# 2251

Written by Fred Patten, and intended for Apa L, 2251st Distribution, LASFS Meeting No. 3699, July 3, 2008.
Golden State Colonial Convalescent Hospital, 10830 Oxnard Street, North Hollywood, California 91606-5098.
Telephone: hospital(818) 763-8247; personal (818) 506-3159 * eMail:fredpatten@earthlink.net

Denvention 3 in 2008! Anticipation in 2009! Salamander Press #2735


The nursing home says working on my computer instead of socializing with other patients is antisocial, besides bad for my health. I am now sitting in my wheelchair for hours at a time.

Here is one of my old reviews:

The Gentle Dragon, by Joseph K. Coates. La Jolla, CA, Lane & Associates, May 1979, 329 pages, $4.95; ISBN: 0-89882-001-4.

This charming fantasy is set about the time of the spread of Buddhism. A young dragon, Quick Fire, develops a thirst for human civilization. He befriends a small Japanese village and becomes its protector against more predatory dragons. The story develops episodically as the dragon and the villagers hesitantly come to know each other. Quick Fire barely survives the attack of the vicious Lightning Flash. He finds a mate and introduces her to human ways, and they and their children are eventually adopted as disciples of the Faultless Master to spread His teachings throughout the world.

According to a biographical note, Joseph Coates is a retired naval commander who spent years living in Japan and researching its culture. The Gentle Dragon is certainly the most authentically Oriental fantasy that I have read by an Occidental author, other than the works of Lafcadio Hearn. The story contains an acknowledgment to Tolkien, and there is an impression that Coates has tried to write an adventure similar to The Hobbit, utilizing Oriental cultural roots as Tolkien utilized Anglo-Saxon and Nordic roots.

This is both the novel's strength and its weakness. Its success may make it too alien for some American readers. The story is slowly developed and elaborately mannered. Some of the dialog reads like Japanese translated too literally into English. There are unfamiliar cultural nuances. As a result, the writing may require a comprehension level more mature than is customary for this type of adventure.

Speaking as a fantasy addict who is getting jaded with the unending stream of novels that are too faithful to Tolkien, I found The Gentle Dragon to be excitingly fresh. The richness of the Oriental setting makes it a secondary universe unlike most, yet completely believable. The unusual relationship between the dragons and the humans evolves both of them in intriguing ways. The characters are likeable and the story is intelligently developed. The Gentle Dragon is the type of book that may not be for all tastes, but those who like it will like it very much indeed.

Readers who do enjoy it enough to want other genuinely Oriental heroic fantasies might be steered to Wu Ch'eng-en's The Pilgrimage to the West, also called Monkey or The Monkey King (apparently available currently only in Arthur Waley's translation as Monkey, from Grove Press).

Science Fiction Review #34, February 1980, page 45.

2007 Note: With the growth in popularity among Americans of anime and other aspects of Oriental culture, The Gentle Dragon is not as "different" as it was in 1980. This ought to make it even more popular today, if it had not been published by a very small press and gone out of print almost immediately.

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-- Comments on Last Week's Distribution:

Cover - (Jackson) Thanks for the toast for "just six people", although I hope it is more than that.

Godzilla Verses #197 - (DeChancie) Congratulations on getting such excellent cover artists as James Gurney, John Berkey and James Warhola. If you couldn't get Kelly Freas (who seldom did paperback covers), you got the next best. ## That is a very unusual Rotsler illo.

B A N G!!! -- (Cantor) So you were never able to finish Rogue Moon either? I preferred Algis Budrys' short stories to his novels. ## Thanks for answering my question about the scarlet/golden poppies. They still look red in that photograph to me. ## Some Furry fandom fanzines still exist. Furthest North Crew, Rowrbrazzle, North American Fur are all paper fanzines. Anthro is an Internet fanzine only. I do not know if any of their publishers or writers attends Corflu. Edd Vick may.

I Bailed Out Silenus - (Gold) At the end of Gladiator by Philip Wylie, the super protagonist Hugo Danner goes out onto a cliff or a mountaintop during a storm and asks God whether he should use his powers to help mankind or become a dictator. He is struck dead by a bolt of lightning. You could argue that it was his fault for standing on a cliff in a thunderstorm, but it resolves the novel like a deus ex machina. Most reviewers have called it such. ## Have my three book reviews been added to the LASFS website yet? I cannot find them. In fact, when I try to register to become a user, I get a "this password has been blocked" error message. It does not help when I am interrupted in the middle of registering by nurses for about three hours. The website may be too complex for me. LATER: apparently I have successfully registered, after all. Where do I go from here?

De Jueves #1589 - (Moffatts) I, too, am almost six feet tall and weigh 240 pounds. I don't remember whether this was so when I was 17 years old; I don't think so. My nurses say I need to lose weight. I think they would like me to lose about 30 pounds. ## Money used to grow on trees for the Aztecs. They used cocoa beans for money. Only the upper class was allowed to grow them.

Oh, All Right!!! - (Lembke) I watched a few episodes of Spawn, but it was too depressing for me. I do not remember Spawn's cape, which probably means that it looked okay in animation if it did not stand out as horribly bad. The capes in The Incredibles looked great, until the story showed why they were such a bad idea.

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