Author Topic: PC272, Giant Episode: The Tree of Life  (Read 10494 times)

Scattercat

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Reply #25 on: September 14, 2013, 08:52:56 AM
Amen, Shawn.

Anyway, while I always enjoy a little bit of old-fashioned purple prose, this story left me really cold.  It managed to hit both the Damsel in Distress *and* the Wicked Temptress in the same character, and then the plot resolves itself in about the least satisfying way imaginable.  Hero is told about a giant evil horror.  For lack of anything more interesting to do, Hero encounters the horror, which is both giant and evil as well as horrible.  There is a brief interlude for us all to appreciate how terrifying and wrong it is when women have sex thoughts or wield power of any kind.  Then, despite being frozen due to horror at the horrible evil horror, Hero manages to shoot his popgun because having a penis makes him awesome somehow and no one ever thought to attack the evil before.  Everything explodes all out of proportion, possibly out of sheer awe at how big the hero's penis gun is. 

I mean, what, was Thagg the Demigod of the Balloon Animal Dimension?  Was he from a plane where everything is made of propane and pure oxygen?  It was like action movies from the sixties and seventies, where a single pistol bullet causes any given vehicle to instantly explode in flame.

Maybe it was supposed to be subversive or satirical somehow?  I dunno.  I missed it if it was.  When I heard that the author was a woman who'd fought her way to success in the days when SF was even more of a boy's club than it already is, I was really hoping for an old-timey story that didn't feature heaping gobs of racism or sexism in it.  We mostly missed the former, but jeez louise on the latter.



quasidoza

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Reply #26 on: October 02, 2013, 06:24:41 PM
This story is just my type of thing ... But didn't like it  ???

Not sure what it was, perhaps I wasn't in the mood but left completely indifferent.

I also thought it was Fag not Thag for 3/4 of the story and did dissolve into 12 year old giggles when the priestess was talking about him at first saying his name 84 times.

Oh well, maybe I'll connect with the next one.



bizbrig

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Reply #27 on: October 05, 2013, 02:25:58 AM
I really enjoyed this one. I let the authoritative narrator have command. And poof, I was there. The story of the author might have softened me up though.



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Reply #28 on: October 17, 2013, 09:44:58 AM
I didn't really get a lot out of this.   Scattercat makes good points, as he often does, though i don't know that my reaction was as strong as his (as it often isn't).

Wordy classic stories in and of themselves don't bother me--it was the prevalent style of the day, that's cool.

The part that really bugged me is the ending where he is magically immune to Thagg's tortures in an inexplicable way that no one else who's encountered Thagg has ever before demonstrated.  Why is he so magically special?  This is the entire focal point of the story and it's just glossed over.



Scattercat

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Reply #29 on: October 17, 2013, 04:10:28 PM
though i don't know that my reaction was as strong as Scattercat's (as it often isn't).

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LaShawn

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Reply #30 on: October 17, 2013, 07:47:35 PM
The part that really bugged me is the ending where he is magically immune to Thagg's tortures in an inexplicable way that no one else who's encountered Thagg has ever before demonstrated.  Why is he so magically special?  This is the entire focal point of the story and it's just glossed over.

I disagree. Smith was just as caught up in the music just as the denizens of the planet was. We just had Smith's POV to go on; I'm pretty sure the denizens were just as horrified as they were running to their doom. They also had that moment of clarity of their impending demise just before they got devoured/suckedintoanotherdimension/whatever. Smith just had the presence of mind to remember his little popgun.

And I don't care what rationale the story gave it. Smith goes up against a gigantic god straggling different dimensions and hey-presto, not only does he harm it, but he himself sustains no injuries whatsoever? Really? Which makes me wonder if it all had occurred or was it some oxygen deprived dream on his part.

I did find it interesting how he looked down at the denizens in a privileged, oh-look-at-the-dumb-noble-savages sort of way...but then when he's running from Thag, the same beastly descriptions suddenly applied to him.

I also found the description of the live Tree of Life* lovely despite the MC's revulsion, and the tree bending down to embrace the priestess surprisingly tender.

Overall, I couldn't take the story seriously, but it was still a good romp of a read. Like everyone else, I was bemused by the prolific use of 'queer' and 'throbbing' towards the end. The only problem I truly had was when the story threw out 'Unrealizingly'. I had to rewind that part over and over again just to make sure I heard it right. Unrealizingly. Is that even a word?!

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Fenrix

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Reply #31 on: January 17, 2014, 01:25:30 AM
Thagg is freaking awesome. I loved everything about that monster. I'm glad its description wasn't modern, because if it was we would have gotten something akin to hentai. Clearly I need to read more Northwest Smith and this prototype of Han Solo. So I added "Northwest of Earth: The Complete Northwest Smith" to my wish list. If only we had a way to listen to "Shambleau" which kicked the whole series off.

For those of you who liked this, I recommend checking out Clark Ashton Smith (also a contemporary and correspondent of Howard and Lovecraft). I think both The Flower Women and The City of the Singing Flame hit similar vibes to different portions of the story. Also those links go to MP3's of solid narrations of the stories.


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Kerry_M

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Reply #32 on: March 15, 2014, 10:07:42 PM
I did enjoy aspects of this tale, but what was up in the 1930s that had Lovecraft, Howard and this author so hung up with the whole "degenerate race" trope?



ChairmanDances

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Reply #33 on: March 25, 2014, 03:22:20 AM
To be fair, a lot of stories at Pro-Rate markets are still paid by the word  ;)  It's just a different cultural mindset than where we were when this story was originally published, I suspect. Now we want things to be as tight as possible - not a sentence wasted. In the days before all these at home luxuries like TV, internet, video games, maybe an enjoyable story that went on a little longer than absolutely necessary might be welcome? Kind of similar to most serialized television shows these days. (But I'm really just guessing.)
Pulp authors were all paid by the word, so the more the better from their point of view.  Also think you're right about killing time.  There were a lot fewer entertainment options around at the time so you probably wanted whatever you had to last as log as possible.  You can see the difference in attitudes about baseball.  From the '30s through the '60s there weren't many complaints about the length of a game or a season.  in the last generation or to, many see it as too slow-paced and too long.  Fans going to a game today need more than what's going on on the field to keep them interested,



ChairmanDances

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Reply #34 on: March 25, 2014, 03:32:58 AM
I did enjoy aspects of this tale, but what was up in the 1930s that had Lovecraft, Howard and this author so hung up with the whole "degenerate race" trope?
Eugenics was the dark side of the American Progressive movement at the turn of the Century.  Many of the intellectual leaders of that movement believed in the scientific "improvement" of the race and were concerned about "undesirables" as evidenced by support for forced sterilization, etc. so I think it was just something in the zeitgeist of the time.  You can see this trope as far back as the Morlocks and Eloi in H.G. Wells' The Time Machine but there may be earlier examples.