Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Necromancy in Damnation Alley

Thread necromancy, that is!

Promoted from the comments.

Q: Sorry about this necromancy of reviving the old comment thread after so many years, but, re-reading Damnation Alley, I have an idea I can't get rid of, and perhaps someone could share their view on it, too…

So, can't that pre-final scene, where Hell sees a pilgrim priest in his delirium dream, besides being a reference to the Japanese Noh theater (as Carl Yoke suggests here https://bit.ly/35Kcked), be also an allusion to A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller Jr., a famous post-apocalyptic science fiction novel dedicated mostly to the Catholic church in the post-nuclear world (that is, having a lot of monks, priests and pilgrimage in it)? That came to my mind after I had read the both books within a year.

A: My first instinct would be to say no, as Zelazny rarely referenced other fictional work in that fashion. However, it's certainly not impossible, as the Grimjack cameo in the Merlin series shows. That said, I don't know Leibowitz nearly as well as I know Zelazny's works, so I'll have to qualify my opinion as uninformed. 

Chris I? Chris II? Any insight that you would care to share?
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Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Meanwhile, at the Bear Owl Sanctuary

We started what may become a new D&D campaign. It quickly went off the rails (as all the best campaigns do) with our unintentionally racist cleric and our mercenary paladin. Things reached their peak when our characters killed a sleeping owlbear. Our daughter commemorated the moment with this picture.

And now for some sadder news.

Mungo the porgbear was loved by all the children at St Brutus's Hospital, where he wandered the children's wing as a therapy bear. He could often be found rocking them to sleep, snuggling up with them or turning his head around to amuse the children who had been dealt a losing hand in life.

That is until this weekend, when he was brutally murdered in his sleep by a party of "heroes" employed by King Tristan. When asked for comment, the party's paladin Orion demanded payment up front before speaking, Raveena  tugged on her beard, Vidalia ate her namesake onions and Moser shouted racial slurs.

In lieu of flowers, the family of 400 surviving baby porgbears is requesting donations to St Brutus's. Services will be held at the chapel in the Starcourt Mall. It will be closed casket due to the condition of the deceased.

Monday, November 25, 2019

The Storms of Venus

I won't reprint the letter here, but a Zelazny fan whose first language is not English asked for some clarification regarding this exchange from "The Doors of His Face, the Lamps of His Mouth"

"You're from the Midwest, aren't you?"
"Get bad storms out there?"
"Try to think of the worst one you were ever in. Got a slide rule handy?"
"Right here."
"Then put a one under it, imagine a zero or two following after, and multiply the thing out."
"I can't imagine the zeros."
"Then retain the multiplicand—that's all you can do."

It's a bit tricky to decipher because it involves both the archaic instrument of a slide rule and the word "multiplicand", which itself is hardly in common use.

I think the slide rule is something of a distraction. Davits is basically saying that you want to imagine a large Midwestern storm (which would be the multiplicand, the item which is multiplied) and the one followed by a one or two zeroes in the multiplier.

A one followed by one zero would be ten and a one followed by two zeroes is one hundred. Davits is telling Mike that the tropical storms on Venus are ten to one hundred times more powerful in the American Midwest.

Monday, September 30, 2019