I start off this episode with a shout-out to some awesome author friends of mine who have been doing dynamite work recently: children’s author (and my illustrator for Hello, Halloween) Donovan Scherer; award-winning horror author Matthew Harrill; and hilarious master parodist Paul Erickson. Pick up their books for your loved ones this Christmas!
Now, on to the meat of the show, where I read you the first story from my book Christmas Calamities. ‘The Lost Helper’ tells the tale of a poor elf left behind in a family fireplace on Christmas Eve. Things only get worse when the household children discover him. Will he be able to get back to Santa in time?
Listen in to find out!
And while you’re at it, pick up the book! ‘The Lost Helper’ is only one of several fun holiday yarns therein. It’s inexpensive, easily transportable, and makes a great stocking stuffer. Enjoy!
Part 2 of my conversation with Mo Simpson starts off on a brilliantly blasphemous note, introducing a neo-pagan interpretation of Biblical scripture and an insane but believable etymology of the word “Hollywood”. Did you know Hollywood, the right arm of the government, was founded by Druids?
You do now. Consider yourself edumacated.
Speaking of Hollywood, we can’t resist discussing the tenuous relationship between comic books and the movies. Just how unfaithful is Hollywood’s recreation of Watchmen? Is Alan Moore right to condemn the medium of film for corrupting the art of the comic?
From there we transition to a discussion of the various film incarnations of a certain nocturnal superhero (I’ll give you three guesses). Who was the best Batman? The best Joker? The best supervillain in general? And the controversial topic of the day – Ben Affleck as the Dark Knight: horrible mistake, or spitting in the face of God?
While we’re on the subject of gods, does anyone else think that superheroes are our modern versions of the ancient Greek deities? (I mean, heck, some of them areancient Greek deities!) I do, and I make my case fantastically, if I do say so myself.
This leads to a discussion of mythology and the necessity of myth in providing meaning to culture. No one recognized this better than J.R.R. Tolkien, who created his Middle Earth to provide a new mythopic structure that Britain was sorely lacking. Granted, he did this in a very Catholic way (see my friend Brad Birzer‘s book J. R. R. Tolkien’s Sanctifying Myth: Understanding Middle-earth for a better understanding of that), but it’s hard to deny the brilliance of his symbolism, no matter what your beliefs are.
We talk about varieties of myth throughout the ages, the benefits of reading The Bible and other spiritual texts as literature (whether or not you believe they are literally true), and what makes myth still essential to the modern man. Calling something a myth, in the traditional sense, is not saying that it is untrue. Myth was rather a way of stating the truth – that is, telling the truth through a story that people could relate to and understand.
People need myths. This is why Nietzsche, anti-Christian that he was, lamented the “death” of God. While Newton’s mechanistic view of the universe might have had the positive result of turning many people away from irrational superstitions, it left a void; it left people with nothing to believe in. Those of us who no longer hold to religion – or no longer hold it as a dominant force in our lives, whether or not we nominally believe in it – must find a new locus of meaning.
Throughout this discussion, Mo peppers us with historical etymologies of numerous terms, including “Lord of the Rings” (Saturn?), “Luke Skywalker” (Horus, Loki, or Lucifer?), and “The Holy Trinity” (um… you just gotta listen to this one). I point out the difference between symbolism and allegory, and Mo adds that his favorite fiction is the real world that we face every day.
That last happens to be my least favorite fiction, as media-fed B.S. is more depressing than enlightening. This is why I read (well, one reason of many).
What do you think? Does myth have a function in the modern world? If so, what kind of mythology do you turn to – religion, superheroes, esoteric theories, or some other collection of weird and wonderful concepts?
Speaking of books, I have a new one out! It’s Captain Napalm vs. the Grungious Gundabad, based on disturbingly hilarious superhero stories I’ve been telling my son at bedtime. The Kindle version is available on Amazon for only $0.99, so if you want to support the Fun with Fiction podcast, pick it up today!
Or here’s an even better option: if you’re into superheroes and sophomoric humor, you’re interested in reading Captain Napalm, and you’re willing to write it an honest review on Amazon within the next month (it’s not a long book), send me an email at email@example.com, and I’ll send you a free review copy! (In the interest of sanity I have to limit this offer to the first 25 people who email me, though – so shoot me a message today.)
Thank you all, Fictioneers! I hope you’re enjoying my ramblings. If you have anything to say – what you like, what you hate, what you want more of – let me know. Comment below, review me on iTunes, or just shoot me an email. I’d love to hear from you.