January 2nd, 2008


Sad News

I've just read the news about the passing of author George MacDonald Fraser.

What a rotten way to kick off a new year. Fraser will never be admitted to the august halls of High Literature, but if there was ever a more entertaining storyteller, I don't know his name. GMF wrote some fine screenplays and some terrific stand-alone novels, but he will be best remembered for the Flashman books, his delightful series of historical swashbucklers featuring Queen Victoria's most dubious hero, that notorious cad, bounder, and coward, Harry Flashman. I loved Flashie the first time I encountered him in the pages of FLASHMAN, way back around 1973 or so, and for more than thirty years it has always been an occasion for rejoicing when Fraser discovered another "packet" of Flashman's unexpurgated memoirs. The arrival of a new Flashman book always meant that I had to stop whatever I was doing, drive to the nearest bookstore, snatch it up, bring it home, and sit down at once to read it. It saddens me to think that won't happen any more.

Flashman was always great fun, and somehow managed to be an utterly original character, despite being "borrowed" from another book (TOM BROWN'S SCHOOLDAYS). And Fraser knew how to keep you turning pages. He was the best writer of pure adventure in our times, a modern day Dumas. I'll miss him and Harry both. Roger on, lads.