Thursday, May 13, 2010

Intertextuality and "Escape from the Wastelands"

Purchased Beowulf: A New Verse Translation (Bilingual Edition) from a local bookstore yesterday, probably the first new book I've purchased in years. 

(Thanks to's ZShops and, it's easy to find books I wanted used for much less.)

I intended to use it to add intertextuality to my novel Escape from the Wastelands, which will hopefully make it deeper and more financially successful.  Thus far, I've read read some of the introduction, but based on some passages quoted, I've already gotten some ideas for the early career of antagonist Grendel Black.

Grendel (the monster) is described as being a creautre from the moors.  Grendel Black's homeland is in the northwestern part of the world of Escape and I've given little thought to its geography other than making it somewhat similar to Scandinavia.  I think I'll add some moors there and make it so that he hid in the moors after his family was killed in a clan war.  In an Old World (pre-apocalyptic) ruin in the moors, he found a partial copy of Beowulf and, having read about the fell deeds of Grendel, took the name for himself.

(A member of the Lawrenceville writing group suggested this be a name he adopted for himself and this seemed like a sensible suggestion.)

The moors will also be Grendel's base for his early career as a mercenary and "regulator" (an Old West term for a hired gun cattle barons used to protect their herds), paralleling Grendel's raids on Heorot from the moors.

In the long run, the three-parted aspect of Beowulf can also provide a basis for the career of my protagonist, Andrew Sutter.  Andrew will first defeat Grendel himself (the planned first four books).  Then he will defeat an insurgency led by Grendel's sons in his old homeland (analogous to the Sunni Triangle in Iraq), with the land itself being an analogy for Grendel's mother.

The third foe, analogous to the dragon and like the dragon faced many years later, Andrew will beat but die in the process.  Not sure who that foe will be--I had pondered a cross-dimensional invasion (enemies more technologically advanced but significantly few in number--think the time-traveling South Africans of The Guns of the South, who aid the Confederacy but then betray it), one of Grendel's generals who had been turned into a vampire, or even a falling-out with the allies who helped make Andrew Emperor in Grendel's place.

(Considering how Beowulf ends on a rather ominious note--without Beowulf, the Geats have no king to protect them from their gathering enemies--the possibility of a renewed war and the fragile post-apocalyptic civilizational renaissance ending is nice and dark.)

I've been feeling a bit under the weather lately (had what might have been an attack of food poisoning early Wednesday morning), so I might sign off, lie down, and read more of Beowulf.  Then I'll have more of substance to add to this.

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