Sunday Status Update: October 19, 2014

This week, Red Sonja addresses the question on everyone's mind.

Red Sonja: In point of fact, yes. It does chafe. And it's freezing cold in any weather, and blazing hot in sunlight. It's awful. You can all stop asking me about it now. Also about why I keep wearing it. It's a laugh, isn't it? It's an impression. And it distracts feeble-minded men. Sometimes. And, and, it's a talking point, right? It makes me better-known. All publicity is good publicity, especially for a mercenary. It's all... it's...

... I'm terribly lonely.

Bill: Grading lightened up this week (for another 12 hours or so), this was a good period of time for quantity of reading, if a mixed one for quality. In order of preference:
Harvest by Jim Crace, a Man Booker Short-listed novel (my most reliable literary pr... Read More

Sunday Status Update: October 12, 2014

Yes, it's Supergirl again. This happens when I read DC.

Supergirl: I arrived too late for all the fun stuff. I've been reading some history this week, about how society is sort of this cyclical thing, back and forth between prudishness and debauchery, or reason and superstition, or whatever else. But the thing is, I think superhero society had a really fast pendulum swing, and I popped in too late. Superman used to travel in time, apparently. He got contacted by secret-agent signal watches. Now all he wants to do is punch things, lecture me, and make out with Wonder Woman. It's not just him, either. At one point, Batman apparently decided the one thing his super-secret batcave needed was a giant dinosaur model. So, god knows how or why, he must have spent hours (days?) manhandling and assembling a T-rex. He used to slide down a fire pole. How come I came around after everyone grew up? Where's all th... Read More

Pharos the Egyptian: Mummies! Morons! Mediocrity.

Pharos the Egyptian by Guy Boothby

Once upon a time, when the British Empire was at its zenith, adventure fiction and fantastical writings began to deal with the idea that London — and tacitly, all Britain — was under threat by some ancient, terrifying force (frequently from a place where Britain had established a colony). There was an immense fascination with the occult versus the modern, the venerable old kingdoms versus the new British Empire, and most of all, the diabolical arcane opponent versus the plucky, civilized Englishman. It’s a trend that gave us such well-known works as Bram Stoker’s Dracula or Henry Rider Haggard's She, but prior to these there was Guy Boothby and his mummy novel Pharos the Egyptian.

The story is fairly straightforward: a young Englishman named Cyril Forrester comes into contact with an... Read More

Sunday Status Update: October 5, 2014

This week, another legend of the gallant Sir Lancelot, pulled from the Arthurian Legends.

Bors: I can remember when my family was respectable, you know. I really can. I remember when I would introduce myself and people would say "Oh, you're named for your father, are you? That'd make you old Ban's nephew." People would smile and nod. Now they just ask what it's like to be Lancelot's cousin, and sort of smirk. This week caps a succession of bad weeks, as my sainted hero of a kinsman continued his latest "insane" tantrum. So far, he's apparently attacked no less than six people indiscriminately, climbed into two beds that don't belong to him, spouted suspiciously cogent "madman talk" at anyone who asked him what the hell he was doing running around naked with a bloody sword in hand (oh, yes, he's on one of his exhibitionist kicks again, forgot to mention), and after finally tiring himself out enough to collapse, att... Read More

Sunday Status Update: September 28, 2014

This week, a rather tired meme.

Shepard: I'm Commander Shepard, and this is my favorite site on the Citadel.

BillThis week I read Michel Faber’s The Book of Strange New Things and Violet Kupersmith’s story collection—The Frangipani Hotel. Faber’s was a bit overly long, and the speculative fiction aspects were the weakest part of the novel, but it was overall a serious and thoughtful exploration of relationships, religion, and humanity.  Kupersmith’s collection, meanwhile, was filled with solid stories—many of them involving supernatural creatures/events—but I can’t say any single story blew me away.  Currently, I’m in... Read More

Fool’s Assassin: Good, but a little slow

Fool’s Assassin by Robin Hobb

I have some mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, I’m tremendously pleased that Hobb is writing Fitz again. He is and remains (for me at least) her most entertaining protagonist, and represents a return to form following what I believe to be her experimentation in the SOLDIER SON TRILOGY in particular. And the book is good. So far at least, Hobb has managed to resist her tried-and-true soul-splitting motif, and we get a complete human being to follow. Hobb depicts his life with sterling characterization and subtle nuance, reminding me why she is considered one of the best (possibly even the best) in the fantasy genre when it comes to introspective narratives. During the first third to half of the novel, this was enough. In the second portion, though, I admit that I found myself increasingly concerned at how slowly Hobb was building events.

Now, let’s be clear: Hobb has nev...

Read More

Sunday Status Update: September 21, 2014

This week, more Drizzt.

Drizzt: This week, in consequence of what I humbly submit may be a somewhat ponderous reputation gathering about me (ah, but what true warrior would crow over his accomplishments?) I was invited to give a commencement address at Silverymoon University. All seemed to go well at first. I had prepared a most scintillating speech on morality, and throughout the first six hours or so of my address, my audience seemed quiet, even meditative. Many closed their eyes to consider more deeply (odd how that seems to happen so much: perhaps some custom I'm not aware of? I have yet so much to learn about the surface world). It was only when I began to qualify my earlier remarks that my listeners began to grow restless. I merely expressed the well-known saw that all morality continues to apply until the moment it must be applied to one of the evil races (goblins and suchforth), and s... Read More

Sunday Status Update: September 14, 2014

This week, Percy Jackson has an existential crisis.

Percy: The other day, I had a thought. This is usually where Annabeth makes some oh-so-hilarious joke about how I should celebrate the occasion, so I guess I'll just do it for her this time. But seriously, something came to mind that was more than a bit troubling. So... the Olympian gods are real. I've got that. But now it turns out the Roman gods are also real. Just sort of other aspects of the same things. So does that mean the Norse gods might be real too? The Egyptian gods? The Celtic gods? I so do not want to run into the Morrigan's kid, whatever s/he would look like. But it's more than that. So if the Olympians are altered by someone coming up with different beliefs about them, doesn't that mean that we effectively control the gods? We shape them, rather than them shaping us? So it follows that h... Read More

Sunday Status Update: September 7, 2014

This week, a rambling story from Supergirl (I promise, the character updates aren't going to turn into flash fictions every week).

Supergirl: Once, I asked Superman the secret to beating his various nemeses. This being my cousin, good ol' Honest Kal the Folksy Traffic Cop, he started off on some sort of prepared speech about perseverance and using your powers for good, and I had to cut him off to get things moving.

"No," I said. "I mean, physically. I've got all the strength, fine, but shouldn't we be doing Super Karate or something? What are your special moves? Do you have some kind of secret jab? Mach 5 axe kick? Seventeen roundhouse barrage?"

"I'm not sure what you mean."

"What do you do when you're up against a big-leaguer? Like, say you fought Wonder Woman."

"Kara, please..."

"No, but really... Read More

The Silent Blade: A Drizzt novel only in name

The Silent Blade by R.A. Salvatore

The Silent Blade is in every regard an improvement over the LEGEND OF DRIZZT’s preceding installment, Passage to Dawn. The plot is tighter, the characterization is subtler, and – stressing this point most of all – the prose has taken leaps and bounds forward. However, this is also the installment of THE LEGEND OF DRIZZT that finally convinced me that the series has not only jumped the shark, but is doing Evel Knievel motorcycle flips over whole tanks of great whites.

Previously, on Drizzt and Friends, the demon Errtu finally (!) managed to return to the mortal plane and gain possession of the crystal shard. At last granted his heart’s desire, Errtu was primed and ready to doom the earth to a living hell. Except he wasn’t, because Drizzt and his crew came bustling in like grumpy border patrol officers and spanked him straight back to the netherworld f... Read More

Sunday Status Update: August 31, 2014

This week, Sir Bors shares another legend of the noble Sir Lancelot (as with all other legends of Lancelot, this actually happened in Arthurian myth).

Bors: So Lancelot went hiking in the woods this week, and some woman shot him in the ass. There he was, probably looking for something to decapitate as per his usual preference, when some huntswoman came traipsing along the trail a ways back, mistook his behind for a simple hind, and let fly an arrow from her bow. And that great and noble knight hight Sir Lancelot was dealt a most doleful blow. In his ass. There's no real point to this story. It just makes me very happy.

BillThis week started off not so great with a few disappointing novels:  Frostborn b... Read More

Sunday Status Update: August 24, 2014

This week, Galadriel deals with one of the many problems of immortality.

Galadriel: That new big noise from the Men of Westernesse turned up again today. He kept bowing and talking, and I had to keep steering him away from anyone I'd have to introduce him to, because I can't remember if he's Arathorn or his son. They all sort of flow into each other after a couple thousand years. I'm almost sure Arathorn is dead, though, which would make this fellow some amusingly similar take on Arathorn, like just calling him Arathorn Junior wouldn't be subtle enough. Uhhh... Araborn? Aramorn? Eh, you know what? Forget it. I'll just call him Elfstone or something and pretend that's his elven nickname. Men his age love that sort of thing... at least, I think they do. How old was he again?

BillThis week ... Read More

Sunday Status Update: August 17, 2014

Character update once again on break due to shortage of time...

KatI continued on with a couple of big fantasy epics this week. I read the most recent installment in Larry Correia’s MONSTER HUNTER series, Monster Hunter Nemesis. This continues to be a smart, well-plotted, and extremely violent saga. Then I read Warrior and Warlord, books two and three of  Read More

Sunday Status Update: August 10, 2014

This week, Oin.

Oin: Well, it happened again last night. Some dignitary was visiting from the West (Gondor, this time), and of course when Gloin and I enter the hall, King Dain gets that look on his face, and he gets up to introduce us. Do we introduce ourselves with our father's name? No we do not. We can't help that Grandpap hated him and he wouldn't change the name. But of course Dain found out. And now he has everyone else doing it. Oin son of Groin. Oh, will you pass the gravy, son of Groin? How's the knee today, Groinsson? Just what I'd expect from the line of the magnificent Groin. Half of them don't even try to pronounce it correctly, they just go straight for how it looks on the page. You know what? I've had enough. I'll go with Balin to Moria. Can't be worse than this place.

KatRead More

Thoughtful Thursday: What’s the best book you read last month?

It's the first Thursday of the month. You know what that means. Time to report!

What is the best book you read in July 2014 and why did you love it? It doesn't have to be a newly published book, or even SFF. We just want to share some great reading material. Feel free to post a full review of the book here, or a link to the review on your blog, or just write a few sentences about why you thought it was awesome.

(And don't forget that we always have plenty more reading recommendations on our Fanlit Faves page and our 5-Star SFF page. And we've also got a constantly updating list of new and forthcoming releases.)

One commenter from the U.S. or Canada will win these two new August releases from our friends at Tor: Read More

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