Elfquest, a Stephen King Story, One by Carol Emshwiller and Angry Birds for Chrome

Free Elfquest

When I was fifteen or sixteen I picked up an independent comic called Elfquest and was hooked. It was about a tribe of elves that lived in the woods, bonding with wolves, who helped them with hunting and protection. The two species had a symbiotic relationship and while life was hard it was also good. And then something bad happens sending the pack on a quest into new territory where they find something astonishing.

I loved the story and I loved the drawings and I bought every copy, passing them down to my kids when I started my family. My original copies ended up tattered and worn and even the anthologies I bought fell apart from too much reading. So when I found out that Elfquest.com was putting the entire story online for free I was pretty psyched. Now they have everything up and you can read it all. There is a Paypal donation button if you’d like to kick something into the pot. There’s an awful lot of material to enjoy.


Herman Wouk Is Still Alive

This short story by Stephen King ran in the May issue of the Atlantic. http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/05/herman-wouk-is-still... I’ve been a fan of Mr. King’s for more than thirty years but I loathed this story. It’s about two sets of people - two mothers with their seven children and a couple of poets. The poets are elderly and doing well, supportive of each other and their work. The mothers are floundering, drowning in debt, unemployment and depression.

Brenda hits the lotto, wins a couple of grand and takes Jasmine and the kids on a vacation to visit grandparents, with the hope of also bringing home some extra cash. But once they get going they rehash their pasts and foresee a dim future with little to now hope. Meanwhile the poets are on their way to poetry readings and take a break at a rest stop to have a nice picnic. Since Stephan King is writing this story we can guess that these two diverse sets of people will meet and that it won’t be pretty.

So far this is all par for the course. A friend of mine from work told me more than twenty years ago that his mom wouldn’t read a book by Mr. King because he killed off his child characters. If there are seven in this van and they’re all in danger that’s nothing really new for longtime readers. Poets, writers and other kinds of artists are also fair game in Mr. King’s word as are the elderly.

I don’t have a problem with whatever mayhem he chooses to wreak on his populace as by definition horror is something that happens to everyone. What I have a problem with is his continuing obsession/disgust for fat people. Take this quote from the story as a sample, “These are the fat women nobody wants to see when they’re on the streets, the ones no guy wants to pick up in the bars unless the hour is late and the mood is drunk and there’s nobody better in sight...” If that’s not bad enough there is plenty more. Being fat seems to rank up there with no or limited employment when the ladies tally up their mutual problems. It’s supposed to be a terrible, terrible, shameful thing that speaks volumes about their values and characters. Which just makes me tired.

His loathing for fat people pops up through his work over and over again. Fatness is used as shorthand and fat characters invariably are evil, awful or come to a terrible end. The one exception I can think of is a character in It who manages to lose a bunch of weight and is thin when we first meet him. His nonfiction also showcases his disgust of those of us who are fat. You can Google some of his quotes if you’re interested but likely if you’re a fan you know what I mean.

Perhaps it’s time for Mr. King to raise his consciousness. I recommend two books; Fat! So? Because You Don't Have to Apologize for Your Size by Marilyn Wann http://www.randomhouse.com/book/197420/fat-so-by-marilyn-wann/9780898159... and Paul Campos’ The Obesity Myth: Why America's Obsession with Weight is Hazardous to Your Health. Both of these books are fantastic as well as full of intriguing information. I loved them and they changed my way of thinking.

After All

And now a story I loved – After All by Carol Emshwiller http://www.strangehorizons.com/2011/20110530/afterall-f.shtml. This is the perfect story. The protagonist is old and grumpy and goes off on a quest, much to the chagrin of her relatives. I love the language, the forgetfulness of the character, her determination and her zeal. This story is sly and fun and I can see why Gavin Grant picked it to commemorate Ms. Emshwiller’s big birthday this year. The entire issue of Strange Horizons is dedicated to Ms. Emshwiller so be sure to poke around after you enjoy After All.

Bonus Treat:
This week's bonus treat is for those few like me who hadn’t gotten around to playing Angry Birds yet. Google released it as a free app available on their Chrome browser platform. This link looks a little screwy but it should work. If it doesn’t, go to the Chrome app store and it should be right there on the main page. If it’s not click games and it will be under games. https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/aknpkdffaafgjchaibgeefbgmgeghl... It’s possibly even more fun than everyone says it is. It took me a bit to get the hang of it but now I’m loving it. It helps to know you can scroll in and out so you aren’t flinging the birds blind.