Thursday, September 21, 2017

Corto Maltese in Siberia

A little amuse-bouche while I work my way through the comic of the same name. It is a more cultured comic than most of what I have read, with its creator Hugo Pratt being lauded as the inventor of the literary comic strip, and the references, from the historical General Ungern-Sternberg to the literature of the I Ching, Utopia, and "Kubla Khan", require a bit more care to unpack than my normal fare.

Do not be dismayed by the literary claims. Corto Maltese is an adventurer first and foremost, and this particular tale sends him after a Siberian treasure train in the name of the Crown--and a Chinese triad.

This will be of interest to any anime fan, as Japan often works with French and Italian studios, and this adventure has the relaxed pace common to continental and Japanese animation.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Wells vs. Verne?

I missed an interesting conversation on hard vs soft and Wells vs. Verne yesterday on Twitter.

While a sense of "Hard SF" as "Scientific-marvelous" existed in the early 1900s, much of today's hard SF would also fail to meet that definition. The Martian, by Weir, is seen as a hard sf success story, but it is closer to the spirit of Verne than Wells, as it is the engineering of the near future, not the extrapolation of a discovery into the mists of the unknown. Even most of Wells' work fails to meet that lofty standard.

And it also must be pointed out that Verne denied that he wrote science fiction, or "scientific romance" in the parlance of the day. He was just looking for plausible methods to facilitate his fantastic voyages.

At best, Hard SF is an emerging genre at the end of Wells' career, without a sense of a soft SF to contrast against. It is the scientific-marvelous that was the idea of Hard SF in the pulps and digests, per Asimov and Ellison. Along the way, however, the definition of Hard SF turned into Verne's engineering of the future instead. Possibly during the 1970s, but certainly before the hard sf rebirth of the 90s.

So it is amusing to see talk of hard vs. soft SF framed in terms of Wells vs. Verne. Neither man embodies the Soft end of the spectrum, especially in this day of scientific-isekai, battle academies, zombies, "Cat Pictures, Please", and dinosaurs, my love.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Villon's Straight Tip to All Cross Coves

Booze and the Blowens, or an amusement while I wrestle with a long post...

"Wine and women take the lot". An interesting little poem of knavery and grifting. The link has the translations for all the conman's deeds.

Villon’s Straight Tip To All Cross Coves
By william ernest henley.

‘Tout aux tavernes et aux filles’


Suppose you screeve, or go cheap-jack?
Or fake the broads? or fig a nag?
Or thimble-rig? or knap a yack?
Or pitch a snide? or smash a rag?
Suppose you duff? or nose and lag?
Or get the straight, and land your pot?
How do you melt the multy swag?
Booze and the blowens cop the lot.


Fiddle, or fence, or mace, or mack;
Or moskeneer, or flash the drag;
Dead-lurk a crib, or do a crack;
Pad with a slang, or chuck a fag;
Bonnet, or tout, or mump and gag;
Rattle the tats, or mark the spot
You cannot bank a single stag:
Booze and the blowens cop the lot.


Suppose you try a different tack,
And on the square you flash your flag?
At penny-a-lining make your whack,
Or with the mummers mug and gag?
For nix, for nix the dibbs you bag
At any graft, no matter what!
Your merry goblins soon stravag:
Booze and the blowens cop the lot.

The Moral.

It’s up-the-spout and Charley-Wag
With wipes and tickers and what not!
Until the squeezer nips your scrag,
Booze and the blowens cop the lot.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

50 YEARS OF LUPIN III: The Mystery of Mamo

Months after a Lupin doppelganger is sentenced to death and hanged, Lupin III returns to the limelight, stealing a number of legendary artifacts tied to longevity on the request of Fujiko. Meanwhile, her mysterious benefactor tries to woo Fujiko, promising immortality to his personal Helen of Troy. But when Lupin double-crosses Fujiko to learn the identity of her benefactor, he finds himself in the middle of web of deceit drawing in a reclusive billionaire, clones of history's greatest men, and the might of the United States' military, all around one name: Mamo.

Originally titled "Lupin vs. the Clones," 1978's The Mystery of Mamo is the first Lupin III movie. Hampered by the restrictions of network censors, the Lupin franchise sought to use the creative freedom of the silver screen to create a faithful adaptation of Monkey Punch's manga in tone, humor, and artistic style. While future animators would draw inspiration from The Mystery of Mamo, as 2001's James Bond meets the X-men action caper Read or Die would retread its plotit would be overshadowed by 1979's The Castle of Cagliostro.

What a difference a year makes.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Der Meistertrunk: A Prompt

I haven't done much with writing prompts since my first set. Some of this is because ideas are cheap, and some is that while Campbell is celebrated for his writing prompts, a little look into the actual history of his practice showed just how of little utility this was for the professional pulpster.(1) However, truth is stranger than fiction, and some stories need to be retold.

Rawle Nyanzi has been writing an interesting mix of Japan and the Holy Roman Empire with his flash fiction. Today's "How To Slay a Bandit", located in the province of "Bai-an", along with the upcoming Oktoberfest, brought to mind a long favorite story about one of my favorite German towns.

Since my first visit to Rothenburg o. d. Tauber, I have been long fascinated with the city. As one of the few remaining walled cities in Germany, it takes care to preserve its heritage. The Museum of Medieval Crime and Justice brings to life the old punishments and torture of the medieval criminal system. It is also a surprising source of information on Christian charms and amulets, and one uncorrupted by popular fantasy conventions and two centuries of Naturalist, Romanticist, and Modernist neopagan fanfiction. Those looking for Christmas decorations need to stop by the Kaethe Wohlfart store. And, for the connoisseur, the wines are sweet, yet excellent. And it is to the wines we turn for the writing prompt, and the legend of Der Meistertrunk (The Master Draught):

"The setting is the Thirty Years’ War and after some bitter fighting, the Catholic imperial troops under Count Tilly had just taken control of Protestant Rothenburg. The town folk of Rothenburg did not give in easily and Count Tilly was enraged by their violent resistance. He gave orders for the town to be plundered and destroyed and for four of the town councillors to be executed. Pleas for mercy fell on deaf ears and the Mayor was ordered to fetch the hangman.

"Meanwhile, the count was offered the finest of Franconian wine served in a huge tankard which holds 3.25 litres. In jest, he promised to spare the town if one of its councillors could down a full tankard of wine in one go. A former mayor, B├╝rgermeister Nusch took up the challenge and amazed Tilly by draining the tankard in ten minutes. Tilly kept his promise to spare the town, the folks of Rothenburg were jubilant and Mayor Nusch was said to have slept for the next three days."
Not all mighty deeds are accomplished on the battlefield. Perhaps such a tale as der Meistertrunk might liven up a hero's adventure.


(1) Manly Wade Wellman said that Campbell was preoccupied with his own ideas instead of his writers'. Leigh Brackett noticed that she could not sell Campbell stories to any of the other science fiction magazines. Campbell himself said he preferred to work with writers reliant on other careers for income, as they were more amenable to his guidance. Not much room here for the 9 to 5 pulpster...

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

DragonCon 2017 Panel: Monster Hunter Files

A panel from Dragon*Con covering Larry Correia's upcoming Monster Hunter Files anthology. John Ringo is unfortunately not there, so the rest of the panel actually had a chance to speak. (I love listening to Ringo's panel stories, but they do grow to fill the time available.)

And in "not a real writer" news, check out Larry Correia's custom MH:I ammunition!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

An Index of Pulp Coming Attractions

For those wanting to keep abreast of the newest pulp reprints, neo-pulp releases, and pulp blogs, check out Pulp Coming Attractions. The site updates weekly, with a comprehensive list of pre-orders and new releases, including Altus reprints, Sanctum's The Shadow reprints, and a full host of specialty stores. Castalia House and Black Gate are even linked regularly.