The OF Blog: A few quick thoughts

Thursday, March 27, 2008

A few quick thoughts

Truth truly is stranger than fiction: I have a female student who has tried to convince me that she was born in Mexico and didn't learn English until 5 years ago, when she was in the 4th grade. She has a pronounced Tennessee accent and her educational records state she was born in the state. But yet she's so convinced of this. Madness takes many forms.

An observation: so many epic fantasies seem to spend so much time regaling the reader with discussions of arcane lore, heraldry, and the latest in battle armor, but yet virtually all wildlife depicted, unless monstrous, have the most common and original names. Wherefore art the orioles or cardinals or other pretty songbirds? Whence hath the badgers, sloths, opposums, and skunks gone? I guess "worldbuilding" is only skin-deep and human shallow in its exploration of the flora and fauna.

Related observation: I have this growing sense that too many so-called "spec fic" stories either are products of a bourgeois mindset or are written in opposition to what is perceived to a bourgeois mindset. Good thing that there are more and more societies in which such "indulgent" literature and its writers can be permitted to eek out a less than precarious living.

Some authors recommend excellent books to readers such as I: I recently finished two books that Jeff VanderMeer suggested to me, Brian Evenson's 2004 story collection, The Wavering Knife, and Jeanette Winterson's The Stone Gods. These books are outstanding in their prose, their themes, and in how they likely will stick in my head for some time to come. And speaking of VanderMeer, I was planning on writing a short review of his just-released novella, The Situation, tonight, but then I remembered that my beloved University of Tennessee Volunteers are playing tonight. Perhaps Friday afternoon will be good, although I do have that third Abercrombie review to write as well this weekend.

Unsettling read: A little over two years ago, I was one of a handful of people who got to read an e-draft of Scott Bakker's take on the near-future thriller, Neuropath. Now it is about to be released in the UK, Canada, and the US this year and Fantasy Bookspot snared an exclusive release of the Prologue and the first chapter. This is one of the few books that gave me nightmares after I read it; it is not for those who are averse to graphic depictions of violation (as this is more than a physical rape that is explored). However, it is very well-written and the questions raised do bear consideration.

Author fighting for kudos: FBS is also hosting their second annual Author Tournament and in the Elite Eight, Nick Mamatas is matched up against Paul Kemp, who has written some well-received Forgotten Realms tie-in novels. Mamatas discovered this after an ego search and well...babies are at stake here. Since most babies aren't of the devil, I voted for Mamatas here and I'd encourage some of you to do the same before voting closes in a couple of days.

And that's about it for now. I will close by noting that Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being is a provocative read, one that I've enjoyed greatly during my lunch breaks the past couple of days. Shall try to finish it tonight before starting on Michael Cisco's The Tyrant.

5 comments:

Lawrence said...

Once again? You can't seem to get enough of Michael Cisco, don't you? ;)

Ted said...

The Unbearable Lightness of Being...that sounds familiar. Someone may have recommended it to me. Is it about the Holocaust in some manner?

Larry said...

D'oh! I meant The Tyrant. I'll edit shortly.

The Kundera book - it barely touches upon the Holocaust. Deals much more with human relationships than with historical events.

Matt said...

I'm curious about the observation "...too many 'spec fic' stories either are products of a bourgeois mindset or are written in opposition to what is perceived to a bourgeois mindset." Could you expand on that?

Larry said...

I will later. There's something related to that which will be coming out in the near future. Want to hold off on elaborating further until it is posted elsewhere. Sorry for sounding mysterious about this, but I like to have a bit of suspense about it ;)

 
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