Friday, November 04, 2011

CONtraflow and High Chaparral

Giving a test today, then taking off pretty quickly for CONtraflow con. I have a panel today on Robert E. Howard, followed by the opening ceremonies and the Meet the Guests Party. Tomorrow I have panels on Reading, Vampires, and Writing. Looking forward to all of them. David Brin is going to be there, whose work I admire greatly, so I hope to get to meet him.

Some of you might remember a Western TV series called High Chaparral. I enjoyed it, although it was short lived. I recently found a tie-in novel for the series, written by Steve Frazee, and started reading it. It's called The Apache Way.

In it, Blue and Manolito get captured by Apaches. Although I'm generally enjoying the book and the writing, Frazee did something that I hate for authors to do. While the captives are stumbling along behind an Apache warrior all bound up and nearly dying of thirst, Frazee writes a kind of: "one day they would both look back on this moment and be amazed they'd been able to survive it."

I wanted to pull my hair out. Yes, we're pretty sure already that the characters are going to live, but do you have to tell us like this, in the middle of a supposedly life-threatening situation?


Angie said...

I wanted to pull my hair out. Yes, we're pretty sure already that the characters are going to live, but do you have to tell us like this, in the middle of a supposedly life-threatening situation?

I agree. It can work in certain circumstances, particularly if the passage is meant to be funny or ironic or whatever. Done with a straight typeface, though, it just kicks the readers out of the story by reminding them that they're watching standard genre tropes unfold. Yay.

Have fun at the con!


Paul R. McNamee said...

Wow. That is a amateur mistake.

Enjoy yourself at the Con!

LoveRundle said...

That's going to be fun! I haven't been to a convention for almost a year now, so I'm getting antsy. I've missed so many coming through.

Have a great chat on panel!

Issa's Untidy Hut said...


Sounds like you are in for some interesting dicussions/meetings. I, too, am a Brin admirer.

Have a great time!


Tom Doolan said...

I wish I had half your energy, man. ;)

You know, that passage wouldn't be so bad, if it was followed by a single sentence paragraph that says "IF they survived, that is."

Adventuresfantastic said...

I met Brin at Conestoga some years ago. He got into a shouting match with the audience over some aspects of the way education is done in this country. I suspect you and he will find plenty to talk about, although don't expect to agree with him on everything or even most things. He tends to hold some contrarian views. It will be fun and interesting, to say the least.

And let us know how the panel on Howard goes.

nephite blood spartan heart said...

Have a good one Charles.

I've got one Frazee book - 'Nights of Terror', no L'amour, but all right.

BernardL said...

Ahhh! How sweet of him to make sure you knew they were safe. :)

I never missed an episode of HC. Great music and lead in images for the opening intro to the show.

Charles Gramlich said...

Angie, yes, I've seen it used for humor and work but to just dead pan tell us is weak writing.

Paul, definitely. And thanks.

Christina, I had one last week and then this one so I'm gonna need a bit of a break before I have more.

Don, Brin's Startide Rising was a masterpiece that came along just when I needed it.

Tom, well, yeah, dude. Burn bright, and all that! :)

Keith, interesting. That does promise some interesting discussion.

David J., yeah, a previous book I read by Frazee was better so this might have been early in his career.

Deka Black said...


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That does spoil the ending! And how do you get involved in so many author things in the real world?

Oscar Case said...

Have a good time at the CON...

Randy Johnson said...

I read that one some years ago. Don't remember much about, but that would be kind of jarring. I've read other stuff of frazee's more recently, a collection of short stories, which were very good.

Have a good time at the con.

Golden Eagle said...

Hope you have a great time at the con!

Erik Donald France said...

High Chaparral was cool -- I'd forgotten about that one!

Kid stuff to let the reader know everything is a-gonna be okay. I doubt five year olds are gonna be reading it, so why, indeed?

Travis Cody said...

Oh that just jerks you right out of a story! Why do writers do that?

And I loved High Chaparral.

Cloudia said...

a seemingly OBVIOUS point indeed, Charles!

Sounds like a day to cherish. Enjoy it, and your weekend.

Aloha from Honolulu

Comfort Spiral

> < } } ( ° >


< ° ) } } > <

ivan said...

So cool to be so busy.
(The convention).

Myself, I've been making anti-poverty speeches in Newmarket, the park.
--lightly attended by po' folk and geese.
What the hell. A gig is a gig. Don't let that oligarch one per cent wear you down!
But definitely going where the wild goose goes these days.
I think I heard geese honking in, I think, outrage for the podium. I sang back,
"Be kind to your webfooted friends
'Cause a duck may be somebody's mother
Be kind to the denizen of the swamp
He's a dilly through and through..."

David Cranmer said...

I loved High Chaparral! And Linda Cristal/Victoria Montoya.

And, yes, never tell the reader halfway through the characters are going to make it. Kinda funny just the same.

Jeff said...

Good writing lesson! I remember the name of a show called "High Chaparral" but don't recall anything about it.

Unknown said...

I hate it when I write a clever comment, come back to see your equally clever response and notice that I forgot to publish my clever comment in the first place.

Next time I will just remember to publish my comment and quit trying to be clever.

laughingwolf said...


enjoy the con, panel, and rubbing shoulders with pals...

Charles Gramlich said...

Deka Black, I know. Very wince worthy.

Alex J. Cavanaugh, I’ve been meeting folks in the local SF fan community for a long time so that’s generally why I’ve gotten invited to these things. For the Undead Con, I also sent one of the organizers a copy of my vampire collection to let them know I did write that kind of stuff.

Oscar, Since it’s Sunday morning and I’m still alive, I think I did have a good time. :)

Randy Johnson, Yeah, I have another novel by Frazee that I read that I liked a lot. May have been one of his early books or one he had to write in a hurry.

The Golden Eagle, I did indeed and will give more details later.

Erik, It was short lived but I sure did enjoy it. That might be, about the kid stuff, to ease the tension. Didn’t consider that.

Travis Cody, Sometimes I guess the thought occurs to them and they just put it in. Maybe it’s unconscious at times, but it isn’t a very good accident to have.

Cloudia, yeah, it leaped out at me enough to say something about it.

ivan, I was kinder to the other authors at the con than they were to me. Geese all, I guess.

David Cranmer, that’s right. I’d forgotten who played Victoria. She was very lovely.

Jeff, It was a family drama like Bonanza and Big Valley but didn’t run long.

Carole, cleverness is its own reward! 

laughingwolf, Will get to meet David Brin, which is cool.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I wonder if he thought readers needed assurance there was going to be a happy ending. Or if he just was careless. Such a dumb thing.

Ron Scheer said...

I don't know the context, but what the writer may have had in mind was suggesting a kind of bravado that makes light of a life-threatening situation. If so, like you say, it backfires.

Conferences are so much fun. I get a high out of just being around people with similar interests, and in this business they don't exactly show up in the daily course of affairs.

ivan said...


"Be kind to you web-footed friends."

Ah, the singing in the swamps.

I dasn't make a joke. Quebec is just next door. And you got King Creole.

I know, I know.God will get me for that. :)

Ty said...

*wince* at the writing.

But hope you had a good time at the con. Brin is always entertaining, even though I sometimes find him overly .... hmm, not sure what the word is ... "gruff" won't do ... "opinionated" maybe?

Greg said...

wow, yeah that's pretty bad.

X. Dell said...

I'm wondering if there were some of contractual necessity for the phrse, seeing that the characters are licensed, and valuable to whomever owns them.

Sometimes, readers gloss things down, or drop a novel midway because of, um, lack of interest (i.e., it isn't that good). To avoid confusion, perhaps someone thought it wise to remind readers that the heroes will survive.

Just guessing. Otherwise, I can only agree that it's bad writing.

Charles Gramlich said...

Patti, I didn't think about that. Maybe. It does appear to be mostly a YA work.

Ron, that's for sure. I don't meet many folks normally who like to read and write the kind of stuff I do.

Ivan, that's probably the least of things God will get you for. :)

Ty, I didn't get to hear a lot from him. I seemed to always have panels opposite of his, but did get to chat with him a little in person.

Greg, and the story is generally pretty good other than a few issues like that.

X-dell, it seems unlikely to me but I wouldn't know for sure. May have been reasons for it that I don't understand.