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Night of the Dead King

Review of 'Night of the Dead King' in Potato Monkey #4:

Ben Peek gives us “The Night of the Dead King”. In it, he experiments by providing the background through a series of footnotes. I’m not a big lover of footnotes and I found these distracting and really slowed down my reading pace. I didn’t find this style worked well for me and would recommend skipping the footnotes and reading them at the end of the story, if you are a completist. Allandros, a half human, and Balor, a dwarf, witness a ritual in the city of D’Naatsi where once a year everyone stops and waits for the birth of a child, in the hopes that this child will be their King. Of course, all is not as it seems. It never is. Peek explores religion and the ongoing repetition of long-established rituals. He questions the worth and meaning of blindly following rituals dictated by others.


How can people not like footnotes?

Anyhow, the Allandros and Balor stories were a sword and sorcery sequence of short fiction that I was writing a few years back. They were a mix of real faerie mythology, spaghetti westerns, and the Leiber Mouser and Fafhrd sword and sorcery for influence, but no one seemed real interested in them. I didn't get it, myself: what's not to like about a black, chicken footed dwarf and his slightly psychotic sword and gun wielding friend? I sold the four I wrote, but it's been a while since I thought about the two characters, and I have pretty much just drifted into different things now. Still, I reckon one day I'll return to them--if only to scratch the itch in the back of my head.

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girliejones
Aug. 8th, 2006 02:37 am (UTC)
I already told you why :-)
benpeek
Aug. 8th, 2006 02:42 am (UTC)
yeah, but i just think you're insaaaaaane :P
girliejones
Aug. 8th, 2006 02:45 am (UTC)
and we already know that too :-)
benpeek
Aug. 8th, 2006 02:57 am (UTC)
...well, yes. i guess so.
mme_publisher
Aug. 8th, 2006 02:45 am (UTC)
Good question!* I don't understand it either.**



________
*By which I mean, "How can people not like footnotes?"
**By which I mean, "I think they're lovely."
benpeek
Aug. 8th, 2006 02:56 am (UTC)
heheh. always the easy gag.

did you ever read that finlay story he had all in footnotes? the story isn't so crash hot, i thought, but i liked the form. i used it in my thesis.
mme_publisher
Aug. 8th, 2006 03:12 am (UTC)
You'd have been disappointed if I passed on that one, though.

Yeah, I read Charlie's story, but it was a long time ago. I just remember at the time thinking I wish I'd done that in a philosophy paper when I was in grad school. That would've made it more fun.
girliejones
Aug. 8th, 2006 07:20 am (UTC)
Because they are distracting. If its vital to the story, it should be in the story, if its not, leave it out. Thats just me.*


*Note I am a reductionist.
black13
Aug. 8th, 2006 10:20 am (UTC)
Same for me.
girliejones
Aug. 8th, 2006 11:11 am (UTC)
*claps*

hello, my friend!
angriest
Aug. 8th, 2006 03:14 am (UTC)
I never warmed to the chicken feet part. It seemed too ridiculous.
benpeek
Aug. 8th, 2006 03:23 am (UTC)
i read that in a book somewhere. apparently dwarves were rumoured to have feet shaped like animal feet--a kind of fleshy horse hoof, chickens claw, and so forth. anyhow: the joke was meant to be that no one ever saw him with his shoes off.

well, i thought it was funny ;)
angriest
Aug. 8th, 2006 03:26 am (UTC)
Credit where it's due, it's a character description I've never forgotten...
benpeek
Aug. 8th, 2006 03:41 am (UTC)
you take the good with the bad, as they say :)
ironed_orchid
Aug. 8th, 2006 06:08 am (UTC)
I <3 footnotes. It's endnotes which I can't stand.

I guess it may just be one of those reading/writing stylistic things which people either like or they don't.

Also, sort of on topic, I know you said you'd like The Lord of the Rings to never have been written, but what i think that book instilled in me was not a sense that archetypes and twee bourgeoisie values = great fantasy writing, but rather a love of appendices, cartography and genealogy. I spent as many hours poring over the notes and family trees and maps as I did reading the story. Also, it has an index. All books should come with an index. Especially fiction. (Yes, that is a hint.)
ex_benpayne119
Aug. 8th, 2006 07:26 am (UTC)
Oh, yeah! Endnotes piss me off!

speshal_k
Aug. 8th, 2006 07:28 am (UTC)
Oooh!

Yes - an index would be good.
benpeek
Aug. 8th, 2006 07:54 am (UTC)
you suck :P
speshal_k
Aug. 8th, 2006 10:41 am (UTC)
But think how cool you'd be!

I think Word will make up an index for you, although it's probably not very good. Also no use if your final layout isn't in Word...

(which it shouldn't be!)
benpeek
Aug. 8th, 2006 07:50 am (UTC)
I <3 footnotes. It's endnotes which I can't stand.

i'm with you on that one. what i really hate, however, are endnotes with important little arguments in them. wouldn't it be better if they were footnotes, i say?

All books should come with an index. Especially fiction. (Yes, that is a hint.)

hell no :P

you know how much work that would be? christ. i'd go insane if i had to crawl through my own work and make an index. if someone else wants to do it, that's all fine.

meanwhile, there is an anthology just released called TWENTY EPICS. it has an index--i believe the index is online, so just google it. it was kinda funny.
ironed_orchid
Aug. 8th, 2006 08:03 am (UTC)
End notes annoy me because I have to flip through and find them to discover whether they add anything to the argument, or if they are just a bib reference, Insane!


Indices are probably much easier now with word processing. If all else fails, one could ctrl-f and do it manually. Tolkien only did it because he was a don and had some assistant to do it for him. Amazon now has concordances on some books, listing the 100 words most commonly found and then providing their page numbers etc. This is awesome.

semi-random example from the author I just happened to be looking up
benpeek
Aug. 8th, 2006 08:17 am (UTC)
i kind of fell out of the habit of checking endnotes while reading. i'd just check them on the second pass of a text, see if it was a reference to a book i wanted, and so forth.

maybe i could get an assistant and they could make indices for me?

actually, i think i'd be better off without indices. they might show my obsessions with certain things, and maybe i'm better just not knowing.
ironed_orchid
Aug. 8th, 2006 08:23 am (UTC)
i think i'd be better off without indices. they might show my obsessions with certain things, and maybe i'm better just not knowing.

Hee. Psychoanalysis through commonly used words.

Of course, if you wanted to integrate them and make them part of the story, you could deliberately mislead by including certain words merely for the sake of the index. Or you could omit certain words from the index, even if they were statistically (and otherwise) relevant.
benpeek
Aug. 8th, 2006 12:14 pm (UTC)
Of course, if you wanted to integrate them and make them part of the story, you could deliberately mislead by including certain words merely for the sake of the index. Or you could omit certain words from the index, even if they were statistically (and otherwise) relevant.

...yeah, okay. that might be cool.

but i can't think of it right now. it's one of those things i'll do at the end, assuming i'm not insane, or i don't hate it a whole lot, and need it to be 'taken away', you know? but consider it moved from 'no! definately not!' to 'hmm. okay. it could be cool.'
speshal_k
Aug. 8th, 2006 11:49 am (UTC)
*i'll* do the index!!

(do i have time? probably not :-P)

benpeek
Aug. 8th, 2006 12:14 pm (UTC)
you're totally insane!

but that might happen. moreso if i'm not responsible for it ;)
speshal_k
Aug. 8th, 2006 12:22 pm (UTC)
seriously!

I think doing an index would be totally easy.

*AND* fun!!

Much easier than drawing stuff anyway :-P
speshal_k
Aug. 9th, 2006 09:00 am (UTC)
you know, i've already worked out in my head how i'd do it.
ex_benpayne119
Aug. 8th, 2006 07:22 am (UTC)
I liked them in that story, obviously, but it depends on how they're used, and the type of piece... Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, for instance, would seem odd *without* the footnotes... and in Vandermeer's Shriek they're integral (although Vandermeer's using in-text rather than footnotes as such, but it's pretty much the same thing)...

benpeek
Aug. 8th, 2006 07:55 am (UTC)
yeah, footnotes does depend on how you use them. oddly, i was always wary of doing what susanne clarke had down in strange in norrell (she was doing it in the short fiction--i haven't read the novel, but i assume the short fiction uses footnotes like the novel).

i'm waiting for the american release of vandermeer's novel.
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