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The Warlock In Spite Of Himself (1982)

The Warlock in Spite of Himself (1982)

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Series
Rating
4 of 5 Votes: 1
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ISBN
0441873022 (ISBN13: 9780441873029)
Language
English
Publisher
ace

About book The Warlock In Spite Of Himself (1982)

ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.Rodney Gallowglass is a spy whose job is to discover unknown planets that need to be brought into the fold of the enlightened democratic intergalactic system. When he lands on the backward planet of Gramayre in his spaceship disguised as an asteroid, Rod and his epileptic computer Fess discover a world of fantasy creatures — witches, ghosts, werewolves, dwarves and elves. Gramayre was originally settled by a group of humans who wanted to revert back to a feudal society. Now it’s a benevolent monarchy that’s threatened by anarchists, witches, and a man who wants to be dictator. Rod suspects that the agitators are being provoked and funded by an off-world interest. He decides that setting up a constitutional monarchy will be the best way to prepare Gramayre for moving on to a real democracy. Meanwhile, the people of Gramayre think Rod is a warlock because he’s got technology they can’t understand.The Warlock in Spite of Himself, published in 1969, is a humorous science fantasy. I picked it up because I like science fantasy, I knew that Christopher Stasheff collaborated with L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt whose humorous HAROLD SHEA stories I enjoyed, and, lastly, an audiobook version of The Warlock in Spite of Himself has just been released by Wild Voices.According to the publisher, The Warlock in Spite of Himself is “sword-and-sorcery with a witty, edgy, wry twist.” Though the story is fun and action-packed, I found that The Warlock in Spite of Himself, especially this audio version, didn’t live up to the publisher’s promise. It was often funny, but I wouldn’t call it “witty,” “edgy” or “wry.” There was nothing remarkable about the prose and I thought the humor was often juvenile and most likely to be enjoyed by teens (though The Warlock in Spite of Himself, because of the sexual content, is not marketed to teens).Besides attempting to entertain us, Stasheff also uses his story as a platform to promote democracy and a representative government. I’m all for democracy and representation but, unfortunately, Stasheff’s treatment of different governmental systems is rather superficial and simplistic — democracy=good, Marxism=bad — without any serious discussion or explanation about what makes this so. This makes the story feel not only shallow, but also dated.Another issue that makes The Warlock in Spite of Himself feel dated is Rod Gallowglass’s attitude toward women. For a future spaceman from an enlightened intergalactic confederation, it’s suspicious that his attitudes about women are congruent with those found in most 1950s American science fiction. He instantly falls in love with a woman just because she’s beautiful, laughs at the idea of asking a woman for help, thinks that men need to comfort women with lies about their relationship (“for a woman lives on love”), expects women to be weak and afraid, thinks they should be spanked when they misbehave and (if beautiful) “claimed” after a man proves his worth to himself. The Warlock in Spite of Himself is over 40 years old, so I’m not asking it to fit my 21st century sensibilities (though plenty of old SFF does), but rather I’m explaining why the novel doesn’t hold up very well. I have no doubt, though, that it will be a fun and comfortable read for readers who originally encountered it and loved it a few decades ago, for readers who get nostalgic about old-fashioned science fiction, or for readers who occasionally (or always) enjoy a light, shallow, slightly silly adventure story.The audio version of The Warlock in Spite of Himself was produced by Wild Voices and performed by a full cast. Unfortunately, this was not a good production and this may have contributed to my disappointment with the story. There are bad sound effects, inconsistent volume levels, and intrusive background music — all of these obscure the narration. The main narrator, Dennis F. Regan, was fine (though he pronounced “demesnes” like it looks), but some of the voices for the secondary characters were difficult to understand, sometimes because it felt like they were at the far end of a long tunnel. I couldn’t even hear some of what Fess the computer said, even with the volume on my Audible app turned all the way up. Needless to say, I won’t be trying any more Wild Voices productions. If you decide to read The Warlock in Spite of Himself, I suggest that you read the paperback or Kindle version.ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

Rodney d'Armand's is a SCENT agent, whose job is to rediscover lost colonies and prepare them for re-entry into the confederation of worlds. His latest mission has taken him to the land of Gramarye, and soon realises that he has found the planet settled that was by a group that wanted to recreated Renaissance European society. So he isn't surprised to find a mismatch of architecture and customs taken from all over Europe, and a monarchy with both the aristocrats and a society of beggars on the verge of rebellion against their queen, but he is stunned to find witches on broomsticks, werewolves, ghosts, and tiny elves, and starts to suspect that the lords' suspiciously similiar-looking councillors may have off-world knowledge.Realising that a constitutional monarchy would probably be the most stable form of government for this planet, he masquerades as a mercenary under the name of Rod Gallowglass, with his robot companion Fess occupying the body of an artificial horse, and sets out to join the queen's guard.An enjoyable science-fiction romp, which is apparently the first book in a series.From the back cover blurb: The lost planet of Gramarye wasn't so much evidence of galactic advances as a phoney shrine to the forgotten traditions, rites and graces of renaissance Europe. Sounds just like the SCA to me!

Do You like book The Warlock In Spite Of Himself (1982)?

I had first come across Christopher Stasheff years ago with his Rogue Wizard books. The combination of sci-fi, fantasy and politics intrigued me and though the books weren't masterpieces by any stretch of the imagination they were good reads which were slightly educational. This is the first book Stasheff wrote and the progenitor of the Rogue Wizard books so when I wanted to reread those books I decided to go back a little further and start at the very beginning.While I didn't enjoy this as much as I did the later books I kept in mind that this was written well before them and before he had hit his stride. It was still enjoyable and a good quick read and good to see where it all began.
¡ªKim

I have a problem with books - if I start reading one, it is difficult to stop, event if it quite bad.That was the case here. I finally managed to stop and am very happy that I do no have to read it anymore and can move to better things.I could have potentially enjoyed the book when I was 10 years old, now it just feels stuffy, boring as hell, unoriginal, cringe-inducing. I could not write even such a a bad book as this was but definetely can say this was not a pleasant experience.I do recognize the traditions os L. Sprague and Heinlein, in fact I recognise some of these scenes from my fantasies when I was 10-12. Right now though, this book feels disjointed, boring, silly without being funny, and simplistic. Characters in the book are not believable, they are not consistent, they just do the bidding of the writer, or more likely the bidding of his thoughs at a particular moment, since the story is not flowing smoothly at all. I wasted a bit of time on it, could have read Gordon R. Dickson instead, similar vain but better written.
¡ªCromm Krommlach

This book was easy to read and fun with some interesting ideas. I like the overall plot of a secret agent arriving on a medieval-esque planet to sow the seeds of democracy, discovering that there are other forces trying to turn it into a dictatorship or a communist utopia. The main character, Rod Gallowglass, is generally likable, but perhaps less so than his epileptic robot/horse, who has a sort of dry humour. The queen, Catherine, is annoying from the beginning to the end but for different reasons. I like how different forces are constantly plotting against each other and forming alliances at need. There are many other less obvious, quasi-invisible forces manipulating and coaxing the visible ones to their will, often drawing on the passions of social class. I didn't really appreciate the underlying assumption that a man from a later, more advanced age would generally be superior, more intelligent and more resourceful. Rod Gallowglass seems almost invincible, even though he has arrived on a world and at a time that are not his own. A few lessons of fencing and judo will not make a modern man a better fighter than a medieval foot soldier, especially if he refuses to wear armour.
¡ªH.t.

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