Cinder ~ Marissa Meyer

  • Title: Cinder
  • Author: Marissa Meyer
  • Series: Lunar Chronicles #1
  • Genre: Fantasy, Sci-Fi
  • Format: eBook
  • Source: Own Copy
  • Reviewed by: Emma, Guest Reviewer
  • Rating: 5 out of 5

Description:  Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

Review:  Well, what to say about this book!

I love reading books with beautiful prose and vivid descriptions that paint pretty pictures in your mind and carry you away somewhere else.

This book is not one of them.

This book seems to have taken the other route, the route where the author focuses on the story more than the prose, the characterization rather than the setting. This is not writing by numbers, this is writing by feel.

Cinder is an intelligently written story and I like the choices that Meyer makes throughout the book. The writing is clean and simple in the best way possible, you barely notice the writing. It flows, it’s smooth, it’s secondary to the telling of the story. It’s not distracting. Meyer gives you just enough for your mind to fill in the rest. She is not showy with her skill, and I believe it takes a skilled writer to write in such a minimalist way and for the story not to suffer for it. Instead of being carried away by pretty writing, it’s the story itself – and the way Meyer tells it – that draws you in. If she would have written in flowery prose it would have read like the original fairytale, and a fairytale this book is not. Meyer hasn’t re-written Cinderella, Meyer has taken all of the pertinent moments from Cinderella and re-invented it.

If The Brother’s Grimm were only now writing the fairytale of Cinderella, this is the story they would write.

Bravo, Marissa Meyer.

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The Versatile Blogger Award 2013

Silk Screen Views is happy to have been given the Versatile Blogger Award by Teepee12 of the blog Serendipity! The Versatile Blogger Award it given out to sites that make a variety of posts on many topics. Thanks to Teepee12 for nominating SSV! In honor of this award, I’ve made an award with our brand of flair:

SSV Versatile Blogger Award

The Versatile Blogger Award:

  • Thank the person who gave you the award.
  • Include a link to their blog.
  • Tell the person who nominated you seven things about yourself.
  • Make a list of bloggers that you nominate for the award & tell them about it.

In the post about the Liebster Award, I talked a lot about myself. For this award, I would like to talk a little bit about everyone that makes Silk Screen Views run the way it does. I may be spearhead of the operation but it wouldn’t be possible without the amazing people I am delighted to work with! Read along and find out something new about the people behind Silk Screen Views.

1)  Greetings!

Irate Izzy and I have known each other for years. We’re best friends and met through a mutual love of social dancing:  Lindy Hop! One of these days, I will write up a post about dancing and share some of my love of that with you. I met Snarktastic Sonja and Darth Val in a book discussion group on Goodreads called Girls, Guns & Grimoires. It’s one of my favorite groups in Goodreads because I’ve had countless fun discussions there about books and more. Between the four of us, we make a dynamic team that offers a chaotic mix of paradoxical natures and outlooks. We share the love of books, snark, good times and intellectual glee!

2)  A Word

Everyone has a word or phrase that they find themselves using regularly. Well, here are the ones we tend to use the most. *Note: My word changes as I phase in and out of things. The one listed here for me has been true for the past few months but who knows how much longer it’ll remain as such.

  • Soo ~ “Sweet!”
  • Sonja ~ “Evidently.”
  • Val ~ “Fascinating.” (Spock)
  • Izzy ~ “Dude.”

3)  What would be the pen name of choice if we ever wrote romance (erotica)?

  • Izzy:  Lily LaBlanche
  • Val:  Catherine Lloyd
  • Sonja:  Susan Levana
  • Soo:  Nessa Rei Conor

4)  Exactly what does everyone do on Silk Screen Views?

We all come from diverse backgrounds and careers. Each of us has a long history and experience with editing, organizing, planning and implementing events and projects. Half of us are single and the other half are happily married with great kids. As we’ve gotten more involved with Silk Screen Views and figured out how much fun & challenging it is to be a part of the website, we decided to add services page to SSV and become a part of the process for creating books.

Everyone writes book reviews, most of us has formulated and published an Author Interview and it’s a free for all to post in Ramblings/Rampage. We all bring our unique perspective to the site. We may all love the same topic, book or interest but we relate to each differently. It’s sharing those differences in a mutual love that makes SSV interesting.

Sonja, Val & I network on Goodreads to help promote our posts and reviews. I’ve taken to Twitter and give out daily Tweets on what’s going on with SSV or those we’re connected with on Twitter. Val has put together the Facebook Page and maintains it to keep people up to speed on there. Izzy and I maintain the website. It’s usually me for the day to day stuff but Izzy has her hand in the pot and helps to solve the big mysteries.

5)  Cool Factoid

  • Sonja ~ I rode in an elevator with Felicia Day. Bwahahaha!

My love of reading has led me to try new things that I would never have thought possible. For instance, I taught myself to draft sewing patterns. Armed with a book, I feel like I can accomplish almost anything.

  • Izzy ~ My hair has mind of its own! Anyone with curly hair knows the dealio. I provide Soo morning entertainment every day cuz she never knows what she’s gonna get from my wild hair!

I play piano fairly well and I’ve been known to get my pants covered in paint as I get lost in making art by hand, brush & more.

  • Soo ~ My laughter is infectious and powerful! You can hear me laugh outside.

During a live jazz performance, a musician (who later became a friend) announced that my laugh should be recorded and used as an alarm clock because it would be a great way to wake up.

  • Val ~ I am doing a half marathon every month this year.

Background on Val’s Pen Name:  If I were to write romance novels, I would definitely use a pen name.  I considered what that would be long ago and decided to combine the names of my grandparents.

6)  Thoughts on Silk Screen Views

Izzy:  Gold armor is not a fashion statement. Remember that! I look forward to helping with many posts because I live with Soo and she’ll strangle me. It’s okay because I work well under pressure.

Sonja:  SSV has led me to read more critically. I actually have to think about my reviews instead of just stream of consciousness. Instead of just knowing I love a book, I have to determine why and how.

Val:  I have been having a lot fun reviewing for SSV.  It has allowed me to fan the flames of my inner snark.  I have also begun to think more critically about what I am reading, which has led to a greater appreciation for authors.

Soo:  Maybe you’re starting to notice but I hardly ever do just one thing or for just one reason. SSV started as a project that I’ve had on hold for a long time that I wanted to begin and as part of my way of getting back into writing everyday. It’s become it’s own entity and I love how much I’m gaining from every new experience. It’s invigorating to be a part of creating something that touches other people or helps people you admire. I love learning and challenges. I get plenty of both by working on Silk Screen Views.

7)  Crystal Ball

What’s ahead for Silk Screen Views and our little gang of misfits? A WHOLE LOT!

Look forward to more authors & books joining the Author Interview & Review Series.

Snarktastic Sonja will be doing a showcase that will feature–well, you’ll find out when it comes out.

Darth Val has her eyes set on book covers and she’ll be making a note on them. Will you agree or disagree?

Irate Izzy may be showing her love of all that is Arrow, Vampire Diaries or Person of Interest. Maybe a rant or rave on Veronica Mars. Whatever it is, it’ll keep you on your toes!

A discussion about the Fantasy genre that crosses several websites and bloggers will kick off the debates further as SSV joins the rounds with my own stance on the question: Is Fantasy becoming mired in medieval scenarios and need a kick in a different direction?

Scribes Corner will be getting several updates with interesting articles written by authors.

Rampage only has one post at the moment but will it stay that way? NAH!

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Silk Screen Views Nominates the Following in No Particular Order:

Seven Kinds of Hell ~ Dana Cameron

  • Title: Seven Kinds of Hell
  • Author: Dana Cameron
  • Series: Fangborn #1
  • Genre: UF, Fantasy
  • Format: eBook
  • Source: NetGalley
  • Reviewed by: Soo
  • Rating: 3 out of 5

Description:  Archaeologist Zoe Miller has been running from a haunting secret her whole life. But when her cousin is abducted by a vicious Russian kidnapper, Zoe is left with only one option: to reveal herself. Unknown to even her closest friends, Zoe is not entirely human. She’s a werewolf and a daughter of the Fangborn, a secretive race of werewolves, vampires, and oracles embroiled in an ancient war against evil. To rescue her cousin, Zoe will be forced to renew family ties and pit her own supernatural abilities against the dark and nefarious foe. The hunt brings Zoe to the edge of her limits, and with the fate of humanity and the Fangborn in the balance, life will be decided by an artifact of world-ending power.

*Potential Spoilers*

Review:  3.5 Stars – I had a tough time rating this book. A part of me says that it only deserves 3 stars but I wanted to give it 4 for excellent ideas. In the end, I compromise with a 3.5 stars.

Zoe’s been on the run for most of her life. Her Ma didn’t explain exactly why they’re on the run. She only knows that her father was mixed up in something bad and her Ma took her away when she was a baby to keep her safe. Most people get to live in one town or two while growing up. Zoe has grown up all over the U.S. and under several aliases. She gets ready to take off again but it’s totally different situation now. Ma falls prey to cancer and leaves her with two commands before she dies. The most important:

Don’t let her father’s family find her.

The world that Dana Cameron weaves together is striking in its unique mix of legends, paranormal, shape-shifters and mythology. It’s like looking at the world with cool shades. Everything is familiar and the same but everything has a layer of meaning that has been left unseen. What if all those pictographs and cave drawings of half man and half animal beings were true? What would the world be like then?

The first book of the Fangborn introduces us to an unlikely group of characters. In the lead is Zoe, a socially awkward young woman who isn’t comfortable in her own skin and used to a life of secrecy. She can count the number of real friends on one hand, but she’s willing to leave them all behind to keep everyone safe. She’s not just running away from an unknown danger that haunts her family. She’s running away from everyone to hide from herself.

The Beast.

She can’t control the Beast. What if the Beast takes over and she never turns into a human again? What if the Beast attacks the people she loves? She can’t take the chance. She won’t take that chance.

It doesn’t matter. Everything Zoe knows and believes in will be challenged. The very people she least expects to be a part of her insane journey across the world will be at her side. How does she know who is a friend or enemy? How will she know who to trust? What is this prophecy that says she’s the chosen one? With every step forward, there are two taken sideways.

Instead of leaving town and starting a new life in a new city, Zoe finds herself stalked by those who bear a striking family resemblance. Danny, an old childhood friend, becomes bait to lure Zoe into a dangerous game with nefarious characters. With heart pounding and terror trapped in her throat, Zoe dives into the rabbit hole to save her friend.

The story grabbed me full tilt at the beginning. I became confused when the pace slows down to a near crawl, and I felt like I was thrown into an info dump with long mental digressions into the past. I realize all of them are important for the story but I felt rather disappointed in the pacing. It’s like starting a roller coaster ride. Instead of getting ready to go down that first hump into speedy reckless exhilaration, you find out that you need to ride around for a while, go up another few hills and THEN you get the adventurous yeehaw drop.

I love everything about the Fangborn, the hints about where they’re from, what they can do and how they are an integral part of society. Even if they’re a hidden part of it.

As a lover of history, mythology and relics, I find myself equally put off and attracted to the archaeological aspects of the story. Parts of it is really interesting and parts of it throws me out of the story. As a reader, I never came to terms with Zoe being an archaeologist. If Zoe was still a student and working as an intern, it would be easier to accept. Most of the time, I would forget she is one until the book reminds me that she is.

The climax of the story is MOST EXCELLENT! I wanted to give the story 4 stars just for the climax. It was very well done! It wasn’t exactly what I expected and the unusual mix of events was awesome! I may have jumped up and down a little in excitement during this part. Okay, it was really a sit down chair dance but it still counts.

I want to preface my next comment with this: I’m definitely team Zoe & Will. I want them to work. However, the love making scenario felt really out of place. I’m glad they got together. I just think the description could have hinted more and said less. That small bit of the book felt really out of place in the way it was written. Not by that part happening but because of how it is written. It’s not because I don’t like explicit love scenes. I do. I just felt that this part was an odd duck out with the rest of the book.

I would have liked more time to get to know the other characters and a little less time in Zoe’s head.

The bones of the story are great and I can’t wait to see what story the second book will tell.

I know I didn’t give the book 4 stars. It doesn’t matter. You should read this book. The reasons why I would mark a book down to a 3.5 stars may not be your reasons. This book is an excellent start to a new series and I am definitely going to be in line to read the next one.

Writing with a Distant Partner by Frank Hofer, James Hofer (edits)

01/31/2013

How do you write a novel when your writing partner is two time zones and 1500 miles away? That was the first question we had when Jim suggested that we try our hand at writing a fantasy novel. We had just concluded our ill-fated attempt at writing humor. Our fans were each other and a couple of friends. We knew that our web site would never be The Onion but we were having a good time and got some practice writing something other than technical documents.

After a few weeks of no posts, Jim asked me how I planned to continue being creative and suggested writing either a fantasy or a science fiction novel. I agreed to work with him under the condition that we didn’t write “sword and sorcery.” I wanted a society with a late 18th or early 19th century level of technology with a blending of science, engineering, and magic. Since I didn’t know anything about steam punk at the time, I coined the phrase “muskets and magic” for our effort.

Once we had a technology time period, we needed a story. Giants versus gun wielding soldiers seemed like a good starting point.

We needed some people in our story of course. Harry Potter was really big at the time, and I always felt that Hermione Granger was not only underutilized, but should have been the real hero of the series. To me, she seemed smarter, more rational and level headed, and overall a better wizard than Harry Potter. With that in mind, Jeunelux was born. She would be the first of many strong, independent female characters, including women in combat roles, as a head of state, and a general in the army.

A couple of years after we finished the first draft of Duck Blood Soup I finally got around to reading Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials” trilogy – The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass and realized that Lyra was the female character that I wanted Hermione to be. My Jeunelux and Pullman’s Lyra had a lot in common.

Our initial plot ideas were discussed through email, but we knew that we needed a better methods to actually write the book. The physical challenges of remote writers wasn’t that big of a deal. We are both computer nerds so setting up a secure FTP site to keep our work was pretty simple. Microsoft Word with change tracking enabled allowed both of us to see the edits the other made. We also added notes between brackets so that they would be easy to find.

The interpersonal challenges could have been an issue but were not because of our professional backgrounds. I spent a dozen years flying satellites so I came from a culture where it is not only expected but required for people to critique and correct your work. When a multi-million dollar satellite’s health and mission depend upon being right all the time, you either welcome people checking and correcting your work or you don’t last long in the business.

Jim and I both worked in software development environments where other engineers comment on your designs, point out problems, tear apart your work and insist on changes. While writing Duck Blood Soup we got in to our professional software development mind set – nothing said is personal, we want to write the best novel we possibly can, and we must be critical of both our own and each other’s work. If something wasn’t right, or wasn’t consistent, or seemed cliché, flag it to be fixed. If you insist on having a big ego, writing with someone will never work.

The software development mindset also helped with the overall book creation. We would have very general guidelines for chapters; this is what has happened going into the chapter, that is what the output of the chapter should be, anything else is just implementation details. After a chapter was written by one author, the other would “refactor” it by pointing out problem areas or suggesting different ways to accomplish the desired result. Passing chapters back and forth also allowed us to sound like a single author. The reader really doesn’t know who initially wrote what chapter or concentrated on particular characters.

For example, we wanted to look at different aspects of the magical creatures we used. Since Giants are common in fantasy novels, we would make sure that ours were unique. And when one author added blood suckers, the other pointed out that their ethics needed to be defined along with their special powers. Each time one of us came up with a species, the other would always ask, what is special, what hasn’t this been done before?

The professional attitudes and communications skills we developed over the years in our “paying jobs” were really put to use when we wrote Duck Blood Soup. Putting our project ahead of ourselves gave us something we can point to with pride.

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The original post can be found here and you can find out more about the Hofer brothers and their book, Duck Blood Soup, on their website.

Check out Snarktastic Sonja’s review of Duck Blood Soup and the Hofers Author Interview.

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An Unexpected Backlash: A Tolkien Commentary by Michelle Browne

Hello hello!

So, by now, most of you have probably seen ‘The Hobbit’. I finally caught up to it in theatres just recently. I wanted to touch on the relevance of that, but I’m going to splice an analysis of Lord of the Rings in here too, and look at why the series has been so instrumental in creating the fantasy worlds of writers today. However, I also have a few choice remarks to make on culture and possibly colonialism, so don’t expect an entirely comfortable post. Get your sword, your bow, and your axe; this could get ugly.

For the sake of expediency, and because I don’t have time to reread the entire trilogy AND The Hobbit AND The Sillmarillion (blech!) before writing this review, there may be a few factual detail errors. However, given my ‘to be read’ shelves on GoodReads and Amazon, I figured it was best just to get on with it.

Photo belongs to the internets.

So, what makes the series so special? Let’s have a look at some common misconceptions and ideas while we’re trying to figure it out.

Lord of the Rings was the first book of its kind! Well…actually…

It’s more than just clever marketing, certainly. Although The Lord of the Rings series was written during WWII and published in three volumes between 1954-55, it wasn’t the first high fantasy work ever written. Before The Hobbit in 1937, Robert Howard’s Conan the Barbarian hit the shelves in 1932. Weird Tales, the magazine that started it all, had hit shelves back in 1923, bringing stories of horror, science fiction, and the fantastic to pulp readers everywhere. Reading these contemporary works definitely reveals some very common themes. If you’ve read H.P. Lovecraft’s work and a bit of Howard–which I have–you can see the overlap in the style of the antagonists, as well as in other elements. The spooky and mysterious forces even return in modern game narratives, such as DragonAge, The Elder Scrolls, and World of Warcraft. 

What LoTR did, though, was refine the style and give it a voice, a look, an emblematic work that encompassed new ground. Only children’s stories had been written about knights and beasts and dragons, and before that, the mythology of a people. Tolkein managed to combine children’s stories, folklore, and the organization of mythos into a single work. There’s no getting around it–the Middle Earth stories are the sort of creation myth territory that had previously belonged to whole cultures.

He single-handledly defined orcs (inventing those himself), dwarves, elves, and halfings/hobbits for generations of fantasy writers. He defined the period and setting (a sort of sparsely populated medieval Britain/Germany/France amalgam) for what high fantasy would become. He defined the idea of a big bad scary villain working through armies of henchmen. He codified the Merlin-like figure of a wise old wizard and crafted many tropes and archetypes that we still rely on. High fantasy, as it currently exists, just wouldn’t have come to be without Tolkein, or would have been markedly different.

Source. Some time, we’ll have a long talk about my mixed feelings about dragons, but this is a pretty epic picture.

So, what can you possibly say about LoTR’s impact that could be negative? He invented the genre, right?

LoTR begat many other authors’ works. Ursula Le Guin and her literary descendents have diverged a bit, but both Arthurian structure and LoTR dominate the flavour and types of worlds created by modern writers. Stories revolve around magic and whether it ought to be used (or not), kings and their courts, power struggles, fantasy racism and ancient grudges, looming evil forces or ideological conflicts, the role (or lack thereof) for women, and Epic Grand Battle Royales. Tamora Pierce, Terry Brooks, Robin Hobb, George R. R. Martin, and many other authors have all experimented with variations on this formula, with varying levels of success.

There is some really wonderful high fantasy out there, but as one reads the list, certain patterns emerge. Even from titles alone, a tendency towards the medieval is obvious. That’s all right on its own, surely, but a second glance reveals more. The vast majority, in fact, almost every single book, is set in some sort of British/Germanic/French/Nordic world. Mongolians, Chinese, Arabs, or Africans are the antagonist forces–sometimes cloaked in scales or green skin or in various deformities. While some books do deviate and head to a Middle-Eastern world–Tamora Pierce’s Circle, Guy Gavriel Kay’s canon, or G. R. R. Martin’s Fire and Ice quintet–most stay firmly in the classic medieval Europe zone.

Now, I am citing classics of the genre. I’m not all that keen on high fantasy, as stated in previous posts, but there are some books here that I truly love. Pullman, Zelazny, Martin, Bakker, Rowling, Pratchett, Nix, Gentle, Goodkind, and yes, Tolkein, are authors I’ve absolutely adored and who have influenced me. However, even these interesting and fairly diverse voices tend to gravitate to that European medieval standard I’ve mentioned. LGBTQ people are an endangered species, diversity is limited to a few strange folk and tokens, and everything is based on a muddy mix of the worst of 11th century daydreams.

So, why insist that I dislike the genre if I’ve read so much of it?

The problem is that reading one or two books in the genre, by and large, is like reading all of them. Sure, some of the authors have the excuse of time on their side, but new authors are still imitating their forebears with religious accuracy. Simply put, if you’re reading high fantasy these days, you can count on a lack of cultural diversity and different ideas, and there’s not much point in picking up a new book in the genre. I’m not saying the whole thing needs to be chucked out, or that these books are bad, per se, but I do think there’s a danger of intellectual bankruptcy and negatively influencing younger, newer authors.

Source.  This is basically how I feel when I pick up a book and find out that it’s exactly the same as a classic fantasy work. This has happened recently. Multiple times.

So, why has Lord of The Rings continued to keep such a hold on the public imagination?

I think some of it has to do with not only the greatness of the work and the shocking faithfulness of its adherence in works that followed, but also with comfort zones. I’m not going to rant about American/Eurocentric media right now, but I will say that it’s simply what we’re used to–Britain and Germany as cultural centers, with blurred understanding of how much even these two nations have changed in modern times. We know Tolkien and we know the works of authors inspired by him, and their sameness and familiarity may actually be a selling point. When people like something, they want more of it. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but when even smaller-name, newer authors feel compelled to repeat the same formulas–and the formulas come from only one or two sources–you’re bound to encounter a lot of repetition. It’s a standard epic escape route.

Going back to an earlier point, not all the writings were intended to be this homogeneous. Arguably, a lot of these works cross into the real world, and when urban fantasy is lumped into High Fantasy (which it is on the Wikipedia page), you see a bit more wriggle-room and creativity. However, the idea of pushing boundaries isn’t a welcome one in fantasy circles. Consider how many of the greats–even those writing in the present–have prominent gay or lesbian characters who are open about their sexuality. Answer: Very few. Even G. R. R. Martin’s fiction, which does move away from the Euro-zone a bit, maintains misogyny (though it’s explored) and ‘European’ main characters for all the named, prominent protagonists.

It’s also given people the wrong idea about the actual medieval era, which–according to scholarly research I’ve done–is essentially nothing like the books supposedly written to imitate it. Even without the more exotic and non-realistic aspects, the time between the fall of Rome and the rise of the Medicis in the Renaissance was a very busy period for human history, not just a wasteland of political struggle and plague. The myth has faded into legend, and some things that should not have been forgotten–such as the surprising diversity of medieval science and some tolerant attitudes towards gay people–were. However, it doesn’t mean that it’s the end of the world, or that the genre is doomed to continue cannibalizing itself and Tolkein.

Okay, smartypants, how do we fix it?

I’ve been leading up to this, but the answer isn’t really that difficult: we need to diversify. I would read the living crap out of a book set in ancient China or Africa. Medieval setting and all. Most authors are Europeans or Americans (yours truly included, though I’m Canadian) and there are certain knowledge limits imposed by that. That said, we’re running out of options; ideas are basically tapped dry, and being recycled at this point. Stretching beyond the classics and taking inspiration from other cultures–respectfully–could do a world of good. As well, adding new elements to the classic books, such as clashes over technology, LGBTQ and non-traditional marital structures, and different ideologies, would also change up the formula.  Some issues might arise from incompetent treatment of other cultures and LGBTQ people. That’s going to be a problem as people expand their reach and subject matter, without question, and you can bet I’ll have more to say about cultural appropriation in future.

On the other hand, nobody really likes change as a process. It’s uncomfortable. I can also anticipate a lot of screaming over destruction of the genre and that sort of thing. Given how well classic high fantasy has survived so far, I wouldn’t describe that as a real problem. In fact, some authors have already started to mess heavily with the formulas, and to excellent effect. Bakker, one of the authors mentioned, does a pretty good job of changing around traditional elements in his Prince of Nothing series, in my opinion. Eve Forward’s The Animist is another example of a book that bent a few rules by varying the races and species used.

While there’s a good discussion to be had about the realistic value about fantasy (and sci fi) stories for the real world, there’s also a need for even the most fantastical works to relate to contemporary circumstances. Our circumstances are just so different from fifty or sixty years ago that traveling back to the make-believe medieval Disneyland setting designed in that era is no longer realistic. Real Britain has a very diverse population, women comfortably work in many different industries (and men demonstrate far more than mere combat skills, proving to be excellent solo parents), and equal marriage is becoming a very important issue worldwide. Fantasy just doesn’t represent this very well, and a few updates will help the genre stay relevant and interesting for our children and children’s children. And that’s why we need to dethrone Tolkien as the one and only golden standard of fantasy, especially for new authors: if things stay the way they are, fantasy will fail to move forward. We’ll have the classics, sure, but those little pockets of racism and sexism will remain, and no culture needs that.

So, in conclusion: I actually like a fair bit of high fantasy, and have respect for many authors in the genre, but it’s already suffering from some serious inbreeding. I haven’t touched on the issues in science fiction, and I will get to that eventually. For now, it’s time for you guys to tell me your thoughts: is fantasy over-saturated with a certain setting style? Is it just the traits of the genre? Or do we need to change things? Any recommendations of new and unique fantasy series are also very welcome. I want to hear your thoughts in the comments!

*****
Thanks for dropping by the nest once again. Don’t miss any of the good kind of crazy. Find me on TwitterFacebook, and on Tumblr. Watch out for my fantasy-themed spring: interviews with fantasy authors, content related to fantasy films and reviews, and some political commentary–the phuquerie you’ve come to expect from me. Keep checking back to see those surprise posts, too. This is your darling SciFiMagpie, over and out!
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This article was originally posted on Michelle Browne’s blog on March 17, 2013.

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Delta Rae’s Bottom of the River

I’m lucky to have grown up in two different countries and a mix of cultures that exposed me to a variety of things while growing up. I love learning and it’s taken me onto interesting journeys on meandering paths. On my mother’s side, I have more than my fair share of the family traits! One of those is being able to sing and not being god awful at it.

A good friend of mine that I fondly call Sparkles, (He really does deserve this nickname even if I’m the only one who calls him that!) recommended that I listen to the song Bottom of the River by Delta Rae. I love it! It’s one of my favorite songs to listen to and the video is great! What’s not to like about a song that tells a story?

This is the song I want to sing at an Open Mic in my neighborhood. A few of us will try to perform it acapella and have lots of ridiculous fun while doing it! If the gang end up being gutless wonders, I’ll do it solo. Or maybe I’ll partner up with Izzy and sing while she plays the piano. Adventures are what makes life fun!

Watch the video! It’s rather awesome! Kudos to Delta Rae~