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 »

Hugo Awards Logo

On Saturday, April 19th, the 2014 Hugo Award nominations were announced, and I’m proud to announce that A Dribble of Ink is represented in two categories: Best Fanzine and Best Related Work.

Best Fanzine

Alongside The Book Smugglers*, Elitist Book Review, Journey Planet and Pornokitsch*, A Dribble of Ink is in the running for Best Fanzine of 2013. If you’ve followed my writing for any time, you’ll know that I’ve long been critical of this category for dipping its pen into the same inkwell too often, so I’m thrilled to be included on a ballot that is guaranteed to see a new winner.

On that note, I expect to get crushed by Pornokitsch and/or The Book Smugglers, but it’ll be fun competition between these friends of mine regardless. Read More »

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2014 Hugo Award Nominees

Via Tor.com, the list of nominees for the 2014 Hugo Award nominees (with added squee!):

2014 Hugo Award nominees

Best Novel (1595 ballots)

  • Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie (Orbit)
  • Neptune’s Brood by Charles Stross (Ace / Orbit)
  • Parasite by Mira Grant (Orbit)
  • Warbound, Book III of the Grimnoir Chronicles by Larry Correia (Baen Books)
  • The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson (Tor Books)

Read More »

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I still remember the first time that I saw a Japanese Roleplaying Game (JRPG). Like many people of my generation, it was a Final Fantasy game, though not one so obvious as Final Fantasy, Final Fantasy VI (or Final Fantasy 3, if you’re familiar with the  North American naming scheme), or Final Fantasy VII. No, it was Final Fantasy Legend II in all of its monochromatic glory on the Nintendo Game Boy.

I was at a friend’s house, and his cousin was also visiting. I’d never met the cousin, but he had a Game Boy (like me), so I liked him almost instantly. But, where I was eradicating (or, more accurately, being eradicated by) the Footclan in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, or dodging winged-Moai statues in Super Mario Land, he had this slow, boardgame-like game, with numbers, equipment, a map, and so many other elements that I was unfamiliar with. In particular, I remember a fight with a tiger. The one pictured here, in fact. As I think back on it, I can only assume that it’s a low level enemy, fought in one of the early game environments. At the time, however, it was something different. Something frightening.

If you do your homework, however, you’ll quickly discover that my first experience with Final Fantasy was, in fact, not with Final Fantasy at all, but with Akitoshi Kawazu’s infamous SaGa series. See, when Square the developer of the Final Fantasy series, wanted to bring over Kawazu’s zany Makai Toushi SaGa, the first in the SaGa series, to North American shores, they decided that it made more sense to release the title under a respected and successful brand, Final Fantasy, rather than attempting to sell something new. It was the right decision. Final Fantasy Legend II became Square’s first million-selling product. Read More »