The LA Times Hero Complex looks at diversity in SF and Fantasy fiction.
"I've been thinking recently about the way readers come to be in sympathy with characters in a story. This is something that isn't talked about much, and when it is it seems to be in terms of how to manipulate the reader. Indeed, I stopped reading Orson Scott Card for a different reason than the reason everyone else stopped reading him -- long ago he said in a book on how to write that you get reader sympathy by taking a sympathetic character, preferably a child, and doing something terrible to them, like for instance torturing them. Once I knew he was doing this on purpose it was like "pay no attention to the man behind the curtain", I couldn't enjoy reading because I felt manipulated. Also, torturing children? Really? That's the only way to make me care? I don't think so." -- Jo Walton's Wiscon speech on how to make readers care about your characters.
Magdalena Bors constructs and photographs fantastical landscapes in domestic spaces. Her site doesn't make it easy to link specific images, so check out the different galleries under Images.
Orson Scott Card's Unaccompanied Sonata [Google Books], which he has called one of his favorite short stories, is an darkly enchanting tale about a boy who, at a young age, is taken from his family and brought to a house deep in the forest...
"So. I get it. The world used to agree with you. You used to be able to say things like, “I really like those lady writers in this industry, especially in swimsuits!” and your fellow writers, editors, agents, and other assorted colleagues would all wink and grin and agree with you, and Asimov would go around pinching women’s asses, and it was so cool!" -- Kameron Hurley is not amused by the ongoing sexism problems in the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America or the idea that criticism of this is censorship. [more inside]
Cecil Crowninshield, resident mystical defender of Salem Massachusetts, has put down his Lumurian Quartz topped wand and picked up the keyboard to help keep his neighbors informed of goings-on around town via a series of local news columns - Impress your date! - The Top Five Salem Sandwiches and the ghosts who stole them! - Magick On A Budgetk! When not writing his regular column, Cecil enjoys commenting on others. [via mefi projects]
Because you’ve seen this story so many times, because you already know the nature and history of llamas, it sometimes shocks you, of course, to see a llama outside of these media spaces. The llamas you see don’t have scales. So you doubt what you see, and you joke with your friends about “those scaly llamas” and they laugh and say, “Yes, llamas sure are scaly!” and you forget your actual experience. -- We Have Always Fought: Challenging the ‘Women, Cattle and Slaves’ Narrative by Kameron Hurley.
Each event has a different theme, revolving around a past era. Previously, Steam Garden did a Meiji-themed party — a fascinating time when Japan was opening its doors to the West, and fusing Victorian fashion with traditional kimonos and obis. This time, the code word was Celtic Fantasy. Luke describes it as “a blend of industry, fantasy, and epic adventure set to a soundtrack of exciting tribal and Celtic music.” - Japanese Steampunk, complete with bagpipes, medieval food, fire dancers and wood elves.
Vim Adventures. Have you always wanted to learn vim but were too intimidated by its vimness? Then give vim adventures a shot! Combining fantasy adventure with learning an archaic terminal program, this game is so nerdy you'll surely alienate friends and family. But who cares, you'll know vim! [more inside]
Richard Kadrey is not the most prolific novelist in the world. Still, every five, six years or so out comes another book like Metrophage, or Kamikaze L'Amour, dark, violent, intense works mostly set in and around Los Angeles with characters straight out of a good punk rock song. The self-confessing film nerd is probably best known for his Sandman Slim series, and if you're impatient for the forthcoming Dead Set novel, you can bide your time with a ton of short stories online. [more inside]
Unsounded is an ongoing fantasy webcomic by Ashley Cope. Updates are Monday-Wednesday-Friday, the scope of the story is apparently enormous, the writing is great, the world is complex, well-planned, and full of fistfights, magic-fights, political intrigue, zombies, giant dogs as beasts of burden, diverse characters, and smoke eels from the great beyond. Chapter 1 begins here.
As you know Bob, the gender inbalance within science fiction and fantasy has been a hot button item for a while now. As the just released Strange Horizons count of books reviewed and reviewers writing in sf publications in 2012 shows, this gender inbalance shows no tendency to decline just yet, with some notable exceptions. However it might just be that this gender imbalance is exacerbated in the count by the omission of RT Bookreviews? [more inside]
U.K. illustrator Kate Baylay creates gorgeous book illustrations, like these for The Olive Fairy Book. [more inside]
"I should have known before Night Shade came to me with a deal that things were rotten. Instead, I got an email immediatley upon announcing that I’d inked the deal saying “You know they aren’t paying people, right?” Everything authors knew about the rotten abuse at Night Shade was shared in private. With a few exceptions (Moon and Williams, most notably) no one was talking out loud about what was happening. The SFWA was accomodating and gracious and gave them chance after chance. We should have spoken up. All of us." Kameron Hurley talks about the culture of silence surrounding the problems at Night Shade Books. [more inside]
Caldera. "Through the eyes of a young girl suffering from mental illness, CALDERA glimpses into a world of psychosis and explores a world of ambiguous reality and the nature of life and death." [Via]
‘I am a phantasmagoric maximalist. I like things to be overwhelmingly strange and capacitous. I want what I write to live; it isn’t about something, it is something’— Michael Cisco. [more inside]
A collection of baseball writers have gotten together for a different kind of fantasy draft. All the players are fictional, although some players are more fictional than others. [more inside]
"It’s pretty safe to say that a decent chunk of the population experiences sex-related sneezes." [more inside]
"There use to be just sci-fi [sic]; then along came New Wave, New Weird, Cyberpunk and countless other genres; now new writing is stepping beyond even these" -- The Irish Times discovers it can be hard to tell what's science fiction and what's fantasy these days.
"When looking at a sample of bloggers reviewing SF/F, a majority of men will skew toward reviewing more men. A majority of women will skew toward a more equal gender parity, or the opposite in which they review a majority of women. There will be a handful of outliers." -- An analysis of the visibility of women in (online) science fiction and fantasy reviews and whether the gender of the reviewer impacts that visibility.
A brief Tumblr rant about Fantasy: The great temptation, the fatal temptation, of adult fans of fantastic fiction is the temptation of Law. We want the contents of our imagination taxonomied and classified, ordered and indexed, subject to rules and regulations. Gaps exist to be filled. Mysteries exist to be solved. Legends are just timelines that haven’t been formalized yet. Fantastic fiction becomes a code to crack. [...] It’s like people really want to write a wiki, and have to come up with the pesky “moving, powerful, imaginative literature” stuff out of obligation. via
One person’s disheartening pessimism that threatens the heart of western civilisation is another’s thought provoking deconstruction of conventions. Joe Abercrombie discusses the value of grit and grimdark in modern fantasy in response to some criticism regarding the state of the genre. [more inside]
"Disney goes to Anaheim late at night to help repair the animatronic Disneyland Lincoln, which has been malfunctioning and attacking members of the audience. Disney gets in an argument with the robot about blacks, and Lincoln goes crazy again and whacks Walt...." (source). Starting today at 2 PM Eastern time (just under 3 hours from now) and for the next 90 days, medici.tv will stream, free of charge, Teatro Real's January 22 premiere performance of the new Philip Glass opera The Perfect American. It's based on the novel of the same name by Peter Stephan Jungk, which the NY Times called "a surreal, meditative, episodic account of the last days of Walt Disney." Four minute preview video. ENO rehearsal trailer. (Happy belated 76th, Mr. Glass.) [more inside]
Sometimes you might find yourself sitting at a computer, wanting to read something. But you don't want something long. You're thinking, what about a short story, and possibly something in the fantasy or sci-fi realms? You're in luck! Here are four collections, for your reading pleasure: Apex Magazine short fiction | Baen Ebooks Free Library, which includes some short story collections | Eclipse Online, from Nightshade Books | Strange Horizons fiction archive, including podcasts of many stories. If this is overwhelming, io9 has a pick of 5 short stories from January, with synopses. [Previously: Plane of the Ecliptic, on the Eclipse series | This isn't your grandfather's science fiction, where "Exhalation" is from the Eclipse series]
At a time when the Lord of the Rings didn't exist as a film or a book trilogy, Fritz Lang created the 5-hour-long film Die Nibelungen (The Nibelungs, 1924), based on the 13th-century poem Die Nibelungenlied (The Song of the Nibelungs). A short clip of Siegfried slaying the dragon was used as a trailer for the restored edition of the film. [more inside]
H.P. Lovecraft, inspired by Lord Dunsany (Wikipedia; Project Gutenberg; UPenn online library) and Edgar Rice Burroughs' Barsoom (annotated stories online), created the Dreamlands, in which he set the 20+ stories of the Dream Cycle. The longest story was The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath (Wikipedia), completed in 1927, but unpublished in his lifetime. Comic artist, Jason Thompson, started illustrating the story in high school, then re-drew the story after college, and that comic was semi-animated as a feature-length film. He wrote up his influences for a hidden commentary on the DVD, and expanded it online as The Annotated Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath. More Lovecraft sketches and comics online in Thompson's Mockman archive. [Previously: Lovecraft comic adaptations]
For the release of the Hobbit, Lindsay Ellis of the Nostalgia Chick (previously) has decided to look back at all the LOTR films in order to analyze how they changed genre film-making, expected movie length, extended cuts, the problems of adaptation, and why Eowyn and Merry are made for each other. (Fellowship Of The Ring, Two Towers, Return Of The King Part 1, Part 2) Still need more? Then why not watch Kerry Shawcross and Chris Demarais of Rooster Teeth (previously) try to walk the 120+ mile journey across New Zealand from the filming location of Hobbiton in Matamata to the filming location of Mount Doom, Mount Ngauruhoe in A Simple Walk Into Mordor.
Seven For A Secret - an anonymous fanfic author creates seven unhappy ( or at least, unconventional ) endings for Disney Princesses by placing them in proper historical, mythological, or thematic context.
This 1987 live-action film version of an allegorical fantasy by Swedish children's author Astrid Lindgren was co-produced by Swedish, Norwegian, and Soviet filmmakers; shot in Sweden, Scotland, and the USSR; and starred a mixed British/Russian/Swedish cast. Among others, it featured confirmed wizard Christopher Lee and an adolescent Christian "This Isn't a Car" Bale, and was scored by Abba's Benny Andersson. [more inside]
Is Science Fiction promoting pseuodoscience? Is it not really better than fantasy? Is it exhausted and dying, per Paul Kincaid (part 1, part 2), a sort of genre-writing version of completing a list of The Nine Billion Names of God? Does physics-bothering unrepentant space case Alistair Reynolds have a compass pointing the way forwards?
I am BUSY today, far too busy for a rant, but then I felt one coming on, and was worried I might end up with a migraine if I tried to stifle it. You know how it is. So let’s talk about sexism in history vs. sexism in fantasy. [more inside]
Over the last fifteen years, I have created the world of Refractoria, a comprehensive imagino-ordinary world that is equal parts autobiography and pure fantasy. - Jeffrey Beebe [more inside]
Rutabaga, a webcomic about an adventuring chef.
All I remember about it was that I was having sex with Pierce Brosnan in a hot tub. Except that he had a vagina.
"Emma Stone was my dream best friend for a number of weeks. We'd see movies together. Get drinks and gossip. I remember one dream where we just texted. She resurfaced as my best friend last fall after I saw The Help. An actual friend of mine once told me a story about meeting Andrew Garfield's best friend, which meant Andrew Garfield and I were dream best friends for the following few nights. Again, there was texting." The Awl asks people: What Was Your Weirdest Celebrity Sex Dream?
Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff, a podcast in which writer and game designer Robin D. Laws (Hamlet's Hitpoints, The GUMSHOE system) and game designer and writer Kenneth Hite (Tour De Lovecraft, GURPS Horror) (previously) talk about stuff. Stuffs include: Why vampires are assholes and the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, stopping WWI and Beasts of the Southern Wild, Margaret Atwood and the difference between a mystic and an occultist, why no invented setting is as interesting as the real world and Woodrow Wilson, Gencon and sundry RPGs, Neil Armstrong, HP Blavatsky and theosophy, the ebook prcing settlement, what big publishing could learn from RPG publishers, and the many crazy fictional possibilities of Charles Lindbergh and his UFO investigating chums, and Dungeons and Dragons edition wars and Aliester Crowley.
Author and librarian, Jess Nevins, offers The Black Fantastic: Highlights of Pre-World War II African and African-American Speculative Fiction. [more inside]
It's The Princess Bride's 25th anniversary! Little known facts about it. Fred Savage remembers. Why it's Jonathan Haynes's favorite film. Reunion. And don't worry, there's no remake in the works.
The Hobbit, or There and Back Again, by John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, went on sale 75 years ago today. The first printing, by Allen & Unwin, was for 1,500 copies (which now fetch a premium at auction); the first reviewer, the son of the publisher, was paid a shilling. Through a contorted publishing history, exact or even approximate sales figures are unknown; "over a hundred million" is often quoted. [more inside]
What I wrote was unquestionably fiction — was fantasy. Among Others has magic and fairies. But I was writing fantasy about a science fiction reader who had a lot of the same things happen to her that happened to me. It’s set at the end of 1979 and the beginning of 1980, and it’s about a fifteen year old just when I was fifteen, and from a family like mine and in the time and place and context where I was. I was using a lot of my own experience and memories. But this is Mori, not me, and she lives in a world where magic is real. Jo Walton, who as editor for tor.com revisisted the Hugos 1953-2000, now has one of her own, taking home the 2012 Best Novel Award for Among Others. Other winners include Kij Johnson for her Novella The Man who Bridged the Mist (excerpt) and io9 regular Charlie Jane Anders for her novellete Six Months, Three Days. The Best Graphic Story award went to the webcomic Digger by Ursula Vernon. E Lily Yu took home the Bets New Writer award (technically not a Hugo) and was also nominated for her short story The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees. A couple of TV shows you have heard of also got awards. Links to many of the nominated stories here.
What If Other Authors Had Written The Lord Of The Rings?...Wilde, Wodehouse, and more.
Fall, Mortality, and the Machine: Tolkien and Technology From the beginnings of modern fantasy, in the work of Tolkien, technology has always been the enemy of the good life. But does it have to be that way?