SOC Chapter 18: "Repercussions"

When Catastrophe's Spell had just been published, I appeared on a local SF-centric radio program with another first-time novelist (who subsequently has gone on to a long and apparently fruitful career). The host of the show and I did not, shall we say, experience a felicitous and harmonious meeting of minds. The grand entrance of the Former Lion of the Oolvaan Plain at the beginning of this chapter was his proof text to illustrate my unworthiness. Being young, easily flummoxed, and somewhat intimidated by elders in authority positions, I had no ready answers.

I had not yet realized that sometimes a work doesn't just speak for itself.

I thought, at that time, that no one could read "mighty thews" and not realize that something was going on that did not necessarily mean the inability to distinguish over-the-top purple prose from "good writing". I assumed that no one reasonably conversant with classic genre texts would fail to grasp that a Conan reference was at hand, and that some level of parody playing off Conan and the whole barbarian mythos of which he is the archetype must be the goal.

Whether I achieved this goal is now up to you to determine.

I might add, though, that the Lion is, in a very real way, rather than being merely Conan under a different name, quite typical of my characters. They tend to be too smart for their own good, no matter how much they try to fight it. They are also self-aware; aware of the image they wish to project, of how others perceive them, and how they would like to perceive themselves.

Now that I'm a whole lot older myself, I find the Lion and Jurtan Mont, and the relationship between them, even more interesting than I did at the time I wrote about them.


Another topic: this chapter contains my swing at the genre of portmanteau words. I used the classic Lewis Carroll derivation. I'm sure you can spot it if you look.


Yet another topic! And this one is really embarrassing.

I had no idea, until I was rereading this chapter, that I had set the name of Shaa's sister later in the series ... but that she had also appeared, in this chapter, under a name I had jotted down originally, but was not the name by which she was known later.

Amazingly, no one else ever picked up on this either. Although perhaps, more than anything else, it merely reflects on the number of readers who made it to Spell of Apocalpyse. Apocalypse is the one that, at least for awhile, was going for fairly significant eBay money.


Had enough yet? Here's where the Spell of Namelessness appears; a key moment for the entire series. As I noted for Chapter 2, the detective started off as an exercise based on Hammett. Even at the beginning, though, something was tickling my mind about the use of a nameless, first-person narrator in a fantasy setting. Because of the genre conventions, I suspected that no one would consider that the character might be nameless for anything more than stylistic reasons ... which was why there clearly had to be more to it than that. Once I realized what the reason really was, virtually the entire plot fell into place.

Surprisingly to me, though, some people were confused by his adopting the nom-de-guerre of The Creeping Sword, and thought that he had actually been punk kid Creeping Sword from Chapter 2 the whole time. Well, okay, that's why smart folks use beta readers now, I suppose. So, in yet another fix that comes twenty years later, I've added a bit of dialogue to this edition that should clarify this matter right away, before it lingers into a source of hazard yet again.


Just in case you were counting, this is the chapter where the special effects budget really gets out of hand.

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