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3/04/2014 3:21 pm  #1


Time lost and style changed. The story of a recovering Tolkein-holic

Nothing against Tolkein. His works had a profound influence on me as a person and in my formative youth was my primary inspiration for fantasy RPGs. 

Now having encountered ASSH and different sorts of literature by CAS and HPL I feel somewhat hobbled making the jump from High Fantasy to Sword and Sorcery.

I am surrounded by many well read enthusiasts that seem to get it when it comes to a darker grittier fantasy. Though I am reading quite a bit more fantasy than I have in years I feel way behind. 

Are there others out there with this obvious imbalance?
I'm not whining mind you just is odd feeling like a newb after 38 years!!

Morgan
 


“How can I wear the harness of toil
And sweat at the daily round,
While in my soul forever
The drums of Pictdom sound?” 
 

3/04/2014 3:55 pm  #2


Re: Time lost and style changed. The story of a recovering Tolkein-holic

Lovecraft made it to the awareness of people's consciousness, but with his stories only surfacing like the beslimed mountain peaks of a land long since swallowed by the vast and terrible ocean. CAS and so many others have remained treasures hidden for the most part in the dark depths of these oceans only the encrusted and pitted ruins of their palaces, temples and altars to forgottern Gods left fringed with trailings of weeds and decorated with barnacles, worn by the currents of time, left to tell of their glory.

Not suprising that you can live part of a lifetime and not discover them. 

Last edited by JasonZavoda (3/04/2014 6:30 pm)

 

3/05/2014 10:54 am  #3


Re: Time lost and style changed. The story of a recovering Tolkein-holic

I honestly do not remember which I read first in my early teens, Lovecraft, or Tolkien. I still like both very much, for different reasons. I do think there is a kind of specific Tolkien myopia when it comes to certain corners of the role playing hobby, a myopia that is often projected by the fans themselves (yes, I am thinking of Dungeons & Dragons in particular here). 

There's a less common, but just as ardent myopia regarding HPL, I think, in the sense some people swear by HPL being the be all, end all of the Mythos. You'll find, furthermore, that many of the most hardcore supporters of HPL pick and choose which stories they construe as "seminal" or "archetypal" for HPL, which in turns feeds some ideas about his fiction and its feel thereof which I find biased to the extreme - for instance this idea that HPL's stories are about loners in empty mansions that go crazy or die at the end.

In any case. I like both very much. I'm very glad for ASSH because it attempts to be faithful to the sources material of people like HPL, CAS, REH etc, while not falling victim to this type of bias I described in the previous paragraph. That's a breath of fresh air in a hobby that is much too formulaic for my tastes, at times.


Author, Hyperborean Laboratories, AFS Magazine Issue 3
Co-owner, partner at GP Adventures
The Hobby Shop Dungeon
 

3/05/2014 11:09 am  #4


Re: Time lost and style changed. The story of a recovering Tolkein-holic

For my own part, I was reading Tolkien and Howard at the same time, HPL later, and CAS not until I was in my thirties. I did read a lot of HPL-inspired authors, like Lumley and Ramsey Campbell. The beautiful thing that HPL did was inspire a sort of coopertive creative process (sound familiar, fellow gamers?) that resonates to today. So, yeah, there are some extremists who will speak in absolutes, and those who seek to collate HPL's work (Derleth, despite his fine efforts at preservation, is among the guilty), but for the most part I've seen writers take inspiration from HPL, and then go off to create their own thing. Call it derivation, if you like, but I think it's excellent. It resonates in many of Stephen King's works, in fact, and guys like Neil Gaiman, too. Really too many to list them off, some better than others. But the concept of shared creation is excellent, I think. 


HYPERBOREA- A Role-Playing Game of Swords, Sorcery, and Weird Science-Fantasy
 

3/05/2014 11:56 am  #5


Re: Time lost and style changed. The story of a recovering Tolkein-holic

Morgan,
Don't feel like a newb, as I mentioned elsewhere, I am currently catching up on a number of writers that I should have read long ago. I started D&D in the mid-eighties and part my introduction to the game was reading the Dragonlance trilogy...lent to me by the same fellow that allowed me to borrow BECMI. So, those books and others like them influenced my early game experience greatly, along with films like Conan, Dragonslayer, Sinbad, Beastmaster, Exaliber, etc. I start reading Tolkien, HPL and REH in my twenties, and didn't really dig into Smith until last year.

The truth is, there are ton of great authors and interesting stories that can translate into D&D and inspire people to join the game and tell their own tales. In the end that's what really matters.


ravengodgames.blogspot.com ~ cartography, writing, game design
Author, Forgotten Fane of the Coiled Goddess
 

3/05/2014 9:28 pm  #6


Re: Time lost and style changed. The story of a recovering Tolkein-holic

Ghul wrote:

For my own part, I was reading Tolkien and Howard at the same time, HPL later, and CAS not until I was in my thirties.

This is pretty much where I fall. I read Tolkien in middle school, but also Howard and Wagner, so there was some balance and contrasting presentation of fantasy. Plus, our D&D games were usually limited to just a few players (1-3 players and a GM) and wound up feeling more like Howard than Tolkien as a result. We didn't ever really have the large-party-goes-on-an-epic-save-the-world-quest thing going on. Anyway, I like both presentations of fantasy. As for HPL, CAS, Vance... I didn't read those guys until fairly recently. It's been nice.
 


Blackadder23: Insanely long villain soliloquy, then "Your action?"
BORGO'S PLAYER: I shoot him in the face
 

3/06/2014 8:49 pm  #7


Re: Time lost and style changed. The story of a recovering Tolkein-holic

I definitely have enjoyed the process of catching up!


“How can I wear the harness of toil
And sweat at the daily round,
While in my soul forever
The drums of Pictdom sound?” 
     Thread Starter
 

3/10/2014 11:23 am  #8


Re: Time lost and style changed. The story of a recovering Tolkein-holic

Hmmm, my first fantasy novel (unless you dismiss The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe that my 1st grade teacher read to us in class) was Conan of the Isles that my father (not a fantasy fan) had on his bookshelves. I read that when I was 9 and re-read it quite a bit. I was also reading Brian Daley's Han Solo trilogy and some of McIntyre's Star Trek novels. Also, a lot of Pyle's Arthur.I watched the Rankin/Bass Hobbit/RotK and the Last Unicorn. Whe Iw as 11 I discovered Dune and the Silmarillion; it would be a couple of more years before I read the Hobit and LotR.

High School, Dragonlance and teh Videssos cycle as well as Gary's Greyhawk novels. I would be 18-19 and in the Army before I dioscovered Elric and Lovecraft. 

So, I've had a weird experience with fantasy.


"It was an age of dark beliefs and of practises that were no less dark; and witchcraft and sorcery were rampant throughout the land, among all classes."
--Clark Ashton Smith, "The Necromantic Tale"
 

4/02/2014 7:18 am  #9


Re: Time lost and style changed. The story of a recovering Tolkein-holic

I got started on Tolkien and the Carter/DeCamp sanitized version of Howard's Conan, then moved on to Leiber's Fafhrd & the Grey Mouser and Moorcock's Elric. Most of my early days of reading fantasy has been pretty mainstream; some lighter and some darker.

I see Lovecraft and CAS as being a very different style altogether from what I grew up reading, and I'm still trying to wrap my brain around it. I don't like Lovecraft's style but love his ideas. I haven't read enough Smith to have a good opinion yet, but his work seems to be very strange. I suppose I need more exposure to this type of writing, because I don't seem to think that way naturally.


Marv / Finarvyn
DCC playtester (2011), S&W WhiteBox Author (2009), C&C playtester (2003), Metamorphosis Alpha since 1976. OD&D Player since 1975
 

4/02/2014 8:33 am  #10


Re: Time lost and style changed. The story of a recovering Tolkein-holic

Morgan - I'm in the same boat.

The best part: It's all fresh and new to me so it's like Weird Tales is still being published, except I don't have to wait for the next issue...

Don

 

4/02/2014 4:58 pm  #11


Re: Time lost and style changed. The story of a recovering Tolkein-holic

I feel like i'm catching up aswell, but sometimes i just see it as returning.

I read Conan comics (Savage Sword of) before i read the Hobbit and LotR, but i didn't read REH original Conan stories until years after that. I also read som Warhammer fiction, Gotrek and Felix. Then i began reading HPL at the same time i was reading Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms novels, but also C.S Lewis. Then i discovered Fritz Leiber, read A Princess of Mars before reading some C.L Moore and Henry Kuttner. Only lately, after discovering AS&SH, have i actually begun reading CAS (although i've heard about him for years).

I find myself catching up all the time and finding cool stuff that, in very different ways, brings me back to the feeling i had when i my father frist told the story of Thor's fishing trip where he tries to catch the Midgard Serpent.

Last edited by Crisippo (4/06/2014 2:51 pm)


Níu man ek heima, níu íviðjur,
mjötvið mæran fyr mold neðan.
(Völuspá)
(Nine worlds I knew,the nine in the tree with mighty roots beneath the mold)
Realmsofmelpomene
 

4/02/2014 6:49 pm  #12


Re: Time lost and style changed. The story of a recovering Tolkein-holic

Its honestly good to know I'm not alone in the boat!  Thank-you sirs!


“How can I wear the harness of toil
And sweat at the daily round,
While in my soul forever
The drums of Pictdom sound?” 
     Thread Starter
 

4/02/2014 8:05 pm  #13


Re: Time lost and style changed. The story of a recovering Tolkein-holic

Crisippo wrote:

I feel like i'm catching up aswell, but sometimes i just see it as returning.

I read Conan comics (Savage Sword of) before i read the Hobbit and LotR, but i didn't read REH original Conan stories until years after that. I also read som Warhammer fiction, Gotrek and Felix. Then i began reading HPL at the same time i was reading Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms novels, but also C.S Lewis. Then i discovered Fritz Leiber, read A Princess of Mars before reading some C.L Moore and Henry Kuttner. Only lately, after discovering AS&SH, have i actually begun reading CAS (although i've heard about him for years).

I find myself catching up all the time and finding cool stuff that, in very different ways, brings me back to the feeling i had when i my father frist told the story of Thor trying to fish the Midgard Serpent.

I think the great thing here is that a lot of us are approaching this from the same angle, no matter which authors we read during youth, and which we read into adulthood, even recently. We're talking about drawing inspiration for our games from great fiction, and this is fantastic to me. (And I don't expect we're all going to qualify "great" the same way.) Sometimes I get the impression that some tabletop RPGs are designed by folks who are inspired by other game systems and other game settings, and they aren't reaching back to the real roots of the hobby -- the literature, history, folk tales, tall tales, and mythology.
 


HYPERBOREA- A Role-Playing Game of Swords, Sorcery, and Weird Science-Fantasy
 

4/06/2014 2:39 pm  #14


Re: Time lost and style changed. The story of a recovering Tolkein-holic

To me, Howard seems to have something almost postmodern with his portrayal of evil and especially social corruption. Yes, Conan can be seen as somwhat reactionary, a longing back to a time when men where still real men and might made right. But much of the conflict is human, with characters having flaws and frequently failing and making bad descisions.
Which is something that Tolkien seems to be entirely lacking. There are some really good ideas in the works about Middle-Earth, but it's still a world of an objective and pure power of Good, which is contrasted by irredeemable Evil. There are no questionable characters in the Hobbit and Lord of the rings. Only beautiful pure people, and corrupted ugly people. The only possible exception might be Boromir, but he still ends up seemingly with a pure heart who was blameless in his failings because an external Evil power took control over him.
Tolkiens world is a world of stark black and white, which simply isn't what the actual world is like. In the post-cold war world, it's now about seeing your friends and enemies as very diffirent and unique, and there is a need to understand different traditions and customs, and accepting that some people see things differently, but might not be any less justified in that than we are. In Tolkiens world, there is no room for understanding differences and accepting them. People are either on the side of good, or forever lost to Evil. And as a result it's conflicts do not relate to actual human conflicts.
In the last 30 years or so, narrative arts have shifted to a focus on the personal struggle with ambiguity and the rise of the anti-hero. You can't just kill the big bad villain and suddenly the whole world is perfect again. So what do you do in a world that is throughly corrupt and you can't change it? Maybe just try as good as you can.
And in that light, Conan, as well as Sword & Sorcery in general, actually seems to be more relevant than Middle-Earth these days.


"Steel isn't strong, boy. Flesh is stronger. What is steel compared to the hand that wields it?"

Spriggan's Den
 

4/06/2014 2:57 pm  #15


Re: Time lost and style changed. The story of a recovering Tolkein-holic

Yora wrote:

To me, Howard seems to have something almost postmodern with his portrayal of evil and especially social corruption.

In my opinion, the pulp writers in general were some of the most important (and uncelebrated) visionaries of the twentieth century.  The nihilism and cynicism of their work almost exactly anticipated the postmodern world.
 


Michael Sipe 1979-2018
Rest in peace, brother.
 

3/23/2020 2:52 am  #16


Re: Time lost and style changed. The story of a recovering Tolkein-holic

I didn't really read Smith until my mid-thirties when I acquired a copy of "Zothique". It blew my socks off. So strange, so beautiful, so horrific. I can see a lot of Zothique in Talanian's Hyperborea setting.

A bit later, I acquired Smith's "Hyperborea" which most definitely had an influence on the setting of AS&SH.

I came to Smith last because as a general rule, apart from the odd anthologised tale, his work is still not as accessible as it should be whereas Tolkien's work is readily found in bookshops and has dedicated fanfiction sites.

Last edited by Rhebeqah (3/23/2020 3:17 am)

 

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