico should want to fill the major offices of state with the only people he knew he could trust, his oldest and closest friends. But there's danger on the northern frontier, and Nico daren't send a regular general up there with an army, for fear of a military coup. He turns to his best friend Phormio, who reluctantly takes the job. Military dispatches, written in the purple ink reserved exclusively for official business, are a miserable way for friends to keep in touch, at a time when they need each other most. But there's space in the document-tube for another sheet of paper."--dust cover flap.

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