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02 June 2016 @ 06:27 am
His other book  
I’ve been a George R.R. Martin fan since he shocked the hard-core Analog readership by sullying its hitherto-chaste pages with overt heterosexuality (in “A Song for Lya”). So I’m extremely glad that he’s hit it big with A Game of Thrones, even though that’s not my idea of fun at all. Along the way, he wrote a strange rock-and-roll novel called The Armageddon Rag, to which my reaction has always been ambivalent. Here’s a condescending review (Eeuww, Illuminatus! cooties!) that gets at some of its good and bad parts.

Thanx to File 770
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Kalimac: puzzlekalimac on June 2nd, 2016 10:45 am (UTC)
The reviewer writes, "As for Tolkien, it won’t surprise anyone that Martin is a huge fan of his work. ... This book is marinated in a deep love of Tolkien’s visionary worlds."

Well, here's what I wrote when describing the book for a scholarly article on Tolkien and music:
"A novel called The Armageddon Rag by George R.R. Martin gives some insight into this mindset without forcing the dubious auditor to listen to the music. It recounts, as a heavy-handed but well-crafted dark fantasy, the mid-1980s reunion of a fictional early heavy-metal band called the Nazgûl, “after the flying baddies in the books,” as one of the characters casually puts it, rather similar to an American version of Led Zeppelin. This band supposedly gets its start about 1967, when the first Tolkien craze was at its height: they begin by playing off Tolkien references ... but soon enough they turn to generalized inchoately loud and angry music and lyrics that Martin intends as echt Sixties, leaving behind everything Tolkienian but a few relics: the band name and its logo, the Eye of Sauron. There is little evidence in the novel that the band members, or even the author, know much more about Tolkien than that. But there is no sense of a cynical exploitation of Tolkien, either. It is merely necessary that “the whole Tolkien bag,” to quote the same character, be lurking around in the background somewhere, along with drugs, sex, and references to obscure television shows, because this ethos expects that it will be there."
sturgeonslawyer: Defaultsturgeonslawyer on June 2nd, 2016 03:33 pm (UTC)
I loved TAR and didn't mind the inconsistencies.

But when I reread it a year or two ago, I couldn't help but notice that it was a paean to the narcissistic, self-celebratory spirit of the baby boomers, and that rather turned me off.

(I am technically a late baby boomer, but I don't identify with the boom - I think those born in the late '50s/early '60s are significantly different: too late for Howdy Doody; too late to be part of the "hippie/counterculture" thing; by the time we came along Elvis was irrelevant. We're the sub-generation that invented punk rock (unless you count the Who, of course), and I call us "no wavers." because the generation designers ignore us.)

It's still a hell of a rollercoaster, ending in a fabulous trainwreck, and I enjoy it at that level...
Kalimac: puzzlekalimac on June 2nd, 2016 04:30 pm (UTC)
I wonder how possible it is to be precise about generational dividing lines here.

In TAR, the bands named as their latter-day competitors in the early 80s revival were Journey, Styx, and REO Speedwagon. Their members at that time were all born between 1945 and 1954, i.e. younger than the Beatles (1940-43) but older than the Sex Pistols, who were all born 1955-57, thus just slightly older than you. However, if this suggests a firm dividing line, other punk bands I checked, the classic lineups of the Clash were 1952-55, with the Ramones (1948-51) and Kiss (1945-52) older still.
sturgeonslawyersturgeonslawyer on June 2nd, 2016 05:00 pm (UTC)
Kiss is not a punk band by any stretch of the imagination. Better examples would be Dead Kennedys (all 1958 except 1949 for Klaus Flouride), X (1948-56), The Damned (50-56), etc.

But I misstepped in my original comment. I did not mean that "we" (my inexact longitudinal cohort) were the musicians of punk rock, so much as that we were the audience thereof.
Kalimac: puzzlekalimac on June 2nd, 2016 05:11 pm (UTC)
I see the rise of bands as an audience reaction, among that subset of the audience with the appropriate talents, to whatever came before. Punk was the talented portion of the audience for older rock saying, "No, we want something different." But they, including most of the other groups you mention, are older than the premise would suggest.

If you're postulating that the audience is younger than the bands, again the overlap in band-member age prevents a line being drawn.

The history of classical music, insofar as I know it, offers only one clear generational distinction between styles, and that's the one between Baroque and High Classical music. The rise of 20C modernism and its successors are particularly muddled in this regard.
Deldel_c on June 3rd, 2016 12:17 pm (UTC)
I think generations based on year of birth are hard to pin down, because a significant part of the experience of a generation depends on having parents of a certain generation, and parents can sometimes have children when young, sometimes when older. I am technically a boomer, but indisputably the child of boomers, and having boomer parents is an important marker for being Generation X.

(leave school, no jobs, parents want to know why you haven't got a job yet, *they* didn't have any trouble getting a job when they were your age...)
El Coyote Gordo: grandpasupergee on June 4th, 2016 10:11 am (UTC)
To me, generation as a way of judging people is right up there with race and astrological sign.
Deldel_c on June 4th, 2016 02:52 pm (UTC)
You'd dismiss the experience of race?
El Coyote Gordo: coy1supergee on June 4th, 2016 03:18 pm (UTC)
As a general way of judging people.
Lydy Nickersonlydy on June 2nd, 2016 11:58 am (UTC)
I remember very much liking parts of _Armageddon Rag_ but being unhappy that the overall magical structure made no sense. This is a world where symbolism explicitly has power. So the idea that reuniting the Nazgul...the Nazgul for fuck's sake... is supposed to make things better? And there is no magical system I'm aware of that treats the possession of a basically nice kid with the ghost of an angry dead person as a good or benevolent act. And then, of course, any magical ritual that culminates in a human sacrifice is as close to evil as makes no never mind. (Deliberate self-sacrifice is a different thing, magically. Still a dumb idea, if you ask me, but in terms of magical structure, different.)

I think that the fact that the view point character didn't believe in magic was supposed to paper over these obvious problems, and create a tension, or something? Perhaps Martin was trying to lure me into buying into a form or moral relativism before the big reveal that this was all a very, very bad idea. But I never got there, because there was no way in hell that those actions, and that set of symbols, was peace love and puppies. And yet, the main characters has to believe in PLP in order for his actions to make any sense. And so, we're left with a protagonist clearly not bright enough to pound rocks, and the structure of the novel entirely depends on NO ONE, especially none of the people who purport to believe in magic, actually noticing the symbol-sets in place, and the actions being taken to immanitize these symbols. Such a mess. With brilliant bits around the edges.

Edited at 2016-06-02 12:29 pm (UTC)
El Coyote Gordo: thumbsupergee on June 2nd, 2016 12:38 pm (UTC)
That is a lot like my feelings about the book, but more thought out and better expressed.
Kalimac: puzzlekalimac on June 2nd, 2016 04:26 pm (UTC)
I found that whatever it was the band was trying to express in the lyrics of their songs was incoherent and confusing enough that I didn't have any confusion left over to devote to the incoherence of, e.g., whether re-enacting the assassination was supposed to be a Good Thing or a Bad Thing. Obviously both Sandy and Morse were terribly confused.