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Topic: 2013 Fantasy Challenge -- Discussion

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Date Posted: 6/9/2013 9:39 AM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2009
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Thanks for the info on Hotel Under the Sand

I'm definitely going to continue with Sayers.  I've already started Clouds of Witness and bought Strong Poison when it was on sale a couple of days ago.  Not sure I'll be able to make my way up to Gaudy Night by the end of the year, but I'm certainly going to try!

Date Posted: 7/19/2013 10:07 PM ET
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I finished my second book for the Bluebeard retellings category.   Helen Oyeyemi's Mr. Fox

I admit I'm baffled by it.  It's sort of a love triangle between a writer, his imaginary muse, and his wife, but it's mostly told in short stories...  I think the short stories are meant to be some sort of game? battle? conversation? between the writer and the muse about violence towards women in literature.  But I just don't get it at all!

And the only reason I got as far in figuring out what I did is that I read the back of the book.  I feel like I need an extra dozen or two IQ points to even begin to understand this crazy book.

So that's 1 for 3 for Oyeyemi.  I really liked her Icarus Girl, then her Opposite House was a bit confusing but alright, and now this one which is just outright bizarre and not at all worth the time to figure it out properly.  I have her White is for Witching on my wishlist and have it listed for this challenge.  I'm rethinking that at this point!

Date Posted: 10/14/2013 11:26 AM ET
Member Since: 3/11/2008
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I've been MIA for awhile now, but I just wanted to pop into say that I've really enjoyed reading anthologies this year. It has exposed me to so many new authors and new fantasy sub-genres.

Right now, I've completed six books toward the 2013 challenge, but I'm going to try to squeeze in a few more before the end of the year.

Also, I wanted to let y'all know that back in May, I met Jacqueline Carey!! I have a photo that I need to post and I'll do that soon.


Date Posted: 10/15/2013 7:01 PM ET
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I'm glad you're enjoying yourself, Amy. I noticed a couple of people doing an "anthologies" category so you're in good company.

The challenge has turned out to be a bit harder than I thought it was going to be, but that may just be the categories I chose.  I actually gave up on a couple of categories I wanted to do cause I couldn't find enough books!

I'm two books shy of finishing the Overachievers version, now that I've swapped out the categories.

I just have Catherynne Valente's latest book, The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two, and Game of Kings by Dorothy Dunnett left to go, and then I'm done.  

I'm about half done with The Girl Who Soared.... and it's very good so far! (As expected.)

For the "Books that inspired Bujold" category, I started the Hornblower Series with Beat to Quarters.  It was more interesting than I expected but I didn't see the strong influences like I did with the Sayers novels.  I think she took her cues as much from the structure of the series as from the characters, and that's not something I'd be able to see just by reading a single book.   And while I liked it more than I thought I would, it's not a series that I'm desperate to read more of right away.

Last Edited on: 10/15/13 7:02 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 11/3/2013 1:32 PM ET
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As promised, here is a pic of me and Jacqueline Carey. Overall, she seemed really mellow.


Date Posted: 11/21/2013 5:16 PM ET
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It's been really quiet here this year.  Here it is the end of November and we've barely hit the second page.

Do you guys want another challenge for next year? 

If so, what format?  Something more straightforward like the 2010/2011 challenge?  (Or like the current SF challenge?)

Date Posted: 11/21/2013 6:30 PM ET
Member Since: 3/9/2009
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I haven't been posting anything to any of challenge discussion threads but I've reading A LOT for the challenges I've entered.  I would love another challenge.  Any format that is put together would be fine with me. 

Date Posted: 11/22/2013 1:41 AM ET
Member Since: 10/4/2010
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I really enjoyed the format of this year's challenge. There was plenty of room for personal choice and preference. In some of the previous years' challenges, the format looked to me a little too much like "studying" the genre, which I'm not interested in doing. 

Last Edited on: 11/22/13 1:42 AM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 11/22/2013 12:54 PM ET
Member Since: 1/10/2007
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If you are putting a Challenge together, thank you very much!  Mt. TBR has a lot of fantasy on it and I like fitting the books into the lists.  (Hmmm...what category does THIS book fint into?)

Looking forward to next year!

Date Posted: 11/22/2013 2:07 PM ET
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Kristin, I get what you mean about not wanting to study the genre, though I do miss some of the old discussions we had of recommendations for the more obscure sub-genre.  Though I suppose the lack of talking isn't necissarially to do with this year's format -- I'm as guilty as anyone else of spending more and more time on alternate websites and reading less fantasy...

We could reuse this year's format as well, but I used up most my ideas putting together this year's version.

I could probably come up with one or two new categories and a few themes but most of the categories would have to be repeated... Though I guess with as flexible the challenge is, you could have the same categories/themes several years in a row and not have the same challenge twice.

Does anyone else have an opinion?  This year's pretty flexible format with just a couple of updates or something more straightforward?  


Date Posted: 11/28/2013 12:02 AM ET
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This year's format was good but could we not repeat the "inspired by" category?  While I still have more than a few to fill in, it's the one category I know I won't be able to complete.

Date Posted: 11/29/2013 2:12 PM ET
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Oh, but "Inspired by" was my absolute favorite category this year!  (even if it's the only one that I haven't completely finished yet) And since I'm writing the challenge, one of the perks is writing the challenge around the books I want to read.  (I'm selfish like that...)  

I was thinking about throwing out the Literary Theme category, since it's my least favorite, but when I looked to see what everyone had put on their list, it seemed to be one of the more popular ones, so it definitely stays!  


What I was thinking about doing is leaving the existing categories (maybe tweaking some of them a bit), adding a couple of categories,  but leaving the number of categories/themes required the same - so if if you do the full challenge, you'd be able to skip your two least favorite categories.  (this might bug the "completionists" among us, though)

The other option would be to try to condense some of the categories -- keep the popular themes and try to fit them into some other category.  For instance, with Structure, I think most everyone chose "anthologies" so maybe we could keep that and toss out the rest of the themes.

If we did that, I could see taking my favorite theme out of the "Inspired by" category and meshing it into the authors category.

Date Posted: 11/29/2013 3:41 PM ET
Member Since: 10/4/2010
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I'm not entirerly sure I'll have the time to participate next year, but I'll put in my 2 cents just in case..smiley

I'm thinking that, since I read the first book of 5 different series this year (for the "First/Foundational" category), it would be nice if there were a category next year that allowed us to finished some of those series we started (or at least read the next 1 or 2 books in the series). Don't know if others are in the same boat...?

I also hope the "new-to-you authors" will stay!

Date Posted: 11/29/2013 5:09 PM ET
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New-to-you authors definitly has to stay. I haven't counted but I"m pretty sure it was the single most popular category this year!

In fact, I was thinking of making a "new" category - new releases, new (debut) authors, new-to-you authors, new-to-you series, etc... but then what would I put in the "authors" cagegory? 


I'll see if I can think of something for the second/third/etc books in a series.  I am definitely going to remove the "only one book per series per theme" rule, and that should help on that front at least a little bit.  

Maybe a "Old" category?  Old favorite authors, already started series, Old purchases (been on TBR awhile) etc?  


Hm. Between "Old Favorite Authors" and "New-to-Me Authors" - that might cover everything everyone used in the "Authors" category this year.  So it might be a possiblity...  (I'm doing my best not to take out any theme that anyone used or expressed interest in... )

Date Posted: 11/29/2013 6:25 PM ET
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I like the idea of an "Old" category and a "New: category.  In the old category, how about an older than you section-books written before you were born.  I also enjoy the awards category and hope you will keep it.

Date Posted: 11/29/2013 6:33 PM ET
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Ooh, good idea!  I was trying to figure out a "old" category based on publication date, but I didn't want to pick an arbitrary decade.  


Yep, I'm going to keep at least the "winners/nominees of the same awards" and "winners/nominees from the same year"...  No one used any of the other 4 options though, so those are fair game for being changed if I can think of something better.

Date Posted: 12/10/2013 7:02 PM ET
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I combined some categories and created some new ones... Here's my current rough draft.  

Have I left off anything anyone really wanted to do? Does anyone see any categories that look impossible/boring?   Speak now or hold your peace for the next year!

(I was very tempted to do a "villians" category, since it seemed to fit in well with heros and sidekicks, but I couldn't come up with enough ideas...


Heroes themes
disabled,  disfigured or chronically ill
particular talent (magic user, musical talent, dancing, can wiggle ears, etc)
stage in life (YA, college age, career oriented, midlife crisis, etc.)

Sidekicks themes
Many - Ensemble Cast
None - One protagonist 
Signifigant Other - BF/GF/Spouse/etc.
Work Related (Employee/Employer/Coworker)

Setting Themes
The current world (A recognizable modern earth)
An altered past (Historical, steampunk, alternate history, etc)
An altered future (post-apocalyptic, future dystopian, future science fantasy, etc)
Political Climate (War time, post-war, pre-war tensions, etc)
Environment (near oceans, deserts, mountains, forests, etc)
Other (Cities, circuses, labyrinths, schools, manor houses, ranches, etc)

Magic Themes
Open - Everyone Knows about magic
Hidden - Magic is kept secret
Plain Sight - Magic is seen but not recognized as such
Formalized - Schools/apprenticeships/wizard councils 
Nonexistent - No magic
Multiple, separate magic systems

The "New" Theme
New releases
New authors - Début book by an author
New-to-you authors
New-to-you series
New Favorites (Books you'd rate 5/5 or 10/10 stars)
First/foundational books in any sub-genres or fantasy as a whole

The "Old" Theme
Old fogies (Published before you were born)
Old purchases (been on your TBR for awhile) 
Old favorite authors
Series in progress
Old favorite books (rereads!) 
Nostalgia - Books by authors you haven't read in a long time

Literary theme
Coming of Age
Man vs. Self
Man vs. God
Good vs. Evil
Change vs. Tradition
Fate vs. Free Will

Lists Galore!
Winners/Nominees of the same awards
Winners/Nominees of any award from same year
Books from authors who won the same career based award (Best new author, lifetime achievement, etc)
Books on same published or posted list
Books that inspired an author/Books that were inspired by an author
Books recommended or reviewed by a particular author, blogger, friend, or acquaintance

Unrelated Themes
Part of same sub-genre
Oddities (genre books by non-genre authors, non-genre books by genre authors, anthologies by authors who usually write novels, etc)
Anthology, Collection, or Omnibus
Published in same year or decade
Books in translation

Date Posted: 12/11/2013 8:27 PM ET
Member Since: 3/9/2009
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Melanti, thanks for creating next year's challenge.  Lots of great categories!

Date Posted: 12/12/2013 11:29 PM ET
Member Since: 10/4/2010
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I like it! Great adaptation of this year's challenge!

Date Posted: 12/15/2013 4:07 PM ET
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Okay, the new challenge is posted!  

I hope it shows up okay for everyone considering my laptop died and all I have to access the internet is just a tablet!  Makes for some awkward copy/pasting to say the least.