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Given my interests in Native American literature and genre fiction, it is inevitable that I’ve also become interested in the ways in which the indigenous peoples of North America are represented in science fiction and fantasy. For the purposes of this particular article I’m thinking primarily of their representation in Anglo-American sf and fantasy, and I’ll be focusing on, so far as I’m aware, representations by non-Native writers. (Nor is this intended to be a comprehensive survey of appearances by Native Americans in sf though that may be a project for the future.)

Cover Art for Red Country by Joe Abercrombie (UK)

I want to begin with Joe Abercrombie’s Red Country (2012), where we meet Crying Rock, described as ‘an old Ghost woman with a broken sideways nose, grey hair all bound up with what looked like the tatters of an old Imperial flag, and a face so deep-lined you could’ve used it for a plate rack’ (p. 55). A couple of pages later, one character says of another, ‘His Ghosts massacred a whole fellowship o’ prospectors out on the dusty not two weeks ago. Thirty men, maybe. Took their ears and their noses and I shouldn’t wonder got their cocks besides’ (p. 57). A few pages later, ‘[t]he old Ghost woman had the reins, creased face as empty as it had been at the inn, a singed old chagga pipe gripped between her teeth, not smoking it, just chewing it’ (p. 64). Only on the following page is Crying Rock finally introduced by name, having said a few words ‘[s]o slow and solemn it might have been the eulogy at a funeral’ (p. 65). And much later still, we see Crying Rock as tracker: ‘’Til that moment Shy had been wondering whether she’d frozen to death hours before with her pipe still clamped in her mouth. She’d scarcely blinked all morning, staring through the brush they’d arranged the previous night as cover’ (p. 301). Read More »

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We’re all fans of Game of Thrones, right? If you’re in my age demographic (say, mid-twenties to late-thirties), you probably have some pretty strong opinions about pop culture in the ’80s and ’90s, right? Hell, if you’re older than that, you’re probably smart enough to shake your head at those strange days. From Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, to The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, and Bel Biv Devoe, I’m a fan. And, apparently, so is Mike Wrobel, of Moshi Studio, who took it upon himself to create these hilariously perfect renditions of the Game of Thrones cast if they lived in the ’80s and ’90s.

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Harry Potter Anime

Anime was always a part of my life growing up. From Speed Racer as a kid, to Sailor Moon as a pre-teen, to the first time my friend and I discovered Akira as high schoolers, I’ve been attracted to their unusual fantasy and science fiction tales. I’m also a raving Harry Potter fan.

So, I sorta have to be obsessed with Nacho Punch‘s mashup of Harry Potter and post-apocalyptic/cyberpunk ’80s anime, right?

Oh, right, spoilers (if you’ve been living under a rock for a decade and haven’t read Harry Potter.)

News broke earlier this month that after a 21 year absence, Tad Williams is returning to Osten Ard, the fantastical world that put him on the fantasy map, with The Last King of Osten Ard, a sequel trilogy to his enormously popular and influential epic fantasy, Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn.

“I believe I can now write a story worthy of those much-loved settings and characters,” Williams said, explaining the origins of the unlikely sequel. “One that people who haven’t read the originals can enjoy, but which will of course mean more to those who know the original work. More than that, I feel I can do something that will stand up to the best books in our field. I have very high hopes. I’m excited by the challenge. And I’ll do my absolute best to make all the kind responses I’ve already had justified.”

Though the news was released earlier than Williams originally hoped, he’s only a few chapters into writing the first volume, he’s not shy on providing details of what fans can expect from the new trilogy.

“[The Last King of Osten Ard] is going to be at least as bursting-at-the-seams as the first one,” he said. “Since the originals are already written, I’m not going to spend anywhere near so much time setting up the world. Stuff is going to be happening from pretty much go. And one thing I can definitely tell you. LOTS of Norns. A much closer look at the Norns, collectively and individually, then we had in the first books. Much like what we learned of the Sithi in Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn.” Read More »

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Of Better Worlds
and Worlds Gone Wrong

I was asked for this post to write about hope in fantasy. And that means I need to talk about grimdark.

I was asked for this post to write about hope in fantasy. And that means I need to talk about grimdark. (Definition from TV Tropes here, for those who need it.) And I need to say, before I start, that I am a practitioner of grimdark; the Doctrine of Labyrinths quartet (Melusine (2005), The Virtu (2006), The Mirador (2007), Corambis (2009)) can be nothing but. So I’m not speaking as someone who abhors grimdark, but as someone who loves it.

One of the things behind grimdark, I think–and it’s not just grimdark, either, but most of Anglophone literature since somewhere around World War I–is a conviction that being pessimistic, tragic, depressing, dark means that a text is more “realistic,” more “serious,” and therefore inherently “better” than it would be if it allowed optimism and hope. I’ll get into the issue of “realism” later, but I want to point out here that tragedy is not inherently “better” as a literary form than comedy and writing a tragedy does not demonstrate greater skill/talent/genius than writing a comedy. (Kind of the reverse, in fact. Comedy is hard.) Read More »