August 06, 2020, 01:38:30 PM

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Messages - cupiscent

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1
Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Re: New Tropes and Cliches
« on: August 05, 2020, 05:43:32 AM »
Arise! :D

Assassin fantasy was definitely a big thing in the mid-to-late noughties - Brent Weeks' Nightangel books and David Dalglish's Shadowdance books spring immediately to mind. Also Maria Snyder's Poison Study and sequels, and Kristin Cashore's Graceling in a more YA-ish space.

For earlier stuff... hmm. A discussion could be had as to whether Robin Hobb's assassin books really fit with what we think about when we say "assassin fantasy". I'd say it's more about a lone/guilded rogue-type, and sometimes the lines between thief/assassin are blurred. Steven Brust's Vlad Taltos books are a big example of this (first book Jhereg circa 1983) and I believe Scott Lynch has cited them as a big influence. A lot of that type and era of fantasy owes a big debt to the "thieves guild" notion (see also: Feist's Jimmy the Hand and the thieves in Eddings' Elenium/Tamuli).

I'm also wondering if David Gemell's Waylander fits in here, though slightly more mercenary/adventurer than assassin?

2
General Discussion / Re: The Virus thread
« on: August 05, 2020, 05:32:39 AM »
People may have heard that here in Melbourne, we're going back into stage-4 lockdown because there's just way too much community transmission for contact-tracers to keep up with. This stage shuts down childcare/kindergarten for kids of non-essential workers, so guess who just became all-child-minding, all-the-time for the next six weeks? :-\

I'm also unimpressed to see that we seem to have an infection of "sovereign citizens" to whom the rules do not apply. There's another disease that the US could have kept to itself, tyvm.

3
Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Re: What are you currently reading?
« on: August 05, 2020, 05:27:51 AM »
Harrow the Ninth is out today. Am on it already!  ;D

zomg *camps on mailbox*

I jest. The tyranny of the Pacific means that I can't really be expecting my "pre-order" for another two weeks yet. Sigh.

I am reading Sarah Tolcser's Song of the Current which is YA fantasy but thus far (70 pages in) it's reading like old-school fantasy for young'uns, with that sense that the view of the world is limited by the youth of the protagonist, and just about anything magical and wonderful might just leap out of the nooks and crannies of this big, wide, real world. I'm really enjoying it!

4
An author whose name I can't recall but who was collecting allegations

So here's an interesting thing. The author - or at least one of them, I believe many authors had their DMs open to people who wanted to speak out but had no platform of their own - was Ann Aguirre. She has subsequently and recently deleted her twitter. Are these things related? I honestly don't know.

5
Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Re: What did you read in July 2020?
« on: August 04, 2020, 04:11:37 AM »
@cupiscent guess which Fantasy sub- genre I read the most?

It's still unclear, perhaps we need more data.  ;)

I really enjoyed Magic for Liars! Though I did feel it was very driven by the main character, so I can see how if she didn't click for you, it would have been a harder sell.

6
I heartily recommend to everyone AK Larkwood's The Unspoken Name which contains, I believe, actually ZERO human characters. Characters we do have include orcs, elves, gnomes (possibly?) and a giant talking magic snake. Every character - even the snake - is very "human".

Both Skip and Caith have made great points here, and just to build a little on top: I don't know that thinking carefully about "purpose" wrt race just applies to races, but also to ethnicity - if your "horse-people" are just a one-dimensional trope-manifestation, that's also kinda ugly and boring. Depth and nuance and complexity belongs to all peoples.

And it's fractal - even once you zoom in, there are differences. To build on Skip's example, to people from Milan, there's probably a difference depending on where you live or other factors, and within those drilled-down separations, there are yet further separations. Because, when you get down to it, all individuals are just that: individual.

7
Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Re: Reddit top fantasy novels
« on: August 04, 2020, 03:56:06 AM »
Dang it Eclipse, Cupiscent! Got to work on it to catch up! Though some I'll never read because I just know I find them trash... Some I own but haven't got around to.
LOL  8) But that's a very good point about not reading now because you know you won't like it - a lot of the books on that list, and a lot of other "classics"*, were books I read when I was still a teenager and figuring out what I liked or didn't like, or just before I realised I was "allowed" to DNF a book.

* Also a lot of not-classics. I remember struggling through at least one Hugh Cook book, of which there were, I think... 10? And my library had them all. Does anyone even remember his name these days? Though I just looked him up on wikipedia and apparently his series pitch involved twenty books in the first cycle, to be followed by another two cycles of twenty books each. Sixty books, no wuckers! oh my god.

8
Swinging through here because Fonda Lee tweeted about silkpunk, and feeling very like @eclipse in seeing that "Warning: this topic has not been posted in for at least 120 days" note. :D

Says Fonda Lee:
Quote
"Silkpunk" is a term coined by the brilliant Ken Liu to describe a blend of sci-fi and fantasy inspired not by Victorian-era steam-powered technology ("steampunk") but by East Asian antiquity. It does NOT apply to every SFF story inspired by Asian history or culture.

I mean, shouting about what people want to label things is always a shaking-fist-at-cloud sort of scenario, but in this situation I feel that there's a nuance to the use or misuse of subgenre labelling to do with the minimisation or othering of an entire race-related body of work. i.e. "let's not talk about the details of what the work is and does; it's Asian and that's the only thing that matters".

As Lee further said in that twitter thread:
Quote
Leaving aside the issue of '-punk' being egregiously and erroneously overused *in general* - taking a term for a specific fictional aesthetic and lumping in all Asia-inspired works (or works by authors of Asian descent) simplifes, misrepresents, and flattens a huge range of work.

In the responses to this little thread, there's someone contemplating writing a piece for Fantasy Faction about the nuances of subgenres especially for "diverse" authors, and I definitely hope that happens!

What I'm uncertain about is whether the SC Emmett fits the bill. Sure, no magic, but also no real technological edge. It's just... non-magic fantasy?

9
Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Re: 2020 Hugos
« on: August 03, 2020, 01:41:41 AM »
I do feel a certain degree of sympathy for the organisers this year, as the sudden pivot to 100% virtual everything can't have been easy. I "attended" WorldCon this year, and from the communications received regarding the convention and the awards, it was clear everyone was working very hard to get everything working in new formats, and also that it was extremely challenging to get it all over the line on time. (The convention schedule was barely working the weekend before the con started; the Hugo voters' packet was very late.)

That said, there were benefits that come from being virtual, and one of those is that they had an immense pool of volunteers to draw from (not just those physically present in Wellington), and that they could do a lot of things ahead of time. They don't seem to have made the best use of these opportunities. It wasn't quite the first all-virtual convention - the Nebula conference and awards were run in late May, and Mary Robinette Kowal has tweeted about how all the training and learnings from that event were passed on and offered in detail to the Hugos... and were not taken up. Again, I have sympathy for how clearly under the hammer the organisers were. But I'm really disappointed in the choices they made and the focus that put on the ceremony - a focus that didn't seem to be on the nominees, whose big night it should arguably have been.

10
Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Re: What did you read in July 2020?
« on: August 02, 2020, 12:52:10 PM »
After DNFing yet another YA fantasy in Bright Smoke, Cold Fire (a spin-off from Romeo and Juliet in a post-apocalyptic fantasy world rife with necromancy) I was about to put together a rant on how YA fantasies have such amazing ideas and such formulaic, shallow deliveries, and then...

Wintersong by S Jae-Jones. What a book! Lush and creepy and intense and crystalline. It's a redo of Labyrinth, but returned to its Germanic goblin-king roots, absolutely steeped in music and wrapped around the rose - thorns and all - of a young woman's artistic coming-of-age and refusal to fit into the boxes society demands she choose between. I really enjoyed it.

I also read The Martian by Andy Weir which was just as much fun in the voice and telling as the hype said. A smidgen too hard-sci-fi for me, but that voice and the tight plotting whizzed me past it.

Worldcon has delayed me finishing KA Doore's The Unconquered City which is a great culmination of her trilogy, doing epic stuff with great characters in a world I'm going to be so sad to leave behind. The desert just feels so real and lived-in, the characters so very of their environment. I'm looking forward to what Doore does next.

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Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Re: 2020 Hugos
« on: August 02, 2020, 05:50:40 AM »
Can you go in details about GGRM? I'm curious but don't really want to subject myself to this whole thing...

GRRM was the host/toastmaster, and he was the one mispronouncing names (despite the Hugos being virtual this year, and thus all of his material being pre-recorded, and the organisers having asked nominees to provide a pronunciation guide to their names) and also talking a lot about Campbell.

A sidenote about John W Campbell! He's the guy after whom the new-writer award used to be named, until Jeannette Ng won it last year and used her winner's speech to point out that he was very exclusionist in his editorial policy, and that set the tone for the early years of science fiction and fantasy. The award was this year renamed to "the Astounding award". I think it's worth noting that Astounding was the name of John W Campbell's magazine. It's not like acknowledgement of his contribution to the early genre has been removed entirely. It's just no longer him in person by name that's being commemorated. I feel like that was a really nice compromise.

Apparently GRRM disagrees, because he seems to have taken every possible opportunity to praise Campbell during his very long speaking at the ceremony. (Of a nearly four-hour ceremony, I hear his segments took up nearly two hours.) Given that Jeannette Ng's speech from last year was actually nominated for a Hugo award in the "best related work" category, that seems... well, it's a choice he's made there, and I honestly don't know what he was trying to achieve.

12
Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Re: 2020 Hugos
« on: August 02, 2020, 01:51:51 AM »
The ceremony was not just messy and a very long drag, it also had a lot of quite disrespectful stuff toward the nominees, including mispronouncing names (in pre-recorded material, with pronunciation guides having been requested from the nominees) and spending a lot of time rhapsodising about John W Campbell, who is at the very least a contentious figure in that context. George Martin was at best unprofessional in his handling of the host role. It's very disappointing, and I feel really bad for those nominees who had what should be a wonderful moment in their lives and careers marred by his behaviour.

I would have loved to see Gideon win the best novel, I think it'd be great to see something that funny get recognised as also being that good. But I personally really enjoyed Memory, though I acknowledge its strength is in themes, character and prose, not in action plot. Very interesting, in the full data released alongside the winners, to see that Ann Leckie would have been on the list with Raven Tower but she refused the nomination. I am wildly curious to know why.

Also from the full data, it's amusing to see that a lot of people - myself included! - had no idea Tamsyn Muir had published short stuff from 2015 onwards and was therefore ineligible for the Astounding new writer award.

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General Discussion / Re: Free speech (or not) - and some tea
« on: August 01, 2020, 04:00:50 AM »
Intriguing examples of free speech going on right now with the Hugo Award ceremony!

George R R Martin and Robert Silverberg are exercising their right to free speech by telling anecdotes praising John W Campbell (for whom the new-writer award used to be named, until last year's discussion about how Campbell was pretty racist prompted Astounding/Dell Magazines to sponsor and rename the award).

And a lot of the people watching are exercising their right to free speech by pointing out that this is a wildly insensitive thing to be doing.

14
Continuing the "look in the old titles" trend - early Feist might also suit your taste? Magician is a classic for a reason. :)

In general, what you're describing is not my favoured sort of fantasy, so the examples I can think of are books I bounced off, so I'm not sure how useful my examples can be. But perhaps have a look at Seven Princes by John Fultz. I hated it, but we're all different sorts. :D

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Shaun the Sheep  8)
My child went through a BIG Shaun the Sheep period. That was fun. Now she's on Bluey, which is also fun, sort of like Peppa Pig in being "accurate comedy about kids and parenting" but very Australian.

We grown-ups are watching something called Zomboat, about a group of misfits who escape the apocalypse in Birmingham by commandeering a narrowboat and very slowly outrunning the zombies.

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