While working on the second draft of The Holy Lance, I decided to add a couple of paragraphs by way of introduction. This isn't exactly a foreword, but it does set up the central idea of the book. Here it is. Comments are always welcome.
For millennia distant news traveled slowly, gradually, brought from one place to another on foot, by horseback, by oar, or by sail. Among those cultures which over the centuries came to rely on the printed word, news traveling by word of mouth was eventually demoted to the status of rumor, and those who regularly peddled such fare were a settlement’s worst fear-mongers. Among a learned elite, the elevated status of the rational, the verifiable, the empirical over the mystical, the ineffable, the indescribable was at first explained, then accepted, and lastly assumed. In spite of the efforts of the enlightened few to excise the impact of what they viewed as fabricated gossip, a maddening paradox developed: as science expanded, so grew a reactionary and irresistible impulse to irrationally attribute fundamental truth to the utterly fantastic, and the stranger, the more terrible, the less plausible the rumor, the more powerful its effect. A battle ensued between the new and the old, the proven and the merely believed. And as often is the case in the relationship between warring human factions, no compromise was possible. Extricating deeply held beliefs was as impossible as denying the existence of the plainly corporeal. Two sides locked themselves into an insoluble dispute, each convinced of their own rectitude and the foolishness of their foe.
From the very beginning, a few men and women stood outside of this dispute, and some still do. They know kernels of truth can be found in both the bodily and the ethereal. That science and its handmaiden mathematics explain much of the universe, but not its entirety. That legend and fantasy reveal central, universal truths, buried under eons of exaggeration that the intrepid can peel away. They seek to reconcile the dichotomy most see as rigid and absolute. They understand the inadequacy of both study and imagination as a complete means for explaining the complexities of a universe when compared to man on earth might well be limitless. They also understand that at some precise point mundane, physical fact and magnificent, nebulous fiction intersect. And they are convinced, as only the true believer can be, that they alone can find, occupy, and control that wondrous, powerful, and dreadful intersection.