Four against the beasts in Chapter 15 of As the Wyrm Tyrns

Our band of heroic (or at least temperamental) magicians have a goal, “Finding the wyrms’ lair,” in chapter 15 of As the Wyrm Tyrns. And wouldn’t you know, it’s the scholarly Calpurnia that sets them in the right direction. Or maybe it’s Ursula who puts them in harm’s way. Or Jacintha who walks into the jaws of death. Or . . . oh, go read the chapter, why don’t you!

The Seven Against Thebes, a team effort that didn't end well (Illustration from "Stories from the Greek Tragedians" by Rev. Alfred J. Church, M.A. (1879).)

The Seven Against Thebes, a team effort that didn’t end well.
(Illustration from “Stories from the Greek Tragedians” by Rev. Alfred J. Church, M.A. (1879))

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It’s nighttime soap opera time in chapter 14 of As the Wyrm Tyrns

You'll figure out why by the end of the chapter!

You’ll figure out why by the end of the chapter!

Romance, explosions, sex, family conflicts, monsters, well-intentioned people who screw everything up, backstabbing politics — it’s all here as our team of intrepid magicians, and the weird offspring of one of them, spend most of their time at cross purposes instead of putting down the wyrms of Breydon Waters. “We’re just trying to be helpful” in chapter 14 of As the Wyrm Tyrns.

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It’s just one darn thing after another in Chapter 13 of As the Wyrm Tyrns

Katherine Swynford (call her Kate, she likes it) managed to claw her way from being a servant to a Royal Duchess in the 1300s. She hasn’t gotten any less tough as a Royal Magician in the centuries since. And now she has to confront possibly the most sadistic magician in England. Meanwhile, Jacintha Lowell gets to play with her newest favorite toy. So they’re both happy in chapter 13, “Kate and Jackie have fun,” the newest installment of my serialized story, As the Wyrm Tyrns.

Royal magicians have been around for a while! (Painting: "John Dee Performing an Experiment before Elizabeth I" by Henry Gillard Glindoni (1852-1913), image available under Creative Commons license from Wellcome Library

Royal magicians have been around for a while!
(Painting: “John Dee Performing an Experiment before Elizabeth I” by Henry Gillard Glindoni (1852-1913), image available under Creative Commons license from Wellcome Library.)

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Hunting a supernatural creature is difficult in chapter 12 of As the Wyrm Tyrns

14th century granite relief from Galicia

14th century granite relief from Galicia

Just how do you put down a wyrm: a marine creature that is sixty feet long and emits venomous fireballs? Scots professor of magic Geoffrey MacAlpine, his English colleague Calpurnia Kingsley, her ex-husband (and a vicious bastard) Marcus Satterthwaite, along with their unexpected partner, the American magician-photographer Jacintha Lowell, are now working together to answer that very question. But for how long? And what can they actually do? Jacintha and Calpurnia shine in Chapter 12, “Of photographs and chronicles,” the latest installment of my weekly serialized story, As the Wyrm Tyrns.

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A retrospective on the TV series The Green Hornet

green-hornet-icon2016 saw the deaths of two people who influenced my beginnings as a storyteller: Lois Duncan, author of Ransom and many other young adult novels, and Van Williams, who played the Green Hornet in the 1960s TV series of that name. (Eerie coincidence: they were also both born in 1934!) I’ve posted previously on how they influenced me. Hearing of Williams’s death, I was inspired to go back and watch episodes of The Green Hornet to see how they hold up after a half century, and how adult me would view a series that enthralled me as a child. The result? It doesn’t look the same, and it has aged, but the plotting showed potential.

The Green Hornet got on the air because the TV series Batman, which I also loved then, was such a smashing success. Unlike Batman, Green Hornet played its crime drama mostly straight. That’s why I liked it even better than Batman. Audiences apparently didn’t agree: The Green Hornet lasted only the one season with 26 episodes, while Batman ran to 120.

green-honet-large-tv-guideThe Green Hornet had some other attractions that Batman lacked. He frequently went up against new and plausible technology. I’d remembered specifically that he once had to protect his car from a laser beam! And Kato, played by Bruce Lee, then just beginning to become famous, was a martial artist the like of which I’d never seen before. He was cool, period.

Watching them over again, adult me could see how formulaic the plots were. City crime figure acquires some new technology and pulls off crimes. Publisher Britt Reid goes undercover as the Green Hornet, reputed crime boss. He tracks down the villain and demands a piece of the action. He’s able to do this, by the way, without ever actually seriously roughing up anyone. (Punching out henchmen doesn’t count.) The villain tries to double-cross the Hornet, who defeats him and leaves him to the police, who arrive after the Hornet has departed. That’s most of the plot of most of the shows. Oh, sometimes there is a damsel in distress, or reporter Mike Axford gets into trouble (which is kind of the same thing). And every episode ends with some weak joke between Reid and his secretary about his secret identity.

On the other hand, I had to admire the economy of the plots. Each episode was only about 25 minutes long, including credits. And the episodes reused a lot of stock footage of the Green Hornet and Kato getting into their formidable car, the Black Beauty, or driving through the city streets. Somehow in perhaps 20 minutes the episodes were able to pack in a plot of crime, investigation, betrayal, and vengeance, without appearing too formulaic. As a child, I unconsciously appreciated this without understanding it; as an adult, I am just simply impressed.

In many ways the series hasn’t aged well. Despite the cutting-edge technology the Hornet uses and confronts, the stories have a 1930s feel about them, being mostly about criminal mobs engaged in old-fashioned types of crime. And it’s a white man’s world. Women are mostly there to look pretty, date Britt, and need rescuing. Indeed, Britt Reid once holds a meeting in a thinly disguised Playboy Club! I don’t remember any black characters. And the Green Hornet’s one foray into Chinatown is cringe-inducing in its stereotyping.

Speaking of Chinatown brings up the elephant in the room: Bruce Lee. The man’s subsequent rise to fame has made his portrayal as Reid’s servant/driver/assistant Kato look demeaning. It doesn’t help that in the early episodes, the Green Hornet explains nothing to Kato and often gives him orders that a knowledgeable assistant wouldn’t need. Although, to be fair, those patterns may have just been the writers’ way of building suspense and informing the audience of what was happening.

kato-bruce-lee-vs-robinStill, watching the episodes in succession, it’s clear that Bruce Lee got better treatment in later episodes: taking fewer stupid orders, occasionally taking the initiative, and definitely getting more chances to show off his fighting skills. Suffice it to say than when the Green Hornet and Kato faced off against Batman and Robin in an episode of Batman, I could believe that Batman and the Green Hornet would be equals, but I absolutely believed that Kato should have been able to take down Robin in seconds. (In the episode, it’s a stand-off all around.)

casey-with-hornetAnd you know who also got a bit better treatment toward the end? Reid’s secretary, Casey. In the early episodes, although she must have some brains to be Reid’s secretary and help with his secret identity, Casey is usually shown as a frustrated would-be lover of Britt’s who gets taken hostage. Even her intelligence is implicitly denigrated when she gets brainwashed in one episode. And yet . . . Britt seems to be waking up to her better qualities in the last few episodes. She finally even shows some crime fighting skill herself in the last two-part episode. Although (as usual) she’s taken hostage, she manages to escape and leads the criminals on a merry chase.

It’s as if the series writers were themselves getting tired of the same old, same old, and went looking for new ideas and developments in the last few episodes. But the series ended before they could get too daring. And given the nature of broadcast television in 1966-67, it’s not likely The Green Hornet would ever have become a ground-breaking series. But it might have become a good one.

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Not all monsters are monsters in chapter 11 of As the Wyrm Tyrns

If you know whose coat of arms this is, the end of the chapter will be no surprise! (Source: Wikipedia/Sodacan)

If you know whose coat of arms this is, the end of the chapter will be no surprise!
(Source: Wikipedia/Sodacan)

What do you do when someone wants to kill you? When that person is the nastiest magician in all England (and he’d be willing to try for an all-British title)?

Geoffrey MacAlpine is in just this situation, and now that he’s realized why Marcus Satterthwaite wants to kill him, he knows that he’s not going to be able to talk Marcus out of his homicidal goal. And so he reluctantly calls on someone, some thing, even more ruthless than Marcus: a member of the Royal Family. For “There are more frightening things than wyrms” in chapter eleven of As the Wyrm Tyrns, my weekly serial about how magical life, mass destruction, and soap opera come together in Norfolk, England.

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A new look to honor As the Wyrm Tyrns chapter 10

La Belle Dame sans Merci (1893) by John William Waterhouse (1849-1917)

La Belle Dame sans Merci (1893) by John William Waterhouse (1849-1917)

Geoff, Jackie, Calpurnia, and even Marcus have “Unexpected encounters” in chapter 10 of As the Wyrm Tyrns, my serialized story about what one might call a magical fishing expedition in English waters. And somewhere mixed in there is “La Belle Dame sans Merci.”

I’ve been a bit slack in restyling my blog’s appearance since last year. Since As the Wyrm Tyrns has reached its tenth chapter, it seemed timely to redo the header and the background to relate to the story. Crispina Kemp of crimsonprose, whom I visited this last summer, has kindly offered her photos of Breydon Water, where much of the story’s action takes place. So I’ve used one photo of the Water under threatening skies in the new header, and another under dramatic looking clouds as the background. The latter photo is both spectacular and attractive, so deserves to be seen in full, without the nuisance of my blog in the way:breydon-sky

 

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