Flash from the Past: Hawk & Fisher
I discovered Hawk & Fisher in the early ’90s, when I bought in bulk the six slim Headline paperbacks that make up the series. It was a very strange hybrid: sword & sorcery, detective story and humor.
But I liked the general concept, the six paperbacks were cheap, and it was a fun way to spend a summer.
Hawk & Fisher is one of the first series developed by Simon R. Green, a British writer that has fully metabolized the pulp ethos of yore: he writes serial characters, usually in pretty classic genres (fantasy, horror, space opera), adding a twist that makes even the most trite concepts look fresher.
The concept of the Hawk & Fisher series is pretty simple: in the city of Haven – that is a very much generic fantasy venue – husband & wife team of Hawk (black eye-patch, uses an ax) and Fisher (blond braid, uses a sword) are among those charged with maintaining the peace. They get involved in a number of cases, solving them with detective work and hard knocks.
Green’s prose is functional, his world-building nothing to write home about, and his characterization is paper-thin – and yet the series works.
What makes it work is the chemistry between the two main characters, that while barely sketched come off the page and are people one comes to care about.
Green would later go on to write more successful stories, and probably better ones, but the simple structure of Hawk & Fisher, its tongue-in-cheek attitude and its mix of police procedural and sword & sorcery was a happy discovery for a much younger me.
So much so that, when last night a friend asked me what sort of series would I like to write, were I totally free to choose and were I to do it just for the fun of it, I mentioned this series. I’d probably use a different venue, and characterize the protagonists differently, but writing something so straightforwardly fun would be like taking a vacation.
I won’t do it anytime soon, but for a moment it was good to dream.