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Monday Mashup #6: Huck Finn

Today’s Monday Mashup inspiration is the classic Huckleberry Finn. It is perhaps the definitive American novel of juvenile delinquency, beating out Catcher in the Rye by a nose. (I added “American” above so no smarty-pants would say anything about Lord of the Flies. Hah.)

Huck, the quintessential youth, and Jim, the quintessential outsider, float down a river on a raft. They are not in control of their travels to any large degree, and they are willing to accept what comes as a gift from the gods. Adventures, in many ways, happen to them.

Sounds like the average adventuring party to me. Mashers, have at it!

And my choice of game: Dying Earth, Robin Laws’ translation of the classic Jack Vance novels. Players have their choice of character types, within a certain range: they can play youths escaping from the no doubt onerous oversight of their parents, or they can play grownups who’ve been trapped in the age of the Dying Earth by some chronological mischance. Or, I suppose, they can play aliens of some flavour or another, stripped of any method of departing the Dying Earth.

For a game predicated on social interaction, time spent on a raft seems just about perfect. We’ll locate the raft on the Veripose River, which I have only just now invented. It is notable for the customs of the various residents of either bank, who have many distressing and dangerous habits with only the following taboo in common: “If it’s on the river, it can pass without hinderance.”

Alas, there’s only so much food you can carry on a raft, and the fish of the Veripose are notoriously poisonous if prepared incorrectly. Besides which, our heros may occasionally want someone else’s company, no matter how eloquent they are. After all, gambling’s more fun when the mark — cough, that is to say, the opponent — doesn’t know where one keeps one’s cards.

Thus, the occasional foray onto the banks of the river is indicated. One hopes that if one continues down the river far enough, one will find settlements less prone to preying on visitors. One hopes. In any case, continual movement is indicated in order to escape the bounty-hunters sent by concerned parents. And there are rumors of a city at the end of the river in which both chronological wonders and space-ships can be found…


  1. Jess Nevins Jess Nevins

    Very entertaining idea. But I think you slightly underplayed the rebellion aspect. Huck’s not just a juvie punk kid, he’s also a rebel against the social mores he grew up under (which is why the most exhilirating moment in all of American letters is when Huck, who has been taught all his life that those who help escaped slaves go to Hell, says, “Well, then, I’ll go to Hell” and vows to help Jim). Huck’s decision to head out to the frontier at the end of the story prefigures any number of Westerns, in which the hero is only really happy on the frontier–he doesn’t fit in “civilized society.”

    So I think Huck of the Dying Earth might end his trip as not just a delinquent youth, but as a rebel with a cause.

  2. Fair and excellent point, that. Although I don’t think the rebel with a cause archetype fits well into the Dying Earth paradigm; it’s a world which is coming to its end, and all the causes are dead. That may mean that Dying Earth and Huck Finn are a bad fit.

  3. I have mine up on my blog. I chose GURPS: Riverworld.

  4. Population: One: Monday Mashup #6: Huck Finn Huck, the quintessential youth, and Jim, the quintessential outsider, float down a river

  5. Jennifer Jennifer

    Does anyone have any ideas on how to debate whether or not the book of Huck Finn’s theory is based on Rebellion or not? I believe it is. The way Twain wrote the book and the usage of many different dialects proves this theory. I would appreciate any response. I have a group of 6 students who are needing ideas. Thank You.

  6. Alexandra Alexandra

    I think the novel is based upon Clemens’s political beliefs. His hatred of slavery (Jim), his distaste for ignorance (the Duke and the King conning people), his doubts on religion (Huck’s constant doubts on religion), Clemens’s lack of education (Huck’s as well). The entire novel is a compilation of Clemens’s life and views. Huck left on adventure down the river, Clemens left at age 17 to travel down the Mississippi in pursuit of his dream to control a riverboat. The corolation between his life and the novel is really the main idea of the novel.

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