A Pastiche: The Grayling and Blue Hawk

Sometime in 1980, after I was given an electric typewriter for Christmas, I began not only writing stories longhand, but typing some of them and sharing them with my father.  The first one I was inspired to do was a Fritz Lieber pastiche, based on his Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser characters.  I hadn’t read the first collection in the series, yet, but I had read descriptions of the two characters and their adventures in the first edition of the First Edition AD & D supplement Deities and Demigods.

My creations were called The Grayling and Blue Hawk.  The Grayling was the big barbarian from the far northern lands, of course.  The name has two references.  First of all, he had gray hair, borrowed from the barbarians of The World of Grayhawk, even though he was only in his twenties.  Second, a “grayling” is a rather ordinary salt water fish found in the North Atlantic which has a rainbow stripe of scales on it.  Blue Hawk, was of course named for a color and an animal, like the Mouser.  Blue is one of my favorite colors and I am partial to hawks, when it comes to birds.  I used to watch them when a rare single one would fly over the house.

The actual story wasn’t much of a standout.  It was a typical adventure for two Fafhrd and Mouser type characters, a fetch quest.  They agreed to retrieve a magical artifact for a wizard.  It was held by an evil cult, of course.  They crossed as fantasy continent I had cooked up for the story, nearly killed their horses by riding them so hard and eventually ended up in far southern lands where the cult had their weird, forbidding temple.  You know, the usual stuff for swashbuckling adventurers.  Like Lieber, I added humorous touches to some of the scenes.  The final confrontation was of course epic, dramatic and violent, with several cultists being cut down when the charged the mock heroic pair in attempt to stop the theft of the artifact.

I didn’t write gory details, even then.  That was mostly because I modeled my writing on the pulp fiction I read, starting in the late Seventies.  The pulps from the Twenties onward had to be restrained in what they wrote, or the parents of the kids who read their magazines would wrathfully get them shut down.  For some reason, the neo-pulp writers of the Seventies also follow that convention.

The ending was weak.  The pair get whisked off by a wizard-ex-machina teleport spell to the wizard’s home, back in their home city.  They get their reward for delivering the artifact.  I don’t remember clearly what it was.  I think it was an appropriate reward for swashbuckling heroes as written by someone in their late teens.

Reviews of Omission

I have some more thoughts about what I am willing to read and review.  I am generally not indifferent to what I read.  Reading is one of the few engaging activities I have where I can safely indulge a feeling of passion.  I either truly like something or I develop a loathing for it, after I have read it.  That sometimes applies to content creators as well.  I do not separate the art from the artist.  It has been my experience and observation for the past thirty-five years that if a content creator is unethical, or worse, morally corrupt, their work reflects that.  I have decided that I won’t post a negative review of a creative effort here unless I have some informational or educational point to make.  I also refuse to engage in analysis of the sundry content creators I have learned of over the decades since the early Eighties whose behavior available in the public record is of the clearly morally repugnant sort.  That kind of analysis would be a hit piece or character assassination at best or an actionable ad hominum attack at worst.  That is not the purpose of this blog.  I have fewer limitations when reviewing a book on Goodreads, but I am still constrained by policy from posting a personal attack on an author.

Which brings me to the topic of this post.  If you fail to see a review of a work by a content creator who had been or has been active since the early Eighties, then the conditions outline above mostly likely apply.  The exceptions to this are a whole laundry list of authors and their works available on my Goodreads “to read” list.  I am insatiably curious and am willing to give a content creator a shot if I can’t find a review of their work which warns me off.

That reminds me.  It might be useful or even helpful if I make my Goodreads lists available to the general public.  I might have to tinker with the permission on my Goodreads profile, too.  Ah well, I don’t have anything else better to do this morning after I publish this piece.  😉

Review: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

This is the first book listed on my “read” bookshelf on Goodreads.  I don’t know how I managed that.  When I signed up at the site, it had me select twenty books I was interested so it could get an idea of what to automatically generate for recommendations.

I only read this book when the first movie adaptation was coming out.  I was curious about what the fuss was.  At the time, young readers on AOL constantly asked “Who here likes Harry Potter?”

The prose of the book itself is not bad, relatively well-written and accessible to younger readers.  The main character is a seemingly-ordinary waif with some truly horrible relatives he’s forced to live with.  That was the first thing that put me off enjoying the book.  The author, Rowling, calls them “Muggles”.  I recognize them as “Mundanes” and have had bad experiences with people like that for five decades.

Things get a bit better for the title character, Harry Potter, when he gets invited to and goes to a magical boarding school, Hogwarts Academy.  There other people his age and even adults interact with him in a non-obnoxious fashion.

The plot of the book, once it gets to Hogwarts involves the title maguffin, a philosopher’s stone, renamed sorcerer’s stone, for the unwashed American masses of children.  Harry gets mixed up in finding the blasted thing and preventing it from being stolen by the ultimate villain of the piece, a mostly-dead dark wizard named Voldemort.  A confrontation between the two forms the climax of the book, with Voldemort melting from his attempt to touch the sorcerer’s stone.  I think.  It’s been nearly ten years since I read the book.