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Topic: 2011 Fantasy Challenge: MARCH DISCUSSION THREAD

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Subject: 2011 Fantasy Challenge: MARCH DISCUSSION THREAD
Date Posted: 3/1/2011 2:46 AM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
Posts: 1,376
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Previous, related posts:

2011 Fantasy Challenge -- LISTS ONLY THREAD

2010/2011 Fantasy Challenge -- DECEMBER DISCUSSION THREAD

2011 Fantasy Challenge -- JANUARY DISCUSSION THREAD

2011 Fantasy Challenge: FEBRUARY DISCUSSION THREAD

 

Welcome to Month #3 of the Challenge! What are you in the middle of, and what are you planning on reading next?

Subject: Thomas E. Sniegoski
Date Posted: 3/1/2011 8:45 AM ET
Member Since: 4/11/2009
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Hello PhoenixFalls,

 

I just finished Tom Sniegoski's "A Kiss Before the Apocalypse:, a Reny Chandler novel, which I greatly enjoyed. What a terrific writer Sniegoski is! And I love the idea that his good guy narrator is truly a "good guy" because he is secretly an angel. It's also really fun that he and his dog Marlowe have conversations.  Looking forward to "Dancing on the Head of A Pin", the next book in the series for me.

I recently read three of the Rachel Caine "Weather Warden" books. They were okay. Kind of impetuous as to plot and dialogue, but no deeper themes, just a ripping yarn told at breakneck speed. Got a bit tired of them, truth to tell. Next up for me is Patricial Brigg's latest Mercy Thompson novel and I may have finally steeled myslef enough to read "Changes" by Jim Butcher.

What's everybody else reading? Any good new writers to suggest?

Date Posted: 3/1/2011 10:08 PM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2009
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L. A. K. -- Changes is wonderful, but it does end in a cliffhanger.  So, if cliffhangers bother you, you might want to wait until a bit closer to summer.

I'm trying to hold out on the latest Mercy Thompson novel until it comes out in paperback.  Hard, though, since Briggs is coming into town for a joint book signing this weekend with Kim Harrison and it's so tempting to swing by after work to meet them both and pick up a copy.

I'm in the middle of a half dozen books (as usual).
Who Fears Death by Okorafor (Audio book version) - This is an odd one.  I'm liking some parts of it and hating others.  I'm almost done with it, though, so I'll hold off judgement/comments until the end.
Felix Castor #2: Vicious Circle by Carey - a noir type centering around ghosts, demons and exorcism
An Invisible Sign of My Own by Aimee Bender - about an OCD math teacher.  I'm not sure if this is even a fantasy, but if it is, it'll end up in my interstitial category.
Temoraire #2: Throne of Jade by Novik (probably won't fit into any category at all)
Ethshar #3: The Unwilling Warlord by Watt-Evans - Won't fit into any category that I can think of, but this is a fun world where all magic has set limits.  The first book was about a magic sword that slays all opponents the first 99 time it's used but the 100th time it is drawn, it kills the wielder.  This one is about a warlord that has a set amount of magic he can use in his entire lifetime.  If he exceeds that limit, he dies.  Of course, if he fails to defeat the opposing army single-handedly, he also dies.

My only real reading plan this month is to read (or try to read) Danielewski's House of Leaves, which is about a haunted house that is bigger on the inside than the outside.  This has got to be the strangest book I've ever seen.  Some pages are upside down.  Some are printed on a diagonal.  Some are in mirror script.  One page I saw had a couple of sentences printed in two concentric circles.  Some pages might have just a single word or letter printed on them; I noticed one place where a word was printed across 4 pages with one letter per page on the first 3 and 2 letters plus footnotes on the 4th.  On any given page, you might have more than one orientation of text - say, one column printed upside down, one paragraph in the center in mirror script, half of another right side up, and the other half sideways.  Certain words are printed certain colors throughout the book (House is in a grayish blue and strikeouts in red). A couple of paragraphs appear to be in Braille. I've already spent a good 2 hours just looking at the book - not having read a single paragraph, just looking at how it's printed.  I'll see if I can scan in a couple of good example pages for you guys so you can ogle its strangeness too.  (Here's a scan from the wikipedia entry to tide you over) If I can manage to get through it, I'm sure it will be heavily meta.

PhoenixFalls, are you reading/planning on reading anything good?

Date Posted: 3/2/2011 1:17 AM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
Posts: 1,376
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Read The White City by Elizabeth Bear at the tail end of last month; holding off on posting my thoughts until I've written my review. It was good, but not as good as the last New Amsterdam novella.

As for what's next. . . probably The Broken Kingdoms, by N. K. Jemisin, which I expect to be a quick slightly fluffy read, and Zoo City, by Lauren Beukes, which I have high hopes for.

But first I have to get through a strange book of my own. . . the fashionpunk (yeah, I said fashionpunk) novel Yarn. Which is SF, and actually stranger than I expected, but at least I don't have to deal with all that alternative formatting! (I actually picked up a copy of House of Leaves myself at a library sale. . . a couple guys I used to work with kept pushing it on random customers, so I figured it was worth a look. I think I'll wait until you've had your go at it first though!)

Date Posted: 3/2/2011 8:52 PM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
Posts: 1,376
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Just finished: Urban Fantasy (original definition)
Filled with: The White City, by Elizabeth Bear (which is set in turn-of-the-20th century Moscow, and could not be set anywhere else)
Other categories this work could fill: Fantasy Mystery; non-heterosexual main character

Capsule review: Not quite as good as Seven for a Secret, but that was a pretty damn high bar to meet. . .

My full review, no spoilers, on my blog.

Date Posted: 3/3/2011 1:24 PM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2009
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Uh, Fashionpunk ?  Wow, yes that is weird!  Not weird that it exists - there's been a subset of cozy mysteries around quilting, knitting and other crafty type stuff for a long time, but I'm amazed that someone named it.

And yay!  It looks like they just released Seven For a Secret in ebook format for just $5.  That's how I got a copy of New Amsterdam.  This bodes well for the rest of the novellas to eventually be released electronically.  That's easier for me than trying to track them down in libraries. (I hate checking out library books.)

Edited to add info from the publisher:

From Subterranean Press --
"Bear is at work on another New Amsterdam novella, which we should have in hand this spring. "

Also - "You can add Elizabeth Bear to the roster of SubPress writers whose works are now available as ebooks. First, the entire series of New Amsterdam novel and novellas are available ... Please note: There’s a glitch at Amazon, so two of the ebooks aren’t available yet, but will be shortly. "
This was posted on 2/23. 

So, new books to look forward to!  Hopefully White City and Bone and Jewel Creatures will be available as ebooks on Amazon in the next couple of weeks.  They're already there for nook owners.



Last Edited on: 3/3/11 1:43 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Amy
Date Posted: 3/3/2011 3:36 PM ET
Member Since: 3/11/2008
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Okay, so is fashionpunk about ...fashion? Like designers and models and photographers?

Date Posted: 3/3/2011 8:56 PM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
Posts: 1,376
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Amy -- So far, what makes this novel fashionpunk is twofold. One, the main character is a master tailor, which would seem obvious. The stuff that's really strange though, is part two, which is that the entire culture and economy of the world (or at least the part of the world that I've seen so far) is fashion-based. The buildings are literally woven (I don't really get how) from the ground up, and the only work I see happening is the various aspects of the fashion industry -- design, construction, modeling, sales. Sex even occurs mediated by fashion; you put on special nerve-stimulating suits and make a public showing of it.

It's very, very strange.

Amy
Date Posted: 3/4/2011 12:13 AM ET
Member Since: 3/11/2008
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That is really weird, but I'm also intrigued. Definitely put it on my list!

Davies -
Subject: March Update/Subterranean Press E-Books
Date Posted: 3/4/2011 9:57 AM ET
Member Since: 12/19/2005
Posts: 37
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Well, I just finished a couple of books.  The first is The Devil You Know (Felix Castor #1) by Mike Carey.  This is another of the Supernatural Noir/Urban Fantasy (new definition) series.  This one focuses on Felix Castor, a freelance exorcist.  I don't like judging a series after the first book (the Dresden Files is my favorite current series, but I was only lukewarm about them until the third book), but this series started out very strongly for me, definitely a keeper.  The mystery was wrapped up nicely, while still leaving plenty of threads and unexpolored characters  out there for follow up books.  Categories this would fill: Fantasy Mystery; Supernatural Noir not dealing with Vampires, Werewolves, or zombies (there are creatures that resemble zombies and were-creatures, but in this world they are all just ghosts that are possessing a human/animal). 

The second book was Legend by David Gemmell.  This is about an empire in decline being challenged by a unified Barbarian horde.  They make their stand at their greatest fortress, now converted into a large city, led by their greatest hero, now a 70-year old man.  I have read a lot of military fantasy, and this book was very different from most of the ones that I have read, mostly in a good way.  Most military fantasy focuses only on the battles.  Each pitched battle will take up 30 pages as they describe each attack, counter attack, and almost every sword thrust.  This book described the battles in less detail, instead focusing more on the characters, and their reactions.  There was some odd aspects (the romance determined by fate?) that seemed out of place for me, but overall this book is definitely a keeper.  Categories this would fill: Military Fantasy, Work that is on the 1,001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list.

I thought that that was going to be it for me for awhile.  I had completed about 1/3 of the Light Challenge, and all the books on my TBR pile are from new authors, which do not get me as excited as a book from an author that I know I will enjoy.  I was planning on taking a break from books to play some video games instead.  However, that was before I was buried in wishlisted e-books.  Thanks Melanti for pointing out that the Bear Subterranean Press books have been converted to e-book, so now I have Seven for A Secret and The White City to read.  Combine that with the March release of Patrick Rothfuss's The Wise Man's Fear, and Lynch's Red Seas under Red Skies (which I am delaying until the release of the third book, thanks again Melanti), and I have a lot of books I want to read again. 

Edit:  Looking at my My Account page, I apparently have even more books to read, since I have three more books en route to me.  Having your WL on auto-accept can lead to some surprises in the mailbox.  I am sorry videogames, but you are going to have to wait a little bit longer.   



Last Edited on: 3/4/11 10:39 AM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 3/5/2011 11:20 AM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2009
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PhoenixFalls - That's a whole lot stranger than the synopsis made it sound! I'll have to keep it in mind for the next time I'm craving something really different.

Davies - I agree with you with Dresden Files getting better around the 3rd book.  A couple of months ago I went back and reread the first book and I was amazed at how much the series has changed over time, especially in regards to the way magic works and its consequences.  Things like realizing that if wizards cause electrical issues taking them to a hospital ER is a rather bad idea makes a huge difference in how complete a world seems. 

I recently finished the 2nd Felix Castor book, Vicious Circle and didn't like it as much as the first though I can't tell if that's something to do with the book itself, or must my current disaffection with supernatural noir in general kicking in.  I actually only read it because it's a thick hardback and I'm out of shelf space.  That's a terrible reason to read any book.

And I'm happy to be of service with book information.

Date Posted: 3/6/2011 12:28 AM ET
Member Since: 12/14/2005
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Gawd, is it March already? Then why is it still snowing?? ;P

It has been awhile since I checked in, probably because I'm juggling three books at once at the moment. It slows me down a bit. I'm still slogging through Perdido Street Station, which finally got interesting more than halfway through (at around page 350!!), but now I'm about two-thirds finished and it's losing me again. I still can't shake the feeling I'm playing a month-long session of Dungeons and Dragons with a random number generator for a DM. At this point I'm really just reading it out of stubbornness. 

I've gotten through a lot of the first volume of the Drenai Tales on audiobook since my work duties have changed. Lots to do with my hands, less to do with my brain. Druss the Legend was short; I finished it in about a day. I would have finished Legend today, only I ran out of space on my MP3 player. Talk about a cliffhanger! I think I'll count Legend towards the middle-class characters category. I was having a hard time coming up with a book where middle-classness of the characters was actually important to the story...but these fit. 

Next up is Neil Gaiman's Snow, Glass, Apples. This one was actually *meant* to be an audio experience, so I'm going to count it towards the media tie-in category. Unless the English translation of Andrzej Sapkowski's The Times of Contempt really does come out this year, then I'll count it towards a fairy-tale retelling.



Last Edited on: 3/6/11 12:29 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 3/6/2011 9:15 AM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2009
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Gaiman's "Snow, Glass, Apples" is just a short story, though.  A very good short story, but not even novella length.  Did they expand it for the audio version?

 

Date Posted: 3/7/2011 4:34 PM ET
Member Since: 10/13/2007
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Will Jean Auels The land of painted caves count as fantasy?

I also reading The Maze runner and a few other shorter novels.

Date Posted: 3/8/2011 3:36 AM ET
Member Since: 4/5/2010
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Just finished Unholy Ghosts by Stacia Kane. 

Amy
Date Posted: 3/8/2011 10:35 AM ET
Member Since: 3/11/2008
Posts: 1,716
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I'm still working through Lady of the Sorrows by Cecelia Dart-Thornton.

It's enjoyable, but I don't feel like there's any substance. It's a romance, but not overtly so. Still, I think the first book in this series, The Ill-Made Mute, is much better.

I will probably fit this under Fantasy Romance, but I'm wondering if I can put it under the secret history category. What exactly does secret history entail? A secret history about the character or about the world? Or both?

Date Posted: 3/8/2011 2:06 PM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2009
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Amy - PhoenixFalls' definition for Secret History: A revisionist interpretation of either real or known history which is claimed to have been deliberately suppressed, forgotten, or ignored by established scholars. Some examples in fantasy are Elizabeth Bear's Promethean Age novels and Mary Gentle's ASH: A Secret History.

So it'd normally be about more large scale events, not just those of a single character unless it's a very prominent person.  I could see, say, Einstein being an alien as something that could be a secret history, depending on how it was handled and who knew.

I still have Ill Made Mute on my TBR pile.  I remember when you read that last year.  I'm sure I'll get to it one of these years.

Xengab - I've never read them, so I'm not sure.  I know that series is usually classified as historical fiction,  though I've no clue how it's possible to do Ice Age historical fiction when we have no clue what life was like back then.  The synopsis mentions a medicine woman and shaman though, so possibly. 

Date Posted: 3/8/2011 6:18 PM ET
Member Since: 12/29/2008
Posts: 6,378
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I always forget to switch to the new discussion thread, until I suddenly wonder why no one's been posting....

I caved (well, I had it pre-ordered) and bought the new Mercy Thompson book.  They are all keepers for me.  This one was very different, but I still loved it.  That's all I'll say to avoid spoilers.

I'm in the middle of A Brush with Darkness by Allison Pang - it's her first book, and so far I really like it, although it's a pretty complicated world without a lot of background so you have to figure things out as you go.  I got interrupted from reading it so can't wait to get back to it.  I'm not sure it will fit in any category (it's clearly UF, but I have already filled that) but I'm liking it a lot anyway.

Yarn sounds very interesting.

I don't know what's up next - I have to plan around my upcoming vacation and only bring paperbacks (altho an ereader would make packing books easier.  I might try to knock of Matter of France, since I have a book about a nun who befriends Charlemaigne (I'm blanking on the name) that looks interesting.

Date Posted: 3/8/2011 6:58 PM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2009
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Christine - My Kindle is one of the best pieces of backpacking/camping equipment I've ever bought.  Sooo much easier to pack (let alone carry) enough reading material now, especially for long trips.

Has anyone read Octavia Butler's Parable of the Sower?  If so, what did you think?  It sounds interesting but that's what I thought about Fledgling and that book made me feel like a paedophile.  I liked Kindred and I want to give Butler another chance, I'm just a bit afraid.


I finished Who Fears Death by Okorafor last week, but still can't quite figure out what to say about it.  It's about a bi-racial female in post-apocalyptic Sudan.   The first half is her growing up as an outcast and beginning her training as a shaman/sorceress.  The second half is her journeying across the desert to confront her evil sorcerer father, revenge her mother and hopefully end the racial genocide.  It starts out with minor magic realist elements then slowly adds in shamanic elements until the end where it's pure epic fantasy.

There's parts I really like; the ending is great and I like how it acknowledges that prejudice is as much the fault of the populace as it is of the rulers.  But there's parts that I really hate; the middle half of the book turns almost chick-lit when some of the girls are exploring their sexual freedom.  I know why the parts I don't like are there - and they make sense for what the author is trying to do and say (it's an anti-FGM statement).  It just didn't work for me.

It's a well-written book, and I really ought to like it more than I do.  I don't know why the things that bothered me seemed to matter so much.  Looking back, it seems so much less of a big deal as it seemed while I was reading it but I'm still rather unenthusiastic about the book as a whole.

This one fits in the categories: Meta, dealing with race, southern hemisphere, and Locus Recommended Reading List



Last Edited on: 3/9/11 6:58 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Amy
Date Posted: 3/9/2011 3:09 PM ET
Member Since: 3/11/2008
Posts: 1,716
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Well, I guess I will use Lady of the Sorrows for the romance category, then. Darn!

Melanti, what happened in Fledgeling that made you feel that way? Do I even want to know?

Date Posted: 3/9/2011 6:52 PM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2009
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I'm not sure how much I can say about Fledgling without spoiling it.  Amazon's product description does more alluding to events then actually mentioning them, though, so I might be saying too much.  I don't think I've spoiled anything major, but fair warning - you might want to skip this post.

Fledgling is about a 50 or so year old female vampire.  But, since vampires age more slowly than humans, she has the appearance of a 10 yr old and is still pre-pubescent.  She is amnesic - only remembering the events that have happened during the novel.  She's very innocent and vulnerable in that regard.  Also, as in most vampire stories, feeding is a very sexual experience for the donor. 

So, a person who is 10 in appearance, with no memory, vulnerable, being in sexual situations with some that are much older and trying to protect her.  Just... ew.  I comprehend that everything is with consent and she is chronologically 50+ yrs old, and I understand that it's her that's the predator, not them, but the whole situation just made me REALLY uncomfortable, especially with some of the conversations that took place.  If she'd been 15 or 16 in appearance and past at least human puberty, or even if she had full memories of her 50+ years instead of just a couple of weeks worth, it wouldn't have bothered me. 

Looking at the reviews, her young appearance doesn't seem to bother most people.  Butler does emphasize the chronological age regularly, and that seems to be enough for most readers.  A lot of what she says about race, gender, family, etc is interesting.  Her take on vampires is certainly unique.  So, if anyone here is interested, your reaction may be very different than mine.



Last Edited on: 3/14/11 8:39 AM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 3/10/2011 6:16 AM ET
Member Since: 4/5/2010
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So... While I was on vacation last week I went on a book shopping spree. I'm hoping to use some for the fantasy or sci fi challenge. These are the ones I remember buying and I'll probably whatever I forgot when I get home.

Cast in Fury, Cast in Silence, and Cast in Chaos by Michelle Sagara (Chronicles of Elantra 4-6) I read 1-3 awhile ago but I was waiting for these to come out in Mass Market Paperback.

Total Eclipse By Rachel Caine (Weather Wardens 9 but I haven't read 8 yet)

Kell's Legend and Soul Stealers by Andy Remic ( The Clockwork Vampire Chronicles 1-2) I'm halfway through Kell's Legend and so far I'm amused.

Unholy Ghost, Unholy Magic, City of Ghosts, Personal Demons, Demon Inside and Demon Possessed by Stacia Kane (Downside Trilogy and Megan Chase Trilogy) I've already finished Unholy Ghost and I'm working on Unholy Magic.

The Affinity Bridge by George Mann

The Dame by R. A. Salvatore

Odd Hours by Dean Koontz

Rides a Dread Legion by Raymond E. Feist

The Hidden City by Michelle West

Soulless by Gail Carriger

Three Days to Dead and As Lie the Dead by Kelly Meding

The Blood Books Vol 1 by Tanya Huff

Twilight's Dawn by Anne Bishop

The Native Star M. K. Hobson

 

 



Last Edited on: 3/10/11 6:21 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 3/11/2011 12:49 PM ET
Member Since: 5/31/2009
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Cold Fire by Kate Elliott:  When I saw that one of my favorite fantasy authors had developed a new series beginning with this novel, I had to read it even though it was not scheduled for my fantasy challenge.  As inventive as she was for the Crown of Stars series, Elliott proves once again how prodigious and creative she can be. The narrator is Catherine, known as Cat, whose adventures begin with her removal from the home of her "uncle and aunt." The plot thickens when her betrothed discovers that she is not who either of them believe she is. He is ordered to execute her so he can be free to marry the real daughter, Cat's best friend, Beatrice. As Cat escapes again and again from those who would end her life she finds kin allies in the spirit world including a brother who exists there as a saber tooth cat.   I must say that I truly enjoyed this read and look forward to the sequel, Cold Fire.

Catherine, Called Birdy by Karen Cushan (Newbery Award winner):  There must be something of a child in me to so enjoy this book written in the form of Catherine's diary or maybe it's the wit and talent of the author who makes this young woman sound lke children I know and love.  I chuckle again and again as I read about Catherine's efforts to avoid betrothal!  Cushman write about this period for young girls so that they can in some way understand how life must have been for them.  Cathernine, the girl presented in this novel is a mischievous  tomboy in every sense of the word.  A worthwhile read indeed.

Finish A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle  (Read a novel that ties in with some other medium (i.e. a movie, TV series, video game, etc.):  This Newbery Award winning classic is an enchanting read.  I loved the fact that Meg was the true hero.  Of course, she had some help from Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which, her father, and Calvin, a new friend.  However, one is not certain that evil is really defeated leaving the door open for another novel.    

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare:  Once again I found an author that leads me away from my challenge choices.  This is supposed to be a very good read and my copy has arrived from the library.  Maybe I'll change one of my challenge books.



Last Edited on: 3/29/11 6:13 PM ET - Total times edited: 13
Amy
Date Posted: 3/12/2011 12:12 AM ET
Member Since: 3/11/2008
Posts: 1,716
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Okay, I'm almost done with Lady of the Sorrows and it's turning out to be, surprisingly, enjoyable. From the reviews here and on Amazon, I expected it to be boring throughout.

I'm kind of relating it to the Kushiel series insofar as a good chunk of the beginning doesn't hold a lot of substance and can seem boring. But suddenly, the tone changes and you're thrown into a really good, enthralling story.

I'll be reading the third book in this series, The Battle of Evernight, even though most reviewers on this site and Amazon are not good. I'm hoping I'll be surprised again.

Also, let it be known that this series involves the world of Faerie, which I absolutely love and so I'm pretty sure that has colored my preception of it a little. But only a little. ;)

Melanti, Fledgling sounds really interesting, but I can see why it made you feel uncomfortable. I might just take you up on that offer. I need to think about, though. I have plenty of books to keep me busy.

 

Date Posted: 3/12/2011 9:54 AM ET
Member Since: 4/5/2010
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Just finished Unholy Magic by Stacia Kane

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