Friday, September 30, 2011

N.K. Jemisin: Snippets 3

Here's Part 3 of N.K. Jemisin posting chunks that were cut from her Inheritance trilogy:
This first scene is from an alternate version of The Kingdom of Gods that would’ve been narrated by Shahar. I thought at first that it would be best to stick to the series pattern of a female PoV character, if not protagonist (the story still would’ve been about Sieh) — but the problem with a female Arameri protagonist was that it would’ve been hard not to tread much of the same ground that I did in The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. Mortal politics with a side of godly shenanigans, that is — when what I really wanted to do was something drastically different. I wanted something that would not focus on the Arameri, though they’d still be important to the tale, of course. Something that would put the gods front and center, instead of those mortals caught up in the gods’ business. For that, I needed the protagonist to be a god — so although I really, really liked Shahar’s PoV, I couldn’t do enough with her. I reluctantly gave it up and started over with Sieh.


Saturday, September 17, 2011


Another excellent Scott Lynch interview; this one from our friends over at Fantasy Fiction:
Well, the setting is in many respects very necessary to any success of the work, because a character like Locke needs a sufficiently complex world to operate in if he’s going to be any recognizable sort of con artist. You need social fluidity, middle classes between the peasants and the nobility, and you need a more generally literate and cosmopolitan society with lots of various forms of banking and lending. You couldn’t have someone like Locke, without the aid of magic, slipping effortlessly back and forth between societies like the Rohirrim and the Gondorians in Tolkien’s work, because the societies are too small, the rituals and class barriers too thick, the borders too guarded, everyone too well known to everyone else of similar rank. A master of disguise could live several different lives at the heart of Rome, but not in a legion camp in northern Gaul, if you see what I mean.
I wanted to keep the supernatural elements of the story, the magic, monsters, and mysteries, rather nebulous and only explained to a certain limited point. I just think they’re so much more effective that way, more beautiful and more scary. Certainly it raises questions in the minds of some readers, and even I sometimes have to curb the wish for more information when I’m reading other books. But dammit, the imagination needs to be flexed as well as fed, and writers should stay in practice with the fine art of omission as well as inclusion.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Firsts in Fantasy: Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson

Over at Tor, Bill Capossere is making a pretty good case for why you should read Steven Erikson's remarkable series The Malazan Book of the Fallen:
Characters that are actually complex, not the faux complexity that pretends to opaqueness but is eventually, comfortingly explained. True complexity encompasses contradiction and confusion. Like real people, Erikson’s characters change their minds, their personalities, have murky motivations or motivations that remain stubbornly unclear or unrevealed. Most of us, if we were honest, would be hard-pressed to say we truly “know” anyone, or more than a tiny handful of people. Why then should we expect to “fully understand” characters?
If you've read this blog for longer than a month it should be no surprise to you that Malazan is my favourite sequence of novels.  I've never read anything so complex or nuanced. It does ask a lot of its readers, but if you have the patience the rewards are rich.  So, as Bill writes: " waited a few years, finished A Dance with Dragons in three days, and now you’re kicking yourself for rushing through it even as you’re jonesing for something else to get you through the next several years until book seven. How about ten books, plus a handful of novellas, plus a promised new prequel trilogy: think that might tide you over?"

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Joe Abercrombie: Structure

One of the things I appreciate most about the internet is how many authors are using it to make the process of their work more transparent.  Many writers have blogs, or use twitter to keep in touch with their fans and I think it's useful for people who want to write, or people who are already published: seeing our problems and issues reflected back is helpful and inspiring.  In much of life, community is the answer.

Joe Abercrombie posts here about developing good habits and adapting ones life to writing every day:
It doesn’t help that most of us writers start out as hobbyists, amateurs, enthusiasts, burning the midnight oil after a day’s work at the day job to get a chapter finished for nothing more than our own amusement, hoping perhaps one day we’ll get published, maybe even make a living from it.  Things change as it shifts from being a leisure pursuit to a work one, and when, perhaps, against all expectations, you’ve finished that book or series you always dreamed of writing and have to think of something new you want to write, digging a little deeper for ideas and methods.  Inspiration and enthusiasm wane, perhaps, over the grinding years, and the shortfall has to be made up by earthier virtues of craft and application.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Interview: Scott Lynch

Over at Threat or Menace there's a new interview with Scott Lynch, author of the terrific Gentlemen Bastard Sequence:

He (Locke Lamora) was originally conceived for, believe it or not, a Star Wars roleplaying game, using the “force adept” class that Wizards put into its d20 version of the game. The backstory was that there was this tiny, out-of-the-way, somewhat idyllic planet that kept itself out of galactic turmoil generation after generation through the efforts of a small corps of Force-sensitive special envoys. They were diplomats, spies, saboteurs. They juggled political crises and bribed officials and arranged quiet coincidences to keep deflecting harm from their homeworld.

Locke was one of those guys, sent out with a bunch of standard-issue tramp freighter yahoos on some mission. The game was sadly quite short, but I enjoyed the character concept enough to keep toying with it. Eventually, I became passionately certain that the character in the book shouldn’t have any supernatural powers, and once I tore them out he became sort of recognizable as the Locke we now have on the page.
Lot's of great stuff in there including which fantasy games Scott played and his thoughts on the fantasy genre.

[source: Pat]


Saturday, September 10, 2011

Cover Art: Orb, Sceptre, Throne

The redoubtable Pat has posted the cover art for Orb, Sceptre, Throne the next Malazan novel by Ian Cameron Esslemont:

Great colours and tone, and I love the title.


Friday, September 9, 2011

Kate Elliot: Some thoughts on openings in novels

The excellent Kate Elliot has posted some thoughts about openings in novels:
Any opening can work if it does work, but avoid what seems flashy or sleek just for the sake of flashiness or sleekiness.  There should be more than one reason to choose a particular point of opening.  Maybe it’s cool AND emotional;  maybe it’s emotional and quiet and has subtle foreshadowing;  maybe it’s kick ass action but so clearly laid out and with such a strong hook for the reader to identify with the protagonist that there’s no problem with the reader feeling distanced from the scene.


Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Malazan Re-read of the Fallen: House of Chains, Ch 13,14,15

Here are Chapters 13, 14, and 15 of Amanda and Bill's re-read of Steven Erikson's House of Chains:
What an incredible sequence! As Heboric swirls in the blackness, and observes the stars and then the drifting jade statues, I was utterly gripped. And felt a massive sense of foreboding actually: “Thus, the Crippled God was brought down to our world. Through this...this terrible puncture. And these giants...follow. Like an army behind its commander. Or an army in pursuit.” That makes me wonder slightly whether the Crippled God is as bad as he’s been made out to be, to be honest. I only say this because if I had an army of faceless, sexless jade statues that eat otataral coming for me, then I would be getting a bit worried and using what I could to defend myself...
Chapter 13, here
Chapter 14, here
Chapter 15, here


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Hamlet's Dead Gay Ghost Dad

So, uh, Orson Scott Card has written a book called 'Hamlet's Father', which is kind of a, shall we say a streamlining of Hamlet; a slimmer, leaner re-imagining for a modern audience.  Which is a fine endeavour.  There have been some excellent interpretations of the works of Shakespeare, from Ian McKellen's Richard III, to Ethan Hawke's Hamlet, except OSC can't help himself from injecting into the play great swathes of his own particular brand of bigotry.  From the Rain Taxi review:

Here's the punch line: Old King Hamlet was an inadequate king because he was gay, an evil person because he was gay, and, ultimately, a demonic and ghostly father of lies who convinces young Hamlet to exact imaginary revenge on innocent people. The old king was actually murdered by Horatio, in revenge for molesting him as a young boy—along with Laertes, and Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern, thereby turning all of them gay. We learn that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are now "as fusty and peculiar as an old married couple. I pity the woman who tries to wed her way into that house."
OSC has publicly declared his homophobia... here, and, I don't have much patience for this kind of nonsense, so here's Scott Lynch's elegant response, and Amanda Downum's reaction.

Today is also National Buy A Book Day!

I recommend you head out into the world today and buy a book, any book, even Scott Card's Hamlet book, if you want to, because the best thing to do with any ideology you find objectionable is to share and discuss and examine it.  


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

World Fantasy Convention 2012 - Toronto

Thanks to Scott Lynch pointing out that he'll be at the World Fantasy Con next year, I just noticed it's being held in Toronto (my home town) in November 2012.

The guests of honour include Elizabeth Hand and Tanya Huff, and Scott will be there in some capacity, so perhaps it's time to get some tickets locked in.  The registration rate will increase as it gets closer to the convention so the earlier you join, the cheaper it will be.  Purchase tickets here via PayPal.