Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Review of Robert E. Howards "The Bull Dog Breed" - Continuing the Sailor Steve Costigan Saga

Written in first person and having the feel of someone telling a tall tale, this story gives an immediate insight into the mind of Sailor Steve Costigan. I enjoyed the story and the main reason for that is how Howard writes. He writes very simply and very formulaic, with great visuals and style. This story is a good example to follow for fight stories, which is; Set up, fight, and unraveling.

The biggest part of this story is the writing, and takes up several pages, but it doesn't get boring. Howard has a knack at telling the story of the fight using Costigan's voice, making believable, exciting, and truly feeling for the character. In addition Howard tells about the fight from someone who has been in the boxing ring, and actually taken the punches. A little bit of research into Robert E. Howard shows that he actually did train and boxed in and around the area of Cross Plains Texas.

It is interesting to note that at the time Howard was writing these stories, boxers were the superstar athletes of the day. And fight stories were very popular; in fact many of Howard's fight stories appeared in Fight magazine. However, the boxing world has not aged as well as these stories, boxers do not hold the status they did in Howard's day, and it is hard to find a current story based on boxing or on the more popular Ultimate Fighting competitions. What we do have are these stories that were written almost eighty years ago that are still fun and enjoyable to read. Take a chance and pick up one of the stories a kindle reader and you will probably start reading all of them.

Kindle Wireless Reading Device (6" Display, Global Wireless, Latest Generation)

Here come the spoilers so if you don't want to know what happens stop reading any further.

The story begins with Sailor Steve Costigan getting kicked off the Sea Girl by the Captain because he chooses not to put his dog off the boat. He ends up at a French bar and gets into a fight with, unknown to him, the heavyweight champion of the French Navy. The fight is long and goes on for several pages, Costigan is all but beat up and ready to fall down, but because he is so like the bull dog, and doesn’t know when he is defeated he keeps going back in again and again. Due to his amazing recuperative powers, and his hard headiness he defeats the Frenchman. At the end of the bout the Captain of the Sea Girl, as well as many of the crew see come up to Costigan delighted that he defeated the Frenchman. The Captian welcome him and Mike, his bull dog, back as part of the crew.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Sci Fi Writer Reviews ----- Boxing

A while back I picked up some old Robert E. Howard Stories, and the Sailor Steve Costigan tales jumped out at me. For the most part I haven't read anything like these stories in current fiction, and after a brief search online I was unable to find anyone that is currently writing "Fight" stories of any kind. This just fueled my desire to keep reading these old stories written by the master of tall tales Robert E. Howard.

I must mention that if you decide to jump into these tales, be warned. Howard was writing during a different time in the history of the United States, and what we view as indisputably racist or sexist, to Howard and many of his time, it was just the norm. I'm not agreeing or condoning the stories for how other sexes or races are portrayed, just passing on a warning as best I can.

What I enjoyed about these stories, is that they are different from what is out their today, and told in such a manner that they are easy and exceedingly fun to read. They are quick and they are simple, and that is that, they are just a great escape into the world of the early nineteen thirties.

Additionally I have been reading these stories in the order in which Howard wrote them, and his development as a writer and story teller is easy to see. I have made my way through about half the stories and start off here with my first review of, "The Pit of the Serpent" by Robert E. Howard. The review is short but as they go on they get longer and more in depth.

For the second warning: I also tell if Sailor Steve Costigan wins the fight and how he does it, so yes the reviews contain spoilers.

This is the first story with Howards character Sailor Steve Costigan. The story is easy to read, and written in first person. The outline is simple, Sailor Costigan steps of his ship the Sea Girl and feels dread. He goes to a dance hall meets a girl, Bat Slade the champion boxer from the rival ship the Dauntless comes in and starts a fight, the two men are taken out of town by an "promoter" and their bout is staged in an old snake pit. After a long bout, Sailor Costigan wins, although barely, and the two fighters are reunited at the dance hall where they both are still hoping to win the affections of the girl that started the row between them in the first place. She has already moved on to a Spanish Naval Officer, the two men knock him out and end up at a bar sharing a drink. At the end of many platitudes from Slade about brotherly friendship, he tries to sneak a punch in on Costigan, but Costigan faster than Slade with a bottle he swiped from the bar, knocks him out.

The story was very simple easy to read. It is told from the first person point of view with Costigan as the main story teller. The most technical aspect of the story is that of the boxing scene, that is shown in fine detail. This is where Howard really shines; the fight has emotion, action, and brutal detail. It is very evident that the story was thrown around what Howard thought was the real story which was the fight.