Posts Tagged ‘fantasy’

Comic Archetypes: The Golden Age Hypnotic Heroine

His­to­ry: Look­ing over the diverse cast of hyp­not­ic char­ac­ters in the Gold­en Age of Comics (which is the peri­od from the start of comics pub­li­ca­tion through the end of WW II) one is even­tu­al­ly struck by the ram­pant sex­ism and male dom­i­na­tion involved. There were a num­ber of vil­lains whose pri­ma­ry motif was some form of hyp­no­sis in the Gold­en Age, but almost every one was male, from the shady sideshow hyp­no­tists and crafty con artists to the mys­te­ri­ous mys­tics and malev­o­lent magi­cians to the sin­is­ter sci­en­tists and dement­ed doc­tors. Which should be no sur­prise, as there were very few female vil­lains at all dur­ing that time. Also, the great major­i­ty of these char­ac­ters were “one-shot” char­ac­ters who only appeared in a sin­gle issue: for re-occur­ring char­ac­ters like Lex Luthor, hyp­not­ic con­trol of the hero was a ploy they might use on rare occa­sions but nev­er spe­cial­ized in. Strange­ly enough, or, rather, more like­ly anoth­er sign of the times, is that such hyp­not­ic con­trol was rarely used against or by women. 

There were a few excep­tions, of course, such as the reoc­cur­ring Jus­tice Soci­ety vil­lain­ess Har­le­quin, who used a pair of hyp­not­ic glass­es as part of her cir­cus clown motif, but she was a much more sym­pa­thet­ic char­ac­ter and even­tu­al­ly reformed, and the one-shot vil­lain­ess Lady Ser­pent, who used her hyp­not­ic gaze to mes­mer­ize a female jail guard into let­ting her escape, yet her foe, the Black Ter­ror, fore­warned about her pow­ers, was able to resist her. (Curi­ous­ly, Cat­woman would use use the same trick to escape prison in a much lat­er com­ic, hyp­no­tiz­ing a female guard with a cat’s‑eye-jeweled lock­et.) It almost seems as though the comics writ­ers just did­n’t want to or weren’t allowed to have a female char­ac­ter, hero or vil­lain, who could con­trol the male char­ac­ters: it was accept­able for Luthor to put Super­man under his hyp­not­ic con­trol, but no woman could. Giv­en the sex­ism of the cul­ture at the time, that seems a like­ly explanation. 

But there was one excep­tion to all of this sex­ism, the most famous hero­ine of this era and pos­si­bly any era. And that was Won­der Woman. 

⇒ Con­tin­ue read­ing “Com­ic Arche­types: The Gold­en Age Hyp­not­ic Heroine”

The “Deryni” stories by Katherine Kurtz

They have men­tal and phys­i­cal pow­ers beyond the human norm: they can entrance with a glance, cre­ate light, heal wounds, and even tele­port long distances. 

They are mutants. They live among nor­mal humans, dis­tin­guished only by their pow­ers, oth­er­wise undis­tin­guish­able from any one else, dis­trust­ed and even hat­ed by both the gen­er­al pop­u­lace and peo­ple in author­i­ty because of their gifts. Some try to use their gifts for good, oth­ers for evil: some just try to exist. 

But they’re not the X‑Men and they’re not super­heroes: they’re the Deryni, a fan­ta­sy race and the sub­ject of sev­er­al books and short sto­ries by author Kather­ine Kurtz.

⇒ Con­tin­ue read­ing “The “Deryni” sto­ries by Kather­ine Kurtz”

“Favorite Stories of Hypnotism” by Don Ward, editor

[amtap amazon:asin=B002K9S682]

Back­ground: When I grad­u­at­ed from junior high school to high school, I con­tin­ued to be a stu­dent vol­un­teer in the library. Again, I would be dis­ap­point­ed (but not sur­prised) that the school library did not have any books on hyp­no­sis. (As opposed to the coun­ty library, where even some­times the mobile library van that would come around the neigh­bor­hood every Fri­day dur­ing the sum­mer would have one or two.) How­ev­er, I was sur­prised to dis­cov­er, at the very end of the sto­ry col­lec­tion shelves, a hard­cov­er copy of “Favorite Sto­ries of Hyp­no­tism” (1965) edit­ed by Don Ward. The black cov­er with its shad­owy female face, con­cen­tric cir­cles radi­at­ing out from her left eye, is just so stereo­typ­i­cal but to my mind back then, so demon­stra­tive of hyp­no­sis that, of course, I had to check it out. I was not dis­ap­point­ed in what I found, and even today, many of the sto­ries are still worth­while, though dated.

⇒ Con­tin­ue read­ing ““Favorite Sto­ries of Hyp­no­tism” by Don Ward, editor”

“GuildWars”

His­to­ry: In 2005 I won a copy of the online game Guild­Wars with­out real­ly want­i­ng it. There­fore, I didn’t exam­ine the game for a month or so, fig­ur­ing I didn’t have time for an online game, but the box art­work and some of the things I saw about it online con­vinced me to take a fur­ther look. Lit­tle did I real­ize what I was going to get myself in to.

⇒ Con­tin­ue read­ing ““Guild­Wars””

“Lammas Night” by Katherine Kurtz

[amtap book:isbn=0345295161]

His­to­ry: I’ve known about Kather­ine Kurtz as an author since my col­lege days: not only was I attract­ed to her writ­ing for her “Deryni” nov­els, but also to her own back­sto­ry. Before she turned to pro­fes­sion­al writ­ing, she was a mem­ber of the ear­ly Soci­ety for Cre­ative Anachro­nism, even­tu­al­ly becom­ing its first Seneschal (the equiv­a­lent of being the nation­al chair­man of the orga­ni­za­tion) as well as being award­ed the title of Duchess (mean­ing that she had been Queen of the King­dom of the West twice.) She also pub­lished a fanzine called “Deryni Archives: The Mag­a­zine” which con­tained a wealth of sup­ple­men­tary infor­ma­tion and sto­ries that helped affirm my fas­ci­na­tion for the Deryni.

Since then, she has devel­oped into a pop­u­lar and pro­lif­ic fan­ta­sy writer, known pri­mar­i­ly for her “Deryni” nov­els and her con­tem­po­rary fan­ta­sy “Adept” series in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Deb­o­rah Turn­er Har­ris. She edit­ed a col­lec­tion of Deryni sto­ries and oth­er short sto­ry col­lec­tions, also wrote numer­ous short sto­ries and stand-alone nov­els, one of which is “Lam­mas Night”.

⇒ Con­tin­ue read­ing ““Lam­mas Night” by Kather­ine Kurtz”

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