Elvensongs

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Zine
Title: Elvensongs
Publisher: The Nut Hatch
Editor:
Author(s): Jane of Australia
Cover Artist(s):
Illustrator(s):
Date(s): 1992-1993, then as a combined volume in 2000 or so
Series?: yes
Medium: print
Size:
Genre: slash
Fandom: The Professionals
Language: English
External Links:
a 1992 flyer
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

Elvensongs are two slash Elf AU novels by Jane of Australia.

They were originally available as two separate zines, but in 2000 combined into a single volume (400 pp - about 500,000 words):

ELVENSONGS Parts 1 & 2 (bound together: no longer available as separate segments ... with apologies!)

Continuing the epic saga of the Syrae clan of the Kith, by Jane

This epic-sized novel is so large, it was set in reduced type and still ran well over 400pp! In fact, we thought it was so large, ELVENSONGS was originally divided into Parts 1 and 2, and produced as two separate books, about six months apart. [1]

For more on this series, see The Hunting Universe.

Issue 1

Elvensongs 1 was published in November 1992 and contains 372 pages (some flyers say 270 pages) — numbered: 1584-1815. A flyer also refers to it as "Book V."

It was illustrated by JJ, Baravan, and Suzan Lovett.

cover of issue #1
another version, a photocopied one, of the cover of issue #1
the first page of the story
frontispiece from issue #1, "Elven Summer" (sometimes referred to as "The Swing") by Suzan Lovett
The original art by Suzan Lovett that was used in this zine.[2]
From a 1992 flyer printed in Flood Tide, as well as online:

This epic-sized novel begins with the end of CLAN OF THE WHITE FOX. Raven and Bodie are home following their mid-adventures in the wild northcountry above Morhod. Raven must learn to manage his new-found abilities, and Amber is an exemplary teacher. But scenes of strife at the Ziff silver diggings take Amber, Bodie and Raven back to the ice-bound north, where the Zeganae are in trouble. Summing brings Dominic and Roan up the Avalon River, and with them, a Phaedri woman, who has brought a boy to Morhod...but the journey to Osiri, which should have been a holiday, becomes a calamity for Kevin, Raphael and Feyleen.

For Sorrel, it is a wonderful time, as he becomes Syare. Ephre and Liar are times for celebration and festivity, before a human arrives on the Syrae estate, bringing with him a concept which could change the entire future of humans and elves alike...and hell itself almost breaks loose as a consequence.

Meanwhile, Amber is working in Arran, a place where Raven also has begun to tread, with care, on occasion. Even Amber walks there with caution, for the dangers are enormous. And this time he is 'caught.' When he fails to wake, and seems to have been lost between the worlds, Raven attempts to help him; and so begins an Arran adventure in the for future of Morhod -- a world that has become bleak and frightening.

Continuing straight on from Book IV, this enormous novel picks up the threads of the story of Raven and Bodie without a break. All the old characters return, and new ones will be met, in familiar locations, and startlingly new ones. [3]
From the editorial:

To coin a phrase, 'welcome back to Morhod,' after an absence of two long years!

This book is a total departure from Clan of the White Fox, though the story begins just a matter of hours after the end of Clan. The best introduction to this piece is to take another look, however quick, at the last one.. .and then to let this story set its own style and pace, because it is, deliberately, extremely different.

To begin with, as the title might suggest, this is not a thriller. I had no desire to write another story filled with 'pace, tension, mystery and intrigue.' Perhaps I've written too many of those plots lately, but simply as a writer I was hungry for a change of pace, desperate for my characters to stop running and fighting, if only for the space of one story!

Also, as I read through both Fair Blows The Wind and Clan in order to get a sense of continuity for this episode, I realised the enormous amount of stress and anxiety I've put these poor characters through in a short (to them!) space of time. Examine the chronology...if they're not having complete nervous breakdowns by now, it would be a miracle. So, a change of pace.

This one is a portrait of a family, a place and a time. Parts of it are pretty tense; other parts are amusing, and some are sentimental, even sad. Life's like that. I didn't miod when someone (Barb?) described yet other parts of this book as 'a sumptuous cross between Lord Of The Rings and Days Of Our Lives." In fact, I think I was pleased and flattered: it was a pretty good trick to pull that off!

At any rate, Like most of fiction's 'great family sagas,' between these covers the characters and their relationships with one another come first; their triumphs and troubles at home and in business come second; action (all that running and fighting) comes third or last. If you were hoping for a pace and tension, I apologise right here, because you'll not get too much of that. But if you were hoping for luxurious development of people and their feelings, with a lovely, passionate, sexy, often amusing narrative, after the stress and strain of Clan, then -- I think I can promise you a nice read.
In the editorial, the author thanks the artists:

Thanks in particular to Suzan Lovett for her series of Raven/Bodie paintings, 'Fennech's Children,' (the endpiece in Clan), 'War Prize," [4] 'Elven Summer,' (the frontispiece here) and 'Sunrise At Llar,' which has only just been completed. These pieces are exquisite, and a rich source of inspiration.

Warmest thanks also to Baravan, for her lovely art, also inspirational, which appears in (his issue and helps to add visualisation to the text.
Also from the editorial:
The process of atrophy has struck our Aus sister press, Tanglewebb. They are closing, and I wish I could blame it on the global depression, but sadly it's not thai simple. A friend in the US was good enough to let Tanglewebb know that they were being ripped off, their zines were being pirated and sold as facsimile editions in America. Bad enough, but here is the cruncher: the pirate is in Australia, those facsimiles are being shipped o/seas from here and probably bought in all good faith. This kind of news sends shock waves around any press. Tbe same thing happened to the publishers of the Ennarare media lines last year. Same thing happened to Entropy Express in the mists of time, when JJ was at the helm. This sickness kills small presses, and make large ones ill. Nut Hatch is probably being pirated, but thanks to the fact we have such an excellent distributor, and we've been going so long that we have an enormous list of zines available, we can survive. Tanglewebb can't. We grieve to see a press die due to piracy, and there's a cold shudder running through us all. If our sales implode and fall to about 60 or some ridiculous figure, we know what's the cause of it. But what to do about it? That, as Hamlet said, is the question.

Issue 2

Elvensongs 2 was published in August 1993 and contains about a 150 pages—numbered: 1817-1956.

cover of issue #2
photocopied cover of issue #2
sample text
From the editorial: art and postage and the infernal machines:

There's less art than usual in this issue, for two reasons. One is that JJ's hand problem is getting worse, not better, due to the increased workload placed on her lately. Keeping Nut Hatch running is a considerable job. Imagine (if you can) trying to keep your correspondence up to date, when you write regularly to forty people! Then, keep up with type-setting for the lines, copying, collating ... and throw in art on top of that. Somewhere, the work load becomes impossible. The second reason for the shortage of art this issue is the weight of this zine. As you know, we must keep it under 500g, or the postage leaps from $9 or $10, right up to $25 or so, no stops. (If you can see the logic in that, write to us). We wanted the covers to match Elvensongs Part One ... sadly, these covers are heavy. Each sheet of the Leathercraft card weighs as much as five sheets of paper. And there's the coil. The only choice was to take pages out of the zine itself. And as an extra problem, the art is blank on the back. Rats.

However, we were able to cram the full length of the text into the available paper, and you may be astonished to know that the zine in your hands contains over 162,000 words! The trick was, we changed type face. The body of the zine is set in ten point type! For those who are not knee-deep into laser printers: ten point is usually so small, it's difficult to read. That was ten point Roman in Fantazine 5- And yes, several people wrote to tell us we'd permanently wrecked their eyesight. We wanted to use larger type in this issue, but when we originally formatted this text in 11pt Roman ... it blew up to 190pp! That would mean copping the $25-a-copy postage bill. In despair, we shrank the Roman type to make it fit; the result was eye-destroying. Then in despair we switched to Garamond. Somehow, don't ask me how, but Garamond is much bigger than the equivalent Roman, while packing the same text in. That was our solution, and we were delighted.

So the zine is a few pages thin this issue, but the price is still $20, and Barb suggested I might make explanations. The covers. They cost a packet. Leathercraft is bloody expensive, arid the binding machine chews it up and spits it out. You fill a bin with waste. Also (a little graceful grovelling), the binding machine is totally worn out (could be why it chews up card?), we need to buy another. That's a $325 body blow ... and if there were a few cents left over per copy (after we're finished chewing up the covers), it'll really help us lay our hands on a new Docubinder. 'sigh.'
Regarding the zine as it was combined in the single volume:

"And now, the conclusion to the epic story." This is also the very final Raven/Bodie fiction to have been written or published, so at the time of this writing (September 2000), the last page of this book is actually "The End" ... [5]

The text flushes seamlessly with the end of Part 1. Raven and Bodie head east, to the human tuaths, to spend the winter at Ravenswood, once known as Garth's Forest, the place where it all began, so so long ago. There, Shirahgh is to remarry ... and the old customs of Deera are not to the taste of people from Morhod.

Almost within hours of their arrival in ravenswood, Bodie and Raven find themselves in the midst of a mystery. Someone has fetched poison into the town, and it was intended for Raven ... who is responsible, and why? Amber arrives to mediate, but all is dangerously clouded and uncertain.

But the shaman himself is the focus of trouble that takes Raven and Bodie far from home, into a land that is almost familiar, yet not quote, almost know, but — not. This is a desperate, dangerous hunting from which Bodie and his mate do not return. And yet ...

For the members of the Syrae clan of the Kith, this is a difficult time. Falcon is growing fast toward womanhood, and Wulff is Bodie's pride. Raven has matured with his uncanny gifts. There is so much at stake when the human accepts ths challenge of this hunting. Yet, who else could go after Amber? The shaman lies beyond death, in an untouchable place, and without him, without the power of the toucstone, what is to stand between Morhon and the dark, terrible hosting of the N'Rek? [6]

More About the Binding Than Probably Ever Wanted to Know

From the publisher's website (roughly 2000):

What do the books actually look like?


Several people have had a difficult time, visualizing the braid binding, and we've solved the problem of trying to describe in words what they look like in your hands ... the digital camera to the rescue.

The photos at left depict four of the eight volumes of THE HUNTING. The set of eight HUNTING books range between 500pp at the largest, down to a 100pp "cameo" issue, which rescued the so-called "missing" or "stray" stories. There are two volume in the 500pp range, two in the 400pp range, and the other three are in the 300pp range. These are a very good example of the kind of books which are braid bound because they're frankly too large to bind any other way!

regarding the HUNTING books themselves...

Altogether, this particular stack of books is about 2,600 pages "deep" ... the longest book of all, if you're thinking "word count" rather than page numbers, is ELVENSONGS, which is 400pp long, and was produced in reduced type. The ELVENSONGS volume is actually much longer than either KINGDOM OF SUMMER or FAIR BLOWS THE WIND, though there are more pages in the others. ELVENSONGS was the only part of THE HUNTING to be produced on a computer ... it was done in the simplest software, but by that time we did have a laser printer, so the typeset is without doubt the prettiest of the lot, done in twin-column and the Garamond type face.

All of the issues are illustrated; some are sparsly illustrated, some are lavishly illustrated, and a number of artists contributed work. Suzan Lovett appeared on several occasions, Baravan appeare once or twice, but the vast majority of the art was provided by the artist who is these days known as Jade.

Click to see your choice of "stock" for the hand-crafted hard covers in which tour HUNTING volumes will be bound

ABOUT THE BINDING...

Where zines are over 250pp (125 sheets thickness, printed double-sided), binding can be very difficult indeed. Supply of the large size coils (18mm and up) is not reliable, and when we can get them, often it isn't practical. With five or ten oversize books to bind, the supplier wants to sell no less than 100 coils, and they're upwards of $1 each! Even when we could afford to pay that, and spend a couple of YEARS getting our investment back on zine-sales, the supply was often so patchy, we would put in an order and get the coils WEEKS late, after they had been back-ordered from interstate or, once, overseas. The reason? "There's just no demand for the large coils" in a community this size! And that's a good reason.

So we had to think of a way to get around this a long time ago, and in the last several years we've been using "perfect binding," which is the method where the book is glued down the spine. This was fine till abput June 2000. Then we bought in the new supply of "padding glue" ... opened it up, and instead of smelling the long- familiar "PVA white glue" aroma, which we've been smelling since we started using it to bind in the late 70s, it smelt ... odd.

We went ahead and used it, and we suspected something was just not right. We always check the books before they're sent out, and for the first time we actually had binding problems. One copy fell apart right here; another seemed to be just fine, but after it was shipped and read many times, it also "failed" at the binding.

As always necessity was the mother of invention, and we discovered another means of binding which is 100% effective, will NEVER fail, and is astonishingly pretty!

We call it "braid bound" binding. We punch the huge great stack of paper as if it's going to be hung on a 22mm coil; but since we can't get the coils for love or money, we thread up a mattress needle with braid, or ribbon, and literally weave the whole thing together, leaving the ten-inch-long ends of the ribbon tied off at the top, to form book marks, as you used to see in very old books from another era ... when most books were made by hand, as ours still are! [8]

}}


References

  1. flyer
  2. at Suzan's website Partnersrmore, Archived version
  3. flyer
  4. in Elvensongs #1
  5. In Jane of Australia's convoluted way, it appears that she is saying that the combined volume was published in September 2000, not that the second half was written then. That was in 1993, and that there had been no more written in this series since then.
  6. flyer
  7. at Suzan's website Partnersrmore, Archived version
  8. What do the books actually look like?