November 17th, 2005

satyr, drool you bastards, bosom

Conan the Freelance; or, Unwise, in the presence of so much masculinity, to mock the willy

The book was called Conan the Freelance. I had to buy it. As a once and future freelance myself, I wanted to see what Conan the Cimmerian made of the modern temporary labor force.

The book starts with a mad mage who was morphed into mist lo these many aeons ago, and has since lived on an enormous pad of duckweed, sending out lizard-things called "selkies" to get him what he needs to cast the spell that will reverse the mist-curse. The last ingredient is in a village where Conan is spending the night after rescuing a lithe and nubile priestess. That's as far as I got, because I got sick of hearing about people's willies.

You wouldn't think there was much scope for willies in that excerpt, would you? Sure, lithe priestess + Conan = teh hawt willy action, at least in most sane fictional universes, but it doesn't happen. Instead, she given Conan some fungus beer that's supposed to make him see his god; Conan is skeptical, but his god appears anyway, challenges Conan, and tricks him into leaping off the 30-foot-high platform he was sleeping on. The selkies are attacking, and in any sane fictional universe they'd be intercepted by 250 pounds of plummeting Cimmerian, but that doesn't happen, either. So--no comedy pratfalls, and no Cimmerian-on-priestess action. Where do the willies come in?

EVERYWHERE ELSE. Oh, god, everywhere else.

When we meet the mist mage, we learn under what circumstances he found that he was turning into mist (willy-related) and how long it's been since he touched a woman. Conan thinks random willeriffic thoughts re: the priestess, and they're all faithfully reported. The priestess's brother's self-introduction is willy-related. (He grabs it. His. Not Conan's. That would be cool. No, his own.) When the plot lags, Conan thinks about past priestesses he's had. I flipped ahead, and multiple instances of lizard queen are involved.

It was bad. I had to stop. Conan's willy just isn't that interesting.

And I'm surprised that he's had so much chance to use it, given that his pickup line is, "My homeland sucks rocks. I bet you're strong enough to deal with it."

I looked at the front of the book to figure out how far into the series Conan the Freelance was, and discovered that the Conan series is the Sweet Valley High of barbarian lit. There are zillions of them. They're no 80's phenomenon, either--they're still coming out. Amazon lists volumes that are scheduled as far ahead as Summer 2006. That's an awful lot of willyage.

After all that, the book wasn't entirely bad. The story was light and amusing and the mad mage was entertaining. The other book in my bag was Archangel, which I was taking a third stab at, and Conan the Freelance was a far less painful read. Overall, two stars.
satyr, drool you bastards, bosom

Everything I needed to know about publishing I learned from people who never set foot on the interne

Reminder to self: When my first novel comes out, make sure the publisher picks the most godawful scene from the book to be the official excerpt. The instant someone in the con hallway titters at it, have a high-level publishing personality jump all over the mean cliqueish people who are tearing down another writer in public OMG. Get several bloggers to blog extensively about how other people are generating negative buzz for the book. Wait until the negative buzz has reached such a high peak that my detractors have started to generate it as well as my defenders--then release the book.


Exult in the fact that the initial buzz has so polarized people that it is no longer possible to review the book objectively. Bask in the worship of people who will go to any lengths to prove that they are not mean, nasty people who would dare to call any book bad. Spend rest of writing career testing to see just how far groupies' suspension of judgement will go.