Continuing a tradition that I’m hoping other release managers will pick up (some have so far, but not all), here’s some notes about the epigraph I included with the email announcing Perl 5.17.7. The epigraph itself is from R. Scott Bakker’s The Darkness That Comes Before, which is the first in a somewhat grim speculative fiction trilogy called The Prince of Nothing. One of the main characters is a sort of intellectual warrior-philopsopher monk (this is bad description but it’s very hard to summarize this character) who underwent very intense mental and physical training as a child. The epigraph is a description of some of that training.
The boy extinguished. Only a place.
Motionless, the Pragma sat facing him, the bare soles of his feet flat against each other, his dark frock scored by the shadows of deep folds, his eyes as empty as the child they watched.
A place without breath or sound. A place of sight alone. A place without before or after . . . almost.
For the first lances of sunlight careered over the glacier, as ponderous as great tree limbs in the wind. Shadows hardened and light gleamed across the Pragma’s ancient skull.
The old man’s left hand forsook his right sleeve, bearing a watery knife. And like a rope in water, his arm pitched outward, fingertips trailing across the blade as the knife swung languidly into the air, the sun skating and the dark shrine plunging across its mirror back . . .
And the place where Kellhus had once existed extended an open hand—the blond hairs like luminous filaments against tanned skin—and grasped the knife from stunned space.
The slap of pommel against palm triggered the collapse of place into little boy. The pale stench of his body. Breath, sound, and lurching thoughts.
I have been legion . . .
In his periphery, he could see the spike of the sun ease from the mountain. He felt drunk with exhaustion. In the recoil of his trance, it seemed all he could hear were the twigs arching and bobbing in the wind, pulled by leaves like a million sails no bigger than his hand. Cause everywhere, but amid countless minute happenings—diffuse, useless.
Now I understand.
Since this release was on Perl’s 25th birthday, I was looking for an epigraph that at least had something to do with birth. I chose this one because it can be seen as a sort of birth, or perhaps a rebirth of a character. He has achieved enlightenment of his sect’s teachings.
I didn’t remember it when I first thought of this passage, but the fact that his teacher is called “the Pragma” really makes this a nice quote for a Perl release.
If you’re interested in complex, weird, philosophical speculative fiction I highly recommend these novels. However, be forewarned that while the trilogy does tell a somewhat self-contained story, there’s an even larger story which is being told in further sequels, and the author hasn’t finished all of those. Supposedly there will be at least 5 (or maybe 6) additional novels, and only two have been released so far.