Spreading the (SFF) fever

Last weekend I met up with an old Japan-days buddy of mine, so my wife could take some belated wedding photos for him and his better half. Said friend is also a gamer of sorts – some of the video variety, and he also has a bit of D&D experience under his belt. He’s an amateur writer who I think has real talent. I’ve read some of his stuff and genuinely wanted to know how his stories would continue, which is really one of the most important elements of entertainment in my book – leave’em wanting more.

Like myself until not too long ago, he’s read and enjoyed some of the more popular SFF – Asimov and Heinlein and the like. Well over the weekend I handed him my copy of The High Crusade and babbled on and on about Anderson and Edgar Rice Burroughs and Jack Vance and the injustice of their obscurity. Incidentally it’s going to be a long time before I drink more than one glass of wine again. I can’t remember the last time I suffered such a wretched futsuka.

We exchanged a couple of brief emails this week and he noted that the High Crusade was really well written and he seemed to be enjoying the period language. I find myself marveling at Anderson’s command of it again, myself, while reading through Three Hearts and Three Lions. So far as my friend goes, I hope I’ve planted a seed. An infectious, virulent, classic SFF seed.

220px-thehighcrusade

In related news, I finished the first Elric book this week. I found that I enjoy Moorcock’s writing but that Elric of Melnibone himself is kind of weaksauce. He’s a somewhat interesting character, but not an awesome one. What I mean is, if I were a boy pretending to be a hero, I’d much sooner be Conan or John Carter than the Pale Prince. Who wants to play as a wishy-washy sorcerer who refuses to use his sweet magic or to kill the bad guy? At least he has a cool sword, I guess.

Even if I’m not in love with Elric or Moorcock, I’m glad to have become acquainted with them. Not everything can be a masterpiece, but I’m sure plenty of this classic stuff has inspired succeeding nerdy works, and I enjoy the insight. It’s kind of like suddenly realizing you’ve been surrounded by inside jokes and fan service your whole life, and not only did you not understand them, but you didn’t even know they were there.

elriccecil

Maybe the Hawkmoon books would be more my speed, but that’ll be a ways off. I’m thinking I may pick up some Amber next, to join in the Puppy of the Month club reading. And Dying Earth continues to sing to me. I can resist for only so long, for I am but a mortal geek.

-Bushi

bushi

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9 thoughts on “Spreading the (SFF) fever

    1. I’ve read in other places as well that Stormbringer is the best of the series. I’ve found it confusing to figure out how to read Elric; some people say the reading order doesn’t matter so long as you don’t read Stormbringer first. Then there’s the publication order and the chronological order, and a million and one different collections cobbled together, it seems.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Moorcock didn’t intend for Elric to be a continuing character. He wrote “Stormbringer” as an “anti-Conan”. He wanted to turn all of the epic fantasy tropes upsidedown–physically frail main character with a magic sword that was evil, from an ancient and decadent culture, and so on. Part of that was killing Elric at the end. Then fans started bugging him for more Elric stories and so he had to write backwards. Of the books, ” Sailor On The Seas Of Fate” may be the best introduction to “Moorcockian Fantasy”– he has several characters from different series team up on a cross-universe voyage.

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  1. That’s intentional. Moorcock wrote Elric as a direct challlenge and response to the Conan clones who followed in his wake. The story, and it may be apocryphal, is that the first Elric story was pretty much a satire of Conan, but readets loved it so much Moorcock knuckled down and started taking it more seriously himself.

    Give me some time, I’ll see if I can find a reference.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sorry for spamming the comments – had to switch to the desktop for this:

    http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/arts/la-caw-sirens-call9-2009aug09-story.html

    “In the new anthology, a brief introduction to a short story about Elric says that he was created as a response to Howard’s Conan. Is that how one of your most famous characters came about?

    Not exactly. When asked to write the original stories — which I accepted as a working commission like any other job in those days — I decided to try to do something a bit different, especially from the Conan stories, which were the benchmark in those days. There was very little “fantasy” — Tolkien was still regarded as a bit marginal, like Morrison or E.R. Eddison, and I didn’t want to write like him, either. There’s a touch of Peake there, but I was a great admirer of a 1930s pulp character called Zenith the Albino, and I was working on a study of the 19th century Gothic novel, publishing bits of it in Science Fantasy, which the editor consciously modeled on Weird Tales and consciously tried to make as literary as possible.”

    I don’t know. Not sure I buy that. This interview took place nearly 30 years after Elric was written, and Moorcock may have changed his story. Here Moorcock sounds like he is trying to downplay Elric’s inspiration to make it less about reacting to Howard and more about Moorcock’s own genius creativity.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Either way that’s a pretty interesting take. Thanks for posting it! As you can probably tell I’m finding it pretty fascinating and fun to try and pinpoint where these guys got their ideas and inspiration from.

      Like

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