Yesterday, a friend posted on Facebook that the Lord of the Rings movies did the character of Boromir dirty. I countered that those movies did every character dirty, with the possible exception of Sam and Gollum. The best parts of the movies are the visuals and the soundtrack. This is because Peter Jackson, Phillipa Boyens, and Fran Walsh don’t actually understand Tolkien’s work. They certainly lack his subtlety. (Yes, I’m going to go into some detail on what they got wrong. Some. Those who don’t like people trashing movies for screwing with the source material might want to stop reading now. Because I’m not going to stop, because it’s my blog.) And every character change they made watered down the character. First of all, Aragorn didn’t need an arc, where he agonizes and broods, worried that he shouldn’t be king because wanting power is bad. Because The Lord of the Rings isn’t the entirety of his story. It’s the culminating chapter of a long life of hardship, toil, and duty, that has led him to this point, where it is time to take up the mantle left to him. He’s got the experience, he’s got the hard-won wisdom, and he knows that
Ordinarily, I might leave this kind of thing alone. But the fact that it was published on Soldier of Fortune I find immensely disappointing. It’s gobsmacking, actually. And given that firearms and combat tactics touch on the interests of a lot of my readers, this needs a smackdown. Apparently, somebody named Kris Osborn, who is billed as a military expert, even though I can’t find any reference to him spending a day in uniform, thinks that the M17 pistol is going to revolutionize combat tactics. Yes, you read that right. Go read it. I’ll wait.
What’s the difference? In reality, less than one might think. In general, I think, the “Action Adventure” genre, as exemplified (and coined) by Don Pendleton’s Executioner series, which spawned multiple spinoffs and inspired others (there is actually a flashback in SOBs #3, Butchers of Eden, in which Col. Barrabas remembers a night fighting back to back in Vietnam with Sgt. Mack Bolan), has generally been looked down upon as cheap, poorly-done “pulp,” with even less merit than comic books. “Techno-thrillers,” ostensibly started by Tom Clancy with The Hunt for Red October, are considered better quality and more realistic, though still sneered at by the literati (I had a high-school English teacher speak dismissively of Clancy as “pop-lit.”).
I recently had the opportunity to finally pick up and read a classic of science fiction, E.E. “Doc” Smith’s Triplanetary. I’d had the paperback sitting on my shelf for quite some time, but had only in the last couple of months gotten around to reading it. I was a little confused at first, since none of the stuff about the Arisians or the Eddorians that was on the back cover was in the book. It turns out that Cosmos Books had only printed the original 1934 serial version of Triplanetary, from before Smith rewrote it to fit in with the Lensman series in 1947. Instead of the actual Lensman version of Triplanetary, that the cover advertised, these folks printed the original, and packaged it along with another story, “Masters of Space,” that Smith had serialized with E. Everett Evans in 1961 and 1962. Not knowing anything about the story, and being unsure if it was supposed to be part of the Lensman series or not, I went looking around the internet to find out about it.
And when it’s based on a lie, it’s even worse. So, this is making the rounds on FB again: “We are asking everyone to say a prayer for the US “Darkhorse” 3rd Battalion 5th Marines and their families. They are fighting it out in Afghanistan and have lost 9 Marines in 4 days. IT WOULD BE NICE TO SEE IT ON EVERYONE’S PAGE…Even if its only for an hour. I am HONORED to re-post this! Sending prayers, strength and encouragement to the Marines and other soldiers and their families who lost their lives, and to the Warriors that are still fighting. R.I.P. Justin Allen 23, Brett Linley 29, Matthew Weikert 29, Justus Bartett 27, Dave Santos 21, Jesse Reed 26, Matthew Johnson 21, Zachary Fisher 24, Brandon King 23, Christopher Goeke 23, and Sheldon Tate 27…. All are Marines who gave their lives this week for us ….for our freedom! There’s no media for them at all… not even a mention of their names. Please honor them by copying and pasting this post.R.I.P. Please keep these Marines families in your prayers.” The reason why these names are not being mentioned in the media is that all of those men, the
It’s been a few days, so some of the more hyperbolic stuff surrounding the Tomahawk strike on Al Shayrat Airbase in Syria has started to die down. Now might be the right time to weigh in with a few thoughts. This should not be taken as an exhaustive analysis; I’m not in that business, and have slightly less of a finger on the pulse of these things than I did a couple years ago, when I was keeping a close eye on the jihadi groups cropping up in Syria.
This post, while following on from the last one, will be addressing a bit more of a broad problem across genres. It’s gotten a lot more talk in the science fiction and fantasy genres (particularly fantasy) than it has in the thriller genre, but it still applies. The fantasy version of this has been most recently highlighted by the work of George R.R. Martin, though there are plenty of authors working along a similar vein, which has been coined “grimdark,” a term that became at first something of a joke, based on the tag-line for the Warhammer 40,000 tabletop sci-fantasy wargame: “In the grim darkness of the far future, there is only war.” Taken to its extreme, it can become so ludicrous that it shades into “grimderp.”
“Jack,” Trent said, “When I was fourteen I was a man. Had to be. Well, it looks like your father dying has made you a man, too. “I’m giving you this Sharps. She’s an old gun, but she shoots straight. I’m not giving this gun to a boy, but to a man, and a man doesn’t ever use a gun unless he has to. He never wastes lead shooting carelessly. He shoots only when he has to, and when he can see what it is he’s shootin’ at. “This gun is a present with no strings attached except that any man who takes up a gun accepts responsibility for what he does with it. Use it to hunt game, for target practice, or in defense of your home or those you love. “Keep it loaded always. A gun’s no good to a man when it’s empty, and if it is settin’ around, people aren’t liable to handle it carelessly. They’ll say, ‘That’s Jack Moffit’s gun, and it’s always loaded.’ It is the guns people think are unloaded that cause accidents.” Louis L’Amour, The Mountain Valley War This isn’t just about guns or the current uproar over the reaction to the