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.
—posted 45 days ago
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.
—posted 50 days ago
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
- Marfisa, once the Axe, had finally broken with her brother, the Axehandle;
- Luys, the Mason, had been sent by his occasional lover the Duke to find Jo;
- now, the two of them have met under the tree in Pioneer Square (where they’d fought a duel just weeks before).
- (Luys had been wearing a mysterious mask at the time, the mask worn by the swordsman Vincent Erne, when he’d been Huntsman to the Court.)
- —The Duke then went on to challenge the Axehandle and the Guisarme, Banker to the Court;
- That done, he went in a snit to sit the Throne, and only his (mostly) ex Jessie to witness his apotheosis.
- His other ex, Orlando, the Mooncalfe, had won the keeping of the Bride by defeating Jo in a duel;
- the Mooncalfe then went on to murther the Shootist and the Gammer, all to take away the Bride he’d already won;
- but Ysabel, terrified she might be broken, appalled she might not be, fled from the Mooncalfe…
- …only to meet a lugubrious, grey-faced man, who hailed her as the Queen.
- (Jo, meanwhile, who’d found the Huntsman’s mask, went on to trade a briefcase full of porn for a gun,
- (and Messrs. Keightlinger and Charlock went somewhere—else?—and brought back something—else?)
- Then, it started to snow.
- Marfisa, Luys, and Orlando have asked their questions of the witch, Miss Cheney;
- Ysabel, having run from the Mooncalfe, runs to Messrs. Charlock and Keightlinger, and their employer, Mr. Leir;
- Jo finally figures out what it was Miss Cheney had told her, and goes to see Becker, the right one, second;
- and she fires the gun she bought, even as Mr. Charlock—Mr. Leir?—looses what he’d found;
- and Ysabel, Bride of the King Come Back, Queen of the Court of Roses, is suddenly gone from a rather different world—
That’s, I guess, where we were.
Beginning Monday: City of Roses no. 21, “Gallowglas.”
—posted 98 days ago
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.
—posted 137 days ago
—posted 143 days ago
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
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
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.
—posted 189 days ago
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.
—posted 199 days ago