David Hines (hradzka) wrote,
David Hines

ave atque vale: George MacDonald Fraser

George MacDonald Fraser has died. Author of the Flashman books, one of the all-time greatest historical novel series: the premise was that Harry Flashman, the bully of TOM BROWN'S SCHOOL DAYS, became a great hero of the British empire by scheming, lying, swiving, and shtupping his way to the top, despite being a cheat, a liar, and an utter coward. The series was absolutely wonderful, though for me the first book, with Flashy's adventures in the Afghan War, still stands high. (A close second: ROYAL FLASH, Fraser's brilliant spoof of THE PRISONER OF ZENDA, in which Flashy not only stands in for royalty in a wedding, but on the wedding night as well. That was actually made into a film with Malcolm McDowell, as I recall.)

Fraser also wrote other wonderful things: he wrote the screenplays for the delightful Richard-Lester directed Musketeer films, with Michael York as D'Artagnan -- hey, *I* loved 'em -- and for my favorite Roger Moore 007 picture, OCTOPUSSY. But my vote for his least-appreciated work: THE PYRATES. A gloriously hysterical swashbuckling comedy written by a guy who has clearly loved and enjoyed far too many adventure novels, pirate movies, and rollicking films of all kinds, to the point that you can pretty much see the actors he's mentally cast in the roles (including, awesomely, Pam Grier); I will bet money it's on Terry Pratchett's bookshelf, because it's in that similar vein of utter insanity.

Fraser was 82, and a class act. God bless him; I'll always remember him fondly.
Tags: obituary

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