Who Would Win? A Unified Theory

Ashok Vadal vs Harry Dresden.
Yikes, I have no idea what would happen here, except that Harry is going to run his mouth and Ashok is going to be suspicious and grumpy. Thing is, I can’t see these guys continuing to fight after they’ve both figured out they’re on the side of the Good Guys. In my opinion, most of these Who Would Win matches end with both parties having a drink and swapping yarns somewhere.

Thera and Murphy…mind you, I’m pretty sure they’d actually get along excellently, but if it’s a matter of either of them seeing their boys in trouble, they’d definitely wade right in. Normally I’d say that Murphy has the definite physical combat advantage (multiple black belts and all, y’know), but if it’s post-Skin Game Murphy with a bad leg, and if Thera can’t throw a knife worth a damn because her hands are messed up, the odds would even out a little bit more.

So, hey, maybe the boys aren’t going to fight at all, maybe they’re just busy dragging their ladies apart…

Harry Dresden vs John Carter, Lord Greystoke.
Are you kidding me? There isn’t going to be a fight. Harry is going to be fanboying so hard he gets caught off guard when the Pelluciderean Neanderthal ninjas get teleported in by the vengeful Therns of Barsoom (who allied with the insane Russian) and a bundle of hired thugs from the south side (probably ghouls in disguise) who tried to jump him earlier and are now aiming to kidnap the womenfolk.

Murphy gets kidnapped on account of being a blonde female in the company of the heroes and thus obviously a damsel.

Murphy has strong opinions about this.

John Carter, Lord Greystoke vs Conan of Cimmeria
Like I said, no matter how this begins, this is only ever going to end with them having a drink somewhere with their respective ladies (whom they have just finished rescuing.) Conan is probably going to pay, because he also pinched the jewels from under the evil altar on the way out.

Ashok Vadal vs Benedict of Amber
Oh, wow. If it did come to a fight, Benedict is going to win hands-down, and the most Ashok is going to do is make him raise a sweat. But realistically, Ashok lucked out in this one, because it’s quite obvious Benedict isn’t there for a fight. Benedict has come back, after an unavoidably long hiatus–

–perhaps he was imprisoned in Chaos; perhaps he was guarding another relation and dared not leave; perhaps an enemy or a jealous lover interfered with the flow of time and kept him for ages past his intent–

–to see how his children fare.

Ramrowan is obviously Benedict.–the greatest strategist, or tactician, or combatant who ever lived, but who has learned the value of peace through his who also realizes the horror of war and the worth of a human life. He’d have some answers for Ashok, and then they’d go off and fight the demons of Chaos together.

Solomon Kane vs Corwin of Amber
Solomon Kane, the solemn, fanatical Puritan avenger, has been on the trail of an evil man like a starving wolf follows the scent of blood. From one end of the world to the other he has been at this cur’s heels, and yet somehow stumbles into an ambush anyway. (This always happens).

Corwin of Amber pauses in his hellride when he sees a half-familiar form in a desperate fight, one man against many, cut and tattered and blooded with many wounds: staunch, undefeated. He turns aside in his journey through Shadow, even though he knows in his heart this can be but the shadow of a man he once knew ages before: in the days before the court of the Sun King fell, in the time when the days were new and the nights bright and deadly.

Kane recounts his tale of woe and vengeance and his mission of Godly vengeance. Corwin rides with him to see it done and fights with him, side by side, one last time.

Kane invites the stranger to stay and ride with him a while, but Corwin demurs. He has a brother to murder and a multiverse to conquer, and, with a courteous salute and a reckless laugh, spurs his horse. And yet the words his once-companion calls after him ring on the wind, strangely to his ears: “What profitteth it a man if he gain the whole world and lose his soul?”

Readlist Rundown: old friends

(In between The Shadow pulps, naturally. I’m at #189 and counting.)

– The Book of Dreams – Jack Vance. This may have been my very first Vance novel, and as such it’s a great introduction; it’s one of his very most Vancian. That being said, it’s not the very best Demon Princes novel, and as the capstone to the pentalogy, it rather pales in comparison with its predecessor, The Face.

– The Old Gods Waken – Manly Wade Wellman. Dude, you spent an entire book building up to the climactic confrontation and fight, and then solved it by accident in a single paragraphWhat the hell?

– Warriors of Blood and Dream – various, edited by Roger Zelazny. This is an anthology of martial arts stories, of various genres and styles, and also of quality. Some of them are actually quite good–the Monkey King’s grandson accidentally ussuring Communism into China, for one; and the final story, wherein a dead and dreaming monster from the city of the Anasazi, the ancient enemy ones, awakens in the present day. (That one ran over its allotted length and you can kind of see exactly when the author checked his pages, winced, and started typing faster. Still quite good.)

– The Prince Commands – Andre Norton. I love this book. It’s a perfect little example of its kind, and if I knew any kids that would read it, I’d buy extra copies for them. (None of the brats I know would read it or even be allowed to, so….)

– Sleepwalker’s World – Gordon R. Dickson. This one starts off very strongly indeed, but Dickson decided to swing away from hard-edged scifi of the sort that did his protagonists well in Wolfling and On Messenger Mountain, in favor of a more psychedelic style….and, unfortunately, stays there. Which is a pity, because he had a really great setup and, frankly, the talking telepathic timber wolf was awesome.

Loot Haul

Got a bit of shopping done on the last road trip.

  • Sleepwalker’s World – Gordon R. Dickson
  • Sea Siege – Andre Norton (intact second copy for the collection)
  • Four For Tomorrow – Roger Zelazny
  • The Valley of Creation – Edmund Hamilton (physical copy for the collection, it’s a great little story)
  • The Time Traders – Andre Norton
  • Star Ka’at World – Andre Norton

QuikReviews – Random Readlist

Zoe Martinique 1 – Wraith – Phaedra Weldon
– The previous version of this post had cover pics, but then my internet crashed and I’m not bothering to get it back. It was just as generic as the story inside it, so you’re not missing anything. It was purple, or something.
– An interesting premise and decent setup is derailed by One Wrong Choice of the author: her heroine is supposedly twenty-eight, instead of, say, fifteen to seventeen. Because Holy Hannah is Zoe one dumb chick.–and she’s treated as such by the collection of stereotypes the author calls her family.
– If your made-up mythology is too complicated, people (I) am going to get bored and skip it, especially when it’s being explained for the umpteenth time by stereotype characters (goth chick computer whiz paranormal research gadget genius! sassy gay sidekick! The, uh, other gay sidekick! Cool Mom with unexplained powers who makes a mean mashed potatoes and approves of her daughter’s romance. Fortunately, not with the UnSexy Tentacled Humanoid Abomination Extradimensional Hitman).
– A lot of the beats were totally predictable–Heroine is Marked by Mysterious Stranger From Another Dimension, Heroine Gains the Powers of the Stranger, Heroine Has Hots for Mysterious Stranger, etc–and these flat-out did not fit. Sexy Mysterious Stranger? Has tentacles FOR HIS TEETH. Sexy Mysterious Stranger? Steals Zoe’s health, voice, and wants to steal bits of her soul. Sexy Mysterious Stranger? Is some kind of humanoid abomination and Zoe’s connection to him starts to turn her into one, too. Oh yeah, and it’s a physical (gag) connection, too. These? Are all beats the story could have done without and it would have been all the better for it.
– Zoe is One Dumb Chick and the plot is mostly her bumbling around, doing something stupid, and fainting afterwards.
– Flat and stereotypical characters.
– Heroine fainting after doing things.

Call Him Demon / The Green Man – Henry Kuttner
Call Him Demon is a serviceably creepy story about a girl named Jane finding that she has Another Uncle. He moved in three weeks ago. He gets hungry and he requires meat. Moral of the story: six year olds are naturally psychopaths and as such should not be blamed for feeding Grandma to a demon.

The Green Man – Teaching kids about racial superiority via podcast (mindcast) is wrong.

After Dark – Manly Wade Wellman (Silver John)
Man during the day. But after dark, the Shonokin.
It’s a novel but would have been better as a novella.

Roadmarks – Roger Zelazny
It’s a Zelazny book–so even when confusing and avant-garde, it’s highly entertaining and impeccably well-written. Which is fortunate, because it is confusing and very avant-garde (“That’s a dirty ten-letter word.”) If Zelazny’s editor had any guts, he’d have forced him to rewrite it until it reached coherency.
It’s about: Red Dorakeen, who travels the Road that stretches through time–trying to make a particular future happen. When first seen, he’s attempting to run guns to the Greeks at Thermopylae, so…but the Black Decade has been declared against him–ten assassins are allowed ten free shots at him. Who did this and why? A former business associate who really, really wants Red dead. But…why? Therein lies the rub.
It’s also about Red’s son, Randy, who is guided by Leaves of Grass, a sentient computer who used to travel with Red, and by Leila–a woman who once was old together with Red.
You see, Red and Leila are of the blood that built the Road, and they age backwards…
Oh, and the Marquis de Sade teaches writing workshops in C Twenty-eight. When he gets fed up with this and tenders his resignation via T-rex….read it for that scene alone, it’s highly-entertaining and impeccably well-written.

Book Haul

Due to a very generous tip from some people who really oughtn’t’ve, I was able to hit up a bookstore that has been on my list for a long time. So we’re looking at:

  • Agent of Chaos – Norman Spinrad (never heard of it, looks interesting)
  • The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien (Needed an extra copy since I’m giving my illustrated edition to my niece. Have offered it to one of the other interns who inexplicably likes the movie.)
  • The Star Kings – Edmund Hamilton (Don’t have)
  • Great Science Fiction Adventures – Edmund Hamilton anthology (Don’t have)
  • The Star of Life – Edmund Hamilton (Don’t have)
  • The Ginger Star – Leigh Brackett (Never, um, finished)
  • Roadmarks – Roger Zelazny (Didn’t have)
  • Warriors of Blood and Dream – Zelazny-edited anthology (It’s got Zelazny’s name on it, it ought to be good, right?)
  • A Wizard in Bedlam – Christopher Stasheff (Sometimes you just want to spend time with your old friends.)

At least some SF book reviews to appear shortly!