My first piece in ‘The Atlantic’


Erik Kain

Erik writes about video games at Forbes and politics at Mother Jones. He's the contributor of The League though he hasn't written much here lately. He can be found occasionally composing 140 character cultural analysis on Twitter.

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43 Responses

  1. Avatar North says:

    ZOMG! I love the Atlantic! Congrats E.D.!Report

  2. Avatar E.C. Gach says:

    Well deserved, congradulations E.D.!Report

  3. Avatar Plinko says:

    Nice piece, E.D.Report

  4. Avatar North says:

    Having now read your article I’d like to thumbs up the content. Good job. Alas, I’m afraid that The Black Cauldron Disney movie probably killed Prydain and salted the grave for any hope of other adaptations. Even if some skittish producer was willing to give Taran another shot I imagine that Disney’s vampire lawyers have tied the intellectual property of Prydain up tightly is Mickey’s clutches. Hmm I suppose maybe Disney itself could try relaunching it… I’m doubtful tho, mores’ the pity; Prydain was a masterpiece.Report

  5. Avatar Anderson says:

    Well done sir. Will this be in the print edition as well?Report

  6. Avatar patrick says:

    > Plus fantasy costs too much money to produce. Dragons,
    > spells, and fantastical worlds are expensive, even in the
    > age of digital animation that has made this all possible.

    Two notes on the piece:

    First, this is coming *way* down in the next five years. The cluster that Pixar used to produce Toy Story is laughably simplistic by today’s compute cluster standards. While it still takes top-notch technology to produce good-looking dragons on screen, producing 5 minutes of 1080 hi-def video on a hobbyist cluster is possible *real soon now* (barring the software licensing cost). The software licensing cost is a big deal, granted.

    There’s plenty of good, dark, edgy, or all of the above fantasy out there that predates 1999. There’s a nice well of good fantasy to draw from without anything *new* being written, and a decent chunk of it would translate pretty well to either the big or small screen for various audiences. The question is, will this stuff be brought into the pipe for production or is everyone trying to find the *next* Harry Potter?

    Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser? Dragonsbane? The Black Company? The Deed of Paksennarion? Could Showtime throw up the Elric saga?Report

    • Avatar E.D. Kain in reply to patrick says:

      It’s hard to say. I am fully aware that my entire thesis could be wrong, and that’s okay with me. A lot of these things could be made into shows or movies, for sure. The Elric stuff…I don’t think so.Report

      • Avatar patrick in reply to E.D. Kain says:

        One of the problems with transposition of fantasy from the written media to other media is that a lot of the descriptors don’t work well.

        It’s like trying to bring the Travis McGee books to the screen (crossing genres); there’s a lot of internal musing that couldn’t come up on screen without a metric ton of monologue.

        A relatively flashy four-color type magic series can make the transition pretty easily. A fairly heroic epic series (like GoT or the Paks books) could make the transition pretty easily because the magic is accessible or minor or both.

        Something like the Jhereg books would be made substantially *different* by translation (although the dialogue in those would be fun on screen) since Brust’s descriptions of how witchcraft works would be hard to take from a word-based description to a visual one… but the sorcery stuff is straight four-color.

        I think you could do Elric. Not because the books themselves would be easily mappable, but because there’s a lot of gothic vampirism going on there and you could make it intriguing to people who like dark stuff and doomed heroes.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to patrick says:

      Brust’s Dragaera books. (I’d call a fantasy hit-man “dark” and “edgy”, even if it is leavened with Borsch Belt jokes and Monty Python call-outs.)Report

  7. Avatar wardsmith says:

    Congrats Mr. Kain, one of many articles to follow I would hope.

    Unfortunately in your list I only recall reading Chronicles of Narnia (when I was about 10-11), Lord of the Rings (when I was 13) and 1/2 of the first Harry Potter book when it first came out. My son convinced me to read Wheel of Time, and I’ve read them all but they literally give me a headache. Now that Jordan is dead it has only gotten worse. 13 books in and all I can say is, “can I buy an outline”?

    The interesting thing is I love science fiction with a passion but never could get into fantasy although book stores tend to lump them together. That said, I’ve been thinking of getting into a Game of Thrones strictly because I saw it on this site. Well the series anyway. 🙂Report

    • Avatar North in reply to wardsmith says:

      I would reccomend GoT. It has much of the elegance and fascinating aspects of Wheel of time without the pointless complexity. It’s complex, to be sure, but I’ve never had to consult the bibliography to figure out who is what.
      But I find Rand an insufferably sexist and whiny sort of character so I may be biased.Report

  8. Avatar Rufus F. says:

    The first stage in the League takeover of the Atlantic is now complete.

    Congrats and keep up the good work!Report

  9. Avatar E.C. Gach says:

    “Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain series would also make a wonderful series of films without stretching budgets too thin. And there are many others.”

    Lloyd was my first introduction into the wonderful world of Fantasy Fic as a kid. This shout out made my day.Report

  10. You must be absolutely delighted. Mazel tov!!Report

  11. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    Congrats for cracking the Atlantic, especially with such a great piece.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Mike Schilling says:

      You also get republished this way. See, for instance:

      Why Richard Dawkins would care about your piece, other than that he liked it, is sort of beyond me.Report

      • Avatar E.D. Kain in reply to Burt Likko says:

        Huh. Hardcore atheists are a humorless lot. I get squeemish when a bunch of people who hate the idea of god so much that they also sort-of-tepidly dislike fantasy literature as well keep asking “What’s the point?” of my piece.

        Honestly, what’s the point of anything? We’re all just thralls to the Flying Spaghetti Monster anyways.Report

        • Avatar Zach in reply to E.D. Kain says:

          The reflexive dislike of fantasy is unjustified in part because some of the best writers have the same issues over religious belief that the rigorous anti-theist has. Gods might exist in Erikson/Esslemont’s Malazan world, but they have an almost universally negative effect on the world; even the ones who are trying to change things for the better are marked by moments of profound pettiness and indifference to human life.

          And then there’s Bakker’s Three Seas world; religious belief was certainly at the heart of the story, but there were no literal manifestation of the gods – making the blind certainties about faith and damnation all the more real and devastating.Report

  12. Avatar MFarmer says:

    Congratulations. Good job.

    BTW, is this site malfunctioning? When I click the link to get here, I land on a page that was from 3 days ago. Then I have to click “older” on the gifts of gab, then “newer” to see the recent posts.Report

  13. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    That is a major feather in your cap. Congratulations!

    And a good piece, too.Report

  14. Avatar Jaybird says:

    I read comments like this one:

    There is nothing wrong with fantasy, just as long as you realise that it IS fantasy.

    And I wince inside. It’s like you wrote an essay on a wonderful recipe you found for shepard’s pie and one of the comments was “you should eat a lot more than meat and potatoes”. Or an essay on a sipping whiskey and someone pointed out that drinking water was essential for good health.Report

    • Avatar RTod in reply to Jaybird says:

      This is where I thought you were about to go until I read the end of the sentence:

      It’s like you wrote an essay on a wonderful recipe for shepherds pie and one of the comments was “you know there aren’t any actual shephards in it, right?”Report

  15. Avatar RTod says:

    Wow, Erik, congrats! I don’t think there is an adult alive in this country that has ever written anything that hasn’t wished to have earned what you just did.

    (Also, great article)Report

  16. Avatar E.D. Kain says:

    Thanks to everyone for the really kind words. Much appreciated!Report