The Reverberatory: [Responds to Gary Deindorfer's response to his own "On Fantasy-Adventure"]

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[page 5] "MOSE TSHOMBE FOR TAFF!" Well first off, I feel that I gave a passable definition of the descriptive type, i.e.: "There exists a group of objects, commonly called X's, which it is convenient to consider as a natural class, and which are distinguished by possessing most or all of the following common attributes....." (Quoted material from L. Sprague de Camp's _Science-Fiction Handbook_ - a very @usefull@ volume indeed - page 21.) Gary's idea of a definition is the legalistic and exclusive one, perfectly valid of course but I preferred the other. I can think of a couple of places where gunpowder, or a reasonable facsimile, were used in fantasy-adventure. The first is the blasting fire used by the Uruk-hai at the Hornburg to batter through stone wall and castle-gate. Immediately I wonder why Saruman's forces ever bothered with battering rams, and why the weapon was not later used by Saruman to defend Isengard from the Fnts. (TLotR) In "The Stronger Spell", one of the short stories in de Camp's _Tritonian Ring_, an actual bronze-age 'musket' employing a "secret powder" is used. This is, however, a very recent invention and still secret. At the end of the story, the inventor is dead and the offending weapon is chucked into the Bay of Kernê by an armorer who suspects its use would damage his business. I feel that the introduction of gunpowder weapons has several undesirable consequences. One is that the side that possesses them would be well nigh invincible and the plot would have to be stretched a good deal to provide any conflict. Again, secrets of this type have not (in real history at any rate) been kept @to@ well. Hence in a few generations, _both_ sides would be blazing away with muskets, cannon, and various other explosive devices. Now this may be only a personal opinion, but there seems to be a definite incongruity between the fantasy elements of spell and magic and anything resembling science or scientific weapons. Lastly, where the fantasy-adventure is laid in the pre-history of the earth, the use of gunpowder introduces the problem of why such a universally @usefull@ material was forgotten and had to be rediscovered in the 13th Century. On the use of a fantasy-mileau for human relations stories; somewhere, very dimmly, I remember reading children's [page 6] stories of this type....about elves, brownies or such. Could have been a comic strip even. Without the adventure, it @coudn't@ really be fantasy-adventure. It really seems to me that children's stories might be the only place in the fantasy field that it would go over. I'd like to see Tolkien try it of course but I doubt if I'd be interested unless I was already familiar with the background of the story. The Heinlein story Gary mentions (_F&SF_ August, 1957) is laid in Luna City in a _type_ of background that is pretty much old hat to sf fans and at that is more of a juvenile than an adult level story (Not that Heinlein's juveniles aren't better than some of the adult sf at that.) On literary quality: _I_ never mentioned the animal in the general sense. I feel that all of the stories listed are _good_; meaning readable, enjoyable, and memorable. I grant that these qualities are subjective in that they may not apply to other readers' judgement but I'm inclined to stress the entertainment value of fiction rather than the deeper literary qualities. Howard's abilty to realistically describe unreal situations plus the ability to simply tell a good yarn have kept his stories alive for thirty years now. Lovecraft is the only other writer of the old _Weird Tales_ era whose original stories are read as much today. grh

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