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Nov 01, 1994
Esther Friesner's Majyk by Design
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - September 10, 2016
Having already read the 1st 2 bks of this trilogy I was review of
Esther Friesner's Majyk by Design
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - September 10, 2016
Having already read the 1st 2 bks of this trilogy I wasn't really in any hurry to read this last one. You can read my review of Majyk By Accident here:
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2... & of Majyk by Hook or Crook here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... . As I wrote at the beginning of my review of the latter:
"In my 55 or so yrs of reading SF & Fantasy I've more or less never gotten into series. I've thought of series as just cheap marketing tricks, a way of sucking the reader into repeat purchases that're based more on soap opera continuity than on solid writing around new ideas."
Nonetheless, Friesner is funny & I certainly don't want to dismiss writing that makes me laugh. Friesner spoofs a patriarchy in wch women whdn't even read let alone write & has one of her female characters secretly write torrid romance novels (are there any other kind?):
"SLOWLY, INSOLENTLY, MASTER TANCRED ALLOWED his eyes to caress every voluptuous curve of his defiant captive. "So, my lady," he breathed in a voice like molten wine. "You think that your beauty and spirit are shield enough against a wizard of my powers?"" - p 1
Intertwining the romance novel & the models for their covers in with fantasy & having it all pushed ad absurdum is gimmicky but it works for me.
""Mysti said I should introduce him to Milkum. Milkum liked his looks and was willing to give him a try—not as a client, just as a model. Milkum never does business with nobodies. We put him on the cover of Tempt Not the Troll."
""Boffin as a troll?" I had to laugh.
""He wasn't really a troll. He was adopted and raised by trolls and he always thought he was a troll until he was rejected from the tribe after his foster-mother died and he went wandering through the mountains, amassing a fortune in gold, until he saved the life of Hyalina, the beautiful orphan whose wicked uncle had suppressed her father's will and cheated her out of the diamond mining empire which was hers by right and offered her shameful insults, forcing her to flee his loathsome and unnatural lusts until she hid in the mine and the roof fell in on her. Then in Chapter Two—"" - p 28
It's common for me to read things & to catch references to things that I figure other readers won't recognize. In this case, I catch a reference that I figure many people must be able to recognize or it wdn't make it into such populist writing:
""I've got to agree with Scandal," I said. "Even if I don't know what he's talking about all the way. I mean, he must have been murdered. He's gone. Vanished. Poof."
""Poof," Lucy repeated. "Nut how poof? When poof? Who poof?"
""Colonel Mustard in the library with the lead pipe." Scandal declared. "Now can we go back downstairs and eat some more?"" - p 30
This bk was published in 1994. I played the board game Clue when I was a kid in the early 1960s. I see from some cursory online research that the game was created in 1949 & that there's a 2013 edition AND a Clue: Harry Potter Edition. Does the latter have a Wizard Mustard & a Professor Plumb-Crazy? Wizard Mustard in the alternate universe with a magic wand.
Friesner is a truly inspired comic writer. One of my favorite touches is her description of the talking "grackwassel wood":
"["]Now pull! Ohhhhhh! Ummmmm! Wait! Waitwaitwait, not so fast, you beast! Open me slooooowly. Make it last, baby. Oh my god, my hinges are starting to turn! I'm feeling it all the way down to my mothproofing! Ahhhh, ooooooooh, ohhhhhh—!"
"Etcetera. The thing about grackwassel wood isn't just that it talks—we've got lots of trees that can do that; no really classy funeral is complete without a weeping willow coffin to save the price of professional mourners—it's the way it talks. It's the things it says. If you put something valuable in a grackwassel wood chest or cupboard or box, it's safe. When a thief shows up, either the wood makes so much noise it rouses the whole house, or else it keeps saying those things and embarrasses the thief to death." - p 38
Friesner distinguishes between witches & wizards, a distinction that I doubt is distinct to her but one that I found interesting enuf to quote regarding in my review of the 1st bk of this series:
""I am a witch, not a wizard. Wizardry's the art of making something out of nothing; witchery's the art of making do with what you've got. I can make a pine cone sprout into a lovely set of pinewood furniture. I can capture the image of a cat in the reflective surface of a soap bubble, I can make a rock into a rocking chair, but I can not make a mop out of thin air."" - p 142, Majyk By Accident
& then in Majyk by Design there's this:
"She looked at me as if I'd asked why zombies make the best university professors. "This is not a healing salve unless I add certain herbs to the basic ointment. It must be adjusted to combat the specific illness. Didn't Master Thengor teach you anything about medicine?"
"Master Thengor had tried to teach me lots of things, with no luck. Still . . . "To tell the truth, I don't remember him ever giving a class on healing magic."
""Good. At least you're honest. Wizards never bother teaching or learning any enchantments that might cure people. They leave that to us witches. It's so much more spectacular to fling spells that harm instead of heal."" - p 95
Being a person who's, ahem, less than enthusiastic about weapons & the utter paranoid consumerist mania for them in the country I live in, I was amused by the following bit of talking-cat sarcasm:
""Quite rude," Aunt Glucosia agreed, absent-mindedly running a whetstone over the blade of her dagger. "Maybe they didn't know he was going to use their product for evil purposes."
""Oh, riiiiight," Scandal said. " 'Honest, Officer, when he came in here and bought that AK-47 I thought he was only gonna use it for a paperweight!' "" - p 99
I'm not totally against guns, I just think that everytime someone kills someone w/ one the arms dealer who sold the weapon shd be held accountable. That might stifle the greed a little. Or the arms dealers might just switch to other lucrative businesses of similar ethical dubiousness like heroin dealer or pimp (assuming they're not already in those businesses to begin w/).
One of the primary gimmicks of Friesner's Majyk stories is to have something common on Earth be described from the POV of the story's alternate world:
"Our lovely guide paused before a tall, shining red and white box the size of a coffin. I touched it, expecting something so bright to be metal, but it was made of a strange, hard substance that felt like a beetle's back. She pressed one of the many small panels decorating the front of the box. A terrifying rumble shook it, followed by a loud clunk. She stooped to retrieve a cylinder from the compartment at the bottom of the mysterious box.
"It took me a few moments before I realized she was offering it to me. I forced my hand not to tremble as I accepted it. It was cold and damp, but at least it had the recognizable feel of metal, even if it was garishly swirled with red and white. I stared at it, not knowing what to do.
"She laughed. "Allow me." She took it back and made a sign of power over the top of the cylinder. I heard a pop and a fierce hiss before she handed it back. A hole had opened in the metal, releasing weird sounds and smells." - p 107
Marvelous. Do you ever think like this? Do you ever imagine some activity of your own from a different perspective than your own? I find it an interesting exercise. EG: I often scoop a piece of paper under insects inside my house & take them to a convenient window that I can open slightly & stick the paper out of & then blow on to evict the bug from the paper in order to loose it in the outside world.
Now, imagine that scenario from the bug's perspective: a moving surface forces its way under you, this surface then carries you thru darkness & light & eventually thru a gap in an obstacle that you might very well have been batting against trying unsuccessfully to find a breech in.. &, then, Voila! you're out where there's much more space & more plants to be eaten, a veritable paradise of for your little insect tummy. Alas, you're eaten by a bat a few seconds later. Life is short, art is non-existent.
This interworld misunderstanding, this lack of correct translation between Earth & Orbix has plenty of potential wch Friesner uses well:
"I remembered Master Thengor's teachings about Word of Power: the more complicated they are, the stronger the enchantment. It wouldn't do if just anyone could say them and command all that sorcerous strength.
""Hexlresorcinol," the sorcereess intoned. "Mono- and dislycerides. Polyabscorbate. Hydroxypropylcellulose." She reached the last one. "And just a dash of sodium benozoate to retard spoilage and reduce flavor loss."" - p 124
Since this is, after all, the concluding volume of the Majyk series, our hero, Kendar, finally communes w/ his accidentally acquired power & it tells him:
"Sonny, don't get started on who's got the right to do what to whom on this world. Think back to the last piece of meat you ate. Did you worry about the cow's rights or did you just ask your mama to pass the salt? How about the last time you walked on the grass or chomped into an apple? Plants are alive too, you know." - p 147
Friesner does another thing I love to do, she mutates old sayings or creates them anew & acts like nothing's odd:
""You know the old saying, Glucosia dear," her sister reminded her. " 'The heart has its reasons that Reason does not know, or want to know, and will throw you out of the house if you try to explain them, so save your breath to cool your porridge.' "" - pp 178-179
Hip-Knee-Hooray! A similar strategy for producing humor is to take religious illogic from this world & apply it to the religion of Orbix:
""I've always had one question about your God Wedwel," Mysti said.
""If Wedwel can do anything, can he create a rock so heavy he can't lift it?"
""Yes, and as soon as he does, the prophecies say that he's going to drop that rock right smack on top of Welfies who think they're so clever for coming up with that old chestnut."" - p 198
A benevolent God wd drop the rock on the chestnut itself to make chestnut paste for the Welfie to eat IF the Welfie cd move the rock off the squashed foodstuff.
Why is everyone always picking on the demons?:
"Aunt Carageena took the first point as she brought her sword down on the demon's ear and slice it clean off. He threw his head up, his jaws parted in a howl, smoking brown blood flowing down his neck. Aunt Carageena seized her trophy and used the leathery relic for a shield.
""Showoff," Aunt Glucosia sniffed.
""Jealous," her sister shot back." - p 238
The demon popped my friend & I in its mouth & swallowed us whole. We managed to anchor ourselves in its upper stomach with our pocket knives before we fell in to the foul-smelling pool of stomach acid below. Digging in further, we started ripping open the lining to try to carve our way out of the predicament. The demon howled with indigestion. It decided to never eat human snacks again.
Those of you who've read Rabelais will recognize the following twist: "["]Meanwhile you've been making the beast with two bank accounts with this—this—bimbo!"" Does that make a bank an orgy? ...more
Notes are private!
Sep 05, 2016
Sep 10, 2016
May 01, 1994
May 01, 1994
Esther Friesner's Majyk by Hook or Crook
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - May 28, 2016
In my 55 or so yrs of reading SF & Fantasy I've mo review of
Esther Friesner's Majyk by Hook or Crook
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - May 28, 2016
In my 55 or so yrs of reading SF & Fantasy I've more or less never gotten into series. I've thought of series as just cheap marketing tricks, a way of sucking the reader into repeat purchases that're based more on soap opera continuity than on solid writing around new ideas. Whenever I hear someone talking about their tastes in SF in terms of series I'm disappointed - it's too close to talk about one's favorite tv shows for me, a person who stopped watching tv 46 yrs ago.
Nonetheless, I'm usually happy to find exceptions to my own rules - if only for the sake of retaining an 'open mind'. The cover of Majyk by Hook or Crook proclaims "The sensationally silly series by the author of Majyk by Accident" & I have to at least agree w/ the "silly" part. This series is silly & that's one of the main reasons why I decided to read all 3 parts of it - I can use some silliness in my life. As I wrote in my review of Majyk By Accident ( https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2... ): "I consider the serious reviews to be the important ones but I might very well enjoy things like this more. Make of that what you will."
I didn't really enjoy this one as much as I did Majyk By Accident & that's easily enuf attributable to the fantasy world being no longer fresh to me - another downside of serials. Some (most?) people want repetition, I generally am more impressed when a creative person has a whole new set of ideas for subsequent works. Fortean weather is new to this sequel:
"["]You're not getting me out in this weather."
""Oh, it's not that bad," I scoffed, and stepped outside. Shading my eyes with one hand, I looked up into the stormy sky. "There's hardly anything coming down at all any m— Ow!" A parrot the size of a layer cake smacked me right in the eye.
"I grabbed it by the throat and glared at it while a tempest of robins, finches, and larks pelted me. Far out over the swamp it was raining albatrosses and hens." - p 1
& counteracting this Fortean weather becomes the main quest of the novel.
""No," I repeated. "My mother always said that only a fool goes outdoors in fowl weather."
""Aaargh!" The cat fell over and stuck all four legs up stiffly in the air. "It's a deadly ninja throwing pun!" he cried, twitching from tail to whiskers. He made a loud choking noise and went limp." - p 2
I find that funny.. &, yet, at the same time, it's only in writing that the word "fowl" is explicitly known to be NOT the word "foul".
"Act like an all-powerful wizard, and nine out of ten people will treat you like an all-powerful wizard. Act like yourself and you'll get hit with a ladle." - p 21
Ah, so true, so true. I'm reminded of the sage SubGenius saying (wch I probably misquote): "Act like an equal & they'll treat you like a dumbshit." As for the "all-powerful wizard" part I'm reminded of 2 canonized filmmaker presentations I witnessed. No claim was too outrageous for the adoring suckers in the audience to lap up. One of these presentations inspired my friend etta cetera & I to found the S.P.C.S.M.E.F. ( http://idioideo.pleintekst.nl/spcsmef... ).
Friesner references Dungeons & Dragons, a game I've never played - perhaps revealing her own social milieu:
""It's not always this loud, gents," Strelblig explained. "You just happen to have come during the last round of our annual contest."
""Can't be a beauty contest," the cat said. "So what is it?"
""What is it?" The master thief was astonished at the cat's question. "Why it's tournament-level Palaces and Puppies, is all!"" - p 45
In half of this bk's world, dogs, like cats, are legendary creatures. Hence "Puppies" instead of Dragons.
Friesner is funny in a way that makes me wonder if she's in the Church of the SubGenius:
"An elder god slithered across the floor and tried to carry off the unconscious fortunetellers. The bartender threw the dead chicken at him and told him not to eat any customers until they'd paid their bills. The elder god slunk away in a sulk, dragging his tentacles and sucking on the chicken neck." - p 47
Shades of H. P. Lovecraft followed by shades of W. W. Jacobs (wch, in turn, was probably shades of Theophile Gautier's "The Mummy's Foot"):
""Monkey paw, sir?" said a voice behind me. I turned and saw a peddler with a tray full of weird relics. "Nice fresh mummified monkey paws, special today. You still get your full three wishes, but at half price. Satisfaction guaranteed."" - p 48
"fresh" & "mummified" at the same time - 'proving' that in ad-speak one can have the best of both worlds simultaneously. &, yes, the literary & film references just keep on comin':
"Scandal leaped from Ainsella's lap to mine and put his paws on my shoulder. "A word to the wise, boss," he whispered. "If he tells you his name is Inigo Montoya and that you killed his father, don't argue; run like Hades."" - p 64
I suspect that just about everyone I know wd immediately get that reference. I only got it b/c people were astounded recently when I didn't know it. Inigo Montoya is a character in William Goldman's 1973 novel The Princess Bride made into a very popular film by Rob Reiner in 1987. But you already knew that didn't you.
If Friesner's lucky, she's surrounded by friend who appreciate her punning abilities. If she's unlucky, she's surrounded by people who groan.
""Come on, I mean it! We've got a long voyage and this ship just doesn't look seaworthy. It doesn't even look like a ship!"
""It is not a ship," Rhett said. "Any fool can see that."
""Any fool just did," Scandal remarked.
""It is a snail. A goodly giant four-masted snail."
""A snail?" I repeated.
""What else did you expect?" Rhett shrugged. "This ship belong to the Postal Service."" - p 70
"I found Anisella in the little cookhouse built high on the giant snail's shell, her hair tied back with a thin copper wire. She wasn't wearing an apron—allergic to cloth, remember? But a chain-mail halter and kilt get very hot when you're working near cook-fires, and so . . .
""Oh, hello, Kendar." She looked happy to see me. Happy all over. "I hope you don't mind that I've taken over the cook's job. I love to cook almost as much as I love to clean house and do the laundry. Sometimes I get so sad when it seems like there aren't enough chores in a day. But then I just go and make clothing for orphans and I feel much better, even if working with cloth does make my hands break out in hives. It's for a good cause. How long have you been standing there?"
""Dinner's almost done. I'll serve it just as soon as I slip back into my clothes. I hope you like it."
""Oh yeah. Oh boy. Like it. Oh boy. Oh yeah."" - p 71
Such parody of male-female heterosexual relations led to my looking her up online to get further confirmation that Friesner's a woman. I reckon she actually is. She seems to have a much better sense of humor about sexual relations than many a feminist.
""King Wulfdeth looks like a Whiffenpoof?" Scandal asked.
""One of the legendary monsters of my world, half man and half sheepskin," the cat explained. He leaped back into my lap and sat there like I was his human throne. "My former human used to be once, in fact. They haunt the moldy dungeons of the kingdom of Yale and gather together to give their mating cry: 'We are poor little lambs who have lost our way, baa, baa, baa.'"" - p 109
Friesner is reputed to've taught at Yale before making it as a freelance writer.
"Still, some part of me hoped to see Undersiders walking on their heads or wearing their clothing backwards or putting mayonnaise on their corned beef sandwiches. When you travel so far, you want to see monsters." - p 133
Or faces in their chests with a mayonnaise & corned beef sandwich partially hanging out of its mouth.
"She pulled down the Golden Fleece's banner of piracy and ran up an innocent looking flag. On a bright red background the black and white, almost human, face of a round-eared mouse beamed happily over the waves." - p 135
The brand that dare not speak its name.
""Okay, the face. Whatever it is, I call it a face. White and black, mostly white. Hole-eyes. A black nose. the nose looks like a black Ping-Pong ball, does that make sense? Come to think of it, the ears—if they're ears—on top look like two Ping-Pong paddles, also black. O call them Ping and Pong, and one day they were walking through the deep dark forest and . . ."" - p 29, John Sladek's Roderick
""You know, boss," Scandal told me in confidence, "Back home we only caal chicks and foxes."
""Whatever you call them, they look like they're happy tonight," I said.
""Why should they not be happy?" Rhett commented. "They are each wearing enough gold and jewels to feed a family of four for a week." He flashed a warning look at Scandal. "And I do not mean that there are families of four who eat gold and jewels, so do not bother making your silly joke." - p 139
Yep, that one wd've been too obvious so Friesner manages to squeeze it in by preventing it. Friesner is also the editor of 6 "Chicks" anthologies:
Chicks in Chainmail (1995)
Did You Say Chicks?! (1998)
Chicks 'n Chained Males (1999)
The Chick is in the Mail (2000)
Turn the Other Chick (2004)
Chicks and Balances (2015)
Do Chicks give birth to Chicklets? This might not be great lit but it IS Chick Lit & it's more fun than a barrel of Monkey's Paws: ""I am going to be fine, although I will be seeing double until breakfast tomorrow morning. They will serve us stale bread and water, but we will have our choice of whole wheat of rye,"" (p 154) ...more
Notes are private!
May 22, 2016
May 29, 2016
Aug 01, 1993
Aug 01, 1993
Esther Friesner's Majyk By Accident
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - April 24, 2016
As I typically do, I alternate between reading a serious review of
Esther Friesner's Majyk By Accident
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - April 24, 2016
As I typically do, I alternate between reading a serious bk & at least one that's more for fun so that I can take a break from the labor-intensiveness that goes into the serious review writing. The serious bk read at the same time as this one was Marco Deseriis's Improper Names - Collective Pseudonyms from the Luddites to Anonymous ( https://www.goodreads.com/story/show/... ). I consider the serious reviews to be the important ones but I might very well enjoy things like this more. Make of that what you will.
I don't generally read fantasy, wch is what I reckon this is, given that I prefer science fiction's more prophetic &, yes, scientific nature. Still, this had a good sense of humor & sometimes that's all I ask for. It starts off w/ this:
""SO THERE YOU ARE, YOU WORTHLESS RATWHACKER!" Velma Chiefcook's heavy hand fell on my shoulder like a sack of potatoes. The great hall of Thengor's Academy of High Wizardry echoed with her harsh voice, the huge chandelier overhead swaying, the timid fire-sprites inside their separate glass cells flickering with fear. Even the tall brass-bound doors guarding the mighty Master Thengpr's apartments shuddered on their hinges." - p 1
I reckon this children-at-the-school-of-magic trope is a well-worn path but this was published in 1993 & that's 4 yrs before the extremely popular Harry Potter series so maybe Esther Friesner's sitting around wondering why SHE isn't rich instead of J. K. Rowling.
As those of you who've been around know, the word "magic" is usually used to mean stage magic & the word "magick" is usually used to mean ceremonial magick. Long ago, I proposed to abbreviate the latter to just "magik". (see my letter under the heeading "Sound Thinking" on p 14 of "Kaos" issue #10 (London, 1987 or 1988)). In this bk another variation appears:
""Majyk," Tolly breathed. He stared at the golden cloud above Master Thengor's bed, and his beady blue eyes began to shine with greed. "It's the stuff that puts the spunk in our spells, the energy in our enchantments, the charge in our charms, the can-do in our cantrips. Without it, we wizards are nothing. We could wag our wands until the unicorns come home, but if we didn't have a little Majyk, we wouldn't be able to turn snakes into snacks or cats into catsup!"" - p 11
2 of the main characters are a cat who's come thru into a student wizard's alternate universe & the student. Cat's are a mythical creature in the student's world. The cat speaks in 20th century American slang:
""I don't want to learn how to use it," I said. "I just want to get it all back together, get it off my back, and get on with my life."
""Okay, don't have a cow," the cat said. "So we get the rest of the Majyk together for you, if that's what floats your boat."
""I don't have a cow," I told him. "Or a boat."
""No? You look like the kinda guy who's always been a little dinghy["]" - p 52
Or maybe he's just 2 tents?
Orbix, the student wizard's world, is based on fairy tales:
"Silly question; everyone knows what happens to wolves. They're worse than lemmings, some ways. The poor dumb animals are always getting themselves killed falling down the chimneys of brick houses, into big pots full of boiling water. If not that, they sneak into old ladies' homes, dress up in the grannies' flannel nightgowns and crawl into the bed until someone finds them, panics, and calls a woodchopper to come in and take care of the beast. It's an awful mess. Bloodstain-resistant sheets, pillow-cases, and flannel nightgowns are the most popular Grandma's Day gifts on Orbix, followed by Wolf-B-Gon chimney filters." - p 61
In other words, between the fun Friesner has w/ slang & its possible misunderstandings & fairy tales & their translation into 'reality' there's plenty of fun to be had. All in all, Friesner's use of the interplay between Earth & Orbix is absolutely fructiferous!:
""You guys think the wizards on this world got power? Ha! They're small potatoes next to my old human. Now there was a wizard. A computer wizard. I remember one Columbus Day when he was just hacking around and he fixed it so one of those big electric news banners on Times Square kept on scrolling 'You mean it;s NOT flat?' —signed 'Ronald Reagan.'"" - p 92
Hacked electronic road signs DO exist regardless of whether the world is round or Frame of Reference shaped & there's plenty online about it. My friend Lizard & I even discussed doing it 30 yrs or so ago & never did so I tip my head to all those who've pulled it off:
"ROGUE PANDA ON RAMPAGE
"TRAPPED IN SIGN FACTORY
"FREE KITTENS IN LEFT LANE
"Entering bat country
"OMG THE BRITISH R COMING
"SORRY MARIO THE PRINCESS IS IN ANOTHER CASTLE
"THE CAKE IS A LIE
"COPS EVERY WHERE
"NAZI ZOMBIES! RUN ! ! !
"RIGHT LANE CLOSED EXPECT RAINBOWS
"FREE CANDY AHEAD 3/29 - 4/2
"THIS SIGN HAS BEEN HACKED
"I AM BECOME DEATH
"EAT MY SHORTS
"FLYING MONKEYS AHEAD
"KLAATU BARADA NIKTO
"YOU'LL NEVER GET TO WORK ON TIME HAHA! !
"NOBODY HAS EVER LOVED YOU
"HONK IF YOU ARE WEARING A THONG
"SMOOTH OPERATOR" - www.stuffyoushouldknow.com/blog/galle...
&, of course, there're even websites that tell you how to do it. As an advocate of Criminally Sane behavior (w/ a sense of humor) I just-can't-stop-myself-from-reproducing-this:
"How many times have you driven by an electronic road sign like one of these?
"This is the ADDCO portable sign. Today, you see what is on the inside, and how they are programmed to display important information.
"*** WARNING YOU SHOULD NEVER TAMPER WITH THESE SIGNS ***
"The access panel on the sign is generally protected by a small lock, but often are left unprotected. Upon opening the access panel you can see the display electronics.
"The black control pad is attached by a curly cord, with a keyboard on the face.
"Programming is as simple as scrolling down the menu selection to "Instant Text". Type whatever you want to display, Hit Enter to submit. You can now either throw it up on the sign by selecting "Run w/out save" or you can add more pages to it by selecting "Add page"
"** HACKER TIPS ** Should it will ask you for a password. Try "DOTS", the default password.
"In all likelihood, the crew will not have changed it. However if they did, never fear. Hold "Control" and "Shift" and while holding, enter "DIPY". This will reset the sign and reset the password to "DOTS" in the process. You're in!" - http://jalopnik.com/5141430/how-to-ha...
&, yeah, strictly speaking, I wdn't want anyone to commit such an act thoughtlessly in a way that might endanger public safety but if the sign's not currently in use to provide needed traffic info I certainly wd get a laugh if I saw a road sign that sd something like "GOD MADE ME NOT DO IT" or whatever.
& &, of course of course, there're probably multiple Flat Earth Societies. Here's a link to an example: www.theflatearthsociety.org/cms/ . Personally, I think the Earth's hollow but it's been turned inside out & the former outside is now filled w/ well-'nigh impenetrable garbage.. Or maybe that's the future.
""The only problem with the holes was whenever a wind blew over them—even a breeze—you heard music. It wasn't great music, but the way it wandered up and down the Ichthyonic Scale was kind of hypnotic. Entire civilizations fell under the music's spell. Healthy men and women would just sit around in white rooms staring at shiny crystals and telling everybody how they were really Master Pasmoddle the Great from the Age of Large Pointy Animals so they didn't need to go out and get a job."
"Scandal scowled at Grym. "And I bet your tribe decided they were the giant horned hamsters, huh?" The barbarian tried to look Who, me?
"I picked up the cube. "This is what Orbix looked like in the Age of Teen Death Ballads, the one that came just before the age we're in now. It didn't last too long—we never know when the next shape shift's going to come—but we got a lot of good music out of it."" - p 95
Scandal, the cat, is having none of it. Perhaps an honorary membership in the I.S.C.D.S. (International Stop Continental Drift Society) is in order?:
""I changed my mind," Scandal replied, keeping his eyes on the path. "I'm happier not knowing. I'm saner not knowing. I'm telling myself it was the Plate Tectonics Fairy who did it."
""Yeah, she got together with Tinkerbell and Glinda for a wild party one Saturday night, downed a few too many tequila-and-pixie-dust shooters, then went home and zapped Orbix so every few aeons it gets the geological hiccups."
""Gee, that's amazing!" I was really impressed. "Except for the names, you got it right!"" - p 96
"She tossed a pinch of blue dust over the churning gunk in the pot, then spit into it. Immediately a gigantic bubble formed itself on the surface, then broke free and bobbed across the room.
"A perfect double of Scandal floated inside." - p 141
Scandal's spitting image, so to speak. Yeah, yeah, you got it without my having to spell it out for ya. Friesner does, however, spell it out for ya w/ this interesting distinction:
""I am a witch, not a wizard. Wizardry's the art of making something out of nothing; witchery's the art of making do with what you've got. I can make a pine cone sprout into a lovely set of pinewood furniture. I can capture the image of a cat in the reflective surface of a soap bubble, I can make a rock into a rocking chair, but I can not make a mop out of thin air."" - p 142
& then, of course, there's always reading entrails. Is that what surgeons do?
""Entrails?" My stomach lurched. All good wizards are taught how to read entrails: You take a poor innocent animal, give it a tidbit, pat it on the head, then split it open, spread its insides out on a board and read the future in the twists, curves, colors, and markings of your victim's guts. Given a choice, I'd rather just wait for the future to get here. I always cut Introductory Entrails." - p 151
Kendar, the student wizard, has a family.. Ah.. families..
""Where can I find Dad, Mom?" I asked.
""Hmmm. It's not meal time. Killing something."" - p 178
""Your brother Basehart killed his first deer when he was six years old." Dad's moustache bristled with pride. "Just a fawn, it was, but he strangled it with his bare hands and I said to all my friends, 'Now there's a child of destiny!'"" - p 179
A parody of romance novels fits right in:
""But just as you are about to drown, her faithless but adored name on your lips, she dives in and rescues you, almost dying herself in the attempt. You take her into your arms and gaze into her eyes. The fires of unbridled love—long smoldering beneath the thin surface of a polite marriage of convenience—surface suddenly, in an overwhelming surge of torrid tenderness that takes you by surprise and sweeps you both away on the crest of wave after thundering wave of—!" She stopped cold.
""Go on, go on!" Mysti begged.
"Lucy shook her head. "No, no, that won't work. It's got to be the man who rescues the woman."
""Why?" Mysti was peeved.
""Because it's always the man who rescues the woman." Milkum put in. "And if that's what the public's been buying up until now, we mustn't upset them, must we?"" - p 202
After all, romance novels are fantasies read mostly by women into wch they must inject themselves if they're to work & such passive consumers aren't likely to be able to identify w/ active heros now are they?
Friesner builds her world of Otbix bit by bit, character by character, eventually reaching the capitol of Kendar's territory:
""Grashgoboum was founded shortly after the War of the Two Cousins Once Removed and Their Aunt Pooki," I said. "The last king in the direct line died accidentally during a friendly game of knoblop when his chicken escaped the scoop-net and flew up into his horse's face, causing the beast to stumble, step into one of the goal-buckets, and throw his rider. Because it was third hork of an exhibition game, he had just taken off his helmet so he could balance the mince pie on his head for extra points. Unfortunately, mince pies don't help much when you hit a stone wall headfirst. It was very tragic. That game was being held in honor of the king's engagement to Princess Sluice of Wend."" - p 218
Friesner 'breaks the rules' of some fantasy writing by not sticking to an immutable world. She lets her imagination loose & lets contemporary Earth intermingle w/ Orbix in a way that milks the joke value of both:
"["]Why I ought to—!" With that weird strength you sometimes get in hopeless situations, I raised Graverobber over my head and swung the sword wildly around and around.
"And around and around it continued to go. The blade glowed with Majyk's golden light and gave off an unearthly chud-chud-chud-chud noise. The carpet slowed its fall, then stopped and hovered peacefully in midair beneath the whirling blade." - p 221
""Tchah!" The king waved off her objections. "I'll see about that." He immediately summoned a messenger. "I shall send him on ahead to Uxwudge Manor with a letter marked with the king's own seal. This says Lord Lucius Parkland Gangle is not to begin the witch's trial until I get there," King Steffan said, showing us the document. Then he passed it to the keeper of the king's own seal who in turn held it so that the king's own seal could mark it with his needle-sharp teeth.
""Good boy," said the keeper, tossing the beast a fish.
""Ark, ark!" the king's own seal replied, clapping its flippers together before it waddled out.
"(Anyone can carve a seal out of soft stone and use it to stamp hot wax with the king's device, making a paper legal. But no one can forge the unique pattern one special animal's teeth make, which is why the monarchs of Grashgoboum will always live in palaces that smell like herring.)" - p 231
Friesner even uses neologisms:
"Imaginesia," Mother Toadbreath wispered.
""Don't you mean amnesia, toots?" Scandal asked.
""I said imaginesia. What's wrong with the king. First you forget everything you ever knew, then you remember things you didn't ever know. I read about it a time or two in my books, but I never thought to see an actual case. My this has been an educational day!" She looked pleased." - p 252
Great word! Imaginesia must be what propaganda aims for.
"Zoltan wiggled his fingers and said, "Verticillium japonica" to undue his summoning of a demon. Since I recognized that as a Latin name for something Japanese I looked it up & found that Verticillium Wilt is a disease of Tilia japonica, Japanese Linden. That might not mean much to you but it's the 2nd time that Lindens have popped up in my life in the recent past under unusual circumstances.
Anyway, yeah, another writer I like, read her works, they're not as 'important' to me as Marco Deseriis's Improper Names but this was enough fun to keep me distracted & amused. If there were a range of 1 to 10 stars on GoodReads I might even give it a 7 but instead it gets a 3. ...more
Notes are private!
Apr 12, 2016
Apr 26, 2016
really liked it
John Brunner's Catch a Falling Star
- by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - September 3, 2014
I think I've been somewhat resistant to labeling Joh review of
John Brunner's Catch a Falling Star
- by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - September 3, 2014
I think I've been somewhat resistant to labeling John Brunner a Fantasy Writer b/c I prefer the Science Fiction genre but this bk has convinced me he's a Science Fiction & Fantasy Writer b/c it's yet-another reasonably major work of his along those lines.. - although, "those lines" are pretty ambiguous & this cd really also be called SF. Whatever.
Alas, as w/ so many Brunners I've been reading lately, "A much shorter and substantially different version of this novel appeared under the title The Hundredth Millenium, copyright ©, 1959, by Ace Books, Inc." This version being copyrighted 9 yrs later in 1968. Yawnsville, Daddio, I wish Brunner hadn't taken the typically commercial path of rewriting so many older works.
The bk begins w/ a John Donne quote:
"Go and catch a falling star,
Get with child a mandrake root,
Tell me, where all past years are . . ." - p 2
& I have to wonder whether this brief passage might've been the inspiration for the entire work. "a mandrake root" being 'human shaped', getting it "with child" is evocative of ceremonial magik - also a possible origin tale of the "Trees of History" & the plant-houses that appear in Catch a Falling Star:
"It has been established, for example, that these houses which so cosset and protect us are not a product of the natural order of life, but cunningly fashioned by subtle tampering with vegetable heredity; where today can you find such an artificer as he who contrived the first of them? Likewise the lights that hover nightly in the sky, and render us independent of the fixed return of the sun" - p 9
The far-distant future (or past) described is one in wch people are taken care of by their environment, houses grow from plant seeds, lights fly in the sky & can be called down to illuminate local areas, meat walks to the town & conveniently dies to be delivered as edible packages direct to the home. The people living this life take it for granted, they don't know the origins of these comforts. Some people become "Historickers", people who somehow immerse themselves in the past b/c they consider the present to be an inferior decadent time. This is done w/ the aid of "Houses of History" or "Trees of History".
One such resident, not a Historicker & critical of such escapist immersions, realizes that another sun is approaching the Earth & that in hundreds of yrs it'll burn the surface clean of humanity & other such life-forms. The tale takes off from there on a hero's journey that sometimes borders on Gulliver's Travels in its exaggerated mutations of humanity.
"Cool night breezes tugged at his full beard as he stood listening to the clamour and fitful music of the city going about its night-time affairs. In the far distances he could faintly discern the insane laughter of the next day's meat as it assembled on the gentle slopes of the hills inland prior to descending to the shore and there making rendezvous with its predestined master, Death. Overhead hordes of circling lights blinded the populace against the stars." - p 12
Jump-cut to the journey's having begun & the heroes having encountered a meat-herder for the 1st time in their lives:
""I feel a kind of curse is laid on us! Why are we happy here, tending our beasts and never going further than the brow of our valley? Other men explored the world, sailed the sea, levelled mountains, and that spirit is in me—somewhere!" He thumped his chest with a bunched fist. "It must mean something, that our visitors are separated now by generations when formerly they came in hordes, and every year! I think in short that our lives are going to waste, performing empty tasks for the benefit of distant unknowns who have never given us the benefit of gratitude. Tell me honestly, stranger Creohan: before you encountered Arrheeharr, did you even suspect that we existed?"" - p 83
Jump-cut again to a vanished moon mentioned peripherally, perhaps the reason for the development of the tame flying lights; a vanished moon being a subject in another Brunner bk recently reviewed by me, The Dramaturges of Yan (see my review here: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8... ):
"Before them the Dos had reigned, and the Glygly, and the Ngrotor; before them, the Chatrik, whose domain had not ended with the frontier of the air—but they had been content to plant huge forests of mutated lichens across the face of the now-vanished moon, which ultimately ran wild and digested all the satellite's substance into organic matter that was sprayed out and seeded into nowhere, leaving a mere mist of particles to testify to the former presence of a solid astral body. Likewise they had built pyramidal uninhabitable houses, or temples, on the arid soil of Mars, for a purpose comprehensible only to themselves. They could not have turned aside a star . . ." - p 150
Thusly evoking for me future bks in wch lichen are the 1st space travelers or pyramids on other planets are used as tombs for people who become reincarnated thru gene cloning by far-future beings. Imagine being reborn thru cloning by non-humans billions of yrs from now!
But, I digress, unusually in SF, the bk cover doesn't deliberately mislead the reader into irrelevant fantasies in avoidance of spoilers. Instead, it anticipates an exciting turning point in the plot near the end:
"As they drew closer, they detected an opening in the side of the mountain, not large—perhaps twice as tall as Creohan—and trapezoidal in shape. Limping, they crosse the rough heaps of rock scattered over the threshold, and saw it gave into a passageway whose walls were illumined by pale blue fluorescence, the colour of a summer sky. Beyond, something huge and powerful pulsed, as though they were entering the veins of a beast and listening to its heartbeat. The air was crisp with a scent of electricity." - p 207
Don't worry, I haven't spoiled the plot for you anymore than the bk cover does. The story lies in the getting there. ...more
Notes are private!
Sep 02, 2014
Sep 03, 2014
Jan 01, 1971
really liked it
John Brunner's The Traveler in Black
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - May 20, 2014
I have a paper bag full of John Brunner bks on the floor o review of
John Brunner's The Traveler in Black
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - May 20, 2014
I have a paper bag full of John Brunner bks on the floor of my bedroom, where I do most of my reading. When I need a break from whatever more challenging bks I'm reading (it's been William Gaddis's The Recognitions + others for quite some time now) I dip into the bag & pull one out. Two dips ago I pulled out Now Then, a collection of 3 novellas that include his earliest published story + a bit called "Imprint of Chaos". My review of Now Then is here: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8... . The most recent Brunner dip produced The Traveler in Black. I noticed that a revised "Imprint of Chaos" began this & that 3 more tales developed the initial idea further. I almost put it back in the bag to pick another one b/c, while I liked "Imprint of Chaos" I didn't want to repeat read it & wallow in what I consider to be a somewhat minor Brunner work.
In my review of "Imprint of Chaos" I postulate the Traveler in Black as Entropy Personified & quote the following to substantiate this: "The black-clad man chuckled. 'He to whom the task was given of bringing order out of chaos in the universe,' he replied."
Now, according to http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictio... , entropy is:
"2 a : the degradation of the matter and energy in the universe to an ultimate state of inert uniformity"
wch (ignoring the implications of the word "degradation") describes the Traveler in Black's purpose quite well. HOWEVER, the "b" part of the above definition:
"2 b : a process of degradation or running down or a trend to disorder"
- in particular the "trend to disorder" is the OPPOSITE of the Traveler in Black's goal. So wch is he? Entropy Personified? Or Anti-Entropy Personified? I think he's Entropy Personified w/ "entropy" meaning the bringing chaos into order:
"["]I am he to whom was entrusted the task of bringing order forth from chaos. Hence the reason why I have but one nature."" - p 26
"["]what is the purpose of your task?""
""Why! When all things have but one nature, they will be subsumed into the Original All. Time will stop. This conclusion is desirable."
Manuus looked sourly at the brazier. "Desirable, perhaps—but appallingly dull.["]" - pp 26-27
I think I wd've asked: 'Why is it "desirable" & to what? Whom?" Also, I'm no sure I don't agree w/ Manuus's position: is order necessarily preferable to chaos? I'm sure many people in my lifetime have been preoccupied w/ that issue upon noticing that the 'order' imposed on them isn't one conducive to the flourishing of their natural strengths. Take the character Jorkas:
"this was not a young man riding a horse, nor was there in fact a horse being ridden, but some sort of confusion of the two, in that the man's legs were not separated at all from his mount. They ended in fleshy stalks, uniting with the belly of that part of the composite animal resembling a horse." - p 33
""Yes, he bears the imprint of chaos, does he not?" said the man in black. "He is left over, so to speak. He is fairly harmless; things have by-passed him, and his power grows small."" - p 35
""He has rather endured from a period of absolute confusion["]" - p 35
Imagine what we now call mythological beings, such as the minotaur (ignoring that as a metaphor), as actual creatures from a time when natural diversity was much larger. The bringing of 'order' seems to all too often carry w/ it the stamping out of unusual. Jorkas, being a Rara Avis, disappears as possibilities become more narrow-minded. Whenever I'm confused, it's probably usually due to an insufficiency of knowledge or a lack of clarity of communication. I generally prefer to solve this problem thru increasing my understanding. Is an age of "absolute confusion" an age of 'insolvable misunderstanding'?
Jorkas's power becomes so reduced that "the eldritch song Jorkas had been used to sing was turned a lullaby with nonsense words to soothe asleep happy babies in wicker cradles." (p 189) I suppose, as fates go, that's not such a nasty one.
The Traveler in Black identifies himself thusly:
""I have many names, but one nature. You may call me Mazda, or anything you please." - p 12
Many readers may recognize "Mazda" as a brand of car (modest, aren't they?) but how many know this?:
"Major Deities and Figures. The driving forces of Persian mythology were two powerful gods, sometimes presented as twin brothers. Ahura Mazda was the creator, a god of light, truth, and goodness. His enemy Ahriman, the spirit of darkness, lies, and evil, created only destructive things such as vermin, disease, and demons. The world was their battlefield. Although they were equally matched during this period of history, Ahura Mazda was fated to win the fight. For this reason, Ahura Mazda, the Wise Lord, was the supreme deity of Persian mythology. The Zoroastrians identified him with purifying fire and tended fires on towers as part of their worship." - http://www.mythencyclopedia.com/Pa-Pr...
"The Wager Lost by Winning" (the 3rd of 4 tales here) (almost) begins w/:
"Leaning on his staff, the traveler in black stood in the shade of a chestnut-tree and contemplated them as they filed by. Directly he clapped eyes on them, the banners had told him whence they hailed; no city but Teq employed those three special hues in its flag—gold, and silver, and the red of new-spilled blood. They symbolized the moral of a proverb which the traveler knew well, and held barbarous, to the effect that all treasure must be bought by expending life.
"In accordance with that precept, the Lords of Teq, before they inherited their father's estates, must kill all challengers, and did so by any means to hand, whether cleanly by the sword or subtly by drugs and venom. Consequently some persons had come to rule in Teq who were less than fit—great only in their commitment to greed.
""That," said the traveler to the leaves on the chestnut-tree, "is a highly disturbing spectacle!"" - pp 121-122
If the Traveler in Black is Entropy, he's a moral judge form of entropy so I suppose having him be a religious/mythological figure is more apropos. One of the most entertaining aspects of this bk is the 'poetic justice' he metes out by giving the people he encounters 'what they ask for' in a form w/ highly undesirable results for them.
""This I pledge on my life!" the merchant fumed. "If my daughter carries on the way she's going, I shall never want to speak to her again—nor shall I let her in my house!"
""As you wish, so be it," said the traveler. From that moment forward the merchant uttered never a word; dumb, he stood by to watch the fine procession in which the girl went to claim her bridegroom, and before she returned home apoplexy killed him, so that the house was no longer his." - p 131
""I must have been!" Viola moaned. "Would that hasty wish of mine come undone!"
""The second time a person calls upon me," said the traveler, "I may point out the consequences if I choose. Do you truly wish to find yourself once again on the green at Wantwich—alone?"
"There was an awful silence, which she eventually broke with a sob.
""However," the traveler resumed, when he judged she had suffered long enough to imprint the moral permanently on her memory" - p 164
One way I cd 'justify' rereading "Imprint" was by looking for differences between the earlier version & the one printed here. In this version, an epigraph from Ovid begins it:
"Ante mare et terras et quod tegit omnia caelum unus erat tota naturae vultus in orbe, quen dixere Chaos: rudis indigestaque moles.
—Ovid: Metamorphoses, I 5" - p 7
Wch Google Translate (slightly edited by yrs truly here) transforms to: "Before the sea and the lands of all things of heaven, [there] was one which cover[ed] the whole face of Nature in the world, whom the men have spoken of [as] Chaos, rude and undeveloped mass."
Another bit not in the original is this part:
"Manuus hesitated. "Who," he resumed at length, "imposed—?"
"And his tongue locked in his mouth, while the traveler looked on him with an expression blending cynicism and sympathy. When at last the enchanter was able to speak again, he muttered, "Your pardon. It was of the nature of a test. I had seen it stated that . . ."
""That there are certain questions which one literally and physically is forbidden to ask?" The traveler chuckled. "Why, then, your test has confirmed the fact. I, even I, could not answer the question I suspect you were intending to frame.["]" - p 26
What I'm reminded of here is the notion of YHWH as the unspeakable name of 'God'. "Yahweh is called the Divine Name and the Tetragrammaton, or four-letter word, because it has four letters in Hebrew. Most Jewish people won’t even say Yahweh. Instead, they say HASHEM—a Hebrew word that means “The Name”, or they say Adonai—the Hebrew word for Lord. Yahweh is also called the Ineffable Name, or the unspeakable Name, but God’s Name is not unspeakable." ( http://www.hisnameisyahweh.org/hisnam... ) Until I decided to look up "the unspeakable name of god" online I didn't realize that there's a Christinane controversy over Yahweh's being actually sayable (apparently contrary to the Jewish position).
When I've given any thought to it at all, wch isn't often, I've imagined the Jewish position as meaning that anything truly profound is, by definition, beyond human understanding. Imagine the full 189, 824 letter word for the chemical Titin as an attempt to logically describe the chemical in detail (you can witness 2 relevant works of mine online here: https://vimeo.com/86542569 & here: https://archive.org/details/Piano_Ill... ). Now imagine trying to describe the universe using the same method & inserting ____ (blanks) for everything encountered that you don't have a word for. The description wd hypothetically be infinite, the amt of _____s wd be infinite, the amt of words wd be finite. One might call that an unsayable name.
W/o getting further into theological points that're ultimately just wanker bullshit to me, what I imagine in Brunner's scenario, & as an alternative to theological takes, is something being 'unaskable' by virtue of its utter existence outside of the state of mind in wch questions are asked. People awaking from dreams or coming down from expanded consciousness trips routinely find their memories of the experiences 'indescribable'. It may be that these people have too limited an ability TO describe &/OR that the experience is, in actuality, Indescribable - IE: outside of the parameters of what description is capable of b/c of the limits of description. If something is indescribable there's the possibility that no words exist to describe it &/OR that words, by their very nature, are in adequate. Cd the same thing that's postulated here for description also be possibly 'true' of questions?
I'm always thankful to writers who expose me to words I don't already know. "Geas" was the main one here: "geas [..] Pronunciation: /geSH [..] (In Irish folklore) an obligation or prohibition magically imposed on a person." ( http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/... ) The Traveler in Black's rooting in various mythologies reminds me of Brunner's 1968 Bedlam Planet wch is prefaced by this Author's Note: "In writing this novel I have made extensive use of the Larousse Encyclopedia of Mythology" (the interested reader can see my review of that here: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1... )
Brunner creates some fictional etymology too: ""And do not lament excessively for Ys. For cities, as for men, there comes a Time . . . Besides, there is a prophecy: a prince shall seek a name for his new capital, and he'll be told of Ys, and out of envy for its greatness he will say, 'I name my city Parys, equal to Ys.'"" (p 117) Wch I counter w/ this quote from the Online Etymology Dictionary:
"Paris [,] capital of France, from Gallo-Latin Lutetia Parisorum (in Late Latin also Parisii), name of a fortified town of the Gaulish tribe of the Parisii, who had a capital there; literally "Parisian swamps" (compare Old Irish loth "dirt," Welsh lludedic "muddy, slimy").
"The tribal name is of unknown origin, but traditionally derived from a Celtic par "boat" (perhaps related to Greek baris; see barge (n.)), hence the ship on the city's coat of arms." - http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?t...
Of course, Brunner's version of Paris's etymology is one way of setting the story in a mythical past. Another tactic for the same purpose is to occasionally use slightly archaic language: "Garch's trusted counselors were three, as aforesaid." (p 193)
All 4 of the stories begin w/ a conjunction of planets: "Accordingly, on the day after the conjunction of four significant planets in that vicinity, he set forth" (p 9) "this season followed the conjunction of four significant planets hereabout" (p 71) "or perhaps if they were learned in curious arts and aware of the significance of the conjunction of the four planets presently ornamenting the southern sky in a highly ornamented pattern." (p 122) "leaving the shop lit only—through a skylight—by the far-off gleam of four crucial conjunct planets wheeling downward from the zenithal line." (p 183) A conjunction of planets representing a sort of form-out-of-chaos, perhaps? What I think of is the March 9, 1982 Party for People from the Future during a conjunction of the planets - organized by the Krononautic Organism (a project founded by the fertile imagination of Richard Ellsberry in BalTimOre).
In the 2nd part, "Break the Door of Hell", there's this: "Women, too, passed: high-wimpled dames attended by maids and dandling curious unnamable pets; harlots in diaphanous cloaks through which it was not quite possible if they were diseased" (p 80) wch reminds me of this in Jacob Aranza's 1983 Backward Masking Unmasked - Backward Satanic Messages of Rock and Roll Exposed:
"Allen Parsons Project also has an album entitled Eve. The album's front cover reveals two ladies' faces behind veils. If you take a close look you can see that both ladies have sores and warts on their faces.
"One state's venereal disease investigator looked at the warts and sores on the faces in the picture and concluded that the ladies in the picture were suffering from secondary syphilis.
"How many young people listening to Eve realize that the theme of the album is VD?" - p 65
I'll bet Allen Parsons wd be surprised that that's the theme of his record (esp since he spells his name "Alan")!
Not all of the Elementals left over from the time of chaos & defeated by the Traveler are harmful to the more orderly world of the humans: "At one side of this green was a pond of sweet water which the traveler in black had consigned to the charge of the being Horimos, for whom he had conceived a peculiar affection on discovering that this one alone among all the elementals was too lazy to be harmful, desiring mainly to be left in peace." (p 132)
Did you ever wonder about the Beatles song "Maxwell's Silver Hammer"?: "authorizing the mansion's master smith to forge the silver hammer-head." (p 195) "that mirror was cracked across, and the traveler knew with what hammer the blow would have been struck: silver-headed, hafted with a portion of his anatomy that some man—albeit briefly—would have lived to regret the loss of." (209)
According to Wikipedia, "Linda McCartney reports that Paul had become interested in avant-garde theatre and had immersed himself in the writings of Alfred Jarry. This influence is reflected in the story and tone of the song, and also explains how Paul came across Jarry's word “pataphysical”, which occurs in the lyrics." Furthermore, "In 1994, McCartney said that the song merely epitomises the downfalls of life, being "my analogy for when something goes wrong out of the blue, as it so often does, as I was beginning to find out at that time in my life. I wanted something symbolic of that, so to me it was some fictitious character called Maxwell with a silver hammer. I don't know why it was silver, it just sounded better than Maxwell's hammer." ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maxwell&... )
Now, I love Jarry's work, so this unexpected reference to it delights me. When I started researching the silver hammer for this review, I expected to find some common mythological reference, not Jarry. However, the only hammer I know of in myth is Thor's & I don't recall it being silver. U still think Brunner took the image from myth but it may just be a variant on familiar imagery.
All in all, for people interested in mythology, Brunner's spin-off will probably be a delight. ...more
Notes are private!
May 09, 2014
May 21, 2014
May 28, 1994
Roy V. Young's Captains Outrageous
Or, For Doom the Bell Tolls
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - February 8, 2013
There were several reasons w review of
Roy V. Young's Captains Outrageous
Or, For Doom the Bell Tolls
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - February 8, 2013
There were several reasons why I chose to read this. I'd recently noticed that there're bks whose titles & plots are rewrites of other more famous bks & I decided to read some of these to explore this genre. I've already read & reviewed 2 of them: Bruce Hale's The Malted Falcon ( http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34... ) & Anne Capeci's The Maltese Dog ( http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/50... ). I thought Captains Outrageous might be in the same genre insofar as the full title references both Rudyard Kipling's Captains Courageous & Ernest Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls. Since I'd read both of these when I was young, I wanted to see what Young's apparently humorous fantasy remake of them might be. Furthermore, I'd just read & reviewed Rudyard Kipling & John Brunner's The Science Fiction Stories of Rudyard Kipling so the time seemed right for revisiting Kipling a bit more. I've been reading these bks w/ the title references in order of the age that the writing is aimed at. Captains Outrageous might be aimed at adolescents or young adults.
The resemblance of Captains Outrageous to its namesakes, unlike w/ the Hale & Capeci bks, is minimal. As in the Kipling, there's a spoiled wealthy young male thrust into difficult circumstances & maturing as a result. This is standard fare for a coming-of-age plot. The resemblance to the Hemingway is even more tenuous: fighters on a mission. In other words, a hero's journey. The resemblance to Alexandre Dumas' The Three Musketeers is, perhaps, a little more obvious. The phrase "captains courageous" is even used once on p 67 but, all in all, the plot of Captains Outrageous veers closest to that of Tolkein's The Lord of the Rings trilogy - perhaps the most famous fantasy story.
Mainly, Young just likes to make puns - something that I can thoroughly appreciate insofar as I'm a homonymphonemiac - a neologism I coined that means a person-who-compulsively-makes-puns.
In an editor's note on the inside back cover it's stated that "Woven almost invisibly into the text of this book are literally dozens of puns. You may enjoy looking for them. Examples: rock and roll groups, individuals, and movements; himself, plus two friends; his editor and his literary agent; national television personages; Georgia Tech nostalgia; and combinations formed from partial last names of famous science fiction writers. One brief passage also includes most of the best-known books of Arthur C. Clarke and Isaac Asimov." I didn't 'go out of my way' to seek these puns but quite a few of them did pop up at me:
"Snick! Cropple! Pap!", p 41, is an example of a pun that serves no apparent plot-&-content-compelling-purpose, it's just a pun for its own sake. "Krizz! Rispee!" For those not familiar w/ the ad, what we have here is a pun off a Rice Krispies cereal commercial.
In some or most instances, the puns are a bit more well-integrated into the story:
""You know," the red-beard noted, "that door is nor properly hung."
""Neither, by all reports," Trebor irresistibly injected, "was Bosamp."
"The barbarian squinched, wishing he'd thought of it first, then continued. "The hinges are on the outside - bad thinking! Not only that, but they've used nail diamonds to attach them, rather than screws as any craftsman knows they should. I'll bet we can pry the door hinges right off!" He looked expectantly at the loremaster. "I'm sure it moved."
""I doubt it," Trebor mused, "but I also doubt the spell, whatever it is, extends to the nails and hinges themselves - a flaw in its design. They are, after all, made of iron and should be immune to sorcerous mutation. It is - dare I say it? - ironic."
""I'm just going to have to steel myself to your remarks," Dword retaliated." (p46)
""Poor Wendy," Sir Dudley sighed mournfully. "None of this would have happened if that roc hadn't eaten him. Stuck on top of his tower, between a roc and a hard place, as it were."" (p 117)
""Do the Gods suffer from amentia?"" (p 288) "Amentia" = mental retardation - but it can also be yet another pun: amen + dementia. Nice. The Bell is called "The Belle Dame Sans Merci" (p 290), the beautiful woman w/o mercy (in my, no doubt, bad translation) - a pun off of "bell" & "belle". "[A] call to harms" (p 296), a call to arms; "Terror infirma" (p 296), Terra firma.
In a sense, this plethora of puns & their references shows us where Young's cultural knowledge lies. Perhaps not everything he refers to is done as an homage but I suspect that most of it is: "Help me, Dalibosch!" (p 51) Salvador Dali + Hieronymous Bosch - 2 great painters of grotesque imagination.
""'Tis a long way to swim, is it not, Salmon Dave?" Fishie number one said.
""Most terribly far, Shad N. Jeremy!" replied Fishie number two." (p 140)
Sam and Dave & Chad and Jeremy - 2 musical acts many younger readers mightn't recall. ""Try some of this - hoooo! It's Crosby Stills' Young Mash, an elixir of singular properties."" (p 161) Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young - yet another musical act. It seems that Young's taste might lay in the realm of simple harmonies: "Best to keep to the simple stuff" (p 161). "[V]oracious Rugayrokstaar of the dreadlocks" (p 254): Reggae Rockstar.
Captains Outrageous is a sword & sorcery bk & a well known s&s story is that of Conan the Barbarian written by Robert Howard: "It looked so easy in The Illustrated Adventures of Sir Robert the Howard!" (p 216)
Young evokes a larger place outside the immediate narrative by making reference to things implied to be part of the greater environ of the story: "Trebor jumped up like a Fusistanian horned gnorlox in heat" (p 120), "The wizard chomped and smacked like a Korian lovedog" (p 126), "Dword's eyes bulged wider than a Gormousian banker's at the sight of a bare coin" (p 162), "letting the scintillas flail across him like the disciplining whack of a Korian lovemaster" (p 171), "Guards seated like a Gormousian bloater in a swelterbelter" (p 209), "It's worse than being a Korian bird-eunuch waist-deep in feathered pudenda!" (p 230).
I'm often interested in how bk covers relate to the contents. Often, in mass-market paperbacks especially, the cover is a lurid come-on only halfway related to the story. One imagines that the artist who makes the cover art doesn't necessarily read the bk, they're presumably given a synopsis to work from. In this case, the wizard is shown on the cover holding the Mallet of Doom about to strike the Bell at the Top of the World. Only the mallet is made of wood & isn't "a magnificently crafted, platinum-leafed Hammer of surpassing, exotic beauty." (p 260) The wizard is shown as a fully lizard-like creature. In the story, he's a human undergoing a transformation not as complete as what the cover shows.
& this brings us to further money-making strategies of some fantasy & SF bks: the setting-up of the reader for the sequel(s). I don't know whether there's a sequel (or a prequel) to Captains Outrageous but the possibility of a complete transformation of the wizard sure leads that way. I wdn't mind. Funny, tho, my own tastes lean toward bks written purely for the sake of themselves - bks that don't have an eye on sequels & prequels to come or not to come depending on the success of the 'pilot' novel. Much of what I consider to be the 'trashier' fantasy & SF is so business-driven that the transparency of it takes away from whatever literary qualities the work might otherwise have.
All in all, this was geeky good fun. ...more
Notes are private!
Feb 07, 2013
Feb 08, 2013
Mass Market Paperback
Mar 01, 1991
At 1st this seemed like just what I needed after I endured the colossal boredom of Gertrude Stein's "The Making of Americans": 2 people trapped in the At 1st this seemed like just what I needed after I endured the colossal boredom of Gertrude Stein's "The Making of Americans": 2 people trapped in the horrors of ordinary suburban life discover a wooded place w/ stream where clocktime is slowed. They go there & are happy for a while w/o spending so much time that they miss going to their jobs. I wd've given this 4 stars but then it degenerated a little into a variation on a sword & sorcery hack job romance. Still, I liked it. I've never read anything by LeGuin that didn't have some strength of idea. ...more
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May 29, 2009
May 24, 2009
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