Re: "The Reason Most Folk Songs Are So Atrocious Is That They Were Written By The People."

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I will comment on your dragon post, LB.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 10:19 AM
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I write things like this, and then realize that I've outed myself as by far the geekiest (in the not having any actual technical skills sense of geeky) poster here.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 10:20 AM
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I should say that these are respectable, if Timothy Burke's reading them makes them so.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 10:24 AM
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I used to read a lot of fiction, including several dragon stories (my cousin, in a very sweet gesture, sent me one of her favorites when I had pneumonia once), but for some reason I stopped reading fiction at some point. Haven't for years. Maybe it was the internet and blogs, but I think maybe it predates blogs.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 10:27 AM
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Note that Burke points out some rather serious problems with the historical plausibility of this book in particular. Apart from the whole dragon thing, that is.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 10:27 AM
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I hardly read any fiction. I guess I read quite a bit when I was a kid, but it's been a long time since I read novels regularly. This makes the regular arguments about contemporary fiction at Unfogged interesting for me in a sort of detached, sociological way.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 10:29 AM
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Oh, you historians and your nits.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 10:29 AM
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Paradise Lost is fun in that respect too; reading it next to Genesis makes you go "omg, that's *not* in the Bible? Milton invented it?* Holy shit."

*Or the Puritans did, and Milton brainwashed all of us into thinking it was in the Bible, rather than just the theology of a small extinct Christian sect.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 10:30 AM
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I suspect there's a wide gulf separating those who can and can't imagine forging an emotional bond with a huge fucking lizard.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 10:30 AM
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The thing about me and fiction is that when I was reading it, I was doing it obsessively, for about three years in early adolescence. I probably read several hundred books over that period, the vast majority fiction. I think it was a way to escape my terrible family/school situation. But nowadays fiction as a form of escapism doesn't appeal in the same way. Maybe I'm spoiled by movies.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 10:32 AM
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8: That's exactly the sort of thing; or reading Marie de France and realizing that the whole Lancelot thing isn't timeless myth, it's a story a person wrote once.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 10:32 AM
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5: Yeah, once you're in the 'giant fucking lizard' section of the bookstore, historical plausibility kind of goes by the wayside.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 10:33 AM
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Wait ... isn't Lancelot from Monty Python (&THG)?


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 10:34 AM
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Before Buffy the general popular idea of vampires had quite a lot of Anne Rice accretions to Stoker I think, Buffy pretty much replaced that already.


Posted by: Aurelian | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 10:39 AM
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It could be argued that all fantasy rips off Tolkien, even to the extent of hacks writing fake languages because that's what you do when you write fantasy.

Sometimes the elves are shorter. Ooh.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 10:40 AM
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Yeah, once you're in the 'giant fucking lizard' section of the bookstore, historical plausibility kind of goes by the wayside.

You'd think so, but Burke (who, unlike me, is an actual historian) seems to find it at least somewhat important.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 10:40 AM
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Speaking of atrocious folk songs written for the People, just the other day I was listening to Cornelius Cardew. (Cardew was an avant-garde composer who abandoned that career path to write songs for teh workers. Kyle Gann summarizes Cardew's career here.)

But, actually, they aren't atrocious, even if some of them strike me as more comical than inspiring. I imagine they'd be lots of fun to sing. Right now, "Smash the Social Contract" ("So Smash! Smash! Smash! the Social Contract! / It's the cry of workers all over the land.") is my favorite.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 10:41 AM
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It could be argued that all fantasy rips off Tolkien, even to the extent of hacks writing fake languages because that's what you do when you write fantasy.

Tolkien, of course, unlike these guys, was an actual philologist.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 10:43 AM
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Come to think of it, I'm not a D&D person, but I'll bet a whole lot of current fantasy doesn't rip off Tolkein nearly as much as it rips of Gygax ripping off Tolkein.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 10:46 AM
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18: Yeah, I thought about clarifying that, but figured it was common enough knowledge that 'hack' would be restricted just to the imitators who think 'philology' means 'put in a bunch of Xs and Zs so it looks foreign.'


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 10:48 AM
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20: No, x's and z's are for scifi hacks. For fantasy hacks it's q's and v's.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 10:49 AM
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I read a review once - by someone who should have known better, I mean not an anonymous Amazon hack - of a new translation of Sappho's poems. (New then: this was back 20 or so years ago.)

The reviewer wrote that they didn't think much of Sappho as poet and thought she had been overrated and hallowed by tradition: her poems were full of hackneyed images like "the silver moon".

Sappho is the first recorded user of the phrase "the silver moon"... it became hackneyed because it was such a good phrase.

I was a fan of Robin Hood from before I was five years old: it's been odd and neat to me to see Carpenter's TV series, broadcast in my late teens, Robin of Sherwood directly mutate how British kids were telling each other Robin Hood stories, which we'd been doing for a thousand years.


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 10:49 AM
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Chinese dragons have no wings, but they fly anyway.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 10:50 AM
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#19. More like ripping off Gygax ripping off Jack Vance ripping off Robert E. Howard ripping off Rider Haggard.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 10:51 AM
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Sometimes Chinese dragons have very small wings, but those are probably just bastardized depictions.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 10:52 AM
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5: Yeah, once you're in the 'giant fucking lizard' section of the bookstore, historical plausibility kind of goes by the wayside.

I disagree.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 10:53 AM
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Wasn't there a novella by, I think, Jane Yolan that had a SF desert world where Dragons were raised that had imprinting as a major plot element.

The main character was (essentially) a child of serfs who stole a dragon egg to try to hatch and raise in secret. I don't know if that predated McCaffery.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 10:53 AM
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17: I didn't know about Cardew; thanks. Conversely, there's Frederic Rzewski, who wrote an awesome set of variations on "The People, United, Will Never Be Defeated!"


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 10:54 AM
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Wait, I don't understand what dragons have to do with Samantha Power.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 10:54 AM
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I'm actually surprised that the D&D influence isn't bigger than it is. I haven't seem much use of the idea that you forget spells once you use them (which is originally from Vance).


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 10:56 AM
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27: It was nearly the same as one of those boy-and-champion-racehorse tales, except with dragons. I remember reading that, but I'm not sure who borrowed from whom.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 10:56 AM
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Here's the thing about Cardew: Four Principles on Ireland is not nearly as interesting as his earlier avante-garde stuff with AMM, or Treatise or the like.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 10:56 AM
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Maybe I'll out myself as something undesirable, but dragons appear in the mythologies of China, Europe, and the pre-columbian Yucatan. I'm not saying Nessie is real or Unicorns or anything, but giant lizard is a different category of myth from lion with wings.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 10:57 AM
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You are a monster, lw -- possibly the original model for such mythological entities as the werewolf or Hillary Clinton. We must hunt you down for the good of humanity.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 10:58 AM
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27: I don't know the story generally, but from publication dates it looks post-McCaffrey.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 10:58 AM
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Here's the Jane Yolen books I was thinking of. IT looks like they came out in 1984, and Anne Mccaffrey started the dragonriders series in 1968(!) so she definitely has precedence.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 10:59 AM
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Well,I had misremembered Barbara Hambly's series, but there is of course Christopher Paolini and my point in going to Wiki is that I think there are a lot of Dragon & Dragon Rider series out there besides McCaffrey. The twist here is the mash with alternate history fiction.

1) From the description, it somehow crossed my mind that dragons have replaced horses for generations who have seen very few horses. In general I try to find the non-genre themes a genre series is trying to convey, for instance, I would look to Tom Swift to understand Harry Potter, and the substitution of magic for science.

2)On the evolution of models(?) in genre fiction, I am not a dragon guy, but I did read a lot of vampire/romantic occult novels in the 80s and 90s, and if you are really trying to study a subgenre like that I believe you would need to study the dozens of series written in the last generation. There is usually at least one derivative TV series per season, the current fave of the SO being a knockoff of an old Tanya Huff series.

Oh when will Showtime do Laurell K. Hamilton, unexpurgated?


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 11:02 AM
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It could be argued that all fantasy rips off Tolkien, even to the extent of hacks writing fake languages because that's what you do when you write fantasy.

This is one of the reasons that pre-Tolkien fantasy novels -- Lord Dunsany, or Lovecraft, or Hawthorne, or the brilliant Lud-in-the-Mist by forgotten modernist Hope Mirrless -- are so interesting; they don't think fantasy novels are meant to come in trilogies and be about a band of compatriots and their epic quest and elves and bearded wizards and shit. One of the more interesting things about Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell was the extent to which it was explicitly harkening back to a pre-Tolkien tradition.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 11:04 AM
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2: My opinion of LB only continues to increase in unexpected ways.

I had a similar reaction to Eragon, to reading which I admit only under cover of pseudonymity. Nothing is actually stolen in a culpable sense, and the writing quality is perfectly passable, but the number of borrowed themes and images and assumptions about "the way things work" in a fantasy setting is really remarkable. And I think that's probably true of many examples in the genre.

It was sort of interesting in a way to see a new author treating not only Tolkien -- not even McCaffrey -- but also, say, Robert Jordan and Tad Williams as source material to mine and borrow from. Though it did make me feel a bit old.


Posted by: widget | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 11:04 AM
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38: This is one of the reasons that pre-Tolkien fantasy novels -- Lord Dunsany, or Lovecraft, or Hawthorne, or the brilliant Lud-in-the-Mist by forgotten modernist Hope Mirrless -- are so interesting; they don't think fantasy novels are meant to come in trilogies and be about a band of compatriots and their epic quest and elves and bearded wizards and shit.

You know, there's been non-Tolkien-derivative fantasy all along. The elveswizardsanddragons questy stuff is a big chunk of it, and probably the most popular category, but you don't have to go back before Tolkein to find fantasy that's not derivative of his stuff.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 11:06 AM
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19:Uhm, if you are looking for the origins, The Dragon & the George by Gordon Dickson a 1976 novel based on a 1957 novella might be the first intelligent talking dragon in mainstream Fantasy. Although I thought Poul Anderson wrote one before that.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 11:08 AM
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And yeah, I concur that the real model here is likely people's D&D campaigns, and thus about one-third Star Wars to two-thirds adulterated Tolkien*. Vance was a model for Gygax, but I don't think it comes through in the tradition much. Same with the Lost World Burroughs/Haggard stuff.

* Terry Brooks, I guess?


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 11:08 AM
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Speaking of Jane Yolen and huge fucking lizards, I recommend How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? to all parents of small children.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 11:11 AM
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Yeah, once you're in the 'giant fucking lizard' section of the bookstore, historical plausibility kind of goes by the wayside.

Paleontology.


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 11:11 AM
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You know, there's been non-Tolkien-derivative fantasy all along. The elveswizardsanddragons questy stuff is a big chunk of it, and probably the most popular category, but you don't have to go back before Tolkein to find fantasy that's not derivative of his stuff.

Sure, but as a mass-market category, that's what it's been. Just looking on my bookshelf from where I'm sitting, I can see Fritz Lieber's "Our Lady of Darkness", C.S. Lewis's "Til We Have Faces", and some Tanith Lee, all of which predates the current neo-Dunsany stuff. (My guess is that the person who made this tradition popular enough to rip off/revive is Neil Gaiman, but not being a Nielsen Hayden I don't know what the publishing/marketing history is.)


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 11:12 AM
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huge fucking lizards


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 11:13 AM
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While researching Anderson's fantasy, I came across this:

The original alignment system of Dungeons & Dragons, which grouped all players and creatures into "Law" and "Chaos", was influenced by Three Hearts and Three Lions[ed 1953]. The novel also includes a troll from which the D&D description of the monster was derived. Likewise, significant elements of the paladin class was taken from this novel.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 11:13 AM
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Oh, I liked Three Hearts and Three Lions. Very silly.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 11:14 AM
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OT:

Say a partner tells you not to subpoena something. Then months later asks, "why haven't we subpoenaed that?" and claims not to recall saying not to. Then tells you to do the subpoena and follows up with an e-mail directing you again to get the subpoena "per our conversation." How annoying should one find this? (I.e., am I overreacting to be irritated?)


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 11:15 AM
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My guess is that the person who made this tradition popular enough to rip off/revive is Neil Gaiman, but not being a Nielsen Hayden I don't know what the publishing/marketing history is.

I should amend that - Terri Windling, whose name I couldn't remember, seems to have made returning to a more Child Ballads-ish tradition an intentional commercial project starting in the mid-80s.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 11:18 AM
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49: Why do you think I quit this place?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 11:19 AM
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49: Criminy. Cut of his/her head and nail it to the wall of the lunchroom. To make an example for all the partners.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 11:20 AM
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off


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 11:21 AM
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It could be argued that baby ducks, geese etc. are known for imprinting, and if dinosaurs are birds then so are dragons. I think that's actualy how the whole goosegirl thing used to work. But yes, basically McCaffrey's concept has become standard furniture. The whole imprinting thing also appears with the magic horses of Merecedes Lackey's treacly Valdemar books (I own lots of them purchased before I got sense), so in fantasy the trope has spread beyond dragons.

Since SF fans were already likely to be fans of Patrick O'Brian, these books were bound to succeed if reasonably well done, or as one Making Light commentator said"Aerial dragons fighting with British ships in the Napoleonic Wars! My goodness that woman is sitting on a limitless heap of gold which she can shovel out just as fast as she can write!"


Posted by: emir | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 11:21 AM
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49 really should have been a link to this.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 11:23 AM
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They form a lifelong emotional attachment to some person, who they obey unquestioningly for no obvious reason, the moment they hatch. People who ride them go off and live in a separate society

I haven't read anything by McCaffrey, nor read "Eragon," but I saw that movie, and this sounds a lot like the dragons in "Eragon" too.

Come to think of it, I'm not a D&D person, but I'll bet a whole lot of current fantasy doesn't rip off Tolkein nearly as much as it rips of Gygax ripping off Tolkein.

Interesting. Hard to say. In a lot of fantasy, the ripoffing of D&D is explicit, what with all the novelizations and tie-ins. I can think of one fantasy series with a concept of a order and chaos central to its magic system, and that sounded a lot like the lawful/chaotic thing. I don't remember the name of the series, but I'll try to remember to check later. Something where black was actually associated with good/order and white with evil/chaos, and the main character was a teenage wizard-in-training... the book didn't make much of an impression on me.

You know, that makes me wonder what Gygax created that applies to fiction at all, as opposed to game design. Not the class-race system; just because it's not as explicit in most fiction as in games, doesn't mean it doesn't exist. The ubiquitousness of magic and stuff, maybe? In Tolkein, humans and hobbits are normal people, and elves are strange aloof alien beings, and monsters are rare, freaky, one-of-a-kind things. In role-playing games and fiction based on them, elves and orcs and so on are just different tribes or different racial phenotypes based on shape of ears instead of skin tone, and monsters are just larger-than-life fauna.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 11:24 AM
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am I overreacting to be irritated?

No. "Per our conversation" is the kind of phrase that justifies a lifelong hatred, imho.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 11:27 AM
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Something where black was actually associated with good/order and white with evil/chaos, and the main character was a teenage wizard-in-training... the book didn't make much of an impression on me.

That has to be L.E. Modesitt. He switches to showing the other side as the good guys from their own point of view in some of his books. His protagonists all come across a bit oddly, somehow. Also he gets rightly slagged off for excessive onomatopoeia.


Posted by: emir | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 11:31 AM
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52: Maybe I should have said "paranoid" rather than "irritated." I'm reading the email follow-up as a subliminal message along the lines of, "I never told you not to do that, so I'm putting it in writing this time." I may be reading too much into based on past personal issues with this partner.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 11:33 AM
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One of the ideas in the Buffyverse that I found interesting was that unlike earlier vampire tales, in which the vampires were undead perversions of humanity, here they're demons that just happen to look like the person that's been killed by the vampire.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 11:35 AM
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I can't deal. Thinking about High Fantasy brought Eddison, Leigh Brackett, Leiber's Fafhrd & Grey Mouser(40s) to mind. Thinking about Romantic Occult brought the classic erotic werewolf novel of Jack Williamson and Sturgeon's wonderful "Some of Your Blood"

The thing about tropes in hardcore genre fiction is that thoe writers have usually read much more than you have. Almost all SF writers took a turn at fantasy, and each tried to twist and re-imagine the tropes. I can't really imagine trying to track the tropes across the decades & hundreds of novels.

Kim Newman wrote a good alternate history vampire series. gahhh


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 11:35 AM
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Tolkien and D&D meet.

I think this may have been linked here before. I can't imagine how else I found it.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 11:39 AM
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here they're demons that just happen to look like the person that's been killed by the vampire.

But it wasn't an independent demon with its own personality and memories. More like the person possessed by the demonic. I thought the idea was confused.

Check to see if I can troll a political thread, then gone.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 11:39 AM
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Folk songs? Wouldn't folktales fit better with the post?


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 11:40 AM
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Maybe I should have said "paranoid" rather than "irritated."

Yeah, this is paranoia-inducing. But if you've had issues like this with this partner before, chances are that other people have too. It's the partner who's crazy, not you.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 11:40 AM
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59: That's exactly how I'd interpret it. And based on that interaction, I'd be confirming all oral instructions from here on out with a quick email, so you've got a 'paper' trail to refer to in case of contradictory later instructions.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 11:40 AM
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33: Maybe I'll out myself as something undesirable, but dragons appear in the mythologies of China, Europe, and the pre-columbian Yucatan. I'm not saying Nessie is real or Unicorns or anything, but giant lizard is a different category of myth from lion with wings.

I once spent a day (just a day? I know, lame) trying to suss out points of historical and cultural divergence between dragon as horned evil-doer and threat to humanity, to be slayed by the hero; and dragon as ally, friend, protector. I didn't make much progress, alas. There's a narrative thread in some older cultures of the dragon as slumbering protector of the earth, who will rise in time of great existential crisis or change to warn us that we must take heed. Dragon as mother-figure, in a way.

As I say, I didn't make much progress, not enough material at hand.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 11:40 AM
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64: 'Cause I wouldn't want to start a flame war about "Tom Dooley."


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 11:42 AM
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I think this may have been linked here before. I can't imagine how else I found it.

I know I found it and linked to it during the "try to catch obscure references" thread. It's really, really funny at times.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 11:43 AM
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I can think of one fantasy series with a concept of a order and chaos central to its magic system, and that sounded a lot like the lawful/chaotic thing.

The law vs. chaos thing is central to much of Michael Moorcock's fantasy writing, most notably the Elric series.


Posted by: My Alter Ego | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 11:43 AM
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64: You go to war with the Tom Lehrer quotes you have, not the ones you want.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 11:44 AM
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60: Unless they're Spike or Angel, in which case they're *sort* of just demons in the human shell, but really are more like being possessed.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 11:54 AM
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Kim Newman wrote a good alternate history vampire series.

I've only read the first and some short stories, but they're fun. (He also has a fun alternate history story in which Fatty Arbuckle's car breaks down on the way to that fateful party; as a result the film revolution of the '70s happens fifty years early, explicit sex scenes and all, and America slowly descends into fascism.)


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 11:58 AM
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I thought the idea was confused.

It was, but they used the fact of that confusion to good comic effect, so it seemed forgivable to me (at least before the show became horribly boring and I just wanted it to end.)

I'd generally count myself among those who don't read much fiction, but I do have a tradition of picking some big, long novel and reading it around Christmas time. Goes back to college habits, I think. Typically it's something nineteenth century, but this year I went for all of A Dance to the Music of Time. I think that means I read more fiction in the first two months of this year than I had in any of the past nearly 20 years. I've been thinking of picking up some more, too.


Posted by: JL | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 12:03 PM
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I can think of one fantasy series with a concept of a order and chaos central to its magic system, and that sounded a lot like the lawful/chaotic thing. I don't remember the name of the series, but I'll try to remember to check later.

Amber?


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 12:04 PM
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JL, you sound perfectly suited to picking up The Quincunx.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 12:04 PM
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How long as Modesitt been around? Because I went to high school with someone named L/e/e Modesitt, who was either a jr. or a III. And someone who I think (remember?) would have been into sci-fi/fantasy.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 12:05 PM
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77: There is a website for info like that.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 12:07 PM
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That has to be L.E. Modesitt. He switches to showing the other side as the good guys from their own point of view in some of his books.

I read those!


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 12:08 PM
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72: Right, the basic idea is that the meat shell contains a soul that makes you human. If you get turned into a vampire, the part that's 'you' has fucked off to contemplate the Forms or something, and a vampire demon is in your body (and since your body stores the memories, it remembers what you were.) If you're Spike or Angel, you have both souls at once.

What makes it interesting is how many questions it sidesteps. They don't have to rehabilitate vampires, or provide for their atonement. Demon = no problems with killing it. Human = don't kill it.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 12:12 PM
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Ooh, thanks, snarkout, that looks like just the thing. I was planning on doing some book buying this weekend, and that's going on the list.


Posted by: JL | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 12:12 PM
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I'll second the Quincunx rec. Though the weather's too close to spring conditions here to dig into it, you've got winter months yet up your way, I imagine.


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 12:15 PM
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66

I agree.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 12:15 PM
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80: Of course; they had to sidestep it, if they were going to do a fun weekly show in which a cute blond repeatedly kills things! Heavens to betsy, what do you think this is, 24?

Ah, for a more innocent age.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 12:16 PM
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(Actually, come to think of it, isn't the "it's not her; it's just a monster using her body" thing part of the Dracula story too? Part of why/how they kill Minnie, or whatever her damn name was?)


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 12:17 PM
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Something where black was actually associated with good/order and white with evil/chaos, and the main character was a teenage wizard-in-training... the book didn't make much of an impression on me.

While apparently this sentence of your post made absolutely no impression on me. I read good!


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 12:17 PM
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77: There is a website for info like that.

Right. The hive mind of the Mineshaft.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 12:18 PM
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you've got winter months yet up your way, I imagine.

I'm hoping only weeks left, I'm ready to move on to the months of ceaseless rain.


Posted by: JL | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 12:19 PM
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85: Mina, and it's been a while, but I think the rationale there was that it was okay to kill her because what had happened was unnatural and (eek) monstrous.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 12:20 PM
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80: The human/demon distinction was even more problematized by Clem. Clem was demon, and presumably had no soul, but there was nothing that marked him as demon other than his complexion -- he was goofy, earnest and personable -- and surely Buffy could never have killed him.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 12:21 PM
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89: VINDICATION!!!


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 12:24 PM
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Occasionally I tease a friend of mine by pointing out that Asian dragons seem to spend their time lollygagging in the heavens, occasionally following the example of Pacman Jones and making it rain, maybe kicking a giant pearl around for a laugh, and appearing in cool Yakuza tattoos, while European dragons burn villages, terrorize the countryside, feast on maiden sacrifices (bow chicka chicka bow), kill knights, hoard treasure, get things done.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 12:27 PM
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90: Well, the human/demon distinction was problematic from the get go, since it was really sort of racist. Being based on what demons *were* rather than what they *do*.

(Which is of course the reason why Angel, Spike, Clem; to sort of try to make that issue a little more complicated.)


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 12:27 PM
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Yeah, you can be a sort of native-born demon, i.e. an individual from a demonic plane (or whatever terminology they used), which includes the possibility of being like Clem or Lorne from Angel. Then there are souls, the status and nature of which are highly nebulous.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 12:28 PM
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89: No, Mina gets saved, despite being forced to drink the blood of the vampire. It's the virginal Lucy who wakes up hungry for the blood of toddlers.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 12:30 PM
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95: and gets staked by all her old boyfriends. Pervy!


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 12:31 PM
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85: Mina, and it's been a while, but I think the rationale there was that it was okay to kill her because what had happened was unnatural and (eek) monstrous.

We call that "corrective penetration", and Mrs. Stoker politely asks you speak of it no further.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 12:34 PM
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94: Right, Lorne. At the start of Buffy, Whedon hews to a pretty simple view of people vs. demons -- demons have no souls and are naturally evil, whereas humans can be redeemed and shouldn't be killed. The character of Angel really doesn't problematize that -- he's good only so long as he's got a soul in him. Later though, you have Spike, who wants to be good even though he doesn't have a soul; and Clem, who's totally like this nice guy. Then in Angel, Whedon goes further and makes Buffy's worldview seem awfully naive and simplistic, and even racist, with the introduction of characters like Lorne, who are pure demon, but are as fully developed as any human character.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 12:35 PM
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look don't you get the point about Buffy the Vampire Slayer? It's a series about a schizophrenic serial killer who suffers from vivid and appalling hallucinations. Just like Ally McBeal was about an alcoholic (seriously - always going to the same bar and singing embarrassingly; string of awkward sexual relationships; constantly forgetting things and unable to cope with her job, etc etc).


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 12:35 PM
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99 is so pwned by Season 6, Episode 17.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 12:37 PM
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look don't you get the point about Buffy the Vampire Slayer? It's a series about a schizophrenic serial killer who suffers from vivid and appalling hallucinations.

And all this time, I thought it was about porn.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 12:37 PM
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It's a series about a schizophrenic serial killer who suffers from vivid and appalling hallucinations.

See also: I Am Legend.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 12:38 PM
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100: you are comic book store guy and I claim my $5.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 12:43 PM
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Oh come now, you can't go mixing your currency and references like that. Besides, wouldn't you rather have five pounds in any case?


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 12:44 PM
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103: Okay, I admit I don't know what you're referring to.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 12:46 PM
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The most cliched and hackneyed narrative tropes were someone's invention once.

So true. I once heard someone try to defend a belief in vampires by saying they're present in a number of cultures. I pointed out how different they are - in function, form, reason for sticking around, etc. - from one culture to another as my counterpoint of sanity. There's a short story I read once about some Western, Anne Rice-ian vampires who run into some Asian vampires whose bodies are heads with entrails hanging out of the neck, flying around by night, and the Western vampires are really grossed out. I adored it. My point being, yeah, it's all borrowed and cribbed to hell and back but someone, somewhere, came up with each individual component of it. Folklore is like the world's most interesting game of "telephone."

For all that I'm a big nerd and play D&D and whatever, seeing a book with a dragon on the cover or any suggestion of the word "dragon" in the title is an automatic turn-off. I immediately stop considering it and put it back on the shelf as a reflex action.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 12:47 PM
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You are Lobby Lud, and I claim my ten pounds. Come on, D^2, that's like six hundred bucks in our debased fiat currency.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 12:48 PM
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||

Re: 59 -- AAAAGGGHHHHHH! After some follow-up with a third-party, partner e-mails to say this refreshes his memory and he's now 99.9% sure he never told me not to get the subpoena. I explain to him that the fact that third-party didn't follow-up with subpoena actually is more consistent with my memory. Third-party calls me on other matter and specifically recalls conversation with partner at which he said don't send subpoena. Aaarrrgh!

Sorry to interrupt. This is just making me insane today. Combined with a random and unexpected nicotine craving that is making me want to go rip his fucking head off. Which is probably not a good career move.

|>


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 12:57 PM
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99.9% sure he never told me not to get the subpoena


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 12:59 PM
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Lucy becomes a vampire because she is repeatedly attacked by the Count (there's a mostly unspoken suggestion that she also really, really enjoyed Dracula's visits, that she was not just as a hypnotized victim, in that she is a flirt who - gasp! - sleeps with her bedroom windows open). Mina is saved by a team effort involving a sort of Christian mysticism (lots of communion wafers in the final scene, IIRC), dudes with guns, dudes giving Mina a gun of her own, willpower and at least some of the attacks being interrupted or prevented. The three-bites rule isn't explicit in the text but repeated exposure and eventual death leading to a transformation of the body into a vampire is what Lucy's all about. Possible interpretations abound in obvious ways.

When Lucy gets staked, the gents doing it are pretty hesitant and fainty all around except for Van Helsing, who gives a strong impression that this ain't his first rodeo.

I haven't read it in a year or two, though, so I may be misremembering.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 12:59 PM
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Ack, strike 109. Damned double-negative.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 12:59 PM
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Oh, at any rate, one of the reasons for giving Lucy the chop, post-rise, is that in Stoker's version (or at least in Van Helsing's version, and again I might misremember) her soul is trapped in her body as long as her body is unnaturally sustained. I want to say there's a scene where he says, yeah, it stinks that she's killed some kids from the neighborhood but better to be a pure soul that goes straight to Heaven than to be trapped here forever, etc. As soon as the staking and so on is done, her corpse has a look of satisfaction on its face that they take as confirmation they've done the right thing.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 1:07 PM
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the elements of vampirism that Joss Whedon invented (the face changing, the instant collapse into dust on staking)

Joss Whedon didn't introduce either of these elements.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 1:11 PM
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Hey, I just mess around with the historical plausibility as a way of enjoying the fiction more. "Geek hermeneutics", you know--it's all added value.

I can't explain why, but Novik's books are fun where Paolini's Eragon is a boring slog. One seems to borrow McCaffrey's conventions in order to tell a well-crafted story with protagonists who are really quite different than McCaffrey's, whereas the other is just ripping shit off right and left and doing nothing more than a pastiche. Paolini is also just a horrible writer in stylistic terms: I could give three shits that he was a home-schooled teenager when he wrote it. If I published my first D&D campaign world that I made when I was 14, it would be just about as screamingly derivative (and so every other such campaign made by every other such geeky teenager).


Posted by: Timothy Burke | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 1:12 PM
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There is a really terrific Roman werewolf story in Petronius. It's one of my favorites and I always give it to students as soon as they can tackle it. And it features one of the better Latin verbs -- circumminxit -- "he pissed all around." Oh, and "facere" -- to make -- shows up meaning "to shit." (Do little kids say they have "to make" anywhere but in NJ?)
In terms of werewolf lore, there isn't anything particularly interesting, except the clothes he's pissed around turn to stone, and later blood.

Venimus inter monimenta: homo meus coepit ad stelas facere; sedeo ego cantabundus et stelas numero. Deinde ut respexi ad comitem, ille exuit se et omnia vestimenta secundum viam posuit. Mihi anima in naso esse; stabam tanquam mortuus. At ille circumminxit vestimenta sua, et subito lupus factus est. Nolite me iocari putare; ut mentiar, nullius patrimonium tanti facio. Sed, quod coeperam dicere, postquam lupus factus est, ululare coepit et in silvas fugit.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 1:13 PM
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Ah, yes, thanks, Modesitt and "The Magic of Recluce."

The way I understood the ethics of Buffy was that having a soul basically meant the same thing as having a conscience, and having a conscience means something more intrinsic than just enlightened self-interest, and it's OK to kill someone who doesn't have one. Spike from Season 4 to the end of Season 6, for example, doesn't contradict this at all. He's not trying to be good because he feels guilty or is suddenly a nice person, he's trying to be good because he wants to get in Buffy's pants. And Clem is the bartender at the demon dive who Buffy sometimes shakes down for information, right? Same case, then. He doesn't help her because he's a nice guy, he helps her because she's threatening him.

I could argue that Lorne doesn't have a built-in, "real," soul and conscience, just a sense of enlightened self-interest so well-developed that you can't tell the difference, but he's definitely the weak point in my theory.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 1:17 PM
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debased fiat currency

Reales were legal currency in the US before 18xx (maybe Andrew Jackson?). Do those stores that take Euros accept Pesos as well? The small-denomination notes are made of practical, durable plastic.

115 is cool, I missed it in translation


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 1:18 PM
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Re: sleeping with the windows open, weren't there odd Victorian beliefs about "harmful night air"?


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 1:19 PM
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As soon as the staking and so on is done, her corpse has a look of satisfaction on its face

So pervy.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 1:19 PM
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I can't explain why, but Novik's books are fun where Paolini's Eragon is a boring slog. One seems to borrow McCaffrey's conventions in order to tell a well-crafted story with protagonists who are really quite different than McCaffrey's, whereas the other is just ripping shit off right and left and doing nothing more than a pastiche.

I haven't read Eragon, but this is right -- Novik doesn't read like she's doing McCaffrey pastiche at all (if it's pastiche, it's more O'Brien/Forester, but it's not terribly tightly derived even there). "Dragon", to her, just seems to have picked up some of McCaffrey's accretions. And she really is very competent, which I don't mean to be damning with faint praise at all. I was surprised to realize it was a first novel; it had fewer grinding awkwardnesses than I expect in one.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 1:19 PM
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Oh! Translation, roughly, and from a Hellenist:

We came among the graves: my friend started to shit next to the tombstones; I sit down, singing, and count tombstones. Next when I looked at my comrade, he undressed himself and put all his clothes by the side of the road. My soul was in my nose (ie, heart was in my throat); I was standing there like a dead man. Then he pissed around his clothes and all of sudden turned into a wolf. Don't think I'm joking. I'd as soon make my inheritance worth nothing as lie. But, what I was starting to say, after he became a wolf, he started to howl and ran into the woods.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 1:25 PM
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118: Yes; I can't remember whether it was coincidental to or actually a part of the whole obsession with avoiding drafts (elevated beds and the like, or at least that's what they told me it was about when I was a kid visiting the Biltmore Estate). That said, I always - even reading it as a kid - got the impression that Mina was worried that strange, horny men might cross their vast estate to climb in her window.

119: Completely pervy.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 1:27 PM
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When Lucy gets staked, the gents doing it are pretty hesitant and fainty all around except for Van Helsing, who gives a strong impression that this ain't his first rodeo.

Her three suitors are one of the doctors where Renfeld is locked up; a handsome and wealthy baron (who actually does the deed, IIRC); and a goddamned cowboy from Texas. Think Stoker learned something from his years as a theatrical producer?


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 1:28 PM
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s/to climb in her window/to climb in Lucy's window

Think Stoker learned something from his years as a theatrical producer?

Heh.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 1:30 PM
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I was surprised to realize it was a first novel; it had fewer grinding awkwardnesses than I expect in one.

That's because it wasn't a first novel: it was just her first professionally published novel. She'd written literally reams of fanfic under a fannish pseud.


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 5:14 PM
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80 wasa great


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 9:03 PM
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So when are western vampires going to start hopping, anyhow? Hopping vampires are the best.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 9:16 PM
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57: "Per our conversation" is the kind of phrase that justifies a lifelong hatred, imho.

I begin at least 40% of my work emails with "Per our conversation." It's the only way to ensure that things won't be blamed solely on you when they get fucked up.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 10:00 PM
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For non imprinting talking intelligent dragons in recent fantasy you've got Robin Hobb's Liveship trilogy - fun escapist stuff.
In general I don't really divide up fantasy into tolkienesque quest vs not but on the presence of ultimate Evil which will bring Doom to the world. The former is a distinct minority in contemporary fantasy, unlike the broader category. Most of the time it's cardboard crap but it can be done well e.g. R Scott Bakker's Prince of Nothing trilogy or Patrick Rothfuss's debut novel for two recent examples. For the other stuff I'd recommend KJ Parker's Engineer trilogy or on a more literary level anything by Jeff Vandermeer (think classic fantasy decadent city refracted through Borges and Nabokov)


Posted by: tkm | Link to this comment | 03- 7-08 10:53 PM
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Unfoggedragon :)


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03- 8-08 10:55 AM
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I like Novik's books (Henry Farrell introduced me to them), but I read a lot of mind-candy and have no taste. On the other hand I haven't liked the Pern books since I was, I dunno, 14.

One thing which struck me about them was that her dragon-riders have very modern norms about sex and sex roles, far beyond anything which e.g. Mary Wollstonecraft advocated, and which would have been universally condemned at the time as the filthiest sort of immorality (while simultaneously being far too wholesome for the period's libertines). I suspect this makes it easier for readers to identify with (certain of) the characters, and so enjoy the books more --- it's hard to see liking them as much as light reading if we were having our noses rubbed in the fact that, back then, even the best were Big Fat Male Chauvinist Pigs --- but I wonder if it isn't a real problem for lots of kinds of fiction set in societies which have very different morals than ours (or ought, for plausibility's sake, to have such morals).


Posted by: Cosma | Link to this comment | 03- 8-08 12:40 PM
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Also, I was going to complain about this thread letting what should be a great opportunity for dirty jokes go to waste, but then I couldn't think of any myself.


Posted by: Cosma | Link to this comment | 03- 8-08 12:41 PM
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Hey, I missed this thread

whole lotta nerd shit going on in this thread, I see

I suppose this is as good a thread as any to start linking my name to my website


Posted by: felix | Link to this comment | 03- 8-08 1:17 PM
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and i thought felix is ogged
still wonder who was OOTB


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03- 8-08 1:49 PM
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Howdy, felix.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03- 8-08 1:50 PM
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OOTB were you, apostropher


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03- 8-08 1:55 PM
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OOTB?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03- 8-08 1:57 PM
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OutOfTheBlue who parodied me as i thought


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03- 8-08 1:59 PM
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Aha! It was apo!

(Out Of the Blue, from this saga in which read ended up getting threatened with banishment.)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 8-08 2:02 PM
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read, I never fully understood why you thought I was Ogged.


Posted by: felix | Link to this comment | 03- 8-08 2:14 PM
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read, I never fully understood why you thought I was Ogged.


Posted by: felix | Link to this comment | 03- 8-08 2:14 PM
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i also don't,
i also don't :)


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03- 8-08 2:19 PM
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133 is some kind of weird level three pwn.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 8-08 2:21 PM
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It is a self-pwn as well, Sifu. Pwns for everyone!


Posted by: felix | Link to this comment | 03- 8-08 2:27 PM
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132: you know, I used to have a link in my pocket to a website that all pictures of dragon fucking, anthropomorphic and non, but it seems to have disappeared, leaving only penumbras and emanations.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 8-08 2:32 PM
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Felix is funnier than Ogged.

Don't tell Ogged I said that.

(For real, Felix, you wrote that? I never read fantasy stuff. Am I now going to have to? Goddammit.)


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 03- 8-08 2:53 PM
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whole lotta nerd shit

Nerd fewmets, sez me.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 03- 8-08 2:54 PM
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(Fuck that Powell's/union entry. Damm you. Now I think I'm going to have to get rid of my Amazon associates link. Crap.)


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 03- 8-08 2:54 PM
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yes, I wrote it

nobody has to read it

I learned about the Powell's thing from Sir Kraab in a comments thread to this very blog, and so the circle of life continues


Posted by: felix | Link to this comment | 03- 8-08 3:03 PM
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131: Yeah, the sexual mores thing is really difficult for people writing historical fiction. You either have to write tragedies, look like an incredible sexist yourself, or just abandon verisimilitude on that front; almost all modern historical fiction seems to go for the third option.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 8-08 3:30 PM
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Hey, felix, want a review? I'll buy a copy -- unlike B, I do read that sort of thing, and am not too proud to admit it. No guarantees that I'll like it, of course.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 8-08 3:32 PM
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148: Powell's has an associates program as well.


Posted by: Cosma | Link to this comment | 03- 8-08 3:38 PM
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152: Yeah, but through that link? I'd assume that the point of the union link is that the union itself is using the asssociates pgm. Maybe not. I dunno. I'll look into it "later."


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 03- 8-08 3:48 PM
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LB, I appreciate the offer, but if you were to review the blog then I would have to start hiding from this blog, and I like this blog.

(I am a terrible coward).


Posted by: felix | Link to this comment | 03- 8-08 5:15 PM
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review the book, I mean


Posted by: felix | Link to this comment | 03- 8-08 5:15 PM
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I loved 130. Nice one, read.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 03- 8-08 5:30 PM
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LB, just do it without asking.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 03- 8-08 5:49 PM
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B, with every moment that goes by while you have an amazon associates link up on your blog, you are stealing food from the mouths of the workers

their children weep bitter tears of hunger down their sooty little faces

how do you sleep, B, how do you sleep?


Posted by: felix | Link to this comment | 03- 8-08 6:05 PM
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Meh. I don't get a lot of clickthroughs on the amazon link any more; people have forgotten it's there. Once I put up a new shiny Powell's link and do a self-aggrandizing post about it, though, revenue will pick up again.

I'm a whore, but jesus christ I'm a lazy one.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 03- 8-08 6:10 PM
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too late for poor tiny tim

too late


Posted by: felix | Link to this comment | 03- 8-08 6:15 PM
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Hey, awesome! I will go and read your book tomorrow (I've run out of books, save for the 5-pound The Third Reich in Power I've been lugging around for the past month and have grown thoroughly depressed with). Please tell me though it's not the first book in a five part series that I'll have to wait around fifteen years to read?


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 03- 8-08 6:16 PM
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Would it help at all if I went around to various bookstores and demanded it loudly and if it weren't in stock, demand that they order it?


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 03- 8-08 6:17 PM
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Where is the link to felix's book?


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 03- 8-08 6:25 PM
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In the "Posted by:" space of his comments.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03- 8-08 6:27 PM
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I was not OOTB, read.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03- 8-08 6:29 PM
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Oh damn, we chased felix off. felix, I'm sure I'll like it! I like everything Vandemeer likes!


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 03- 8-08 6:40 PM
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Thanks, Jackmormon. Not a series. (There will be a sequel, god willing, but it's sort of a separate thing).

And I think bookstores are wise to those tricks.


Posted by: felix | Link to this comment | 03- 8-08 6:42 PM
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A new freestanding New Wierd novel with something resembling a ship on the cover? God has heard my pleas.

If you're in touch with any other writers of your sort, tell them "no more series" from me, ok?


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 03- 8-08 6:48 PM
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Bitch, what you want to do is turn your amazon link on and off, and when it comes on, announce it in as grandiose terms as you can bear. e.g. "stunning and unexpected as a thunderclap out of a clear blue sky"


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 03- 8-08 6:53 PM
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I've run out of books, save for the 5-pound The Third Reich in Power I've been lugging around for the past month and have grown thoroughly depressed with

Let me tell you how it turns out: the Jews die.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 03- 8-08 6:58 PM
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Let me tell you how it turns out: the Jews die the liberals did it.


Posted by: felix | Link to this comment | 03- 8-08 7:09 PM
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Hitler made some mistakes and overdid some things.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 8-08 7:15 PM
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Nobody,but nobody, runs out of books on my watch. Given your apparent interests, consider the following: Non-fiction: A Peace to End All Peace, Fromkin and The Dark Valley, Brendon. Fiction: well, there's only one WWII book I could recommend, but I'm horribly biased, so I'll just say read some Coetzee instead. But if you haven't read Catch-22 you're missing a bet.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 03- 8-08 7:23 PM
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173 to 161, sorry.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 03- 8-08 7:25 PM
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Given your apparent interests, consider the following: Non-fiction: A Peace to End All Peace

I second this recommendation. Great book.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03- 8-08 7:27 PM
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172: Which nobody can deny.....

[Chorus]


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 8-08 7:28 PM
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Okay! I'll read it!

I'm not quite sure how I ended up most of hte way through Richard Evans's three-part monumental analysis of the Third Reich, as I've always claimed to be more of a WWI than a WWII kind of gal.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 03- 8-08 7:31 PM
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177: Before you read A Peace to End All Peace, you should read Alistair Horne's The Price of Glory.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 03- 8-08 7:42 PM
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I'm not quite sure how I ended up most of hte way through Richard Evans's

I've only read reviews of Evans's histories and Evans's writing about history, but everything I've seen suggests he's a damn good historian.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 03- 8-08 7:44 PM
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Now now! "Before you read A you should read B" is the sort of thing I had quite enough of in grad school!


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 03- 8-08 7:45 PM
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Alistair Horne is a good writer. His Paris Commune book I liked; his short book on Napoleon's reign - not the one with Austerlitz in the title - stunk big time. Like trash. Haven't read his other books.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 03- 8-08 7:46 PM
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But it's short! And well-written!

Besides, if you read it and rave about it here, Magpie will be more likely to agree to go to Verdun when we're in France.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 03- 8-08 7:47 PM
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181: A Savage War of Peace (about the Algerian War of Independence) is outstanding. He came out with Seven Ages of Paris a few years ago; I'm pretty sure the book on Napoleon you read was an expansion of one of the sections in it. Seven Ages was kinda lightweight, but A Savage War of Peace and The Price of Glory were so good I'm okay with him coasting at this point.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 03- 8-08 7:52 PM
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179.---Oh, it's very impressive. It can be a bit on the dry side---unlike some other very professional British historians, he restrains any tendancy towards irony in his prose, even when you can just tell he wants to make a dark aside---but he manages to balance a very sweeping perspective with occasional short close-ups drawn from both quantifiable data (eg, number of Communists arrested in Hamburg in March vs. April 1932) and anecdotes (like diaries and letters, but my favorites are the reports from clandestine Social Democrat agents). I also appreciate his ability to evaluate how Germany's fascism and antisemitism fit into those trends more broadly in Europe---the better to show how they went so completely out of whack in the Reich. I don't have a great background in this stuff, but I do think Evans is the man.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 03- 8-08 7:53 PM
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Have you read Kershaw's biography of Hitler, JM?

(And how would you rate Evans's work for someone who's already got a good grounding in the basic history? I keep seeing them in the bookstore, but I'm not sure to what extent they'd just be recapitulating stuff I already know.)


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 03- 8-08 7:59 PM
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the 5-pound The Third Reich in Power I've been lugging around for the past month and have grown thoroughly depressed with

I can't imagine why. My own personal rule, one that's served me well for years now, is to never read books about Hitler or Stalin.

SF & Fantasy novels are pretty hit & miss with me these days, felix (the last SF book I really enjoyed was Robert Charles Wilson's Spin), but Thunderer looks like it could be fun. I promise at least to buy a copy.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 03- 8-08 8:19 PM
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I can just smell that none of you have read Piers Brendon. He's a bit fast and loose with his bibliography these days, but he's a first class historian, and if the man were to set foot in the state of Massachusetts, I'd marry him before he could say so much as "What's all this, then?".


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 03- 8-08 8:26 PM
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Have you read Kershaw's biography of Hitler, JM?

Nope. I was following Populuxe's very sensible rule until one day I needed to know just how Hitler had consolidated so much power so fast. I do reckon, though, that it wouldn't be an utter waste of time for someone with a decent background in the period: he issues what sounds like rather authoritative judgments on "it was like this, no it was like this" stories I've vaguely been aware of. Also, the organisation of the thing is impressive in itself. Imagine, for example, about sixty pages of "here's what the Reich did in the various fields of education."


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 03- 8-08 9:10 PM
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156, thanks, KR
good to know you open the links i post sometimes
i liked their facial expressions :)


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 7:19 AM
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Despite the storytelling possibilities it opened up, the Buffy vampire-demon-soul-person thing always baffled me.

Is there a dimension of unembodied vampire-demons just waiting for a vampire bite to happen so they can inhabit a human body? [If so, are those not souls?] Is vampire-biting a kind of reproduction that creates new demons out of nothingness? Buffy says that the face o fthe vampire isn't the face of your dead friend but the face of the thing that killed it-- which suggests that there's really just one vampire-demon-spirit thing, and the new host-body doesn't really make for a different vampire at all (because it's the sire-vampire that killed the friend, not the sired-vampire.)

Similarly: Angel and Spike each get "a" soul. But it doesn't seem much like they get back their bodies' original souls-- or, if they do, they don't have memories of the human souls' afterlives, or a very clear differentiation between their human souls' memories and the vampires' memories (hence the ensouled-vampires' torment about what "they" had done).

--------------

I don't think Buffy will displace the cultural sense that vampires ought to be able to turn into bats...


Posted by: Jacob T. Levy | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 2:13 PM
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Besides, if you read it and rave about it here, Magpie will be more likely to agree to go to Verdun when we're in France

Do it. We visited the battlefield only because Fleur's ancestral village is not far away, and it was like a gut punch.

I submit that there are two ways to fully appreciate the magnitude of the catastrophe of the Great War for France:

1. Visit the Ossuaire_de_Douaumont, near Verdun. You can peek inside and see the mountains of human bones, and then reflect on the fact that these are just the unidentified remains from the Battle of Verdun.

2. Seek out the smallest, most isolated village you can find in France. Go to the main square and find the inevitable memorial dedicated aux enfants de [village] morts pour la France 1914-1919, then count the thirty or forty names engraved on the plaque.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 3:26 PM
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I've thought for some time that civilization went bad with WWI, and that WWII eyc. was just a late effect. The big players in 1914 were all respectable, well-educated mainstream patriots. Communists, fascists, and cultural extremists played very minor roles (and often just did what the repectable patriots told them to do.)


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 3:44 PM
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I'm totally buying Felix's novel. That looks fascinating.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 3:48 PM
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192: Of course, the liberals and progressives were all fascists, so now we know what Goldberg was talking about.

It's funny that if Goldberg had gone fully anti-statist and had said that nationalism and militarism tend toward fascism or prepare the ground for fascism he could have made an argument. In fact, his problem would have been that he argument is familiar and pretty much valid. But he needed to remain a Republican, since that's where his $$$ comes from. So he suppressed the best part of his argument, producing the silliest book ever.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 4:02 PM
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nationalism and militarism tend toward fascism or prepare the ground for fascism

Rome was not fascist, nor was longshanks. This is the liberal fallacy, and they think by ending militarism they will get more democracy and equality. They're wrong, and I think in a self-serving way.

Caesarism & Fascism come out of liberal capitalist democracies.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 5:10 PM
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195 was me.

But as long as you think the militarism and nationalism are the problems, you will never reach the real problems, which are capitalism and wealth inequality.

Bushco is about money, not waving the flag.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 5:13 PM
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195 was me.

Was there ever any doubt?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 5:15 PM
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Go fuck yourself, Bob. Genghis Khan wasn't fascist either, nor Harald Hardrada, nor thousands of other. But if you want to share today's analysis with us at more length, go ahead.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 5:49 PM
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198:Exactly my point. Militarism is not in any way connected to fascism as a precursor. But I would say some degree of liberalism, in the increase in social mobility, frustrated economic expectations, and possible real routes for political change, is a necessary condition for fascism.

Even in countries where there was little indigenous fascism, such as Sweden, left-wing governments presented innovative welfare and agricultural price support policies as means to fend off a potential fascist threat. Kevin Passmore, Very Short introduction...

If facism is about militarism, why didn't Sweden disband the army or something?


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 6:14 PM
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Are the only alternatives militarism and total disarmament? Has Sweden been militaristic since the Napoleonic wars? Is Sweden fascist? Your point is not being gotten by me.

I don't have a thousand-year theory of fascism. Fascism was an XXc phenomenon, and it occurred only in capitalist states because by 1900 all states were capitalist.

If you want to say that fascism didn't arise in the non-democratic WWI states (Austria, Russia, Turkey), is that even true? And Germany was very weakly democratic. The non-fascism of Russia is not really very comforting.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 6:21 PM
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Ok, so why did Sweden expand the welfare state to deter fascism? Because the origins of fascism aren't in the Army or oligarchs, but in discontented workers with access to power. Fascism is bottom-up, not top-down.

The military and oligarchy are not frightened of the peasants on pre-liberal societies, at least not in terms of lasting social change. Mubarek doesn't lose sleep over revolution.

This is why I supported Edwards and not Obama. I think Edwards got that you do not de-militarize directly, but indirectly by making militarism unaffordable with a massive increase in the welfare state and the number of stakeholders.

Or because I have seen liberals fight for peace directly for forty years with negative net effect.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 6:34 PM
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Oh, and nationalism arises out of liberalism. A 14th century serf had little sense of country or patriotism.

Of course, liberalism doesn't always lead to fascism. They can go to social democracy or socialism instead. But I wonder whether liberal democracies with great inequalities will usually head that way.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 6:46 PM
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Bob, using Sweden as a way of proving a theory about fascism doesn't go anywhere. You should focus on Germany, Italy, Spain, and maybe Austria.

If fascism is a twentieth century phenomenon, which I though was given, capitalism isn't really a variable at all, and some degree of democracy was pretty widespread by 1914 too.

I supported Edwards too, but I'd just as soon accept futility as reach for hope as desperately as you are.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 6:53 PM
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Unemployed workers don't demand fascism, they demand socialism. Fascism is a defensive response.

I'm going to have to read up on this sometime. My guess is that the populist roots of fascism are exaggerated, just as the fascist tendencies of populism are usually exaggerated. Fascism isn't purely in and of the established elites, but the elites turn to fascism when they need to.

From an authoritarian, aristocratic, Establishment point of view, "the people" (in the negative sense) comprises 90%+ of the population, including most of the middle class. In that sense I suppose you can just barely call fascism "popular". It's a sort of alliance between non-elite rightists who have lost confidence in the elite rightists, and the elite rightists who are afraid of leftism.

Ex-military of all ranks play a big role, and I think that established anti-modern military elites are favorable for the development of fascism.

I'm beyond the limit of what I know at this point. Until convinced otherwise I'm suspicious of the exaggeration of the populism of fascism and the fascism of populism, and also of your political strategy.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 7:06 PM
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My local B&N had a great big stack of Felix's novel, prominently displayed in "New Science Fiction." Buy two today!


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 8:55 PM
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I learned about the Powell's thing from Sir Kraab

Look at me -- I'm changing the woooorld! [To be read in Leonardo DiCaprio's voice.]


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 10:01 PM
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Damn, I sort of conflated Cagney & DiCaprio there, didn't I? But I've never seen White Heat and I was subjected to the Titantic trailer again and again, so, really, I'm the victim here.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 03- 9-08 10:18 PM
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150: The Wheel of Time series has plenty of flaws, but it's interesting how it featured societies which were egalitarian if not matriarchal, for the most part. And the author didn't exactly ignore verisimilitude; rather, he confronted the issue by creating a powerful magic system that only women could use safely.

190.1: I was under the impression that siring a vampire basically counts as reproducing, and that whatever a demon is, it doesn't have a soul. (The ethics of the Buffyverse are quickly becoming tautological. It's OK to kill something without a soul. What's a soul? Something demons don't have. etc.) Alternately, we can't ignore the possibility that the "face of the thing that killed it" description of a vampire is simply wrong. Maybe vampires are essentially still the people they were made from, but Slayers tell friends and themselves they aren't to make the job easier.

190.2: Well, maybe, maybe not. Memories of the afterlife? We know (as surely as we can know) that when Buffy died and got resurrected, she got her original soul back, and she only talked about her afterlife in very general terms. Warm and safe and stuff. If memories get stored in the body, them maybe the consciousness does too. In which case, maybe the afterlife doesn't seem/feel like much of a physical place at all in the Buffyverse. (Also, the only re-ensouled vampires we know of were Angel and Spike, and Angel, at least, was a bit of a bastard when he was alive. It's possible that Angel's soul would have gone to hell. In which case, he wouldn't have wanted to talk about it much.) As for the soul's guilt about what the vampire did, nobody said guilt was rational. Angel has the memory of all that killing, even if it wasn't "really" him.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 03-10-08 8:16 AM
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