Sword & Sorcery: "An earthier sort of fantasy" discussion

The Black Tower (Philip José Farmer's The Dungeon, #1)
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Group Reads > A) Sept-Oct 2020 - Farmer's Dungeon

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message 1: by S.E., Gray Mouser (new) - rated it 2 stars

S.E. Lindberg (selindberg) | 2317 comments Mod
Philip José Farmer's The Dungeon is a focus, but he inspired/edited that rather than contribute. Anyway, any of his work is fair game too.


message 2: by S.wagenaar (new)

S.wagenaar | 395 comments I used to have book 1 in the Dungeon series, but alas, no longer. I do have the two Opar books, and I have not read either one yet.


message 3: by Ben (new)

Ben | 7 comments I actually read the Dungeon books before any of Farmer's other works (I know, shared universe, other authors, but he was the one at the reigns, like a Simpsons character from one of their 'futures' laughing standing on top a crumbling jet play driving it Mad Max style) - just coz I saw the neat covers done by the guy that did the Elric reprints. Not the deepest, more or less (IMO) an established fantasy author going "What IS all this D&D the Kids play and the Fundies are so B--- hurt about!?" and challenging writers to make fiction with that kind of feel.

An RPG fantasy adventure though inspired by classic fiction is very different. I've seen most companies have things like "We do NOT want a submission where it's a fighter, an elf, a dwarf ... standing outside some ruin...bye!" - fearing both CopyWRONG lawsuits even IF the kid changed the names/places to something different - but then all the stuff in an RPG world that'd be either confusing, boring or not make sense to a non-player.

IMO he handled it very well, conveying the feeling of being in some kind of RPG world (GURPS, IMO, maybe Central Casting) but from the traditional fantasy publishing standpoint.

My favorite character was the spider like creature. The Cyberpunk "Great Grand Daughter" of the main character the second.

"Dear Great-Grand Daughter... That man in our company, you seem to be talking with him un-chaperoned and I fear getting intimate. This ... 'Hippie' reminds me very much of men who I know who'd lost themselves to Opium..."

"Oh, don' worry Guv-Nor GrandPappy! He may be okay for a roll in the Hay but he ain't no Husband material!"

-pause

"Hah! It was worth it to see your bearded mouth wide open. Don't worry, I haven't let him...not that I care what YOU think... But I am a professional musician - and he LIVED in a legendary time for music - the 1960s - I'm pumping his brain for stuff I can use, we have all the records and most are in my (cybernetic device) but the feel, the colors, the settings...what an edge."

----

The main character had his own tense romantic 'temptation' with the Spider creature due to her being telepathic and respecting his command/fighting skills. He probably wanted to be ...romantic... but 1 - he was committed to undo a mistake if he survived (abandoning his love) and 2 - she'd instinctively EAT him regardless, and she didn't think it was unnatural. Now no "Monsteru" as doubtless it'd be if written today she looked like a BIG, DEADLY spider - but telepathic among many other options.


message 4: by S.E., Gray Mouser (new) - rated it 2 stars

S.E. Lindberg (selindberg) | 2317 comments Mod
Just ordered myself a used copy. Note sure if I read this or KEW's work. I've always been attracted to the covers.


message 5: by S.E., Gray Mouser (new) - rated it 2 stars

S.E. Lindberg (selindberg) | 2317 comments Mod
60pages in (out of ~340) into The Black Tower. So far it is not even the same genre as the cover indicates (it is like a historical fantasy with "clever-banter" noir thriller....nothing to do with heroic "dungeon"' crawling).

Lots of misogynistic-classist perspectives too (some of which suit the character, some just egregious male fantasy). I'm not sure what to think right now.

The Black Tower (Philip José Farmer's The Dungeon, #1) by Richard A. Lupoff


message 6: by Clint (new)

Clint | 292 comments PJF’s Tarzan Alive was a grail book of mine for a few years. I acquired it and got around to reading it late last year, early this year. It’s the start of his Wold Newton Universe. WNU is a world where literary figures, like Tarzan, are real and in a sense related. I got turned onto it actually by a Board Game and The Anno Dracula novels. Tarzan Alive didn’t live up to the hype in my brain, but it remains the start of something cool. Any other fans of?


message 7: by Cindy (new)

Cindy Tomamichel | 42 comments I read Tarzan Alive a while ago now, but yes the idea is fun.


message 8: by Joseph, Master Ultan (new)

Joseph | 1255 comments Mod
And, having prepared by reading the first several Tarzan books, I'm now beginning Hadon of Ancient Opar.


The Joy of Erudition | 138 comments Impressive!


message 10: by Joseph, Master Ultan (new)

Joseph | 1255 comments Mod
And on to Flight to Opar, which I assume will take place (unlike the first book) at least partially within the city of Opar.


message 11: by S.E., Gray Mouser (last edited Sep 26, 2020 07:15AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

S.E. Lindberg (selindberg) | 2317 comments Mod
Well I stuck through The Black Tower until the end, but was disappointed:
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

Too many thought to share. Glad to have finally checked it out, but as an anchor to a series it did not impress.


message 12: by Joseph, Master Ultan (new)

Joseph | 1255 comments Mod
The thing that interests me most is that two of the volumes were written by Charles de Lint, which seems pretty far from the sort of thing he usually writes. But especially after that review, I'm probably not interested enough to actually read them.


message 13: by S.E., Gray Mouser (new) - rated it 2 stars

S.E. Lindberg (selindberg) | 2317 comments Mod
I'm interested in how Lint approached this. Anyone here read the later volumes?


message 14: by Clint (new)

Clint | 292 comments @Seth, well written review of Dungeon. I want to say I read volume 1 years ago, but either did not finish, or it made zero impression on me.

@Joseph, I selected the Hadon books as well. I started Hadon of Ancient Opar yesterday. My selection was based upon a curiosity I have for anything Wold Newton Universe related.


message 15: by Joseph, Master Ultan (new)

Joseph | 1255 comments Mod
I finished Flight to Opar and found it (and the preceding volume), eh, fine, but decided I didn't need to continue on with the series at this point. (I don't know the precise story, but the third volume, The Song of Kwasin, was partially written by Farmer, then completed with his blessing by Christopher Paul Carey, who's gone on to write several more volumes in the series.)

I admit I've never read any of the Wold-Newton stuff, so was a bit surprised when (view spoiler) turned up as a two thousand year old immortal in the first Opar book.


Derek | 37 comments S.E. wrote: "I'm interested in how Lint approached this. Anyone here read the later volumes?"

A very long time ago. I've just re-obtained book two and will start when I decide if Image of the Beast Blown is a disaster.


message 18: by S.E., Gray Mouser (new) - rated it 2 stars

S.E. Lindberg (selindberg) | 2317 comments Mod
Derek wrote: "S.E. wrote: "I'm interested in how Lint approached this. Anyone here read the later volumes?"

A very long time ago. I've just re-obtained book two and will start when I decide if [book: Image of t..."


Derek, your review seemed "disaster"... That mean no Lint?


Derek | 37 comments S.E. wrote: "Derek, your review seemed "disaster"... That mean no Lint? "

I can't muster the enthusiasm.


message 20: by Clint (new)

Clint | 292 comments https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3...

If you have a copy of Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos, Farmer has a short story in it called “The Freshman”. It’s about a horror author that has stumbled onto “the truth” and is now a freshman at M.U. (never fully named, but obvious what university is being referred to). It is not a great story, but reads kind of like a twisted Hogwarts.

Consequently, TotCM also has Karl Edward Wagner’s “Sticks”.


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