Chronscast Season 1 Episode 4 - Fafhrd & The Gray Mouser in Swords And Deviltry with Stephen Cox

Dan Jones

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Today we're joined by Stephen Cox, the author of the science-fiction drama Our Child Of The Stars, and the newly-published sequel, Our Child Of Two Worlds, both published by Jo Fletcher Books, an imprint of Hachette. Stephen dives with us into Fritz Leiber's swords-and-sorcery classic, Swords And Deviltry, which introduces two of fantasy's greatest heroes, the great barbarian Fafhrd, and the sly swordsman Gray Mouser.

We talk about the origin stories of the two heroes, and the psychodramas contained therein, paying attention to how the young protagonists must each escape very different types of parental stranglehold to make their own way in the world. We discuss the female characters of the world of Nehwon, and Leiber's huge, pervasive influence upon the fantasy genre in all its guises, from fiction to D&D to computer gaming.

We also take an in-depth look at Stephen's latest novel, Our Child Of Two Worlds, which continues the story of the charming but lost alien child Cory, and introduces an existential threat to humanity from the outer reaches of the cosmos. Stephen tells us about some of his writing processes, the experience of having two literary agents, and the difficulties of publishing in the 21st century. We also discuss the question of "Hard" SF versus "Soft" SF, and how this is affecting current trends in the genre.

Elsewhere The Judge provides fascinating historical (and futuristic) information on how writers might use the issue of defamation for their worldbuilding. We hear the winning entry from @Luiglin to the March 75-word writing challenge, while strange reports of dragons and sorcerers abound in Kinnegad, just past the sports centre, near the bus stop.

Join us in May when our guest will be the multiple award-winning author Tade Thompson, who will be waxing lyrical about Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons's comic book maxiseries masterpiece, WATCHMEN.

Index
[00:00] Stephen Cox Interview Part 1
[38:57] Voicemail 1
[39:41] The Judge's Corner
[54:55] Voicemail 2
[55:54] Writing Challenge Winner
[56:55] Voicemail 3
[58:05] Stephen Cox Interview Part 2

Links
Stephen Cox's website and blog

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The Judge

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I'd never read any of the Fafhrd stories, but I got Swords and Deviltry from the library last month so I could follow the podcast better, and I have to say I was seriously underwhelmed by the stories, which to me read as if they'd been written by an adolescent boy with mother issues and otherwise ignorant of women, and he'd written them purely for other adolescent boys who were even more ignorant. To learn that the tales were influential on later fantasy and D&D explains a great deal as far as I'm concerned.

Anyhow, it was interesting to hear someone knowledgeable discuss the stories and their background. Interesting, too, to hear of Stephen's own writing.

As to my bit, I trust everyone has noted the snippet that will be of interest to HareBrain! I'll put up details of my sources in my history thread later in the week.

By the way, Dan/Chris, what was the drum-like noise during the interview? Someone's children running amok? Or were you all patting the microphones?!
 

BAYLOR

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I'd never read any of the Fafhrd stories, but I got Swords and Deviltry from the library last month so I could follow the podcast better, and I have to say I was seriously underwhelmed by the stories, which to me read as if they'd been written by an adolescent boy with mother issues and otherwise ignorant of women, and he'd written them purely for other adolescent boys who were even more ignorant. To learn that the tales were influential on later fantasy and D&D explains a great deal as far as I'm concerned.

Anyhow, it was interesting to hear someone knowledgeable discuss the stories and their background. Interesting, too, to hear of Stephen's own writing.

As to my bit, I trust everyone has noted the snippet that will be of interest to HareBrain! I'll put up details of my sources in my history thread later in the week.

By the way, Dan/Chris, what was the drum-like noise during the interview? Someone's children running amok? Or were you all patting the microphones?!

Swords and Deviltry is a very good read . The series is a bit off beat but fun to read. :)
 

Dan Jones

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By the way, Dan/Chris, what was the drum-like noise during the interview? Someone's children running amok? Or were you all patting the microphones?!
I know, I know. One thing doing these interviews has taught me is that there are certain external factors that are beyond your control when interviewing guests; in this case it was Stephen's antiquated internet connection, which kiboshed part of the conversation, and left us with those lovely pops and hisses you can hear on occasion. I couldn't do anything about it, so we're stuck with it.

So let that be the lesson for this month; if you're going to do a podcast, make sure internet connection is up to it!

As for Leiber, yeah he's (very) old fashioned, but I think on balance he's worth his place in the canon.

Stephen's own book is rather different, and I'd recommend it.
 

BAYLOR

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I know, I know. One thing doing these interviews has taught me is that there are certain external factors that are beyond your control when interviewing guests; in this case it was Stephen's antiquated internet connection, which kiboshed part of the conversation, and left us with those lovely pops and hisses you can hear on occasion. I couldn't do anything about it, so we're stuck with it.

So let that be the lesson for this month; if you're going to do a podcast, make sure internet connection is up to it!

As for Leiber, yeah he's (very) old fashioned, but I think on balance he's worth his place in the canon.

Stephen's own book is rather different, and I'd recommend it.

Leiber's tales are classic stuff and well worth the read and, can be read and reread and enjoyed . :cool:
 

nixie

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I've never read Leiber, been on my radar for a long time but never got round to them.
A good troupe or cliche never gets old, I'm currently enjoying James Islington. I know it has been done before but so has most things. Think it was Clive Barker who said, no story is original, they are a follow up of what's gone before.

A good writer will add their own twist.

Well done, although the drumming was a little off putting. Once again TJ stole the show.
 

The Judge

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Rather later than I'd hoped, but I've put up a post in my Chronscast History thread with a brief recap of some of the points in my talk and a few links to the main sources I used. The Chronscast Talks -- the Law and History

I found so much of interest in my research (well, interest to legally-minded me) that I had to omit a good deal, including some details from Ruth Goodman's book How to Behave Badly in Renaissance Britain. She has a chapter on offensive speech, including the then-prevalent "kiss my arse" (meaning the anus, not the buttocks) which one Mary Goates verbally threw at a neighbour while arguing. The neighbour retorted with "Nay, I will leave that for John Carre" which Goodman explains as "implying not only that Mary had a lover, but that he was a subservient and perverted one, and Mary was a low-value whore". Mary brought an action for defamation, but regrettably Goodman doesn't tell us who won!
 

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I caught up with this on Monday. Sorry, I've been too busy. Good discussion but unfortunately I've never read Leiber.

A suggestion: Would it be possible to regularly give some advance notice of the subject of the next podcast. If it were a book, doubt I'd have time to read it in that time, but I might do, and I could certainly refresh my memory if it was a book I'd read before. If it was another film then I could easily re-watch it as I did with An American Werewolf in London. The discussion is much improved when the subject is known personally.
 

The Judge

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Definitely it helps to understand the discussion when it's something one has read -- I actually got hold of the Leiber in advance so I'd know something about it when they were discussing it. Dan confirmed it was Swords and Deviltry coming up in Ep 4 when he posted Ep 3, but it was towards the end of the post, so was easily missed.

And the same for next month -- it's there in Dan's opening post in this thread, but a bit hard to find, tucked away where it is:

Join us in May when our guest will be the multiple award-winning author Tade Thompson, who will be waxing lyrical about Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons's comic book maxiseries masterpiece, WATCHMEN.

@Dan Jones -- perhaps instead of adding it to the long post about the current episode, do a separate post a week or so later detailing what's coming up. That would make it easier to see and reach more people.
 

Dan Jones

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I caught up with this on Monday. Sorry, I've been too busy. Good discussion but unfortunately I've never read Leiber.

A suggestion: Would it be possible to regularly give some advance notice of the subject of the next podcast. If it were a book, doubt I'd have time to read it in that time, but I might do, and I could certainly refresh my memory if it was a book I'd read before. If it was another film then I could easily re-watch it as I did with An American Werewolf in London. The discussion is much improved when the subject is known personally.

Currently I'm giving a mention to the next episode's guest and text at the end of each episode (over the credits), and as TJ says, in the episode blurb both here and on the podcast site. I think that's probably enough.

But maybe it'll be worth bumping the episode again halfway through the month. As for Watchmen, we will be focusing on the graphic novel but we do mention the Zack Snyder movie from 2009 and the recent HBO show (though not in much detail), so it might be worth you watching at least one of those (I'd recommend the movie if you're working from first principles) before the next episode.
 

AnRoinnUltra

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do a separate post a week or so later detailing what's coming up.
I reckon there is a much bigger audience for the show once the word gets out. A 300 word preview would be great (judging by regional newspapers 300 words seems to be the sweet spot for those type of things). From what I can tell Chrons are scattered around the globe -we could all copy/ paste a link and preview to our blogs and local SF/F forums/ magazines. Possibly with a pic of the hosts at a mic doing their thing (maybe even a funky one beside a cool space agency robot?!).

Having written that I realize I'm suggesting work for someone else so apologies for that (I don't have the skills to write one myself ...one that would attract listeners at any rate;)

Great work lads (y)
 

Dan Jones

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I reckon there is a much bigger audience for the show once the word gets out. A 300 word preview would be great (judging by regional newspapers 300 words seems to be the sweet spot for those type of things). From what I can tell Chrons are scattered around the globe -we could all copy/ paste a link and preview to our blogs and local SF/F forums/ magazines. Possibly with a pic of the hosts at a mic doing their thing (maybe even a funky one beside a cool space agency robot?!).

That's where I'd like to get to, of course - the point where the listeners want to share the episodes to their own friends and groups. I think you're right, once word gets out the audience will find its own feet - and to be fair it's not too bad for what's essentially a startup. And I'm hoping that as we get some new guests with their own followings the word will get out. I'm hoping that once we land the right guest with a good following online we'll make a step up and move from a hundred to a thousand listeners, and go from there.

I'm already starting to think about what to do in 2023, as I've got all our 2022 guests booked up. I'll probably start another thread in the summer once I've thought about it properly, and use a poll to gauge what people think of what we've already done, and what else we could do with it.
 

AnRoinnUltra

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Good stuff, I'm sure it will -there's definitely an appetite for SF, and pucks of fans who keep it quiet. 'Don't watch Sci-Fi, reckon it's stupid', Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra', 'saw that one though, that was good';) Having an archive of episodes featuring different books/ films will give listeners a chance to look up stuff they're into.
Fair play for taking it on. (y)
 

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