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Literature / Joe's World

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Joe's World is a series created by Eric Flint and Richard Roach, consisting of two books so far with several more in the pipeline.

Long ago, a caveman named Joe created food to keep the humans going. Then, he invented sex to keep the humans occupied. Then, he invented work to keep the population in check. To help organize work, Joe then invented bosses. To help the bosses keep the worse workers in line, Joe invented the police. To help keep the worst ones in line Joe invented priests, and to help priests put the finishing touches on keeping everyone in line, Joe invented God. God, in his turn decided that Joe was a liability to him, and froze Joe in a flash ice age.


Since then, the bosses, police, priests and God himself have fallen short of Joe's expectations. Even mentioning Joe is considered heresy and the common man is downtrodden. Luckily, there is a resistance movement going on, led from the communist libertarian/anarchist nation of Mutt. And now, Joe's about to come back.

The first book, The Philosophical Strangler by Eric Flint, tells the tale of Greyboar, the greatest professional strangler around, and his agent Ignace. The book opens with an account of what was supposed to be a routine royal strangulation; the crown prince of Sundjhab wants his uncle, the king, dead. The job goes smoothly until Greyboar declares the king his guru, and strangles him as a matter of professional ethics. Naturally, Greyboar then has to strangle the prince for hiring him to strangle his own guru.


After a Time Skip, the story picks up with Ignace and Greyboar back in New Sphinctr, the capital of Sphinctria, a kingdom on the continent of Grotum, after a Noodle Incident in Prygg, among other things. What follows is a number of separate stories relating to the general story.

The second book, Forward the Mage, written with Richard Roach, has two separate storylines. One focuses on the artist/mercenary Benvenuti Sfondrati-Piccolomini and Greyboar's sister Gwendolyn, and the other on the wizard Zulkeh and his dwarven apprentice Shelyid. The book is set mostly during the Time Skip of the first book, providing some background on the first one and shedding light on the Noodle Incident.

The series subverts, lampshades or just generally plays for laughs most of the tropes it uses.


Provides examples of

  • Achievements in Ignorance: Wolfgang Laebmauntsforscynneweëld
  • A God Am I: God himself, according to Hildegard.
  • Amazonian Beauty: Gwendolyn
  • And Show It to You: The only weapons, outside of garrottes, Greyboar uses are ones extracted from hapless bodyguards.
  • Artifact of Doom: The Pink Slips, The Rap Sheets, The Switches, The Boots, and whatever artifact God was given.
  • Bad-Guy Bar: The Sign Of The Trough.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Shelyid.
    Greyboar:..we finally know what happened to the Great Wall of Grotum — it pulled a knife on a dwarf!
    • When Shelyid finally loses his temper, it is described, before Hilarity Ensues, with an Overly Long Gag that ends with Shelyid lost his temper like Dispater, the archduke of hell, lost the keys to paradise and the hope of eternal salvation.
  • Blind Without 'Em: Possibly inverted; Schrodinger's Cat is apparently blind with her Coke-bottle glasses.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Schrodinger's Cat. Wolfgang Laebmauntsforscynneweëld. Zulkeh when he goes into theorylalaland.
  • Confusion Fu: The Cat, of whom you can only tell for sure where she is or which way she is moving, but not both at the same time.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: The Consortium
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Zulkeh, in spite of the fact that his relationship with actual logic fleeting at best, is probably the most powerful wizard on the planet when he puts his blustering and pedantry aside and actually focuses on his work.
  • Death Glare: Greyboar has the Stare. Other names for it include "The Mirror of Mortality", "The Mirror of Imminent Mortality", "Basilisk" or "Time to Reconsider".
  • Easy Come, Easy Go: The Queen of Sphinctr's favor and disfavor
  • Five-Man Band: there is a group called Les Cinq, as well as Les Six and Les Sept, going around.
  • Genius Bruiser: Greyboar has a taste for philosophy. He is also regarded as the most technically adept strangler in history, but not the strongest.
  • Girl with Psycho Weapon: The Cat.
  • Human Knot: Greyboar the strangler is renowned for tying enemies into knots, especially their necks, and takes a professional pride in making each knot a different one. He also sometimes ties his foster brother and agent, Ignace.
  • Hurricane of Puns
  • I Have Many Names: While Greyboar himself only goes by that name, his grip, like his glare, has plenty of names.
  • Inadequate Inheritor: Etienne Avare has provided Greyboar with steady business throttling these.
  • In Which a Trope Is Described: the chapter titles of Forward the Mage take this Up to Eleven.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Zulkeh, extremely heavy on the jerk, but in spite of his behavior, when he learns that his bumbling about in the Joe business has gotten him on the Rap Sheet for the Cruds, the Inquisition, the Black Hand of Goimr, and just about every law enforcement agency on the planet, his primary concern is not with his own safety, but with Shelyid's.
  • La Résistance: One of the many things going on in Joe's World is a socialist revolution.
  • Long Title: Forward The Mage does this, to the point that several chapters consisted solely of the title.
  • Mega-Corp: The Consortium again.
  • Murder, Inc.: Professional Stranglers' Guild
  • Offing the Offspring: Etienne Avare, for several generations
    • And once he dies, most of the remaining offspring off each other.
  • Overly Long Name: The Laebmauntsforscynneweëld clan, and the Sfondrati-Piccolomini clan.
  • Solid Gold Poop: Dwarves' lives get significantly less pleasant when it is discovered that it is trivially easy to transform dwarf excrement into pure gold.
  • Straw Man Political: Ozarine politics, in particular.
  • Tagalong Chronicler: Lampshaded and Played for Laughs. 'Forward the Mage' is ostensibly put together by the Alfredae, chronicling lice who live in the hair of the protagonist Shelyid. They are frequently disdainful of everyone else and extremely snobbish, die quite frequently causing shifts in how they narrate, and complement their own narrative with other sources (which they often think are untrustworthy and biased). They are very much an Unreliable Narrator, but so is everyone else.
  • Unreliable Narrator: None of the narrators can be expected to tell the truth without embellishments, omissions, wishful thinking, self-aggrandizement, creative editing, or adjustments of facts to theory. It gets Lampshade Hangings when the same scene is told by two different narrators, in entirely different ways.


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