Spacer March 21, 2005
  | Asymmetry | Archive | March 21, 2005 |




"You know what your problem is," said the wizard. "You're too perfect."
"Come again?" said the hero, after spending a moment trying to figure this out.
"Well, look at you. You're good-looking, talented, obnoxiously intelligent, well-spoken, good at just about everything, and naturally of royal blood."
"Well yes. I can't exactly help that, you know. Or any of the rest of it," he added.
"It's too much. How are people supposed to relate?"
"They're not," was the somewhat irritable response. "They're supposed to obey."
"I mean when they hear about your great deeds in the far corners of the earth. It'll do them good to think that someone could accomplish all that even without being totally perfect. You need a flaw."
"I'll take your word for it." They went on in silence for a bit. "Perhaps I could secretly be of humble origins?"
"Nah," said the wizard, who really was of humble origins and didn't think much of them.
"I have extremely puissant enemies," the hero suggested hopefully. "Surely that's a flaw."
"No, they're just a problem. Besides, you're going to defeat them."
"Oh, all right. What about you, then?"
"What about me?"
"If I need a flaw, you damn well need one, too. We're in this together."
"Me? I'm just a counsellor. Support staff. You're the hero."
"This really is your story. Half the material is devoted to you. Look at the early drafts, I'm not even in them. Some support."
After a puzzled moment, "How did you get here, then?"
"Not really sure any more. Anyway," he added, struck by a thought, "since I am, someone must find me interesting, even if it's only the author. You can't argue with that."
"I suppose not."
"So how about your flaw, then?"
"Er... I rather think we can settle for the enemies, at that."
"Good idea."

Well, the rules say "no rewrites," so there you have it. OK, I've probably been reading too much Tom Holt. As if there could be such a thing -- though I have the feeling that he's never really caught on in the States, and I can't imagine why; Terry Pratchett has a slavering following here, many Americans are devoted fans of British TV shows -- the real ones, not the grotesque mutations that we make of them later on -- and Holt is funny, albeit in a mildly intellectual way. Maybe that's the problem. I like him, though, even if I do have to buy most of his books as imports. Yesterday I finished off Expecting Someone Taller and Who's Afraid of Beowulf?. I first read the latter many, many years ago -- I think I took it out from the Meadville Public Library, while I was in college. I have liked it ever since. A modest story, amusing and well-contained. Holt knows his limits, that's another thing I like about him. He tells a small tale well. And how many other people bother with Vikings these days? Let alone ones who have been asleep in the mound for twelve hundreds years and arise to fight a sorcerer-king and his timber wolf, who manage to be prosaic and truly heroic at the same time, who make you wonder if the grand stories have more truth in them than we let ourselves think.

Time's up. It's Monday, which means work. Only four more days to get through until we find out What's Going On at the meeting (Thursday afternoon -- Friday would be slightly more ominous, but I suspect a lot of people will be out because of Easter, so perhaps that's why Thursday. I'm making a bet with myself that our department is to be gutted.).

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