LNH: Limp-Asparagus Lad #58

Tom Russell milos_parker at yahoo.com
Mon Jan 29 11:15:33 PST 2007


The earliest LNH stories were very silly and very rough, composed of 
inelegant enthusiasm and all the better for it!  Intensely personal 
and intensely funny.  Deep, resonating moments were not crafted so 
much as they were stumbled upon, discovered by accident-- and they 
were deeply moving and powerful because of that.

Over time, the concept has evolved from the domain of writer-
characters and chaotic add-ons to something approaching serious 
fiction.  Carefully constructed sentences, deep and weighty themes, 
complex characterizations.  Often cases, these stories would abandon 
the silliness inherent in the LNH concept; they would write stories 
that, while great stories, weren't really LNH stories.

And while I think the Looniverse is big enough to contain both silly 
spandex-clad heroes eating cheesecake _and_ compelling protagonists 
motivated by inner demons, I think to ignore the LNHiness of the LNH 
is just plain wrong.  In my own work for the LNH (these days, at 
least) I don't write as carefully as I do for, say, 8FOLD.  I write 
something that I hope is amusing, accessible, and immediate.  
Something that approximates the rough quality of the early LNH 

But, here's the thing: the LNHiness of the LNH and the style/aims of 
Serious Fiction are _not_ mutually exclusive.  And Saxon Brenton 
proves that.

He has a very definite, very literary prose style-- sentences that are 
a lot of fun to read and brim with vocabularic verve-- and uses it to 
tell stories about silly spandex-clad heroes eating cheesecake.  His 
work is, in a way, very serious about being very funny.  He puts a lot 
of effort and toil into writing great LNH stories.  Stories that are 
wholly, completely LNHy.

If I wanted to convince someone that the LNH is worth their time, and 
that someone was predisposed against the rough-and-tumble charm of the 
early LNH-- I wouldn't pull out MISFITS.  Now, I love MISFITS, and I 
think it was a great series, one that got greater and darker as time 
went on.  But that's just the thing.

Even though MISFITS was great and, especially in the earlier issues, 
definitely felt like it _fit_ in the Looniverse-- towards the end, it 
got a whole lot less LNHy, at least for me.  And if I want to convince 
someone that the LNH is worth caring about and devoting part of their 
lives to, if I was to pick a story that would help me do that, I would 
pick something by either Hubert Bartles or Saxon Brenton.

If this proverbial someone wasn't predisposed against the rough, fast 
quality of the early LNH, I would probably pick Martin Phipps, whose 
work is the most LNHy of all; and, if that someone was predisposed to 
having their minds blown, I would pick Arthur Spitzer.

But if someone only took Literary Fiction seriously, I think Saxon 
Brenton would be the best bet, because he's the one who has most 
successfully combined LNH and Literature.  I guess I've been aware of 
this, peripherally, for some time, but it really clicked with this 
issue, sometime between this:

>     "So where did that super strength come from?" asked Irony Man.
>     "I have no idea," admitted Limp-Asparagus Lad.
>     "Huh," said Irony Man. "Must have been the explosion of Potentate's
> inter-dimensional gate, causing a Claremontian power increase."
>     Limp-Asparagus Lad thought about this for a second, then said, "I
> do not think it can be a Claremontian power increase. I'm not female."


>     Somian was continuing to struggle against Irony Man and Limp-
> Asparagus Lad. Then they heard Occultism Kid yell, "Care Bear Stare!"
> They looked up to see the remaining Legionnaires all linking hands (with
> Occultism Kid still holding aloft the Metebe.listerve 3 crystal to
> protect all and sundry against Somian's mind control).

Though, if I'm not mistaken, the Care Bear Stare only works after the 
Care Bear Countdown...?  Someone please feel free to correct me on 
this if I'm mistaken.  Anyway.

In most LNH stories, you won't find a word like "sundry"; in most 
stories which feature the word "sundry", you won't bear witness to a 
Care Bear Stare, even if it may have been improperly executed.  Which 
I suppose proves my point.

Though I'm not saying that Saxon isn't aware of the Literaryness 
(okay, okay: Englishness) of his prose.  At times, he mocks his 
vocabularly and tendencies towards adjective excess:

> Then he'd activated a holographic screen which showed a map, and on
> it was a pulsing blip marking a spot beyond the suburban sprawl of
> Net.ropolis, somewhere in the swampily mountainous arboreal desert
> farmland tundra to the west.

That sentence is, in fact, somewhat self-mocking, and doesn't quite 
require this latter comment:

"I know the Writer was making
> jokes about swampily mountainous arboreal desert farmland tundra, but
> I don't think abandoned bowling alleys should be overrun with heavy
> jungle like that."

but it's actually twice as funny the second time around. :- )

There are some times when his mammoth, Proustian sentences make things 
a little difficult if you're not paying attention:

>     Swordmaster nodded. He had taken the lead as the ground team of
> himself, Parking Karma Kid, Pulls-Paper-Out-Of-Hats Lad and the Whip
> had moved in, using his abilities to hack a path through the thick
> foliage with a machete composed of cosmic rays.

Placing the "using his abilities" part of the sentence after the list 
of other LNHers is a bit jarring.  Though I suppose "hack a path 
through the thick foliage with a machete composed of cosmic rays" does 
a decent enough job of telling us whose abilities are being used. :-)

And I think some sentences could be a little more succint.

>The simple analogy for this would be that
> their ray guns are something like television antennae, and are picking
> up and amplifying signals that are being broadcast from elsewhere."
> He pointed to the indicated location on the holographic map. "This
> is the elsewhere that it's being broadcast from.

Wouldn't that last sentence be better-rendered and more dramatic as 
"This is that elsewhere"?

But these are really piddling points.  I've often said that each issue 
of Limp-Asparagus Lad is worth the wait.  It's funny, well-paced, 
interesting, and it supports multiple readings and rereadings.

Thanks for writing it, Saxon-- here's looking forward to the next one.


More information about the racc mailing list