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23 May 2008 @ 10:53 am
We’ll myth you, Robert.  

Evidently Robert Aspirin has died, which is just too damned bad. I read his Myth books with great fondness as a teenager, and his Phule books with surprising fondness as an adult, and was happy to go back to the Myth books until one of the later co-authored ones pointed out, in the foreword, an idiosyncracy of Robert’s that had been retained despite the co-authoring, and having had it pointed out to me, I could literally no longer read his books because I found it so irritating. Regardless, I have nothing but fondness for everything I read prior to being made aware of that idiosyncracy, and I still remember finally cluing in (possibly via reading it somewhere else) that the Woof Writers were Wendy and Richard Pini. It still makes me giggle.

I never met him, and I would’ve liked to. There’s a part of me–a 12 year old part of me who didn’t actually get that anthologies are things created individually by many people over large distances–which still looks back on the Thieves’ World writers/world as … something quite magical, something that my teenage self, growing up in Alaska, envied and wanted to be a part of: writers who were working together to create new worlds and new stories and who, to my mind, belonged to a close-knit community. I didn’t like Thieves’ World at *all*, but I loved the idea of the community that had created it, and I would’ve very much liked to meet the man who brought *that* idea into my life.

He never used “said” when another word would do, even if “would do” was stretching it to a painful extreme. I must’ve read fifteen of his books without noticing that, but I really couldn’t get through the book following that foreword, and haven’t read anything of his since. I’m kind of sad about that, really, because I /did/ love the Myth books. They’re just silly, and I like silly.

(x-posted from the essential kit)

Current Mood: indescribableindescribable
The Bellinghmanbellinghman on May 23rd, 2008 12:21 pm (UTC)
Whatever other qualities he had, I'm most impressed by marykaykare's post, where she said (inter alia) "I loved him more than anyone else in my entire life (yes my husband knows this) and I can't believe he's gone."

I enjoyed his work (including the Thieves' World project - I liked seeing the same events, the same characters, from totally different viewpoints. Talk about unreliable narrator!), but sometimes what really matters is someone's impact on one's friends. For MKK, he was a great friend and onetime lover. And, as friends of hers, that makes him in some ways more valuable to us as a person than his writings could ever do.

Edit: 'impact on', not 'impact of'.

Edited at 2008-05-23 12:45 pm (UTC)
madkestrelmadkestrel on May 23rd, 2008 12:31 pm (UTC)
Like so many others, he first came to my attention with the Thieves' World books. I never met him either, for which I am heartily sorry.

Peace, Robert.
Earth-bound misfit: HAL 9000captainlucy on May 23rd, 2008 12:39 pm (UTC)
I've never read any of his books (didn't even hear of him until just a few years ago, at the Glasgow Worldcon I think). Personally, I don't think I would have that much of a problem with that particular idiosyncracy, though I can see how it could be annoying, maybe seen as showing off the fact he'd swallowed a thesaurus or something such like. :D

When writing fiction or essays, I like using other words when they can better communicate tone or meaning. "Said" is a bit dull & boring, and I have found it's also a short cut for vastly increasing the word count without increasing content. For example, I found The Wheel of Time books particularly guilty of this (among other things), where you would get sentences like "Oh great, another prophecy" Rand said, his voice a barely audible mutter full of contempt for the inescapable fates that the universe seemed destined to throw him until his dying days (36 words), rather than "Oh great, another prophecy" Rand muttered contemptuously (7 words). :)
kitmizkit on May 24th, 2008 09:33 am (UTC)
I don't inherently object to using words other than 'said'. It's just that having had it pointed out to me I couldn't *stop noticing*, and it drove me bugfuck. :)
cinnamonbitecinnamonbite on May 23rd, 2008 12:58 pm (UTC)
I keep meaning to read his books but never get past the first page. This week I have finished Koontz latest book and Lawrence Watt Evans latest. Why can't I like Aspirin? Especially since I really like the first few Xanth books and will be devastated when Piers Anthony kicks it due to old age.
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cinnamonbitecinnamonbite on May 23rd, 2008 06:33 pm (UTC)
I can't even read his blog anymore.
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cinnamonbitecinnamonbite on May 23rd, 2008 08:53 pm (UTC)
Try some used book stores OR Amazon.com has used books too. Maybe you can find one there. For that matter, try Ebay. I found an ancient book from my childhood, out of print for YEARS on Ebay. It's so old that the paper feels silky, back before they made the cheaper pulp style paper for books!
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Min: BloodTies/MikeRainingphantomminuet on May 23rd, 2008 02:27 pm (UTC)
How sad. I actually got a chance to hear him read at Dragon*con last year.
rfrancis on May 23rd, 2008 02:51 pm (UTC)
I did meet him on a few occasions, as the Dallas Fantasy Fair was a regular stop for him back in the day, and, well, I have mixed remembrances, but of course his passing is too early and a sad thing.

He was, if nothing else, very, very funny. In his writing, on the spot, tirelessly amusing through long signing lines, and so forth. He... enjoyed popularity, but oh well, what else is popularity for, I suppose? But he clearly saw himself as being in the business of entertaining, one way or another, and was pretty darn good at that. RIP.
Lauraskeagsidhe on May 23rd, 2008 02:53 pm (UTC)
I *devoured* the Myth books, in a tree, while eating carrots from the garden, the summer of my 11th or 12th year while staying at my cousins' house. I have really fond memories of them...and of my aunt only finding me up in that tree come chore time because I laughed out loud at something he'd written.
mela_lyn: Shouting Retro Chickmela_lyn on May 23rd, 2008 02:58 pm (UTC)
NO!!! no... no no no nononono... He can't DIE!!! I LOVE the Myth books!!! *crai* Ok, beyond my own extreme selfishness, I'm so sad to hear he's gone.

And honestly, I hate the word 'said'. In my own writing I would try to use something different. It wasn't until people started critting my stuff that I started hearing 'use said'. I don't understand why. We have ALL these lovely words out there that portray more emotion and stronger actions and you want me to use 'said' every single time someone talks instead of 'whispered' or 'screamed' or 'hollored'? WHY?? It doesn't make sense. Writing is about portraying emotion, action and a story through words... so why rely on one word so much?

Hmm... I might have to post about this and get all my writerly friend's opinions. I would love to know what you think.
kitmizkit on May 24th, 2008 09:36 am (UTC)
As I've just said above, I don't inherently object to using words other than 'said'. It's just that having had it pointed out to me I couldn't *stop noticing*, and it drove me bugfuck. :)

There are lots of places that using "hollered" or "cried" or whatever is better than using "said". But a lot of what was driving me nuts was along the lines of '"Well," he extrapolated,' which ... well, once it was pointed out, I couldn't get past it.
mela_lyn: Writing Wretro Womanmela_lyn on May 28th, 2008 01:52 am (UTC)
Thanks for the feedback! I posted a question on my blog and sparked some good comments... though most of thenm were the same. It's all about show and don't tell. :)
nuj on May 23rd, 2008 03:15 pm (UTC)
I, too, am dismayed at this news. Not only did Robert Aspirin serve as a gateway drug for me, to other fantasy and science fiction by great authors, he was one I searched for and kept track of for more than 20 years. More importantly (for me), his long explanations for the time between books gave me an early insight into the publishing world that has served me very well.

As for whether or not to use "said," I think the idea is to balance it. It should neither always be used nor never be used.

The idiosyncrasy I noticed as an adult was that his characters always responded to a question with "What? Oh." That started to bug me heartily. :)
TuftEars: Writingtuftears on May 23rd, 2008 07:09 pm (UTC)
I liked that though, re: idiosyncracy.
kitmizkit on May 24th, 2008 09:37 am (UTC)
*laughs* I'm perfectly willing to accept it wouldn't drive everybody else apeshit. It just did me. :)
allaboutm_e: Kluck Thumballaboutm_e on May 25th, 2008 03:06 pm (UTC)
Perfect subject line...