"Am I pleased to see you or did I put a canoe in my pocket?"
Lord Flashheart (Rik Mayall), "Blackadder II"
PSEUDO-LITERARY RAMBLINGS COMMENTED ON
by Richard Karsmakers
Remember my last issue's comments on Guy Favriel Kay's "Fionavar
Tapestry" trilogy? Well, at the time ST NEWS Volume 8 Issue 2 got
finished I was well into the third part but no way finished. Now
I have finished it, and all I have to say is that it left me with
the feeling that it had been the very best fantasy trilogy I had
ever read. That means I think it's better than Donaldson's
"Unbeliever" chronicles, Hickmann/Weiss' "Dragonlance" trilogies
and, yes, "Lord of the Rings". The depth is just amazing, and the
whole thing is a logical intertwinement of fantasy and love
stories. It's superb. No fantasy adept should claim not having
So far some extra comments on stuff I had already written about.
Now for new things.
Witches Abroad - Terry Pratchett
Terry Pratchett's Discworld books have kept on getting funnier,
or at least just as funny as the previous book in the series.
However, "Witches Abroad" is a notable exception. It's actually
the first Pratchett book (and that includes the superb "Good
Omens" and even the Nome Trilogy) that I didn't like lots.
For starters it's slow, especially in the beginning. When things
get going, however, Pratchett becomes almost identical to Craig
Shaw Gardner, the man who A) Is a Pratchett rip-off and B)
Pratchett doesn't seem to like at all. Where Gardner throws in
fantasy fiction in a world of existing mythological creatures and
faerytales, Pratchett now sets a book in virtually identical
surroundings. The witches (which weren't particularly my
favourite characters to start with) have an adventure with
aspects of Cinderella in it, as well as numerous other children's
stories. I realise the whole book is about stories, but somehow I
get the impression that this is exactly the stuff that Gardner
could have written. And I quit reading Gardner's second trilogy
because I had the feeling I could have written it.
Don't get me wrong: "Witches Abroad" has multiple genuinely
funny moments. Pratchett goes for a lot of language jokes,
sometimes deeply philosophical, but it's counterbalanced by some
repeating humour ("it wasn't just the absence of words, but
silence and then the other way out" or something like that) and
the whole thing is just a bit tedious. Not the usual barrage of
fun I liked to much in "Moving Pictures" and "Reaper Man".
If you already have all the Discworld novels, get this one too.
It would be a shame to make your collection incomplete and it's
not entirely without fun anyway. But if you are keen only on
getting the best Discworld novels, let this one pass.
Small Gods - Terry Pratchett
After having finished "Witches Abroad" I was afraid "Small Gods"
would be a letdown too. It's a bit like your favourite band
recording a crap album - no way there can ever be a good one
after that. Or at least that's what you fear.
Let me say right away that it isn't. "Small Gods" is full of
Pratchett's usual excellence, and it's simply one of the best
Discworld novels I've read, quite an equal to my previous
favourite, "Moving Pictures".
"Small Gods" is a delightful parody, and an almost literary one
at that, of religion and the insanities that seem to have gone
hand-in-hand with it - even though the absurd atrocities might in
real life nowadays not be quite as harsh. "Small Gods" is the
kind of book that would have raised hell and "reeked havoc" had
it been published in the time of the Spanish Inquisition. Quite
possibly, had it featured Allah and the Islam, it would have
caused Pratchett to have to go into hiding for fear of his life.
As it is, he seems to have steered clear of it. But, for all I
know, his wife might wear garters with Sacred Verses From The
Koran On It. And quite right she'd be. Claudia looked ravishingly
great in it. We'd be totally daft if we'd let a bunch of reli-
crazed people dictate what we should or shouldn't do.
Aliens, who might hitherto have frowned seriously at mankind in
the light of the horrors inflicted for the cause of religion,
might just be capable of redeeming mankind if they read "Small
Gods" and see how mankind can make a laughing stock of itself.
Centuries of injustice could now finally be put right.
"Small Gods" is a true gem of humour. Really worth getting. I'd
like to add my own motto: Serve the world, kick a reli-nut!
Stop press: The author of the above, who of course wishes the
entire Islamitic world not to know that his name is Richard
Karsmakers, has joined some rather more famous people in hiding
in a place unknown. Check the postage stamp on the envelope you
got this ST NEWS disk in. It might reveal the country in which
he's hiding. Then again, it might not.
He wishes to let you know that Salman is a bundle of laughs and
that Claudia is even better in close-up. Without a Koran-
bescribbled dress - or any dress, for that matter - she's even
more sensuous. They're momentarily waiting for Cindy to drop by,
her hair wafting of Revlon shampoo.
Well, he can dream, can't he?
The Eternal Champion Omnibus Volume 1; Von Bek - Michael Moorcock
Some years ago, Jeff Minter advised me to read Michael
Moorcock's "Jerry Cornelius Sequence", back in the time when
Stefan and me were toying with ideas for weird Warchild-related
adventures and we needed inspiration. Somehow I never quite
succeeded in getting my hands on this sequence but about a year
ago I saw "The Eternal Champion Omnibus Volume 1" lying in a
bookshop and decided to buy it. Just check it out and see if it
might be worth reading further volumes.
Well, if the further 3 volumes and the 10 volumes planned but
not yet published are anything like this first volume I will read
them most eagerly.
"Von Bek" consists of two novels and one short story revolving
around people of the Bek family and their arch adversaries of the
Klosterheim family. They were published previously in a somewhat
different form I am led to believe as "The Warhound and
the World's Pain" and "The City in the Autumn Stars", with the
short story being called "The Pleasure Garden of Felipe
Moorcock is a master of atmosphere. Within a few pages he had me
sucked into a world that had its peculiar beauty - and ugliness
too - with interesting characters bearing even more interesting
loyalties. The stories primarily consist of quests for the holy
Grail, with unexpected turns everywhere. Moorcock's images are
almost real, and if the novels don't cause someone to start
believing in the existence of a God they might jolly well
convince you that there is indeed such a one as Lucifer and that
the world is more in his hand's than in anyone else's.
"Von Bek" is one of the best serious fiction I've read lately,
not at all comparable with the excellent "Fionavar Tapestry"
trilogy that was magnificent but lighthearted in comparison.
Moorcock had me proverbially enthralled for the time it took to
finish this volume.
The book has inspired me to such extent that I made a few notes
about a story I will myself write one day - featuring either
Cronos Warchild (in which case it will be humorous of sorts) or a
new character (in which case it will be deeply serious, dark, and
heavy). I have decided not to write it right away because I
wanted Moorcock's book to wear off a bit before I start
unwittingly using all kinds of his ideas. Perhaps next year.
No doubt I will find a way to read Pratchett's "Lords and
Ladies" some day soon. But for now I still have to read some
books Stefan borrowed to me (Pratchett's "Strata" and "Dark Side
of the Sun" as well as some stuff by Lovecraft and Sharpe) as
well as a load of stuff I bought cheaply some time ago (including
some Homer, Virgil and Poe). By that time I suspect the new "Red
Dwarf" novel will also be finished and perused accordingly.
As a matter of fact I have started reading the Lovecraft
material and it has to be classified as "singularly inspiring".
This guy writes totally weird stuff, eerily magnificent in an
eldritch way, using vocabulary that is one of a kind. So far he's
showed me words such as teratology and virgintillion, the latter
of which I couldn't find in any of my dictionaries and that I'll
have to look up in the University library's "Oxford English
Dictionary" one day.
Awesome stuff. More about it next time.
The text of the articles is identical to the originals like they appeared in old ST NEWS issues. Please take into consideration that the author(s) was (were) a lot younger and less responsible back then. So bad jokes, bad English, youthful arrogance, insults, bravura, over-crediting and tastelessness should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Any contact and/or payment information, as well as deadlines/release dates of any kind should be regarded as outdated. Due to the fact that these pages are not actually contained in an Atari executable here, references to scroll texts, featured demo screens and hidden articles may also be irrelevant.