Best of '13 — My Favourite Books by Women
Note: This article was originally published as part of Smugglivus, a year-end celebration of all things books over at The Book Smugglers. Check out the rest of the fun!
To begin the year, I set myself a challenge: read a perfect split balance of male:female authors in 2013. It was a personal challenge, and I asked no one else to follow along with me. This challenge had two purposes. The first was to provide more exposure for female fantasy and science fiction writers. The second was to expand my own tastes, to discover new authors. As 2013 winds down, I consider this challenge a success, but it wasn’t without some controversy.
In particular, the comments thread generated some salty discussion about my challenge and the idea of ‘quotas’ playing against the natural interests of a reader/critic. I read a lot of the same arguments, mostly about being ‘genderblind’, that I had once made. These arguments are so easy to fall back on, a safety net to avoid falling into blame. At first, I was quick to respond the same way, “I just read what I want to read, and ignore the gender of the author completely.” Well and true, maybe, but I started to recognize that, despite these excuses, there was a large bias (about one to three, female to male) in my reading habits. I began to ask myself why. I still don’t have an answer, but I did recognize that a conscious course correction was something I could be proactive about without needing an answer right away. Continue reading
Every once in a while, an artist nails the artwork from the book they are covering. Marc Simonetti does it on an alarmingly regular basis.
This artwork, created by Simonetti for the Brazilian edition of Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn: The Final Empire, is gorgeous, and the most accurate to imagery that I had in my mind’s eye when reading Sanderson’s trilogy. That Mistcloak! Those Inquisitors! Kelsier’s grin!
Known among fantasy fans for his work on foreign-language versions of many of fantasy’s biggest series, like Rothfuss’ The Kingkiller Chronicles or Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, it’s about time that Simonetti makes the leap to working with some of the big North American and British publisher on the first run major fantasy releases from those authors. The guy’s good enough that his art should be on bookstore shelves everywhere.
Remember back in your younger days when the hours would fly by as you dug through your bin of LEGO, bounded only by the limits of your imagination? Grown now, Alice Finch and David Frank have taken that concept to another level with their enormous recreation of Rivendell, The Last Homely House west of the Mountains, from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings.
“This, of course, isn’t Finch or Frank’s first LEGO project,” explains Stew Shearer of The Escapist. “Both, in the past, took part in a collaborative project based on Hobbiton, another Tolkien location. Finch has also done a recreation of Hogwarts Castle, while Frank has built several complex castles. The two chose to build Rivendell in part because they believed it to “the ultimate challenge.”
This imagining, which takes visual cues from Peter Jackson’s film adaptations of J.R.R. Tolkien’s novels, measures in at 10′ by 5′ and contains over 200,000 pieces of LEGO. Certainly puts my old childhood creations to shame. But, damnit, those had heart! This Rivendell just has… immense amounts of creative vision, talent and hardwork.
If there’s one takeaway from the first film in Peter Jackson’s film adaptation of The Hobbit, it’s that the writer/director’s tinkering with Tolkien’s lore, ostensibly for the sake of making a more
bloated exciting theatre-going experience, was less than successful. The additions of Azog, Radagast’s plight against the Necromancer, the absurdity in the hall of the Goblin King, and anything to do with the White Council were unnecessary to Bilbo’s story (which, at the end of the day, is what The Hobbit should be about), and raised concerns about the decision to extend the series of films from two volumes into a trilogy.
On the eve of the release of the second film, The Desolation of Smaug, Peter Jackson recently discussed the decision to add and expand on the characters of three elves, including fan favourite Legolas, played again by Orlando Bloom, and newcomer Tauriel, played by Evangeline Lily. “People always ask about Evangeline’s character Tauriel and why we felt the need to create her,” Jackson said, via /Film. “But in The Hobbit novel, [the dwarves] are captured by the elves and they escape in the barrels. And it’s a memorable part of the book but the Elf King is not even named. He doesn’t have a name. And it was only later on that Tolkien decided it should be Thranduil and he also decided he should have a son when Lord of the Rings was written 18-19 years later. He created the character of the son of the king. Continue reading
Last month, I reported on a rumoured videogame adaptation of Game of Thrones by Adventure Game-kings Telltale Games. The developer, through CEO Dan Connors, confirmed the adaptation this week, indicating that it will be a
“multi-year, multi-title partnership” with Martin and HBO. The game(s) will be based on Game of Thrones, the television adaptation of Martin’s popular fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire. The first release will be an episodic narrative-driven adventure similar to Telltale Games’ other successful videogames such as The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us. It is unclear whether “multi-title” refers to these various episodes, or if Telltale Games has more in the works beyond this initial offering.
Polygon reports on the announcement made during VGX 2013:
Telltale Games’ agreement to make a Game of Thrones game based on the HBO television series will be a “multi-year, multi-title partnership,” according to a media release from the studio.
The collaboration between Telltale and HBO Global Licensing was confirmed during VGX 2013 when Telltale Games CEO Dan Connors said the studio will be taking advantage of all of George R.R. Martin’s fiction “to make something great.”
The official teaser trailer for the Game of Thrones videogame is available for viewing through Telltale Games’ official YouTube page. The first episode will release in 2014 for “home consoles, Windows PC, Mac and mobile devices.” Polygon has an interesting opinion piece about how Telltale Games might take Martin’s narrative and create a successful adventure game out of it. “Game of Thrones is filled with more characters to keep track of than nearly any other similarly popular franchise,” says Jonathon Dornbush. “Yet this scope doesn’t mesh with Telltale’s style to focus on a single main character or two and a core cast of secondary players. While Telltale could follow just one family or a single character’s plight, this choice would take away from the series’ signature style. If this is the case, it may be in Telltale’s best interests to tackle another fantasy franchise with far less baggage if they need to forsake Thrones’ main storytelling conceit.”
At this point, it’s safe to say that Martin’s creation has moved well beyond a book series and into the realm of licensing juggernaut. With revenues for these tangential ‘side’ projects possibly set to exceed that of book sales (if they don’t already), it’s uncomfortable to think about the idea that Game of Thrones might soon supersede A Song of Ice and Fire as the flagship Westeros entity as the popularity of the HBO adaptation continues to soar. At what point does this happen? And at what point does the divergence in canon between the show and the novels become and issue? Interesting times ahead for Martin and his friends.