The OF Blog: November 2005

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Amusing oddities

In the 4+ years that I've been an administrator over at wotmania, I've seen quite a bit of behavior that is in turns amusing and baffling to me. I just felt like writing a short, light-hearted post here devoted to the quirkiness that seems to make the SF/F fan what he or she is, so please don't take any of this personally, although I suspect a few of you might. C'est la vie and all that.

The first thing about the obsessed fan is the near-fanatical devotion toward matters of cover art. Judge a book by its cover? Perish the thought...or rather, perish the publisher that changes the art or those which print 'garishly SF/F art' on their covers. From the multitude of comments about how the Darrell K. Sweet WoT covers compare to the British ones to how people hate that the SOIAF covers have changed three times over four books to differences between the Canadian/American and British covers for R. Scott Bakker's The Prince of Nothing series, it would seem as though the 'typical SF/F fan' has to have the cover art JUST so.

Related to this is book size. Gotta wait an extra 8-24 months to own the tradeback/paperback edition (with the same cover, of course!), because the books must be of the same size and appearance! Heaven forbid if there's a hardcover that comes in the end part or that the composition of the paper used is thicker/thinner than before (you may think I jest, but considering the 'complaints' I read about George R.R. Martin's A Feast for Crows having 'thinner' paper than before, you'd be shaking your head as much as I am, perhaps), because we might have a few more heart attacks around this joint.

Then we have those amusing people who just have to have all of their books ordered just so on a bookshelf. Just reading a few posts around the web in recent months, it seems as though there is a legion of obsessed fanatics that arrange their shelves by book size, color, texture, etc. and therefore would become crazed if this said order would be compromised if an author were to release a book with cover art that is incongruous to that which has come before!

I guess whoever said that maxim about not judging a book by its cover never met a truly dedicated SF/F fan! I probably am leaving out more oddities, but I thought I'd just post this little bit in lieu of writing a more 'serious' article. Feel free to add more suggestions in the comments box.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Looking for a Story

One of the problems of being a voracious reader is that sometimes stories told by wildly divergent authors seem to merge and flow into one half-remembered mess. This is further compounded when the reader is bilingual and has read stories told in both Spanish and in English translation. I found myself today just sorting through some of my books, trying to reorganize my double-stacked bookcases and seeing what memories I had of those tomes and the stories told within.

Glancing at shelves where a Jorge Luis Borges sat beside an Angela Carter, or where China Miéville and Jeff VanderMeer shared space with a Thomas Wolfe or an Ernest Heminway, a world of literatures encapsulated within a five-shelf bookcase in which there were no distinctions made by genre or even language. As I glanced at this seeming mélange of various fictions and non-fictions (and even Derrida's Of Grammatology, fittingly enough), I started to find myself lost in thought.

I wonder if there were a story out there, one told in a first (or perhaps even a second person view) of a world in which some of Borges's ideas on labyrinths had been explored. A story which utilized the wit of a Jane Austen or perhaps the deep sympathy of a Charles Dickens. A tale in which humor abounded, perhaps not like Terry Pratchett's satirical works, but mayhap more akin to that of a W. Somerset Maugham. Such a story, if it exists, might have the beautiful flow of a Gabriel García Márquez, with his magical butterflies and tragic tales of tenderness to be found in the arms of a humble whore, or maybe the polemic of an Upton Sinclair.

Surely such a historia exists, somewhere, if not in English, perhaps in Spanish, German, Latin, or another language known or unknown to myself and others. I envision such a tale to have something, that je ne sais quoi, that would spark a reaction from its reader. Perhaps this story is found in prose form, or in a poem, or maybe even within a song lyric. I do not know. But I am looking for it. Have you seen a story, whether it be long or short, rich or poor, happy or sad, or all of the above and then some? If so, please share that story (or stories) with this humble reader, as he is looking for a part of himself that seems to be missing, out there.
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