These annotations were handed in together with the revised version of the short story after it had been discussed in class and commented on by participants of the class.

author's annotations

This paper is meant to make transparent some decisions I have made not to alter the text at times. It also deals with questions that have arisen and not yet been accounted for.

The name of “Grakk” is taken from an actual game, for lack of ideas on my part. For the few readers familiar with this connection, however, it does not give any background information away, since he is not a character, but merely mentioned to illustrate a prototypical monster. The name of “Melog”, however, is just an anagram of “golem” (read backwards). This method of scrambling existing words or names is somewhat common in phantasy games. “Lakor” is fictional for all I know, his name was only meant to convey a certain sound to make him fit into the surroundings.

The use of “Master” rather than “Mistress” as a title for Melog arises from my intention to imply a degree of mastery of a craft into her name. “Mistress” is more associated with the term for a female lover and therefore would have been confusing in this context.

As for putting the entire first section in parentheses, I declined to do so because it would have betrayed the change of perspective later. The reader would know from the beginning that Grakk’s world is not all there is in the story. My intention, however, was to make this scene come alive - to make it more real than Jeff’s world. This is supposed to make the entire point of the story: the concept of reality being cracked up.

Concerning the language in the three sections to be very similar, I found it too risky to attempt to create a complete set of distinctions in speech. The “medieval” part could not possibly have depicted realistic colloquial speech from the middle ages, because our knowledge of this time is restricted to literary language. In addition, this world arises out of the imagination of present-day college students and is therefore necessarily coined by their habits. Also, I wanted to show a close connection between the three levels of this story to suggest that these seemingly remote “phantasies” are more relevant than we might choose to think: As a metaphor for our actions in the “real” world, the fantastic game world gives important insights into the mind of the player: does he care for his character, how does he treat his fellow adventurers? As far as the guardian angels in section three are concerned, I wanted to avoid any typical depiction with haloes hovering over their heads and the like. It was my intention to make them as human as possible: Having their jobs (watching over humans) and their schedules, they suffer guilt, they doubt, and they are by no means omnipotent.

As to the overall tone of the story, it is my considered opinion that the narration itself should not tell the reader whether to feel amused or to sadly reflect the determination of our fates. As, I think, Monty Python and Douglas Adams vividly illustrate, addressing philosophical questions can be done very well by wrapping them up in a somewhat tragic joke. The effect achieved starts with amusement at the ridiculousness of the plot, but might then proceed to thoughtful reconsideration. In my opinion, it is the best possible outcome for a story to do both, possibly even at the same time. Who says that important philosophical considerations have to be deprived of humor? If I recall correctly, Plato himself considered the power of laughter a great deal. And most of all, I would hate my story to be a mere joke on one hand or to be dismissed as too scholarly or didactic. What I like about this narration is its potential for controversial readings.

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