Thursday, August 31, 2006

Singing My Sister Down - Margo Lanagan

I came across this story via the Speculative Reviews blog (see link in sidebar) - it was nominated for a Hugo but unfortunately didn't win. I don't know what the winning entry was like but I truly hope it was fantastic, because to have this story beaten by anything less would be a travesty. I include the link here because this dark and beautiful little piece deserves to be read by everyone.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

On Stranger Tides - Tim Powers

Pirates! Everyone knows what they are like: they wield cutlasses, drink grog and say "harr!"; the captain usually has an eyepatch, wooden leg, hook hand or combination of the above; they collect pieces of eight and make their captives walk the plank (parrots have now gone out of fashion as piratical accoutrements). Some of them are scared of crocodiles. With all of this cultural baggage to carry, it can be quite hard to take pirates seriously, and most pirate fiction (book or film) can't avoid the cheesy campness of thigh-slapping swashbucklers, intentionally or otherwise. There is nothing wrong with this, of course, but it makes a very refreshing change to find an author that manages to take the cheese out of piracy and still write a cracking good yarn.

In On Stranger Tides, we have not just pirates, but voodoo - and what a great combination! It's a wonder that this hasn't been done more often, though I hear the new Pirates of the Caribbean film also combines the two. It seems a natural progression from the usual nautical superstitions, with cantrips to control the winds, fetishes for protection and some neat tie-ins with established pirate facts - for example, the burning tapers in Blackbeard's beard are now his connection with the spirit Baron Samedi who watches over him. The dark and organic voodoo magic is well-researched, well-realised and fits in perfectly with the blood-soaked world of the high seas.

With a new governor at New Providence, the age of piracy is nearing its end, and the influx from the Old World is draining the magic from the New, so many last-ditch plans are afoot. Jack Shandy is on his way to Haiti, when his ship is attacked and he is involuntarily pressed into joining a pirate crew. Also on the ship are two unpleasant necromancers, Friend and Hurwood, who have a dastardly scheme involving Hurwood's daughter; Jack reluctantly finds himself having to oppose them. From naval sea-battles off the Caribbean coasts to desperate journeys through the haunted swamps of old Florida, the setting is magnificently drawn with a real sense of menace, and the story will keep you turning pages right up to the end. This is one of the best pirate books I've read.


Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The Empire of Ice Cream - Jeffrey Ford

This is a beautifully-crafted book full of beautifully-crafted stories. The cover art seems to imply that the book contains some surreal and magical fantasy, and indeed it does, but the stories also span a good swathe of the genre, from fairy-tale to suburban horror via nautical ghosts and twisted myths. The style is elegant, and the ideas are original and very varied.

The problem with beautiful writing, however, is that it does not necessarily make for easy reading, and I found the first few stories in the collection quite hard to engage with - rather like a delicate crystal goblet that you admire on the shelf but would never actually use to drink out of. The dense and luscious prose requires quite a lot of work from the reader, but is definitely worth the effort (though someone needs to tell Ford's editor the difference between "illusive" and "elusive") - once you get to grips with the style, the stories are real treats.

Picking a favourite couple of stories from the bunch is not difficult, but I'm very surprised by my choices. I normally dislike novellas, but by far the longest piece in the book, Botch Town, is one of the best, a strange tale of dark deeds in a run-down suburban neighbourhood. And I normally hate ghost stories, but The Trentino Kid, set amongst the treacherous tides of the offshore clam-beds, manages to be both atmospheric and genuinely chilling. Also worthy of note is Boatman's Holiday, a Pratchett-free take on the journeys of the Styx Ferryman on his day off.

Probably the morning commute is not the best time or place to be reading this book, but for anyone not half-asleep and willing to devote the effort, this is highly recommended.


Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Inversions - Iain M Banks

There was a really, really terrible interview with Iain Banks in a local free magazine last week. The questions were longer than the answers, and were full of self-important smugness (eg. Interviewer: "My favourite font is [xxxx]. Which font do you use to write your books in?" Banks: "Well, Courier, for manuscripts..." Interviewer: "Aha! I tricked you into answering a geek question!"). Painful reading, but on the plus side it inspired me to resume my trawl through my Banks back-catalogue, which I'd been doing earlier this year until I got interrupted by something or other.

This is only my first reread of Inversions, which is unusual - being a huge Banks fan, I bought this the very instant it was published and probably read it all the same day, but it's been sitting in the bookcase ever since. Probably this is to do with hardbacks being heavy and therefore less tempting for casual rereads, but I also suspect I may not have been that impressed with it the first time round. Ah, the follies of youth - it's actually a very good book.

Inversions is two almost-overlapping tales with a late mediaeval/early modern setting. A female doctor is making enemies by her proximity to the King and by the fact of her gender; in a neighbouring country, the bodyguard of the regicidal Protector has enough enemies of his own, trying to protect the head of the fledgling republic from assassins both foreign and domestic. At first glance, this looks like a new departure for Banks, whose Iain M persona usually sticks to space-based SF, but it soon becomes apparent that these two characters are actually members of the Culture, the pan-galactic anarcho-socialist utopia from many of his other books. However, the SF aspects of this remain understated, and the book deals more with the characters' personalities, and their outsiders' views and impacts on the barbaric society they are living in.

I lent this to my dad a while ago, and he gave up halfway through, saying that it was too predictable and that he could guess what was going to happen in the end. I never found out what his actual predictions were, but it's almost guaranteed that they were wrong, as nothing quite turns out how you'd expect. One of Banks's hallmarks, at least in his earlier work, was the subversion of expectation and plot twists that ranged from slightly gimmicky to brutally realistic; Inversions falls towards the realistic end of the scale. Like real life, it doesn't have a neat and satisfying conclusion, so if that's what you're after then you may be disappointed; likewise for those expecting GCUs, drones, Minds and the rest of the usual Culture trappings. However, for an elegant and ambiguous tale of intrigue and revenge, you could do a lot worse.


Three Noble Goats Gruff

Once upon a time there were three noble goats, who were to go up to the hillside to make themselves fat, and the name of all three was "Gruff."

On the way up was a bridge over a cascading stream they had to cross; and under the bridge lived a great ugly Troll that-is-not-a Troll , but evil incarnate, with eyes as big as saucers, and a nose as long as a poker. Clearly he does not get to the shops often and is very hungry.

So first of all came the youngest Noble Goat Gruff to cross the bridge.

"Trip, trap, trip, trap! " went the bridge.

"Who's that tripping over my bridge?" roared the Troll that-is-not-a Troll .

"Oh, it is only I, the tiniest Noble Goat Gruff , and I'm going up to the hillside to make myself fat," said the Noble goat, with such a small voice. Small to suit the Noble Goat's small stature which was smaller than the other Noble Goats.

"Now, I'm coming to gobble you up," said the Troll that-is-not-a Troll. The Noble Goat made an instant choice.

"No! I may be little and undersized," said the Noble goat. " but I am an objectivist and will not obligingly choose death. When you are vastly outsized and outmatched by a superior opponent. You have no choice, you must attack! Never mind the fact that my bigger brother, the second Noble Goat Gruff, who has more meat on his bones, is following behind me and I could trick you into thinking that you could eat him instead. I choose life and will choose to defend it against any who would take it from me. I am the bringer of death. Don't make me do this, back out now before somebody gets hurt, I beg you."

"Aaaargh, your objectivist philosophy is making my head hurt," said the Troll that-is-not-a Troll. "Well, be off with you." The tiniest Noble Goat Gruff continued on his journey up the hill while the Troll that-is-not-a Troll soothed his aching head in the cool stream.

A little while after came the second Noble Goat Gruff to cross the bridge.

Trip, trap, trip, trap, trip, trap, went the bridge.

"Who's that tripping over my bridge?" roared the Troll that-is-not-a Troll.

"Oh, it's the second Noble Goat Gruff , and I'm going up to the hillside to make myself fat," said the Noble goat, who hadn't such a small voice. He was bigger than the first Noble Goat which was small and had a larger voice because he is bigger.

"Now I'm coming to gobble you up," said the Troll that-is-not-a Troll.

"I am a Noble Goat Gruff, remember?"

"Oh right," said the Troll that-is-not-a Troll puzzled. "Very well! Be off with you,"

But just then up came the big Noble Goat Gruff.

Trip, trap, trip, trap, trip, trap! went the bridge, for the Noble goat was so heavy that the bridge creaked and groaned under him.

"Who's that tramping over my bridge?" roared the Troll that-is-not-a Troll.

"It's I! The big Noble Goat Gruff ," said the Noble goat, who had a strong and commanding voice of his own. Being a very large Noble Goat he had a big large voice, not like the smaller Noble Goats before who had proportionally smaller voices.

"Now I 'm coming to gobble you up," roared the Troll that-is-not-a Troll.

"Well, come along! I've got two spears, And I'll poke your eyeballs out at your ears, I've got besides two curling-stones, And I'll crush you to bits, body and bones. I will cut off your testicles and make you eat them. Then I will hunt down every Troll I can find, even females and children, cut off their heads and stick them on stakes, burn down your bridges, salt your streams, make long speaches to my fellow Noble Goats who will agree with me and if they do not I will sentance them to gang rapes and a slow agonising death through torture just so they can learn this true and noble lesson. Because it is not evil if we do it."

That was what the big Noble goat said. And then he flew at the Troll that-is-not-a Troll, and poked his eyes out with his horns, and crushed him to bits, body and bones, and tossed him out into the cascade, and after that he went up to the hillside. There the Noble goats got so fat they were unable to walk home again. Before too long the Noble Goats realised that be being such gluttons they had invited death rather than choosing life and waddled over to the cliff top to hurl themselves off immediately in shame at their objectivist failure; and so,

Snip, snap, snout. This tale's told out.

- theMountainGoat

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Conventions of War - Walter Jon Williams

...and so the trilogy comes to a close. Nothing really new here; we have Martinez continuing his career as space captain, and Sula leading an armed uprising against the invaders; the high command continue to be frustratingly traditionalist, and the Naxids continue to be evil... Most of the elements are there, but this book is unfortunately slightly less interesting than the others, as it is lacking the entertaining political machinations of Martinez's family, and Sula's dealings with the criminal gangs is quite a poor substitute. However, for no-frills sci-fi (and I use the term advisedly), this does the job; it also manages to have an ending that is not at all cheesy but rather poignant.

Williams is kind of the sci-fi equivalent of Katherine Kerr - writing fairly formulaic genre material but with enough gusto to carry it off. This series won't change your world and certainly won't do anything to revolutionise the genre, but for good, basic space-action fun, look no further.


Eats, Shites and Leaves - A. Parody

Reads shite and blogs. What a load of crap! This is obviously a cheapo cash-in on the success of Lynne Truss's Eats Shoots and Leaves, and involved minimal effort on the part of the "author," who seems to have just cobbled together a selection of bad jokes about grammar and somehow persuaded someone to publish it. Most of the sections are recognisable from those vaguely amusing emails that do the rounds ("Rules of English - you mustn't never use no double negatives" etc), but some of the jokes are even worse - even the "man with a wooden leg called Smith" gag is dredged up.

Now, don't get me wrong - I like funny examples of English used badly. The operative word, however, is funny, and that's something noticeably missing from this book. The few smiles it generated came from the Colemanballs-style quotes from famous idiots, but those were so swamped by stale jokes, pointless lists of filler material (archaic words beginning with "where"?) and rants against some strawman concept of a grammarian that it's really not worth trying to fillet them out. If you remove all the crap this might make a nice pamphlet.


Monday, August 21, 2006

The Final Battle

Richard surveyed the field of battle with his piercing raptor-like gaze, the wind ruffled his cloth-of-gold cape that made up part of his war wizard outfit. The bodies of the fallen were everywhere, men of both sides. The final battle with the Imperial Order had taken its toll, both armies had been forced to retreat and regroup. Richard was pleased to see that Kahlan’s special Galean forces were ready. Naked and painted white, waiting for the cover of darkness to strike like white shadows, white fangs of death, vengeful white spirits. Richard was impressed at how all their things were standing proud and erect, like white fangs of vengeance.

A commotion at the front lines grabbed Richard’s attention like an overly emotional gar. Whatever happened to Gratch, Richard pondered, it had been so long. He missed his massive ape like friend. How he longed to be held in one of Gratch’s bone-crunching hugs, to look into his tender glowing green eyes, to smell the rancid odor of a fresh kill smeared across his pink belly. Was Gratch out there somewhere with his gar army, waiting for the last minute to come and help him destroy the Order, or had they all succumbed to the magic draining effects of the chimes? Richard returned his piercing raptor-like gaze to the scene in front of him. A large party had detached from the ranks of the Imperial Order and was heading their way bearing a flag of truce. Even at this distance Richard could make out the form of Emperor Jagang.

Kahlan came to join him at the front when she saw what was going on. She, like her men, was painted white and completely naked. Wearing her Confessor’s face she looked just like a vengeful good spirit. A beautiful white one. As Jagang approached, Richard could see the twin nightmares that were his eyes. They were black, inky and shifting. The black cloudiness of his eyes were constantly shifting, moving, twisting, dancing, jumping, and forever twirling, twirling in an evil dance of the Dreamwalker’s twisted evil.

“It’s good to see your face once again Lord Rahl for the last time.” Jagang sneered “It’s as good as over Lord Rahl.” Jagang growled menacingly. “You have one final chance to save your people. Surrender now and I will grant them all a quick death. Refuse, and they will be slowly tortured to death.” He said with his twisted smirk.

Richard smiled. “You’re too late for that Jagang. Mord-Sith are already torturing the people to death all over the Midlands and D’Hara. No matter how experienced at torture you think your people are, they can never match the Mord-Sith. I will never let you torture people with your evil, if they are to be tortured, it will be done by those with right and morality on their side”
Jagang had a perplexed look in his nightmare eyes. “Well played, Lord Rahl. But if you think torture is all I have up my sleeve then think again. Once we destroy you all your women will be sent to my camps to be repeatedly gang-raped until they die.” Jagang’s nightmare eyes glimmered at the prospect, his bestial lust oozing from his pores, like a miasma of licentiousness.
“Wrong again Jagang!” Kahlan said with triumph ringing in her voice, a Confessor’s voice, wielding authority. “Our auxiliary forces have already spread throughout our lands, gang-raping every woman they find. We see the truth in our raping, that it is for the best cause. Life. Our women will never be prey to your dark lusts and immoral ignorant ways.”

Kahlan had never looked so beautiful to Richard. Standing proud and tall, like a vision of a good spirit. Her head held high, her breasts buoyant in the smoky air that surrounded the area. He also noticed that Jagang’s men were having a difficult time keeping their lecherous eyes off her naked flesh. Richard felt his thing rise but pushed it down with a will. Soon enough he would let his rage run free. Unfettered wrath would be let loose among those so blinded by their lack of moral clarity. Jagang was taken aback by her statement. “Your children…” he raged.

“I took care of them myself.” Richard said, taking satisfaction both in interrupting Jagang, and by the look of shock in his twin nightmare eyes. “I killed them with my bare hands. I couldn’t allow them to fall to such as you. I have right on my side and our children are all now with the good spirits. This was the only moral course of action, but that is something you could never understand, isn’t that right Jagang? You rape and torture and murder, all for what you call the higher purpose of mankind and the creator, but what you don’t understand is that life is worth living and fighting for….”
“But you just killed your own people…” Jagang raged.

“…and nothing is greater than an individual’s liberty. Your Imperial Order…”

“You’re raping all your women! How the hell is that a defense of...” Jagang screeched.

“…is a pack of mean little men, ruling through brute force…”

“You’re torturing your own people to death!!” Jagang railed.
“…and terror to keep your own people in abject squalor, destroying the life within them all.”

“Shut the fuck up Richard!!!” Jagang shouted in his menacing howl. “I know your tricks and I’m not about to stand here and listen to one of your fucking speeches designed to make us all reconsider our choices in life and finally fall to our knees weeping now that we know the truth. They are so fucking boring, I would have given up this war ages ago, but the thought of you continuing on, speaking for hours on end about your fucking philosophy just makes me sick! You think this is a war of conquest?!?!?! This is a war to make you SHUT THE FUCK UP!!!!! Don’t you get it? You talk too fucking much!!"

Richard smiled again. “Don’t tell me anything that you don’t want used against you Jagang. Once I know it, it is mine. I know your weakness now.” Richard’s righteous anger caused his thing to rise, his war wizard magic caused his voice to amplify, to be heard for miles, to the end of Jagang’s immense force. All ears turned toward the sound of clarity.

“You have traded freedom not even for a bowl of soup, but worse, for the spoken empty feelings of others who say that you deserve to have a full bowl of soup provided by someone else…”

“STOP IT!!!” Jagang screamed. Kahlan noticed beads of sweat running down Jagang’s face.

“…Happiness, joy, accomplishment, achievement…are not finite commodities, to be divided up. Is a child’s laughter to be divided up and allotted? No! Simply make more laughter!”

Laughter could be heard, little by little coming from the camp of the Order. A trickle at first, quickly becoming a flood. Another flood was coming from Jagang. What Kahlan first thought was sweat, was something else. Sweat that was not sweat. It began bursting from his flesh in great rivers of evil, the same color as his nightmare eyes. Jagang was melting.

“Quickly Richard,” Kahlan shouted. “Tell them how every person’s life is theirs by right.”

Jagang collapsed to the ground in a puddle of his own evil, ever shrinking. Richard kept talking and Jagang kept shrinking until he was nothing more than a disgusting puddle of evil goo. A pasty stickiness, like black vomit, the dark cloudiness of which kept swirling and shifting.

The soldiers of the Imperial Order began to come forward one by one, and then in their thousands and millions. Tears streamed freely from their eyes. They discarded the testicles they had been eating and fell to their faces. “Master Rahl guide us, master Rahl teach us, master Rahl protect us, in your light we thrive, in your mercy we are sheltered, in your wisdom we are humbled, we live only to serve, our lives are yours.”

Zedd came shuffling up beside Richard and Kahlan in his rumpled robes and hair jutting out of his head in every direction. “Bags Richard! You stopped the war with one speech, I’m proud of you my boy, its about time you figured it out. But wasn’t that the same one you gave in Faith of the Fal…I mean Altur’Rang?”
Richard looked at his grandfather. “Yes it is, it was a good one, so I saved it.”

Kahlan suddenly had a thought. “Richard, now that the war is over, what about the Mord-Sith, and the rape gangs? Surely they have to be stopped now that it isn’t necessary for their missions to be completed?”

“It’s been a long fight, and we’ve all been through a great deal lately.” Richard answered. “Let them have their fun. It’s still for a good cause as far as they all know, so that’s not a bad thing. In fact, somehow, it’s the only moral thing to do. Besides, tomorrow begins a new day.”

“Bags, Richard. You got it right.”

Richard laughed, Kahlan laughed, Zedd laughed, the naked men began patting the Imperial soldiers on the back and laughed. Both armies laughed.
- The Mad Moose

Friday, August 18, 2006

Spares - Michael Marshall Smith

Grim, gritty and slightly strange - no other writers are quite like Michael Marshall Smith. Despite being set firmly in a hi-tech future, his stories tend to veer subtly away from boring technocentric cyberpunk into very strange places indeed, and this one is no exception. Sometimes it works well, and sometimes it doesn't, but either way it's an interesting journey.

The basic concept behind Spares is a very nasty one, the idea that the rich maintain farms of vat-grown human clones to use as spare parts whenever they have an accident or need a transplant. The story starts off with Jack Randall, the farm's caretaker, escaping with a handful of these "spares" who he wants to save from the knife. However, Jack needs to resupply in the strange, layered city of New Richmond, a metal cube hundreds of stories high, where the scum inhabit the lowest levels and the rich strive for the top, and the spares are abducted. Tracking them down, he uncovers some very unpleasant goings-on and comes into conflict with the gangs that run the city... and then events take yet another turn and get very weird indeed.

I wasn't quite sure how to take the weirdness, which comes in the form of a very non-science-y overlapping reality, similar to the Jeamland from his earlier work Only Forward. Its appearance made sense of some of the strange events hinted at earlier on in the book, and dragged the book very decisively outside the normal bounds of the genre, but its deliberately unscientific premise did jar somewhat with the futuristic setting. However, minor quibbles aside, this worked much better than Jeamland and was a whole lot nastier too.

So, I wasn't entirely convinced by the settings, and the bones of the plot are pretty basic, so why the high score? Well, it's probably because MMS can write extremely well, and he's very good at atmosphere. Even if the idea of New Richmond is a bit hard to swallow (a 200-story flying shopping centre? Come on!), the squalor of the lower corridors and the arrogant opulence of the upper ones feels very real indeed; likewise with the shifting forests on the other side, even if the method of getting there seems quite silly. You'll need to suspend your disbelief rather longer than usual, but if you can manage that, it's definitely worth it.


An Objectivist Carol

Yes! and the bedpost was his own. The bed was his own, the room was his own. Best and happiest of all, the Time before him was his own, to make amends in!

"I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future!" Scrooge repeated, as he scrambled out of bed. "The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. Oh Jacob Marley! Heaven, and the Christmas Time be praised for this. I say it on my knees, old Jacob, on my knees!"

He was so fluttered and so glowing with his good intentions, that his broken voice would scarcely answer to his call. He had been sobbing violently in his conflict with the Spirit, and his face was wet with tears.

"They are not torn down!" cried Scrooge, folding one of his bed-curtains in his arms, "they are not torn down, rings and all. They are here -- I am here -- the shadows of the things that would have been, may be dispelled. They will be! I know they will."

Scrooge’s joyous effusions were interrupted by an unusual sound. Unpleasantly skin crawling, it sounded like teeth grinding against teeth. Suppressing a shudder, Scrooge’s eyes flew around the room until they located the source of the sound.

Scrooge gasped. Standing in the middle of his bedroom was a man wielding a sword. While grinding his teeth together, the man’s unibrowed forehead sloped downward in a frown of disapproval. His outfit was black. And leather.

Before Scrooge could demand an explanation for the intrusion the man grabbed the front of Scooge’s nightshirt and lifted him from the ground.

“I am Richard Rahl, the Spirit of Objectivism Now. You are my prisoner.”

“Another spirit?!” gasped Scrooge. “But Marley said there would only be three!”

“Jacob Marley is an altruistic scumbag. I killed him. Just as I killed the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future.” And indeed, Scrooge could see that Richard’s sword was still stained with blood.

“B-but how? They’re ghosts! I don’t see how you could have killed them!”

Richard’s face turned beet red and he screamed through his clenched teeth. In a fury, Richard dropped the sword and proceeded to bitchslap Scrooge.

“A contradiction can exist neither in whole nor in part!” Richard bellowed through his clenched teeth, while his raptor eyes threw daggers through Scrooge’s.

Scrooge had a feeling that this was all the answer he was going to get out of Richard.

“Um, why exactly are you here?’

Screaming in rage (through his clenched teeth) Richard scooped his sword from the floor and hacked off Scrooge’s left hand.

“Speak only when spoken to!” Richard hissed through his teeth.

For a long time, Scrooge could only howl in agony as he tried to staunch the flow of blood from his bleeding stump. The sight of so much blood and human suffering seemed to ease Richard’s anger. He let go of Scrooge’s nightshirt and let the old man topple to the floor. A look of almost sexual ecstasy enslaved Richard’s face as he watched Scrooge writhe on the floor.

Richard’s teeth were still clenched.

“I’m here to undo the damage those collectivist swine wrought last night,” spat Richard in deadly earnest through his narrowed eyes. “Come!” Richard hauled Scrooge across his back like a sack of potatoes and jumped through the window.

Unlike the other ghosts, the Spirit of Objectivism Now did phase through the glass, but rather shattered it and he and Scrooge fell to the street below.

Grinding his teeth and dusting off snow, Richard loped down the street, pushing unwary pedestrians out of his way. Soon enough, Richard and Scrooge arrived at the Cratchit residence.
Instead of knocking, Richard hacked the door to pieces with his ever present sword and strode into the humbling dwelling with a masculine swagger.

Dumping the old man onto the floor, Richard proceeded to make himself at home. Scrooge could only watch in horror as Richard kneed Bob Crachit in the groin and took his place at the breakfast table and started to inhale the meager repast Mrs. Crachit had prepared for her family. The inhaling process was somewhat complicated by the fact that Richard was still firmly clenching his teeth. Most of the food ended up smeared across his face.

Sated, Richard belched and undid the drawstring on his masculine, leather traveling pants in order to let his gut more freely hang out after gorging himself.

“Down to business!” Richard clapped his hand together. Before Scrooge or the Crachit family knew what was happening, Richard launched into an exhaustive 12 hour speech on the evils of altruism, charity, goodwill, and compassion. Scrooge could slowly began to feel his old self again and by the time the speech ended, Scrooge had fully recanted his recent conversion.

“Only one way to make sure you’re really genuine about this,” Richard declared as he advanced on Tiny Tim. “Do exactly as I do, and you can consider yourself a True Objectivist! Boot, be true this day!” before anyone could react, Richard drew back his leg and unleashed a mighty and manly kick that shatter Tiny Tim’s jaw and severed his tongue.

Scrooge crowed and picked out a Cratchit child of his own to kill. Soon Richard and Scrooge had kicked ever underage jaw in the Cratchit hosehold.

Panting between his now clenched teeth, Scrooged vowed to never again to let the Christmas spirit corrupt his individuality.

And Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all and infinitely more. Scrooge compounded Bob Cratchit’s grief by foreclosing on his mortgage, thus driving his own loyal clerk to commit suicide. A widow, and now childless, Mrs. Cratchit was driven to prostitution in order to earn a living. He became as good an Objectivist, as good a Capitalist, as good an Individualist as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world had ever been blighted with. Some people laughed to see that nothing had changed in him, but he let them laugh, and then drove them into poverty and hired goons to harass their family. For many years to come, Scrooge would grind the faces of the poor.

He had further intercourse with the Spirit of Objectivism Now, who would constantly show up at his home to order him around and demand further obedience in the name of individualism and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Objectivism well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Richard Rahl observed, Ayn Rand Bless Us, Every One!

- Zap Rowsdower

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Gone South - Robert R McCammon

Whatever happened to RRMcC? For a while, in the 80s and early 90s, his books were up there on the shelves with Stephen King and Dean Koontz, but in the last ten years or so there's been nary a word from the man. Did he give up writing? Did King sue him for nicking his plots? Or did he move to the mainstream and get his books shelved in the aisles I rarely visit? If anything, this book suggests it ought to have been the latter.

I have sunny memories of this book; I bought it in '94, in Austin, TX, just a few days out from the Delta, and read it on the lawns by the Capitol building while I waited for the bus to El Paso. I'd entirely fallen in love with the swamps and bayous of Louisiana, so a journey down into the heart of the delta was just the book I wanted. And what a great opening sentence!

It was Hell's season, and the air smelled of burning children.

The story is actually very simple - dying Vietnam vet Dan Lambert is on the run after accidentally killing a man; two unusual bounty hunters are on his tail; he meets a girl on a quest for a mythical faith healer and they all plunge into the swamps, getting mixed up with some very bad men on the way. It's a far cry from some of his earlier books, which did often seem to be Stephen King novels with the word "Maine" crossed out and "Alabama" written in instead - no supernatural horror here; the blurb describes it as "Southern Gothic" which seems as good a description as any.

It's still fairly pulpy, and a lot of the minor characters are hastily-sketched ciphers with painfully clunky dialogue, but if you can get past that then it's a fast-paced and entertaining read. The swamp is exactly as miasmic and dangerous as it should be, and the main characters' eccentric quirks, while initially a bit gimmicky, are well handled. The ending, too, is nicely done - I now can't remember whether or not it was a surprise, but even if you do see what's coming, it's a good, grown-up conclusion to the journey. With the horror genre now fairly moribund, it's nice to think that McCammon has other tricks up his sleeve.


Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Breakfast in Brighton - Nigel Richardson

I have breakfast in Brighton every day and have yet to write a book about it; it's just not that interesting a topic, no matter what you have on your Weetabix. Needless to say, Richardson does not just write about breakfast, but his scrabbling around to find a book's worth of stuff to say about the town has some mixed results.

The Brighton described here is that of the mid-late '90s, before the prices shot up and the London fashionistas came down to suck out its soul. It's hard not to blame books like this for mythologising the Brighton Experience and attracting all the twats in the first place, but hey ho, the damage has been done. This is a tourist's-eye view, with Lonely Planet-style reporting - slightly trendy, with anecdotes from locals to illustrate the town's darker past, but mostly just focusing on the more arty-farty aspects of the place.

Breakfast in Brighton tries to be many things - character sketches of eccentrics, snippets of local history, and a couple of peculiar artistic quests. Richardson goes on a fishing boat, and the Pier, tracks down an actress from the film Brighton Rock (not to be confused with the website of the same name), and interviews some local people about the razor gangs, the Brighton Trunk murders and the history of the gay subculture - all of this is interesting, but kind of pointless and formless; the purple prose gets very wearing after a while.

The two "quests" are the only real structure the book has. One of these is for the Le Bas painting "Breakfast in Brighton," which the author is trying to find; the other involves a portrait of Shakespeare his friend bought from a junk shop, and the various art experts and psychics that they consult to check its provenance. While quite entertaining, neither story has a particular conclusion, and they both seem to have been added just to bulk out the book a bit when the actual Brighton material started to run thin.

I'd say that this is worth reading for the history bits, but on the whole is just rather too pretentious for its own good. Rather like Brighton itself, unfortunately.


Monday, August 14, 2006

Scott Lynch - what a nice bloke!

I had a nice package waiting for me when I got home today. Scott Lynch, lovely fella that he is, has sent me a signed copy of his book, for services in the war against badly-written Objectivist fantasy (actually, he just liked my Locke Lamora ripoff). And there's even a little cartoon of me doing battle with the Evil One! Colour me well chuffed.

The Sundering - Walter Jon Williams

OK, so I couldn't wait for part 2 after all... the second book in the Dread Empire's Fall trilogy benefited greatly from the different set of expectations I brought in this time, and I now suspect I was overly harsh on the first one. This isn't supposed to be a dark and disturbing piece of space-nastiness, this is a jolly sci-fi equivalent of cowboys & injuns with super space battles and Our Hero defying his stuffy commanders to win decisive victories over the sneaky aliens... and frankly, there's nothing wrong with that at all.

This is what I imagine science fiction to have been like in the early days, when small boys spent their sixpences on magazines with titles like Astounding Space Stories!, daring space captains battled Martians and everything was a lot of fun. Of course, there has been an awful lot of development in SF since then, but Williams has managed to take the spirit of those early stories, stripped out the misogyny and most of the overt cheesiness and added some well-placed humour for a very entertaining read.

Martinez continues to distinguish himself in the war on the Naxids, while Sula has joined La Resistance for when the invaders take the capital city; there is also a predictable but still interesting twist on their whole star-crossed lovers story. With just two main characters and a very simple background, this probably doesn't quite qualify as Space Opera; it deserves a name more like "Space Adventure!" (with the exclamation mark) - no complications, no bleak dystopian treatises on the Human Condition, just some spaceships, some aliens and a whole lot of fun.

And yes, I'll be buying Part 3 as soon as my next paycheck comes in.


9tail Fox - Jon Courtenay Grimwood

This is another murder mystery with a supernatural twist - the twist in this case being that the detective is investigating his own murder from Beyond the Grave. Bobby Zha is a failed and slightly corrupt detective in San Francisco's Chinatown, who is shot dead during a routine investigation but then wakes up in the body of a coma patient, via the intervention of the mysterious ghost fox of the title, and comes back to find out the truth and to bring his murderer to justice.

It does sound rather cheesy (and suspiciously similar to that godawful film Ghost), but the book is very well written and the setting is convincingly gritty. There are some fascinating glimpses into the San Francisco underworld, and hints of even darker events leading back to Stalinist Russia, all paced very effectively and making it very hard to put the book down. The character of Bobby Zha is also extremely interesting, if somewhat bleak - a man too busy wallowing in his own problems to notice his flaws until it was almost too late.

Unfortunately, it's not only the main character that has flaws; the book sports a few of its own. My main gripe was that the reincarnated Zha has it FAR too easy, and aside from dealing with his own personal demons, the investigation goes ridiculously smoothly - suddenly gaining the body of a young, fit and handsome millionaire removes a lot of the sympathy you might feel for the guy's problems. The book was also let down by its ending - the deep dark mystery turns out to be less dark and mysterious than it was indicated to be, and the final scene looked as if it had been pasted in from any old by-the-numbers Hollywood action thriller. This is a shame; the supernatural elements showed a lot of promise, but in the end the thought of a film-rights sale seems to have won out.


Friday, August 11, 2006

Some ideas for Goodkind T-Shirts

"Kicking Kids in the Jaw Since 1994!"
"Communists are Pussies!"/"Hippies are Pussies!"
"Kahlan is a Slut!"
"Love Life or I'll Kill You Myself"
"What Would Richard Rahl Do?"
"Hot and Sweaty Yeard Love"
"I'll Salt Your Fields, Bitch."
"Please Don't Beat Me Up"
"Delightfully Truthy, yet Uneducated"
"Richard Happens"
"It's Not Fantasy! It's Really NOT!"
"You Can't Argue With 39 Million Imaginary People"
"My Boss Is A D'Haran Dictator"
"The Only Sure Things in Life are Gang-Rape and Long Speeches"
"Carpe Yeardum"
"Real Women Worship Men"
"If You Shoot An Arrow At Me, I'll Catch It"
"Beware: Thing Rising"
"We Love How He Touches Us"
"I Was Gang-Raped and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt"
"Never Get Involved in a Land War In D'Hara"
"This Is My War Wizard Outfit"

- VigoTheCarpathian

"Taking the Twins out for The Cause"
"Making Sure You Get Your Daily Dose of Moral Clarity"
"Grrratch luuug Raaaach aaarg!"

- The Wolf Maid

"Is it a chicken or not?"

- Polaris

"My War Wizard Outfit Is At The Cleaners"

- Jaxom 1974

'If you think this is hot you should see my travelling pants.'

- BA Barrycus

Khas & Dick - The Cockney Pub Rock of Truth

Rabbit x 20

You got a magical sword
You're a powerful lord
You got a fabulous yeard
You are feared
You're so handsome my dear
With your collection of ears
You got a lot without a doubt
But I'm thinking of blowing you out...

Cos... you won't stop talking!
Why don't you give it a rest?
You got more rabbit than Sainsbury's
It's time you got it off your chest
Now you're just the kinda guy to break Jagang in two
I knew right off when I first set my eyes on you
But how was I to know you'd bend my earholes too?
With your incessant talking
You're becoming a pest

Rabbit x 20

Now you're a wonderful guy
You got talented eyes
You got artistic skill
You can kill
You got masculine legs
You make your enemies beg
Now I don't mind havin a chat
But you have to keep giving it that

Cos... you won't stop talking!
Why don't you give it a rest?
You got more rabbit than Sainsbury's
It's time you got it off your chest
Now you're just the kinda guy to break Jagang in two
I knew right off when I first set my eyes on you
But how was I to know you'd bend my earholes too?
With your incessant talking
You're becoming a pest

Rabbit x 8

yap yap rabbit yap yap yap rabbit objectivism rabbit bunny jabber yap rabbit bunny yap yap life yap rabbit bunny jabber yap yap yap rabbit freedom bunny jabber yap yap bunny jabber rabbit

Goodkind Meets 'Allo 'Allo

Enter RENE RAHL, dressed in a War Waiter outfit and polishing a glass.

Rene (to camera): What? Why are you looking at me like zat? Yes, it is true, zis is a sad comedown for an 'ero such as myself, to be polishing glasses in some occupied village, but after the events of last week what do you expect? After our escapades in ze castle trying to steal ze valuable painting of ze Dark Sister Wiz Ze Big Boobies which was 'idden in ze giant comedy sausage, zen getting caught up in ze plot to rescue ze dragon egg from ze gars (wiz hilarious consequences), I am 'appy for a bit of a rest...

[Enter NICCI, glamorous agent of La D'Haran Resistance]

Nicci (looking around suspiciously): Listen very carefully, I shall say zis only once! [canned laughter]. Ze Imperial Generals are 'aving a testicle barbecue tonight! Zis will be our chance to sneak into ze Old World and burn down all zeir cities and murder zeir children! Meet me by ze fountainhead at midnight! But first, I must 'ave a kiss!

[They snog, passionately. Enter KAHLAN, Rene's haggard old wife]

Kahlan: RENE! What are you doing wiz zat woman?!

Rene: YOU STUPID WOMAN! [canned laughter]. Can you not see I am 'elping 'er wiz 'er disguise? Wiz 'er boobies on display like zis, ze Imperial Order will never recognise 'er!

[Nicci leaves, blowing a kiss when Kahlan's back is turned. Kahlan stomps off to the kitchen.]

Goodkind Meets Stephen Donaldson - Lord Rahl's Bane

Covenang looked up at her. "Well, underage girl, take off your clothes. Or would you rather I tear them off you. Your choice."

He tore off Kahlena's dress-thing. Her limbs would not move; she was helpless with anguish.

"You are a part of my imagination, now," he said in a low, dangerous tone. "You belong to my demented subconsciousness - no one else's. I can imagine myself doing whatever I wish with you. If I visualize impaling your belly with a spear, the duty of my neural cells is to imagine you bleeding to death. If I fantasize giving you to Darkendrool Rockworm and his two Cavewightish pals, Stonecarrot and Mineraltentacle, you will walk all the way to People's Mount Thunder for it, whether you like it not, whether you do it willingly or not, whether you feel like doing it or not, whether it's on your to-do list or not, whether you are proactive about it or not. You belong to my demented subconsciousness now. Your fate is what I re-enact from my hentai collection. You have no choice in what happens to you. None. None whatsoever. Zero. None at all. Plain none. Everything that happens to you is by my sexual deviance alone."

"It's still rape fantasy."

"Of course it's rape fantasy! That's my twisted kink! That's what you have coming in this wet dream of mine!"

He charged the bit of ground with Kahlena on it like an enraged Sandgorgon. His grey eyes were filled with normal eye-goo thing and a gaze like a raptor. Kahlena had it all planned out but she panicked and forgot all her plans. Covenang instantly glided to rest on top of her.

She was better than he was. He was only the prophecied White Communism Wielder, the only one with a chance of saving the universe from Lord Rahl's speeches. He could only have her by force (or by saying please). He could never have her willingly (without saying please) because she was better than she was, and she deserved better by far, like Lord Rahl the Objectivist or a resurrected Zedd Halfhand, the greatest hero in history. He could never have an underage, naive, hero-worshipping, country hick girl like her except by force (or by saying please) because he was a "leper outcast unclean", whatever that meant, and even though he wasn't one anymore other than in his mind.

"Is your figment of imagination of figments of imagination satisfactory, ur-Lord?" she mocked.

He abruptly rolled over onto her. "You can't imagine how long I've wanted to do this to you... Well, you can: the entire day we have known each other," he said in a suddenly menacing voice.

"No," he said to himself. "No, this is not what I want."

Kahlena was bewildered. She wasn't sure she had heard what she thought she'd heard. What Covenang had just said had been very bewildering. It was so bewildering that she wasn't sure of what she had heard and was bewildered. She was confused, now.

"No," he repeated again. "Not like this. You don't want this, but it would only be mildly graphic. You would not like it, but it wouldn't be excessively graphic and disgusting. I want to do this both to you and Lord Rahl the Objectivist (or Zedd Halfhand or Triochase the Ordinary Cattleherd). I want you to develop a mental illness from the terror and shame. I want you to fall in love with me and develop a delusion that I love you. I want you to start imagining that you've stopped aging. I want that memory be repressed but subconsciously haunt you for however long you might live, haunt Lord Rahl (or whoever) forever, every time he looks at you. I want him to learn to be an unhappy but caring substitute husband/mental health nurse, to take care of what you have come to represent to him. To take care of your beautiful and talented baby daughter, the beautiful and talented baby daughter I will give to you and later fall in love with.

"To do that, you have to know that you are a figment of my filthy imagination, first. If I do this to you now, it will only dull you to me, spoil the exquisite porn-value it would generate if you were an experienced courtesan. You have to know. You have to memorize Kamasutra, you have to memorize it all, become a total slut on your own, if this is to truly be rape fantasy... and I intend it to be the rape fantasy causing the highest percentage of readers to quit the book that you can suffer, a rape fantasy that will give you a child that he will see as a step-daddy's little girl, as a sweet, innocent baby."

He grinned at her. "And if you get the idea of not trying to sneak away, or worse, to go down on me in my sleep, you had better forget it right now. It won't work. I'm impotent."
- Nerdanel

Mr Benn's War Wizard Adventure

Mr Benn lives at 52 Festive Road in the city of London. Today he is dressed in his sharp pinstriped suit and bowler hat and leaves for work promptly as he always does. Some children are playing in the street.
'Good morning Mr Benn.' Says a little girl. 'Would you like to play our game with us, Timmy is a mass murdering rapist and I am the Mother Confessor. We need someone to play the great War Wizard Richard Rahl to come and save me, oh go on please!'
Mr Benn laughs and replies,
'Another time children, I have to go to work today. Enjoy your game, goodbye.' The children are sad but run off to find someone else to play the part in their brutal gang rape rescue fantasy.

Mr Benn walks along Festive Road, turns left at the end but instead of going to work he finds that his feet have lead him to the little costume shop on the high street. Mr Benn is surprised but nevertheless walks into the shop and immediately sees what he wants, a black war wizards outfit being modelled by a shop dummy. Mr Benn is admiring the outfit when, as if by magic, *ping* the shopkeeper appeared.
'Would you like to try that outfit on sir?' asked the moustachioed, fez-wearing shopkeeper.
'Yes, I think I will.' Said Mr Benn with a smile. He gathers up the costume and walks over to the changing room. In an instant Mr Benn takes off his suit and bowler hat and puts on the black robes and false-yeardi which comprise the outfit. Mr Benn admires the costume in the mirror and thinks about going back into the shop to ask the shopkeeper what he thinks. But then he spots another door on the opposite side of the changing room, a door through which Mr Benn could have a surprising and wonderful adventure. Filled with excitement Mr Benn walks through the door.

Suddenly Mr Benn is no longer in the costume shop but some strange dark dungeon. A strong and powerful looking man is stood over a captive woman, just about to gut her with his knife. Nearby another woman is tied up, all dressed in white and with long, long dark hair. In fact Mr Benn thinks she might just be the most beautiful woman he has ever seen.
'I want you like your whore of a mother wanted your father.' She says to the mass murdering psychopath.
'I knew it, you little slut!' he says turning away from his helpless captive victim, 'I'm going to give you exactly what you want, exactly what you deserve.'
'Oh yes, please do it now, I can't wait any longer, do it! Do it!' The woman in white squeels.
'No you don't!' Says Mr Benn loudly and angrily stepping into view.
'Richard!' Says the man shocked into sudden silence which rings through the dungeon.
'My hero.' The woman in white says adoringly.
Mr Benn starts running at full speed towards the man who braces for the combat with his knife held ready. As Mr Benn nears, the man lunges wildly at him, Mr Benn ducks under the thrust onto one knee and driving forward with both hands launches himself into the soft middle of the rapist. His hands plunge through his stomach, punching a hole out the other side and then Mr Benn grabs hold of his spine with both hands and pulls it hard back out the frontside. The maniac then drops his knife and staggers back holding his now ruined stomach.
'Aaaah, fatality. Nooooo!' He screams. Mr Benn laughs holding his enemies spinal cord up as a bloody trophy of his victory. The blood dripping on the floor makes it slippery and the man with no spinal cord and half his stomach missing slips up and falls on his own dagger which goes straight up his anus and propelled by the force of it out the other side of his body cutting off his nackersack in the process. His two testicles bounce on to the floor and roll together like a pair of discarded marbles.
'I'm gonna get you for that!' Says the man with no spinal cord, half his stomach missing, a dagger sized hole in his arse and no testicles.
'Oh Richard, quick finish him off,' Says the woman in white, 'use your magic, fireball his evil ass.' In an instantaneous instant Mr Benn bathes the bad guy in fire and flame, charring his bones to charcoal. Mr Benn unties the woman who gives him a kiss as thank you, with tongues and everything, the slut!
'I must untie Cara.' She says remembering her friend and rushes over to help. Then, as if by magic, *ping* the shopkeeper appeared beside Mr Benn.
'Had enough adventures for one day sir?' He asks.
'Yes, I think so.' Said Mr Benn and he walks back through the door out of the dungeon.

Mr Benn finds himself back in the changing room and changes back into his suit and bowler hat. He goes back out into the shop and gives the outfit back to the shopkeeper.
'Would you like me to dispose of that for you sir?' Only then does Mr Benn realise he is still holding the bloody spine of the evil rapist psychopath.
'No, I think I will keep it as a souvenir of my adventure.'
'Very well sir, goodbye.'
'Goodbye.' Says Mr Benn happily as he leaves the costume shop and walks home. The children are still playing in the street as Mr Benn walks back along Festive Road. They ask him to play again but Mr Benn now has superior moral clarity and proceeds to kick them both in the jaw instantly to teach them the error of their ways.
- theMountainGoat

An Appeal for Aid


We, the duly elected representatives of the people of D'Hara, are sending this message out to our neighbours in the hope that aid can be given to our oppressed brothers and sisters.

Ten years ago, our country was under the oppressive rule of Darken Rahl, a totalitarian lunatic dictator who was responsible for the murder of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians and outlawed fire. We now look back on these days with a certain nostalgic fondness. Our lands were liberated by a man named Richard Cypher (he later turned out to be Darken Rahl's son, which should have set alarm bells ringing, especially when he said he was 'unaware' of this fact) and his wife, the Mother Confessor Kahlan.

We were expecting, under Richard's leadership, that D'Hara would be led to enlightened self-governance and the introduction of a movement towards possible democracy. Instead, the last ten years have seen our land constantly at war with the neighbouring and more powerful Old World which has sapped our country's resources, economy and population. We have lost track of the number of times our nation's safety has been foolhardly endangered by Richard running off to save his wife from her latest kidnapping, or indeed them setting up a love nest in the mountains whilst our brave soldiers are getting their arses handed to them on the front lines. When Richard is actually bothered to turn up and lead our country, he spends most of his time giving extremely lengthy speeches about nothing at all, really. We have learned to cheer these speeches since Richard had several dissenters kicked in the face when they tried protesting.

As Lord Richard's rule has progressed, we have noted a continuous deterioation in both his mental state and ability to rule the country effectively. The Seeker's decision to have all chickens in the country registered and checked regularly in case they have been 'replaced' has been a severe blow to our poultry industry. Lord Rahl's order that goats be elevated to exalted status throughout the country has been ruinous to the goat's milk business. Given that the economy of D'Hara revolves nearly exclusively around goat's milk and cheese, and chicken exports, this has not been a profitable move for the country.

During our most recent war with the Order, Richard ordered tens of thousands of our soldiers to carry out brutal murders and repression of unarmed, innocent citizens and the burning of their cities.There have been reports of our soldiers suffering severe trauma at butchering women and children to death when they try to defend their homes. Soldiers who refuse to carry out these instructions are condemned for treason and immediately executed. One of our battle commanders apparently allowed the populace of one enemy city to leave unolested as long as they didn't take up arms against our army. He then destroyed all the nearby farmlands, salted the earth and burned down the towns and cities, condemning these people to slow starvation and death on the plains of the south.

We beg the international community and the outside world to intervene and save our kingdom from any more ruin!
- Werthead

Monday, August 07, 2006

Grunts - Mary Gentle

I couldn't get into this at all. The concept was sound - a story written from the point of view of the orcs, who know damn well they are going to get beaten by the good guys in the Final Battle, despite their superior numbers and the righteous prancing of their enemies - and Mary Gentle's normally a good writer, but for some reason this book really didn't work. It felt clunky and cobbled-together, as if... well, as if it had started off as an internet parody and somehow been stretched into an entire book. There was no particular structure; the plot points all seemed gimmicky (orcs find a horde of Kalashnikovs, helicopters etc and suddenly start acting like Marines) and the humour was very forced. The one redeeming feature was the idea of the two nasty little hobbits, scheming and double-crossing both sides, but even that was not enough to keep me reading.

This is a short review, because I only got to about page 100 before giving up. I'd already found myself skipping paragraphs, then pages, and decided to give it up as a dead loss. Life's too short, and there are plenty of other books I'd rather spend time with.


Saturday, August 05, 2006

Goodkind meets R Scott Bakker

'What is a glimpse of tits, but one desire enabled by dollar bills?
-- Terrius Yeürdius, Inane Ramblings

If the jaw of a child goes unkicked, does not the wicked man feel vindicated? Will he raise up his weapons in anger, or will he simply accept it like a bitch? -- Jöesephus Anderus, I Guess I’m Just A Useless Wizard Anyway

AnasRichamûbor Rahllus, the Seeker-Objectivist looked out upon the teeming hordes of those who followed his voice. There were the De Harans, the Garrleoth, the Mydlandi, all calling in chant: Master Rahllus guide us, Master Rahllüs teach us, Master Rahllus recognize the lies that our facial muscles betray. In your Trüth we trust, in your mind-games we play. Our lives are small.


Kahlansmenet, the whore of Kelton, and now the Empress bearing the child of the Trûthyain, joined Rahllus at his right hand side. As a mistress of spies, she was responsible for ensuring that none who would oppose Rahllus would go without seeing her breasts before they died.

Xeddachmian X’rusas, Additivate Schoolman pulled his frame along the long halls of Ânderith, holy city of the elder prophet Nâthän Rahllus. Bags, I’ve lusted after that titty-baring whore for so long…why can’t Xedd get any!, he thought. But the lords of the Trüthy War against the Fimperia raged on.

"I’ve come to do battle with the Consultüsociâlists, their mysterious women wielders of words known as the Csihaüristers of the Därk, and above all, my father, Darkmoëngus!", said Rahllüs, whom the Trûthyain had sent him to kill.

“I am leaving now. Kick ass in my name, and salt the hearth of the heathen with yoür man-seed” the Seeker-Objectivist said. His holy light shone down upon the gathering of hardened fighters.


Rahllus drew his sword, Certainty of Trüth, and stepped toward his blind father, Darkmoëngus. “You are blind the Thousandword Speech, father. You have willfully…<12 pages snipped out>.

“Oh yeah” Darkmoëngus replied, “I’m a Marxist terrorist and I think yoü are crazy, and don’t have the balls to murder innocents.” <10 pages of AnasRichamûbor kicking children and beating up hippies and people who don’t agree with him in front of his daddy>

“The death of Niccëwe did nothing for me, father. The voice of Äyndus Rândys speaks within me. I will fight the No-Trüth without yoü.” And he spoke the Cants of Condescension, all of a sudden a war broke oüt, and all his enemies were thus destroyed.

- VigoTheCarpathian

Goodkind meets China Miéville

'The door burst open and hammered against the wall, sprang back. Motley stood before them. He was silhoutted. Richard saw a twisted outline against the black-painted walls of the corridor. A garden of multifarious limbs, a walking patchwork of organic forms. Richard's mouth dropped open in amazement. He realized as he watched the shuffling bird- and dog- footed creature, as he saw the clutching tentacles and knots of tissue, that perched on top of Motley's head, was the bright red comb of a chicken. It was like a red flag. With an utterly bestial roar, Richard pushed KahLin to one side. Her hands twisted as she begged him to stay with her, but he was launching himself at Motley in fury.

There was a sudden loud concussion. An explosion of glass scintillas sprayed across the room, leaving blood and curses. The last slake-moth stood behind Richard. Its unthinkable wings were wide open. Motley had been facing the great beast: his mind was captured. He gazed at the wings with an array of unblinking eyes.

Between the slake-moth and Richard, sprawled on the boards, was KahLin. "Come here, KahLin," Richard hissed, "and don't look behind you."

KahLin slid fitfully along the floor towards Richard's back, his clutching arms. A little way from him, she hesitated. She saw Motley, transfixed as if amazed, gazing past Richard and over her, captivated by...something. She knew nothing about the moths that were not moths. Richard saw her hesitate, and began to howl at her not to stop.

With her one good eye, KahLin took in the extraordinary sweep of the slake-moth's shape with awe; and then she caught sight of the gusting colors on the wings and she was silent. Enthralled. The slake-moth reached out with a slithering clutch of tentacles and pulled KahLin toward it. The moth was not capable of speech, but Richard knew what those tentacles were for.

As Richard grabbed backwards for her hand, staring intently into his mirrors, he suddenly remembered the Bio-Thaumaturge's First Rule: Deus Ex Machina. Richard flung off his helmet as the others stared at him in shock. "You have no power over me, slake-moth! Richard bellowed, "I am only hypnotized by my love for KahLin." The slake-moth let out a slow moth cackle as Richard turned to face it.

Suddenly, Richard was running. The distance between them shrank at an alarming rate. Richard for the first time noticed the soft underbelly of the moth, that was the opening. He was in the iron grip of deadly determination. Richard was lost in the dance with death. Richard dropped to his left knee, using his forward momentum and a twist of his torso to add force to his strike. Fingers straight and stiff, he drove his arm ahead with all his might. Richard struck like lightning, driving his hand through the slake-moth's soft middle. In the blink of an eye, he had seized the moth's spinal column and yanked it back out, ripping it apart. The moth pitched backward, crashing against the wall, slumping down in a spreading, crimson flood.'

- Zadok

Goodkind meets Robert Jordan

The Wheel of Truth

'The wheel turns ... ... it was not the beginning but it was a beginning.

The two-mud-pool people haven't had visitors in two years. They have lived in isolation for two dozens of months. Not a single outsiders had entered their village for a hundred weeks. It was more than 700 days ago they had encountered a stranger.

Niccaeve tugged her braid at the sight of Lan. There was magic perverse sexual desires in his look. Niccaeve tugged her braid and smoothed her skirt. Lan glided from his horse in one single fluid motion. He smoothly came to an instant stop. Niccaeve smoothed her skirt then tugged her braid. Instantly, at the same time, in fact, simultaneously, Lan felt his thing rising.

Kahlaraine looked at all the two-mud-pool people. "I'm looking for Rand Ayn Rahl, the Seeker Reborn." Her gaze fell on a woodsman who wasn't a woodsman (but who had wood). In this instant she completely understood the concept of a woodsman who wasn't a woodsman (with wood). Kahlaraine flashed her titties. The woodsman stared (now with even more wood), Lan stared, everyone stared. Niccaeve tugged her braid.

Kahlaraine pointed at the woodsman. "The Seeker Reborn has to come with me to rape the armies of the Dark Chicken One. Here's your new outfit for the job, Rand Ayn Rahl". She searched in her saddlebags and found a black metal-studded under-thing outfit which she tossed to Rand.

Narg entered the scene and saw what's going on between Kahlaraine and Rand Ayn Rahl: "But Naaaaarrrrghhhh luuuuuurrrrhgs Raaaaaaarrrrggggh". In one stretching motion Narg gabbed Lan's sword and suddenly a war broke out in the same instant.

Suddenly the war ended. All the villagers were dead. Narg built a statue of immense power out of chewed testicles and ears.

The End

Of course, if you want to know where the access key to the statue is (hint hint, Kahlaraine is currently fondling it), tune in to the next installment of the TG meets RJ 'Crotch of Truth' series called: The Pillar Rising.'

- Polaris

The Tire of Time

First off, I must apologize to Robert Jordan. This parody is of the Sword of Truth, and should in no way be taken as an insult to the Wheel of Time. (although it could use one)

Now that the serious part is over, let the fun begin.

*Some names have been changed to protect the innocent…but don’t worry, you’ll know who they are *

Richard walked down the staircase to the sliph, wanting to travel to some spot in the Imperial Order so he could bring Perfect Moral Clarity to the communist bastards. He reached the sliph, and asked her to state her destinations.

The sliph complied, beginning her list. “….Palace of the Prophets, and Caemlin.”

Richard frowned. He had never heard the last one before. He knew, therefore, that they had never heard of his principles of Moral Righteousness, the Power of Individualism, and suchlike. He knew what he had to do. He removed the Sword of Truth from his back and told the sliph where he wanted to go.

Elaine sat in the Throne Room of Bandor, presiding nobly over her court, ignoring the flatteries of the assorted nobles. Her powerful dimple shone above the gathered masses and kept them in line. Her extended belly, containing her two children, also kept them in line. None wanted to encounter her swift and terrible wrath that came about because of her pregnancy. Even as she thought about it, she got angry. Stupid Crand she thought. He gets all the pleasure and I’m left to deal with the consequences. Suddenly, a figure appeared from seemingly out of nowhere, but in fact had appeared below and had worked his way up to the Throne Room. The figure raised his arms and spoke.

“Behold! All who yet have not heard my message, know me. I am Richard Rahl, and I am Reason and Truth! I bring forth the Power of Individualism, and firm Moral Clarity…”

After four hours and ten pages of Richard explaining Individualism and Morality, Elaine finally had enough. Her anger roared like a female lion in heat. “SHUT UP!” She screamed.

Richard stood, shocked. “Did you not listen woman? I am Trutrh, Reason, and Morality, and so you must….”

After another hour and three more pages of Richard talking, Elaine was unconscious. Her brain couldn’t handle the contradictions and the plain idiocy in Richard’s speech. Finally, something happed to shut Richard up. A hole appeared in midair, seeming to turn, but it didn’t, and opened up. A tall man walked out, and fell flat on his face as the gatepath was two feet above the ground. He got back up and looked at Richard.

“And who are you?” asked Crand, for that was who it was.

“I am Richard, and I am here to reveal the power or Moralism and Idividuality….”

After an hour and two pages, Crand was in the corner, crying in the foetal position. “Please, be quiet, quiet, we needs quiets, yesss, we do…” Finally, Crand had had enough. “Enough!” He shouted. “I am the Lord Dragon Rebirthed, and you will kneel…or be knelt on.”

Richard looked at the man who claimed to be a dragon. “Well, most pathetic Crand, I happen to know a dragon, and you sure don’t look like one.”

Rand looked at him in amazement. “You know Lewis Thuron Telemarketer? Can you convince him to shut up? He’s in my head here somewhere. No, that’s my list….oh, where is he….ahh, here he is. OK, you can tell him to shut up now.”

However, while Crand had been trying to find Lewis Theron Telemarketer in his brain, another person had appeared from seemingly nowhere, but again had come form the basement. Richard looked at the new arrival. “Kahlan!?! What are you doing here?”

Kahlan looked at him. “I knew you would be here. Here, I brought you this.” She handed him the Sword of Moral Justice, which was the Sword of Truth’s little brother. It was also not magical, unless Richard wielded it, in which case it channelled the spirits of great warriors to aid him in battle, so it could be carried through the sliph. Because she couldn’t detect its magic.

“Thank you, darlin wife. Ouch, what was that for? Oh right, sorry.” Richard turned to Crand. “Well then, if you will not kneel to me and speak the bond, I will be forced to kill you.”

Crand looked at him aghast. “You are a channeler?”

Richard looked at Crand. “Yes, yes I am. I channel Moral Purpose and…”

Thirty minutes and one page later, Crand punched Richard in the nose. “Creator, that felt good. OK then, I will not let you bond me your Warder, for as the Lord Dragon Rebirthed I am far more powerful than you can imagine.” With than, Crand drew his flaming sword and assume the Cat Gets Hit by Wagon stance. The arrogance of the stance affected Richard, and so he charged in.

Their fight lasted for hours, swords clashing. Moral Justice met flaming sword, and both warriors flashed through stances, each seeking the blood of the other. Finally, they pulled apart.

Crand looked at Richard. “You may be a match for me in sword, but are you in the Power?” as he spoke, he began weaving.

Richard looked at Crand. “Hah! I am the lord of all power. Bring it!” Suddenly, Richard could see the weaves around Crand gathering. He reached out to them, and began twisting them to his own purposes. However, he did not know the weaves for anything useful, and so all he made was a fog that slowly gathered around the room.

Crand was shocked at the skill Richard had shown when moving his weaves. “You’re a Forchosen! Die, servant of the Greyish One!” Crand then unleashed the Rotten Cherry weaves, and launched them at Richard. Richard laughed, and brought up Moral Justice to deflect it, which it did. Crand snarled and kept attacking, but Richard blocked them all with his sword. But then Richard felt some other type of power gathering, around the woman…Elaine.

“Mother’s cream in a glass, you two are annoying.” She said as she wove something Richard could barely see.

“Curse your womanly ways, what are you doing?” Richard screamed.

Elaine looked startled, then she laughed a bit, as she realized what that meant. Then she unleashed her weaves, which picked Richard and Crand up and threw them against the wall. “Men!” She said.

Richard turned to her, and laughed. “Women are the real problem. Ow!” He said, as Kahlan hit him. “Sorry, sorry, not you!”

Kahlan kept hitting Richard. Elaine joined her. “Aren’t men idiots?” Elaine asked.

“Yes, yes they are. I’m Kahlan, by the way.”


Eventually, Elaine and Kahlan made Richard and Crand make up, and Kahlan made Richard promise never to attack Crandland again, although they visited sometimes. Richard learned how to channel from both Crand and in secret Elaine.

So ends the first chapter in The Tire of Time…stay tuned for a possible second!! (if there is an appetite for one, of course)

- JCoj

Friday, August 04, 2006

The Goodkind Parodies

Revised! 31/08/06

These were all posted on the Let's Mock Terry Goodkind threads at by me and various people, and I've decided to collect them all into one place for the sake of posterity. The Mad Moose has kindly provided links to all the actual Goodkind quotes these are lampooning, but if you can't be bothered to read them all (or if Terry's prose makes your eyes hurt) here is a quick summary:

Richard | Kahlan | Other Wizards | Nicci | Goats, Gars and other animals | The Bad Guys | Terry Goodkind | The Parodies!

  • Richard Rahl is the hero. He wields the Sword of Truth, which has the word "Truth" embossed on the handle, and is powered by rage. He is also a War Wizard, which is basically a type of rare wizard that can do all sorts of special magic. He is used as the paragon of morals and virtue, and of Objectivist doctrine. He wears what is described as a "war wizard outfit."

  • While being tortured by the enemy, Richard used his magic power to kick an (evil) 8-year-old girl in the jaw in a convoluted escape plot; the phrase used by Goodkind to describe this power is "Richard's thing rose up in him".

  • Richard originally stops eating meat when he becomes a wizard, but eventually Goodkind changes his mind and has Richard make an elaborate justification of why Meat is Good.

  • In one book, Goodkind creates a nation of pacifists (led by a small boy) as a strawman argument to display why Pacifism is Wrong. The pacifists stage a peaceful demostration to stop Richard from going to war; Richard slaughters the protestors, who are "armed only with their hatred for moral clarity." Richard also kills unarmed council members.

  • Richard learns super fighting skills just by holding his sword; he also learns things like how to grab arrows out of the air (more than once) and advanced algebra. Later, he can learn this from any sword, not just a magic one. He is also able to recreate an antidote from remembering how it tasted.

  • Richard, while captured by the enemy, manages to steal a sword by pretending to stretch, then kills several dozen soldiers before being captured again. The captain of the guard is so impressed that he asks Richard to be on his sports team. (the Imperial sport of Ja La)

  • Richard makes very long speeches. Very, very long speeches.

  • Richard abandons his troops at one point because he doesn't think they are worthy of him.

  • Richard's latest battle tactics are simple - his army of D'Harans is too small to take on the huge enemy army, so instead he orders them to go to the enemy homeland and slaughter all the civilians, removing the ears of anyone who preaches the enemy faith. Because this is the only moral thing to do.

  • Nearly all women want to seduce Richard; Duchess Lumholz tries to do this with food. Later, it turns out that she was only doing this because of nipple magic (don't ask). Richard actually turns out to be a bit of a prude.

  • Kahlan is Richard's wife, and a Confessor, which gives her the power to magically bind men to her will as permanent slaves. Richard is able to protect himself from her magic by his love for her (aah!)

  • She is almost raped at least 9 times throughout the series, but always manages to escape/be rescued in the nick of time. On one occasion, she is attacked by a chicken that is not a chicken, but evil incarnate. It has an evil cackle.

  • At one stage, Kahlan has to lead an small army in a fight against a large one, in winter. Her cunning plan is to have all the soldiers strip naked and paint themselves white, so the enemy will think they are ghosts. Surprisingly, this works. All deserters who were given the option to leave before the battle are later tracked down and killed.

  • One of the enemy soldiers breaks into Kahlan's camp and kills a wizard. Kahlan orders that he be tortured to death slowly over several hours.

  • Kahlan's half-sister, the Queen of Galea, has a breakdown (following a gratuitous gang-rape) and temporarily hands over the queenship to Kahlan, who promptly annexes Galea to Richard's empire. When their half-brother Harold comes to tell Kahlan they are not happy about this annexation, and that Galea wishes to remain neutral in the war, Kahlan vows to destroy Galea, murder all its citizens and send her sister back to the rapists. Harold is then murdered by one of the wizards and this is treated as a good thing.

  • One of Kahlan's previous Confessor-power victims was an innocent man, so he is magically transformed into a wolf. So everything's all right in the end.

  • To enter a temple, Kahlan (for some reason) has to marry one of Richard's evil half-brothers. However, in the dark there's the old switcheroo and it turns out that it's Richard after all.

  • Despite being quite prim in real life, Kahlan has to act like a slut on several trumped-up occasions. It seems that Goodkind likes writing about sluts.

  • Phantom begins with Kahlan not knowing who she is...

  • Zeddicus Zul Zoroander is a wizard, and also Richard's grandfather and mentor. He says "Bags!" a lot; this is possibly intended to be a swearword.

  • Du Chaillu is a sort of sorceress that Richard rescues using a cunning ruse. She later has her super warriors try to kill him, and then claims him as her husband.

  • Betty is a goat, who is noble (I'm not sure why). Betty is possessed by an evil spirit, but rescued by Richard.

  • Gratch is a gar, a type of furry dinosaur. Richard befriends the orphaned Gratch, but later has to drive him away to save his life. Gratch later returns with an army of gars to save Richard in the middle of a battle. Gratch says "Gratch luuuug Raaach Arrrrg" a lot; apparently this means "Gratch loves Richard."

  • Scarlet is a magical talking dragon that Richard befriends.

  • Nicci is an evil sorceress who likes to torture people; she doesn't like lice. She is converted into a good guy when Richard carves a statue of Life (a man and a woman looking happy and alive, or something) and she falls to her knees and weeps with joy.

  • When infiltrating the enemy camp, she avoids recognition by taking her top off; the men are so distracted by her boobs that then never look at her face. She then wreaks bloody havoc and escapes. Shortly afterwards (?) she rips out someone's still-beating heart with her bare hands.

  • Nicci Someone called Nadine* tries to seduce Richard; her plan is to have sex with his brother in front of him and invite him to join in. She is surprised when this doesn't work. Nicci's seduction tactics are surprisingly similar.

  • Nicci still tortures people in the service of the good guys, but now it's OK because she's doing it for the right reasons. It turns out that her badness was due to some evil commies taking over when she was young.

  • Drefan is Richard's half-brother and is evil. Richard turns out to have many evil half-brothers, one of whom starts off pretending to be a good guy, and then tries to outlaw fire with a moving speech about a housefire that reduces the crowd to tears.

  • Drefan demostrates his evilness by killing prostitutes.

  • Richard eventually kills Drefan by ripping his spine out through his stomach. Despite this, he is still able to have one last go with a sword before expiring.*

  • The Sisters of the Dark are some evil nuns. They have dirty monster sex with nambles and numerous other excuses for pointless gang-bangs.
  • Darken Rahl is the first bad guy, who turns out to be Richard's father, is killed by Richard at the end of the first book, but still manages to come back in several sequels. He had a cult of "Master Rahl worshippers" - these worshippers now worship Richard. His female red-leather-clad torturers, the Mord Sith, now also serve Richard.

  • Denna is the Mord-Sith that first captures Richard. She later turns out to just have had a difficult childhood.

  • Jagang is the leader of the Imperial Order, who are the main bad guys. Their philosophy is a bastard mix of communism and Islam, where everyone has to serve the collective and will go to heaven if they die in battle (or somesuch). Goodkind spends several pages at a time detailing the atrocities committed by the IO, in case we were in any doubt about whether they were the bad guys. They also make captured enemies eat their own testicles. They enjoy eating the testicles of captured enemies; it is Kahlan who makes enemies eat their own testicles.**

  • Princess Violet is the 8-year-old whose jaw gets kicked by Richard; she returns later with her tongue grown back, in the company of a witch called Six.

  • A Yeard is a word born of a typo, which now means the type of beard/ponytail combination sported by Goodkind himself.

  • Goodkind has some trouble with irregular past participles; he also overuses the words "thing" and "instantly," and parts of anatomy behave in peculiar ways (especially eyes). Many points are stated and re-stated to the point of utter redundancy. His book dedications are peculiar.

  • Ayn Rand is Goodkind's hero. People who Goodkind disapproves of are treated in other ways, such as the evil emperor Bertrand Chambor and his evil wife Hildemara, apparently based on the Clintons...

So, with that out of the way, here are the parodies - thanks to all contributors, who are credited to the creator's screen name.

*Thanks to Maija Toivola for the corrections.
**Correction by The Mad Moose