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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Lady Thor: The Case Against Jane Foster

The beautiful Jane Foster in "Thor: The Dark World",
courtesy of

In the recent movies, Thor loves the human woman Jane Foster, much to his father Odin's displeasure. In Jason Aaron's new comic series, a mysterious woman has taken over Thor's mantle. At first, he thought she had bewitched him, and attempted to wrest Mjolnir back from her. But when she exhibits an impressive mastery over his former hammer, he decides Mjolnir has truly rejected him and consigns its ownership to his past. In fact, he's so impressed by the manner in which she wields the hammer that he gives her his name. Henceforth, she has the right to be called Thor, and he shall be known solely as Odinson. 

Still, he wishes to know her true identity.

As Lady Thor wears a mask, Odinson begins a quest to discover her identity. In doing so, he emulates another mythological character who wears red: that great figure of charity, joviality, and an acknowledged master of elves. Santa Claus! (Okay, perhaps he's not so jolly, and his belly doesn't shake like jelly, but go with me on this). And just like Santa, he makes a list, and he checks it, well, perhaps just once, at least for now. After all, it shouldn't take too much work to figure out who Mjolnir thinks isn't naughty, but is really nice. Right?

Part of the fun of reading the new THOR series is guessing the identity of the woman behind the mask. As a newbie to Thor comics, I don't know half of the women in Odinson's past. But I had a suspicion. Jason Aaron takes some of his cues from the recent movies, using movie villains like the Frost Giants and the Dark Elf Malekith in his stories. Behind her mask, might this new Thor be his lady love, Jane Foster?

THOR issue 6 seems to slap down my hopes in the most comprehensive manner possible. Odinson visits Jane Foster in a room in Asgard. She is attended by healers, as she suffers from a very human disease: breast cancer. Despite the healers' ability to banish it, Jane Foster refuses any magical treatment, vowing to beat her disease with human technology and willpower, or die in the attempt. As Odinson stands beside her sickbed, Jane asserts that he is more than his hammer. He is still a good man, a worthy man, a valiant hero. Even if Mjolnir has rejected him, he should not give up his name to anyone. 

In fact, if he doesn't reclaim his name soon, she threatens to him another: Lord Thunderbritches.

With a heavy heart, Odinson consigns her to the healers' care. Then he crosses her name off the list. In her present condition, for Jane Foster to wield Mjolnir seems impossible. Thus, Jason Aaron shows up my guess of Lady Thor's identity as ridiculous and ignorant. It's just as well that guessing about Lady Thor's identity is only part of the fun of reading this new series. Actually, it's hard to feel even a little disappointed. You see, I'm enjoying the journey, and in no hurry to reach the destination. 

Dragon Dave

Related Internet Links
Art Assylum's picture of Jane Foster & Thor

Monday, March 30, 2015

Thor Vs Identity Theft

In Marvel Comics' "Journey Into Mystery" Issue 83, published in August 1962, we meet Donald Blake, an infirm medical doctor.  

In a small village, he overhears a fisherman tell his neighbors of the strange rock people he has seen. While the locals take no notice of the man's ravings, Donald Blake decides to check out his story.

Before he can return to the village to confirm the fisherman's story, the rock men see him hobbling away. When the rock men fire their guns at him, Don Blake trips, and his cane falls into the ocean. He crawls into a cave, where he finds...

In need of the walking aid, he picks it up. Suddenly...

And not only does the old gnarled walking stick transform, but Don Blake's appearance also alters.

A few months ago, during a fight in Earth orbit, Thor's hammer Mjolnir slipped from his hand and fell to the Moon. In the days that follow, a group of people gather on the air-filled section of the Moon formerly inhabited by the supremely powerful Watcher. These people come not only from Asgard, but also from Earth, thanks to SHIELD's spaceships. They watch Thor struggle and strain, but despite all his strength of muscle and will, and his familiarity with Molnir, he cannot pick up the hammer. Finally Thor's family convince him to return to Asgard and rest. Shortly thereafter, a woman picks up Mjolnir, Thor's hammer of power, and her appearance is likewise transformed. 

After all this time in his possession, the loss of his hammer traumatizes Thor. Imagine something so central to your self-image being suddenly ripped away like that. Consider how losing all that power and ability, in a second, would make you feel.

Talk about Identity Theft! 

Reeling from this loss, Thor Odinson vows to discover the identity of the woman now wielding Mjolnir. There's only one problem. Once he was ordinary physician Donald Blake, a handicapped man who needed a cane to walk. Whoever picked up Mjolnir, If this woman was equally transformed by contact with his hammer, then her new physical appearance might bear no correlation to the way she has looked in the past. But then, if quests to reclaim one's honor, sense of purpose, and fabulous weapons of power were easy, we wouldn't cherish those stories like we do.

What are your favorite quest stories? What aspects of the stories make them important to you?

Dragon Dave

P.S. To discover how Thor lost Mjolnir, read the graphic novel Original Sin by Jason Aaron. To follow Thor Odinson's quest, read the new THOR comic book series, also written by Mr. Aaron.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Kevin J Anderson's Jihad

The author exploring Red Rock Canyon State Park

Author Kevin J Anderson is mad about hiking. In fact, he hikes everyday. Why? Because he writes everyday. And yes, he writes while he's hiking.

Everyday he leaves home with his notes, heads out on a trail into the wilderness, dictates his chapters into recorder, and later transcribes his notes into the computer for editing. This is one sign of his brilliance: he's found a way to fuse two activities he loves to maximize his time.

Many years ago Kevin J. Anderson was hiking through Death Valley, and the desolate surroundings reminded him of Dune by Frank Herbert. Like me, Kevin loved the novel and its sequels, and as Frank Herbert had died, he wondered if Herbert's son Brian might be writing any more in the series. As Kevin had published several novels by this point, he called up Brian, introduced himself, and offered his services as a cowriter. Brian eventually took him up on his offer. So because he was hiking through a desolate place like Death Valley, because he had laid down a foundation of respectability as a writer, and because he had the audacity to call up Brian and make the offer, Kevin J. Anderson became a cowriter of this bestselling series.

My own love affair with Dune began in the early 1980s. One of the first characters Frank Herbert introduced me to was Piter De Vries, a man who takes drugs to aid his fantastic mental abilities. He's been trained as a Mentat, which means his mind has all the associative and computational capabilities of a computer. This makes him a highly skilled man whose services are in great demand. You see, thousands of years in the past, computers gained artificial intelligence that enabled them to think and act for themselves. These computers and their mobile robot counterparts decided that they were better and smarter than humans. So, after many years of subjugation, humanity fought a great war to free themselves from all computers and intelligent robots. This war was called the Butlerian Jihad, and after humanity triumphed, computers and robots were declared illegal. Thus, the necessity of trained people like Piter De Vries to use his computational and associative capabilities to help society keep advancing. 

As the Butlerian Jihad lay in the past, Frank Herbert didn't offer too many details about it. Nevertheless, it was a foundational event in Dune's history, and readers like me who loved Frank Herbert's Dune novels wondered about the Butlerian Jihad, and hungered for more details about it.

In addition to writing novels set after Frank Herbert's six Dune novels, Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson delved into the series'  past  One of their prequels was The Butlerian Jihad. After decades of wondering about this key event, I finally got to read all about it. 

Had Kevin not followed his instincts, called up Brian, and offered his services, The Butlerian Jihad might never have been written. Alternatively, Brian might have written The Butlerian Jihad on his own, or with another author. But because Kevin J. Anderson followed his curiosity, and risked rejection, he got to cowrite a book that I very much wanted to read: The Butlerian Jihad! How cool is that?

I've read books by Kevin J. Anderson before he started writing Dune novels, and I've read many of his other novels set in other universes since. But the ones that thrust him into the forefront of my awareness were his Dune novels. Happy Birthday Kevin J. Anderson. Thanks for cowriting The Butlerian Jihad, and so many other entertaining books. Without your impact on my life, my bookshelves wouldn't be nearly so full. Imagine how terrible that would that be. Talk about a dystopian future!

Dragon Dave

Related Internet Links
A short video in which Kevin discusses his Dune novels
Watch Part 1 of the "Frank Herbert's Dune" TV miniseries

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Link Between H. G. Wells & K. W. Jeter

Today is the birthday of K. W. Jeter. I know him best as the author of a trilogy of Star Wars novels, centered around the bounty hunter Boba Fett. Most of the literary community know him as the man who coined the term Steampunk in a letter to Locus magazine. His early novel, Infernal Devices, which I read last year, took me on a journey through dark and seedy Victorian London communities. It featured elaborate robots designed to replicate the actions of priests and lay leaders in Church of England worship services. (Unfortunately, these automatons leave mass injury and destruction in their wake). As a bonus, it also featured elaborate clocks that portend the end of the world.

Or at least, that's my best summary of it. There's lots of other fun aspects to it, involving boats, planes, and selkies, and if you're interested I'll let you discover those on your own. Interestingly, today's readers, inured to modern conventions, often remark there's not enough "Steampunk" in it. As I don't make a habit of reading this niche genre, I cannot comment on that. What I can tell you is that this early K. W. Jeter's novel entertained me, and left me sufficiently intrigued about certain plot points (especially selkies) that I turned to Wikipedia and gained a better knowledge of the world. 

So, I guess you could call that a recommendation for Infernal Devices.

Now I'm heading down a path to read another of his novels. While researching this year's trip to England, I realized that I might have time to stop by one H. G. Wells landmark. This dovetails with earlier plans for our 2013 trip (sadly abandoned) to visit another key Wells location. This, along with several Classics Illustrated adaptations of H. G. Wells' stories that I recently picked up, sent me to my bookshelf. 

For my first H. G. Wells reading experience in decades, I selected The Time Machine. So far, I've noticed that this short novel differs from George Pal's movie version in significant ways. What's struck me most strongly so far is that the Morlocks, hairy creatures in the film, are depicted as white ape-like creatures with large bulbous eyes in the novel. 

Although I didn't plan it at the time, as I began reading The Time Machine, I realized which novel I should read next. It's been sitting in my bookshelves since Christmas, when I received it as a gift. It's entitled Morlock Nights, a sequel to H. G. Well's classic novel. And it's author? None other than celebrated Star Wars and Steampunk author K. W. Jeter. So it would seem that another novel has joined the ranks of books pressing for my immediate attention. 

Happy Birthday K. W. Jeter. I can't wait to read your book!

Dragon Dave

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Starsky & Hutch Versus The Dragon: Part 2

In the first season episode "Terror On The Docks," Starsky and Hutch enter an old Victorian mansion. They find themselves surrounded by occult objects, a regal dragon, and ultimately, a fearsome minotaur. Who could this minotaur be, they wonder. And more importantly, will it charge them?

Then the minotaur lifts off his head, and Starsky and Hutch see it is merely their informer Ezra in costume. 

Ezra welcomes the two detectives to his unholy house of occult worship, where he now teaches people to be witches and sorcerers. Starsky and Hutch ask him to use his contacts to learn who might be operating as a fence to sell the stolen goods for the theft ring operating at the docks. 

Starsky can't get over Ezra's new career, nor the paraphernalia of his occult practices. He's particularly intrigued by a gargoyle adorning this knife. Then he lifts a human skull, and eerie music fills the room. It's enough to hurry our two heroes back outside, where they can breathe a little easier, and concentrate on capturing the criminals.

Eventually, the clues they uncover lead them back to this strange, old house, where once again, they must confront the dragon. 

As it turns out, Ezra isn't so reformed after all. His new career as a master of the occult is merely a front. He's helping the criminals at the docks sell their stolen merchandise. Or he was, until our two heroes arrest him.

Bad Ezra! Evil Ezra!! How dare you try to fool Starsky and Hutch!!!

Sadly, one of the thieves was the fiancé of a young lady whom Hutch was to give away at her wedding. When Starsky refuses to step up and marry the girl, her mother demonstrates her displeasure.

Starsky, incensed at Hutch's laughter, decides to share this honor with his partner.

Thus, we are reminded of one of life's great teachings regarding confrontations with dragons. Even if you win, you can't help but emerge with a little cake on your face.

"Terror On The Docks" was written by Fred Frieberger, who produced many TV classics, including The Wild Wild West, Star Trek, The Six Million Dollar Man, and Gerry Anderson's live action series Space 1999. With such an extensive sci-fi resume, he must have known a lot about dragons.

Dragon Dave

Related Internet Links
One fan's extensive notes on "Terror on the Docks"

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Starsky & Hutch Versus The Dragon: Part 1

In the first season episode "Terror On The Docks," a series of robberies, and the slaying of a fellow police officer, lead Starsky and Hutch to question Ezra, a former fence.

Inside this grand, Victorian mansion, the two detectives find themselves surrounded by a collection of occult objects and images.

Chief among these is a dragon, perched on his mighty pedestal, beside a flaming torch. 

Watch out, Starsky! Behind you!

Suddenly a minotaur appears, clad in solemn black robes. Perhaps the famous Greek historian Plutarch got his facts wrong, and Theseus did not kill the dreaded Minotaur of Crete? Or perhaps it is Dario Agger, C.E.O. of the Roxxon Energy Corporation, who seals a nefarious pact with the dark elf Malekith of Svartalfheim in THOR Issue 6? Could it be the minotaur from Atlantis who guarded the Crystal of Kronos in the Doctor Who story "The Time Monster"?

All the two detectives know is that they'd rather be back in their red-and-white Gran Torino, than facing down a dragon and a minotaur! But then, wouldn't you?

Dragon Dave

Monday, March 23, 2015

Building My Kim Stanley Robinson Essentials List: Book Number 10

Kim Stanley Robinson is far from an average author. His novels don't just entertain, they inspire. Each book is a major release, not just because of the quality of his writing, but also because his stories help us envision potential futures for the human race. They inspire us with the potential of literary Science Fiction, and touch our hearts. 

Like the music and musicians he often writes about, Kim Stanley Robinson's (KSR) lyrical prose style sings to us. The lulls in the music cause of to ponder what he has written, and the high points of each grand movement make us talk, write, and rave about his stories. In short, for the KSR fan, most books are like a great concert. You may not enjoy every song, but by the time you leave the building, you know you've experienced something truly special.

Looking forward to today (Kim Stanley Robinson's birthday) caused me to reflect upon how important his stories are to me. So I thought I'd assemble a list of the KSR books I've read, and attempt to rank them in some sort of meaningful way. This is, admittedly, a highly subjective exercise, and no doubt every other KSR fan will disagree with my analysis. Some may violently disagree, and shake their heads, curse under their breath, or rant at the screen as they read this list. All I ask is that you please, please, PLEASE do not throw anything at your computer, or shoot your iPhone with a Taser. It's not your Internet Surfing Device's fault: it's all on me. My fault that you're feeling this way, totally and completely. All right? 

So, without further ado, here we go. My favorite Kim Stanley Robinson stories. The KSR stories most important to me. My desert island KSR books. The KSR novels I have to keep beside me, should a bomb go off tomorrow. The novels I'll stash in my Bomb Shelter or Panic Room, should I ever build one. Or, if you prefer, Dragon Dave's Top Ten KSR List.

Oh, one last thing. This is the beginning of a series. I don't promise to write about Kim Stanley Robinson's books every day, but I do promise to finish this KSR Essentials List. Eventually. Why? Because his novels are important to me, that's why. Or weren't you paying attention?

My Kim Stanley Robinson Essentials List

10. Galileo's Dream. Coming off his brilliant Future Earth/Eco-Catastrophy trilogy, this novel came as an abrupt change. The historical Galileo is visited by people from the future. They live on Jupiter's moons, including the four largest, which are now called the Galilean Moons. These visitations inspire Galileo to continue with his scientific experiments, his observations, and his writings. They even have a way of transporting him to these moons, so he can see how these societies are structured. Amazing stuff, right?

Strangely, I found myself much less interested in Kim Stanley Robinson's Jupiter-centric future than I was in Galileo's life. His story really made Galileo come alive for me. Most of the scientific devices Galileo created failed to be accepted. Many of his peers refused to accept his theories. Ultimately, the Catholic Church branded him as a heretic. Had Galileo followed a more conventional route, he and his family could have led a far more comfortable and harmonious existence. Instead, his life ended in tragedy. 

This novel can seem pointless at times, as the people of Jupiter prevent him from ever passing on his knowledge of them to others. But Galileo's Dream strikes me as a substantive biography of Galileo's life, and afforded me an appreciation for his contributions to science. Kim Stanley Robinson suggests that the Catholic Church might not even have branded him a heretic, had Galileo not felt so strongly in the rightness of his views that he placed its leaders in a position where they had to either accept or reject his radical teachings. Ultimately, KSR's portrait of Galileo reminds me that a tendency to overthink things is a sign of genius, and that we can never know the ultimate impact our lives will have upon others. His story leaves me educated, inspired, and cheered. What more could you expect from reading a book? Even at Number 10, it stands far higher than many of the other books in my house. And that's saying a lot, when you consider how many books I've got, written by other authors I admire.

I guess you could call that a recommendation.

Oh, and one last thing. Kim Stanley Robinson, wherever you are out there, and whenever (or if ever) you read this, Happy Birthday!

Dragon Dave

Friday, March 20, 2015

Remembering Nigel Hawthorne

Whitehall, home to Sir Humphrey Appleby

As you all know, I love the British sitcoms Yes Minister and Yes Prime MinisterIn the two series, Nigel Hawthorne played the role of Sir Humphrey Appleby, the man in charge of the civil servants who work in the Ministry of Administrative Affairs. He carried the role with such style and aplomb, and always more than held his own when playing his scenes with many other formidable British actors. As he played starring roles in lots of subsequent productions, I assumed he had always been a highly sought-out actor. But a documentary on his life, included on the Yes Minister DVD set, makes it clear that he found no real success in acting for the first thirty years of his life. 

Growing up in South Africa, he received no encouragement whatsoever from his parents regarding his desired career. So he returned to England, the country of his birth, and took whatever little acting parts he could get. All his TV roles were bit parts, for the most part minor appearances in shows unremarkable and long forgotten. He suffered alone, without anyone to champion his cause, never giving up on acting (as so many actors do), until he finally landed the role of Sir Humphrey on Yes Minister. Finally, at the age of 50, he found a part for which he was ideally suited, and which resonated with the viewing public. That role made him a star with the British public, freed him from the necessity of taking on bit parts, and finally allowed him to sink his teeth into major roles in other productions.

Talk about determination! Talk about persistence! Talk about never giving up on your dreams!


If you'd like to watch this short film about his life (split into three 15 minute segments), follow the link below.

Dragon Dave

Related Internet Links
Nigel Hawthorne Remembered 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Patrick McGoohan: The Prisoner Triumphant

Along the rugged Welsh coast perches a village named Portmeirion.

It's a colorful place, filled with scenic charm.

There visitors can sample its architectural splendor,

And reflect on its dark past. 

Once a Human axis of power, strong enough to rival the mighty Dalek race, used Port Meirion as a prison to hold secret agents who no longer wished to spy for their governments. Only one man defied all their attempts to break him. He never told us his name, so all we can remember him by is the number the authorities branded him with, the number he refused to accept: Number 6.

Portrayed by Patrick McGoohan in the TV series that dramatized his imprisonment, we watched as Number 6 defied his jailers' attempts at subjugation. Our hopes rose as he suffered through their most machiavellian plots. And we cheered when he eventually broke the axis of evil's hold on Portmeirion, and orchestrated an escape that freed all inmates to live their lives in any manner they chose.  

No, we never knew you, Number 6. So we celebrate your triumphs through your alter ego today, on what would have been his 87th birthday. All hail Patrick McGoohan, the Prisoner Triumphant!

Dragon Dave

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Star Wars 3 & THOR 6: Three Amazing Covers

Last Wednesday was a big day in comics. After work, my wife and I drove to the store to buy two of that day's releases: the latest issues of Star Wars and THOR. Both were penned by Jason Aaron, which makes him the author of two of Marvel's top ten titles.

There was another cover available for Star Wars 3, but we liked the one above. I love my old Marvel Star Wars comics from the late 1970s and early '80s, but this cover demonstrates how sophisticated comic book art has grown in the intervening years.

Remember that variant cover I couldn't find for Rocket Raccoon 8? Well with THOR 6, we found a nice variant depicting the new lady Thor in action. Then again, had that not been available, we would have been perfectly happy with the regular cover, which tantalizes readers with all the women who could possibly have taken up Thor's mantle.

One benefit of buying Marvel comics is that most include a free digital edition, so you can read the story again online (which we often do). In the case of THOR 6, even though we purchased the variant cover, we can admire the regular cover all we want online. I don't know about you, but that seems like the best of both worlds (such as, say, Midgard and Asgard). 

What do you think? Couldn't you just spend all day admiring these beautiful Marvel covers?

Dragon Dave

P.S. We weren't alone in picking up these two issues on their release day. The website Bleeding Cool ranked them 1st & 4th among Wednesday Warriors like us.

P.S.S. What? My wife and I are warriors? Too cool!

Related Dragon Cache entries
A Woman Called Thor

Related Internet Links
Bleeding Cool ranking and comments

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Today's St Patrick Message


Today's message is brought to you by Pocket Dalek & Friends, and the color Green.

That's right, Green.

(Isn't that smashing?)

Dragon Dave

Monday, March 16, 2015

Buddhist Monks Love NASA

Recently, I came across photographs of three Buddhist monks during our visit to Kennedy Space Center in Florida back in December, 2012.

Not only did I find the monks terribly photogenic (in a Holy sort-of way), but it reminded me of another three monks my wife and I saw during our visit this summer to Houston Space Center in Texas.

When the monks boarded the tour bus, they sat in the row ahead of us, and seemed terribly interested in all the buildings that make up the adjacent Johnson Space Center. It's a college-like campus where talented people work on all aspects of the United States space program.

The Texas heat got to all of us, so this gentleman can be excused for rubbing his eyes to ward off sleep while we waited to visit Historic Mission Control.

When the tour bus stopped at the rocket garden, one monk rushed ahead, eager to study the engines and other displays. 

Another lingered behind, attempting to capture the Redstone and the other rockets for posterity.

The third snuck his way into my photograph, standing beneath the nosecone of the Saturn V rocket set horizontally within a large aircraft hanger. My apologies if the photo seems a little blurry. He might have been a big guy, but he's puny in comparison to the mighty Saturn V.

I don't know if these two incidents are merely coincidences, or if Buddhist monks are naturally drawn to rockets and spaceships. But right now it seems as if our manned space program is just tippy-toeing ahead, and it'd be great to see it take large leaps instead. Perhaps Buddhist Monks should form a political action group (PAC) that could apply pressure to the President and Congress to speed up our manned space program. 

We all need others to get behind us, and support our efforts, if we wish to reach our highest goals.

Dragon Dave

Friday, March 13, 2015

Uplifted by Terry Pratchett's Magic

This week, I've been struggling to write. Anything. Somehow, I've just felt blocked. Writing seemed purposeless. My willpower lagged, sagged, and waved the white flag. So I took the time to reorganize my comic book collection, no easy feat as it seems to be growing by leaps and bounds. As I did so, it struck me that comics are like chapters in a novel. Sometimes they stand alone. Others rely on your knowledge of what came before, and end on a cliffhanger, demanding you seek out the next installment. But all look to the past, belong to an overarching story and tradition, and pave the way for new comics, of any type, to be written.

Yesterday morning, as I sat down to organize, a bag of comics caught my eye. It was an adaptation of Terry Pratchett's novel The Color of Magic

This was the novel with which he introduced us to Discworld, that amazing world that sits on four giant elephants, who ride through space on the back of an immense star-spanning turtle. I had not yet read these four comics, and so instead of moving comics from box to box, I picked up the first issue and met a young tourist who disembarks from a ship in the harbor of Ankh Morpork.

He doesn't speak the local language, but with the use of his guidebook, and by showing off his gold coins, he soon makes his intentions clear.

After being escorted to a tavern, he meets Rincewind, an apprentice wizard who was thrown out of Unseen University not because he learned a spell, but because a spell somehow learned him. It seeped inside him, and when he gets agitated or anxious, it tends to work its magic through him, beyond his conscious control.

You know, kind of like the Hulk.

Rincewind sets himself up as guide, and Twoflower naively gives him four days' pay in advance. When Rincewind uses the money to escape the city, the Patrician of Ankh Morpork has him escorted to the palace. He explains to Rincewind that Twoflower hails from the counterweight continent, the home of the Agatean Empire. It's a government so rich in mineral wealth that it wields tremendous power. Although its citizens rarely travel, Twoflower has taken it into his head to see the world.

The Patrician wants Rincewind to understand how grateful he will be to Rincewind for keeping a protective eye upon their foreign visitor. 

He also explains the unfortunate consequences Rincewind would face, should any harm befall Twoflower.

Soon Rincewind and Twoflower are hitting the streets. Twoflower wants to see everything. He has a little box that makes little pictures of what he sees in extraordinary detail. Rincewind is amazed how friendly and accommodating even the most unfriendly and unaccomodating people can be, when the little box is pointed their way, and a little gold is pressed into their hands. He wonders what kind of magic the box channels to make these fantastic little pictures.

Then, at one point, the top of the box opens, a little imp crawls out, and announces that he's running low on pink paint. Ah, that's how.

Just as the Patrician feared, some people in Ankh Morpork aren't satisfied with the few gold coins that Twoflower would willingly give them. They also wonder how much they could gain by capturing his luggage, a chest made entirely from sapient pear wood. Pear wood is incredibly expensive in Ankh Morpork, and even the richest wizards can only afford the smallest pieces. So obviously, it must be worth an unimaginable sum.

These villains kidnap Twoflower, but Rincewind and the luggage escape. When Rincewind flees, the luggage stops him and insists that Rincewind rescue its master. So it's up to the anxious (failed) apprentice wizard to concoct a plan to free Twoflower, and in the luggage he finds a powerful ally.

When I put down the first issue, I felt more inclined to write than I had felt previously this week. So I headed off to my desk, and after reading the chapter of another novel, set my own pen to my own pad of paper. When my wife called me at lunch time, I had written several pages, and felt inspired to write more.

Then my wife told me of a news story she had just read online. Terry Pratchett, aged 66, had passed away in his home in England.

As some of you may remember, I had the honor of seeing Terry Pratchett at the World Fantasy Convention in Brighton England back in 2013. Despite the disease he suffered from, he was able to talk a little. Sitting across a cold crowded room from him, I was warmed by the presence of this master storyteller. He wrote over seventy books in his life, and I read a lot of them. More significantly, I derived a great deal of pleasure from nearly every one I read. No doubt others felt the same, as the room was more crowded for him than for anyone else who spoke at the convention. 

All authors create characters and worlds. But some authors' creations dwarf their creator, and dwarf most other authors creations. Terry Pratchett's Discworld is one such creation. It builds on the great fantasy literature of the past, and moves forward, presenting a world with such richness and depth that readers hunger for the next installment. I imagine that Discworld will go on, that other authors will take up their pens and, as with other literary icons like Jane Austen and Arthur Conan Doyle, write future stories set in Terry Pratchett's Discworld. But even if they don't, even if Pratchett's heirs don't allow that, his books are like the comic books in my collection, building upon the rich tradition of comics, and inspiring others to write even better, richer, more diverse stories than they read while growing up. 

I'm one of those authors who were caught up in Terry Pratchett's magic, who was inspired to take up my own pen as a result of Terry Pratchett writing. His stories will live on through others, and hopefully, through me as well. His magic inspired me to write yesterday morning, and all afternoon as well. And if I ever achieve my goal of publication, if ever I contribute a few chapters or issues to the great, overarching story that is Fantasy literature, some of the credit must go to Terry Pratchett. His magic infuses me, uplifts me, and lives inside me. And because of that, I write.

Dragon Dave