Thoughtful Thursday: Collaborative Cliché — YA Dystopian Adventure Edition!

It’s time for another Collaborative Cliché!

It seems like YA dystopian adventure stories may have run their course, and that’s a shame because they had so much to offer. There was the powerful, special teen. There were angsty love triangles, powerless parents, corrupt political systems and evil, cruel leaders. There was some vague catastrophe in the past, and so on. Usually there’s a big wall somewhere.

Well, the stories may have ebbed to a trickle but that doesn’t mean we can’t play with the tropes. I’ll start us off. Then it’s your turn! Add to the story in the Comments. You can come back and add as many passages as you like. One commenter with a USA mailing address will get to choose a book from our Stacks.

... Read More

Thoughtful Thursday: Collaborative Cliché — Villains Edition!

It’s time for another Collaborative Cliché!

Villains. Here at FanLit, we love villains, especially when they are well-written, nuanced, smart characters. Often, though, villains still fall into the category of flat, stick-figure characters, or worse, the dreaded Evil Overlords. It’s boring to read, and fun to mock.

In this Collaborative Cliché column, we take on the thinly drawn, evil-overlord villain. Let’s look at every stereotypical thing the Big Bads do. We'll start you off, but please use the Comments to keep us going! Add your favorite eye-rolling dumb villain move.

One random commenter with a USA mailing address will win a book from our Stacks. 

MordorMort’s dark cloak swirled about hi... Read More

Collaborative Cliche — Space Opera Edition!

It’s time for another Collaborative Cliché! We all have subgenres we love, and they all have certain elements that endear them to us. And, sometimes, they use those elements just a liiittle too much.

We are going to start you off with anonymous villains, hidden asteroids, mysterious energy beams and gruff star ship captains. Yes, it’s our homage to Space Opera. Please bring out your most tired, over-used, predictable tropes, and use the Comments section to add to our interplanetary story. One random commenter with a USA address will win a book from our Stacks. And now we have liftoff:


In a secret installation deep in an asteroid, a villain we won’t name yet chortled with evil glee. “Sayonara,... Read More

Collaborative Cliché — Epic Fantasy Edition!

Every once in a while we invite all of you to join us in the cliché-fest we call Collaborative Cliché, invented by retired reviewer Ruth Arnell. Last year we rocked the urban fantasy world. This year, we return to an old favorite: Epic Fantasy. Ah, yes, those familiar tales of derring-do on a large canvas that are just a little too familiar. Help us embrace the cliché!

I’ll start us off. Then you continue the story by adding your cliché-ridden passage in the Comments Section. You can come back and add as many passages as you like.

Durok dos Marksalot hauled back on the reins, drawing his near-horse to a halt. From his vantage point on the ridge he looked down at the great city of Ka’Chingsdoron.... Read More

Collaborative Cliché — Urban Fantasy Edition!

In 2009, Ruth Arnell created the Collaborative Cliché project, where we reached for every cliché we have seen or read, and used them to create an awful group story. We skewered epic fantasy in that column, but we can find clichés anywhere. Let’s try it again, this time with a sub-genre dear to my heart, urban fantasy.

I’ll start us off. Then you continue the story by adding your cliché-ridden passage in the Comments Section. You can come back and add as many passages as you like.

My soul-beacon tattoo woke me at two in the morning. I got up and slipped into my skintight, gleaming black leather pants, the matching boots with the four-inch stiletto heels, my bustier and a black hoodie. All set for a night of fighting, climbing and running.

Someone in the city was in trouble. I hoped it wasn’t a family mem... Read More

Collaborative Cliché!

Welcome to Thoughtful Thursday.  Like always, if you have a topic you want to see addressed, please contact us!

A recent discussion with some of the other reviewers on this site turned to a discussion of some of the horrible naming conventions that seem to plague fantasy.  For example, the idea that you can tell you're reading  a fantasy novel if the protagonist's name has three apostrophes and a random K and/or H in it. That started me thinking about clichés in fantasy in general.  So I'm throwing down the gauntlet to you, gentle readers.  How many fantasy clichés can you list?  To make it even more fun, let's list them in story form.  I'll start.

It was a dark and stormy night.  St'lenth'kor mentally called out for his telepathic bond animal.  Reaching for his sword, he remembered, as he always did when he felt the magical tingle that radiated... Read More

How reviewing for FanLit helped my writing career (Giveaway!)

Today we welcome back Dr. Kate Lechler who retired from FanLit so she could focus on her writing career.

I'm a writer and a teacher. By day, I teach English literature at the University of Mississippi in Oxford, MS, and at night, I write about genetically engineered dragons and unicorns. My work has appeared in Podcastle, Metaphorosis, and Arsenika, and is forthcoming from Superstition Review. From 2014-2016, I reviewed SFF for FanLit but in December I retired so I could concentrate on my fiction. But nobody writes in a vacuum, and I... Read More

WWWednesday: October 21, 2015

Ursula K LeGuin was born on this date in 1929. Her father was an anthropologist and her mother was a writer. LeGuin got her bachelor’s degree from Radcliffe and a Master’s from Columbia, and received a Fulbright grant to study in France. She began writing science fiction stories when she was nine, to keep up with her brothers, she has side. She sent her first story out when she was eleven years old, to Astounding Science Fiction, but it was rejected. After that, though, things turned around, and she has won four Nebulas, two Hugos, five Locus awards, one World Fantasy Award and was awarded the Medal for Distinguished Contribution in American Letters by the National Book Foundation in 2014. A brilliant writer, a poet, a sharp scholar, LeGuin is also a vocal and passionate champion of the speculative fiction genre. Happy Birthday!

And, today is the date Marty McFly went... Read More