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Topic: 2013 Fantasy Challenge -- Discussion

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Subject: 2013 Fantasy Challenge -- Discussion
Date Posted: 12/8/2012 11:28 PM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2009
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Welcome to the 2013 Challenge discussion.  LISTS ONLY THREAD

The format is drastically different than the other challenges we've done so far, so feel free to ask for clarification on anything you're unsure of.

Don't panic at the sheer number of options.  Unless you're the fastest reader in the world, I don't think it would be possible to fill all of the themes.  There's so many themes in order to give a lot of things to choose from.

I tried to design this challenge so that it can be as easy or as hard as you want it to be.  Most of the categories have some easier themes and some harder ones.  For instance, on the character based section, an easier choice would be the a talent of magic users and a harder choice would be disfigured/disabled characters.

I also tried to make it customizable to your reading tastes.  If you really want to read a lot of urban fantasy, you could use a character's occupation of "detective", setting element of "big cities", books inspired by Charles de Lint or Laurel K. Hamilton or Anne Rice, etc and fill half of the challenge with them.  Hopefully, it'll let people use their TBRs if they want.

Feel free to take things at non-face value.  For instance, a long confusing dungeon crawl (like in House of Leaves) can count as a labyrinth.  Or Sookie Stackhouse's telepathy (especially in the earlier books) could count as a disability because it negatively affects her lfe and she thinks of it that way.

 

Since it's been so quiet around here the last few months, I'll set it up as one discussion thread for now.



Last Edited on: 12/8/12 11:31 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 12/9/2012 9:55 PM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
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Thanks for doing this! It's SO customizable I foresee lots of changing my mind on categories well into the year! ;)

Date Posted: 12/9/2012 10:41 PM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2009
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Changing my mind and getting to plan all over again is half the fun for me.

I can take an educated guess as to what I'll want to read in a few months, but really, I have no idea what I'll be interested in a few months from now, except for a few constants (Mythopoeic awards, etc).

Well, that and I'm not sure that there are enough books I'm interested in to fill a couple of my current selections (Labyrinths and Bluebeard retellings).

 



Last Edited on: 12/9/12 10:43 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Subject: Inspirational - Based off same fairytale - Bluebeard
Date Posted: 1/3/2013 2:33 PM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2009
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Just finished my first "Bluebeard" retelling - Bluebeard by Kurt Vonnegut.  I like Vonnegut in general.  He's flippant on the surface, but when you look deeper, he generally has something interesting and meaningful to say - though usually it's his life story over and over again.

This is one of his more serious ones -- there's not a joke per sentence like there is in Cat's Cradle or Slaughterhouse-Five.  It's still a satire and there's still plenty of humor, but it's not as much on the surface as it is in most of his others.
 
As a Bluebeard retelling, it's excellent.  There's no sci-fi or fantasy elements, but all the important aspects of the fairy tales are recognizable -- the relationships, the forbidden rooms and knowledge, the tragedy.
 
There's two Bluebeard retellings here - one of a teacher forbidding his students visit the Museum of Modern Art, and another of a painter who has something hidden in his barn.  And once you find out what's hidden in the barn and the story behind it, there's a big metaphor revealed and the book becomes even better than it was.
Date Posted: 1/6/2013 11:41 PM ET
Member Since: 3/9/2009
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My first book for this challenge was an anthology edited by Ellen Datlow-Naked City.  This was an urban fantasy/horror anthology with the old definition of urban fantasy-fantasy where the city itself defines the action and is a contributing character to the story.

As a collection the good stories vastly outnumber the meh.  None were unreadable and some like The Bricks of Gelecek by Matthew Kessel were outstanding.  I also enjoyed very much King Pole, Gallows Pole, Bottle Tree by Elizabeth Bear, Changes by Jim Butcher, The Duke of Riverside by Ellen Kushner, and Fairy Gifts by Patricia Briggs.

Date Posted: 1/7/2013 12:17 AM ET
Member Since: 10/4/2010
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Somehow, although I've been a reader for several decades, I've only recently discovered how much I really like fantasy. I really appreciate how accessible this year's challenge is for the "fledgling" fantasy reader. Thank you for setting it up! However, I am a little concerned that I have chosen to read several "first of a series" books because, of course, then there are all the rest of the series' books to read...I may never get off the couch again. And I have GOT to stop looking at other people's reading lists, as my own are growing impossibly long as a result! 

I am about 50 pages into Shadow and Claw and really liking it so far. 

 

Date Posted: 1/8/2013 6:59 AM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2009
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I'm glad the challenge is working for you.  Though these challenges are infamous for adding to TBR piles.

I've tried to read Shadow and Claw half a dozen times over the past couple of months.  I start it, really like it, then have to put it down to go do something and when I come back, end up picking something else to read instead.  I really do like it, so I don't know why I'm having such trouble reading it.

Date Posted: 1/14/2013 6:58 PM ET
Member Since: 4/5/2010
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I always want to read more than I actually get around to reading. I just finished reading Maze of Moonlight by Gael Baudino. 

 

 

Date Posted: 1/14/2013 10:43 PM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
Posts: 1,376
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How was that? I read her novel Dragonsword sometime in middle school and enjoyed it, but never got around to reading any more of her work. . . nor did I ever reread Dragonsword, so I really have no clear idea of what she's like as a writer now. ;)

Date Posted: 2/2/2013 7:36 PM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
Posts: 1,376
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Finally finished Moscow But Dreaming, by Ekaterina Sedia. It's going in my "Single Author Short Story Collections" category. I ended up disappointed overall, though there were three stories I absolutely loved. The full review is up at my review blog.

Amy
Date Posted: 2/12/2013 10:40 AM ET
Member Since: 3/11/2008
Posts: 1,716
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Hey guys, I just finished The Faery Reel. It is wishlisted, but my copy is damaged. I would be willing to send to someone as a freebie, just let me know if you're interested.

Date Posted: 3/5/2013 4:35 PM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2009
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How's the challenge treating everyone so far? 

I've been busily reading, but surprisingly little of what I've read so far has fit into any of my existing challenge categories.  I think I underestimated how hard this was going to be - or at least didn't successfully predict what I was going to read.

I recently finished Sexing the Cherry by Jeanette Winterson.  It's one of those poetry-like books with some really beautiful imagery.  For instance, she describes someone who's daydreaming as a mind having an affair behind its bodies back.  Or, she describes a map as being untrue, because, while it'll tell you how to get somewhere, the place you get to is never exactly what you expected or how you imagined it.  

Phoenixfalls - I think this is another one you'd like.

Date Posted: 3/5/2013 7:03 PM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
Posts: 1,376
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I haven't been reading much at all -- I've actually been writing in most of my free time, so I don't begrudge it. Much. But as a result I decided to downgrade to the lightest version of the challenge for this year, and I'm behind even on that. Ack!

I picked up a copy of Sexing the Cherry a while back. . . will have to push it up on the list, 'cause that does indeed sound like the sort of thing I'd like!

Date Posted: 3/24/2013 8:30 PM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
Posts: 1,376
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Just finished Point of Hopes, by Melissa Scott & Jill Barnett. It filled one of my "New to Me" Author slots. Overall, despite some technical flaws, I found it delightful. My full review is on my blog.

Date Posted: 3/26/2013 1:11 PM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2009
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I have to brag...

My library's book sale was last weekend, and I found some great things.  Jeanette Winterson, Salman Rushdie, a TON of Kage Baker, the Alice Hoffman book I'm going to need for my "Bluebeard Retellings" category...

And, it turns out my library got rid of its first edition copy of McKillip's The Night Gift.  Granted, it's an ex-library book so it has all the stamps, card pockets, etc on it, but I took off the plastic cover, and under it the dust jacket looks brand new!  I'm happy about it...  I'm only missing two books of hers now - the newest one and The House on Parchement Street.  (Though I wouldn't say no to a hardback copy of Stepping from the Shadows, instead of the beat up paperback copy I currently have.)

Now I just have to finish reading all of them.

Date Posted: 3/26/2013 1:57 PM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
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I hate you a little right now. My library book sale sucked balls. :(

But all that sounds AWESOME. Congrats!

Date Posted: 3/26/2013 2:43 PM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2009
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I really wanted to go ask the librarians if they knew what they were getting rid of.  But then I realized if they thought it was a mistake, and took it back, then I wouldn't be able to buy it...

 

Next year, I'll let you know before the booksale hits and you can come visit.  (That might be kind of risky though.  Two years ago, someone came in a few minutes after they opened and bought every single fantasy & sf book they had, with the exception of some Star Trek and Star Wars books.  I was sooo disappointed.)

Amy
Date Posted: 3/27/2013 3:51 PM ET
Member Since: 3/11/2008
Posts: 1,716
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I've actually really enjoyed reading the anthologies, I'm glad I picked that as one of my categories.

Songs of Love and Death was overall a really great read and if you've read the Kushiel series, you must must must get this book to read You and You Alone by Jacqueline Carey.



Last Edited on: 3/27/13 3:52 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 4/17/2013 1:34 PM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
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Finished A Great and Terrible Beauty, by Libba Bray, for my New-to-Me Authors category. It was both deeply problematic and incredibly formulaic. Pretty much the only thing positive I can say about it is that the prose is serviceable and nearly all the characters are female. (That second one is actually a pretty big positive, and the reason I gave it a shot even though I suspected I'd be disappointed.) Needless to say, I will not be continuing the series.

On the plus side, that's three books I can get rid of, to get a little breathing room in my overstocked bookshelves!

Date Posted: 4/23/2013 6:04 PM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2009
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I've been horrible about talking in the forums this year...
 
A few random updates -- just my favorites.
 
A couple of months ago, I read Eowyn Ivey's debut novel The Snow Child, and really enjoyed it.  It's a retelling of an obscure Russian folktale, about a childless couple in the early 1900's homesteading in Alaska, who meet a girl who may or may not be the child they built out of snow the night before.  It's one of the dual-belief books - where they never really confirm or deny if the girl actually exists.  I'm going to be rooting for it to be nominated for a Mythopoeic award, but I also just found out that it was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.  It was a lovely, lovely book, and I highly recommend it.  I'm going to move it from my "New to me" author category to the "Nominated in 2013" category.
 
Carol Berg's Flesh and Spirit/Breath and Bone duology (Mythopoeic Award winner of 2009) - Excellent, though they have to be read as one book.  There's barely a pause, let alone a resolution between the two volumes.  It's a solid character based epic fantasy, with a really fascinating magic system.  In some respects, it reminded me a lot of Bujold's The Curse of Chalion, though the prose wasn't nearly as good.
 
Isabel Allende'sThe House of the Spirits - one of the early magical realism books.  It's old enough and famous enough that I won't say too much about it other than its reputation is absolutely true.
 


Last Edited on: 4/24/13 12:27 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 4/23/2013 10:30 PM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
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Those all sound amazing. I have the Berg on my mountainous TBR, and have always intended to try Allende, but now I'll have to check out The Snow Child as well. ;)

Date Posted: 4/24/2013 2:32 PM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
Posts: 1,376
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Finished Ship of Souls, by Zetta Elliott, for my "New to Me" category. This was a book that I actually wish wasn't fantasy -- there was promise in the characters and the setting (Brooklyn), but the fantasy was the worst sort of cliched and hackneyed plot, complete with absolutely cringe-worthy dialogue. I wanted to like it, but I just really couldn't. My full review is here.

Date Posted: 6/1/2013 1:46 AM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
Posts: 1,376
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Read The Hotel Under the Sand, by Kage Baker for my "Mythopoeic Award Winners and Nominees" category. It had all of Baker's usual warmth, but ultimately I found it too insubstantial to really rave over. This is partly because YA and Middle Grade in general don't quite satisfy me, but still Baker's The Bird of the River is a YA novel with more substance, and I adored Catherynne Valente's The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, so it's partly just that The Hotel Under the Sand doesn't quite deliver what it ought. My full review is up at my blog.

Date Posted: 6/8/2013 1:19 PM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2009
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PhoenixFalls, 

Would The Hotel Under the Sand work for my "Innkeepers" category? (I'm having to stretch my definition to anyone who works in an inn/hotel/hostel or family of workers/owners who live there...)

I've had the same issue with Valente's Fairyland series - especially when I'm reading other Victorian style fairytale books.  They're just sooo good, that other books don't have a hope of competing! 

 

I'm enjoying my "books that inspired Bujold" category.  I just finished up the first Lord Peter mystery (Whose Body? (Lord Peter Wimsey, Bk 1) ) and loved it!  I can definitely see a bit of Miles Vorkosigan in Lord Peter, as well as some of Pym in Bunter.

Date Posted: 6/9/2013 2:48 AM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
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The Hotel Under the Sand should definitely work for that category, and even if it's slight it's still sweet and pleasant on a lazy afternoon.

I would've done a "books that inspired Bujold" category myself if I hadn't already been doing that the past few years. . . I already knew I loved Austen and Bronte, and I absolutely fell in love with Heyer and Sayers when I tried them in response to Bujold's dedication. . . all that's left is to read Dorothy Dunnett's Lymond Chronicles and the Horatio Hornblower novels. Glad you liked the first Wimsey novel! Are you going to continue the series? It really does just get better and better as you go along. . .

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