content by

Lawrence M. Schoen

Fiction and Excerpts [1]

Fiction and Excerpts [1]

A Kippled Meal

When the idea of having Lawrence M. Schoen and Daniel Polansky write together came up, it seemed an unlikely match. Daniel’s The Builders is a tale of of bloody revenge and razor sharp wit, while Lawrence’s Barsk is a story of prophecy, the afterlife and deep pathos. Then we looked again and realized that Barsk features sentient, genetically engineered post-elephants as protagonists, and The Builders has a star studded cast of anthropomorphic desperados. Of course! Each authors’ characters are sympathetic and human-like, but the choice of creature matters, revealing key character- and world-building details.

“A Kippled Meal,” the result of their collaboration, is a meditation on the nature of various idealized animals. A mole, a cat, a sloth, a dog, and various other animals discuss their perfect meal—suppers that reveal their innermost instincts, with some more uncouth than others…

[Bon Appetit!]

Buddy, Can You Spare a Thaum? The Metaphors of Max Gladstone’s Craft Sequence

Back in my professor days, when I taught Psycholinguistics, I’d begin the semester with the premise that acquiring our native language was the most cognitively complex thing that human beings manage in their lifetime, and we’ve pretty much got that done by age five. Really, it’s all down hill from there. As a corollary to that, the most powerful thing we do with language is use it to craft metaphor, in a curiously recursive regimen of enhancement. Other forms of figurative language—by which I mean to include hyperbole, idiom, personification, and of course simile—share in ratcheting up the depth and breadth that language makes possible, but a good metaphor, one which maps the detailed and varied facets of one thing onto the orthogonal aspects of another, manages to both ground and transcend language at the same time.

Having grown up on Tolkien and Peake, voyaged to Arcturus and Earthsea, and done my time with unicorns, scarecrows, and dragons, I have little interest in most fantasy literature any more. Nothing puts me off a book faster than a cover blurb with the phrase “in the epic tradition of…” And too, I’ve had my fill of both the roleplaying retreads and the endless invocations of Joseph Campbell. And while Plato had it right that there’s nothing new under the sun, genre fiction has never had a problem trotting out fresh suns. Hence, we return to figurative language. A metaphor can make the old new again, put a fresh perspective on the familiar, and restore one’s faith in the fantastic.

Which leads me, starstruck and intoxicated, to Max Gladstone’s Craft Sequence.

[Wizardry is business. Magic is commerce.]

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