Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Mike Resnick's Pulp Parody in Print

I often have conversations with my friends regarding how Hollywood used to make really bad fantasy adventure films. Recently, I had such a conversation when a group of my friends were complaining about how much they hated Eragon.

"Sure," I said, "Eragon has nothing original for me to praise."
"It's nothing but an awful Star Wars rip-off," protested a good friend.
"Actually, it's closer to a combination of King Arthur and the Dragonheart, but your point is well taken."
"It's Star Wars!"
"Look, even Star Wars was referencing older stories. There's a whole book called Hero of a Thousand Faces which has an introduction describing how Star Wars meets all the classic archetypes of saga narratives."
"That's different!"
"Then there's the scenes Star Wars lifted whole cloth from Flash Gordon..."
"That's different!"


It was at this point that I had to talk about just how spoiled we have become as Fantasy/Science Fiction movie fans. I had to remind my friend that Beastmaster was once at the pinnacle of quality for Fantasy film productions. Excalibur was of a quality that could only be prayed for, as opposed to a film like Hawk the Slayer which was standard fare. Back in the day, as they say, we used to have some real crap passed off on us Fantasy/Science Fiction fans. The majority of the films, excepting films like Excalibur, I watched as a child make Eragon look like a masterpiece. Which brings me to Mike Resnick's hilarious character Lucifer Jones.

You see, Mike Resnick was inspired to write a parody of classic adventure tales when he watched the movie She. The film was so monumentally bad, it was funny. Which made him wonder how funny an adventure tale could be if the parody was intentional. Naturally, being parody, the adventure tale would also have to be good on its own merits. Otherwise he would just be doing incompetent storytelling which is unintentionally funny, like the movie She (it should be mentioned that the book She isn't pitifully funny, rather is an interesting classic adventure tale). So Mike Resnick created the character Lucifer Jones, you can read more about the origins of this unique character at the Subterranean Press website. Where you can also read new adventures featuring this wonderful con man character, like "The Lost Continent of Moo."

Quick sidenote, Lucifer Jones is even funnier if you have read the Silver John/John/John the Balladeer stories by Manly Wade Wellman. Lucifer Jones is a "con man missionary" version of John's saintly innocent wandering musician.

All of which, once again, reinforces how something can be referencing -- heck, it can even be ripping off liberally -- another narrative and still be entertaining. In fact, I think I will go reread some Raymond Feist just to stick it to my Tolkien purist friends.
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