M.Y.T.H.-Interpretations: The Worlds of Robert Asprin, p.1
M.Y.T.H.-Interpretations: The Worlds of Robert Asprin
Robert Lynn Asprin
Jody Lynn Nye
Presenting a collection of short novels and stories set in the many worlds of Robert Asprin. One of his most popular creations was the "Myth" series, chronicling the misadventures of Skeeve and Aahz, a magician who has lost his power and his hapless human apprentice as they travel through strange and varied worlds in pursuit of wealth and glory, but mostly getting into one Myth-ical mess after another. Collected in this volume for the first time are all the Myth stories of less-than-novel length, and even avid fans of the series will find new and enjoyable reading here.
Also included are other short works by Asprin, including his award-winning novelette "Cold Cash War," and several unpublished stories discovered after the writer's death. Asprin's many fans, as well as all readers who enjoy humorous fantasy and science fiction, will find a treasure trove of enjoyable reading. As editor Bill Fawcett puts it, "His stories are always fun, but never predictable."
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MYTH-Interpretations by Robert Asprin
Introduction: Robert Lynn Asprin’s short works
Robert Lynn Asprin mostly preferred to write novels, short ones on occasion, but novels. These let him have more fun with his unique characters and writing with Bob was fun. In his career of almost three decades he produced just enough short stories to fill this one collection. That is in one way very surprising since he and Lynn Abbey basically changed the nature of short story anthologies forever by creating and editing the first shared world anthology, Thieves World.
We have collected here all he wrote, excepting a few of his Thieves World stories. We will leave it to you to go get all of the excellent TW nthologies if you missed them. Among those here are a few unpublished stories we terally found in boxes after we lost Bob. As an added treat we have included here a few other treats that you may find fascinating.
The book begins with a copy of the proposal that Bob used to sell to Starblaze Publishing the Myth-Adventures book series. This is followed by several stories he wrote in that pun-filled universe and two Bob cowrote with his longtime friend and collaborator, Jody Lynn Nye. Next you will find an unpublished story, stories from other anthologies Bob wrote for, then the script from the fandom-notorious slide show The Capture, generously illustrated with four new cartoons from his longtime collaborator Phil Foglio, and then another fun script, The Ultimate Weapon.
“The Saga of the Dark Horde” will give you insight into Bob as one of the founders of the Society for Creative Anachronism’s most infamous groups. If you can be any type from the Middle Ages, why be a knight, when you can be a Mongol? As Yang the Nauseating, Bob was the Dark Horde’s Great Kahn for many Tullamore Dew — filled years. It is hard to forget his smile as he lead a swarm of highly armed members of the “loyal opposition” into a room full of elegantly garbed recreationists and bowed elegantly to the kings and queens of the SCA. He then loudly pronounced his infamous greeting of “With All Due Disrespect Your Majesties.”
The book almost ends with Bob’s first serious novella, written while he was being mentored by the great Gordon Dickson, Cold Cash War. This dark story featuring world corporations gone bad still rings amazingly true thirty-five years later. This is the novella as it originally appeared in the August 1977 Analog magazine. It was later expanded into a book, as was the formerly unpublished Tambu piece. The final stories are very Bob Asprin, being a romp full of space fleets and some serious double-dealing. As the amazingly eclectic table of contents shows, like Robert Lynn Asprin was himself, his stories are always fun, but never predictable.
Bill Fawcett 2009
The Myth-Adventures: the original proposal to be written by Robert Lynn Asprin
An outrageously tongue-in-cheek series tracing the haps and mis-haps of a young sorcerer named Skeeve and his brusque demon-mentor, Aahz (no relation). In the course of their travels, they lampoon every done-to-death plot of action-adventure-fantasy literature and cinema.
Book 1: Another Fine Myth — Our heroes meet for the first time and pool their meager talents to stop a mad master magician who is out to rule the dimensions.
Book 2: Myth Conceptions — A battalion couldn’t take that position, but a few, hand-picked, well-trained men…At Aahz’s insistence, Skeeve accepts a position as Court Magician at the down-at-the-heels kingdom of Posseltum. Too late, they discover that the job includes defending the kingdom — specifically against the oncoming might of a massive Roman legion-type army. At a McDonald’s in another dimension, the pair recruit a force of their own, consisting of a Trollup assassin, an Imp who has lost his powers, an aging Archer, a Gargoyle with his salamander sidekick, and a Gremlin. Of course, nobody warned them that the opposing army is funded by an organized crime syndicate.
Book 3: Myth Direction — A blend of the Master Heist, the Great Escape, and the Big Game. A shopping trip through the dimensions in search of a birthday present for Aahz goes awry, forcing our heroes to organize a team to compete in a three-way game which is best described as rugby played for keeps.
Book 4: Hit or Myth — A medieval War Against the Mafia. Remember the organized crime syndicate from Book 2? Well, they’re looking for Skeeve with a vengeance, and this time he has to handle it on his own — Aahz is back visiting his home on Perv and completely incommunicado.
HIT OR MYTH
Troubles in Perv require that Aahz return to his home dimension, separating him from Skeeve for the first time since their initial meeting.
It couldn’t have happened at a worse time.
The organized crime loan sharks arrive in Posseltum looking for a) their pet army, which has mysteriously disappeared, and b) the magician named Skeeve who was responsible for the disappearance — but not necessarily in that order.
Torn between his duty to protect king and kingdom and his more rational desire to hide until Aahz gets back, Skeeve settles on a compromise. He sends the king into hiding and masks his own identity behind royal robes to deal with the intruders. His charade is jeopardized, and eventually ruined, by the early arrival of the real king’s brid-to-be.
His ruse discovered, Skeeve must solve the problems himself without the assistance or guidance of his mentor. In desperation, he strikes a bargain with the mob: an army for a world. To protect his friends in the mob’s now-disbanded army, Skeeve trades their freedom for passage into another dimension — one ripe for the mob’s brand of gentle plunder. Everybody’s happy.
Then Aahz comes back.
Fast on his heels arrives a delegation from another dimension (guess which one) seeking the aid of the renown magician Skeeve to save them from a criminal invasion. Of course, they offer a sizable fee for this service. Of course, Aahz accepts the commission. Of course, this puts Skeeve back in trouble up to his ears.
All he has to do is successfully move against the gangsters without a) endangering the friends he was protecting originally, b) breaking his promise to the gangsters, or c) letting his new employers know that he was the source of their newfound problem. That’s all.
Under the best of circumstances, the assignment would be nearly impossible.
Unfortunately, Skeeve is not working under the best of circumstances — Aahz has decided that his apprentice needs a helping hand.
Robert Lynn Asprin
“I’m sorry, Pookie. I just don’t get it. Maybe I’m slow.”
“Don’t apologize, dea
And as far as being slow…well, little sister, trust me. You needn’t have an worries on that score.”
Even a casual observer would realize in an instant that the two women weren’t really sisters. One was a human female, a Klahd, actually, with a short unruly head of hair framing her fierce expression. The female on the opposite side of the table had obviously emerged from an entirely different gene pool. Instead of pink skin, she was covered with the green scales, offset by pointed ears and yellow eyes, that marked her to any experienced dimension traveler as a Pervert…or Pervect if they knew what was good for them. Still, they both had that lithe, athletic, graceful look that put one in mind of a pair of lionesses discussing a kill. Different genotypes or not, it was clear they had more in common with each other than with many of their own species.
If their builds and manner weren’t enough of a giveaway, their outfits completed the picture. The Pervect, Pookie, was wearing one of her favorite action leather jumpsuits with multiple zippers which both insured a skin tight fit and held the tools of her trade. The Klahd, Spyder, was still working on her look, but today had settled for calf-high boots with fishnet stockings, a dark plaid mini-skirt, and a sleeveless black leather halter top which left considerable portions of her mid-drift bare. All in all, she looked like a parochial schoolgirl gone Goth gone biker slut. What united their outfits were the accessories, which was to say the weapons. Throwing stars and knife hilts jutted from their sleeves and belts, along with various mysterious instruments a viewer hoped they would never see close enough to examine carefully.
The fact that this mismatched duo and their weaponry went practically unnoticed was an indication of the normal atmosphere and clientele of the tavern they were ensconced in.
“If I’m not slow, then why is it taking me so long to figure out this whole adventurer thing?” Spyder countered.
“Well, not to make too big a thing of it,” Pookie said, “for one thing you’re still young. I’ve been at this game for a couple centuries…we’ll not dwell on exactly how many…and you’ve only been at it for a few months. It takes a while to get the hang of anything new. Just be patient and listen to your big sister.”
“I guess it’s just not what I was expecting is all.” Spyder said, almost to herself.
“Really?” her green companion said. “Maybe we’ve been going at this backwards.
This time, why don’t you explain to me what it was you thought adventuring involved.”
“I don’t know. I was thinking we’d be doing bodyguard work or something.”
Pookie heaved a sigh.
“We’ve gone over this before, little sister. First of all, we don’t have the manpower to do real bodyguard work. To do the job right, it takes at least a six person team to guard someone around the clock. You keep forgetting that we’d have to sleep sometime.”
“But Guido and Nunzio guard Skeeve as a two man team.” Spyder insisted stubbornly.
“From what I understand, They were assigned to Skeeve by Don Bruce primarily as an honor guard.” Pookie said. “Besides, there are a lot more people on the team watching over Skeeve than just Guido and Nunzio.”
“…And even if we were to hire on as a token show force, believe me, you wouldn’t like it.” Pookie continued. “Remember, we’re female, and like it or not that influences the people who hire us. Believe me, the kind of swell headed, self-centered celebrity types who hire female body guards are primarily looking for arm candy.
The pay might look good, but they’re not really people you want to hang around for any length of time. Usually, by the end of the job, you’re ready to kill them yourself.”
“So what is it exactly that adventurers do?” Spyder said.
Her green companion took a long swallow from he flagon.
“If you scrape away the bardic lyrics and all the escapist literature romantics, what it all boils down to is that basically adventurers are either thieves or killers…or both.”
Spyder leaned back and blinked.
“How’s that again?”
“Look at it close.” Pookie shrugged. “If you’re going after a treasure or artifact, it means you’re taking it away from someone who think’s it’s theirs…even if they stole it themselves originally. That’s stealing. Even if you’re unearthing or re-discovering a long lost item, by law it belongs to whoever’s property it is that you’re on at the time. If you don’t hand it over and maybe settle for a reward, if you try to smuggle it out without admitting you’ve found anything, that’s still stealing.”
“On the other hand, there’s the ‘slay the monster/bandit who is terrorizing the neighborhood,’ or the traditional ‘rescue the princess/damsel for the evil whoever.’ Both of those bluntly involve killing.”
“Um…Pookie?” Spyder said slowly. “If those are really the choices, I think I’d rather do thieving assignments if we can manage it. I mean, I try to be tough and put on a good front, but I really don’t think of myself as a killer.”
“If you say so.” Pookie shrugged. “I’ll keep it in mind. Personally, I lean toward the killing side, myself. There’s usually less risk involved.”
“Now, I’m not saying you’re wrong,” Spyder said, “but Skeeve and his M.Y.T.H.
Inc. crew don’t seem to fit with what you’re saying.”
“Don’t forget that crew is pretty much top of the heap right now.” Pookie said.
“As near as I can tell, it’s taken them over ten years to work their way up into the position they’re in, where people come to them with work. I’ll bet you, though, if you look closely at some of their early work, it involved things that wouldn’t stand up to close scrutiny. For example I know for a fact that Tananda was primarily an assassin before she hooked up with Skeeve. And as for Aahz…I probably shouldn’t speak ill of my own cousin, but he’s always been one of the family’s black sheep. If anything, I was surprised to find out he was involved in something that was even vaguely legitimate.”
“I guess you’re right.” Spyder sighed. “Even Skeeve had to start somewhere. Of course, he had a Pervect for a trainer.”
“Don’t forget, little sister.” Pookie winked, “so do you. I’m not one to brag, but if I can’t teach you as well or better than Aahz taught Skeeve, I’ll hang it up. If nothing else, I think I’ve got better material to work with from the get go.”
“Thanks, Pookie.” Spyder smiled. “That means a lot to me.”
“Don’t mention it.” Pookie said, holding up her flagon for her companion to clink with. “If nothing else, it beats the military gig you jus got clear of.”
“No question there.” Spyder nodded.
She took a long pull of her own drink, then set it on the table with a decisive thump.
“So, how do we go about looking for work?”
Pookie cocked her head in surprise.
“Why, exactly what we’re doing now. What did you think we were doing?”
“The same thing we’ve been doing for the last month.” Spyder shrugged. “Sitting around a tavern and drinking. Frankly I’ve been wondering when we were going to get started adventuring.”
Pookie held her hand over her eyes for a few long moments before responding.
“Look, dear,” she said finally, “remember what I was saying about us being pretty much criminals? Well, the old adage that ‘Crime does not pay’ is actually a shortened form of ‘Crime does not pay well.’ Well, in our line of work, that means that either you do a lot of little jobs…which ups the odds of something going wrong…or few big jobs and live on the proceeds between.”
“So what does that have to do with us sitting around a tavern?” Spyder frowned.
“I’m coming to that. Now there’s primarily two ways of finding work. Either we roam around and try to pick up a rumor or situation that takes our fancy, or we sit in one place and let the information come to us. Taverns in general are gold
She glanced toward the door.
“Speaking of which, here comes a likely prospect now. Let me take the lead here.
Spyder turned to follow Pookie’s gaze.
Just inside the door, steadying himself on the back of a chair, was a warrior.
His chain mail, helmet, and sword marked him as such, even though the body that was wearing it was rotund and hairy, topped with a head that sported a pig snout and tusks. Also noticeable was the fact that his left arm was in a sling and he moved with a noticeable limp.
“Care to join us, friend?” Pookie said, raising her voice. “You look like you could use a drink and some sympathetic company.”
The newcomer studied them for a moment, then shrugged and lurched his way over to their table.
“Thank’s for the invite.” he said, dropping heavily into a seat. “It’s more than I expected. Whoever said ‘No one likes a loser’ sure knew what they were talking about.”
“First thing’s first.” Pookie said and waved the barmaid over.
After another round had been ordered and delivered, including a large flagon of ale for the guest, the three settled into conversation.
“Thanks again.” the warrior said, taking a long draught from his flagon. “Truth to tell, I was trying to decide between having a drink or getting a room. The war chest is about tapped out after paying the healers. By the way, the name’s Trog.”
“Pookie and Spyder here.” Pookie said, indicating who was who with a wave of her hand. “Looks like you’re coming off a rough job.”
“Darn near got my head handed to me.” Trog said, taking another drink. “Sounded easy going in, but they all do until you’re up against it.”