John Moore is an American writer of Speculative best known for his Fractured Fairy Tale
humorous fantasies. Most of his novels are set in a realm known as "The Twenty Kingdoms", a deconstruction of the standard fairy-tale setting, with noble princes fighting monsters and rescuing princesses. He started out writing Science Fiction
thriller short-stories (some of which were published under the name John F. Moore), but switched to humorous fantasy when he began writing novels.
His novels include: Slay and Rescue
, The Unhandsome Prince
, Heroics for Beginners
, Bad Prince Charlie
, and A Fate Worse Than Dragons
. He also recently published his early SF novel, Heat Sink
as an e-book.
Tropes in his works:
- Big Damn Heroes: Slay and Rescue opens with Genre Savvy hero Prince Charming (that's actually his name) carefully timing the rescue of a princess to achieve this effect. It's part of the job.
- Death by Childbirth: In Slay and Rescue, mothers of both Prince Charming and the three female protagonists died in childbirth. Lampshaded:
Princess Aurora: Is childbirth as dangerous as all that?
Princess Ann: [The wizard] Mandelbaum says it's because royal families can afford physicians and the very best medical care. Consequently, they die like flies.
- Fake Ultimate Hero: Invoked in Slay and Rescue when a fellow accuses professional hero Prince Charming of doing as Cornwell's Lancelot does. Subverted because a) by this point in the story, the reader knows Charming is a genuine Badass, and b) he proves it by asking the other guy to shoot an apple off Charming's head, William-Tell-style. The other guy succeeds, but not before Charming has split the arrow in half lengthwise with his sword.
- Fantastic Nuke: In Bad Prince Charlie, two neighboring kingdoms are both trying to find a "Weapon of
Mass Magical Destruction" left behind by a previous king.
- Footnote Fever: Parodied in Bad Prince Charlie, which contains the following footnote early on:
This looks like a good place for a footnote. Terry Pratchett and Susanna Clarke use lots of footnotes and they write bestsellers, so maybe I should also throw in a few.
- Fractured Fairy Tale: Most of his novels fall into this category, deconstructing fairy-tales like "Sleeping Beauty" and "The Princess and the Frog" and more.
- Junkie Prophet: Played for laughs in Bad Prince Charlie, when Charlie goes to see an oracle who turns out to be a very naked and very stoned young woman, who talks and acts like the stereotype of The Stoner.
- Knight in Shining Armor: Slay and Rescue has a prince named Charming, sent by his father's chancellor to rescue fair maidens all over the place (the theory is that it keeps him too busy to try to take over the throne).
- Never Live It Down: In-Universe example - A wizard in Bad Prince Charlie who tried to banish all the snakes from Damask and accidentally banished all the chickens instead.
- Offered the Crown: Bad Prince Charlie has a very unusual example. If the king doesn't designate an heir, it's up to the surviving members of the royal family to choose one. Charlie has no desire to be king, and he expects his uncles to choose one of themselves, but they have other plans. The kingdom is in big economic trouble (Due to the local geography, it doesn't get enough rain to support an agrarian culture), and they'd prefer to simply merge it with a neighboring kingdom. But the people are fierce and independent, and won't stand for it. So they want Charlie to accept the job of king, temporarily, and then do such a bad job that the people will want to depose him and will accept the merger in return for the neighbor's help getting rid of Charlie.
- Prince Charming: Slay and Rescue has a professional hero who really is a prince named Charming, sent by his father's chancellor to rescue fair maidens all over the place (the theory is that it keeps him too busy to try to take over the throne). He's Genre Savvy, deliberately pulls Big Damn Heroes arrivals, has Implausible Fencing Powers, and is very frustrated. Nonetheless, he's also basically decent.
- The Stoner: Blended with Junkie Prophet in Bad Prince Charlie. The oracle that Charlie goes to see for advice with his troubles turns out to be a very young, very naked, and very stoned girl, who is prone to saying "wow" a lot, and constantly has the munchies. Very loosely inspired by some historians' notions of the Oracle at Delphi in Ancient Greece.
- Swiss-Army Weapon: Prince Charming (yes, that's really his name) in Slay and Rescue receives as a gift a sword with a number of tools folded into the grip. It didn't come with a manual, though, so Charming and everyone else who admires the device is puzzled by one particular fitting. Fortunately, Charming figures out when it's most needed that the mystery tool is a lockpick.
- Too Spicy for Yog Sothoth: A Fate Worse Than Dragons plays with this one quite a bit:
- One of the heroines winds up as the hostage of an evil wizard who is attempting to breed griffins. In this setting, griffins can only draw nourishment through eating virgin maidens. The rest of the heroes arrive "too late" to save her from being tossed into the griffin feeding pit only to discover a very alive and very annoyed princess who basically says "It had already eaten. That's the only reason I'm still alive. Understand?" Later, she corners her boyfriend and demands an explanation for why the griffin really didn't eat her, since he assured her that some undefined (but obviously sexual) act "didn't count".
- Later on, as the griffin is released on a Mayday festival equivalent, a random maiden sees the griffin as it catches her scent and makes a hurried attempt to force herself on the man whose advances she had just rejected a minute earlier in an effort to make herself inedible - all while the griffin is trying to break the house down.
- True Love's Kiss: Subverted in Slay and Rescue, when Prince Charming finds Sleeping Beauty and rescues her with a kiss, but then it turns out that he's not her true love.
- Virgin Sacrifice: Mention is made of an attempt to perform this in A Fate Worse Than Dragons. Once the king in question announced that he was going to do this, his subjects promptly had a massive two-week orgy in order to disqualify themselves. Then one of the King's nobles assassinated him while the King's bodyguards were participating in said orgy.
- You Will Know What to Do: In Bad Prince Charlie the titular prince is given a charm and told 'you'll know what to do when the time comes'. Given what kind of books Moore writes, when the time comes to actually use it as a last resort in the face of an enemy army they mock him by reciting the same phrase back at him.
- Zero Approval Gambit: The plot of Bad Prince Charlie centers around a scheme to have the throne of Damask taken by an unpopular ruler so that the neighboring kingdom of Noile can be seen as saviors when they conquer it, at which point the people who engineered the scheme get paid off and the 'tyrant' (Who doesn't care for his home country anyway) gets banished. The strange thing is that Charlie manages to make himself unpopular by being competent.