Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Malazan Re-read of the Fallen: House of Chains, Ch 10,11,12

Here are chapters 10, 11, and 12 of Amanda and Bill's re-read of House of Chains:
And then the discussion between Fiddler and Gesler is something else entirely — sharp, with much more going on than is actually said. The philosophy and ideas are perfectly balanced here, talking about the faith and truth required by soldiers. Faith in the soldier by your side, and faith that you cannot die. I particularly appreciate what Gesler brings to the discussion; the fact that faith in your commander is essentially what will give soldiers the other two faiths. There is a real difference then between someone like Tavore and someone like Whiskeyjack.
Chapter 10, here
Chapter 11, here
Chapter 12, here

I am still involved with Martin's A Dance With Dragons, and author Douglas Hulick very kindly sent me a copy of his novel, Among Thieves, which I am anxious to read, so it looks like it will be a while longer before I return to my own Malazan re-read.  I still have yet to read The Crippled God, and I think a part of me just doesn't want to read it; doesn't want this remarkable series to be concluded.


Women Fighters In Reasonable Armor

Here's something fun: a tumblr blog containing artwork of female fighters who are not dressed in some variant of a chain mail bikini.

[source: Boing Boing]


Monday, August 29, 2011

Snippets 2: The God's Realm

N.K. Jemisin, author of The Inheritance Trilogy, has been posting chunks of material that she cut from her books and discussing why she cut it.  Here is part two:
One of the things I had to spend a lot of time on, in creating the Inheritance Trilogy, was figuring out what went on in the gods’ lives when mortals weren’t around to see them. This was something that I knew might never actually show up in the story — the gods are the focus of the trilogy, but it’s their interactions with mortals that matter most — but I still needed to understand it. I’ve heard other writers compare worldbuilding to an iceberg, and I think that analogy fits perfectly: readers see only ten percent, but writers still have to imagine the other ninety. So even though the story wouldn’t spend much time there, I had to imagine the unimaginable: the gods’ realm.


Saturday, August 27, 2011

Why Does It Take So Long To Translate A Book?

Over on his blog, Pat Rothfuss is answering a question from a fan about translations of his books:
Names are important things. And real names, names that actually exist in the world, don’t make a lot of literal sense. This is because real names tend to accrete and evolve over time.
I work hard to create real-seeming names for things in my world. Names that give a strong impression without actually saying anything. Names like Mincet lane, and Cricklet, and Downings.
These real-seeming (but in reality made-up) names sound really good in English, but they’re a huge pain to translate.
2. I have an odd turn of phrase.
If you haven’t noticed, I tend to make a lot of anormal word usements.
Take, for example, the very first page of the book when I say, “It was the patient, cut-flower sound of a man who is waiting to die.”
How do you translate that?
I wish I could speak another language.  I speak fluent shite but that only lets me blend in when I'm kicking around Glasgow.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Pratchett's Women

Following on from her post last week about her favourite female characters in fantasy, Karen Miller has written further on Terry Pratchett's women:
Much has been said and written about the inclusion, or exclusion, of female characters in speculative fiction. A common observation made is that, so often, too often, women in fantasy, science fiction and horror fiction are reduced to objects of desire, sexual adjuncts to men, rendered pathetically helpless so they can be rescued, or are killed off as soon as possible in order to provide motive for the male hero’s journey, or pretty much airbushed out of the narrative altogether. Unfortunately there is merit in these criticisms of the genre, but one thing I can say without hesitation: you simply cannot point that particular finger at Terry Pratchett.
I've never been much of a Pratchett reader - what I had read felt like a particular brand of English humour writing, like Jasper Fforde: containing too much of a knowing wink to the reader; a bit too precious and twee - but Karen's comments are forcing me to take another look at Pratchett.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Malazan Re-Read of the Fallen: House of Chains, Ch 7,8,9

Here are chapters 7, 8 and 9 of Amanda and Bill's re-read of House of Chains:
Cotillion’s statements about his view toward Laseen and the Empire of course bring up some questions. After all, in GoTM, we have Cotillion telling Shadowthrone: “Laseen remains our target, and the collapse of the Empire she rules but never earned.” So it appears that either this is a contradiction of character/plot or Cotillion and possibly Shadowthrone had planned to take down Laseen but since then they’ve learned other things that make a strong Empire more important (I lean toward the latter). Others?
Source: Chapter 7, Chapter 8, Chapter 9


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Joe Abercrombie - Red Country

Joe Abercrombie's next book is a 'fantasy/western', a collision of genres in the same way that The Heroes was a fantasy/war story, and Joe is making progress on the first draft:
So I’ve finished the first draft of the second part of my latest masterwork, workingly titled, ‘A Red Country,’ or possibly just, ‘Red Country,’ we will see on that score.  For those who have failed to follow this blog religiously for the past few months (shame on you faithless scum), it is another semi-standalone set in the world of The First Law, and fusing fantasy elements with western elements, in the same way that The Heroes was a fantasy/war story and Best Served Cold fantasy/thriller-ish.  That puts me about 40% of the way through a first draft, though I suspect there’ll be a fair bit of work to do once the first draft is complete.  Isn’t there always?  Now the terrifying wait for feedback from my editor and readers while I try and sort out what exactly I’m going to do with my next part.  I guess one could say that if Part I was a little bit Searchers then Part II rolled into Lonesome Dove territory and Part III has something of a Deadwood/Fistful of Dollars motif.
I feel a fair bit more comfortable with this second part than I did with the first, as you’d expect or at least hope.  One generally aims to get a better and better handle on the plot, settings and characters as one goes through a draft, until by the time you’re finishing your first draft you know pretty much exactly what you’re aiming at, and editing becomes largely a case of bringing earlier parts into line with that final one.
I’ve made quite a significant change to the personality of one of my two central characters – or perhaps not a change but a clarification, a shift of emphasis and a refinement of style – and he seems to be working quite a bit better now.  In essence, I’ve made him a bit more of a shit than he was before, which tends to be a fruitful direction for me to go in with characters on the whole.  Who knew?
It’s taken me a little longer to get this part together than I’d hoped, what with one thing and another, but if I can up the pace a little from here on in we should still be looking at delivery early next year and publication somewhere around late summer early autumn 2012.  Such is the hope.  But you know what they say about hopes.
Don’t make a parachute out of ’em.
Source: Joe


Karen Miller - Favourite Female Characters

Orbit has tackled Karen Miller and asked her to write about her favourite female characters in speculative fiction (which is what they call 'Fantasy and Sci-Fi'):
Looking at all these favourite female characters, I can see they have a few things in common. They are brave and bold and never defined or judged by their physicality. They’re independent, not relying on men to save them or think for them or be their reason for existence. They love, but love is not their sole function in the narrative. Like Terry Pratchett’s women, they are fabulously interesting and entertaining human beings who just happen to be women … and they live lives of adventure and mystery and  purpose. They don’t exist as props for men.
I'm surprised how much credit Karen gives to Terry Pratchett - I haven't read much of him, and what I have read I found a bit twee - and she may have convinced me to give him a closer reading.  I'm also a little shocked there's no mention of Steven Erikson, whose books are filled with capable, compelling, multi-facetted women.

Source: Orbit


Friday, August 12, 2011

Joe Abercrombie - New U.S. Covers

The delightful and savage Joe Abercrombie has posted new cover images for the U.S. trade paperback re-release of The Heroes and Best Served Cold:
The cover is one of the most important tools a publisher has to actually sell a book – with the majority of books where your publicity and marketing budgets are going to be tiny, much the most important.  If a bookseller really likes a cover they might stock it much more prominently.  If they hate it they might refuse to stock it at all.  A great cover won’t necessarily make you a smash hit, but it’ll certainly go a long way towards it, and a bad cover can without doubt sink a book, so it’s vital that, whatever else, a cover have solid commercial concerns at it’s heart.
I was  bit underwhelmed by The Heroes (I'm a huge fan of the writing but I felt like I was on page 400 before I learned something I didn't already know from Joe's previous books), however I adore Best Served Cold, and really like the new cover:

I have the U.K. hardback but may have to order a copy of this to go along with it.


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Snippets 1: The Broken Kingdoms

N.K. Jemisin, author of The Inheritance Trilogy, has posted some of the passages, which for various reasons, she cut from the manuscript of The Broken Kingdoms:
Like many authors, I make lots of false starts in the process of writing a novel. Some had legs, but just didn’t go far enough toward my goal; some were badly-written crap; some would have been beautiful — in a different novel. I tend to keep most of my significant text cuts, just because I’m a textual packrat and I’m always worried I might change my mind about that turn of phrase, this patch of description, and be unable to recreate it just that way if I delete it. So instead of deleting those bits, I store them in “snippets” files, one for every book. I’m going to share a few of the better snips here and explain why I wrote them, and why I didn’t continue them. Note: spoilers will abound in these posts, so consider this your fair warning.
This had potential, and I actually wrote several more scenes from Shinda’s point of view. I’ll post more of them later. Ultimately, though, I decided to remove them because the history of the demons works better as a distant, imperfectly-understood thing — and because Shinda’s story didn’t really add anything to the story. After all, we know his tragic fate. Detailing it would’ve added wordcount, but no forward movement to the plot.
Fascinating stuff.   Read the full article here.


Monday, August 8, 2011

Malazan Re-read of the Fallen - House of Chains, Ch 5.6

Amanda and Bill lay out their thoughts on the re-read of the Malazan novels; Chapter 5 and Chapter 6 of Houe of Chains:
I like this flashback, showing Gamet’s part in when Felisin starts her path towards the otataral mines and then Sha’ik beyond. And Kollen must be Baudin — Felisin’s protector right from the very beginning at the behest of Tavore. From the sounds of it, the new Adjunct knew that she could only protect her parents OR her sister, and chose Felisin. People have been keeping their eyes on her right from the beginning, possibly questioning her loyalty, and so Tavore has had to forge an armour of Cold Iron.
In other news, I'm halfway through A Dance With Dragons, and while it's nice to visit with these characters again, nothing much has happened.  Thus far, it's all filler while we wait for people to take their places.  Right now, I'm anxious to burn through this and turn back to my own Malazan re-read (I am about to start Toll The Hounds), but maybe Martin has some surprises in store for the second half of the book.


Sunday, August 7, 2011

Epic Fantasy Chat

Over at Clarkesworld Magazine there is a giant discussion about the question of epic fantasy - what it is, how do we recognize it, why do you write it - and there are some heavy hitting authors chiming in:
Patrick Rothfuss: Honestly? I'm not sure I do [write Epic Fantasy]. As I mentioned above, if you think Epic Fantasy means "big" fantasy, then yeah. Sure, I write it. My books are long.
But if Epic Fantasy means a story that centers around clashing armies, apocalypses, and other titanic, world-changing events, then that's not really me.
I don't care so much about making a distinction between epic and urban and arthurian, and all the other boxes marketing departments put fantasy work into.  I'm just happy so much quality fantasy is being written and published.


Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Republic of Thieves

There's a new blurb for Scott Lynch's The Republic of Thieves, the much-anticipated second sequel to The Lies of Locke Lamora:
Scott Lynch continues to astound and entertain with his thrillingly inventive, wickedly funny, suspense-filled adventures featuring con artist extraordinaire Locke Lamora. Now, in his most captivating novel yet, readers reunite with Locke – and meet the only female Gentleman Bastard. . .

George R. R. Martin has called Lynch "a bright new voice" and his hero, Locke Lamora, "a charming rogue." In THE REPUBLIC OF THIEVES, having pulled off the greatest heist of their career, Locke and his trusted partner in thievery, Jean, have escaped with a tidy fortune. But, poisoned by an enemy from his past, Locke is slowly dying. And no physiker or alchemist can help him.

Yet just as the end is near, a mysterious Bondsmagi offers Locke an opportunity that will either save him – or finish him off once and for all. Magi political elections are imminent, and the factions are in need of a pawn. If Locke agrees to play the role, sorcery will be used to purge the venom from his body – though the process will be so excruciating he may well wish for death.

Locke is opposed, but two factors cause his will to crumble: Jean's imploring – and the Bondsmagi's mention of a woman from Locke's past: Sabetha. The love of his life. His equal in skill and wit. Locke was smitten with Sabetha from his first glimpse of her as a young fellow-orphan and thief-in-training. But after a tumultuous courtship, Sabetha broke away.

Now they will reunite in yet another clash of wills. For the opposition knows of Locke's recruitment and has cleverly secured Sabetha as their countermeasure. Faced with his one and only match in both love and trickery, Locke must choose whether to fight Sabetha – or to woo her. It is a decision on which his life may depend
I wonder if this oft-delayed book is now nearing publication?

[source: Pat]


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Malazan Re-read of the Fallen - House of Chains, 2,3,4

A flood of updates from Amanda and Bill on their re-read of House of Chains:
We’ve had brief, very brief, mention of the Forkrul Assail in earlier books — Mappo called them “the least known of the Elder Races” in Deadhouse Gates. Beyond that we simply get their name a handful of times. This is our first real introduction to them then, and it’s a good idea to keep in mind their speed, their deadliness (think of what we’ve seen Karsa do), and their focus on “peace,” which as Amanda pointed out sounds a lot like a synonym for death. Not to mention of course their endurance and will — think of Calm entombed under the rock all those years and still sane. Or at least, seemingly so. (and we will meet Calm again). Consider her hand: “chewed, clawed and gnawed at; though, it seemed, never broken.”
Here are the links: Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4.

I got as far as Toll The Hounds in my own re-read, and was then sidetracked by George Martin's Dance With Dragons (which I'm 45% into), but I expect to return to this remarkable series in a few weeks.  I saved Book 10 for the re-read, and while I anxious to see how everything plays out, I think a part of me just doesn't want to read it; a part of me just doesn't want it to end.


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