Hi all. I’m trying to get a head start on this one by writing early in the morning, and I’m also listening to some spoken word, and I’m logging some story words in the other window. Too many words! But that’s what happens when you’re trying to get as much done as possible. Sometimes, a little wear and tear is a sign that you’re getting somewhere and stretching yourself
That’s my optimistic take on the situation anyway. Onto the links.
1. Blog of the week has gone unawarded for a few weeks, but we’ve got a very deserving candidate today in Aquavenatus, run by Misty. It was her essay on Grimdark, Horror, and Dark Fantasy that reminded me I don’t keep up to date enough with her work, but there’s plenty of other stuff like this one on Favourite Speculative Fiction Narratives. Misty also does sterling work on other platforms too – check out this one on Storytelling revealing Buried Black American History on SFWA.
2. It is now time to see what’s in my stack from the favourite reviews of the week.
I particularly enjoyed Mr Doomscribe’s review of Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Empire in Black and Gold and the way he leans into using his already existing knowledge of Tchaikovsky to inform his thoughts.
Curious about Melissa Caruso’s The Quicksilver Court? Lynn’s Books has you sorted with this review of the tangled web.
The hype of Shelley Parker-Chan’s She Who Became The Sun continues with Yvonne’s review at Yvonne – Me And My Books
As the Green Bones Saga reaches it end, don’t despair if you haven’t started on it at all, because neither had Nicole at Thoughts Stained With Ink and she loved Fonda Lee’s Jade City.
Finally, anyone looking for something like Circe or Ariadne should check out Fab’s review of JR Thorp’s Learwife.
3. Fun weird fantasy stuff.
And it mightn’t get weirder – in a consciously aimed for way – than Dungeon Rap, a musical genre that started in Ukraine and Russia based on crossing the Black Metal synth heavy offshoot that is Dungeon Metal with samples taken from Memphis Hip-hop. Yes, I did type that right. It is fun to listen to though and Invisible Oranges has a post all about it here
Calmgrove has some thoughtful words about the various genres of story found in Lord of the Rings.
Do you want a system agnostic RPG campaign set in SE Asia? Consider backing Reach of the Roach God
Looking to do a little giftbuying for your younger relatives? Dianthaa has you covered.
Out recently was the latest installment in David Hair’s The Tethered Citadel series, and here he discusses his inspirations
And how about a little fantasy art?
4. This section is for the writers.
Max Gladstone’s twitter thread on the issues with the idea “if you’re bored, the reader will be bored” is nigh-essential reading to me.
One of my many writing mentors, Dee Evans, recommended this article on story beats by Susan Dennard to me and it is pretty darn useful.
Looking for more advice? Nicole Chung has a new writing newsletter called I Have Notes. I like the “Parking Downhill” idea in the column “Never Enough Time For My Books – Or Yours”.
5. Finally, a couple of thoughts and questions
As I stare the proliferation of sub-genres we’re seeing these days, I do find myself wondering how useful they are. There seems to be a lot of drive to boil down whole concepts to one word at best, and find catchy new marketing terms at worst. On the one hand, increased accuracy is useful. On the other, ever smaller lines only leads to more confusion and difficulty in communicating, which defeats the point of creating terms of aid communication. How do people feel about the new labels that get put out in some places on the internet these days?
Also, as I consider my current reading habits, I am having to consider my reader identity. I’ve always considered myself a picky reader, which my DNF list stands firmly behind, yet I am reading a fair bit of fiction that really has a lot of things going against it. So what’s that about?
I’ve formulated a theory that what I ask from a book has a lot to do with what a book asks for from me. If a book wants to jam its lines full of detail, wants to drip feed information, and so on, then sure I’m down for it but it had better really reward me for the work. If a book is happy to be an easy, obvious reading experience, then I’m happy to overlook a few flaws along the way. The more I can turn my brain off, the more crap I’ll put up with. Obviously that’s a bit of a mood thing, but it feels right. How does everyone else feel about books they know are really actively slapshod but they can’t stop reading?
That’s it for this time, have a good weekend all!