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The thunder of “canon” fire

Warp Graphics

The thunder of “canon” fire

Otto von Bismarck, the chancellor of Germany during the 19th century, famously said "There are two things you don’t want to see being made—sausage and legislation." To this we would add "...and big sprawling creation myths." Over the course of nearly forty years - longer than some of you have been alive! - we've been…

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I would not be disappointed if all of my questions weren't answered. I enjoy the artwork and the storytelling, regardless of the turn it takes.

We studied Chaucer's "The Canterbury Tales" in college, and became reacquainted with it a few years ago. If you haven't read it before, I recommend going to the library and putting two books in front of you on the table. One should be a modern translation of "The Canterbury Tales" itself. The other should be a study guide.

"The Canterbury Tales" is an epic poem about a group of people who each tell a story, in the context of the larger story. (These were called "framed stories" in my school.) You have to know a little about the historical circumstances of the author who is narrating the story, as well as the thirty or so people telling the stories, and the nature of the people who appear in their stories. The author also lends an editorial slant to his character development.

In order to enjoy this story, the reader has to suspend disbelief on some major points of the frame narrative: The innkeeper taking off in the middle of tourist season, the fact that thirty people on horseback can each hear every detail of what every other rider is saying, and the incredible speed at which they cover a journey that should have taken days.

In the centuries since these stories were written, generations of readers have gotten further and further from the context of the original stories, making it necessary to learn about the circumstances before reading the book. Translation is necessary, because English has changed radically since Chaucer's time.

Yet this work has become a classic of English literature. This isn't just because it had the good fortune of surviving the passage of time. It's not the sole artistic representative of its culture. Nor does it offer clues to a lost historical site. Canterbury Catheral is still intact and thriving. "The Canterbury Tales" is a classic, because people have found it worth reading.

Readers enjoy the Elfquest stories, because the Elves have complex lives and characters. They don't exist simply to make shoes, grant wishes, or reveal the whereabouts of a crock of gold. That's why juvenile readers (and I was too old to be one of them) keep reading the stories through midlife. Even with all the magic at their disposal, they still struggle with the same problems each of us face.

It would be impossible for a narrative this complex to have perfect continuity. History itself has holes in its continuity. It's not about continuity, but entertainment.


"For, as you know, no master of a household
Has all of his utensils made of gold;
Some are wood, and yet they are of use."


RichardPini said: "For, as you know, no master of a household
Has all of his utensils made of gold;
Some are wood, and yet they are of use."

I think gold would be very useless for quite a few Things. Isn't gold rather... soft?

As for the canon thingamajing: Well... I agree with Trollbabe; who cares if not all questions are answered?
Besides; if you have a culture whose main method of "history lessons" is getting high, it's no wonder there might be certain disparancies (that's not spelled correctly...) :D


On the one side, I have gotten tired of story "universes" that have gotten every question answered and every mystery solved. For me, Star Trek was a perfect example of a gokd story ruined by too much detail.... there was no room to breathe by about halfway through DS9 and the whole storyline of exploration, wonder, and discovery had turned into a socio-political mess of squabbling. I like stories to have enough framework to empathize and associate with the characters but not so many rules that there is no room for anything but the story as it is told.

I think this is one of the reasons I like Elf Quest so much: its a massive storyline that bounces between following a character and the alternate perspectives of other characters and storytellers, each with their own spin on it and lots of room to breathe. Even if an "End" is written, there are still endless stories that can be told or imagined by the reader, room for "what ifs" and "but alsos". I love it.

Sure I have questions, always will. How do I feel about the author's questions being answered? I feel that in the case of EQ, these details are more likely to liven up and develop the story more than dampen the spirit of the series. I look forward to reading it!


TrollHammer said: Even if an "End" is written, there are still endless stories that can be told or imagined by the reader, room for "what ifs" and "but alsos".

Look at how many interpretations of Sherlock Holmes there have been since Conan Doyle stopped writing the character. On the other hand, no one's ever managed to recreate George Harriman's "Krazy Kat."


I have always considered the prose stories to be canon with a kind of a what if vibe to them. Many civilizations in our past used oral traditions before the invention of writing. Since the elves do not have a written tradition, it would be logical that their history would be passed down through storytellers from generation to generation. Granted their use of dreamberries help with the memories of their ancestors, but that is what makes it more interesting.