For us science fiction and fantasy writers.
Obviously some of the authors are winners, but regardless of that, I copypasted the list of winners and nominees into my list of books to read.
And you should, too, if you like fantasy.
Tonight’s Sisters in Crime meeting had a ‘writers block’ exercise: take 3 different images and write a story based on them in 10 minutes.
My three photos were all from a small town in Greenland:
- A picture of a hotdog stand owned by a man from Denmark
- A group of girls dancing traditional Greenland dances
- A view of the town’s small fishing port
My results have kind of a Grendel vibe to it, and a noir aspect courtesy of reading some French noir fiction recently:
Tired of his bridge, the Danish troll opened a hot dog stand. Right near the port where tourists came to eat hot dogs and watch traditional dances.
His mother, who still lived in the water of the port, stole crabs and fish from the fishermen, and children from the tourists.
One day, he ran out of hot dogs.
He called to his mother in ancient Trollish: “I need one of your children.”
“No, I’ve eaten the last one. Get your own!”
No threat to any of this year’s Pulitzer Prize winners, but fun. And having fun writing certainly makes dealing with writers block easier!
SurLaLune Fairy Tales is a good reminder that real fairytales are dark and dangerous, meant for adults. Not Disney’s weak, watered-down kid stuff.
SurLaLune Fairy Tales features 49 annotated fairy tales, including their histories, similar tales across cultures, modern interpretations and over 1,500 illustrations. Also discover over 1,600 folktales & fairy tales from around the world in more than 40 full-text Books.
Lengthy read about fantasy maps:
Sad that the author seems to not be aware of maps that have been part of science fiction universes.
While there is wordless thought, words frame thought.
Words communicate thought.
Words create community.
God created all things with words.
Words are power.
Now go read about words of creation:
Words of Creation at Daily Science Fiction
It’s not everyday you see a movie that replaces a story for you.
The story, of course, is the (archetypal?) story of Sleeping Beauty, in which Maleficent is the complete evil character. The classic story says little about why Maleficent is evil. Just that she is. I think it suggests that she’s jealous, or just doesn’t like anything good. The oldest fiction story in English, Beowulf, treats Beowulf and his mother similarly.
In this movie, Maleficent is the most powerful of fairies, a joyful defender of Faery who falls in love with a young prince of the nearby human kingdom. The young prince, though, grows up to lust for power and being king, so he drugs her and cuts off her wings. He intended to kill her, but he couldn’t bring himself to do it, so he leaves her. He takes the wings home and becomes king.
Maleficent wakes without her wings – which were her dream and joy and hope. She doesn’t react well to losing them (side effects: like draining the color from the land of Fairy, for example). So when the opportunity comes to curse the daughter of the prince-now-king who betrayed her, she takes it.
Over the years waiting for the curse, Sleeping Beauty lives hidden in the forest near Faery. She goes in and out of Faery, where Maleficent regular refers to her as a little beast. A young prince who meets Sleeping Beauty in the forest is smitten with her.
Then the curse strikes. And when the young prince’s kiss of “true love” fails … we find out what true love really is.
Now I don’t think of the story of Sleeping Beauty without the real story, Maleficent, replacing it. That’s the real power of story: to take the old, transform and change it into something new. Bravo!
Now go transform something old into something new!
This set consists of two volumes. Volume one is Where on Earth, volume two is Outer Space, Inner Lands.
All of these short stories have been published before. What’s interesting about these volumes is that le Guin selected each of these as a story that she really liked. No one else helped her select stories or choose the order in which they’re published and which volume they occupy. It undoubtedly says a lot about her thought processes and interests; particularly about her fluid and amorphous boundaries between realism, fantasy and science fiction.
The stories include well-known ones such as “Buffalo Gals, Won’t You Come Out Tonight?” and little-known ones that she wanted to put before readers.
She writes in a clear, distinctive style that varies little from story to story. It varies so little that I found it difficult sometimes to keep the stories separate. Reading too many of them in one sitting can make them all sound alike.
If you’ve not read any of le Guin’s stories, slap yourself (you deserve if for neglecting one of our great modern writers), Then read these volumes, followed by some of her novels. These have stuck with me the longest:
- The Word For World Is Forest
- The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia
- The Left Hand of Darkness
- The Lathe of Heaven
- The Books of Earthsea
- A Wizard of Earthsea
- The Tombs of Atuan
- The Farthest Shore
In her introduction to these two volumes, she says that she deliberately left out her favorite story form, the novella. “Each novella would crowd out three, four, or five short stories.” These volumes left me hoping that she’ll do a similar story selection volume or two focused on her novellas. I also thought, “If these volumes had been thought of as e-books, there’d be no page limit.” So she could have included both the selected short stories her selected novellas. (E-books have made the number of pages meaningless. Books like Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings was originally intended to be published as a single volume but was broken into three volumes due to the sheer difficulty and cost of publishing thousands of physical pages. So if your primary focus is on e-books, you no longer need to feel constrained by length limits.)
So check out these two volumes and go read some of her great novels. At once, you hear? There you go, good reader! Good reader!
From a song by the creator of the legendary Napoleon XIV comedy songs (“They’re coming to take me away, haahaaaa!”):
“Fantasy helps all of us to think young”
From his song, Bats in my Belfry