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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 83 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
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Author Topic: More Pulp Books  (Read 9291 times)
talysman
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« Reply #15 on: October 03, 2002, 10:56:25 PM »

hi, all. I just ordered Sorcerer & Sword through my local game store, so I've been skimming through the forums for Sorcerer and &Sword-related posts. I decided this thread wasn't that old...

Quote from: Ron Edwards

My call is that Solomon Kane, along with Kull, embodies Howard's most disturbing ability as a writer - to show the reader the Void. Lovecraft never did it, I think; he'd point to it, and talk about it, and in fact, he even made it semi-fun, in most cases. But these two "heroes" fuckin' stare at it, they have that 1000-yard stare of a foxhole soldier even as they engage in swordfights or rescue damsels or plumb otherworldly places.



ah, solomon kane. I based a couple of my RPG characters on him... I haven't read the kull stories, but I think this description of kane is pretty dead-on. I was always impressed by howard's description of kane as having this sort of "manic-depressive fanaticism"; he would periodically latch onto some injustice and would pursue it, seemingly oblivious to whether he was becoming worse than the scum he's pursuing... and when he was finished, he became empty and restless.

I especially liked how, in "Red Shadows", he decides to avenge a complete stranger, a woman who died at his feet. he has no personal connection to the woman, wasn't asked to avenge her death, doesn't know squat about the gang of bandits that killed her -- and yet he pursues them with an intensity that makes psycho killers from the movies look like children.

no wonder le loup ran to africa.

I would also like to suggest another character as a good source for inspiration: roger zelazney's "dilvish the damned". the early stories were collected in a book by the same name, followed by a dilvish novel, "the changing land". when most people talk about zelazney, they talk about the amber books, but tend to overlook dilvish, which has a much better character concept, in my opinion. dilvish is a nobleman warrior who dares to defy a powerful wizard and is sent to Hell. a few centuries later, dilvish mysteriously returns, with three things:

    a demonic talking horse made of steel,
    knowledge of all the Awful Sayings of Hell, and
    a thirst for vengeance.
    [/list:u]
    dilvish seems to work especially well in a Sorcerer context. the steel horse named black is obviously his bound demon and the relationship is obviously Not Quite Good in the beginning, but end the end, they seem to have become friends instead of sorcerer-and-demon.
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John Laviolette
(aka Talysman the Ur-Beatle)
rpg projects: http://www.globalsurrealism.com/rpg
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #16 on: October 04, 2002, 05:41:11 AM »

Hi John,

I agree with you about Dilvish in terms of ... well, "in-game concept," if you will. I'm not so sure about it thematically. Despite some pretty good atmospheric stuff in some of the short stories, Dilvish was pretty lightweight - more Brak than Elric, if you will. It included a lot of insider jokes for role-players, especially in the novel.

One thing I really, really liked about the short stories, though, was only the barest hint of setting and context beyond the character's personal situation, and only the barest hint of continuity among the stories themselves.

Best,
Ron
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Blake Hutchins
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« Reply #17 on: October 04, 2002, 09:18:13 AM »

Way outside the style and plush prose of the pulp books, J. Gregory Keyes's Waterborn and Blackgod novels present a pretty damned interesting set of demon (god) concepts that port very nicely to Sorcerer terms.  They're great reads, too, if you can resist the impulse to strangle Perkar.

Best,

Blake
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Bailywolf
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« Reply #18 on: October 04, 2002, 09:30:36 AM »

Ah Dilvish!  The stories were VASTLY better than the novel (which seemed... sort of half-hearted).  Black was an excelent demon in the heroic fantasy style... and those Awful Sayings...coooool.  Magic so powerful it proved useless in most situations.  The disjointed chronology and indistinct geography was, as Ron says, very good S&S stuff.  Zelazny also seems to capture the feel of early S&S fiction quite well.

Oddly enough, I recently began thinking about Amber again (I've got my fiance reading the chronicles)... one could consider the Pattern to be a vast and terrible demon collectively bound to all those who share the Blood of Amber.  It can Spawn parasites which then inhabit initiates, granting them Travel and Transport abilities...  And this got me thinking about something else... follow me over to the new thread I'm about to start...  gods as demons & collective bindings.
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talysman
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« Reply #19 on: October 04, 2002, 12:49:14 PM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards
I agree with you about Dilvish in terms of ... well, "in-game concept," if you will. I'm not so sure about it thematically. Despite some pretty good atmospheric stuff in some of the short stories, Dilvish was pretty lightweight - more Brak than Elric, if you will. It included a lot of insider jokes for role-players, especially in the novel.

One thing I really, really liked about the short stories, though, was only the barest hint of setting and context beyond the character's personal situation, and only the barest hint of continuity among the stories themselves.


I can agree with that. I was mostly comparing dilvish to zelazney's other books, rather than to other authors. dilvish seemed to have more going on inside him than corwin or whoever-the-main-character-was in the wizardworld novels. but in terms of larger themes, amber beats the sparse world dilvish lives in, certainly.

Quote from: Bailywolf
Ah Dilvish! The stories were VASTLY better than the novel (which seemed... sort of half-hearted). Black was an excelent demon in the heroic fantasy style... and those Awful Sayings...coooool. Magic so powerful it proved useless in most situations. The disjointed chronology and indistinct geography was, as Ron says, very good S&S stuff. Zelazny also seems to capture the feel of early S&S fiction quite well.


my impression was that the dilvish stories were written early in his career. I'm pretty sure the novel came years later. I remember reading my first dilvish story (I believe it was "the bells of shoredan") in a swords-and-sorcery anthology, along with jack brunner's story about a wandering mage with a compulsion to bind demons and grant wishes (what was his name?) a thongor story about a liche (passable, but nothing special,) michael moorcock's "the flame bringers", and a few other examples of the genre. I think this was about '72 or '73, although I bought the anthology in a used book store, so the publication date would have been earlier.

"the changing land" definitely came after the amber novels. I think it was from the 1980s, which is why we see RPG and computer programming references in it as well as less strength behind the character; zelazney was just revisiting an old friend, so to speak.

on a side note, I think one of the things that killed swords & sorcery, besides people imitating tolkien (swords of shanara, circle of light...) was robert lynn asprin's "another fine myth". he's the one that took away the danger hidden in demons as well as introducing more humor into stories. AFM appeared about '68 or '69, when moorcock was still writing an occasional elric story; when people started imitating asprin and writing tons of stories about not-quite-competent "everyman" characters dealing with fantastic threats, it flooded out any serious attempts at S&S.

the incompleat enchanter stories were an influence, too, but these didn't have an immediate impact on genre sales.

urgh, I was going to add some other real swords & sorcery favorites, but now I'm so mad at asprin, I can't think of any. maybe later.
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John Laviolette
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #20 on: October 04, 2002, 01:04:42 PM »

Hi John,

You're thinking about John Brunner's stories of The Traveller in Black, which were collected twice, the second time (which found every last possible reference and "ended" the sequence) as The Compleat Traveller in Black. I like those a lot, although they're more like late-19th, early-20th century allegorical fantasy than sword-and-sorcery. Great Sorcerer material for sure.

I thought Another Fine Myth was later than that ... I recall them arriving in the bookstores in the late 70s, although for all I know those were re-issues. As it happens, I thought the initial book was actually pretty good, having rather a sharp and punkish edge and not so liberally sprinkled with stupid puns - more satire than spoof. After that, though, feh. I agree with you about the net negative impact of the series; same goes for the Xanth novels (huck! ptooey! ptooey!) after the first two.

Best,
Ron
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talysman
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« Reply #21 on: October 04, 2002, 04:37:47 PM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards

You're thinking about John Brunner's stories of The Traveller in Black, which were collected twice, the second time (which found every last possible reference and "ended" the sequence) as The Compleat Traveller in Black. I like those a lot, although they're more like late-19th, early-20th century allegorical fantasy than sword-and-sorcery. Great Sorcerer material for sure.


yep, that's him, although I think he actually had a name at some point. and yeah, there wasn't really a pulp feel to the stories, although I first encountered them in that anthology labeled "swords & sorcery".

Quote

I thought Another Fine Myth was later than that ... I recall them arriving in the bookstores in the late 70s, although for all I know those were re-issues. As it happens, I thought the initial book was actually pretty good, having rather a sharp and punkish edge and not so liberally sprinkled with stupid puns - more satire than spoof. After that, though, feh. I agree with you about the net negative impact of the series; same goes for the Xanth novels (huck! ptooey! ptooey!) after the first two.


the editions with the much-more-colorful covers are late '70s, which is when aspirin started adding books to the series... but I remember seeing a much earlier edition with a mostly-dark colored traditional swords & sorcery cover, which I believe was '69 but might be as late as '72. isaac bonewitz mentioned this edition in the bibliography to real magic.

so far, a quick glance at some fan sites hasn't confirmed this, however.
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John Laviolette
(aka Talysman the Ur-Beatle)
rpg projects: http://www.globalsurrealism.com/rpg
Blake Hutchins
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« Reply #22 on: October 07, 2002, 11:12:44 AM »

Just got done with Tanith Lee's Night's Master, which I'd been wanting to read for some time, but somehow avoided doing so.

Nice quote selection, Ron.  I'd forgotten you'd drawn off this one.

Best,

Blake
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lumpley
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« Reply #23 on: October 07, 2002, 11:21:00 AM »

I'm a Tanith Lee fan anyway, but Night's Master and Cyrion are hands down my faves.

-Vincent
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #24 on: October 07, 2002, 11:25:16 AM »

Hi there,

Vincent - agreed. Those are definitely her strongest, by my tastes anyway, in addition to the stories in Companions on the Road. Some of her other earlier work, like The Birthgrave and the Vazkor/Anackire stuff, puzzles the hell out of me; I cannot for the life of me summarize the plot for any one of them - and I mean the basic plot, at all. A lot of her later work seems to be in this vein.

Best,
Ron
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lumpley
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« Reply #25 on: October 07, 2002, 12:16:06 PM »

Actually, the first Tanith Lee I read was the Castle of Dark from Dark Castle, White Horse.  It was enormously formative.  I spent the next like ten years trying to recapture that feeling in gaming.  And come to think of it I still want to.

If I'd read the Flat Earth books in high school, I expect I'd've converted. Religiously, I mean.  To Azhrarnism, or maybe Uhleme-ism, depending which year in high school.

Yikes.

But no, between Tanith Lee and Jack Vance, my taste in fantasy is pretty much accounted for.  I'm having a hell of a time getting my hands on Howard without spending any money, though, sadly.  All the original Conan books in our local library system are overdue, billed in March 2000.

-Vincent
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Judd
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« Reply #26 on: October 10, 2002, 06:28:46 AM »

The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood has this amazing pulp element.

I began reading it last summer and lost it before I could finish it but I've bought it again and will begin re-reading it after I finish the two books I'm reading now.

The story itself isn't pulp but there is a story arc within it where a man and a woman sit in bed and create a pulp fantasy world together.  It is really fun and worth reading on many different levels.  Atwood is brilliant.

Anyway, there's one that might've flown under the radar.
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