Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Problem of Karsa Orlong


With Tor moving on to House of Chains, in its Malazan Re-read of the Fallen, it appears Steven Erikson thought this a good time to write an article about his character Karsa Orlong:
    So I ended up punching both ways. It’s a damned wonder I didn’t lose everyone after ‘House of Chains’ (or, more accurately, during the reading of ‘House of Chains.’). Structurally, I could not have introduced Karsa any earlier than I did. After three novels (all subversive in their own, unique ways) I was ready for something more overt—I was ready to take on the barbarian fantasy. At the same time, an entire novel of that relentless point of view would have been one bridge too far. The struggle between barbarism and civilization is not just specific to Karsa or even his tale: it is the struggle within each of us, as we battle desires with propriety, and as we battle need with responsibility. In the remainder of the series, those battles are played out on grander scales. It could be argued that civilization’s greatest gift is compassion—the extension of empathy, even unto strangers, and as such acts in half-formed opposition to barbarism with its pragmatic viciousness, and if compassion must be our shield, it is against our own baser natures.
It's a lengthy and interesting piece, and in it Steven reveals that he has plans for a trilogy featuring Karsa.  Check it out here.

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Friday, July 22, 2011

Among Thieves - The Mad Hatter


There's been a ton of praise for Douglas Hulick's Among Thieves, and I really want to read it but, for some odd reason, it's not yet up on the NA Kindle store (even though Kindle U.K. has it).  So, I will have to be content with reading yet another glowing review.  This one curtesy of The Mad Hatter:
Nearly perfect with its execution, Among Thieves is a twisty journey full of intricate layering and unanticipated surprises. Just when you think it can't get any deeper Hulick drops you in a sink-hole that will leave you stunned. Don't rush through the book as you could easily miss important connections that will help you from falling off the path. The pacing is perfect with lots of high-tension. 

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Malazan Re-read of the Fallen - House of Chains: Prologue, Ch.1

Amanda and Bill, over at Tor.com, have begun House of Chains on their fascinating Malazan Re-read of the Fallen:
Gosh, this is a very dark beginning, isn’t it? Siballe’s taking of the sacrifices to create her own hidden tribe, and their foreboding premonition that only one will return from the raid to Silver Lake. I’m accustomed to dark from Erikson, but this is taking the biscuit. *grins*

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Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Limitations of Womanhood in Fantasy

The excellent and insightful N.K. Jemisin has posted some thoughts on Womanhood in Fantasy:
Let’s put aside more technical definitions of character strength (like agency) and focus on gender roles. I see a lot of women in fantasy who are power brokers, good fighters, sexually assertive or dominant, technically/scientifically and sometimes magically competent — all good things. All in defiance of the kinds of stereotypes that have plagued women in America*. But I’m beginning to wonder if, along with rejecting the stereotypes imposed on women by society, we haven’t also rejected all characteristics commonly ascribed to womanhood — including those that women might choose for themselves. Why is it hard for a female character to be considered strong if she’s self-effacing or modest, for example? Lots of women who are trailblazers and asskicking heroesare modest. This is all of a piece with America’s ongoing devaluation of traditional women’s gender roles, like being a housewife. (Or a househusband; we also devalue men who chose “women’s work”.) I can’t remember the last American fantasy I read that starred a housewife. I’m hoping there are some out there — recommendations welcome — but offhand, I can’t think of any.But housewives can be great characters, if they’re written right.

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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

George R.R. Martin Interview

The author of the Game of Thrones series is interviewed here and he talks at length about sex, fantasy and 'A Dance With Dragons':
There's no doubt that I've wrestled with this book and the complexity and size of the series, and that may be one reason why my writing has slowed down. But my intent right from the beginning was to do something huge and epic, with a cast of thousands and many different settings.
With the general construction of the books, in some ways I took the Lord of the Rings as my model. Tolkien begins very small, in the Shire with Bilbo's birthday party, and from there, the characters all accumulate. First there's Frodo and Sam, and they pick up Merry and Pippin, and then they pick up Aragorn in Bree, and they pick up the rest of the fellowship in Rivendell, but they're still altogether. But then at a certain point, they begin to go separate ways—Frodo and Sam cross the river, Merry and Pippin are captured by orcs, and Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas are chasing them, and they continue to separate. You get this sense of everyone being together, and then the world gets bigger and bigger.
My scheme is very similar to that. We begin in Winterfell, and everyone except Daenerys is in Winterfell, even characters that don't belong there, like Tyrion. And they set off together and then they begin to split. In that sense my books are bigger than the Lord of the Rings because there are more characters and they split further apart. It has always been my intent, as with the Lord of the Rings, that eventually it would curve around and they would start moving back together. I think I'm reaching the turning point, that's starting to happen now.
Maybe I did make it too big two books ago. But I've thrown the balls in the air and I feel obligated to keep on juggling them as best I can. You can't just forget about some of the balls, you have to deal with the plot threads that you've introduced. If I can pull it all off the way I want hopefully it will be great. And if I don't, I'm sure the world will let me know.

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Writing Wrongs - Amanda Downum

Amanda Downum wrote The Necromancer Chronicles, which I thought sometimes uneven but often excellent, with an interesting and compelling character - Isyllt Iskaldur, the Necromancer - at its centre.  Here Amanda composes some thoughts on her novel writing process:
Now that I have a title and a blurb, I have to start worldbuilding. This is the fun part, usually. I have to create the Serpentine Kingdoms, their culture, the gods Ravana and her friends work for, etc. This will involve much googling and reading of Wikipedia, and probably digging through TrekEarth.com for awesome photos. I could start writing without the worldbuilding, but that leads to the hell of bracket notes. I also need to figure out who the antag is, and what the clashing goals are. That "rival priest" in the blurb isn't a real person yet. Right now I have a first paragraph written, but I can't get much farther until I can see the setting and know who the major players are.

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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Steven Erikson Q&A

Now that Amanda and Bill are finished their re-read of Memories of Ice, Tor is offering the opportunity for people to ask Steven Erikson questions about the novel:
The procedure is the same as it was whenGardens of the Moon, Night of Knives, and Deadhouse Gates were wrapped up. Post your questions to Steven in the open thread below and they’ll be answered by the author himself! Keep in mind that the timing of the answers is subject to Steven’s schedule.
Go here and post your question in the comments section.

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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A Dance With Dragons - Character Refresh

George R.R. Martin's A Dance With Dragons is out next week and since it's been a few years since book 4, Tor thought it might be a good idea to put together a little refresher on where the main characters are just before the book begins:
The Catelyn Stark (Lady Stoneheart): Inhabited with the spirit (“fire”) of the now deceased-for-real Beric Dondarrion, she leads the Brotherhood Without Banners with red priest Thoros of Myr, who is able to revive the slain. Their motives are vague. Last seen hanging Brienne of Tarth for Brienne’s seeming betrayal of Catelyn’s request to protect her two daughters, Arya and Sansa.
Check it out if you're having a hard time remembering where Arya is, or if anyone you love is still alive :p

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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Echo City - Tim Lebbon

Orbit is pretty excited about Echo City, the new book from Tim Lebbon, and maybe you should be too:

Echo City lies at the heart of a poisonous desert. It is a place ruled by tradition, where history has been forgotten and the secrets of the past are little more than echoes beneath the dusty streets. The inhabitants of this labyrinthine metropolis know but one truth: they are alone in the world. No life exists beyond their walls.
So when a stranger from beyond the desert arrives, everything they’ve believed in is suddenly proven false. As centuries of tradition and stasis come to an end, different political groups prepare to fight a war for the future of their city.
If you need a bit more of a tease, there's an exclusive extract here.  The Kindle edition is $6.39 right here.

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Sunday, July 3, 2011

Scott Lynch - Planned Parenthood Benefit Auction

Scott Lynch (author of the sublime Gentlemen Bastard Sequence) is offering up special international editions of his books as a benefit auction for Planned Parenthood:
Planned Parenthood is under siege from maniacs in more than one state; hypocritical lunatics who don't seem to grasp that it offers a broad slate of essential health and life-saving services including STD testing/treatment, cancer screening and preventive treatment, and contraceptive services. Planned Parenthood is already prohibited from spending any of its federal funding directly on abortion services, but that's just not good enough for the lunatics, because it's not really about the "sanctity of life" for them (if it were, they'd show decidedly more interest in the health and safety of those precious little life forms once they leave the womb)-- it's about leveraging all the powers of the state they can possibly get their hands on to control women and intrude on the most private aspects of their lives.

Marvellous!  Check out the auctions here and here.

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