Tarzan’s Thanksgiving

With apologies to the shade of ERB.

John Clayton II, Viscount Greystoke, stubbed out his cigarette on the railing of the veranda overlooking the Patapsco. The smell of gunpowder mingled with the aroma of tobacco, wreaths of smoke coiled and drifted over the long green lawn that descended toward the bank of the river. Greystoke wandered toward the other end of the veranda to take his turn with the double-barreled shotgun.

Professor Archimedes Q. Porter knelt over the clay pigeon thrower, absorbed in the motions of a beetle exploring one leg of the contraption, utterly unaware that his tie was caught in the mechanism. Samuel T. Philander fussed nearby, tut-tutting as he attempted to extract the neckwear. William Cecil Clayton clacked open the action of the shotgun, ejecting two spent shells.

“John,” Clayton said, handing over the gun, “one for two. I’m clearly in need of more practice.”

Greystoke slipped two shells in with unconcious grace while Clayton assisted Philander to extricate Professor Porter from his predicament.

“Pull,” Greystoke commanded, once the machinery was cleared for action. He powdered two clay discs in rapid succession, ejected the shells and snatched them both from the air before they struck the whitewashed boards of the veranda.

He was about to hand off the gun to Clayton when a cry of despair arrested his attention.

“Oh, Lawd!” ejaculated Esmerelda. “The bird, she ruined, miss.”

The voice, though coming from within the sprawling Victorian manse of the Porters, was clearly audible to the men.

A moment later, Jane Porter emerged onto the veranda, the look of concern on her face rendering her only more endearing to Greystoke. Esmerelda followed, wringing her hands within the folds of her voluminous apron.

“Oh, Tarzan,” Jane said. “I am so sorry. I’m afraid the dogs got to the turkey. We cannot salvage it. And on this, your first Thanksgiving.”

“Never fret,” Greystoke said. “A turkey, you say? I’m not personally familiar with the beast, as it did not occupy my jungle home. But I have read about it.”

His heart ached to see Jane Porter aggrieved. Was a turkey all that stood between her and happiness?

He sprang to the railing, balancing like a young ape. He cocked an ear, listening with a hearing honed by an upbringing in the savage wilderness. A faint gobbling reached his keen senses. 

“Set out the rest of the viands,” Tarzan said. “I shall return.”

Tarzan leapt from the railing. He stripped off his civilized attire as he ran around the side of the house. Then he made for the woods still lingering to the rear of the Porter estate, fighting a losing rearguard action against the encroachment of Baltimore.

Minutes later he was perched on the branch of a spreading oak, peering down at a flock of fat, gabbling fowl. He picked out the largest.

“KREEGAH!” The battle cry of Tarzan echoed through the woods as he sprang toward the turkey, the euphoria of combat enveloping him.

More of my stuff and nonsense available, among other places, here.

Borders and Liminal Zones: The Magic Goes Away as Sword-and-Sorcery.

Labels are useful as more than just a tool for the marketing department. Labels also help the consumer determine if the product before him is the sort of thing he wants to purchase or not. Still, labels can be limiting, deterring someone from acquiring something worthwhile merely because it doesn’t precisely fit within a genre box.

Those of us who are aficionados of Sword-and-Sorcery fiction expend significant time debating what is or is not S&S. That’s as it should be: If your goal is to consume, enjoy, and discuss X, you want to avoid slipping in discussion of Y as beyond the scope. But S&S is a protean subgenre, a slippery subject that is, at the same time, gregarious and outgoing, liking to socialize with all the neighbors in the bookstore. So you can’t always be sure if the book next to that copy of Swords and Ice Magic is S&S or instead Sword-and-Planet, High Fantasy, Grimdark, or something else entirely. And whether or not it matters is completely subjective.

Hello from the Big Strip Mall.

You know it is an upscale mall when street parking is $5.00 an hour.

Greetings from Houston, the Big Strip Mall. Or, more precisely from a pond-side deck at our little AirBnB in the suburb Pearland. The contrast from the rainy (flood-threatening) Pacific Northwest to sunny coastal Texas is distinct and welcome.

Square ponds are perfectly natural, aren’t they?

I Now Pronounce You…Whatever Pops Into My Head

Unless you’re reading out loud, the words scrolling through your head are spoken in your own unique, idiosyncratic voice. Pronunciation is at your discretion, an unregulated free-for-all. Any given word can sound exactly as you damn-well please.

Such individual variances can make such things as the pronunciation guides many fantasy authors place in their novels rather superfluous. Sure, sometimes you’ll try, going to the effort of mentally molding some invented name with two hyphens and an umlaut for the first few times you read it. But eventually you lapse into whatever pronunciation seems fitting to your internal editor. I mean really, how many of us go to the trouble of figuring out how Robert E. Howard intended us to say Bêlit? How does a circumflex (that little upward pointing diacritical mark) modify a word? I think it is supposed to make the “e” somewhat elongated, going up in inflection then down, sort of like “Bay-ih-lit.” But I’m not entirely sure.

Lin Carter, Appendix N Supplemental

Rereading DMG’s Appendix N, I noted that the Lin Carter entry specified a single series. Now, I’ve read quite a bit of his stuff. I had plenty of fodder for my post on Mr. Carter. But I’d neglected the very work that got him enshrined in Appendix N. I was chagrined.

So, after a quick visit to Thriftbooks online, I ordered the first two of the World’s End series. I’ve read the first, Warrior of World’s End, and have plunged into the second, The Enchantress of World’s End. Will I purchase the rest? Read on and see.

Columbus Day Fiction

MBW, the HA, and I hosted a Columbus Day party yesterday. We served homemade limoncello, and I tapped a keg of homebrew. We nibbled on vaguely Italian themed snacks. I put on a quiet Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra soundtrack for the affair. And today I find myself thinking about fantasy and science fiction linked to the New World. That’s just the way my mind works.

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.

Literary S&S on Film

We are awash in fantasy films. Even Sword-and-Sorcery has a sizable number of entries (though generally of rather dubious quality.) Yet few of the S&S entries are adaptations of literary works. Why is that? There is no shortage of quality material to mine. Perhaps the producers determined it was cheaper to create a new property rather than license an existing one, thinking all you need is some muscular actor, a sword, a few scantily clad vixens, a malevolent, moustache twirling villain, some cheap, faux-medieval backdrops, and the script will essentially write itself.

How has that worked for them?