Saturday, June 18, 2016

Flight of Fancy

“Was that mere coincidence or some foreordained destiny? Who can say? But I do know this. It is at our own mortal peril that we cast aside the tales, the lore, the lessons and the admonitions of those who went before us.”
 —Prince Chrysteffor of Alinvayl
There is much going on in the world these days to make the heart heavy. Political divisions in many countries—particularly as seen in the campaigning for the U.S. presidential election and Britain’s European Union referendum—make every human tragedy grist for the mill of partisan exploitation and demonization. Sometimes you just need a break from it all.

So let us leave America and Europe to look after themselves for a few minutes and turn our attention to the country of Afranor. What? You have not heard of the kingdom of Afranor? Do not bother thumbing through your atlas for it. (Does anybody actually have or use atlases anymore?) It is imaginary.

In the past week my second book has come out.

It is quite a bit different from my bildungsroman about the early 1970s, Maximilian and Carlotta Are Dead. The new book is escapist fantasy, an adventure story about swords and sorcery and princes and a quest. There is a an evil sorcerer, a warrior princess, a pirate queen and horde after horde of ungodly creatures. If it sounds like something a socially awkward teenager might dream up, that’s because it is. The story first saw the light of day when my Spanish teacher assigned us to write a story. Consumed at the time by J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and issue after issue of Marvel’s The Mighty Thor, I let myself go. The title, Las tres torres, was a rip-off, I mean, homage to the middle book of Tolkien’s trilogy. The action owed quite a bit to the Thunder God’s comic book adventures in Asgard, as envisioned by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. As I continued my Spanish studies in high school and at university, I kept working on the story. I revised it and expanded it and wrote sequels and spin-offs—all in Spanish. Eventually, the story was put away to make time for more serious things, like earning a living and having a social life. Then years later I found myself needing material to put a small child to sleep at night, and the story came alive again—this time in a more simplified form. She eventually grew old enough to fall asleep reading books on her own, but I found I had a need to write the story down once and for all and in English. The Three Towers of Afranor is the result.

Lately, as I peruse social media memes viewing current politics through the lens of pop culture entertainment—you know the sort of thing, Game of Thrones images with Hillary Clinton as Queen Cersei or Donald Trump as Ramsay Bolton—I wonder, will anyone try to do that with my story? Will they try to make it an allegory about the War on Terror the way some people saw The Lord of the Rings as a roman à clef about the Second World War? (Tolkien actually conceived his story many years before WWII.) Will some people think I deliberately intended some political message in this violent fable?

All I can tell you is that the main points of the story originated, as I have said, more than four decades ago and it was not my intention to include any political message. On the other hand, I suppose it is not impossible that such messages could grow out of the story organically or that I could have woven such themes into the tale unconsciously.

All you can do is read the book and judge for yourself. You can find more information about it and where to acquire it, as always, on my book blog.

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