I dreamt, in the early hours of this morning, of a library. It was a pastiche of the library in Adelaide that I used to frequent, the other big library in my childhood Belconnen Public Library, and the clean cool verandah and back steps of the Japanese Gardens in Cowra. The east was the children’s section from Belconnen; the reference section was from Adelaide, and in a secret Librarians’ Only area were these small courtyards with gravel and small shrubs in the centre that were small scraps of the gardens at Cowra.
I was with my partner and we were attempting to find something in the reference section, but in the way that dreams are the categorisation of the books kept changing. First the shelves seemed to be organised by the appearance of the letters, so it went ‘A, 4, K, B, F, P, D, Q, O, C…’ and so on. I was finding it impossible to find anything, and I was looking as hard as I could to find the ‘U’ section to find a book for my A-to-Z attempt. By the time I found a catalogue (which was in large laminated folios hanging out like drying pasta across racks), it had changed again. There was a non-category-specific alphabetisation of the books; they were separated into several sub-groups, each of which was alphabetised, and again I could not find anything. I never found anything in the ‘U’s, but I did come across a lovely short novella set in the Shattered Empires (previously Living Arcanis) role-playing setting. The book doesn’t exist in reality of course, but there were two copies on the shelf and for the five minutes before I woke up I had that elation you get when you’ve discovered the most wonderful book that you never knew existed before. It was so vivid – I could feel the raspy dirty edges where the tape on the catalogue numbers was peeling back.
When I woke up to discover that I would probably never read the book, you can imagine my dismay. What is most tragic is that – for those readers not in the know – a lot of role-playing tie-in novels are absolute and utter tripe. Churned out, franchised gubbish. Everyone I know loves the D&D novels in the Dragonlance series dearly, and everyone I know would also readily scoff at the Forgotten Realms and Eberron novels, which all are based on the same core rule-set. If I came across a Shattered Empires novel I may be curious, because it’s one of the settings I am personally excited about, but I certainly wouldn’t be expecting anything spectacular.