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Information Versus Ignorance

Written by Jared Axelrod, illustrated by Steve Walker

With The Battle of Blood and Ink, Steve Walker and I wanted to create a book with a strong sense of place. A story with a setting just off-kilter enough that the reader would require a guidebook to help them through the story. Also, we wanted rayguns. Some sort of fantasy story, set in a Renaissance/Victorian-esque city, with flying machines and rayguns and printing presses, all powered by various baroque technologies. Rayguns charged by Leyden jar-batteries. Vehicles designed by Leonardo DaVinci.

And in the middle of it all, a young woman who changes everything.

At its heart, The Battle of Blood and Ink is about an argument: How much do people deserve to know? On the one hand, an informed populace is something to strive for in any community. On the other, sometimes its better not to see how the hot dogs are made.

It’s easy to take the tack that everyone should know everything and make their decisions on this basis. The idea is a beautiful one. Perhaps if we knew more about each other, we would be less likely to go to war. If we could understand one anothers’ point of view, if we knew what was really going on, wouldn’t our lives be that much etter? A perfect world where we were all on the same page.

The flip side of this is that ignorance is bliss. There are some things that perhaps we are better off not knowing. Information can lead to understanding, but history has shown that it more often leads to panic. Perhaps it’s better they live without it and go about their lives unconcerned. After all, you do want to enjoy that hot dog, don’t you?

Connected with this is the question of how much you owe your community. If keeping them in the dark protects them, isn’t that the right thing to do? What if the truth won’t set your neighbors free, but destroy their lives? What if just by living in a certain place, existing in a certain way, you were taking part in the worst crime you could possibly imagine?

When knowledge is a weapon, what is the best way to wield it? As a shotgun? Or a stiletto? That’s what Ashe, our heroine, wrestles with throughout the book. In addition to dodging raygun-wielding constables, stealthy assassins, and airship pirates!

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From the Tor/Forge May newsletter. Sign up to receive our newsletter via email.

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