Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Guy Goodman St.White Reviews The Illiad--Genre Crap
If you thought a demi-god raging in a way only the gods can is unrealistic, wait until you see what happens next....
Good evening. I'm Guy Goodman St.White, and I am your terribly British sounding host. Today we shall hearken back to the ancient Greeks, as they are the progenitors of so much of our philosophical thought, and examine The Illiad. Unlike your cheeseburger or that cool special effect, The Illiad actually is "epic." Traditionally thought to be written by Homer, The Illiad roughly chronicles a few weeks in the last year of the Trojan war.
I could tell I was in trouble by the first line. The "wrath" or "rage" spoken of is a word reserved for the gods, and far from mere hyperbole, the Illiad takes a speculative turn into genre-ville right away. The non-stop meddling by supernatural forces--in this case the gods--brings almost an entire new dimension to the concept of Desu Ex Machina. Every two or three pages some "god" is butting in and changing the outcome. The whole thing turns into a ghastly speculative fiction goulash by the end of the first page.
I wish I could blame Homer for his descent from real literature worth reading into the dregs of genre. A battlefield is such a ripe time for confronting duty vs. desire, the morality of war, and the human condition. He *ALMOST* got somewhere interesting with the end conversation between Priam and Achilles. Sadly, that's probably the best we can hope for from these Greeks with their hero worship, and their need to have a god for everything, so instead we face down a melange of supernatural forces vying to affect the protagonists with a series of completely implausible direct interventions. It takes a seriously supernatural pile of rubbish to make Beowulf look positively banal by comparison.
Please join me next week right here on Writing about Writing for our next installment of Speculative Fiction Sucks Balls (And Not in the Good Way.) Good night.