Archive for October, 2017

Pulp Consumption: The Witcher

Posted: October 30, 2017 in Uncategorized

This week I talk about one of the more recent additions to sword and sorcery… Geralt of Rivia and the Witcher series.

Broadswords and Blasters

witcher

Geralt of Rivia (perhaps best known from the Witcher series of video games) first premiered in a series of short stories penned by Andrzej Sapkowski back in the early ‘90s. Sapkowski would go ahead and pen a series of connected novels from 1994 to 1999[1].  They have only recently been published in English, with the final book in the saga being released in English this year.

Geralt is a witcher, a professional that deals with monsters. And he was engineered to do it. In the world of the witcher, where monsters are all too prevalent, your common person isn’t going to stand much of a chance against something that can move faster, regenerate from wounds, and decorate the nearby trees with what was inside of you. Enter witchers. They take boys, subject them to a horrible process that makes them faster, stronger, and able to withstand injecting…

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So I don’t think I’m going to get this piece to 25k words, and more than halfway through even I got sick of the present tense voice (though for the sake of this experiment I’m keeping it for now). Consider this a zero draft of something to come back to later. And if you don’t like it, well I’d be happy to refund anything you paid me to read it.

Previous piece is here.  But a short recap is that Graciano, a soldier, returned from a campaign to find his brother hand been murdered. He killed the scoundrel responsible, but discovered a map in the process. His physician, Viktoria, forced her way into the schem to see where it led, and they hired the not-quite-reputable captain Ramiro to take them. They arrived at an island populated by a snake-cult. After escaping, and a few harrowing fights, they are trying to escape… but that’s not nearly as easy as it would seem.

 

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Cameron might have gotten a little footnote happy with his article on “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.” What do you think?

Broadswords and Blasters

clint-eastwood-the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly-spiros-soutsosA few weeks back Matt discussed one version of a character known in the west as “The Man with No Name.” Akira Kurosawa wrote and directed Yojimbo, starring B&B favorite Toshiro Mifune, about a nameless ronin who moves from town to town solving problems–or creating them, depending on your interpretation–wherever he goes. This character shows up in many other movies including the original Django spaghetti western and its many sequels, the Sergio Leone film Dollars trilogy starring Clint Eastwood[1], and the Walter Hill film Last Man Standing starring Bruce Willis. Although Kurosawa didn’t explicitly state it, film buffs and noir fans believe he got the original idea for the character and plot of Dashiell Hammett’s Red Harvest, a novel of his nameless character The Continental Op, about whom I’ve already written.

The Man with No Name, like his inspiration[2], had a…

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Pulp Consumption: El Borak

Posted: October 16, 2017 in Uncategorized

This week’s Pulp Consumption… I talk about El Borak, a lesser known Robert Howard character, but definitely one that deserves more attention.

Broadswords and Blasters

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Another one of Robert E. Howard’s creations, Francis Xavier Gordon, better known as El Borak (Arabic for “The Swift”), is a Texan gunfighter and adventurer… only instead of his adventures taking place in the Old West, our hero finds himself in Afghanistan.

For the most part, the El Borak tales are strict action-adventure[1]. El Borak relies on his quick wits (and his quick hand with a gun or a blade) to get him out of the scrapes he finds himself in, typically against hostile tribesmen but also scheming politicians and rival adventurers. Gordon straddles a line between the barbarian and the civilized man, is not one to shy away from violence, but also with a keen understanding of how the Western world works… and why the West will always struggle in the hills of Afghanistan[2]. However, unlike some of Howard’s other characters, Gordon is a man…

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Part one is here. Part two is here. Part three is here. Part four is here. Part five is here. Comments are always welcome! (And yes, it’s been eight months since this last updated. Oof.)

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Pulp Appeal: Philip José Farmer

Posted: October 10, 2017 in Uncategorized

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philip_jose_farmer_1359741c Farmer died in 2009 at the age of 91. This image is from the Telegraph obituary.

As with Matt’s article about the Chronicles of Amber last week, no one could rightfully call Philip José Farmer a pulp writer. He definitely belongs in the movement known as New Wave, and was even published in Dangerous Visions, the defining compilation of New Wave short stories. The book was edited by Harlan Ellison, one of the most iconic members of the movement. That said, as with many of Farmer’s contemporaries, including Ellison, Michael Moorcock, Norman Spinrad, and Philip K. Dick, Farmer was deeply inspired by the pulps. In fact he was so enamored of the earlier fiction movement that he wrote some of the most well-known pulp pastiches, works like The Adventures of the Peerless Peer, The Other Log of Phileas Fogg, Tarzan Alive, and Doc Savage:…

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The CHRONICLES OF AMBER is one of those series that grabbed me and has never really let go.

Broadswords and Blasters

Let’s get something out of the way, The Chronicles of Amber by Roger Zelazy isn’t pulp per se. For starters, the first novel in the series, “NINE PRINCES IN AMBER” wasn’t published until 1970, putting it more in line with the New Wave movement coming out of the sixties. That said, critics have drawn comparisons to the 1946 novella written by Henry Kutter (with perhaps some help from his wife, C.L. Moore) called the THE DARK WORLD, giving it at the very least a line back to the pulps.

Image result for chronicles of amber The cover for the original collected stories.

“… the Kuttner story which most impressed me in those most impressionable days was his short novel The Dark World. I returned to it time and time, reading it over and over again, drawn by its colorful, semi-mythic characters and strong action … looking back, Kuttner and Moore—and, specifically, The Dark World—were…

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