kate_nepveu: (con't) http://community.livejournal.com/book_icons/121545.html ; painting of bookcase with light slanting from window (happiness is a full bookcase)

Here's what our free-books bags at World Fantasy Con contained:

  • The First Betrayal (The Chronicles of Josan, Book 1) by Patricia Bray (2006)
  • The Curse of the Raven Mocker by Marly Youmans (2006)
  • Undertow by Elizabeth Bear (2007)
  • Carmen Dog by Carol Emshwiller (2004) (two copies)
  • The Faery Reel: Tales from the Twilight Realm (2006)
  • 20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill (2007)
  • Wizardry and Wild Romance: A Study of Epic Fantasy by Michael Moorcock (2004)
  • Things That Never Were: Fantasies, Lunacies & Entertaining Lies by Matthew Rossi (2003)
  • The Leopard Mask (The Guin Saga, Book 1) by Kaoru Kurimoto (2003) (two copies)
  • The Wit and Wisdom of Discworld, complied by Stephen Briggs
  • A miscellany of samplers, Fantasy & Science Fiction issues, and other stuff.

I was vaguely planning to read The Faery Reel and 20th Century Ghosts already, so that was good. Any comments about the rest?

Also, on the topic of free books: Chad has posted about the Fantasy Novel Scavenger Hunt we came up with: "participants would be given a list of things to find, and sent to the Dealer's Room or free book bags to find them and bring them back." Here's what he's got to get things started:

  • One book featuring a telepathic bond between a human and an animal.
  • Three books with dubious guilds (Thieves Guild, Prostitute's Guild, etc.)
  • Three characters with D'Read A'Postro'phes in their names [no kidding, one of the Aussie books had a single name with three apostrophes in it!]
  • A book with a map in the front, in which the characters visit every single country on the map.
  • A book with a faintly insulting "Exotic" setting.

I think participants should automatically win if they come back with a copy of The Tough Guide to Fantasyland, myself. But what else?

kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)

Really I shouldn't post a discussion question when I'm ferociously busy (like the last post, languishing for attention), but [livejournal.com profile] yhlee's post from partway into Throne of Jade prompted this thought (which is spoilery for the end of Throne) and it'll be stuck in my head all day if I don't post it:

The relationship betwen Laurence and Temeraire has been noted by many reviewers; it's primarily been the romance reviewers, that I've seen, who've pointed out that it functions the way a romance would in a romance novel. (I hasten to note, for those unfamiliar with the books, that the relationship is strictly platonic. In case people were getting their much-talked-about (for various reasons) books-with-dragons mixed up. Ahem.)

SPOILERS for the end of Throne of Jade )

So, discuss: ways in which the first two Temeraire books play out typical romance situations through human-dragon partnerships (not limited to Laurence and Temeraire). Are these transferred situations thereby commented on or transformed in any way? Laurence's experiences in the first book (particularly) have an effect on his own perceptions about gender; are there any less obvious ways the dragon-human relationships are commenting on gender? (Or are people worn out on Tiptree-ish discussions?)

There will, of course, be spoilers for both books in comments as well as above.

kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)

Another sucky week here at Chateau Steelypips, so let's talk about writing instead.

Apparently "ten things I know about writing" is going around as a meme. I'm not doing ten, because this is a specific list: ways that writing a legal brief is like writing a work of fiction, as noticed by me in the last couple of weeks.

  1. Reader expectations.

    You must know what your readers expect from you, at pretty much every level of the work—from the way a sentence will proceed, to the way that sections fit together, to the way the work will end. In fiction, you can violate those expectations, but you must know what you're doing so you can make it worth it. In legal writing, violating reader expectations is not recommended, because the consequences of annoying your readers are rather different.

    This struck my attention when, on the same day, [livejournal.com profile] alg had a "demystifying publishing" post on genre, and I asked for feedback on how suitable a draft brief was for a new-to-me audience.

  2. "Said" words.

    In fiction, "said" is invisible as a dialogue tag.

    When I got back a draft that replaced every "the court stated" with "the court said," I realized that the same rule applies to non-fiction.

  3. "I've suffered for my research, and now you must too."

    Yes, you did several boatloads of research before starting to write. Yes, you're proud of all the nuances and variations you now comprehend fully. Yes, it was important to have as complete a map as possible of the landscape before starting, because you can't know what path you're going to take without a map.

    But once you've picked your path, most of that information becomes entirely superfluous. And you don't get points for including superfluous information, no matter how hard-won it was.

  4. Other sets of eyes.

    People who will keep you from inflicting violated expectations, said-isms, and too much research on your readers? Priceless.

kate_nepveu: Hakkai, three-quarters profile, pointing gun at viewer (speak softly and)

Last week, in talking about something related, Chad and I wandered into a discussion of noir plots and why I tend not to like them, with the strong exception of L.A. Confidential. He eventually put his finger on it:

It's the noble but stupid gesture.

Or, less flippantly, it's because the noir protagonist is upright but the world is not; he stays apart from the corrupt world, but because he's an outside, he can't influence it. He does the right thing and it doesn't matter: the world is not a better place at the end of the story.

In fiction, that's just not to my taste.

Brief notes on application, with spoilers for L.A. Confidential, The Maltese Falcon, The Big Sleep, and The Fortunate Fall.

spoilers for various noir-ish things )

Comments, corrections, recommendations for stuff more on the L.A. Confidential end of things?

kate_nepveu: line drawing of startled cat with vacuum nozzle held to back (cat-vacuuming)
  1. Chad has posted his own Fantasy Conversion Kit, with a different emphasis, at The Library of Babel.
  2. I hadn't realized that [livejournal.com profile] vonnielake started this and is keeping lists in her memories.
  3. I posted my list to rec.arts.sf.written, where there is some discussion going on.
kate_nepveu: line drawing of startled cat with vacuum nozzle held to back (fandom)

My entry in the genre conversion kits discussion is very belated, but here it is all the same (I came up with a list of titles back when the discussions were going around, and then didn't have time to add reasons to the list). Since I'm not up-to-date on science fiction these days, so I'm only doing a fantasy conversion kit. Here are ten books chosen to be introductions to different types of fantasy; they're meant to be picked among, based on the tastes of the person you're trying to convert. (I like all of these, else I wouldn't recommend them, but I don't expect everyone to.)

Ten books )

Not objective, not authoritative, open for discussion. Comments?

kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)

I propose the following theorem (with corollary) regarding discussion of science fiction as a genre.

(ETA: Now revised for clarity! Plus a tentative title, and a suggested additional theorem.)

Theorem of Science Fiction Denial:

If an artist makes a point of asserting that a creative work is not science fiction, then (1) the odds that the work is science fiction increase to a near-certainty, while (2) the odds that the work's science fiction elements (e.g., world-building, science) are good decrease dramatically. Nb.: the work as a whole may still have artistic merit.


If an artist makes a point of asserting that a creative work is not science fiction because "science fiction is X", then the statement "science fiction is X" is almost certainly wrong.

Proposed Theorem of Genre Denial:

Take the above theorem (and corollary), replace "science fiction" with "genre," and remove the parenthetical.

prior comments, edits )

kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)

So we just watched Hero, because I was very tired and lying back and looking at something pretty seemed like a relaxing way to end the evening.

Unfortunately, when one spends five minutes after a movie's end yelling about how STUPID it was, one is not exactly in the mood to drop off into restorative slumber.

spoilers bigger than your head )

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