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Winter Chilling

Saturday morning, I took MBW, the HA, and one of the HA’s little buddies up to the cabin of a close family friend. Situated on the bank of a snowmelt-high river, in the foothills of Mt. Hood, the cabin provides a sense of seclusion, aided by the virtual non-existence of cell phone signal, and the absence of televisions, radios, computers, etc. Entertainment consists of reading, playing board or card games, and conversation. Aided, perhaps, by the occasional adult beverage.

Solomon Kane’s Christmas

High boots, cuffed above the knee, crunched through snow upon the frozen heath. The feet within the boots contained little more warmth than the white blanket they trod. But the boots marched on, steady and unvarying, for Solomon Kane did not bend or waver in the face of inclement weather any more than he did in the face of opposition from man or beast. Or creature of Hell.

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.

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.