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Showing posts by: Karin L Kross click to see Karin L Kross's profile
Fri
Dec 20 2013 1:00pm

The Elric Reread: Elric in the Comics

Elric Michael Moorcock The Making of a Sorcerer

Welcome back to the Elric Reread, in which I revisit one of my all-time favorite fantasy series: Michael Moorcock’s Elric saga. You can find all the posts in the series here. Today’s post talks about Elric in the comic book world, and about Moorcock’s own comics in particular.

Elric appeared in comic book form as far back as 1972, in a guest appearance in Conan the Barbarian, drawn by the great Barry Windsor-Smith. All of the original novels have been adapted into comics form as well, the best by far being P. Craig Russell’s gorgeous adaptation of Stormbringer. Recently, Chris Roberson has taken on Elric and the Eternal Champion mythos in his series Elric: The Balance Lost—an ambitious multi-Champion story in which Roberson’s reach somewhat exceeds his grasp, and which unfortunately isn’t very well served by the art.

Key to the Elric saga, however, are the comics that Michael Moorcock himself has penned: Michael Moorcock’s Multiverse and Elric: The Making of a Sorcerer.

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Fri
Dec 6 2013 1:00pm

The Elric Reread: “Elric at the End of Time”

Michael Moorcock Elric at the End of TimeWelcome back to the Elric Reread, in which I revisit one of my all-time favorite fantasy series: Michael Moorcock’s Elric saga. You can find all the posts in the series here. Today’s post mostly discusses the novella “Elric at the End of Time,” originally published in 1981.

Outside of what we’ve treated as the core novels of the Elric saga, Michael Moorcock has also written a number of short stories and novellas about Elric. “The Last Enchantment,” written in 1962, was originally intended as the final Elric story, but was put aside in favor of the stories that eventually made up Stormbringer and wasn’t published until 1978. “A Portrait in Ivory” was written in 2007 for the Logorrhea anthology, inspired by the word “insouciant.” 2008 saw the publication of “Black Petals” in Weird Tales, and it was followed in 2010 by a sequel, “Red Pearls,” in the Swords and Dark Magic anthology.

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Tue
Nov 26 2013 2:00pm

A Classic Who Celebration: Big Finish’s “The Light at the End”

Did you catch the Doctor Who anniversary special? The one with all the classic Doctors in? No, I don’t mean Peter Davison’s delightful “The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot”—I mean Big Finish’s “The Light at the End”, an excellent two-hour audio drama featuring all of the first eight Doctors. Yes, all eight. It turns out that William Russell, Frazier Hines, and Tim Treloar do very convincing versions of One, Two, and Three respectively—and of course Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, and Paul McGann are all there, along with some of their most beloved companions.

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Fri
Nov 8 2013 1:00pm

The Elric Reread: An Interlude with M. Zenith

Michael Moorcock the Metatemporal DetectiveAmongst Elric’s varied antecedents, you will find Fritz Leiber, Mervyn Peake, and various world mythologies. You might not expect to find in that list the stories of a famous British private detective, whose adventures have entertained many since first appearing in the late nineteenth century, and whose rogues’ gallery includes a master criminal from whom Elric borrows more than a few characteristics.

I’m talking about Sexton Blake, of course, and his enemy Zenith the Albino. Who did you think I meant?

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Fri
Nov 1 2013 4:00pm

Kidnapping, Vampires, and Boys: Curtsies and Conspiracies by Gail Carriger

Curtsies and Conspiracies Gail CarrigerIt’s a delight to return to the elegant steampunk world of Gail Carriger’s Finishing School series, the YA prequels to her Parasol Protectorate novels. Sophronia Temminnick, now fifteen, is excelling at her studies at Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing School for Girls—indeed, at her six-month review, she receives the highest marks ever achieved at the school.

Academic accomplishment is all well and good, but afterward, Sophronia has a host of new trials. Her schoolmates shun her—including her closest friend Dimity (who still faints dead away at the sight of blood)—and her arch-rival Monique de Pelouse hates her as much as ever.

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Fri
Nov 1 2013 11:00am

Outside the Jar of Tang: The Carpet People by Terry Pratchett

Carpet People Terry Pratchett There’s a famous science fiction trope named in the Turkey City Lexicon as “The Jar of Tang.” You know this sort of thing: the story where the heroes are slogging across an orange desert, only to encounter a slick transparent barrier and—you guessed it, they’re microorganisms in a jar of Tang.

You can identify a genuine Jar of Tang story with a simple test: does the story have any impact at all if you simply drop the characters in a mundane, twist-free setting, or does the story’s entire impact derive from that (rather cheap) reveal?

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Fri
Oct 18 2013 12:00pm

The Elric Reread: Stormbringer

Welcome back to the Elric Reread, in which I revisit one of my all-time favorite fantasy series, Michael Moorcock’s Elric saga. You can find all the posts in the series here. Today we get to the big one: Stormbringer.

Stormbringer is the culmination of Elric’s story, but it’s also one of the earliest-written Elric tales, originally published in four parts in 1964. At the time Science Fantasy, the magazine that had been publishing the Elric stories, was about to fold. So Moorcock decided this would be a good time to “finish the series with a bit of a bang,” as he wrote in 2008, and thus bring Elric’s story to an end—though, of course, he and Elric were far from done with one another.

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Fri
Oct 4 2013 12:00pm

The Elric Reread: The Bane of the Black Sword

Michael Moorcock The Bane of the Black Sword Elric SagaWelcome back to the Elric Reread, in which I revisit one of my all-time favorite fantasy series, Michael Moorcock’s Elric saga. You can find all the posts in the series here. Today’s post discusses The Bane of the Black Sword.

As we advance further in Elric’s own timeline toward his doom, we now step back in the writing of the stories to the early 1960s. The four stories in The Bane of the Black Sword were originally published shortly after “The Dreaming City” and “While the Gods Laugh,” which you’ll recall from The Weird of the White Wolf, and they are much more of a piece with those early Moorcock works than with The Revenge of the Rose.

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Mon
Sep 23 2013 10:30am

The Careful Leveraging of Fear: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid's Tale Margaret Atwood banned books Mrs. Gilbert was one of those cool English teachers. You know the kind. She told us about wanting to go to Woodstock and not being allowed by her parents because she was too young. She taught us to enjoy Shakespeare by encouraging us to figure out all the filthy jokes in Romeo and Juliet—“the heads of the maids, or their maidenheads?” and “thou wilt fall backward when thou hast more wit!”—a surefire way to the hearts and minds of a bunch of ninth-grade honors students who fancied themselves to be filthy-minded. She’s the one who gave me an A on my Elric fanfiction when I had the temerity to hand it in for a writing assignment. And she’s the one who suggested that I read Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.

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Fri
Sep 20 2013 12:00pm

The Elric Reread: The Revenge of the Rose

Michael Moorcock Elric The Revenge of the RoseWelcome back to the Elric Reread, in which I revisit one of my all-time favorite fantasy series: Michael Moorcock’s Elric saga. You can find all the posts in the series here. Today’s post discusses The Revenge of the Rose, published in 1991.

As with The Fortress of the Pearl, this is where reading the novels according to Elric’s own chronology gets a bit strange, because The Revenge of the Rose is a radically different book from the ones on either side of it in the series. In his introduction to the 2010 volume Swords and Roses, Moorcock writes that he was driven by a need to feel “as ambitious about that book as I had felt in 1961 when I began the series and was one of the very few producing this kind of fantasy.” To this end, he sends Elric on a quest across the Multiverse in search of a rosewood box that contains the soul of his father, Sadric.

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Fri
Sep 6 2013 12:00pm

The Elric Reread: The Sleeping Sorceress

Michael Moorcock Elric The Sleeping SorceressWelcome back to the Elric Reread, in which I revisit one of my all-time favorite fantasy series, Michael Moorcock’s Elric saga. You can find all the posts in the series here. Today’s post discusses The Sleeping Sorceress, originally published in 1972. DAW, for reasons best known to themselves, renamed the book The Vanishing Tower, which may be the title that you recognize.

When I sat down to reread The Sleeping Sorceress for this week’s installment, I knew that I had fond memories of having read it as The Vanishing Tower back in 1989, and I’m quite sure that I enjoyed it when the Del Rey reissue came out in 2008, though perhaps I didn’t read it all that closely at the time. Now it seems to combine some of the more frustrating excesses of the Elric saga with what are, by comparison to the rest of the series, fairly conventional fantasy plots.

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Fri
Aug 23 2013 12:00pm

The Elric Reread: The Weird of the White Wolf

Elric The Weird of the White Wolf Michael Moorcock

Welcome back to the Elric Reread, in which I revisit one of my all-time favorite fantasy series, Michael Moorcock’s Elric saga. You can find all the posts in the series here. Today’s post discusses The Weird of the White Wolf, published in 1977.

We are, as I and other writers at Tor have observed, well steeped nowadays in dark, brutal cinematic visions of what it means to be an heroic character. Superman lays waste to a city to save it; Batman must become the city’s scapegoat and descend into hell before redeeming himself with an act of self-immolation. Audiences and critics are, understandably, starting to chafe at these tropes; this may make the Elric saga, and The Weird of the White Wolf in particular, a bit of a hard sell these days.

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Fri
Aug 9 2013 4:00pm

Love and Corpse Disposal: Dead Pig Collector by Warren Ellis

Dead Pig Collector Warren Ellis In comics and prose, Warren Ellis excels at the procedural—Transmetropolitan followed Spider Jerusalem’s (admittedly often unorthodox) journalism, Planetary followed the exploits of superpowered investigators of the strange, and his previous novels, Crooked Little Vein and Gun Machine, were detective/police procedurals. In the novella Dead Pig Collector (excerpt here), he approaches the business of murder and body disposal from the other side of the law, in what might be called a criminal procedural and which Ellis himself describes as “a love story about the efficient disposal of corpses. Sort of.”

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Fri
Aug 9 2013 12:00pm

The Elric Reread: The Sailor on the Seas of Fate

Welcome back to the Elric Reread, in which I revisit one of my all-time favorite fantasy series, Michael Moorcock’s Elric saga. You can find all the posts in the series here. Today’s post discusses The Sailor on the Seas of Fate, published in 1976.

The Sailor on the Seas of Fate has never really been my favorite Elric book. Where The Fortress of the Pearl stands quite well on its own and in the continuity, Sailor is a little more awkward; it’s as if you can see more of the welding marks in its insertion into Elric’s continuity between the origin story of Elric of Melniboné and his downfall of The Weird of the White Wolf; where that book actually feels like a cohesive work, despite being composed of short stories published months, even years apart, Sailor feels disjointed, its structure forced. However, even a comparatively underwhelming Elric book has more going for it than your usual high fantasy offering.

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Fri
Jul 26 2013 11:00am

The Elric Reread: The Fortress of the Pearl

Michael Moorcock Elric The Fortress of the PearlBy 1989, I was well and truly immersed in all things Moorcock and Elric—and I was stunned to learn that there was a new Elric book. This being well before the advent of the Internet, I’m pretty sure that I only found out about it when the book showed up in stores. The ending of Stormbringer being what it is, the only obvious option for a new Elric book was something that fit amongst the existing tales, and fortunately there is sufficient space between the recorded adventures to add more. Thus The Fortress of the Pearl fits between Elric of Melniboné and The Sailor on the Seas of Fate.

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Fri
Jul 26 2013 10:00am

Simple Does Not Equal Dumb, and Other Assorted Thoughts on Pacific Rim

There’s a kind of meme going around right now with regard to Pacific Rim that really gets up my nose: that Pacific Rim is a “dumb movie.” As in, a friend recently asked on Facebook if anyone had seen it, and amongst the responses was a comment along the lines of, “It was a dumb movie, but I really liked it.” Even Chris Lough here at Tor has described it as “an exceptionally loud, kind of dumb action movie that focuses on being really good as an exceptionally loud, kind of dumb action movie.”

Respectfully, I would like to disagree. Or at least, insist that we stop using the word dumb. Simple? Sure. Uncomplicated? Absolutely. Spectacular, in the truest sense of the word? Hell yes. But none of these things are dumb.

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Fri
Jul 12 2013 12:00pm

The Elric Reread: Elric of Melniboné

Elric of MelniboneIt is the colour of a bleached skull, his flesh; and the long hair which flows below his shoulders is milk-white. From the tapering, beautiful head stare two slanting eyes, crimson and moody, and from the loose sleeves of his yellow gown emerge two slender hands, also the colour of bone, resting on each arm of a seat which has been carved from a single, massive ruby.

With this striking description , we’re introduced to Elric VIII, four hundred and twenty-eighth Sorcerer Emperor of Melniboné, the only son of Sadric the Eighty-Sixth. Once Melniboné ruled the entirety of the known world, but as the human race and the Young Kingdoms have grown stronger, it has now dwindled; its borders have withdrawn to the Dragon Isles that were the centre of the empire, and its exquisitely refined, cruel, inhuman people have fallen into decadence, lost in sensual pleasures and dreaming. From the moment we join Elric as he watches his court dance—serenaded by a choir of slaves who have been mutilated so that each one may only produce one single, perfect note—we can be certain that Melniboné’s days are numbered.

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Fri
Jul 12 2013 12:00pm

Welcome to the Elric Reread!

The Elric Reread

When I was thirteen, I stumbled across a book that would change my life in a Nag Champa-scented New Age bookstore in Austin. The book was called Law and Chaos, and I was drawn to it by the cover illustration: a hauntingly fey, ghost-pale figure in a hooded black cloak, holding a massive broadsword that had a hilt like a pair of bat wings. I had no idea what it was, but I knew I wanted it, and somehow I conned my father (who has always been patient with my various fixations and enthusiasms) into buying it for me.

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Tue
Jul 9 2013 4:00pm

Templar by Jordan Mechner, LeUyen Pham, and Alex Puvilland

Templar, Jordan Mechner, LeUyen Pham, Alex Puvilland

The Knights Templar have been fodder for any number of conspiracy theories, ranging from the mundane to the supernatural. A character in Umberto Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum notes that the sure sign of a lunatic is that he eventually brings up the Templars. The order’s even been used as the basis for the bad guys in the Assassin’s Creed series. But in Templar (excerpt here), written by Jordan Mechner and illustrated by LeUyen Pham and Alex Puvilland, the dissolution of the Knights Templar becomes the basis for a heist in the best tradition of Ocean’s Eleven and The Italian Job . Mechner’s experience as a screenwriter and the writer behind games like Prince of Persia pays off here, resulting in a fast-paced and unexpectedly moving adventure against one of the great historical dramas of the Middle Ages.

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Mon
Jul 8 2013 1:00pm

Twenty-First Century Folktales: Eleanor Arnason’s Big Mama Stories

Big Mama Stories Eleanor ArnasonIt’s not unusual to find fairy tales or folk tales that have been reinvented or brought up to date in SF&F these days; Neil Gaiman’s Anansi Boys is probably one of the best-known examples of this particular trope. But in Big Mama Stories, Eleanor Arnason, known for anthropological SF stories like A Woman of the Iron People, has created a batch of new folk tales for the twenty-first century, with an entirely new cast of mythic characters. The results are reminiscent of Stanislaw Lem’s Cyberiad or Italo Calvino’s Cosmicomics: witty and fanciful short stories, populated with fantastical beings having larger-than-life adventures. Her prose has the straightforward quality of a good campfire story, and her characters are a delight.

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