"Wonder had gone away, and he had forgotten that all life is only a set of pictures in the brain, among which there is no difference betwixt those born of real things and those born of inward dreamings, and no cause to value the one above the other." --H.P. Lovecraft, The Silver Key
Wednesday, March 30, 2022
S&S updates: Thune's Vision kickstarter, new Conan novel
Saturday, March 26, 2022
Fueling the Fire of Fantasy Fiction: Gaming’s Influence on Today’s Writers
Another post of mine is up and can be found on the blog of Goodman Games/Tales from the Magician's Skull: Fueling the Fire of Fantasy Fiction: Gaming’s Influence on Today’s Writers.
This is sort of a part II/a self-rebuttal to Dungeons & Dragons: Friend or Foe of Sword-and-Sorcery?
I haven't fully made up my mind on how gaming impacted S&S/fantasy fiction more broadly, but I sort of sum up my current thoughts as they stand today at the end of part II:
Fantasy fiction that relies on an ordered set of game rules as its foundation, or seeks to recapture free-flowing moments of social serendipity at the game table without applying the rules or discipline of good storytelling, is not likely to capture the imagination of readers, nor stand the test of time. The two mediums, gaming and writing, share some commonalities but are ultimately different disciplines.
But, each can fuel the other.
Friday, March 25, 2022
For Your Eyes Only... just what I needed
|An involuntary swim with sharks, |
mollified by embrace of hot babe.
|Bad ass car that we didn't get to see enough of ... thugs |
should have heeded the warning.
Friday, March 18, 2022
Slinging sword-and-sorcery about the interwebs
Wednesday, March 9, 2022
Fantasy without Tolkien? Yes that happened, and yes it matters.
My latest post is up on the blog of DMR Books: "Fantasy without Tolkien? Yes that happened, and yes it matters." Check it out here.
This one was prompted by a few lines I heard Corey Olsen, aka., The Tolkien Professor, state during one of his recent podcasts. It was rather a throwaway line but struck me as not fair to fantasists working before the world-altering impact of The Lord of the Rings, and so I felt compelled to respond.
If you read the post, you will see that A) I venerate Tolkien, and B) I enjoy Olsen's work. But, I also call them as I see them. And I think the fantasy genre would have materialized even without JRRT. It would have been far less rich, a paler version, and the genre might never have attained the commercial success it now enjoys. I can hardly bear to think of it... but, I think if you review the evidence of what was occurring in the 1950s and 60s, prior to the Ace Tolkien explosion of 1965, the arrival of the genre was inevitable.
We'll never know and this is of course all speculation, a game of alternative history. Tolkien's arrival ushered in a new brand of fantasy and changed the course of history, and fantasy fiction, forever. But, we should not forget that he himself was influenced by many fine writers of fantasy, the Burroughs boom was in full swing, and in all likelihood we would have had the Lancer Conan Saga. The likes of Burroughs and Leiber and Moorcock and Vance and Lovecraft were coalescing and emerging from the shadow of 1950s science-fiction.
And, with all due respect to Olsen, their work absolutely mattered.
Friday, March 4, 2022
Joe Lansdale: The art of good writing
Joe Lansdale is one of my favorite authors. He consistently delivers good, tightly-plotted stories, populated with memorable characters, and moments of violence, sometimes shocking, but leavened with a great sense of humor throughout. He keeps you turning the pages, which in and of itself is an art form. He has a inimitable voice that comes through on every page.
Reading "Hyenas" from his collection Hap and Leonard (love those characters, who briefly enjoyed the limelight with a far too quick to be cancelled TV series ) reminded me of how good Lansdale can be. Look at what he does with this opening. You're effortlessly all in with a just a few paragraphs of description.
When I drove over to the nightclub, Leonard was sitting on the curb holding a bloody rag to his head. Two police cruisers were parked just down from where he sat. One of the cops, Jane Bowden, a stout woman with her blonde hair tied back, was standing by Leonard. I knew her a little. She was a friend of my girlfriend, Brett. There was a guy stretched out in the parking lot on his back.
I parked and walked over, glanced at the man on the ground.
He didn't look so good, like a poisoned insect on its way out. His eyes, which could be barely seen through the swelling, were roaming around in his head like maybe they were about to go down a drain. His mouth was bloody, but no bloodier than his nose and cheekbones. He was missing teeth. I knew that because quite a few of them were on his chest, like Chiclets he had spat out. I saw what looked like a chunk of his hair lying near by. The parking lot made the hunk of blond hair appear bronze. He was missing a shoe. I saw it just under one of the cop cars. It was still tied.
I went over and tried not to look too grim or too happy. Truth was I didn't know how to play it, because I didn't know the situation. I didn't know who had started what, and why.
It paints a scene that begs the story to be told. Kudos to Joe.
If you haven't read any of his stuff I recommend you start with his Hap and Leonard stories (Mucho Mojo is a particular favorite of mine) or perhaps his standalone novel The Bottoms. This stuff may not be sword-and-sorcery but it moves like the best of it.