Friday, 11 July 2014

Humor In Multiverse

Tad Williams, "Three Lilies and Three Leopards (And a Participation Ribbon in Science)" IN Greg Bear and Gardner Dozois, Editors, Multiverse: Exploring Poul Anderson's Worlds (Burton, MI, 2014), pp. 345-393.

No anthology of Poul Anderson pastiches would be complete without some humor and Tad Williams supplies it:

"The dwarf stared at him for a moment, then went off muttering and sat on a fallen tree, pulled out a huge pipe, lit it and began to smoke like a man who was in a hurry to achieve lung cancer." (p. 352)

"The Pogocashman's Assisting Character...was trying to teach him how to fight with the ancient weapon known as a sword, which apparently was the main form of social intercourse in primitive France..." (p. 353)

"'...the SAS? Special Air Services? Does that meaning anything to you?'
"Pogo thought hard. 'When you're on a plane and they bring the cart with the drinks on it?'" (p. 354)

"...a seriously old-fashioned book - the dwarf had said it was something about spelling." (p. 357)

That pun on "spell" is the tip of a linguistic iceberg. Alan Moore, professional writer and practicing magician, has argued that our ancestors found three ways to exercise some control over the external world through language:

recounting a series of events, whether real or fictitious;
counting discernible items;
casting a spell.

Moore argues further that there was a time before these three activities had been differentiated and that their original unity is reflected in language to this day:

spelling and spells;
grammar and grimoires;
tellers of tales and tellers who count money;
accounts of events and financial accounts -

- all relevant to professional fantasy writers.

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