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Messages - JMack

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Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Re: Are superheroes fascist?
« on: December 05, 2014, 02:16:05 PM »
Hi, Jonathon:

Very well written and interesting post.  And I agree the answer is "No", not in the basic nature of them, though maybe in a few instances a particular hero under a particular writer will wander into the borderlands of "fascism" loosely defined.

Trying this on for size: superheroes fall into:

> Vigilante to protect the innocent where law enforcement is blind or limited
> Extension of the police powers of the government, usually unofficially, but (mostly) accepted by everyone for the end results
> Personal crusader for vengeance,maulvi all or just running away
> a (very) few who are actually part of the state apparatus, and therefore would only be fascist based on the state they serve

Now insert any heroic genre into these definitions.  Does it still work? 

I think there's a lot of room for super hero stories to comment creatively on their own assumptions about the uses of violence.  See one wonderful Daredevil issue from the late 70s or early 80s when DD and (wow can't remeber exactly who) look up in the middle of their battle and realize they've just trashed some poor family's apartment, and the mom, dad and kids are hiding in the corner, terrified out of their wits.

But, let's face it, we are fascinated with violence.  It dominates our stories.  There is a fundamental attraction to the idea that someone, anyone can use force to establish right.  I don't see super hero tales as any more extreme than any other type in which the hero is not part of the government, but is using violence to protect others.  So, maybe the discomfort is with vigilantism (in addition to violence generally).  In which case, the argument is for the power of government alone to exercise violence on our behalf.  Hmmm.  Probably the right answer most of the time in the real world, but really limiting for story-telling.

if this were June 30, 2015, my answer would be "Stiletto", the sequel to "The Rook", Daniel O'Malley.  But, this is not June 30, and I guess O'Malley actually has to finish the thing.  Yrgg.

In the meantime, I wasn't aware of the Tad Williams UF series, and will have to try that out.

Much more along the lines of Science Fiction, but quite good is "Very Bad Deaths" by Soider Robinson.  All you'd have to do is replace actual telepathy with a bit of spell-casting or an enchantment gone awry, and the book would fit right into UF (though my definite may be a bit loose).  The point is, read it.  But, don't read the sequel, "Very Hard Choices", which aside from a wonderful title echoing the first book, seems to serve mainly as a platform for political discussion and was disappointingly dull.

Links, Competitions and 'Stuff' / Re: Review: Stealer of Flesh
« on: December 05, 2014, 12:09:39 PM »
Interesting review, Yora.  Aside from the book (which sounds like a 2 to a 2.5 on a scale of 4? which can be a pretty good read), I liked the discussion of what makes some thing sword and sorcery.  I haven't read those references.  Maybe you could point me to them?

> Outside protagonist of heroic proportion (strength, magic, what have you)
> Dark sorcery
> Flashing swords

Did I get that right?  Maybe, I'd add, a blending of horror and myth into the tale as well.

I've been toying with a story idea that would point me in the direction of the Swords and Sorcery genre.  Beyond my own reading (mainly Conan, when the Frazetta-cover books came out in the '70s), it would be interesting to understand what readers sense as the conventions for S&S so that as a writer I can choose which edges to hit.

I was reminded about another favorite S&S series, as you described the 4 hunting stories: C.J. Cherryh' Morgaine series.  It's a great blend of science fiction and S&S.  If you've never bumped into it, you might want to get it for a penny plus shipping from some used book dealer in the Amazon marketplace.



[DEC 2014] Mirror Empire / Re: Mirror Empire - Week 1: Chapters 1 - 15
« on: December 05, 2014, 12:48:37 AM »
Just starting chape2, and also find the blizzard of names hard.  But,  go with the flow, as you say.  The imaginative world and system is pretty stunning.  The writing style sometimes falters a bit.  More to come when I get through ch. 5.

[DEC 2014] Religion / Re: [Dec 2014] - Religion - Discussion Thread
« on: December 04, 2014, 05:12:02 PM »
When I moved to Alabama for work some years ago (famous in the U.S. as part of the "Bible belt") we had a friendly reception all around.  Everyone you met asked two questions:

> Which (American) football team do you root for: University of Alabama or University of Auburn?
> Have you found a church yet?

Both qualify as religious questions in Alabama.

Finished draft 1 of my story for the December contest last night.  "Have you found a church yet?" takes a starring role.  ;D

Writers' Corner / Re: Adventures in Writing
« on: December 04, 2014, 01:07:46 PM »
Elwy, I just went back and read Life and death.  Wow.  That was a really sharp, fun read.  Congrats.  I can look, but did it win The June contest?

Hello, Ancalagon.

I just re-read your story, and I do have a few thoughts.
Please take praise as a given and I'll get right to the meat.  ;)

> They arrive in a boat, but go to a pass.  I don't recall them climbing into the mountains.  There would need to be some sense of time, meals eaten, days passed, grooves worn in the cage bars as the demon gnaws at them.

> In such a short narrative, I found the switch to Jore's POV to be jarring.  I think you're better off sticking to Tasaile the whole way.  Or, have an omniscient narrator who is constantly describing what each of your characters is thinking, rather than one in each section with the switch to Jore.  As you'll read below, I suggest focusing on three people, and the narrator could be inside all their heads at once.

> The event bones of the story really work for me, but I think the character bones can be stronger.  What I mean is that I want each character to have some constant objective and personal style that carries through.  This can then lead to inter-personal conflict that can make everything work better.  (Just opinions, here, of course.)

So, I would:

> Focus on three characters: Tasaile (wants to succeed, to save, but also to shine in others' eyes; prickly of his place as leader, and a bit rigid in his faith); Jore (wants to impress, but is terribly afraid of the <thing>, causing him to doubt his courage, and making his constant jumping at shadows irritating to Tasaile); Ned (a realist, a worker, who thinks the monks are all a bit blasĂ© about the <thing>, he's been to the gates before, knows the score, and is worried because this critter is much more powerful than any he's seen before; the darn monks are underestimating this one, and he constantly checks the strength of the bars and locks, trusts good iron much more than prayers; tends to agree with Jore, which really needles Tasaile).  Ditch Nye - he serves no purpose.  Three names, three motivations, everyone else is a NPC.

> This sets up conflict.  You have three scenes: arrival at the dock, journey to the gates, the disaster at the gates.  In each scene, what is each of your characters doing, what does each want, how do they get in each other's way, what happens to each?

Good luck with your writing and with this story.  I think it has the strength already to get even stronger.


A final idea occurred to me, which would be a complete change for Ned - could he be working for the beast, and does some little thing that allows it to send its will out and draw in those bodies?  Now there's some conflict for you!

[DEC 2014] Mirror Empire / Re: Mirror Empire - Who's reading with us?
« on: December 03, 2014, 05:30:45 PM »
Just purchased on Kindle.  So I'll try to be part of the discussion.
Guess I'm just supposed to read up to Chapter 15?

RPG - Fantasy Faction Style / Re: RPG: Rules, Questions, & Discussion
« on: December 03, 2014, 05:13:15 PM »
Hi.  Just looked at the last post dates on all the RPG threads, and none are very recent except for this one.

Is it crickets in the rest?


Hi!  I will happily "watch this space" for more details.

But, do you know the general word limit for submissions?



Just ordered the anthology now via Paypal.
There some left around the office, I presume?

Looking forward to reading!

Introductions / Re: How did you find us?
« on: December 03, 2014, 11:56:31 AM »
Twitter and I don't get along.  I found F-F when I was searching for book reviews to see what's new that people have liked.

Introductions / Re: Where Are You?
« on: December 03, 2014, 11:55:24 AM »
Westminster, Maryland, USA. it's near Washington, DC, but much less crowded and the traffic lights are in the right places.  (Try driving in DC, you'll see what I mean.  Did I mention I hate driving in DC?)

Introductions / Re: Say Hi, I'm new thread
« on: December 03, 2014, 11:51:44 AM »
Hello, everyone.  I found Fantasy Faction via Google search for best fantasy novels of 201?, since I like finding out about new writers and new books.  I didn't expect to find or join a forum, but here I am.

Thanks, F-F, the monthly story contest has gotten me to finish my first story since college... oh, 30+ years ago.  I submitted one for November, and I'm already well into the one for December.

For anyone reading this, read Ancillary Justice, one of the best first novels I've read in SSF for a while.  Change a few things, and it would be fantasy instead of space opera.

[DEC 2014] Religion / Re: [Dec 2014] - Religion - Discussion Thread
« on: December 02, 2014, 09:59:15 PM »
I'm remembering the old story by Harlan Ellison in which man finally tracks down God on an alien planet after he has been running from us for a very long time.

And so many great fantasy novels recently with strong religion elements: Gentlemen Bastards, Spirit War, Chalion (Bujold)...

This should be fun.

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