Remembering Robert Asprin, the Myth-maker

Back in May 2008, when Comics on the Brain found out  Robert Asprin died, and we can honestly say  we collectively mourned.

Asprin was probably best known for his “Myth” series, which started with “Another Fine Myth” in 1978. The series of short (by today’s standards)
novels follows the tongue-in-cheek adventures of a sorcerer’s apprentice named Skeeve. The problem is within the first few pages of the series, Skeeve’s teacher dies and he has to learn his magick from an unlikely source — a grumpy, green-scaled off-worlder named Aahz.

The series is hitched on the father-son relationship between Aahz and Skeeve and each tale unfolds like a “Lord of the Rings” version of “The Sting.”

Asprin also dove into sci-fi now and again, and his prime outlet for that genre was his “Phule’s Company” series. In that set of novels, Aspirin told the adventures of Willard Phule, a super-rich captain in an intergalactic navy. Not really caring much for the politics of whatever
duty he assigned, Phule usually finagled things so that he wound up on a three-month vacation rather than combat duty.

For Phule, war-profiteering wasn’t a sin, it was totally expected.

Asprin also served as the influential editor of the “Thieves World” series of books and short stories. This was fantasy fiction’s premier
shared-world series, and like “Myth” and “Phule” it involved slippery ethics and double-dealing.

And, if you read between the lines in many of his online biographies, Asprin even did some real-life double-dealing. It seems that somewhere through his life, Aspirin ran afoul of the IRS. With that trouble, he ceased writing until he ironed things out.

Ultimately, he vowed to provide the IRS with all profits he made from writing any future novels on his own. So, instead of giving the IRS his full income, he just started collaborating on his best-selling works.

If you check out his bibliography, you’ll note he rarely wrote on his own since 2000.
With the likes of “Myth,” “Phule” and “Thieves World” on his resume, Asprin had millions of fans, but he never achieved the status of many of his contemporaries. He wasn’t the subject of midnight sales, he didn’t get any (or want any) movie deals. There was never an action figure, TV show or computer game, although there were comics and a board games.

Nope, Asprin stuck to writing, and his efforts — especially his solo efforts — are missed.


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