Sunday, March 10, 2019

Scott Oden and John C Hocking - Accessible Authors

Reviewing books accomplishes many tasks, from documenting the experience for myself, informing potential readers whether or not to purchase, to establishing a dialogue with authors. The last one I learned as an unexpected, pleasant, outcome over the years. This blog captures interactions with Scott Oden and John C. Hocking.

Recently, I was excited to learn that Marvel partnered with Perilous Worlds  to serialize new, pastiche novellas to accompany their reboot of the Conan franchise (reclaimed from  Dark Horse comics). For reasons unknown to me, Marvel chose to blitz fans with three parallel comics in early 2019, with unrelated stories, and with bonus novellas too: making >5 near simultaneously-released serials regarding a character who is expected to jump geographies and careers (barbarian, pirate, king). 

With all this, fans will be glad to know that some of the tour guides (authors) are more than focused--in fact, some are compulsive about continuing Howard's Conan milieu.

"Shadow of Vengeance"

The Savage Sword of Conan series features the story "Shadow of Vengeance" by veteran historical fantasy author Scott Oden. Having read his Gathering of Ravens novel, I was excited to see what he was going to produce. 

As noted in my reviews of the first two Savage Swords (Savage Sword #1 &  Savage Sword #2), Scott Oden's meticulous craft is self-evident and stands in contrast to the frenetic plotting of the comic beside it. The first installment does not even explicitly show Conan, since its purpose was to create a sequel for REH's "The Devil in Iron" tale and Oden's transition called for a different perspective. The second installment does show Conan; I was excited to see more action, despite my appreciation for controlled pacing which I noted.

To my delight, Scott Oden read my review and explained some of his intents and methods. Check out his Scott Oden website; notes on Chapter #2.  Select snippets are below regarding (a) content delivery and (b) crafting genuine dialogue:

"The technique I’m using is one known in film and TV as the Establishing Shot. You start at a wide angle, the landscape, and narrow your focus until you’re centered on a single character — or, in this case, a pair of characters, Conan and Octavia. It’s a technique Howard used quite often (he was a surprisingly cinematic storyteller for the early 20’s and 30’s), though I’ve never been able to match his economy of words..."
"... I opened a text file and imported the text of my favorite Conan stories from Project Gutenberg. Then, I excised everything but Conan’s dialogue. This became my guide, my bible, to replicate Howard’s syntax, style, word choice, even punctuation. I think I pulled it off, but ultimately you’re the judge of that, Gentle Reader." -- Scott Oden
In short, I encourage others to review literature, and to reach out to authors too. SSoC #3 is coming out shortly, and it's set up to deliver "Vengeance".

"Black Starlight"

Similarly, John C. Hocking is writing the serial "Black Starlight" accompanying the Conan the Barbarian comic (review No.1No. 2No. 3No. 4.) In this novella, Conan and his mysterious group travels to Stygia with the emerald lotus. 

This extends the Conan and the Emerald Lotus pastiche written by Hocking himself in 1995, and also features the sorceress Zelandra. Perilous Worlds in reprinting that in early 2019, along with another pastiche novel by Hocking called Conan and the he Living Plague (excerpt on Perlious World website, and blurb below).

As part of the Sword & Sorcery group on goodreads, we are having a group read on all things Emerald Lotus( direct thread link). 

To our surprise, John C. Hocking has joined in! Feel welcome to participate. He explained that the reprint and Living Plague should be printed in Spring... so we will likely extend the groupread (currently Mar-Apr, will likely extend. May-June).
Conan and the Emerald Lotus blurb ($16 ISBN : 978-1-7328301-1-0)Lured into the addictive thrall of the Emerald Lotus, the lovely sorceress Zelandra turns to Conan for aid. They must contend with bandits, undead revenants, monsters, and the desert deeps to defeat the lotus’s Stygian master in his lair, never guessing the Emerald Lotus itself may be the greater threat. 
Conan and the Living Plague blurb ($16 ISBN : 978-1-7328301-0-3): Sent to recover treasure from a plague-wracked city, not only must Conan avoid its deranged survivors, but battle a deadly disease given humanoid shape. To save himself – and perhaps the world — he allies with a scheming sorcerer to traverse a demon-haunted abyss in a desperate bid to destroy the Living Plague.