When Fantasy Faction debuted the cover for Myke Cole’s Breach Zone last week, I was struck by the impact of the cover. Not just by the impactful art from Larry Rostant, or the aggressive pose of the woman, but, that, well.. there was a woman. Cole writes military fantasy (science fiction?) and the covers of his past books have featured male-heavy casts aimed to appeal at a particular crowd of reader. I’m still not terribly sure what I think about the cover, so I reached out to Cole and asked him for his thoughts on the new cover and, specifically, the inclusion of a woman. Read More »
Posts Tagged: Military Fantasy
When I began writing reviews, I wasn’t sure if anyone would read me, or if I’d ever get review copies. I did, eventually. These two books, reviewed here together, are sequels to the first review copies I ever received: The The Tainted City by Courtney Schafer, sequel to The Whitefire Crossing, and Chimera by T.C. McCarthy, sequel to Germline and Exogene. I write about them together not because of their coincidental significance in helping to establish me as a critic, but because of the vastly different styles between the two and the fact they ultimately succeed for the same reason.
The Whitefire Crossing, Schafer’s debut novel, is an adventure novel about smuggler Dev, his human cargo Kiran, and a blood mage looking to escape his powerful mentor. A mountain climber herself, Schafer spends most of the novel in the Whitefire Mountains, her characters crossing the natural barrier between two nations with very different ideas about the proper use of magic. There’s a joy to the writing that comes from Schafer’s own love of the outdoors, but more than that there’s a general sense of wonder and excitement to the entire project. The Whitefire Crossing ends on an intriguing note, with Dev and Kiran now in the urban jungle fighting a political enemy somewhat divorced from their previous conflict. Read More »
“Urban Fantasy” is a hot term these days. You hear it used to describe everything from Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse books to Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files. It encompasses the work of authors from Patricia Briggs to Kim Harrison, from Ilona Andrews to Kevin Hearne. With such a diverse range of talent, the definition quickly loses meaning. There isn’t a whole lot that’s urban about the sleepy, small town of Bon Temps.
But that’s okay. Because urban fantasy has never been about urban settings. It’s about *contemporary* settings. It does a very simple thing: it takes the modern world, the one we live in every day, and ask the question, “What would this be like if magic were real?”
If the genre’s popularity is any indicator, that question has traction. Fantasy has, for much of its lifespan, been dominated by ancient and medieval settings. Many of the most enduring works in the genre, from Tolkien to Brooks to Feist, are set in pre-gunpowder, pre-industrial revolution worlds. But readers don’t ride to work on horses, hunt deer for dinner, or carry a sword to fend off the occasional Orc raid. Contemporary fantasy’s popularity suggests that many readers like to dream about the impossible right in their own backyard.
And here’s where you can run into trouble writing contemporary stories. The same thing that makes a contemporary setting resonate so strongly with the reader may also piss them off: Ownership. Read More »
I’ve always been fascinated by embedded journalists. Chronicling a military campaign right in the middle of the action rather than second- or third-hand, at a safe remove. It’s hard to get more visceral than that—dust in the face, grit in the teeth, adrenaline thumping, shadows jumping, blood splattering immediacy, all while trying to just stay alive long enough to somehow give what happened some kind of coherency. Whether book or article, writing is often a solitary, quiet affair, but writing front and center on a military endeavor changes the whole ball game.
Being a self-professed geek (at least 12th level), I naturally take observations like this and start plugging them into a fantasy scenario. How would this play out with a quill and ink on a different world, and how could I complicate it to make such a chronicler’s life even more hellish than anything your modern embedded journalist might endure? I’m a cruel bastard like that.
Now, that phrase “embedded journalist” is a recent invention, but the notion isn’t—Jean de Joinville was a crusader groupie 700 years ago. And Glen Cook cooked up a ripping yarn about a chronicler in a mercenary company—you might have heard of it—so the idea isn’t unique to fantasy either. I had to figure out how to differentiate my take, so I resorted to that most ancient and venerable of writerly tactics, the “what if” game… Read More »
This isn’t a eulogy for my father. The guy’s still around. In fact, every once in a while, he calls me and while I’m happy to hear from him, it takes me 3 hours to get him off the phone. But that’s not the point. The point is, that when my dad finally shuffles off this mortal coil (heaven forestall the day), there is one thing I will always remember about him.
When I was a young boy, dad would sit in the living room or in his study (he smoked a pipe back then, and the smell of pipe smoke still makes me comfortable) and read the New York Times Review of Books. He would disappear behind those venerable pages and emerge with a pronouncement, some minutes or hours later, that such-and-such a book sounded good.
What can I say? Kids are impressionable. Between my father (who, at the time, was the clear earthly authority on absolutely EVERYTHING) and that lauded institution known as the New York Times, if dad read the NYTROB and declared a book good, then it was GOOD, as objectively as anything can ever be considered in a matter of taste.
But, time has rolled on. Dad’s blind in one eye. I don’t trust his driving and he talks too much on the phone. I love him to death, but what is up with those pastel yellow pants? Just as I don’t want to be in a car with him behind the wheel, I don’t necessarily want him recommending me SF/F out of the NYTROB (not that they ever review the stuff anyway). I’m not a big Glenn Reynolds fan, but he was largely right in his Army of Davids. The Internet has diversified and broadened the arena of tastemakers, and I have long since turned to a bevy of blogs (the smaller and more independent, the better) to get advice on what to read next.
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