Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Ballad of Scabbard Pete--review

Cap'n: Are ye ready, kids?
Kids: Aye-aye, Cap'n!
Cap'n: I can't heeear you...
Kids: Get a hearing aid, you stupid geezer!
Cap'n: Close enough. Who lives in a ship barely a-top the sea?
Kids: Scab-bard Pe-tey!
Cap'n: Obnoxious, sneaky drunkard, he!
Kids: Scab-bard Pe-tey!
Cap'n: If piratish nonsense be what ye wish...
Kids: Scab-bard Pe-tey!
Cap'n: Go read his blog like a goggle-eyed fish!
[musical noise, followed by low murmuring]
Kids: Hey, Cap'n! Your check bounced, so we're off to watch a sponge.
Cap'n: What! Why, Arrgh! Callow swabs! Don't anyone appreciate good music these days?

[Unidentified voice, sobbing]: I do, Cap'n. It done touched me heart!
Cap'n: Really? And who be ye?
[Unidentified voice, sniffling]: I be Scabbard Pete. But ye may call me "Scabby Petey." 'Tis no more than I deserve.
Cap'n: Are ye sure? Ye sound too snivelly fer Pete.
"Scabby Petey": I've seen the error of me ways, and as penance, I want everyone to call me "Scabby Petey," that's all.
Cap'n [scribbling furiously]: Okay, then, will ye read out this announcement to that effect?
"Scabby Petey": Of course. "I am a demon." What! Blast!
Cap'n: A-har! As I thought: ye be Scabbard Pete's personal demon--like a personal trainer, only meaner.
Scabbard Pete's personal demon: I still want people to call him "Scabby Petey."
Cap'n: But what does we call ye, ye sulphurous swab? Why don't they give ye a name?
Scabbard Pete's personal demon: Because it's embarrassing. Who would take seriously a demon named "Evelyn"?
Cap'n: Evelyn? Ain't that a girl's name?
"Evelyn": Not "Eh-vlyn"! "Evil-in"! It's a pretty good name, really, but people think I'm a girl or a writer.
Cap'n: Well, I thinks ye be fibbin'.
"Evelyn": Hey! I'm a demon! I work for the Father of Lies! If you can't trust me, who can you trust? A politician? ...That reminds me: I need to get off to Washington.
Cap'n: Temptin' people?
"Evelyn": Collecting some debts. Not everyone's as big a challenge as Scabby.
Cap'n: Arrggh! Well, now the demon's gone, it be time for that Ansric swab ta do some blatherin' 'bout the blog.

Well, that was...interesting, for want of a better word. I don't normally review works in progress, but The Ballad of Scabbard Pete by Tony Lavoie is no normal work. It's a novel-in-progress (currently on chapter 13) posted on a blog. It's also very roughly what you might get if Keith Laumer had written Pirates of the Caribbean: fast-paced and funny. It's about a pirate who's trying to stay ahead of the demon that wants to yank him down to Hell. (That gives them both a hobby.) Unfortunately, there's not much more I can say about it without committing a spoiler.

However, I will mention a few points that may bother some people, and my own reactions.

Violence. This is another of those "If you want it, you got it; if you don't want it, you got it anyway" situations. Actually, there isn't much violence, and most of it is cartoonish. The only halfway gory scene I've encountered so far involves using archery on a sea monster. Not a lot of detail there, however, so it's mostly gross if you dwell on it and have a vivid imagination.

Language. Yes, it has language. And here you thought it was entirely in mime! Expletives are pretty much limited to an occasional "damn" or "Hell" (many of the latter being at least partly literal references). Pretty tame by pirate standards or even modern standards.

Moral relativism. Some of Pete's piracy is more or less justified by his using some of the money for good ends and by his decision to target the rich. But that's like arguing that the end justifies the means; it's essentially the same as vigilantism: it's okay to rob or kill someone if he "deserved" it. But who are we to judge, and by what authority do we act?

Theology. This is kind of jokey anyway, so I won't go into the whole business of demons and Hell as portrayed in the story. However, there is some material about the dead getting involved with what the living are doing. It's fairly limited so far, but it does bother me somewhat. We'll see where it goes.

Anyway, it's worth a look, and it's free. I've seen a number of stories lately that were neither, so get over to The Ballad of Scabbard Pete before some publisher stumbles onto it and converts it to pirate gold.

No comments:

Powered by WebRing.