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Crossover Appeal

The Lord of the Rings achieved popular acclaim long before Peter Jackson even conceived of filming the work. LOTR appeals to mass readers, not only to niche genre aficionados. Its presence is felt worldwide, even beyond the pages of fiction, influencing the development of everything from video games to political sloganeering. The books continue to be printed, new editions appearing all the time.

Will any other work of fantasy fiction ever manage anything near such universal crossover appeal? Does it matter? I suppose not. My appreciation of something is not dependent upon its popularity. Still, the question occurred to me.

Six-Guns, Blasters, and Broadswords: The Western and Speculative Fiction

Reading a collection of Louis L’Amour stories has got me thinking about the Western. The Western genre has generated a solid collection of tropes and narrative expectations. It also, it seems, has exercised an influence on science fiction and fantasy; that is, certain speculative fiction stories traffic in the same tropes. All to the good, in my opinion.

I suppose I ought to dip a toe into what makes up a Western, before I proceed. This is a mere surface grazing. Attempting a precise definition of the Western is limiting. Why try to corral a genre with vast possibilities?

Mother’s Day 2021

Stand and doff your caps to mothers. They deserve it. Good, bad, or indifferent, they gave us life, and that’s an unpayable debt. So don’t feel guilty about merely sending a card; there’s nothing expensive enough you could give to recompense your mother for your existence, unless you value yourself lightly. (Don’t do that.)

In honor of Mother’s Day, let’s consider a few fictional mothers. 

Enjoying the Widening Gyre

Another birthday approaches. That can often mean the sort of deep navel dive that requires oxygen tanks, acetylene torches, and a rescue party on stand by. What have I accomplished? What is left to accomplish? Have I reached my potential? Where did all the years go?

Not gonna do it. (Those readers of a certain age should read that sentence in the voice of Dana Carvey imitating George Bush.)

A Multiversal Valentine’s Day. Sorry/Not Sorry.

It is Valentine’s Day as I write this. Today means, I imagine, different things to different people. For some it is a romantic, Christmas-tier holiday, with all the Madison Avenue approved trimmings: dressed up, romantic, candlelit dinner, flowers and heart-shaped box of candy. Others, perhaps, are content with the candy, consuming the entire box alone, wearing a bathrobe and binge-watching Netflix. Some hardly note the day’s passing. There are any of a myriad possibilities.

The important question is, of course, how would famous fantasy characters react to Valentine’s Day? What sort of Valentine’s Day card would — for example — Elric pen in flowing runes for his one and only? Let’s find out, shall we.

The Thanksgiving Post: Dinner at Elrond’s

The Amber Room of Rivendell glowed with light, buzzed with a pleasant undertone of conversation, and echoed with the ringing peal of elvish laughter. The Amber Room was one of Rivendell’s lesser dining halls, usually reserved for intimate meals. This day its rectangular table hosted an irregular assortment of diners. Elrond sat in the position of honor at the head of the table. Arwen sat at his right, a vision in blue and silver. To her right, travel worn but beaming, sat Aragorn. An emissary from Thranduil sat at Elrond’s left, appearing somewhat off balance, if such a thing could be said of an elf. A few more of Elrond’s household filled out the rest of the table’s long sides.

A Weekend at the Cabin Means a Snippet Day.

I spent the weekend at a forested cabin on a riverbank. A cabin weekend means relaxation. I did get some work done on the third Karl Throson novel, but otherwise the time was dedicated to playing board and card games, reading, strolling about a bit, and relaxing. That means the Sunday afternoon at home is full of chores, limiting time to write a post. So, instead, here are some pictures and a bonus snippet from my hybrid Sword-and-Sorcery/crime novel Thick As Thieves. Enjoy.

The Dresden Files: Sword-and-Sorcery?

I had intended to write another post on anthologies. However, I was about three and a half stories through a collection when Peace Talks arrived. So much for that plan. I’m about halfway through the latest of Harry Dresden’s series of unfortunate events. Once I’m done, I’ll get back to revisiting Fafhrd and Gray Mouser’s shenanigans.

Reading Peace Talks, however, raised in my mind the question of whether or not the Dresden Files are sword-and-sorcery. Superficially, why not? The main character is a wizard. One of his buddies is a sort of holy warrior, often armored up and swinging a sword. So we’ve got both swords and sorcery right there. I recently wrote a post in which I enumerated what I thought were the essential components of sword-and-sorcery fiction. Why not run through those with an eye to Jim Butcher’s tales of Harry Dresden and a Chicago infested with the supernatural.

Father’s Day

It is Father’s Day. I’m busy enjoying it, so this will be short. Let me just say that I can think of worse ways to burn a couple of hours than heading to woods with a minor arsenal and a hundred bucks or so worth of ammunition.

I hope your day is equally on target.

And now, time to start cleaning.