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Messages - JMack

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6541
Here's an interesting post on tor.com.  10 Essential Books Featuring Dinosaurs in Science Fiction.  Search for it.


Also,  A Gun for Dinosaur by L. sprague de Camp, and A Sound of Thunder by Ray Bradbury.  See Dinosaurs in Science Fiction on the a internet a review if Science Fiction site.

There's something niggling in the back of my mind about time travel and discovery of an intelligent species of dinosaur back in the day.  If I come up with ill post.

6542
Writers' Corner / Re: Nonhuman peoples
« on: December 07, 2014, 06:25:12 PM »
Wow, catching up, and so many pieces of a months' long conversation.

Aeslin mice?  Never heard of them but love MacGuire, so... a book hunting we wil go.

Agree that elves, dwarves, etc. create an opportunity to both depend upon and take advantage of our expectations.  There's a sort of built-in audience as well. 

I think the reference to science fiction earlier is useful.  One of my favorite authors has been C.J. Cherryh, who made a career out of putting a single human into the midst of an alien culture and watching what happens.  She sort of acknowledges the problem of "aren't these just versions of what we know as human culture" through guest appearances of methane-breathers who make no sense whatsoever.  You just have to clear the space ways since their ships will cork-screw and take random paths with no notice while screeching upside down poetry.  David Brin's Uplift series, especially the wonderful Startide Rising and The Uplift War, gives us a  few non-human races from earth and a bunch not from earth.  Scifi does it great; no reason fantasy shouldn't.

The discussion of coming up with new titles for an elf-by-any-other-name made me cringe inwardly, remembering the world I created in my teens.  The "elves" were renamed the "Brin".  They were exactly the tree-hugging, melancholy bores rightly ridiculed in the earlier replies to this post.  I take comfort that I imagined them with blue skin, feathers, and seriously brutal xenophobic tendencies  (oh wait, I guess that's normal).

Finally, someone commented on how each race would not call itself some generic name.  It reminds me how funny I find it when someone publishes a map of "The World of Thnlimushidan-ak-Pergamum" or some such.  Ya know, we here just call it "earth" or "world".  Wouldn't every world do that?  With on syllable?  And wouldn't everyone's name for their own people be, well, "people"?

Hmm, "Brin" shows up twice in the same post.  I promise, I made up the name first,  the author must have named himself after my never-published race of pseudo-elves.

6543
 I had to call my wife in to watch the teaser the moment it appeared in my facebook feed.  While I agree with one commenter in another place on this site that there's a risk of pure action and special effects with not enough heart, can I say that hope springs eternal?

I was 15 in 1977 and spent much of the summer at the theater.  My friend Lyle and I went one Saturday morning and watched every showing of Star Wars For the price of one.  We had to hide out between showings.  Don't think we could get away with that these days. 

The total count was 16 times before it left the theaters. I liked to tell my kids it was over 20, but I lied.   :P


6544
Fantasy Movies, Comic Books & Video Games / Re: Any Hayao Miyazaki Fans?
« on: December 07, 2014, 05:17:52 PM »
I'll have give "Cat" a chance, and re-visi "Ponyo". I saw a piece of it and reacted to its toddler feel.  It might have been Roger Ebert the movie critic who also said it was wonderful.

Give Spirited Away a try if you haven't seen it yet.

6545
Writers' Corner / Re: High Fantasy Horror
« on: December 07, 2014, 04:03:28 PM »
Quote
Is it possible to mix high fantasy and horror?

I say: Balrog.

 :D


6546
Fantasy Movies, Comic Books & Video Games / Any Hayao Miyazaki Fans?
« on: December 07, 2014, 03:43:11 AM »
I've slowly been watching and collecting Miyazaki's wonderful movies.  Wonderful, but not always perfect.  Except for My Neighbor Totoro, which is my favorites, and is perfect.  Spirited Away would have been perfect except that I think Miyazaki had so many ideas, he couldn't leave any out.  The movie seems to just go on forever at some point. 

The Wind Rises
Howl's Moving Castle
Princess Mononoke
Kiki's Delivery Service
and more...

Wonderful stuff.
What's your favorite?
Do you recommend movies by other animators that you think are comparable?

6547
General Discussion / Re: Readers of fantasy, I want your opinion!
« on: December 06, 2014, 03:26:27 AM »
Hi, Timothy.  I can think of many writers who work(ed)in both genres under one name: Lois McMaster Bujold, Piers Anthony, Ursula LeGuin, David Weber, David Brin  (I think), Stephen Donaldson, GRR Martin. Andre Norton ,  Anne McCaffrey (if you count aperture as fantasy, not sci-fi).  For me, it's good to connect the books and authors I like in one genre to new books by those authors in another.  (Donaldson also wrote a series of noir mysteries, which I would never have found and enjoyed had he used a different name for them.)

A useful comparison might be Rachel Aaron, who reports she publishes under Rachel Bach when writing science fiction, at the request of her publisher.  Frankly, I think that's confusing and a bit insulting both to the author and her fans.

6549
Maybe a little off-topic, but it occurs to me to that some form of the Bechdel test could be interesting.  You may remember it's a test for minimum treatment of women characters in a book, movie, etc.:

It has to have at least two women in it,
who talk to each other,
about something besides a man
(And they should have names)

Lord of the Rings fails this in every way conceivable, but that's a little like criticizing every book ever written before the 1960s.
Correct me, but Rothfuss fails as well, yes?
Random association: the October Daye series, written by a woman, passes with flying colors.  Surprised?
Ice and Fire, for all its problems with treatment of women, actually passes the test multiple times.


6550
OK, I guess I just don't want to do much work today.

I've been thinking about the motivation question raised earlier, and I think S&S is not alone in having outsiders who wander from place to place working out their own priorities.  Think Louis L'amour, Shane and western novel after western novel.  Think Jack Reacher, in the Lee Child books (not the movie, though it was suprisingly okay, given that Tom Cruise is my height and the Jack Reacher character would have trouble fitting in most cars).  Put a sword in Jack's hand, throw some magic around, and you've a great S&S hero. If you don't know Jack  ;), he wanders the U.S. because he spent so many years overseas growing up on military bases and then serving in uniform that he feels he has no idea what he was protecting all that time.  Absolutely follows his own honor system, works outside the police even when working with them, etc.

I can think of many motivating structures for a hero: revenge; a prolonged and now almost irrelevant mission;  protecting a loved one; boredom vs. adrenalin high; curse; running from a serious doom.  And of course, sex and money.

6551
I posted on Yora's review of Stealer of Flesh, and he suggested I join in the conversation here.

Like the rest of you, I cut my S&S teeth on Conan, especially any of the volumes published in th 70s with Frank Frazetta covers, because, well, the women.  This was also my huge Edgar Rice Burroughs period.  (I went back a re-read The Mad King as few years ago just for chuckles).

A bit from left field, maybe, but C.j. cherryh' Morgaine series is excellent, and earned her membership in the informal and now-long-defunct "Swordsmen and Sorcerers' Guild of America" (thank you, Wikipedia).  That SAGA page on Wiki is worth a look, since it lists the original 8 authors who self-identified as S&S along with 7 more.  I call b.s. on inclusion of Kurtz, as much as I enjoyed Deryni.

The discussion of story length is interesting.  As I've now written ad nauseum in other posts, F-F has prompted me to finish my first story in very many years, even if only 1,500 words (though that's damn hard to do well!).  I like the idea of using a short novel or long story form to explore dramatic and scene structure without the sword of 50,000 words+ hanging over my head.

6552
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.


6553
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.

6554
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.

Best,

Jmk

6555
[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.

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