The Slab in my hand...

Early copies of GEARS OF WAR: THE SLAB. Ooh! Embossing too!
Lovely Ed at Simon & Schuster sent me an early copy of GEARS OF WAR: THE SLAB yesterday and the cover is very tasteful in the flesh. No, really. Tasteful and Traviss can occur in the same sentence. It's a different mood of cover, so to speak, and the embossing is nicely low-key. For a hideous second I thought it had been bound without the epilogue, but it's there, all right. So don't accidentally skip it right at the end. It's a long book. There are a few laughs, but while this is a story of indomitable human spirit in the face of misery and degradation, it's not going to leave you with any warm fuzzy feelings. It brings the story full circle for me. At the end of THE SLAB... that's where I first came in. My task is complete.

In more frivolous news, I have another Nakaya pen -- a clipless Piccolo -- on order. I finally bit the bullet and decided to sell almost all my existing pen collection and just keep a few important specimens. I haven't given up collecting; I've just decided to focus on Japanese pens in future and urushi ones in particular. Less is more. I hadn't realised how much more until I laid out all the pens I'm selling and beheld the table covered with ranks of insufficiently-used nibbed waifs. There were, I confess, an awful lot of them: curious and lovely things, like a 1930s Doric with an adjustable nib, an Onoto under-over feed, a museum piece from the 1870s with a vast nib and a wooden ink chamber, some Esterbrooks, and lots of 51s and Snorkels. The sort was as hard as giving away kittens (not that I've ever done that) but it was oddly cathartic. Pens deserve to be used and enjoyed, so they'll be going to a good rehoming emporium. If you end up acquiring one and it bites you, don't blame me. Those pens have seen things you wouldn't believe.

Sorting them out did reunite me with the lovely Danitrio Brillante (one of only 200 made) and my old-style Omas Paragon (also no longer made) with a Mottishawed nib, neither of which I remembered I had. It's criminally wasteful to keep those in the drawer for so long that I forget them. They survived the purge along with some other non-Japanese pens. The Omas is currently in use with Iroshizuku Ina-Ho ink. Like the pen tart I am, though, it'll be cast aside when the Nakaya Piccolo arrives.