Monthly Archives: July 2011

A DANCE WITH DRAGONS by George R.R. MartinYarr! Some mild spoilers for A Dance with Dragons and some egregious spoilers for the entirety of A Song of Ice and Fire appear in this article!

Well, well. Where to even begin? Having read several handfuls of reviews for A Dance with Dragons around the ‘net, it seems impossible to begin a commentary on the novel without referencing the infamous Wait™ and the fan vitriol (and endless passion) associated with Martin’s ever-growing audience. Of course, I’ve gone on record now and then to mentioned that I don’t really give a damn about waiting for a novel, this one or otherwise; there were plenty of wonderful stories to keep me occupied between A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons, because, well… I enjoy many authors (new and well-established) alongside Mr. Martin — something I’m sure he would appreciate.

I’m now about 300 pages in. (I’m a slow reader, remember?) Bombs have been dropped (or eggs, mayhap?), ground has be re-tread (hello, Jon Snow!) and Tyrion has drank (drunk? drinked?) a lion’s share of wine. Besides one or two ‘twists’ (and one ‘fuck yeah!’ beheading), the pace of the narrative has been glacially slow, but enjoyable and engrossing all the same. The concise, labyrinthine storytelling of A Game of Thrones is now gone completely, replaced instead by a huge, sprawling behemoth of storytelling. Instead of having each chapter of the novel moving an overall novel-spanning narrative arc towards its conclusion (adding elements or perspectives only available to the viewpoint character), we now have three disparate stories running in parallel. Two of the major storylines, Dany and Tyrion, appear to be on a collision course (and, as the earlier novels would indicate, I expect that all the little connecting threads will appear retroactively once I look back on the completed novel), but Jon Snow’s chapters seem entirely self-contained (though, I suppose it could be argued that they were as such even as early as A Game of Thrones); and Bran Stark’s chapters, few-and-far-between (much to my chagrin) as they are, are even more disconnected from the rest of the narrative.
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Theft of Swords by Michael J. SullivanSome ideas have great power, and in fantastic literature, one of the mightiest of these is the idea of The Hero. The Hero is a very particular sort of creature: it (quite often “he”) is the protagonist of many stories and serves as paragon, savior, and metaphoric proponent/enactor of ideology. The Hero reflects aspirations and serves as inspiration both in the story and to the reader. This can be a useful, evocative device to employ in a story. The problem is, some of The Hero’s admirers use this device to constrain the idea of fantasy and limit the boundaries of imagination that writers and readers use in their engagement with fantasy literature.

Author Michael J. Sullivan discussed “Fantasy as Fantasy” on his blog recently, and after reading his opinion, I wanted to respond not as a proponent of “the other side” that he establishes, but as a critical reader of fantastika. I was perturbed not by his defense of The Hero, but by his assumption that his position encompassed all of “fantasy” and that fantasy should ideally be Just One Thing. This idea extended not only to the literary genre, but to the very notion of what “fantasy” means. I think that there is far more potential in both of these ideas when we open them up rather than try to set limits upon them.
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Zoo City by Lauren BeukesI’ve often joked about how much I need clones. But alas, like time machines and teleportation devices, photocopy-style human cloning just isn’t there yet (unless you believe the dubious claims of the Raelian cult). Luckily I’ve got something even better than an army of Laurenz: a collection of brilliant brains.

It would be neat if they were brains in jars, directly hooked up to word processors to churn out pages while I sleep, but I suspect that probably takes a lot of electricity and probably a mad scientist to maintain them – and mad scientists and their inevitable slobbering loathsome assistants cost a lot to feed.

So, nope. I’m talking the kind of brains that walk around in people casings – the kind that feed themselves because they have jobs and credit cards. And when it came to writing some of the additional materials for Zoo City, I was very happy to be able to raid those brains for their genius.
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Via The Wertzone:

Casting is coming hot and heavy for the second season of HBO’s adaptation of A Song of Ice and Fire, George R.R. Martin’s Fantasy epic that’s been a roaring overnight 15-years-in-the-making success. This time, it’s the Onion Knight himself, Davos Seaworth, played by Liam Cunningham:

Liam Cunningham cast as Davos Seaworth

Adam Whitehead on Cunningham:

Liam Cunningham is a highly experienced Irish actor with numerous roles on screen, stage and TV. He has appeared in the movies First Knight, Jude and Clash of the Titans, and recently had starring roles in the TV series Camelot and Outcasts.

He certainly looks the part, and his acting history suggests he has the chops for the role, also. Davos is one of my favourite characters from the series, so I’ve been waiting eagerly for this casting news. Very happy with the outcome.