Friday, October 1, 2010

Why Read Pastiches?

There was a guy banging his head against a wall. A friend of his saw this and asked him "Why are you banging your head on the wall?" and the man replied "Because it feels better when I stop!"

That's why I read pastiches, it feels better when I stop and I tend to appreciate an author's original work more when reading a pastiche author. Some writers can really pull off pastiche work, a few that come to mind are Phillip Jose' Farmer, Michael Moorcock, John Eric Holmes and Andrew Offutt. But there's nothing that can compare to the original stories of Robert E. Howard, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Leigh Brackett, E.E. "Doc" Smith, etc...


  1. That's as good a reason as any. I tend to read only two types of pastiche: the really good, and the really bad. The really good offer an interesting insight into a writer's interpretation of the original author's world and characters; the really bad ones are your classic crash appeal.

    While I swore off De Camp after Conan the Liberator, I had a read of Thomas' adaptation of "The Witch in the Mist" in The Chronicles of King Conan Volume 1. If Thomas was as faithful to de Camp as he was to Howard, then I really don't think I'll bother with Conan of Aquilonia.

  2. Here's something to think about. ERB creates Tarzan and writes Tarzan stories, and every story written by someone other than ERB is a pastiche, right? So - if Stan Lee creates Spider-Man and writes Spider-Man stories, then shouldn't we consider all Spider-Man comics written by others pastiches of Spider-Man? Hmmmm.

  3. I've read Philip José Farmer's Opar stuff but never the Fritz Leiber take on Tarzan. I remember reading Leiber saying Burroughs' Tarzan series was good up to #8 or so. Anybody read 'Tarzan and the Valley of Gold'?

    And maybe it is just semantics, but works of fantasy pretty much necessitate the term 'pastiche' by their very nature.

    @Matt: Thing is Stan Lee was still around and could still function as an editor or a guide in portrayals of his creation, and disavow stuff from time to time too.

  4. Both good points. Maybe a pastiche could only be applied to a particular book rather than a series. Like if someone wrote a continuation of "Wuthering Heights" rather than another Barsoom book?

    I don't know...