"In Service to the King" by Joel Kimbrough


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Post August 04, 2015, 08:58:47 AM

"In Service to the King" by Joel Kimbrough

http://www.aphelion-webzine.com/shorts/2015/08/InService.html

This story seems like an extended metaphor for the so-called "War on Terror" but idealized and devoid of moral ambiguities. The enemy are Ogres, creatures who appear only to exist in order to frighten us and then be killed. The Ogres have inferior technology (magic), but because of their numbers, brute courage, and suicidal fierceness are able to mount a credible threat.

The good people are few, but they always win because of their superior technology. However, there is a price in blood. When it is all over, the hero will return to the "real world" and his idyllic cabin in the woods.

A good read. Thank you for your service, Mr. Kimbrough.
Cary Semar

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Post August 04, 2015, 06:33:51 PM

Re: "In Service to the King" by Joel Kimbrough

Cary wrote:http://www.aphelion-webzine.com/shorts/2015/08/InService.html

This story seems like an extended metaphor for the so-called "War on Terror" but idealized and devoid of moral ambiguities. The enemy are Ogres, creatures who appear only to exist in order to frighten us and then be killed. The Ogres have inferior technology (magic), but because of their numbers, brute courage, and suicidal fierceness are able to mount a credible threat.

The good people are few, but they always win because of their superior technology. However, there is a price in blood. When it is all over, the hero will return to the "real world" and his idyllic cabin in the woods.

A good read. Thank you for your service, Mr. Kimbrough.


Hmm. Upon seeing this comment, I glanced at the story a bit in alarm! Perhaps one modest danger of critiquing stories is being careful not to get too clever "back-pulling" topical political tones unless it's super-clear that's what the story is commenting on. That's such a fuzzy line though!

At first and second looks, it feels like "just a classic high fantasy tale" of the 1980's after people studied Tolkien and had chances to practice the form. And I think I prefer it just in that form - compared against its own genre, without extra overhead. Sometimes a story should just be a story and that might be the case here.

It's not bad for a writer to hint at a modern theme, but I think it's a matter of percentage weights - a hint shows the writer knows what times he wrote it in, but to really be an allegory, the weighting has to be different somehow.

After all, the terrorists *beat us* in round 1. They ruined the date Eleventh of September! So we have to be careful of caricature! And unlike the cold war, this "War on Terror" can *never have an end!* It's the worst case of retrenchment like Vietnam 2.0! "We will always be at war with Eurasia".

So maybe from all that, it's good just to go read a story.

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