What is the tsalmyth?Edit

There is a myth floating around Brust fandom, that the tsalmoth is a tree-climbing form of some animal that's grotesquely unsuited to climbing trees, such as a turtle or a giant land oyster, or a six-foot diameter snail.

Why is there a tsalmyth?Edit

Bluntly, because Steven Brust started it by describing the tsalmoth as such to fen at Science Fiction/Fantasy conventions, in the early- to mid- 1990s. We offer the following quotations as proof of this:

Eyal Barnea: At MOC, Brust said it was a carnivorous, tree dwelling turtle (yes, turtle). It climbs trees, and pounces on it's prey. If it misses, it climbs again, and pounces two or three weeks later...
("MOC" is in all probability "Magnum Opus Con" ---Davdi)

lazarus: On the other hand, I definitely remember talking to Steve about these critters at a con in Mississippi, and he described the Tsalmoth as "a large land oyster" who would spend months or years climbing a tree, then climbing out on a limb, then waiting to drop on a large prey animal moving beneath it. If it missed, it had to start up the tree again.....
(I have been unable to discover exactly what convention the above individual is referring to. There is a post in the mailing list archive that refers to what might well be the same con, in Columbus, Mississippi, in 1995. However, examining the Google Groups archives of alt.fandom.cons and rec.arts.sf.fandom, which have convention listings such as this one, shows no convention in that city in 1995, or indeed, as far as I can tell, at all, and I must therefore suppose that someone misremembered the city, the state, and/or the year, or that the con was so small that it received no online publicity. ---Davdi)
lazarus: A few years ago, I was at a con in Mississippi and had the opportunity to hang out with Steve. It was a small con, affording the fans great access.
His description, at the time, of a Tsalmoth was of a giant land oyster. Its entire life would consist of climbing a tree, and climbing out on a tree limb. This could take years. It would patiently wait until prey would walk under it, then drop.
If it missed, time to start climbing again.
(Note that the author of this posting is the same as the one immediately above. It looks like he did not recall at the time that he posted this what SKZB followed up with the previous time the topic arose - see below ---Davdi)

How do we know that the tsalmyth is a myth?Edit

  • Because in an interview, Steven Brust said the following, which implies that (a) if he did say it, he did not in fact mean it, and (b) if he said it in the the past, he now regretted having said it:

(Science Fiction Weekly Interview #224, 6 August 2001)
interviewer: Then obviously you do it on purpose--keeping things as vague as possible. Such as the nature of many of the animals in the Dragaeran cycle.
Brust: There are a number of reasons I do it that way. [...] And a lot of it is, I need to give myself space. I need to give myself room to decide things.
If I were to say, for example, that a tsalmoth is a six-foot-diameter snail that hunts its prey by climbing into trees over the course of months and months and then pounces, well, then if I decide later that I want it to be something else, I'm kind of stuck. So I need to give myself some room and not think too much until I have a chance to actually explore.

  • Because on the Dragaera mailing list, Steven Brust followed up to a question by the author of the "giant land oyster" version of the myth (quoted above) as follows:

(Dragaera mailing list, 20 Aug 2003)
lazarus: Am I remembering correctly, that you described the tsalmoth as a giant land oyster?
Steven Brust: Actually, a six-foot diameter snail.
However, I was not being entirely serious.

Finally, because the whole idea is utterly and entirely absurd, and we can thus deduce, using simple and basic common sense, that SKZB was in point of fact being entirely facetious when he said it, I nearly think.

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