Today is one of those times I wish I did not attempt to maintain a weekly posting schedule on this web log. Not because I have nothing to say. On the contrary; I do have information I wish to share. But I can’t, yet. I don’t mind keeping a secret, I just really don’t want to in this instance.
So, 2019 is pretty much a wrap. I have few complaints, it was a good year for YoursTruly, MBW, and the HA. I have another book out, and three in the can waiting to be unleashed in 2020. I traveled a bit, hit a few conventions to dispense what (if looked at cross-eyed, in a certain light) passes as wisdom, successfully achieved the half-century mark of my life (pro-tip: don’t die), completed my web log series on Appendix N, and brewed a few batches of beer.
Christmas is rushing towards us like an out of control sleigh, with a fat man in a red suit slumped in the driver’s seat, reins fallen from pudgy, cookie-stained hands, his eggnog soaked beard smelling strongly of rum. Have you finished your shopping yet? You obviously can’t rely on that jolly fellow; he’s a menace.
The first baked potato went down nicely. It always did. Loaded with all the toppings, the pillowy starches glistening with melted butter, white hummocks of sour cream speckled green and brown with chives and bits of bacon. He chased it with another before switching to a plate of au gratin for a change of pace, just warming up for the main event: the steaks. He figured he’d have one of each cut, maybe experiment with different levels of doneness. A delay occurred between the New York cut — rare, dripping red with succulent juices, nearly fork-tender — and the medium-rare filet mignon. He filled it with another appetizer, shrimp cocktail, each little coral-hued morsel slurped down noisily. So good. At intervals he swilled a glass of red wine — a chateau something-or-other, he could never be bothered to remember the appellations, simply trusting the sommelier, waiter, or bar-tender to recommend the appropriate accompaniment — swishing each mouthful vigorously to dislodge any stray bits of protein or strands of vegetable matter.
Some things are true serendipity, others are more deliberately linked. I’m going with the latter in the case at hand. You see, I’m nearing completion of the sequel to Karl Thorson and the Jade Dagger, and the climax occurs at The Alamo. At about the time I commenced writing that chapter I needed to download a new audio book. Searching for this and that I came across a book I’d heard of before, but hadn’t read, by one of my favorite writers: The Alamo, by John Myers Myers.
“By Mitra, this bird is as plump as a Zingaran concubine,” quoth Conan.
Conan slid his broadsword free of its shagreen wrapped hilt and skewered the turkey. He raised his sword one-handed, hoisting the bird from its silver platter without a tremor of strain displayed on the corded forearm projecting from the sleeve of his royal robe, despite the additional twenty pounds weighing down the three foot length of steel.
“Now, who shall carve this beast?” the king asked. “Certainly not thou, Valeria,” he said, addressing the she-pirate seated to his left. “Carving is man’s work.”
Perhaps you are new to this planet, or have been living in a bomb shelter all your life with limited reading material. Maybe you recently stumbled upon a trove of Molly Hatchet album covers at a garage sale, with those paintings by Frank Frazetta and you start wondering what is all this about. Well, given those farfetched hypotheticals, or something similar, I’m here to offer the five writers you should familiarize yourself with to become conversant with the Swords and Sorcery genre.
Swords & Sorcery is one of those terms that defies precise definition. So, it is, I suppose, another one of those other concepts that can be encapsulated in the phrase “I know it when I see it.” And there is, I think, a certain prurience involved, without which S&S would fail to distinguish itself as a distinctive branch of Fantasy.
Monday is Veterans Day. My own time in uniform is far behind me. When compared to the real sacrifice and achievement of so many, I tend to think it of small consequence. So I likely undervalue the day itself, seeing it more in terms of a free appetizer or meal discount, of hearing “Thank you for your service” more times than I’m comfortable with (that number starts at about one.)
I am about two-thirds of the way through re-reading Glen Cook’s Black Company novels. This time through (the second for the later novels, the third for the earlier) I think I’m better able to appreciate more of the subtleties. Some of that may be due to reading them straight through, without the long gaps that accompany awaiting publication.