Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Don't Split the Party: Conan's Motivations

One of the pure delights of my introduction to pulps as pulp fiction and not individual stories was reading the game bloggers that Jeffro Johnson introduced as part of his Appendix N discussions. Not only was the insight into gaming interesting, but they, as a whole, thought deeper and harder about what made science fiction and fantasy than, say, Tor.com. The best lit crit and the clearest voices telling why the old tales entertained so well was not being done inside the SFF community.

For example, take a look at yesterday's post from Rick Stump, a table-top gamer with more years in that saddle than I have in life:
  It seems that 'because he wanted to' or 'because it is his job' just don't strike contemporary writers as actual motivations, jowever, so they invent really huge events to motivate characters.
  Look at the Bond movies. The first several were '...007, your mission is...'. These days? Every trailer might as well open with a voiceover proclaiming, 
  "This time, it's personal!!!!"

  But the pulps didn't have this problem!
  To the pulps doing something hard because it was hard was the default. Valuing any life over riches was the hallmark of a hero - being conflicted over saving a life versus becoming wealthy was a sign of moral weakness. Men saved women from peril because that is what men do.
It is a wonderful post on Conan's motivations as seen through his portrayals in the books and movies, that addresses questions that writers and players might have. Insightful and inciteful, this is a must read for pulp fans.

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