Tags: fiction

Medieval Lady

Imagining the terrifying yet hysterically funny possibilities...

Speed-reading a book description:

"Satan is determined to create his own Hell on Earth and has unleashed unfathomable chaos into the world."


"Satan is determined to create his own Hell on Earth and has unleashed unfashionable chaos into the world."

resulted in several moments of blinking and wondering how exactly that would look...

(well, I mean, I assume it would look terrible, but there are so many possibilities....)
Medieval Lady

"Brain and brain! What is 'brain'?"

You know how, when you read a really, really amazing “up until three in the morning, can’t stop thinking about it book,” you make that “good book noise” happy sigh as you’re thinking about it and waiting until you can read it again?

There is some kind of rage-y counterpart to that where you are up until three in the morning grinding your teeth, and can’t stop thinking about the book for ENTIRELY the wrong, rage-y reasons.

And then you go complain about it on the Internet, because, you know, why not share the rage? :-)

The sad thing is that the rage-inducing work of literature in question isn’t even an entire book-- I am getting this Hulk-smash-set-things-on-fire level of arrrggh based solely on an excerpt of the prologue and maaaaybe the entire first chapter. That is the level of special we are talking about here.

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Medieval Lady

Blah, blah, metaphor, "I am in fact the monster," blah....

You know, hearing that "I Am Legend" was voted the Vampire Novel of the Century in the 2011 Bram Stoker Awards, and reading various columns on Tor.com about how brilliant and scary and inspirational the book is.... I was not expecting to be both completely bored and utterly annoyed.

I mean, I can see where it would have been revolutionary in the 1950s, in terms of the overall story and the excruciating detailed explanations of "Oh, it's a GERM and this is how it works, and after several years of working on the theory, this perfectly ordinary Caucasian male has figured it out!" And I can see where the ending would have been a real shock, in the days before, well, all the works inspired by "I Am Legend."

But I read it, and... okay, it's partly that I disliked the main character so intensely, because he's set in the 1970s, but he's so very much the product of 1950s male-authored sci-fi, the Last (White) Man Remaining after the Cold War-inspired apocalypse, living in a boarded-up house, trying to cope, probably going somewhat nuts along the way, etc. And that's personal, that's just not a type of character who I find engaging. Except that I also found the writing and the story to be excruciatingly boring-- there's amazingly little action, and very little "vampire" in what is supposed to be a vampire story, and the extended faux-science did nothing for me.

Yes, fine, his former friend and neighbor is the possible-leader of the local vampires, but doesn't show up in any significant way in either the past or present, and there are the ubiquitous tragic flashbacks to the tragic death of his wife and daughter (because two tragically dead females is way more tragical than a wife and son dying when the child doesn't get to actually do anything or be active in any way....). And there is an extended Tragical Last Dog, who is apparently there just to be additionally tragic.

The thing is.... okay, he is boring, and the plot is boring, and the main ideas are boring, and the gender roles are freaking infuriating. Because in the beginning there are apparently Sexy Naked Vampire Ladies trying to lure him outside (....), and he's constantly thinking about them (because he is a red-blooded American male), and then there is the Requisite Last Woman, who is part helpless and part femme fatale and naturally secretly a vampire spy. Add that to the Helpless Deceased Females, and.... yeah, not going to do anything for me.

So, I am in a bit of a quandry, because of course between "Best Vampire Novel of the 20th Century" AND numerous film versions inspired by it, AND inspiration for assorted zombie stories(which I can see much more than vampires, frankly), I feel like I should ask my vampire class students to, you know, read it. And it is definitely a different take on vampires and vampirism and so on, and I could tie the gender issues to gender roles and issues in the other stuff we are reading and watching...

.... but I can't help but feel that the students will respond to it by becoming pretty much zombified themselves.
Medieval Lady

Fantastic Soviet Book Art

I love great book art (I would go out and buy "The Unspoken" RIGHT NOW just because that is one of the most amazing covers I've seen in ages... and also because the author does a brilliant and hysterical blog).

So, I was very excited about this before clicking, and then very giddy about the art once I had clicekd:

Book illustrations from The Soviet version of "The Hobbit"

Distinctive style; very subtly different from Western/American illustrations, and a very different take on the characters in some ways. However, I really think it works-- and I think that the black-and-white is completely correct, and adds to the impact.

*sigh* This is the sort of thing that makes me wish I were better at translating things into art, really.
greeting, worm

Yes, but what about the tights.... errr... pants?

I think that my favorite quote so far from Tor.com's Bowie Week has got to be this one:

"When Gaiman reimagined Lucifer while writing Sandman, he was extremely adamant that the ruler of Hell resemble David Bowie as closely as possible. According to artist Kelley Jones, Gaiman insisted, “You must draw David Bowie. Find David Bowie, or I’ll send you David Bowie. Because if it isn’t David Bowie, you’re going to have to redo it until it is David Bowie.” The artists complied, and the resulting character ranks as the greatest depiction of His Infernal Majesty since Milton (and/or Peter Cooke in Bedazzled), at least for my money."

(there's also a bit later in that same column on an unfinished project between Neil Gaiman and Yoshitaka Amano called "Return of the Thin White Duke," which sounds extremely epic... and who can forget the infamous Sock Puppet Labyrinth, also with Neil Gaiman... really, the whole Gaiman/Bowie thing is the sort of thing that is just going to be amazing no matter what direction(s) it goes in, and it all makes me wonder what kind of crazy/amazing "Labyrinth"/"Mirrormask" fanfic* has been or could be created, and whether the universe as we know it would survive...)

*I'm not really sure if that Halloween storyline from "Roommates" counts or not, although there is no denying the awesome, especially in the reveal page. And yes, I realize that I'm putting a link to the early, early first hints of "Roommates"... but, really, the Halloween storyline is not the best place to start. Not to mention that you miss a lot of awesome by jumping in that late!

Plot chasms....

Gaaarrrgh. I really hate it when authors I greatly admire have what seem to be big giant plotholes in their books. Especially when the main romance and many other characters and plot elements are so good.Case in points? Ilona Andrews' "Bayou Moon," the second in the Edge series. Unlike the Kate Daniels series ("Magic Bites," etc.), instead of a world where magic has returned and caused chaos and massive socio-cultural shifts, in the Edge universe, the "Broken" (the normal everyday world we know) and the "Weird" (the magic-dominated everyday alternate dimension its dwellers and assorted magical creatures are familiar with) are divided by the "Edge," which is an area where the inhabitants are aware of both the Broken and the Weird, can (often) pass between them, at least going into the Broken. The Edge pretty much runs along the Appalachians and into the Louisiana bayou... in short, the areas in the US with a history of poverty and extremely insular cultures (explained here as being in the backwoods boundary area between a dimension of tech and a dimension of magic where there are magical critters and problems and people having weird talents of varying strength). The first book was written pretty much as a one-shot-- the villain is neatly dealt with by the end, the romantic pairing has been worked out, happy endings all round. For the second-- and, by now, third-- books-- the author(s) (gah, always confusing to figure out how to refer to a husband-and-wife team who take a single pen name...) came up with a whole other complicated ongoing magical conflict and a posse of ninja villains and all sorts of complicated spy chicanery and so on. Which is not necessarily a bad thing, it's just slightly left-fieldish after a first book that was going in such a completely different direction in a lot of ways. Kind of, "Oops, we need a more sustained, serious conflict with many more complications to carry this series forward."

There's nothing wrong with that-- and there's certainly nothing wrong with having a book that is much, much longer.when the authors' writing style is such a pleasure to read, and the two main characters are so well-developed (and, generally speaking, manage to AVOID having stupid mis-perceptions about how they feel about each other, because they actually take the time to think things through).

At the same time, there were some issues. First, there was a serious pacing problem, where a major plot thread got resolved in two sentences after chapters and chapters dealing with the other parts of the plot. It came across as super-super rushed ("The battle took approximately half an hour, and accomplished everything it was supposed to, the end."). Like... there was too much plot to cram into the amount of space that was left in the book, but not enough to be a second book.

My more significant problem (which I am going to discuss in great, spoilerish details after the cut) was something that is... well, it's either that there is a plot hole, or I missed something despite repeatedly looking for it. I'm putting it below the cut; anybody familiar with the book, feel free to chip in.

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Medieval Lady

Stor(m)y Weather...

Had on an Epic Film of Epic Epicness this evening, while grading and trying to relax a bit. And when I saw "Epic," I mean in this case Bollywood, which can really pretty much out-epic anything it sets its mind to. In this particular film, the main plot revolves around the fact that the older (adopted) son of a super-rich upper-class Indian family falls madly, crazily in love with a girl from a much lower social background. The lead actor did a fantastic, fantastic job of playing a guy who is utterly twitterpated AND completely knows what he wants and is kind of cheerfully ruthlessly flirty about it. So, that's going to lurk in my head and generate plots, I'm quite sure.

And then... ok, so, obviously, the father flips the heck out over the fact that his son has fallen for a girl who is Not The Right Sort-- and this after a first act full of the father being all about Tradition and Family and Honor and Duty and Arranged Marriages and so on, and quelling his wife whenever she tried to broach the idea that possibly arranging a marriage for their eldest without saying "boo" to him about it first was not a good plan. Thing is? Every time that the father got cranky and started going off about Tradition and Family and So On, there were these ominous rumbles of dramatic thunder in the background.

Which meant, of course, that when he had an enormous and dramatic hissy-fit about the son bringing the girl into the family and started going off about "will she understand our family, will she understand our rites, our rituals, our customs," with thunder rumbling louder in the background, all I could think was, "Son, we're an ancient clan of weather demons! You KNOW that randomly marrying mortal women never goes well for us! Look at your great-uncle!"
Medieval Lady

Some Halloween Stories!

For Halloween, some story links...


These are in order, although they are stand-alone (basically, they feature the same main character, who is a sort of detective dealing with paranormal issues in Heian Japan, and his rather Miroku-like sidekick)

The Mansion of Bones

Sanji's Demon, pt. 1

Sanji's Demon, pt. 2

Lady of the Ghost Willow

The Ghost of Shinoda Forest

The Tiger's Turn