Hello all, and welcome to Friday Five. It’s a beautiful sunny day in South London and I have a small cat sleeping peacefully next to me. There’s some good music playing (a cookie to whoever works out what it is). I’ve just made a horrendous pun and judging from my workflow so far, I’ve got a quiet afternoon ahead of me after lunch (although who knows when this will be actually published). All in all, it’s a good day – the sort that seems hard to believe in some of these day. But it is, and I’m not too big a fool to look it in the mouth. Here’s some other links and musings to help you have a good day too.
1. We’ll start with the reviews this week.
I’ll be honest. Horror manga has never been on my radar. But Harry’s review of Uzukmaki by Junji Ito over at FanFiAddict might change that a little.
Also something that wouldn’t normally be on my radar is Amatka by Karin Tidbeck, reviewed at Fantasy Literature. I can see some of my weirder SF loving friends being interested in this.
Off my beaten path seems to be the way it is this week. Interested in cosmic horror novellas featuring murder mysteries and the rich? I wasn’t, but I am now thanks to Jonny’s review of Spiffing by Tim Mendees.
Jason McGee at Grimdark Magazine didn’t quite sell me on Lavie Tidar’s The Escapement – but then, he wasn’t that sold on itself himself, and finding out why is an interesting read on an interesting book
I feel like I’ve heard Katie from A Cupful of Cyanide be excited about Light from Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki for a long while, and now the review is here to share the excitement.
Okay something definitely in my wheelhouse. I’ve heard so many good things about Lucy Hounsom’s Sistersong and Jodie at Witty & Sarcastic Bookclub is here to tell us more
Last but not least, at Biblio Nerd Reflections they’re going over some old favourites in Susan Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising series.
2. Blog of the week. It’s Seven Miles of Steel Thistles. I only discovered this blog the other day when someone linked to this piece of superb analysis on misogyny in fairy tales. The whole blog is full of snippets of folklore and how they link to stories, like this one on The Fairy Flag and the Paths of the Dead, and I might have to have a good binge read of this blog later.
3. Speaking of analysis and what not, I found this piece in Brian Attebery’s Stories about Stories (a book arguing the case for fantasy as a relationship with myth) and it resonated hard with me:
“The word romance has so many shadings and applications that it usually requires a modifier: medieval romance, Gothic romance, scientific romance, Harlequin romance. What these have in common is a conception of storytelling fundamentally different from a realist model. Realism says literature exists to tell truths about the everyday world; romance says that literature should supplement the world of experience. All the forms of romance take us out of the ordinary, the probable, the realm of common sense. Romance tends toward, longs for, mystery and myth. This is not to say that romance is less true than realism, only that its truths are likely to come in disguise and to concern the extraordinary and the improbable.”
I don’t know about you, but a big part of why I’m a fantasy fan is I have a hard leaning to romance in the old sense of the word – stories that take us out of the ordinary. My life is a series of ordinary stories; why wouldn’t I want to read books that offer something else and test the limits of what is ordinary? I’m a fantasy fan because, in theory, fantasy is the greatest standard bearer for romance over realism. Which is not to say the total absence of realism – fantasy needs its share of it – but rather a priority order. But it does feel somewhat like a good deal of fantasy these days does not agree, and is striving to apply a great deal of realism to the unreal. That the flag of romance is flying low. I don’t want to drive away the realists – I like broad churches – but I would like to see fantasy that embraces that sense of romance take more of a prominence again.
4. Before I get into general articles and items of interest, I’d like to highlight two that are dear to my heart because, well, they involve me. I know this is about me sharing cool things others did, but I do like things involving me. Besides, they are cool!
Jonny at Parsecs & Parchments has started doing a blogger interview feature, and was kind enough to invite me to be the first guinea pig. Here’s here how the chat went down.
Dianthaa was the first to use the Evil Cat Book Tag, an invention of which I’m incredibly proud (and very grateful to Para for helping me polish). So go check out what answers she gave, there’s some great ones there.
5. Right, less about me.
For all authors submitting – Pitch Wars is nearly here again!
Over at The Quiet Pond, there’s an interview with Zen Cho talking about Black Water Sister and many other things
Orbit has an extract from Tade Thompson’s Far From The Light of Heaven up
Track of Words has a round up of The Warhammer Crime range so far
Looking for a new pen and paper RPG? Look at Zin Never Dies
Want to read about the cunning folk of Wales? Of course you do.
Finally, a couple of tweet threads on cats in Islamic art and culture that just fantastic.
That’s all for this week, have a great weekend and thank you for reading.