Monday, February 1, 2010

Poul Anderson's "On Thud & Blunder"



While organizing files with a future mind to referencing I came across this gem which I have quoted from for one of my future essays. This is well worth reading for anyone crafting fantasy worlds, tales, fiction and/or FRPG related matter. From one of our undeniable Masters... Poul Anderson.  Here's a partial, then the link to the rest at SFWA.

... " With one stroke of his fifty-pound sword, Gnorts the Barbarian lopped off the head of Nialliv the Wizard. It flew through the air, still sneering, while Gnorts clove two royal guardsmen from vizor through breasplate to steel jockstrap. As he whirled to escape, an arrow glanced off his own chainmail. Then he was gone from the room, into the midnight city. Easily outrunning pursuit, he took a few sentries at the gate by surprise. For a moment, arms and legs hailed around him through showers of blood; then he had opened the gate and was free. A caravan of merchants, waiting to enter at dawn, was camped nearby. Seeing a magnificent stallion tethered, Gnorts released it, twisted the rope into a bridle, and rode it off bareback. After galloping several miles, he encountered a mounted patrol that challenged him. Immediately he plunged into the thick of the cavalrymen, swinging his blade right and left with deadly effect, rearing up his steed to bring its forefeet against one knight who dared to confront him directly. Then it was only to gallop onward. Winter winds lashed his body, attired in nothing more than a bearskin kilt, but he ignored the cold. Sunrise revealed the shore and his waiting longship. He knew the swift-sailing craft could bring him across five hundred leagues of monster-infested ocean in time for him to snatch the maiden princess Elamef away from evil Baron Rehcel while she remained a maiden — not that he intended to leave her in that condition … .

Exaggerated? Of course. But, unfortunately, not much, where some stories are concerned."...


19 comments:

Timeshadows said...

I first encountered that as part of The Chaosium's THIEVES WORLD boxed set.
--Good stuff.

grodog said...

Me too, Kyrinn: D&D definitely introduced me to many literary sources, authors, and eventual influences as I "read backward" to Appendix N authors, etc.

(This is yet-another reason to love the Thieves World boxed sets, too!).

Allan.

Delve said...

For those who are not familiar with Prisoners of Gravity. It was a show on TVO Canada that aired from 1989 till 1994. It had great interviews with with classic sci-fi, fantasy writers, artists and other creative minds. I think all episodes are on Youtube. Here's a link for you guys to start from. Poul Anderson is in this episode.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=42Q5s0eW050

Lord of the Green Dragons said...

Thanks Delve! I was able to watch all three parts and found them enlightening as well as entertaining.

I especially appreciated the first/second parts dealing more specifically with chess and games in SF.

Timeshadows said...

threadjack/

@Allan: That is one thing I have not seen come from the New School --whether it is indicative of public schooling in general, or simply the newer generation of folks--, namely the effect of silently encouraging young and old to constantly expand their own education by stimulating their drive for more knowledge of the world in which they live in, the world of their ancestors, as well speculating on what the world of tomorrow may be like.

To the shame of most of my teachers, and the system in general, I learnt far more on my own through non-fiction prompted by obscure word choices by Gary and company in gaming material, as well as watching a lot of non-fiction television (PBS and nature/science shows, namely Connections I/II, but also the Dick Cavett Show).
--My players, all in their twenties, show a frighteningly low level of interest in the Big Picture; in giving a damn; and any sort of understanding that our times are but one link in a vast chain (not only of history, but of relatedness). It is disheartening, and frankly, frightening.

I suppose I must thank a string of bad presidents, a slew of bad post-apocalyptic sci-films, and a father from what was essentially still a 19th century country to properly appreciate what life was and will be like again when the power shuts off and never switches back on.

/threadjack

Lord of the Green Dragons said...

No threadjack here, TS. Whatever stimulated you to state as much must have been due to the thread, at least in part of its whole form. That's the thing about communication in that it actually springs from a varied resource-well of both subconscious and conscious but then gets "ratified" into a social discourse of priority and form (i.e., box). That's needed when it's needed, but here there's no such beast. In fact, now you've drawn a correlation to what I noted in Up on a Tree Stump #4 and which I paste hereafter: "...But the consequences for those who limit play under such a premise is more than just boring, it's frightening. ...

The further one closes off their mind to experience, the less they participate and in turn the less value they derive from such experiences.  Only value-added achievements spur growth."...

It seems that the TV, computers, over-competition and the diminishing of Play as a learning/questing vehicle for the abstract mind has stultified a lot of kids and modeled them in such pursuits partially if not wholly. It's due to the living for the "Now". Winning now. Experiencing now. Its input based sensationalism. Feed the whim. History? Knowledge acquisition? How does that relate to my ever pressing need of stimulation? How will I compete for the education (to get dollars)?? Will that help me? Once everyone got a chance at a college education in 1968 the flood gates opened culturally to the masses and they saw this in our capitalistic society (great that it is) as a signal to live the American Dream (exchanging education for status, status for money and the "good life"). It's become a conveyer line of expectation, a rubber-stamp of cultural and growth oriented provenance wherein knowledge for knowledge sake has no place in many of the overall equations relating to it.

I was debating whether to post a video I recently shared with Journalizer and have decided that this converse, even though mine became a critical diatribe, has now warranted it fully. I was going to post it in the next few days, but the timing's right.

Thanks TS! :)

Timeshadows said...

Thanks.
--I did get the feeling it was more than OK to post that, but the confirmation only makes this blog sweeter.

Precisely (and more succinct than I could muster as my emotions ran warm+).
--Looking forward to the video. :)

Journalizer said...

Timeshadows I hear yah! I agree.

Rob, Thanks for posting the video because Dave Hickey states this in a great way (NOT politically correct).

LOL! gotta love it when he starts with, "quintessentially mushy average American ideas
ethos of inclusiveness; read "dumb down" .... "America is wrong"... "maybe art is not an educational c student activity.
it may require a little bit more refinement. a lil more Independence."

It's about personal experience and figuring things out for yourself, not taking the dogma at face value.... questioning, questioning, questioning... 'cause I sure as hell have had experiences that put the limitations of my public education to shame... more on this over at the Dave Hickey post.

.... and that is the beauty of sci fi. It's about the imagination and asking yourself, "what if?"

Delve said...

On the topic of sci-fi, here are two more links I'd like to share.
1. A 1963 mini doc on Ray Brabury *my fav writer*

http://www.archive.org/details/RayBradburyStoryOfAWriterByDavidL.Wolper

2: Dreams with Sharp Teeth *Trailer* is pretty damn funny but a man with a great mind. Harlan Ellison. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dmfzKKM49uY&feature=PlayList&p=9C2AA6D97F96ED1C&playnext=1&playnext_from=PL&index=1

E.G.Palmer said...

" That is one thing I have not seen come from the New School --whether it is indicative of public schooling in general, or simply the newer generation of folks--, namely the effect of silently encouraging young and old to constantly expand their own education by stimulating their drive for more knowledge of the world in which they live in, the world of their ancestors, as well speculating on what the world of tomorrow may be like.

To the shame of most of my teachers, and the system in general, I learnt far more on my own through non-fiction prompted by obscure word choices by Gary and company in gaming material, as well as watching a lot of non-fiction television (PBS and nature/science shows, namely Connections I/II, but also the Dick Cavett Show).
--My players, all in their twenties, show a frighteningly low level of interest in the Big Picture; in giving a damn; and any sort of understanding that our times are but one link in a vast chain (not only of history, but of relatedness). It is disheartening, and frankly, frightening.

I suppose I must thank a string of bad presidents, a slew of bad post-apocalyptic sci-films, and a father from what was essentially still a 19th century country to properly appreciate what life was and will be like again when the power shuts off and never switches back on."

TimeShadows, now you're speaking my alignment language! Heh-hee!

I've tried to avoid speaking of non-directly gaming oriented subjects on my blog, but I think you're spot-on with this.

Timeshadows said...

@E. G. Palmer:
"TimeShadows, now you're speaking my alignment language! Heh-hee!

I've tried to avoid speaking of non-directly gaming oriented subjects on my blog, but I think you're spot-on with this."

Thanks.
--I am grateful for the opportunity to express this, as the feeling largely festers within me and it seems that there is no ...proper venue for what others may simply see as vitriol and, 'get the hell offa' my lawn'-istic drivel or what have you.

My father was born in 1921 in the newly formed Republic of Turkey, and had recounted to us the remnants of pre-Industrial life, its simple joys, as well as his love for the films of the Western world that drove him from an early age to become an American citizen. He was an early adopter of all visual technology, as his heartfelt ambition was to become a film director. As a result, I first learnt about 8 and 16mm home-movie aparatus, splicing film, and the workings of projectors. Then came early black and white video, etc.
--That knowledge is now largely lost to the digital age and download on demand, etc. I feel the honour of carrying that forward, although I have not found an opportunity to share those skills with any of the younger folk, and I feel that with my death, a grand legacy of recounted and experiential wisdom will vanish, apart from some mention on Wikipaedia or some such.

Likewise, recounted tales not only of my mother's experience as an American citizen living through the war years in Germany, as well as stories of my grand uncle having been taken captive by the Soviets near the end of the First World War, and his forced indenture in Siberia upon a farm where the wolves would howl and batter against the frail wooden door in the terrible winter nights, or his bloodless escape on a west-bound train and eventual repatriation, etc.

I remember $.89 unleaded Sunoco gasoline, watching Marines die on the CBS news broadcasts with Dan Rather as a field reporter in Viet Nam, Patty Hearst and the SLA massacre, the Munich Olympics terrorist event, as well as the flight diverted to Angola, etc.

These folks, today, don't seem to have any sort of context in which to view the events of their time, nor any apparent concern apart from the vague socio-religious mantra of rising ocean levels and how buying an electric car makes one both 'green' and cool in the eyes of their peers.

> sigh <
Alright, I better take my nap now, Matlock is on in a few hours... ;)

Journalizer said...

Timeshadows,
You have know idea how much you are speaking my language! But the thing is that those twenty somethings are my peers... I am on the cusp because I am 32.
I do not have the same experiences from living through the same as you, however, I have been given the gift of travel. And in actuality, it is a gift through my public education. Actually, last year, after observing the same as you mention with peers in their twenties. I wrote a book about this experience in particular. It is all inspired by real personal experiences from Russia on the transiberian express and after...
My high school back in March 1994 had a Russian history class where we went on a "field trip" to Russia. But you see, this was right after the coup. Russia was like a military state.... and so poor...
We met survivors of the Holocaust... I learned so much... through personal experience...
Then after that I was an exchange student in Japan. Everything was up-side sown and inside out in Japan. They view their world completely differently than ours... and that personal experience of seeing things from a seemingly opposite points of view.
Then young adulthood threw more 'curve balls' my way, ...but in hindsight I see why.
Anyway, some of those experiences since high school have led me to believe that a change occurred at 9/11. I think this is when "thinking outside the box" and "exploring the unknown" were curbed for a preferred state of safety.
I think this may have affected parenting.... and teaching....

BUT I COULD BE WRONG! I am merely referring to my own personal experiences and would not state this as a fact... just an observation from a small focus group... my life.

Timeshadows said...

@Journalizer: Then there is hope! :D
--What is the title of your book and where do I find a copy to purchase?

It all sounds wonderfully interesting. :)

Please forgive my agist tendencies.
--We oldish folks have unresolved issues. :)

Lord of the Green Dragons said...

@Delve:

Thanks for those links. Bradbury was a great writer and Fahrenheit 451 is still one of my favorites (and seemingly related to what happened here in the US recently with the passing of a bill regarding certain books which were classified as "possibly" having lead-based paint particles in them and thus these had to be tested or else removed from sale and libraries and destroyed). I'll dig up the article and of course will view these videos sometime today.

Thanks Delve!

Lord of the Green Dragons said...

@Journalizer and Timeshadows.

I have some reactions to it all in my next post. I too would love to read the book, Journalizer.

Later on all, still sipping my coffee as I was up way too late last night editing, reading and such. :)

Later on all.

Journalizer said...

Timeshadows, I am agreeing with you. I am agreeing that personal experiences such as yours and your father's and mine and everyone's is the way in which we formulate our view of the world.
All I am doing is narrowing it down to a particular time period ...
and specifically an event. I am interpreting the reason for your observation as due to a kind of "post traumatic stress." I think this might make people more frightened of the unknown and therefore perhaps seek out less personal experience or curiosity or something ... I think your observation is the result of things occurring for a while, but 9/11 was the zenith.

Thanks for your interest in my book. It is still in rough drat! I just mentioned it to illustrate our similar experiences... and how they may relate to our similar observations.

Delve said...

@ Lord of the Green Dragons

No Problem, I noticed the bradbury link gets cut off. At the site search for "David L. Wolper" which should come up with Ray Bradbury: Story of a Writer. I really like the small skit they made of Dial Double Zero. As for the book ban it makes me wonder, if they are so concerned about our health. Should "Lead Poisoning" have a higher priority over air and water pollution? I wonder who stands to gain a profit over this new law? KINDLE perhaps?. Fahrenheit 451 is my fav book of all time. One of this second best stories has to be the "Pedestrian". It's almost bang on the way he desribes future social of values.

Journalizer said...

Addendum:
Timeshadows, I do mean to be agist. I think you are right in going that broad.

I should not pigeonhole this to this generation in their twenties. I think it is a characteristic of that age group because there is only 20 years perspective. I truly think that experience is knowledge and 20 years is a different, more narrow perspective. I remember being in that age.

That coupled with what is actually occurring during that time: whether it be politics, art, science... any trend the youth will explore: and to their credit.

The turn of the 21st century brought a great deal more media avenues and access with iphones and multi-player online gaming where communication is instant access.... and 9/11. It's like globalized fear. Fear is irrational.

Anyway, I just wanted to clarify that the youth are a huge influence on society and always have been. It is a good thing because it gives us a multitude of opinions and experiences and lends to better learning through trial and error.
Experience is knowledge.

Timeshadows said...

@Journalizer: Then I will engage in it too by saying that I am rather taken with your optimistic enthusiasm.
--Too many of my sisters' generation(s), as well as my own, haven't done squat for the world, and I was terribly worried about their offspring. You have continued to give me hopeful reasons not to sweat it.

Best,