sartorias: (Fan)
I am so glad that Katharine Eliska Kimbriel's Night Calls is getting out into the world again. If anything, I believe this story’s time has come–it’s the dark fantasy with an underlying glint of the numinous that I think so many readers are looking for and not finding.

Interview here.
sartorias: (Default)
When I first finished Jo Walton’s to Among Others, there was this instinctive pang of hurt at being left out because when I met Walton in Tempe for World Fantasy a few years back, she didn’t tell me about the fairies.

A heartbeat later my reasoning brain is sending the “Hello, this is fiction!” memo, but there it was, that delicious (and painful) sense of my having lived in that fictional world, the reading experience was so intense: it's the liminal existence I went to books for ever since I was a little kid.

The word "liminal" comes from the Latin limen, or threshold. For Victor Turner and a bunch of anthropologists of the latter part of the 20th Century, the liminal figure exists on the threshold of two worlds, and can partake of both. Turner and his associates studied cultural liminality—including marginalization and outsiders—and that segued into studies of the liminal periods of human existence, focusing on adolescence as a liminal state.

Some regard artists, writers, and musicians as liminal, looking at social forms from the outside. If that’s true, maybe that’s one of the reasons why young adult literature is going through such an amazing popularity right now: writers and artists look at culture, especially (liminal) adolescent culture, from the outside. There are interlocking rings of liminality here . . . .

. . . but that’s another discussion. Back to Among Others.

The storyline goes something like this. Some time after the accident that claimed the life of her twin sister Morganna, Morwenna Phelps is sent to live with her father and aunts. They put her in boarding school, which she hates; reading and journal writing are her only solace. Oh yes, and magic. Armed with these three things, she slowly begins to make sense of the world as she ages toward emancipation.

The book opens with the girls doing some magic to get rid of the polluted sump of the factories. As nature reclaims the area and fairies return, the reader, trying to impose a sense of familiarity if not reality over the story, might be reminded of painful historical notes wherein polluted places are associated with beatific visions, another form of liminality.

Like A Separate Peace and To Kill a Mockingbird, Among Others straddles that threshold between young adult and adult literature. All three view the adult world from the perspective of a young protagonist, not jut the kid world. Young adult novels are largely concerned with teen matters, and interactions with adults tend to be bounded by YA tropes. YA boarding school stories tend to follow rules set down more than a hundred years ago; though Mor attends a boarding school—one complete with a long history, and includes “Hons” among its students—her narrative is the antithesis of the boarding school story. The school and its world are not all-important. Mor is looking outside both figuratively and metaphorically.

Not only is Mor right in the middle of that liminal stage of adolescence, her very identity is liminal: she and her sister shared the nicknames “Mor” or “Mori”, and once she uses her sister’s name; she leaves Wales as Phelps but is enrolled under her father’s name, Markova; she’s liminal culturally, being Welsh in England, she’s liminal, or marginalized, as she can’t participate in games, that boarding school megalith, she reads science fiction, which not only socially marginalizes her, it enables her to view the world by comparing it to these fictional worlds, a uniquely liminal perspective.

Her journal is curiously liminal, reading most of the time like a journal (written in “mirror”), but every so often she talks to someone outside of herself: My family is huge and complex, and perfectly normal in all ways. It’s just—no. If I think about trying to explain it to somebody well-meaning who doesn’t know anything about it, I’m daunted in advance.

These are not the only liminal identities. Mor’s mother; the three aunts whom Mor can’t tell apart; her paternal grandfather, who had the most precarious liminal existence. By introducing us to these characters, the narrative engages the reader with the liminality of life.

There is the liminal nature of magic. It is difficult to define: You can never be sure where you are with magic. And you can never be sure if you’ve really done anything or if you were just playing.

From the diffuse to the details of everyday living, magic is liminal:[At boarding school] Still, on the subject of eating, we don’t have our own plates, or our own knives and forks or cups. Like most of what we use, they’re communal, they’re handed out at random. There’s no chance for anything to become imbued, to come alive through fondness. Nothing here is aware, no chair, no cup. Nobody can get fond of anything. At home I walked through a haze of belongings that knew, at least vaguely, who they belonged to. Grampar’s chair resented anyone else sitting on it as much as he did himself.

Magic, its possibility (or probability), its nature and its dangers become a powerful thread. There are also the fairies, whose liminality is striking: I’ve always noticed how much more fairies are like plants than anything else. With people and animals you have one standard pattern: two arms, two legs, one head, a person. Or four legs and wool, a sheep. Plants and fairies, thought, there are signs that say what they are, but a tree might have a number of branches, growing out anywhere. There’s a kind of pattern to it, but one elm tree won’t look exactly like the next.

Mor is also aware of the liminality of history: The places of my childhood were linked by magical pathways . . . we gave them names but we knew unquestioningly that the real name for them was “dramroads.” I never turned that word over in my mouth and saw it for what it was: Tram road. Welsh mutates initial consonants. Actually, all languages do, but Welsh does it while your mouth is still open. Tram to dram, of course. Once there had been trams running on rails up and down those dramroads, trams full of iron or coal. So empty and leaf-stewn, used by nobody but children and fairies, they’d once been little railroads.

Finally there is Mor’s reading, which is largely (though not exclusively) science fiction and fantasy. That’s a liminal genre right there. Mor talks about the novels she reads, sometimes reassessing them as she gets older; she finds like-minded people who talk books.

Could younger people read it? You bet. They might not get some of the sf references, which mostly cover books that came out in the seventies or before, but when does that stop the smart reader? I remember encountering unfamiliar references at age twelve, when I first began exploring the adult shelves, and being stimulated to go searching for the hidden meaning. And in those days (banging cane) there was no Internet. But the library, I already knew, was filled with veins of treasure waiting to be explored.

When I said that Mor engages with the adult world, some readers might ask if that means references to adult matters. As always, I encourage adults with curious reader kids to read it first. Mor talks about such matters as sex (including a somewhat harrowing close call) with the exact same combo of pragmatism and curiosity that I remember my fellow young teens talking about it when we were safely out of earshot of adults, and the same way I’ve heard students talk when I could hear them outside the open window of my classroom. Or how my kids talk to each other, when their voices echo up the stairwell.

As Mor gets older, she discovers her personal boundaries blurring as much as the social boundaries. How she looks at the books she reads, how she compares their incidents and paradigms with her own experience, how she finds a group at last and what it means to be inside . . . how she deals with attraction and all its invisible assumptions and demands, and then there is how she deals with evil.

Tomorrow: A conversation with Jo Walton about liminal subjects such as mythologizing your life history, and twins.
sartorias: (Default)
When I first finished Jo Walton’s to Among Others, there was this instinctive pang of hurt at being left out because when I met Walton in Tempe for World Fantasy a few years back, she didn’t tell me about the fairies.

A heartbeat later my reasoning brain is sending the “Hello, this is fiction!” memo, but there it was, that delicious (and painful) sense of my having lived in that fictional world, the reading experience was so intense: it's the liminal existence I went to books for ever since I was a little kid.

The word "liminal" comes from the Latin limen, or threshold. For Victor Turner and a bunch of anthropologists of the latter part of the 20th Century, the liminal figure exists on the threshold of two worlds, and can partake of both. Turner and his associates studied cultural liminality—including marginalization and outsiders—and that segued into studies of the liminal periods of human existence, focusing on adolescence as a liminal state.

Some regard artists, writers, and musicians as liminal, looking at social forms from the outside. If that’s true, maybe that’s one of the reasons why young adult literature is going through such an amazing popularity right now: writers and artists look at culture, especially (liminal) adolescent culture, from the outside. There are interlocking rings of liminality here . . . .

. . . but that’s another discussion. Back to Among Others.

The storyline goes something like this. Some time after the accident that claimed the life of her twin sister Morganna, Morwenna Phelps is sent to live with her father and aunts. They put her in boarding school, which she hates; reading and journal writing are her only solace. Oh yes, and magic. Armed with these three things, she slowly begins to make sense of the world as she ages toward emancipation.

The book opens with the girls doing some magic to get rid of the polluted sump of the factories. As nature reclaims the area and fairies return, the reader, trying to impose a sense of familiarity if not reality over the story, might be reminded of painful historical notes wherein polluted places are associated with beatific visions, another form of liminality.

Like A Separate Peace and To Kill a Mockingbird, Among Others straddles that threshold between young adult and adult literature. All three view the adult world from the perspective of a young protagonist, not jut the kid world. Young adult novels are largely concerned with teen matters, and interactions with adults tend to be bounded by YA tropes. YA boarding school stories tend to follow rules set down more than a hundred years ago; though Mor attends a boarding school—one complete with a long history, and includes “Hons” among its students—her narrative is the antithesis of the boarding school story. The school and its world are not all-important. Mor is looking outside both figuratively and metaphorically.

Not only is Mor right in the middle of that liminal stage of adolescence, her very identity is liminal: she and her sister shared the nicknames “Mor” or “Mori”, and once she uses her sister’s name; she leaves Wales as Phelps but is enrolled under her father’s name, Markova; she’s liminal culturally, being Welsh in England, she’s liminal, or marginalized, as she can’t participate in games, that boarding school megalith, she reads science fiction, which not only socially marginalizes her, it enables her to view the world by comparing it to these fictional worlds, a uniquely liminal perspective.

Her journal is curiously liminal, reading most of the time like a journal (written in “mirror”), but every so often she talks to someone outside of herself: My family is huge and complex, and perfectly normal in all ways. It’s just—no. If I think about trying to explain it to somebody well-meaning who doesn’t know anything about it, I’m daunted in advance.

These are not the only liminal identities. Mor’s mother; the three aunts whom Mor can’t tell apart; her paternal grandfather, who had the most precarious liminal existence. By introducing us to these characters, the narrative engages the reader with the liminality of life.

There is the liminal nature of magic. It is difficult to define: You can never be sure where you are with magic. And you can never be sure if you’ve really done anything or if you were just playing.

From the diffuse to the details of everyday living, magic is liminal:[At boarding school] Still, on the subject of eating, we don’t have our own plates, or our own knives and forks or cups. Like most of what we use, they’re communal, they’re handed out at random. There’s no chance for anything to become imbued, to come alive through fondness. Nothing here is aware, no chair, no cup. Nobody can get fond of anything. At home I walked through a haze of belongings that knew, at least vaguely, who they belonged to. Grampar’s chair resented anyone else sitting on it as much as he did himself.

Magic, its possibility (or probability), its nature and its dangers become a powerful thread. There are also the fairies, whose liminality is striking: I’ve always noticed how much more fairies are like plants than anything else. With people and animals you have one standard pattern: two arms, two legs, one head, a person. Or four legs and wool, a sheep. Plants and fairies, thought, there are signs that say what they are, but a tree might have a number of branches, growing out anywhere. There’s a kind of pattern to it, but one elm tree won’t look exactly like the next.

Mor is also aware of the liminality of history: The places of my childhood were linked by magical pathways . . . we gave them names but we knew unquestioningly that the real name for them was “dramroads.” I never turned that word over in my mouth and saw it for what it was: Tram road. Welsh mutates initial consonants. Actually, all languages do, but Welsh does it while your mouth is still open. Tram to dram, of course. Once there had been trams running on rails up and down those dramroads, trams full of iron or coal. So empty and leaf-stewn, used by nobody but children and fairies, they’d once been little railroads.

Finally there is Mor’s reading, which is largely (though not exclusively) science fiction and fantasy. That’s a liminal genre right there. Mor talks about the novels she reads, sometimes reassessing them as she gets older; she finds like-minded people who talk books.

Could younger people read it? You bet. They might not get some of the sf references, which mostly cover books that came out in the seventies or before, but when does that stop the smart reader? I remember encountering unfamiliar references at age twelve, when I first began exploring the adult shelves, and being stimulated to go searching for the hidden meaning. And in those days (banging cane) there was no Internet. But the library, I already knew, was filled with veins of treasure waiting to be explored.

When I said that Mor engages with the adult world, some readers might ask if that means references to adult matters. As always, I encourage adults with curious reader kids to read it first. Mor talks about such matters as sex (including a somewhat harrowing close call) with the exact same combo of pragmatism and curiosity that I remember my fellow young teens talking about it when we were safely out of earshot of adults, and the same way I’ve heard students talk when I could hear them outside the open window of my classroom. Or how my kids talk to each other, when their voices echo up the stairwell.

As Mor gets older, she discovers her personal boundaries blurring as much as the social boundaries. How she looks at the books she reads, how she compares their incidents and paradigms with her own experience, how she finds a group at last and what it means to be inside . . . how she deals with attraction and all its invisible assumptions and demands, and then there is how she deals with evil.

Tomorrow: A conversation with Jo Walton about liminal subjects such as mythologizing your life history, and twins.
sartorias: (Default)
I got a Sony e-reader last year. I've been experimenting with it since then. Mostly I use it for reading on the run, especially since my hands don't like holding heavy books any more, so I save those for reading on my lap at home.

The Sony is pretty nifty, once I got over the disappointment of no screen backlighting. I need bright light to read in; if anything, a slightly brighter light for the Sony than for regular books. But that's a problem only at night, and I seldom go out at night any more.

Anyway, I'd mostly loaded my Sony up with long out of print books--Catherine Grace Gore, a bunch of eighteenth century novels and memoirs, and so forth. But I've begun venturing into new fiction; the one I finished just the other day was Happy Snak, by Nicole Kimberling.

This science fiction novel features the most interesting and different yet appealing aliens I've read about since Michael Jasper's Wannoshay*. Gaia Jones is a loner after a failed marriage; her family relations aren't very good either, so she transfers to the A-Ki Station, which has a human section built by the mysterious amphibious, hermaphroditic Kishocha. Only one of the Kishocha has wanted to interact with the humans, the charismatic Kenjan, who swiftly becomes a popular celebrity.

Gaia is interested in the aliens, but she mostly wants to get her tiny snack bar going. Unfortunately, she couldn't afford space on the main concourse. She's stuck in a crummy area, directly across from an aggressive competitor; she doesn't like the natty Fitzpatrick, special assistant to the ultra efficient ambassador Burns. Fitzpatrick may be natty and have a perfect haircut, but he called Gaia's stand "crappy shack" which she will not forgive.

Then one day an alien appears, obviously in deep distress. It's the famous Kenjan! It begs for her protection, and she agrees. She tries to help it, even when the alien's body secretions begin burning and even melting her skin. They both collapse, but not before it releases a mysterious object.

A few weeks later she wakens, still not up to par, and missing her hands. Kenjan's consort, the powerful Oziru, wants to interview her. Since no human has ever even seen Oziru, the ambassador and Fitzpatrick are on hand, worried. Gaia discovers that the protection she offered means no less than tending the shrine to the departed Kenjan for ever. As Oziru is all-powerful, and the entire station runs at its command, this is non-negotiable. However Gaia does her best to negotiate, and gains a better setup for Happy Snak, which she can still run. Downside? Her new bedroom opens directly into the shrine, which smells weird and has threatening Kishochu guards on duty. Also, since the servant Wave Walker is rejected by Kenjan's "ghost" she ends up taking it on. She is utterly bewildered by the aliens' actions and customs--nothing makes any sense.

Gaia also gains a couple of bored middle-aged people who had volunteered to be friendly interfaces between aliens and humans, but the aliens totally avoided them. So they end up working at Happy Snak, along with Wave.

When Wave gets on the scene, the book takes off. Kemberling manages that difficult task of swooping between funny and genuinely tense, pragmatic and poignant, and even awe-inspiring. The friendship between Gaia (who has issues getting close to anyone) and Wave, as they try to find a way to fit one another's lives, makes the book.

*I'm not fond of human-eating monster aliens, or aphorism-spouting "wise" ones.
sartorias: (Default)
I got a Sony e-reader last year. I've been experimenting with it since then. Mostly I use it for reading on the run, especially since my hands don't like holding heavy books any more, so I save those for reading on my lap at home.

The Sony is pretty nifty, once I got over the disappointment of no screen backlighting. I need bright light to read in; if anything, a slightly brighter light for the Sony than for regular books. But that's a problem only at night, and I seldom go out at night any more.

Anyway, I'd mostly loaded my Sony up with long out of print books--Catherine Grace Gore, a bunch of eighteenth century novels and memoirs, and so forth. But I've begun venturing into new fiction; the one I finished just the other day was Happy Snak, by Nicole Kimberling.

This science fiction novel features the most interesting and different yet appealing aliens I've read about since Michael Jasper's Wannoshay*. Gaia Jones is a loner after a failed marriage; her family relations aren't very good either, so she transfers to the A-Ki Station, which has a human section built by the mysterious amphibious, hermaphroditic Kishocha. Only one of the Kishocha has wanted to interact with the humans, the charismatic Kenjan, who swiftly becomes a popular celebrity.

Gaia is interested in the aliens, but she mostly wants to get her tiny snack bar going. Unfortunately, she couldn't afford space on the main concourse. She's stuck in a crummy area, directly across from an aggressive competitor; she doesn't like the natty Fitzpatrick, special assistant to the ultra efficient ambassador Burns. Fitzpatrick may be natty and have a perfect haircut, but he called Gaia's stand "crappy shack" which she will not forgive.

Then one day an alien appears, obviously in deep distress. It's the famous Kenjan! It begs for her protection, and she agrees. She tries to help it, even when the alien's body secretions begin burning and even melting her skin. They both collapse, but not before it releases a mysterious object.

A few weeks later she wakens, still not up to par, and missing her hands. Kenjan's consort, the powerful Oziru, wants to interview her. Since no human has ever even seen Oziru, the ambassador and Fitzpatrick are on hand, worried. Gaia discovers that the protection she offered means no less than tending the shrine to the departed Kenjan for ever. As Oziru is all-powerful, and the entire station runs at its command, this is non-negotiable. However Gaia does her best to negotiate, and gains a better setup for Happy Snak, which she can still run. Downside? Her new bedroom opens directly into the shrine, which smells weird and has threatening Kishochu guards on duty. Also, since the servant Wave Walker is rejected by Kenjan's "ghost" she ends up taking it on. She is utterly bewildered by the aliens' actions and customs--nothing makes any sense.

Gaia also gains a couple of bored middle-aged people who had volunteered to be friendly interfaces between aliens and humans, but the aliens totally avoided them. So they end up working at Happy Snak, along with Wave.

When Wave gets on the scene, the book takes off. Kemberling manages that difficult task of swooping between funny and genuinely tense, pragmatic and poignant, and even awe-inspiring. The friendship between Gaia (who has issues getting close to anyone) and Wave, as they try to find a way to fit one another's lives, makes the book.

*I'm not fond of human-eating monster aliens, or aphorism-spouting "wise" ones.

Blog Buzz

Feb. 28th, 2009 05:48 am
sartorias: (Fan)
I need to hit the road for ConDor (one day visits being all we can afford right now) but I was so surprised yesterday I wanted to find out what others think.

I belong to a very old group that was once a book crit group back in the Genie days, but changed to a sort of publishing news/warnings/complaint group because nobody liked reading online, and it was too much hassle to send entire books back and forth.

Anyway, several of us stayed in contact. Yesteday I had an exchange of emails that I will condense like this.

Person: What is it with blogging? I've nothing to say to yours. It's usually too long to read, so I haven't. But every time I take a look at these blogs I find mentioned everywhere, I find either badly spelled, sloppily written advertising, about as interesting to read as computer-canned commercials, or else long, equally badly spelled diary entries. And Twitter makes it all even worse.

This isn't someone my age who hates the computer age, they use a computer all the time, but just avoid blogs.

My response can be condensed into this: Do you blow off people you meet at gatherings, if their talk doesn't leap to profundity? Can a person be interesting without cogent discourse on important subjects? Maybe they can't--we all socialize differently. But without blogs I wouldn't have discovered...

And I named some books.

Then I thought about it during the night, and realized that, yeah! Without this LiveJournal thing, just in the past month I probably would not have met people like these

Or discovered books (just to name the most recent) and authors like these, which I have read, or are in the process of reading, or are going to get and read:

Bones of Faerie, by Janni Lee Simner--halfway through this post-apocalyptic look at faerie. While it has the familiar structure of certain types of fantasy tales of the past couple of decades, her look at faerie is a real twist on the expected. You'll never think of Birnam Wood the same. . .

Deader Still, Anton Strout's deliciously funny urban fantasy about Simon Canderous, the young man whose psychometric powers had started him off as a thief, but now that he's trying to go straight and also have a real relationship, he's not only hip deep in monsters, but in government bureaucracy . . . recently we had some pretty bad times here, terrible things happening to other people, and I carried this book to waiting rooms, it kept me smiling and my version of sane.

Worldweavers: Cybermage by Alma Alexander. This concludes the story arc begun in Worldweavers: Gift of the Unmage, a YA series that imaginatively mixes computers, magic, and teenagers. The buzz is that this last of the series comes to a rousing conclusion.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth, by Carrie Ryan, which is not quite out, but I'm hoping to find at the con today, as sometimes the specialty bookstores have advance copies. This YA novel purports to be a compelling work that brings the zombie world together with magic.

That's just four recent titles I never would have known about if it hadn't been for meeting people through blogs. But I guess everyone has to order their time according to their own lights.

Blog Buzz

Feb. 28th, 2009 05:48 am
sartorias: (Default)
I need to hit the road for ConDor (one day visits being all we can afford right now) but I was so surprised yesterday I wanted to find out what others think.

I belong to a very old group that was once a book crit group back in the Genie days, but changed to a sort of publishing news/warnings/complaint group because nobody liked reading online, and it was too much hassle to send entire books back and forth.

Anyway, several of us stayed in contact. Yesteday I had an exchange of emails that I will condense like this.

Person: What is it with blogging? I've nothing to say to yours. It's usually too long to read, so I haven't. But every time I take a look at these blogs I find mentioned everywhere, I find either badly spelled, sloppily written advertising, about as interesting to read as computer-canned commercials, or else long, equally badly spelled diary entries. And Twitter makes it all even worse.

This isn't someone my age who hates the computer age, they use a computer all the time, but just avoid blogs.

My response can be condensed into this: Do you blow off people you meet at gatherings, if their talk doesn't leap to profundity? Can a person be interesting without cogent discourse on important subjects? Maybe they can't--we all socialize differently. But without blogs I wouldn't have discovered...

And I named some books.

Then I thought about it during the night, and realized that, yeah! Without this LiveJournal thing, just in the past month I probably would not have met people like these

Or discovered books (just to name the most recent) and authors like these, which I have read, or are in the process of reading, or are going to get and read:

Bones of Faerie, by Janni Lee Simner--halfway through this post-apocalyptic look at faerie. While it has the familiar structure of certain types of fantasy tales of the past couple of decades, her look at faerie is a real twist on the expected. You'll never think of Birnam Wood the same. . .

Deader Still, Anton Strout's deliciously funny urban fantasy about Simon Canderous, the young man whose psychometric powers had started him off as a thief, but now that he's trying to go straight and also have a real relationship, he's not only hip deep in monsters, but in government bureaucracy . . . recently we had some pretty bad times here, terrible things happening to other people, and I carried this book to waiting rooms, it kept me smiling and my version of sane.

Worldweavers: Cybermage by Alma Alexander. This concludes the story arc begun in Worldweavers: Gift of the Unmage, a YA series that imaginatively mixes computers, magic, and teenagers. The buzz is that this last of the series comes to a rousing conclusion.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth, by Carrie Ryan, which is not quite out, but I'm hoping to find at the con today, as sometimes the specialty bookstores have advance copies. This YA novel purports to be a compelling work that brings the zombie world together with magic.

That's just four recent titles I never would have known about if it hadn't been for meeting people through blogs. But I guess everyone has to order their time according to their own lights.
sartorias: (Default)
There were three topics on the Boskone program that exemplify ones I avoid unless I really admire the panelists. One:

Le Guin criticized mixing the modern with the high fantastic, yet Tolkien pointed out that our own green Earth is a character in ancient legends and is where the fantastic plays out. So what's wrong with mixing the high fantastic and the mundane? Discuss what works and what doesn't. Why?

and:

It has been argued that the novella is a form particularly well-suited to SF and fantasy, yet the field has tended towards big fat volumes. Should we be editing more heavily?

and especially this one:

Resolved: That high fantasy reached its peak with Tolkien and it's all been downhill since. Just what has happened to the state of the art of high fantasy since Tolkien to contradict that assertion? Or is 98% of the post-Tolkien fantasy literature just a re-use of parts of his storyline with a few things changed?

My response to all three is, "Sez who?" Is there a possibility of real discussion if the politer member of the audiences are biting their lips, say, when an impassioned fifteen year old trying our her first con stands up to declare that the best fantasy EVAR is by Christopher Paolini (and if someone politely suggests she try Ursula le Guin and she says, "I tried Earthsea a million times because my teachers keep saying to but it's old-fashioned and boring with no interesting girls in it" they just tiptoe around the landmine and limp on with the discussion), or there's a slapfight between the supporters of Michael Swanwick and the fans of Sarah Douglass, each saying the others' author is Ruining The Genre?

Well, maybe those panels went brilliantly well. But this one, I would have attended:

If You Like X You're Gonna Love Y Sometimes good books are alike in interesting or unexpected ways. Our neighborhood bookshop is exploiting this phenomenon to display older novels next to particularly popular new ones. Let's do the same for worthy works of SF, fantasy, and horror — and speculate on the mysterious affinities we may find between very different works of art.

What I'd love to hear is what people think others would like if they like X...and especially, Why.
sartorias: (Default)
There were three topics on the Boskone program that exemplify ones I avoid unless I really admire the panelists. One:

Le Guin criticized mixing the modern with the high fantastic, yet Tolkien pointed out that our own green Earth is a character in ancient legends and is where the fantastic plays out. So what's wrong with mixing the high fantastic and the mundane? Discuss what works and what doesn't. Why?

and:

It has been argued that the novella is a form particularly well-suited to SF and fantasy, yet the field has tended towards big fat volumes. Should we be editing more heavily?

and especially this one:

Resolved: That high fantasy reached its peak with Tolkien and it's all been downhill since. Just what has happened to the state of the art of high fantasy since Tolkien to contradict that assertion? Or is 98% of the post-Tolkien fantasy literature just a re-use of parts of his storyline with a few things changed?

My response to all three is, "Sez who?" Is there a possibility of real discussion if the politer member of the audiences are biting their lips, say, when an impassioned fifteen year old trying our her first con stands up to declare that the best fantasy EVAR is by Christopher Paolini (and if someone politely suggests she try Ursula le Guin and she says, "I tried Earthsea a million times because my teachers keep saying to but it's old-fashioned and boring with no interesting girls in it" they just tiptoe around the landmine and limp on with the discussion), or there's a slapfight between the supporters of Michael Swanwick and the fans of Sarah Douglass, each saying the others' author is Ruining The Genre?

Well, maybe those panels went brilliantly well. But this one, I would have attended:

If You Like X You're Gonna Love Y Sometimes good books are alike in interesting or unexpected ways. Our neighborhood bookshop is exploiting this phenomenon to display older novels next to particularly popular new ones. Let's do the same for worthy works of SF, fantasy, and horror — and speculate on the mysterious affinities we may find between very different works of art.

What I'd love to hear is what people think others would like if they like X...and especially, Why.
sartorias: (Default)
Reading over people's 2007 lists of favorite books, it surprises me yet again how unpredictable such things can be. I expect A to like authors Burble, Snerk, and Phlubb, and I expect B to love Phlubb but despise Snerk and Burble . . . and i get all but one right. Or all but one wrong. Then, ZOMBIES VERSUS MAHABARATA shows up on B,C, and D's list--they're all buddies, so I expect it, but it also shows up on X's list, and X usually hates what they like. But X loved JANE AUSTEN EATS BRAINS, when I thought X would loathe it, and B and D loathed it, and C loved it.

Anyway, has anyone figured out a successful way to list "If you like X, you ought to like Y?" Or do you all recommend books individual by individual, vectoring on known tastes? I'm not talking about posting enthusiastic reviews of something just read, I mean recommending.

ETD: [livejournal.com profile] negothick has a Boskone panel on this very topic--jump in, tell her how you recomment--what's worked, what hasn't?
sartorias: (Default)
Reading over people's 2007 lists of favorite books, it surprises me yet again how unpredictable such things can be. I expect A to like authors Burble, Snerk, and Phlubb, and I expect B to love Phlubb but despise Snerk and Burble . . . and i get all but one right. Or all but one wrong. Then, ZOMBIES VERSUS MAHABARATA shows up on B,C, and D's list--they're all buddies, so I expect it, but it also shows up on X's list, and X usually hates what they like. But X loved JANE AUSTEN EATS BRAINS, when I thought X would loathe it, and B and D loathed it, and C loved it.

Anyway, has anyone figured out a successful way to list "If you like X, you ought to like Y?" Or do you all recommend books individual by individual, vectoring on known tastes? I'm not talking about posting enthusiastic reviews of something just read, I mean recommending.

ETD: [livejournal.com profile] negothick has a Boskone panel on this very topic--jump in, tell her how you recomment--what's worked, what hasn't?

Books

Jan. 15th, 2008 06:23 am
sartorias: (Default)
what really exciting books people have discovered and why it's exciting?

Books

Jan. 15th, 2008 06:23 am
sartorias: (Default)
what really exciting books people have discovered and why it's exciting?
sartorias: (Default)
what is everyone reading today?

Among the books on my various reading stations over the house is Lois McMaster Bujold's The Sharing Knife: Beguilement. I am thoroughly enjoying it as I enjoy all her work*. New world, quieter in tone and drive than the Miles books. Again, as in her first fantasy, we've got an older, heart-and-body wounded fellow as yin, but his yang is charmingly different and delightful. The realities of human life and the goshwow layers of world building (and no doubt crises to come) are highlighed with Bujoldian gracenotes: everyday humor thoroughly grounding flights of heroism, angst that never whines, grief that does not overwhelm the story, but reminds you that outside the firelight and the merry dancing, dark things do prowl.

*as with any author, some better than others
sartorias: (Default)
what is everyone reading today?

Among the books on my various reading stations over the house is Lois McMaster Bujold's The Sharing Knife: Beguilement. I am thoroughly enjoying it as I enjoy all her work*. New world, quieter in tone and drive than the Miles books. Again, as in her first fantasy, we've got an older, heart-and-body wounded fellow as yin, but his yang is charmingly different and delightful. The realities of human life and the goshwow layers of world building (and no doubt crises to come) are highlighed with Bujoldian gracenotes: everyday humor thoroughly grounding flights of heroism, angst that never whines, grief that does not overwhelm the story, but reminds you that outside the firelight and the merry dancing, dark things do prowl.

*as with any author, some better than others
sartorias: (Default)
One of my correspondents mentioned an upcoming trip. They would like to take along a big fat book, paperback, for reading during the inevitable downtimes of a trip. They've already read and loved Middlemarch and Wives and Daughters, Shogun, Pillars of the Earth, and the obvious biggies. Didn't care much for Benson (I'd suggested the Mapp and Lucia omnibus), have already read Wodehouse, and the classic biggies in genre. Also the big Roman historical novels. Their taste is a lot like mine: complicated stories, wit, verve, adventure, complex societies, and in non-fic or mainstream fic, good historical chops. The fatter the better--the person reads as fast as I do, and would love something long enough to linger over. Not too interested in horror, or perfect gems of despair.

Any ideas?
sartorias: (Default)
One of my correspondents mentioned an upcoming trip. They would like to take along a big fat book, paperback, for reading during the inevitable downtimes of a trip. They've already read and loved Middlemarch and Wives and Daughters, Shogun, Pillars of the Earth, and the obvious biggies. Didn't care much for Benson (I'd suggested the Mapp and Lucia omnibus), have already read Wodehouse, and the classic biggies in genre. Also the big Roman historical novels. Their taste is a lot like mine: complicated stories, wit, verve, adventure, complex societies, and in non-fic or mainstream fic, good historical chops. The fatter the better--the person reads as fast as I do, and would love something long enough to linger over. Not too interested in horror, or perfect gems of despair.

Any ideas?
sartorias: (Default)
By the end of next week I'll no doubt have a couple of gift certificates on hand, given me by students; while I have an enormous "to buy" list, I am always looking for new items. A relative is gonna get me Decca's letters, so that one is covered (someone who will read it and enjoy it first) but how about other discoveries? What are you reading and loving right now? What do you think I might like to discover, and why?
sartorias: (Default)
By the end of next week I'll no doubt have a couple of gift certificates on hand, given me by students; while I have an enormous "to buy" list, I am always looking for new items. A relative is gonna get me Decca's letters, so that one is covered (someone who will read it and enjoy it first) but how about other discoveries? What are you reading and loving right now? What do you think I might like to discover, and why?

Reading

Jun. 27th, 2006 09:02 am
sartorias: (Default)
Woo, storm fronts in the blogosphere!

What's everybody reading today, and what do you think so far?


Me: Upstairs, Tobias Buckell's Crystal Rain. Nifty worldbuilding, and the Aztecs make great bad guys. Interesting characters. But I am puzzled why the Aztecs would take a century to dig out a tunnel under the mountain ridge when they have airships and coulda lifted their guys over to begin their conquering decades ago. Only two interesting woman characters; my favorite so far is the boy, though a promising one named Pepper briefly whirled in and out again. Cannot see where this one is going.

Downstairs: Sharpe's Havoc by Bernard Cornwell. Setup so far is, he's being sent to get a runaway nineteen year old girl, which is why I've left it for later reading. Sharpe's girls always fall in love with him, and most of them eithre die or betray him, so if this girl turns out to be the main plot, I will probably abadon it. I like the ones where he out-thinks bad guys.

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