Which Book Character Would I meet IRL?

So this question was posted in a facebook group I’m in about writing, and I thought it might be fun to answer it in blog form. For me, it was a little more difficult to answer than it originally seemed. The most obvious strategy is to just pick whoever your favorite character is and boom, you’re done. But the question isn’t “Who’s you’re favorite character?” which would open up answers from all forms of media (and a contentious race within my heart between Sterling Archer, Deadpool, Spiderman, and Rick O’Connell), or “Who’s your favorite book character?” which also would probably have been a different answer altogether (enter Murderbot, Binti, Vin, Kelsier, and Breq)

It is who do I want to MEET IRL. I think I had write an essay about this exact thing for a historical figure to get into college (spoiler alert: I wrote about Led Zeppelin’s drummer John Bonham). Hopefully this post won’t be as many pages . . .

Anyway, it was interesting to see how different people answered the question. Some did seem to just pick their favorite hero which is fine, others chose villains which was fun. Still others couldn’t decide at all, and decided to wax poetic about what an impossible choice it was and how dare the poster even ask. Some listed several, and one possibly quite morbid dude said he wanted to meet Death from the Discworld books. He acknowledged that doing so meant his life was at an end, but he seemed to think that at least it would be a friend welcoming him to the afterlife (IN SHOUTY-CAPS NO LESS).

I thought through several approaches, and decided that I’d probably want it to be someone I could hang out with if we did end up meeting. The question specified “in real life” so I wouldn’t have to worry about whether or not they were good at fighting, or magic, or if they’d actually care enough to keep me alive during whichever encounter lead our paths to cross (I assume I’d be quite useless if I fell into a novel).

And because . . . writer . . . I started imagining what situations I would meet a book character in, and that definitely began shape my answer. I don’t think I’d ever come across Murderbot in real life, and while that perspective is hilarious to read, I don’t see our paths ever crossing. The other characters I mentioned in the ‘fav book’ category all lead dramatic lives full of inner turmoil and strife, and while I’m rooting for them the whole way during a book, and want to see them change and succeed, I’m not sure that they’d be the best people to hang around with . . .

So who did I chose?

Adolin Kholin from Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive.

Oh?

Yup. I suppose it’s no surprise that I picked a character from a Brando Sando book (although I really tried to think of a character from someone else’s work. After all, I don’t want to become too predictable), but I was a little surprised by who I ended up on. The Stormlight books aren’t my favorite series by Brando (that’s Mistborn), and even within those books, I don’t know if Adolin is my favorite character.

But he does seem like a bro. He’s got a bunch of honor and good morals which were stuffed down his throat by pappa Dalinar, and while he’s taken it all to heart and seems to be generally a good person, he doesn’t seem as uptight about it all like his father. He seems to see the world with more grays, and would probably be a little more lenient to those who weren’t as strict about living up to his standard.

He dresses well, and plays sports (how cool is shardblade dueling?), so he’s probably pretty popular among everyone. He seems to like nice places and probably knows all the best spots . . .

And he’d definitely have your back in fight and be quite good at it (I know I said earlier I wasn’t worried about that but it can’t hurt)

All of this does not mean he has zero flaws however. He’s lived a privileged life, there’s no denying it. But I always get the impression that he’s working to better himself and try to understand those around him who have lived in a different life then him. He doesn’t always get it right but he seems to be always trying.

Anyway, at the risk of this post sounding like I have a man-crush on a fictional character (I might though) I think Adolin is who I’d choose to meet IRL if I could. I think we’d probably get into some trouble, but it would likely be a fun time.

I’m interested to hear who you’d choose so please let me know in the comments: Which book character would you like to meet in real life if you could?

See you next time!

Can I Really Manage To Throw Out TEN BOOKS?! (Unhaul Challenge)

Wow. This is a bit ridiculous. But I’m going to try.

Basically this challenge is to throw out books from your shelf, based on prompts written (I think) by BooksAndLala on Youtube. I first saw the challenge on a video posted by Portable Magic (also on youtube), and then I found a blog version on Merline Reads to see how it could be done in bloggo land.

Let’s get to it!

A Book I Rated Low

Rhapsody: Child of Blood, by Elizabeth Haydon. I’m not quite sure what part of the blurb for this story made me actually purchase this book (although I think I got it from a library used book sale for like 50 cents) but I definitely did not feel satisfied at the end. I’m assuming I was interested in all of the music references in both the title (Rhapsody) and the series title (Symphony of Ages), and intrigued that the main character was a singer who goes on an epic quest. I’ve wanted to write a story about a musician for ages and so I thought this might be a good place to see it done well.

Honestly, I don’t really remember anything in the book actually involving music at all. They climb through the roots of a tree (not the branches) for what felt like a hundred pages, there is some kind of prophecy, an assassin kills a bunch of people and maybe becomes king of something (it’s been a while since I read this one).

Anyway, whatever I was hoping it would do, it just didn’t. I’m seeing now that there is NINE books in this series so perhaps I should have used it for the series prompt later on but nah. Just a low rated book.

A Book I Changed My Mind About

Zombies: Encounters with the Hungry Dead, edited by John Skipp. I think I’m just not as big into zombies as I used to be. There are several great stories in this collection, and the book does a great job delving into the history of zombies in literature (I loved and posted about Dead Men Working in the Cane Fields by W.B. Seabrook, supposedly the first zombie story ever published). That being said, I’ve owned this book for several years and never finished. I’ll always have a special place for zombies in my heart, but perhaps it is time to finally let that trend die?

A Series I Won’t Be Completing

The Ascension Cycle by David Mealing. I don’t know if a two-book cycle really counts as a series, but I will not be finishing this one. The first book, Soul of the World, was pitched as a ‘must read’ for fans of Brandon Sanderson (Mistborn specifically which is my fav), and the blurb seemed pretty good, so I was very excited to read this.

But upon finishing it I was actually a bit mad. (In my subjective opinion), it was nowhere near Mistborn. I can see how it might have similar elements: a seemingly complicated magic system; a young woman protagonist who’s independent, living on the street, and struggling for survival like Vin; an intricate world with intrigue and epic/world altering stakes.

But somehow there was some quality missing from this book that BSands seems to have struck every time. It felt to me, perhaps ironically, that for a book about the soul of the world, this book seemed to lack any soul at all. As I think about it, perhaps it would be worth it for my own writing to read this again and do an analysis as to how it fell short, but that seems like a lot of work, and I already have a big enough TBR, without rereading a book I didn’t enjoy. We’ll see.

A Book I DNF’d (Did Not Finish)

World War Z. I just couldn’t get through this one. I think I’m literally at the 50% mark but I just can’t. It got soooo depressing. It’s been sitting on my shelf for like five years at this point, and I’ve not once ever thought “Oh I should give that one another try.” Nope. Sorry zombie book, you will not be getting a second life.

A Book I Have Multiple Copies Of

Dune Messiah. Why? I don’t know. I think this was one that that I found in my parent’s basement during a move and snagged it thinking I didn’t already have a copy. Then I got home and . . . well I did. One of the editions (the one I snagged) is like super old and kind of falling apart, but has awesome cover art so I’m not sure which one I’ll end up keeping (the newer one is just green haha)

A Book I’ll Never Actually Get To

The Man Who Sold the Moon by Robert Heinlein. I’ve talked a little bit about Heinlein before in my Jurassic Park Book Tag post. Essentially, I didn’t find The Puppet Masters all that great even though I really enjoyed Starship Troopers. I know he’s a classic, and so that is probably what made me reach for The Man Who Sold the Moon when I saw it in my local little free library (love those little book houses haha), but I’ve hardly had any motivation to read it. I think it might just be time to take it back to the little library and hopefully someone else will find some use for it

A Book I Bought Because Of The Hype

Provenance by Ann Leckie. I . . . absolutely . . . LOVED Leckie’s Ancillary Justice (and the rest of the Imperial Radch trilogy) so when her next release, Provenance, was ready to hit the shelves, the world was buzzing and I was more or less frothing at the mouth to read this book. It is a good book. A fun mystery, set in a sci-fi universe, but it just could not compare with her previous work. I will probably read Ancillary Justice ten more times, but unfortunately I’ve never reached for this one on the shelf. Probably best to give it up.

A Book I Bought Because Of The Cover

Rant by Chuck Palahniuk. I’m not entirely sure I’ll actually get rid of this one, and I’m not sure that I actually bought it because of the cover. Full disclosure, I think this one was just the book that had the prettiest cover that I thought I MIGHT actually be able to get rid of. I haven’t read a book by him in years, and I’ve talked about my Palahniuk burnout on the blog before. Everything I said then still pretty much holds true. Maybe I’ll get back into the groove someday.

A Book I Don’t Know Anything About

Lifelode by Jo Walton. I think this was given to me in one of those book bags you sometimes get when you register for a conference. I’m honestly not sure how I came by it, but Jo Walton is seemingly a giant in SFF, so I thought I might as well keep it . . . I’ll read it someday.

I still haven’t. Probably should give it up.

A Book I Didn’t Buy

The Lost Years of Merlin by T.A. Barron. I keep thinking I’m going to go on a big Merlin kick where I just consume every piece of media I can find that is even remotely related to this mythic wizard of yore. This one is another little free library find, and I was pretty excited to read it when I first found it. However, I was right in the middle of some other books I wanted to post about, and so I put it on the shelf where it has gathered dust for quite a while. Perhaps I’m never actually going to go on this Merlin kick after all. Perhaps I should give this one up too.

Please Let it STOPPP!!!

Ok that was a little dramatic but wow, I can’t believe I actually found ten books on my shelf that I’d be willing to get rid of. Usually I can hardly gather up the will to return a library book let alone voluntarily give up TEN books but here we are. The list is made.

I’m hopeful that some of these I return to their respective little free libraries (and maybe find something else that looks interesting!) or perhaps trade them for some credit at a used book store or something. I have at least one friend who likes Jo Walton so maybe they will appreciate a random book by them appearing for them one day out of the ether. Maybe not . . . anything can happen.

Anyway, now that I’m done feeling proud of myself, let me know your thoughts. Are there any on this list I should give another shot? Any you would like? Leave it in the comments!

See you next time!

The links to Hugo Award Finalists I’ve reviewed

Hi all! I was finding it hard to keep track of the different reviews I’ve done for Hugo Award finalists, so I decided to make a post that’s only that. Also I can stick it to the top of my blog which will be easier on everyone.

I will NOT be updating the Hugo Finalists Reaction post anymore. I may still update the Hugo’s Are Coming! post but it has a bunch of extra stuff that isn’t relevant to the finalists, so I didn’t want to stick it to the top of the blog.

I’ll just update this as I go. If you don’t see a title (or more likely whole category) listed here, but it is listed on the 2021 Hugo Awards website it’s because I haven’t read/watched/played and reviewed it yet. This page will have more links as time goes on. Enjoy!

Best novel:

Best Short Story:

Best Series:

Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book:

Astounding Award for Best New Writer:


Ok. That’s all I’ve managed so far. Thanks for stopping by!

On the Scholomance as a twisted, evil Eudaimonia Machine.

Last week I reviewed Naomi Novik’s A Deadly Education. There’s a lot going on in the book which I won’t rehash here, but one of the main things that stuck out to me as inspiring and wonderful, was the school itself, that is to say, The Scholomance.

Yes. The heartless, soulless, emotionless, a-bunch-of-other-things-that-end-in-less, mystical meat-grinder of a university that tried so hard to end our beloved heroine at every turn was perhaps the most amazing (and definitely my favorite) part of the novel . . .

I guess I’m an academic after all.

But seriously, I was pretty much in awe of Novik for the realization of this place, because as I read further into the book, and learned more about The Scholomance, I realized that what she had created was actually an Aristotelian ideal of existence. The Eudaimonia Machine . . .

Only, ya know, twisted and evil.

So what the hell am I talking about? I’ll tell you, but first a little history lesson:

The Little History Lesson:

So this lesson will be taught in two parts. First a little background on the term Scholomance itself, and then on to the Eudaimonia machine. Here we go!

Wtf is a Scholomance

So The Scholomance is the school in A Deadly Education which all the wizards and witches attend to learn magic which will (hopefully) help them survive in the real world which is apparently filled with Maleficaria (monsters, demons, what-have-you) which are just dying to eat everyone, all the time. It’s horrible and cruel, and seemingly more people die during their tenure than graduate but hey, that’s the world we live in . . . err the world they live in.

When I first picked up the novel and the school was termed Scholomance, the name seemed vaguely familiar, but no references came to mind readily. After I was finished reading, I googled a bit and found that apparently, the term Scholomance comes from the Romanian word Şolomanţă, and was rumored to be a school in Transylvania which was fabled to teach black magic. Students were purported to learn:

“all the secrets of nature, the language of animals, and all imaginable magic spells and charms.”

Transylvanian Superstitions by Emily Gerard. pg. 136. Found at https://www.gutenberg.org/files/52165/52165-h/52165-h.htm

It was also said that the school was run by the Devil who taught there and that only ten students were admitted at a time, and when the class graduated, one was held behind as the Devil’s aide de camp. This lucky (or perhaps luckless) soul would ride around on a dragon that controls the weather.

I suppose if there are Dragons involved, Novik would know about it.

Ah yes here’s the ad haha

Perhaps The Scholomance’s most famous portrayal outside of Romanian myth and legend, was Bram Stoker’s Dracula. It is thought that Stoker read Emily Gerard’s Transylvanian Superstitions and much of the folklore cited there is what inspired the novel. The Scholomance is only mentioned twice however by name (so says wikipedia).

As much as my literary mind would love to believe that I somehow remembered one, or both, of these two measly references in Dracula, the reality of the situation is I’ve only read the book once, and it was for class so I probably retained only exactly what I needed for my paper. The more likely scenario is that I remembered it from World of Warcraft. In that game, The Scholomance, was a castle like school in which the undead baddie Kel’Thuzad trained his necromancers. It was apparently a pretty high level dungeon so I likely never actually ran it, but I definitely would have seen all the ads for it . . .

Moving on!

And a Eudaimonia Machine?

Now this, is where things get even more interesting. The Eudaimonia Machine.

In the work of Aristotle, Eudaimonia is referenced as ‘happiness’, ‘welfare’, or ‘human flourishing and prosperity’ (certainly different then the Scholomance). Architect and entrepreneur David Dewane has thought a lot about these things and wondered what it might mean for people to reach such a state and how. He says:

“eudaimonia for a knife is being sharp and cutting. If it’s dull or just lying on the counter, it’s not achieving its highest state. So what is that for a human?”

https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/story-new-york-eudaimonia-machine-david-dewane-optimal-work-space

For him, it would seem eudaimonia involves “deep work”, or the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task. Some might say . . . Flow. Dewane feels it’s your environment that allows you to achieve eudaimonia. No surprise then, that an architect would set out to design a building which helps achieve this state.

James Matheson, someone I found on Medium, has a good post describing the concept, but the idea is basically that as you complete your work day, you are able to handle less and less distraction, and so you should change your environment accommodate that fatigue. The building ends up having the following five rooms (or maybe levels . . .):

  • Gallery – Where you enter the machine. It’s probably the most crowded level as it’s where everyone comes for inspiration and to talk. This level has examples of work created at the higher levels, placed to give you a bit of positive peer pressure.
  • Salon – A bar or maybe a coffee shop. It has good seating and is an area where you can hang and literally chew things out with your peers
  • Library – A library. All of the work produced in ‘the machine’ will be recorded, and accessible to you here. It’s where you will begin to gain the knowledge you use for your work.
  • Office – Areas for meetings and ‘shallow work’. This is where you work out the finer points of your strategy and everything in order.
  • Chambers – Where the rubber hits the road so to speak. This is where the work happens. Total focus. Crush it.

There is a point to all this I swear (possibly spoilers ahead)

So lets take a look at the five levels of The Sholomance as realized in A Deadly Education. The are: The Library, The Cafeteria, Language Halls, Classrooms, Shop & Special Classrooms.

Now let’s see how well those map onto our machine:

So intricate . . .
  • The Library – A library. This is the first level of the Scholomance. It’s the ‘safest’ level. Students come here to study, talk, hang out. Instead of positive peer pressure, of the Eudaimonia Machine’s Gallery, there is the more negative peer pressure of the fact that if a student doesn’t get a spot, they’ll be forced to study on one of the more dangerous floors.
  • The Cafeteria – Where the food is. Students sit, eat, kill whatever tiny Mals hide in the pudding. It’s a good chance to shore up alliances and hash out trades with your peers
  • Language Halls – Where the languages are learned. Since language is essentially the basis of spell casting in this universe, it’s important to study up. In the language hall is where students really learn the foundations of what they’ll cast later on.
  • Classrooms – Students probably shouldn’t be heading to any of the previous levels alone, but now it’s really getting dangerous. Especially if the room is empty. But once other students arrive, it is mostly safe. A lot of the subjects learned here are seemingly busy work (shallow work?), but sometimes there are a few rare gems which come through. Students often collaborate with their alliances to get the work done, or get the details worked out for projects they’ll pursue on the final level. (also no teachers! could probably write a whole other post on that, but I won’t. I’m getting tired.)
  • Shop & Special Classrooms – These are some of the most dangerous parts of The Scholomance, but also where the real work gets done. In the shop, students create magical artifacts such as magic mirrors, or mana sharers. Whatever they need to survive the end of the year.

We Made it!

So obviously, the Scholomance doesn’t map one-for-one onto Dewane’s Eudaimonia Machine, but I couldn’t help but think that it seemed to fit pretty well as a kind of riff or reversal of the concept. Instead of creating an environment which progressively gets rid of distraction to allow someone to achieve the pinnacle of their capability, The Scholomance is designed specifically to progressively introduce distractions (in the form of bigger and badder mals) so that the students won’t live long enough to do so.

The irony here is, I get the distinct impression that despite all of the danger and distraction present within The Scholomance, I do believe our heroine, El (short for the back half of Galadriel), truly flourished through the course of her adventure, and possibly even found some semblance of those Aristotelian virtues, prosperity and happiness.

We’ll see what her next year holds . . .

I’m impressed you made it this far. Thanks for sticking with it. If you have thoughts or other connections, please leave em in the comments section.


Hey again, I hope you enjoyed On The Scholomance as a twisted, evil Eudaimonia Machine. If you’re at all interested in reading more of my writing, or what goes into my own stories, I’ve started a newsletter (which is hopefully released quarterly) so people can get a more “behind the scenes” look of what I’m doing and what’s going on in my world. Please consider subscribing. Just for signing up, I’ll email you the first story I ever wrote, about a Warlock Doctor. Fun times. Thanks again!

See you next time!

11 Fantasy Books I Should Have Read By Now #WyrdAndWonder

For today’s #WyrdAndWonder prompt, in no particular order, a list of fantasy titles I really should have read by now:

Kindred by Octavia Butler:

Simply put, I’ve yet to read ANY Butler yet. I chose this one for the list because it’s reportedly “Fantasy” (in Butler’s own words: “a kind of grim fantasy”), but the reality is, I should have read something from her by now. I picked up Dawn and Imago at a used books sale and they have just been gathering dust ever since. I need to change that!

Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks:

The first book in the Shannara Chronicles. This is one of those books that I feel like I should read just to understand the history of one of my favorite genres. After The Lord of the Rings, Fantasy (with a capital F) was on the map and people were scrounging for similar kinds of stories. Apparently Sword of Shannara was what they found . . .

Problem is, I’ve heard it isn’t great for modern readers. I don’t know. The MTV show has been a guilty pleasure of mine, but I think it’s been updated substantially. I suppose I’ll get to it some day.

Gardens of the Moon by Stevin Erikson:

This is the first book in the Malazan Book of the Fallen series. It seems to be one of those series that is just EPIC. In scope, complexity, anything. I’ve never read any of it, but it always shows up on fantasy page count lists. Apparently you can buy the complete thing at just over 10,000 pages.

Regardless of whether or not it’s any good, it seems to be something of a notch on the old fantasy reader belt. Not a right of passage necessarily, but definitely a show of commitment to the genre . . . One of which I apparently haven’t completed yet. Some day . . .

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin:

Apparently I even ate GoT inspired Oreos.

I don’t have a good excuse for not having read this yet. I LOVED the show, and would certainly consider myself a fan of all things GoT. I’ve reviewed a precursor to GoT on this blog, cooked a meat pie from the GoT cookbook, and even waited in a super long line to meet the author and get my copy of this book signed (which I embarrassingly picked up at Target on my way to the signing, and even more embarrassingly, blinked during my photo with GRRM).

But for some reason haven’t read the book . . . Ok. Actually I know the reason. When I first bought the paperback, I wanted to get abs and so I started planking. I could read about two pages in the amount of time I could hold a plank. There are A LOT of pages. Over time I think I’ve developed a bit of a pavlovian response. Whenever I even look at the book, my abs hurt.

American Gods by Neil Gaiman:

Simply put, Neverwhere kind ruined Gaiman for me. All the good things I enjoyed about Good Omens I’ve started just attributing to Terry Pratchett’s influence. This one gets rave reviews from everyone I talk to, and the show seems pretty popular. But alas I’m not very motivated on this one. I know I should be . . . but I’m not.

Dragon Flight by Anne McKaffery:

Dragon Riders of Pern just seems to be one of those series that has influenced nearly everyone under the sun. Sometimes in a good way, sometimes not so much. Either way, I feel I should have read at least one of these simply because it’s SO pervasive. Time will tell.

Wizard’s First Rule by Terry Goodkind:

I feel like I might have been able to lump this one in with the Shannara stuff earlier in the post as this series seems to be one that most people found after reading Tolkien and just wanted more. I put it down here because I think people get the “Terry’s” in fantasy confused enough as it is.

I honestly have no idea what it’s even about, but it seems like one I should have read. Who knows?

Black Company by Glen Cook:

At some point, I feel like I read a short story in the Black Company universe and I remember liking it. It seems pretty popular among people who like Fantasy, and I’ve heard that it is sort of proto Grimdark which . . . could be interesting to read for that aspect alone. It’s on the ever growing TBR.

Nine Princes in Amber by Roger Zelazny:

This is one that I keep getting told I need to read and a series that I think I might actually enjoy. I’ve read Creatures of Light and Darkness before so Zelazny is on my radar for that reason too. I’ll get there.

The Magicians by Lev Grossman:

I pretty much love everything about the show based off this book that used to be on SYFY channel, and was essentially crushed when it got cancelled (although I suppose it’s probably good that it ended because I personally don’t feel it ever got “bad” as a lot of shows do when they run too long). However, I haven’t approached the books yet. I’ve heard several negative reviews and my love for the show is just soooo much that I don’t want to taint it. But I probably will because I just have to know!

Swords and Deviltry by Fritz Leiber:

Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, and all their assorted adventures, just seem to be the inspiration for so many fantasy things (I think you could argue all of “low” fantasy, and Sword & Sorcery). I’ve read a few of their stories over the years and enjoy the pair immensely, but I’ve never read the original short story collection. One of these days.

End of post thoughts:

This list could have been SOO much longer, but eventually I got tired. Also, perhaps unsurprisingly, a lot of these books are older titles. I don’t want anyone to think that I don’t think I should be reading newer things, because there is TONS of great new fantasy coming out all the time. The reason those titles are probably not on the list is because I’ve been trying really hard to keep up (although it’s impossible) and I think I’ve read at least some of the newer stuff. Older stuff is harder to will myself to go back to, because of all the great new stuff.

Anyway hope you enjoyed my listicle. Please let me know which titles you think should be on the list in the comments! Thanks for reading!

#WyrdAndWonder Kickoff post!

IMAGE CREDIT: pegasus images by Svetlana Alyuk on 123RF.com

Hey all, so there’s this thing that happens in May called Wyrd & Wonder, in which fans of Fantasy Lit from across the internet get together and celebrate this awesome genre. I’ve watched from the sidelines in years past, enjoying all of these wonderful blog posts and twitter threads, but this year, since I’m blogging again, I thought it might be cool to participate.

I typically post reviews on Wednesdays, so I’ll continue to do that, but I’ll try to keep them as Fantasy genre related as possible. For anybody following my long list of Hugo contenders, you’ll notice that most of them are on that list too (double duty!) and some are even Hugo Finalists (triple duty!).

I will also try to post a response to one of their challenge posts. Mostly this will be on Mondays, but there will be a couple other random days as well, if I have time, or because I thought the challenge prompt was cool.

Finally, if for whatever reason, you actually come to this blog to read my fiction, I’ll continue to post new fiction on Fridays. I cannot promise that these stories are considered ‘fantasy’, but most of them so far have involved made-up animals so . . . that seems pretty fantastical to me.

Below is my plan as it currently stands. I’ll revise the titles and provide links here as I do the writing for this. We’ll see how this goes . . . Very excited to be a part of it all. Thank you @deargeekplace, @imyril & @joriestory for putting this together! Can’t wait to see how this goes . . .

Here’s the list:
May 3rd – #MapMonday: Using Emerging Tech for Fictional Maps
May 5th – Should ‘Black Sun’ get a Hugo?
May 9th – Spine Poetry for Mother’s Day*Failed this one as alas, I spent the entire weekend at the beach with mom. Plus my book shelf is not suited for this challenge AT ALL. Gotta work on buying some Titles that aren’t so ‘in world’. Oh well.
May 10th – Mixed feelings: The Truth About Dinosaur Lords
May 12th – Review: Song of Achilles
May 17th – Can’t Wait to read! (twitter post) and Desert Island Reads (catching up from last Wednesday)
May 19th – Review: Silver in the Wood
May 24th – TBR: 11 Fantasy Books I should have read by now
May 26th – Review: Empire of Gold – deadlines are the worst. I spent the time I could have been working on this trying to finish up editing for my WIP to submit to critiques. I got it done (sorta) and sent it off . . . fingers are crossed it’s goes well. I’ll still review Empire of Gold at some point but just not for #WyrdAndWonder
May 31st – Wyrd and Wonder Wrap up Post!

Enjoy! and feel free to leave comments on what you’re most looking forward to this May for Wyrd and Wonder.

Get to Know the Fantasy Reader #BookTag

So this week, instead of new fiction, I’ve decided to try out this whole book tag thing. I ‘ve never done one before so hopefully it’s fun for you all. Feel free to try it out yourselves and tag me so I can read your answers!

Apparently there are some rules. Here they are . . .

Rules:

  • Make sure you give credit to the original creators of this tag – this tag was originally created by Bree Hill
  • If you want to, pingback to the post you first saw this tag – I first saw this at Paperback Tomes, and then read some more of it at Lost In Neverland.
  • Have fun!

What is your Fantasy origin story? (The first Fantasy you read)

Wow. First question and I’m already unsure how to answer. This will go well . . .

I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t reading Fantasy of some kind. I was only two years old when Dinotopia came out so I’m not sure how much reading I was doing at that point, but it was likely one of the first things I read. Probably the first book I read and was consciously aware of it “being fantasy” was the The Hobbit, and then Lord of the Rings. Of course I ate up all the Harry Potter books when they came out (except maybe the first two? I remember being slightly late to the game on HP)

If you could be the hero/heroine in a fantasy novel, who would be the author and what’s one trope you’d insist be in the story?

I’d want to be in a Terry Pratchett novel. I feel like my life already has enough ridiculous hijinks happening in it anyway, so why not just lean in and let crazy take the wheel. Make it weird.

And maybe to just really up the weird, we could have a multiverse trope, or a time travel trope like Ground Hog’s Day. Maybe both?

What is a fantasy series you’ve read this year, that you want more people to read?

The Daevabad Trilogy by S.A. Chakraborty. Technically, I read The City of Brass, last year, and just finished The Kingdom of Copper (the sequel), and loved it just as much. Started The Empire of Gold yesterday and it’s shaping up to be good as well. This series has been such a breath of fresh air for me. I hope to be seeing a lot more from Chakraborty in the future (put Daevabad in space! Ok I’ll be calm down now).

What is your favorite fantasy subgenre?

Without a doubt Epic Fantasy. One does not read as much Brando Sando as I do and answer some other subgenre. I would just be lying to myself and everyone around me. I can get behind High Fantasy (honestly this is shades of gray), Sword & Sorcery or even Grimdark, but I’m a real sucker for those EPIC STAKES. Drop me in a secondary world (aka someplace that’s not earth but can be similar), and turn everything up to eleven! Give me your weird mythical creatures (weirder the better), and your less-than-holy gods; give me your warring kingdoms (and political intrigue), your fake history, and made up customs. Dazzle me with your magic . . .

Wow. I think I need to calm down again.

What subgenre have you not read much from?

Steampunk. Really any of the punks, but I think steampunk is the one I’ve been let down the most by. Not sure why, but in my mind, I just want every Steampunk novel I read to be like watching Wild Wild West for the first time, and then when (literally) none of them are, I get disappointed. This is completely my fault as I probably just need to spend some time searching around, and figure out which book is considered the quintessential Steampunk book . . . and then READ THAT BOOK before being judgy, but so far it hasn’t happened. If you have a recommendation, please leave it in the comments.

In a slightly more positive tone, I discovered something called Bronzepunk exists. I would like to search out and find more of that. The fun example that got me hooked is Achilles vs Mecha-Hector, by Jesse-Beeson Tate. Go and read it. It’s a wild ride (I mean how could it not be?). Sadly I’m still waiting for a sequel. Please write more of this!

Who is one of your auto-buy fantasy authors

As mentioned earlier (and many many other times on this blog), Brandon Sanderson is definitely this for me. I’ve read like 30 of his books at this point and I’d probably read 30 more. I think Martha Wells is also achieving this status for me, though I’ve only read her Murderbot Diaries stuff. Hopefully I can visit some of her earlier stuff sometime soon.

So much! So little time!

How do you typically find Fantasy recommendations?(Goodreads, Youtube, Podcasts, Instagram. . .)

Recently? I get a lot of recommendations from my writing group. Like more than anyone can possibly read (which is wonderful). I am also signed up for about a billion newsletters from publishers. I try to keep up with industry awards, so if a book is doing well there, I’ll be more likely to read it. Goodreads also. Then sometimes insta.

What is an upcoming Fantasy release you’re excited for?

This is another tough question as I’m still trying so hard to catch up with last year’s releases that I haven’t payed much attention for what’s on the docket for this year (just look at that TBR).

BUT . . . I recently finished Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Mexican Gothic (soo good) and while she seems to have plenty of titles I could go back and read (looking at you Gods of Jade and Shadow) I like reading new things too, so Certain Dark Things will probably be my next one. I’m sure there are some genre arguments to be made here, but I’m gonna consider it Fantasy and say that is the one I’m anticipating most at the moment.

What is one misconception about Fantasy you would like to lay to rest?

This is a tough question also, because I think the genre suffers from many misconceptions, but perhaps the most important to me, is that ‘Fantasy’ is just stories about white farm boys slaying dragons. This is just not the case anymore (though it may have been once). In a lot of ways, Fantasy has become something of a platform in which you can tell any story that you want. Want to read a mystery? Well what if it took place in post-Civil War Philadelphia from the point of view of a married couple working as conductors on the Underground Railroad. Well then check out Nicole Glover’s The Conductors.

How about a romance? Perhaps you should read Tasha Suri’s Empire of Sand inspired by the Mughal Empire.

Or maybe you WANT to read about dragons. Well there’s still plenty of fresh takes there (look at Johnathan Strahan’s Book of Dragons)

Anyway, there’s something for everyone here in ‘Fantasy land’ so come on down.

**Call back to earlier when I said I didn’t read enough Steampunk . . . Apparently there are STEAMPUNK DRAGONS! I guess I’ll be reading The Iron Dragon’s Daughter by Michael Swannick soon . . . this has been a fun digression.

If someone had never read a Fantasy before and asked you to recommend the first 3 books come to mind as places to start, what would those recommendations be?

I’ve seen Harry Potter on a lot of these kinds of posts and I would have to agree, it’s probably the best place to start (as mentioned before, it was one of the places I started). Depending on how old you are, you might be looking for something a little more ‘adult’ (although HP seems very mature by the end of the series), I would recommend Brando Sando’s Mistborn next. I’ve had pretty high success with that one. I’d probably go with The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin next. It’s truly fantastic, and I feel pivotal in a lot of ways for where the genre is (or could be). It’s not a popcorn read though so . . . fair warning.

Who is the most recent Fantasy reading content creator you came across that you’d like to shoutout?

I’ve been enjoying reading my friend Mary’s blog, The Inciting Event Blog. Recently, I feel like I’ve learned a lot from her post on maps called How to Build a World Part Two: THE MAP. She also has a super cute dog.

Welp that’s it.

I think that concludes my first foray into book tags. If you’d like to see more of this kind of thing, let me know in the comments. I’ve got a bunch of these lined up that I could do so you’ll probably being seeing more of them in the future. Anywho, thanks for reading this far. I’ll see you next time!

2021 Hugo Award Finalists Reaction Post

The Finalists are Finally here!

So, I know it’s Wednesday, and normally I would have posted another review of something from my prospective Hugo reading list, or perhaps a review of another book I’ve been reading, but this week is different . . .

This week, the finalists for said Hugo Awards were announced, and so I’m gonna do a bit of a reaction post. All of the categories are listed here, but for most of them I will probably have little or nothing to say. I’ll try to let the meatier reactions sift up to the top of the post . . .

Here we go!

Best Novel

For me, this is the most important category. Not to take anything away from any of the other categories, but it’s most interesting to me, because let’s face it, I’m more interested in novels. More interested in reading them, more interested in writing them, more interested in everything I can find out about novels. It’s just where I’m at.

So, what’s my reaction?

Honestly, I’m a little disappointed that I only managed to have read one of the books that actually made the finals. I’ve been playing a little bit of a game with myself every year since I became aware of these awards which is to see how many of the finalists I’ve read when they’re announced, and then judge myself for whatever the number was. I’ve come to consider it a bit of a pulse check to see whether I’m generally inline with the “genre” or not. It’s a bit silly, but I can’t help myself and I’ll probably never stop.

Last year I had already read three of the six books selected (my all-time high score), which to me, seems legit. When I first started playing this game, I was consistently reading zero of the front runners, but I also wasn’t reading a lot of recently published Sci Fi and Fantasy. I’ve tried to change that, and . . . sometimes I fair better than others.

Anywho, this year, the only one I’ve read was Martha Wells’ Network Effect. This is doubly disappointing as I had essentially written this one off in an earlier post. The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin, I have at least purchased. It is probably the one I’m looking forward to the most. I also had already purchased Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir, and The Relentless Moon by Mary Robinette Kowal.

I’ve read two other books in the Lady Astronaut Universe by Kowal (Calculating Stars, and Fated Sky) and loved them both, but I think I heard somewhere, that the new book does not take place from the point of view of Elma York, the Lady Astronaut. I’ve seen this sort of thing many times before, and Kowal is an excellent writer, so I’m sure I’ll love this book, but I’ve been procrastinating on it because of the main character change, and because of the fact that it’s been quite some time since I read the first two, and I’m wondering if I should do a re-read . . . that will be a game time decision.

I’m pretty excited for Harrow, just because I love the Locked Tomb Universe but given the end (which is all I’ll say), I have a lot of questions going in.

Piranesi by Susanna Clarke seems like it will be quite a trip. I’ve never read anything by the author before, so this could be the surprise hit.

I didn’t really like Rebecca Roanhorse’s other Hugo contender, Trail Lightning, but I think I can go into Black Sun with an open mind.

That’s pretty much my reaction for the novel round. Onward!

Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book

I moved this up to the top of the list because to me, it’s in the same vein as the best novel award category. Apparently, it’s separate from a Hugo, so theoretically, the books in this category could win both which is kinda neat.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to reading A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik the most. Have read some Novik in the past (Uprooted, and Spinning Silver) and while I enjoyed both of those titles immensely, I’m glad we’re in different territory here. I’ve got the first book in Novik’s Temeraire series on my shelf waiting to be read too. Looks like I have a lot of Novik in my future . . .

Also, very curious about Legendborn by Tracy Deonn. First, it has an excellent cover, and second, I just keep hearing about it.

A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking by T. Kingfisher, I was thinking of picking up just on the title alone . . . now I have even more incentive.

The others in this category I haven’t heard of, but now is perhaps as good a time as any to familiarize myself with them.

Astounding Award for Best New Writer

I’m sneaking this one up to the top too, as I think it’s pretty important. Of the names on this list, Micaiah Johnson is probably who I want to win. I read The Space Between Worlds recently, and actually thought it would be a finalist this year . . . Ooops.

Would also be happy with Simon Jimenez winning for much the same reason. The Vanished Birds was great and (to me) belongs on the finalist list above.

I have read Jenn Lyons’ A Ruin of Kings, and while incredible in scope, and a massive undertaking, I wasn’t quite enthralled enough to continue the series.

Lindsay Ellis I haven’t read yet, but am somewhat familiar with her from her YouTube channel of all things . . . Am excited to read Axiom’s End.

A.K Larkwood (Unspoken Name) and Emily Tesh (Silver in the Wood) are unknown to me at this point but now that I google them, I realize that I have both of their debuts on my shelf . . . awkward . . . Well at least at some point, past me was excited enough about these books to buy them, so I’m gonna trust past me and get hype now.

Best Novella

Novella is probably going to be the next most interesting category for me. I managed to have read (but not reviewed) one title on this list which was Sarah Gailey’s Upright Women Wanted. It’s a fantastic story, but I’ll be honest, I’m hoping something else on the list surprises me.

I think the second strongest contender will probably be Come Tumbling Down by Seanan McGuire. I’ve read three other Wayward Children books, and each one seems to be more impressive than the last. I think I’ll need to read two more to get to this one, and I’m pretty excited to start on that journey.

Ring Shout, by P. Djeli Clark is another I’m excited for. I’ve been eyeing his Dead Djinn in Cairo series for quite some time too but that’s not the point of this post.

Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi, Finna by Nino Cipri, and The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo, I know relatively little about. You’ll notice two of them were on my Novel List so clearly I didn’t even know how long they were . . .

We’ll see.

Best Novelette

Unfortunately, I know almost nothing in this category. I’ve at least heard of Aliette de Bodard. Her Servant of the Underworld has been on my list for quite some time but I haven’t read it yet.

In any case, it will be a fun to try out some new authors!

Best Short Story

This is another category where I’m pretty out of my depth. I’ve read one book and a few short stories by Yoon Ha Lee, but haven’t found anything by them I’ve super enjoyed (although I have high hopes for Dragon Pearl).

Right now, Little Free Library” by Naomi Kritzer is looking the most interesting based off the title alone. We’ll see! . . .

Best Series

Unabashedly, I want The Daevabad Trilogy by S.A. Chakraborty to win this category. I’ve recently finished The City of Brass and am almost done with The Kingdom of Copper (to be reviewed on this blog soon!), and I pretty much can’t wait for The Empire of Gold. It’s probably the most I’ve enjoyed a series since the early days when I started Mistborn . . . wow I’ve just had a revelation . . .

Anyway, I will not be disappointed if Wells takes this for the Murderbot Diaries. It’s a long series but definitely one of my favs as of late.

I couldn’t get into Scalzi’s The Interdependency which is surprising, because I have long considered him one of my favorite authors. (you can read some of my past posts on his work like my review of Miniatures and Redshirts . . . and I though I’d written more on him here. Oh well here’s a Scalzi Tag so that future me won’t have to search for posts about him)

Lady Astronaut which I mentioned above is an incredible series . . . I wonder if this would include only the first two books, or the one that is being considered now for novel? Either way, would not be sad to see Kowal win this either.

October Daye (by Seanan McGuire also mentioned earlier) and The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang are both series I’ve never read so . . . Can’t say much about them.

Best Related Work

I can’t say I know much of what is up for an award in this category except: Woah! What is George R.R. Martin Can Fuck Off Into the Sun, Or: The 2020 Hugo Awards Ceremony (Rageblog Edition)

I mean I watched as much of the 2020 Hugo as I could, and it was awkward, and maybe a little off-putting, but wow it sounds like there is a lot to unpack which I missed. I’ll be reading that shortly.

Best Graphic Story

I’m just not a Graphic Novel person. Not yet. Anywho, none of this looks familiar. Not much to say here.

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form

Movies! First impression was surprise to see Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga on the list. I haven’t seen it (but love Will Ferrell so I definitely want to).

Palm Springs will probably be my choice for this. I’m a sucker for “Groundhog’s Day” type storylines, and I felt this one really brought something new to the table.

Soul is probably the one that should take this award just on merit alone. If not for Palm Springs I would vote for it.

Tenet – I’ve been looking for an excuse to just buy this one . . . looks like now I have it.

May still check out Birds of Prey, but I think I sort of missed its moment. Will probably still check it out.

I haven’t heard of The Old Guard yet . . . Maybe that means it’s the sleeper pick haha.

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form

I’ll be honest, without re-watching these individual episodes, and maybe the whole shows to give them context, I’m not really sure how to make this decision. If She-Ra hasn’t won anything before in this area, I’d say that I would want it to go to that show.

Mandalorian may deserve a prize just for making me feel like I should continue to keep watching Starwars media.

The Good Place is always a fav . . .

I haven’t watched much Doctor Who

Best Editor, Short Form

Some familiar faces here. Neil Clarke, editor of Clarke’s World Magazine is probably the person on this list who’s work I’m most familiar with. Looking at his wikipedia page though, it appears he’s been a nominee for this award 8 times! (wow). Basically every year from 2012 to 2020 with the exception of 2015 . . . impressive. He’s done an amazing job and I would be upset if he doesn’t take home this award in 2021.

Best Editor, Long Form

Sadly, I don’t know any of the Editors on this list . . .

Best Professional Artist

Again, unfamiliar . . .

Best Semiprozine

Beneath Ceaseless Skies is probably my fav short fiction mag in this group. I think it’s last award was in 2017 so . . . maybe time for another?

Strange Horizons is probably the other one I’ve read the most, and has apparently been a finalist every year since 2013. Maybe this will be the year!

Uncanny will also be a strong contender here. I’ve really been reading a lot of them (well what little short fiction I’ve read recently has come from them), so I would not be upset if they take this award either.

I haven’t read FIYAH yet but am anxious to check it out.

Best Fanzine, Best Fancast, Best Fan Writer, Best Fan Artist

I’ve grouped these together for brevity as they are essentially all the same answer . . . Which is that I don’t recognize much here.

Best Video Game

So this is the first year this category has been available, and I was super excited to hear about it being created. I’ve been pretty much glued to my PS4 since this pandemic started and so I thought it might be a good one for me to flex some insight . . .

I have played zero of the games on this list hahah. Animal Crossing is a cultural phenomenon but sadly not one on PS4. Final Fantasy VII Remake seems a little sus in my opinion as it’s a remake . . . I guess since this award hasn’t existed in the past I’ll let it slide (ya know because I have control over these things)

Hades is probably the game on this list I’m most excited to play. Love greek mythology and the gameplay mechanics seem intriguing . . . plus literally everyone I know won’t stop talking about it.

Last of Us Part II is interesting to me for a different reason, namely, story. So far, from what I’ve heard of this game so far, it really brings storytelling in videogames into the realm of literature. I thought this of the most recent God of War game, so I’m anxious to see this happen again with a new title. But . . . I need to play the first one first. I think it’s on sale for $10 right now so I really have no excuse . . .

Ooof I think that’s everything

Wow. We did it! We got through the whole list! This is way too long to proofread and I’ll probably miss the mistakes anyway.

Let me know what stuff you’re most excited for in the comments and thanks for reading this gargantuan post!

Until next time!

I’m Baaaackkkk!

Apparently, it’s been nearly two years since I posted on this old bloggo, and a lot has happened in that time. I’ve grown older. I’ve gained experience! I have gray in beard now!

And while this blog may have been sitting idle, I have not! I have grown as a person. I have lived!

In my youth, I was but a boy, naively typing away at this keyboard to bring the world reviews of cool books I had read, or my experience at a convention or perhaps — when scraping at the bottom of the barrel — a picture of a cute dog I’d seen. In essence, any random nonsense I wanted to write about.

But now . . . Now everything has changed. Now I have gone to the top of the mountain, and returned with words, and better yet, the correct order in which to write them. From now on, this blog will be about:

cool books I’ve read . . .
my experience as a fan of SF and Fantasy (which will likely include conventions if this pandemic ever ends). . .
or perhaps — when I don’t know what to write about — a picture of a cute dog I’ve seen!

Hmm. Well I guess those are the same things as before. But now I’m older . . . and I got a new keyboard so that has to count for something.

Anyway, a sharp observer will notice that two new sections have been added to the top menu, the first being Fiction, and the second being Making. These are currently, ‘under construction’ so to speak, but I’m hoping to have some content for you soon.

As I mentioned earlier, I haven’t been completely idle during the last two years. I’ve picked up fiction writing as a hobby, and am hoping to be able to share some of what I’ve written to the world once I’m not terrified of letting the world see it. Hopefully that day will be soon.

And making will just be whatever random nonsense I manage to build with a 3D printer. I’m hoping that having a section of it on the menu will inspire me to pursue the hobby.

Anyway, stay tuned for some (hopefully) exciting new posts coming down the way. And here’s Aerosmith so you’ll know how to properly read the title:

My bookish things for 2016 and thinking ahead to 2017

2016 has been a fun year for for me reading. I read 21 books, which doesn’t seem like very much when I think about it but I do feel like the books I attempted this year seem to be very long. The longest book was A Wise Man’s Fear coming in at 994 pages while on average the books were 366 pages. So A Wise Man’s Fear was like 3 books. Goodreads has done some cool stats on my year of reading which is awesome. You can check that out here.

I took it upon myself to do some other stats. I’ve felt for a long while that I do not read enough new books. This mainly comes from the fact that every year, when awards start coming around, I don’t know what any of the books are. In 2016, I tried to read a lot of books from previous year’s awards (mostly 2016 Hugos) but I’m not really sure if that worked well. Turns out I read more stuff published in 2016 then other years, so that’s cool. I hope to read more books published in 2017 during 2017 but we’ll see.

My stats were basically 10 books published in 2016, 5 in 2015 and 6 published in other years. So a little less than half were from 2016.
reading2016full
This leads me into my goals for 2017. So far I have 3! First, I’d like to read one new book (published in 2017) for every old book (published before 2017). Second, I’d like to read  a female author, for every male author I’ve read. My 2016 stats on this are really kind of embarrassing. I read 10 male authors in 2016, only 5 female authors. I’d like to even that out a bit. As for my 3rd goal? I’d like to read a biography (maybe two) in 2017. I’m not sure who’s it will be yet but we shall see.

The books I’m most looking forward to in 2017 are:

After that, I’m not really sure. We’ll just have to wait and see. You might have noticed, that already my 2017 list is looking a little one sided. If you know of some female authors coming out with books in 2017, please leave em in the comments section.

To another year of awesome reading 🙂

UPDATE: I know updates are supposed to happen after you publish but it seemed the original post should stay intact even though I found at least two more list of books that have made me super excited and the fact that I just hadn’t hit publish yet seemed irrelevant. It’s still an update hahah. Ok here we go . . .

First list is the 9 modern women science fiction writers you need to be celebrating. A coworker sent me this list (you know who you are) and it looks amazing. And it’s a step towards my goal of reading as many women as men. So far the authors on this list that have books coming out in 2017 are:

The 2nd list is the 96 books Sci-Fi & Fantasy Editors Can’t Wait for You to Read in 2017. Obviously I can’t read everything on this list but here’s what I want to try to read:

So yea . . . this list is rather ambitious . . . we’ll see what happens.