Tuesday, October 25, 2011

We took you up and we put you in the back seat

Who among us has not dreamed of winning the loyalty of the ferocious Northhound pack -- guards of the Citadel and servants of the Lords Protector -- by slaying their previous leader in single combat? For any fule kno that Northhounds, though larger than normal wolves and possessed of the power of telepathic fear-projection, have the same hierarchy of dominance in their pack, with an Alpha Wolf and Beta wolves and so on all the way down (fortunately wolves have learned the Greek alphabet), in which one can ascend through one's charisma and strength.

So this is disappointing and dream-quashing:

The Abstract says it all, albeit in vanishingly small print:

The authors showed that the observed hunting behaviour of a pack of wolves could be explained without assuming signalling among them, or prior planning, or any hierarchy of dominance and leadership.
It is almost as if ethologists have been watching wolves for umpteen decades through human lenses, and projecting their models of human social organisation onto them. No wonder we find their alpha-wolf / beta-wolf generalisations such an appealing pop-psychology metaphor for human antics.*

Two questions remain:
(1) Was there a tradition, or an old charter or something, that all wolf-themed fantasy editions through the 1970s and 1980s should have the cover lettered in Serif Gothic Bold?



(2) Why was Bruce Pennington never commissioned for the cover art for the Skaith trilogy? If this doesn't sound up Pennington's alley then your soul is dead:
“The lamp of the North, like a burning emerald, dominated the sky. The short days of the darklands were little brighter than the nights. Old Sun’s dull gleaming stained the sky rather than brightened it. The white snow turned the color of rust, and the vast plain, strewn with the wrecks of abandoned cities, tilted upward to a distant wall of mountains all dabbled in the same red-ochre. The line of great wagons creaked and crawled across this unreal landscape, sixteen of them with canvas tops booming in the wind.”
All we have is this French translation, which does not count, as any fule can see that in lieu of paying for something new they have shamelessly taken a crude photocopy of Pennington's cover art from a collection in the Cthulhu mythos.


Truly publishers are scum of the earth and unmitigated scoundrels.

* Rather like Grizzly-Man Treadwell and his insistence that he was really a grizzly-bear trapped in a human body; all the while oblivious to how bears actually behave, because he could only see them as idealised versions of himself.


UPDATE: Bonus Kiplage. It turns out that "Mowgli's Brothers" loses much of its power when you re-write it as a series of interrupts and semaphores between separately-threaded autonomous agents in a computer simulation.

19 comments:

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

Truly publishers are scum of the earth and unmitigated scoundrels.

Frank Belknap WRONG!!!

No wonder we find their alpha-wolf / beta-wolf generalisations such an appealing pop-psychology metaphor for human antics.*

It cuts both ways, as wolves use the Omega Man metaphor to describe wolves who hunt nocturnal prey during the daylight hours.

vacuumslayer said...

WILL NO ONE THINK OF THE OMEGA WOLVES?!!!!!

Jennifer said...

Buzzkill.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Watch out, GOAB!
~

tigris said...

For sub-epsilon wolves they pee in the decanting bottles.

Also: sadly, hookhand upgrade is NOT COVERED by the Riddled Corp. health plan, even for the wolf handlers.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Brutus
~

Substance McGravitas said...

The authors showed that the observed hunting behaviour of a pack of wolves could be explained without assuming signalling among them, or prior planning, or any hierarchy of dominance and leadership.

Nonsense. The problem here is that the researchers are not anthropomorphizing their computer's antics enough. Perhaps the volume was turned down on the giggle module.

M. Bouffant said...

Imagine that I have linked to "Atomic Dog."

And that WV wants to know who got "bowned" this time.

Smut Clyde said...

Watch out, GOAB!
That photograph -- and others in the sequence -- actually appears in the wolf-simulation article.

For sub-epsilon wolves they pee in the decanting bottles.

Must confess, I hadn't thought of the Brave New World connection as a nother source of the obsession at Manboobz with an alpha-male / beta status stratification.

Another Kiwi said...

What sort of name for a wolf book is "The Ginger Star" FFS? Shouldn't it have something about fangs or blood or somethin'. Bernt Arse pack would whip those puppies, anyway.

mikey said...

Nope. Or even Knope.

Something very wrong here. Dood's got the armored breastplate and short skirt, high furry boots and insouciantly exposed thighs, dramatic fur cape and oddly, a clip-point Roman sword (but I approve!). He's got a pack of slavering beasts clearly loyal to him alone, and the piercing eyes and rugged features of a man that can get things done without Viagra.

And yet...he has no headgear. No helmet, no feather, no tribal fez nor gaulic beret, no outrageously bedecked headdress nor pragmatic fur cap to cover his ears in the cold. Not even that particularly odd upside-downy hat where they put a snap on one side to make certain that at any moment you could appear completely asymmetric to your enemies.

This simple cannot be...

Smut Clyde said...

What sort of name for a wolf book is "The Ginger Star" FFS?

Just trying to wind up VS.

tigris said...

Sounds like a Chinese take-out.

ckc (not kc) said...

...my rules are
1.) move toward the beer until you recognize the label
2.) move away from the crowd until you find a quiet place to enjoy it

...hunting is good!!

ckc (not kc) said...

(PS the rules seem to work well with wine, also. Reviewers have advised that more data must be collected to determine the applicability of the rules to Scotch.)

vacuumslayer said...

"Just trying to wind up VS"


"Not working" she said with clenched jaw.

Another Kiwi said...

It is good to see that Hookhand's friend has his Ronny Raygun Zapper to hand. Ready for anything! But if it's proper wolfie time they shouldn't be so close to each other.

Anonymous said...

AND, AK, hookhand's friend's left thigh shouldn't be 3 feet long. Also, the very BLACK rock behind steals the focus... hope the book's better than the cover.

Smut Clyde said...

If you're going to get picky about proportions, Anonymous, the dude with the new B&D 3-Speed Drill has a right forearm about 20% longer than his left.

The mysterious black rock is probably felt-pen crossing out a price label (or an obscene doodle from a previous owner). For readers with higher standards, here's an unnice-rock-free image from Amazon.

The half-buried roadsign to the left appears to be pointing in the direction of London, indicating that this is a perfectly normal scene on the M25 in the vicinity of Waltham Cross the day after the Spurs played the Hammers.