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Messages - cupiscent

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Egwene’s an Aussie. She was in Picnic at Hanging Rock. She’s also the granddaughter of Charles Perkins.
And, apparently, in the TV series of Tomorrow When The War Began, which my husband has watched, but I haven't. It was only when I came back to show the casting to said husband that I realised that she was Aboriginal Australian. Fantastic.

General Discussion / Re: Pets
« on: August 16, 2019, 04:35:56 AM »
Catties! :D I have a cat called Zizou (after the nickname for Zinedine Zidane, because all she did for the first 48 hours of adoption was headbutt us in mad delight).

Fantasy Movies, Comic Books & Video Games / Re: Anime Favorites
« on: August 16, 2019, 04:29:17 AM »
I do not much like anime. About a decade ago, an anime-loving friend decided he had a quest to educate me and my husband on the joys of anime, and he plied us with lots of stuff. There were many that I just couldn't deal with (I can't remember them all, but it included Trigun, Bezerk, Ghost in the Shell series, something with red riding hood???) but I did enjoy Cowboy Bebop (a lot) and something that I think was called FLCL, which worked for me on the same sort of hallucinogenic-allegory level as a lot of David Lynch's fimography, but a lot more fun.

A lot of this is, I think, that I have an issue watching serious things with cartoon faces. I just can't emotionally connect without real faces. I have this problem with the animated Star Wars material as well, and I'd desperately like to watch that because it covers a lot of the most interesting parts of the timeline and I understand the storylines are really good.

General Discussion / Re: I’m a bit concerned
« on: August 16, 2019, 04:24:32 AM »
I hang out in the KJ Parker thread with Eclipse and the GGK thread with Peat, but at least I get to share the Scott Lynch love with everyone? :)

I am straying away from the adventure-action fantasy-romp as I grow older. I'm enjoying more politics, more thoughtful and thematic stuff, stories where the serious questions and character arcs are more important than the fights. And I mean, it's fine, there's so many new fantasy books these days that I don't have time to read Sanderson anyway!

I'm liking the look of this, though a lot's going to depend on costume design. I haven't seen any of the actors in anything before, except Rosamund Pike. (She's going to kill it, I'm looking forward to her Moiraine.) And they are supposed to be young, after all. :) They're still teenagers, aren't they? Except Nynaeve, and she's always going on about not being taken seriously as a Wisdom because she's so young.

I get kinda meh about generic fantasy titles. Dragon this and sword that and destiny the other. It doesn't so much turn me off as something that breaks the mould really leaps out and grabs attention. For instance, I'm currently reading The Priory of the Orange Tree which has that same "(Castle-thing) of (Symbolic-thing)!" construction, but contains different enough elements that I'm intrigued and looking for pertinent details in the story.

Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Re: What are you currently reading?
« on: August 13, 2019, 05:29:59 AM »
I discovered that my library has got books 2-5 of Daniel Abraham's The dagger and the coin series (I read book 1 2 years ago but still hadn't continued), so I'm doing them now.
I just need to refresh my memory on what happened in book 1 :-\ Calling @cupiscent, help! I can only remember a young woman who works in Finance ;D

ummmmm now you're testing me! Let's see how much I can remember! :D From memory, Abraham is pretty good about giving pertinent reminders in each book, because I didn't read them all in one swoop, but I don't remember being confused ever.

Spoiler for Let me try a summary anyway:
Geder Palliako, who just wants to be left alone with his scholarship, winds up in charge of the conquered city of Vanai because politics and, lacking better options and perhaps any sense of empathy, burns it down (so he can get home). It's a very KJ Parker moment, where you can't deny it's the sensible thing to do but ye gods, man, what kind of moral vacuum ARE YOU?

Cithrin bel Sarcour was transporting the wealth of the Vanai branch of the Medean bank away for safe-keeping, with the assistance of Marcus Wester, tired mercenary and disgraced war hero, and in the company of Master Kit (who obviously Has Secrets) and his company of players. Cithrin is left orphaned (again) by the destruction of Vanai. She decides to use the bank's wealth--and her own mercantile savvy--to establish her own illicit branch of the bank in the city she flees to (Porte Oliva). Marcus stays with her because he has a lot of issues over the death of his daughter. Cithrin does ok with this stuff because she's pretty canny, but she also makes some mistakes because she's young. (I seem to recall she also becomes an alcoholic?) An auditor comes to rap her over the knuckles for her temerity, and she cuts a deal that leaves her still in nominal control of the bank, with heavy supervision.

Back in Camnipol, Dawson Kalliam and his wife Clara are politicking; there's a plot against Prince Aster's life that seems to be foreign but might just be domestic. (I honestly can't remember much about this and I don't think the details are that important? Also I seem to recall one of their sons is really good friends with Geder.) Geder wanders off to the East and discovers the remnants of a long-lost spider cult who have strange powers over/with the truth. He brings Basrahip back with him to Camnipol, which is obviously a terrible idea, Geder you PLONKER.

This is probably the worst summary ever! ;D

General Discussion / Re: What is an ooshie? And why the uproar?
« on: August 13, 2019, 05:01:26 AM »
I have been laughing myself silly about the people destroying the things on television. I've been following that story and everything about it is great. (Except for the part where our farmers are the victims of trying to run Australia like it's got European climate.)

Personally, we've enjoyed collecting all the little supermarket nonsenses--our local shops are Coles so it's mostly been the Little Shop things and Stickies, but we have half a dozen Lion King ooshies from a friend who has his shopping delivered and therefore doesn't get to opt out--because they are a great size to pop in the playbag and take to restaurants or on planes to keep the toddler happy. But the hysteria about collecting them and trading them is bewildering.

Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Re: Military fantasy
« on: August 11, 2019, 01:00:25 AM »
I've just finished Cass Morris's From Unseen Fire, which is an alterni-Roman fantasy. I am still mulling over my thoughts on this, partly because I found the military storyline, with a tribune and cohort off dealing with Spanish marauders, kinda not-my-thing. So it seems appropriate to mention it here. But you may, in turn, not be that into the other half of the book, which is politics/magic/romance back in Rome itself, which I quite enjoyed. :)

Writers' Corner / Re: Finished my novel, now what?
« on: August 11, 2019, 12:57:38 AM »
Working on a new/different project is a good idea--gives your brain a break that allows you to get a new perspective on your finished draft. I also found putting the novel aside and writing the query letter / synopsis helped get perspective. It's looking at the story from a bones-and-structure perspective, and sometimes I found places where that structure could be stronger that helped me with revisions.

Researching agents is also a good idea. Remember you're looking for someone who is a good fit not just for this story, but for you and all future things you might write. You want to have a good working relationship, and you want to have an agent who will be excited about other things you're excited to write. There's also a trade-off between big, established, mega-agents--like Donald Maass--or newer, building agents. Maass and his ilk have mega clout, but they also have lots of clients and other responsibilities, and you might not get a lot of their attention. A newer agent, building a list, has more time to spend on you. (And a balance is achievable there. For instance, Maass' agency has a lot of agents of varying levels of experience, who all have the benefit of his name/experience backing them up. I queried a couple of his agents, and they are all fantastic.) It's about what you are looking for in an agent, and what sort of working relationship you want. I have really enjoyed doing a lot of editorial back-and-forth with my agent, even in the just-ideas stage, that might not have been possible if I'd signed with an agent who was busier or didn't work that way.

If you're looking at the US market, it can be a good idea, if you can afford it, to get a month's subscription to Publisher's Marketplace, which has details of book sales to editors. This can show you which agents are doing things right now (which may be different from who was selling lots of books five years ago). It can also give you an idea of what sorts of things are exciting to various agents / editors right now. (One month's subscription gives you access to all the sales data; you can review it, look up all the agents on your list, and then cancel the sub.)

Anyway, definitely do lots of research, if for nothing else than to find out what individual agents want you to send in the way of query letter / synopsis / sample / etc. Follow their requests. That is the best piece of advice to querying authors I have. :D

Writers' Corner / Re: Finished my novel, now what?
« on: August 10, 2019, 01:20:49 AM »
Great advice from both Cameron and Peat here, I have nothing really to add, but let me echo:
  • Congrats!
  • Let it sit for a bit, then give it a read
  • is a fantastic resource, but do additional research on the agents, because "fantasy" covers a multitude of sins and you want to target agents who really want what you've got

Honestly, there is no one quite like Guy Gavriel Kay. (Ilana C Myer's Last Song Before Night was very, very, very like Kay style, but imho shows up just how difficult it is to do what Kay makes seem effortless.)

Kay writes a fantasy style that is sort of more like historical fantasy (in his own version of the world). He is very into bardic traditions, he loves warrior-poets, he loves showing that a civilisation requires a balance of martial and artistic in order to be truly magnificent, and how fragile that balance is. He writes very emotionally rich, character-centric, beautifully detailed, theatrically-staged stories, which often don't appeal to people who prefer their fantasy to be more about excitement and adventure. (Don't get me wrong, he has some big exciting scenes, but he'll usually have them as the big, deeply explored gem in a setting of intricate emotional set-up and pay-off; he's also not afraid to write a scene where the most exciting thing that happens is someone writing a letter. And in Kay's hands, those can be amazing scenes. That letter-writing is goddamn significant. It tears at your soul.)

Many people recommend Tigana as their favourite / a good starting point to his work. It's great, but I prefer The Lions of Al-Rassan.

And yes, he is a master of endings that fall within "bittersweet", all of them aching and beautiful and inevitable and magnificently human. Perhaps his work could be summed up best by the notion that things are beautiful partly because they are fleeting.

I honestly have no idea on stats. Some authors who have a lot of books that I have read:

Terry Pratchett
Guy Gavriel Kay
David Eddings
Robert Jordan (though I still haven't read the last one whoops)
KJ Parker

Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Re: Perfect Books
« on: August 08, 2019, 01:44:21 AM »
I feel called out by that inclusion of "nigh", so I guess I'd better respond. :D

I'm going to start by saying that for me to give a book five stars, it needs to perform well in three areas: I have to enjoy it while I'm reading it (this usually, but not always, means it does things with language that make it a delight to read on a line-by-line level); it has to be very satisfying to have read / as a whole package (this usually means doing well at arc resolution for plot and characters); and it has to have hit me emotionally (which usually relates to resonance / emotional arcs).

Not every book that I give five stars to is one I'm going to talk about as "nigh perfect". Usually, books I talk about like that are ones that I've enjoyed so much that I've gone back and re-read them with a keen eye for how the writer is achieving all that stuff, and having examined the craft behind the story, I am even more impressed.

Perfection is always going to be a subjective thing.
Spoiler for me blathering about Lies of Locke Lamora:
Lies of Locke Lamora is the book I most often apply the label to, and while I think it's a masterpiece of character, plot, pacing (GOSH the pacing), worldbuilding and magnificent prose, there are heaps of one-star reviews on GoodReads that hate each of those aspects. But for me, tLoLL is nearly perfect because it gives us complex character, entwined in intriguing relationships, with a plot that grabs fast and cranks up regularly and ruthlessly until it is at absolute fever pitch. It absolutely revels in delightful language use, including humour and juxtaposition of the polysyllabic and profane, and it has a luxuriantly detailed world.

I call it "nigh" perfect because of a couple of little niggles that Scott Lynch himself recognises as weaknesses: treatment of Sabetha and overall inclusion of ladies (it's not as bad as some, and he does great work on this in later books in the series), and some discrepancies in structuring the later backstory-interludes that make it not quite as taut as it could be. These are pretty small niggles.
Thinking about other books I might apply the label to... well, Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay is a magnificent book on all the same bases, though probably the work of his I admire most on a craft level is A Song for Arbonne (it's so theatrical in the blocking! it does so much through reference and allusion!) but the first time I tried to read it I didn't even make it through the prologue. I'm not sure I'd call either of them perfect. And NK Jemisin's The Fifth Season is an astonishing and inventive book, but would I say "this is perfect"? I don't know. But still, I'm not sure I could come up with ways it could be better.

Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Re: Unreliable narrators in fantasy
« on: August 07, 2019, 05:22:28 AM »
For more discussion and examples of unreliable narrators, I'd like to recommend the Be The Serpent episode all about them, charmingly entitled The Bastard's Lying To You!

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