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The ten thousand things and the one true only.

by Kip Manley

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Things to keep in mind:
The secret of stuff.

The role of “stuff” in fantasy fiction remains vitally important to fantastical stories and potentially serves to discipline fantasy readers into valuing certain cultural artifacts over others. Wikipedia has a page dedicated to a sizable—and incomplete—list of fictional swords with names. Certain artifacts are imbued with symbolic qualities (eg. King Arthur’s Excalibur and Holy Grail) and some magic systems are reliant upon material things (eg. wands in Harry Potter). Though economic systems within fantasy literature are usually underdeveloped or neglected by authors, artifacts remain fetishized, used both as a way of adding authenticity to the secondary world (the presence of swords signals to readers that they are situated within a particular genre and provides a pathway for authors to play with certain tropes), and developing the protagonist’s identity. But from where does this economic model originate and how, if at all, does this conceptualization of stuff impact present-day nerd consumerism? Because while the role of economic exchange is left ambiguous in much fantasy literature, the centrality of stuff like wands, crystal balls, amulets, and named swords is not.

Sarah Shoker

—posted 45 days ago

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Things to keep in mind:
The secret of the out-of-doors.

This principle, it seems to me, is the ceaseless action of secluding oneself. Imagination about travel corresponds in Verne to an exploration of closure, and the compatibility between Verne and childhood does not stem from a banal mystique of adventure, but on the contrary from a common delight in the finite, which one also finds in children’s passion for huts and tents: to enclose oneself and to settle, such is the existential dream of childhood and of Verne. The archetype of this dream is this almost perfect novel: L’Ile mystérieuse, in which the manchild re-invents the world, fills it, closes it, shuts himself up in it, and crowns this encyclopædic effort with the bourgeois posture of appropriation: slippers, pipe and fireside, while outside the storm, that is, the infinite, rages in vain.

Roland Barthes

—posted 50 days ago

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Portland, divided into four fifths.

If you, Dear Reader, are not yourself intimately acquainted with the geography of the City of Roses, and find yourself occasionally wondering which went where when, yr. correspondent might direct you to a map of sorts, that easily fits most hands.

—posted 80 days ago

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Where were we?

No. 21: Gallowglas


That’s, I guess, where we were.

Beginning Monday: City of Roses no. 21, “Gallowglas.”

—posted 98 days ago

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Things to keep in mind:
Another secret of magic.

The magic in any particular story will do what it will do, regardless of what it ought to do. Sometimes I like a magic that brings order and redistributes resources in almost exactly the same way money does, and sometimes I like a chaotic magic that’s reminiscent of another effect of money… (If we’re going to look at power dynamics within fiction at least let’s keep an eye on all sources of power!) So it all depends.

Helen Oyeyemi

—posted 137 days ago

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That first brontolithic beat.

Webfiction World Readings.

Fes over at the Webfiction World has gone and read aloud Act II of “Prolegomenon”—the party scene—so, if you ever wondered what it all would sound like…

—posted 143 days ago

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No less than a kingdom.

Season one covers.

Have some books. “Wake up…” collects chapters 1 – 11; The Dazzle of Day collects chapters 12 – 22; the first season omnibus, Autumn into Winter, collects all 22 in one handy ebook—so you should get the two, or the one, but not all three, unless you’re feeling especially generous. —You can buy copies through Amazon, or Smashwords, or Payhip, or (of course) me; you can add them to your Goodreads or LibraryThing shelves; you might, if you need a little more convincing, read some reviews and interviews first.

No. 21, “Gallowglas,” will see its free online premiére on Monday, April 21st, with no. 22, “Maiestie,” to follow. Until then, you’ll need to secure a copy of The Dazzle of Day or the omnibus (or the paper chapbooks, of course) to read them. —And after that? Well. Whatever comes next is after that.

—posted 150 days ago

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The state of the City.

The Dazzle of Day.

It is done; it has been done. It is, more to the point, available for preorder over at Smashwords, and of course direct from the source. (I’d offer up the Amazon link for Kindle and paperback editions, but it seems Amazon doesn’t bother to offer preorder capabilities to self-publishers.)

On (or after) February 25th, then, you’ll finally get to learn what happens next, for a value of “next” limited to those events which are depicted in nos. 21 and 22 of City of Roses. (Unless, of course, you’ve ordered paper copies of those chapbooks, in which case, check the mail.) —Don’t ask about the stock market, lottery tickets, or sportsball scores; prophesy’s a delicate business at best.

While you’re waiting, you can add Vol. 2 over on Goodreads, or talk it up hither, or yon. Beginning in April, let’s say Monday, April 21st, “Gallowglas” and then “Maiestie” will begin their serialization here, to round out the web-based, freely available collection. —Meanwhile, I’ll be over on the couch with a pile of books and madly scribbled scraps of paper, trying to figure out what happens in the next next.

(Oh, also? I’ll be at Readercon this year, for pretty much sure and certain. Further on which when more is known.)

—posted 180 days ago

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Things to keep in mind:
Further secrets of the epic.

Often we grow impatient with epic poems. Too long, we feel—all those irrelevant interruptions, those additions, conventions, invocations, interpolations, those stories and speeches, catalog and dull history. But these are all part of the journey, the reader’s journey on his long way around. For just as there are epic poets, involved in the task of creating, and just as there are epic heroes, who labor to create, so also are there epic readers. And all of those digressions and history and stretches of catalog, all those elements of the poem which image the vastness and variety of the real world, allow the epic poet to involve the epic reader in the meaning of the poem, which is the immense difficulty of getting there and the driving necessity to go.

A. Bartlett Giamatti

—posted 189 days ago

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Things to keep in mind:
The secret of how, and why.

The passage goes on into another paragraph, crescendoing with a sunrise, the whole revealing the city with the shock of the familiar made new.

And that is ultimately the answer. Fantasy tropes may fade, become familiar and tired, lose their power. Perhaps someday fantasy, itself, will do the same. But the classic cycle of myth and religion, which fantasy has taken on over and over again, isn’t one of life and then death, but of life, death, and rebirth. Familiarity is a question of context: what is your world made of? As our world shifts, what is new becomes old and what is old becomes new. The elements may be the same, but the magic is in the combination.

Sessily Watt

—posted 199 days ago

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