The Crumbling Tower

The crumbling building featured on the cover of Son of Heaven is the International Finance Centre building (more specifically one of the two similarly designed IFC towers) in Hong Kong, a “special administrative region” on the southeastern cost of China. It’s a magnificent building (it was also featured in The Dark Knight), and was just recently topped as the tallest structure in the territory by the International Commerce Centre (there seems to a redundancy problem with whoever’s naming these buildings…).

Several summers ago, I spent three weeks in Hong Kong. It’s an amazing place — full of beautiful and peculiar sights and sounds and smells. It’s very reminiscent of the Chung Kuo novels – a tremendous gap between the rich and poor, teeming with culture and characters at all levels. It also exemplifies the East vs. West struggle present in the novels, although perhaps reversed – Hong Kong was a British Crown Colony for over 150 years. The Western influence continues to influence the territory, although it’s quickly disappearing as the mainland asserts increasing authority and the culture of Hong Kong comes into its own after, what some might argue, a long period of domination.

I’m thinking the choice of the image of IFC for the cover of the new novel was purposeful, if subtle.

Of Gifts and Stones

Where did it all begin? When was that first step taken on that downward path that led to Armageddon?

Fourteen years ago, Marriage of the Living Dark, the last book in David Wingrove’s massive critically-acclaimed Chung Kuo saga was published. After a tragic misunderstanding with the publisher, Mr. Wingrove was forced to condense two books’ worth of material into that last volume. The result left both the author and the reader unsatisfied.

Today, February 3, 2011, the cycle begins anew. The Chung Kuo series has been recast from 8 books into 20 volumes, jam packed with new material, including two new prequels and a reconstructed ending. The Kindle version of Book 1: Son of Heaven is now available (here in the USA, here in the UK). For those few diehard fans of the series, this is simply a dream come true. For those yet to experience the series, they have a new world in store.

The Chung Kuo series, when originally published, had only a modest web following, hosted graciously by Bob Newell. The new official website is great, and for us long time Chung Kuo fans, it’s given us an oft-wished for portal to Mr. Wingrove’s creative process. But, with this blog, I hope to pick up where the old fan site left off and provide a forum for all things unofficial for the amazing world of Chung Kuo. And who am I? Just a fan who’s read through the entire original series twice and has always hoped another glimpse into the spellbinding world of Chung Kuo. It’s been a long, long wait, but we finally have our opportunity.

The title of this blog, Of Gifts and Stones, was the title to the synopsis of the story-thus-far that was featured in the beginning of the later books, kind of a “Previously… on 24” for each new novel, initially called The War of The Two Directions in Book 5 (Beneath the Tree of Heaven), at least in the American edition that I have. At that point it was only two pages, which grew to 17 in MotLD. That’s a lot of ground to cover! It was a much-appreciated addition, and the title always stuck with me. It’s a thinly veiled reference to when… well, let’s not spoil anything. At this point in the reboot, it’s a long way off… Anyways, I hope that this blog similarly covers a lot of material, so Of Gifts and Stones seemed like an appropriate title.

Keep an eye on this space for periodic news, updates, opinions, and more!

Disclaimer: This blog is not endorsed or affiliated by David Wingrove, Corvus, or anybody else, and all opinions are my own, etc., etc.