Ancillary Justice

I first read Ancillary Justice last year in the spring, when I was relying on the public library a great deal.  (This was also before it had won ALL THE AWARDS!)   I was thrilled by the book, and now that I have its sequel, Ancillary Sword, to read, I figured I would reread Ancillary Justice.

I am really happy that it was still totally enthralling.

To be continued…


Non-European fantasy by women

In haste!

James Nicoll linked to this on Facebook and I liked it so much I had to post it here as well.

There are many wonderful authors and books mentioned here.  I realize I haven’t read many of the books by Kara Dalkey even though I remember her Goa series positively.   Other authors I’ve enjoyed:  Cherryh, Fallon, Jemisin, LeGuin, Okorafor, Tarr, Wells.

At one point in my reading 10+ years ago, I deliberately went out of my way to read non-European fantasy.  Why?  For the sheer, beautiful, variety of it!

There’s one trilogy I remember reading involving a city on the lake of the gods and threats to it.  I remember the author was a woman and the culture was Turkish, but can I remember the author or the name of the books now?  No.

Anyway, if you are looking for some variety and quality in your fantasy reading I recommend checking out that list!

Rocket Talk

Lately I’ve been listening to a podcast called Rocket Talk from fantasy/SF publisher Tor.   I think this is a good one, because a lot of what host Justin Landon does is get interesting guests talking with each other, using questions to keep the conversation rolling.  I admit though, that some of the episodes are reading of short stories and I’m less interested in that, so I’ve skipped them.

Episodes I particularly recommend:

#15 with Joe Abercrombie.  Mr. Abercrombie is the author of the First Law trilogy and following books which fall firmly into the same space within genre that has been carved out by Game of Thrones.  Magic doesn’t play a huge role, and the stories are mostly about flawed characters facing off against each other.  There’s a lot of dirt and blood and violence but they’re marvellously well done.

#23 with Kate Elliott and N. K. Jemisin.  Actually I still haven’t read any of Ms Elliot’s books (and will have to correct that), but Jemisin is one of the amazing new authors to come onto the scene in the past few years. She’s been very outspoken and eloquent on issues of race and gender within science fiction and fantasy.  This episode is definitely worth a listen.  (And if you haven’t read The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms then go do so.  And the two sequels, and The Killing Moon and it sequel The Shadowed Sun, set in a fantasy society inspired by Egypt.  Go go go!  What are you waiting for?

SFF are dedicated to the exploration of the future and myth and history. Dreams, if you want to frame it that way. Yet the enforced SWM dominance of these genres means that the dreams of whole groups of people have been obliterated from the Zeitgeist. And it’s not as if those dreams don’t exist. They’re out there, in spades; everyone who dreams is capable of participating in these genres. But many have been forcibly barred from entry, tormented and reeducated until they serve the status quo. – N. K. Jemisin’s Guest of Honour Speech at Wiscon 2014 (Link above)

#25 with Robert Jackson Bennett.  Bennett is the author of a great new novel called City of Stairs which involves a murder mystery in a sort of colonial situation in a city which used to be the centre of a god-supported empire.  Bennett is also the author of an online piece called The Genre Fountain which I think gives a lot to think about and is very much worth reading.  I think I’d like to come back to City of Stairs and the Genre Fountain in a future blog post.

So, in essence, when someone walks up to the genre-fountain and sticks their cup under the nozzle, they want to know exactly what’s coming out of it. They’re going to want to know the tropes, the pacing, the narrative structure, all that shit. They’re going to want to know what they’re buying before they buy it, or at least have a really general idea. – Robert Jackson Bennett in The Genre Fountain

#27 with Karen Lord and Tobias Buckell, about how being from the Caribbean affects what they write, and “the challenge of reading western literature from a different point of view”.
That’s all for now, folks!

Radio comedy: filling in the gaps

I had a realization about a Goon Show episode this weekend which helped inspire this blog.

“The Goon Show?  What on earth are you talking about?”

Ok, this is an obscure one.  The Goon Show was a madcap radio comedy show from the BBC in the 1950s which helped inspire Monty Python.

Some of the humour – aside from being crazy – really was unique to radio. Consider the following scene, which helpfully you can listen to on YouTube!

Take two minutes and go listen to this:

You really couldn’t make the final joke in a visual medium.  As we listen to the voices of the characters, we construct a mental picture in our mind of the agent painstakingly writing down all the details, only to have that picture exploded, and that’s what’s funny.

This wasn’t by any means unusual for the Goons.  In “Napoleon’s Piano”, characters planning a heist in the Louvre in Paris begin to unfold a gigantic map of the city until they are miles away from each other, and they reunite by taxi.  In “The Treasure of the Loch”, two schemers plan to drain a loch to get at a sunken treasure galleon by convincing our foolish protagonist to drink it.

And that of course is why I love it so much.

I’ll leave you here with a video of some brave soul who recreated that last scene for some sort of acting audition.

About the blog

Greetings, gentle readers!

I was inspired this weekend to start a blog to share my thoughts about books, films, podcasts, and other such things.  Those of you who know me will not be surprised that I originally wanted to make the title of the podcast be a pun.  In this case, a pun on “in media res”.  But, that didn’t really work out.  A helpful poster informed me that something “about media” in Latin would be something like “de mediis” which is pretty far from “in media res”.

I then decided that going with a Latin phrase might just come across as a little pretentious.  However, “on narratives” and “on stories” were both taken at WordPress, so “de artibus narrativis” (“On the art of narratives”) it is.