I thought yesterday’s story was the final nominee, but I was wrong, there’s another short story, As the Last I May Know by S. L. Huang, and it has to be a sign of the times that the story I almost forgot to review is… good?Continue reading “Reading the Hugos (2020) As the Last I May Know”
This is the final nominee (Disregard that, I actually forgot not just to review another one, but actually to read it! There’s still one more story left) for this year’s short story Hugo Awards, A Catalog of Storms, by Fran Wilde. If you were expecting a roaring end to this review series, you are going to be disappointed.
Fran Wilde wrote years ago one of the few Hugo stories I actually liked, mostly due to its raw, angry energy and somewhat autobiographical content, but A Catalog of Storms has none of those things as far as I can see. To me, it feels like a by-the-book Hugo finalists: wandering, dreamy, with florid language, oozing with magic realism, and with barely any plot or real tension.Continue reading “Reading the Hugos (2020): A Catalog of Storms”
The Hugo season of science fiction & fantasy is on, so what better way to start than by reviewing something that isn’t a finalist, that I actually enjoyed, and that none of you have even heard about?Continue reading “Review: The Long Long Long Long rescue, by Robert Zoltan.”
As many of you who follow this blog, I came across this yesterday. Naturally, the general objection was about calling out a dead man while profiting from his name and all that.
(click on the tweet to see the image and see what I’m talking about)
Well, sure, but before my mind was even able to process that, what struck me the most was how uncomfortably written the entire thing is (or, at least, the first paragraph.) And I don’t mean typos, grammar errors, and such, but something that is deeper and harder to explain but is quintaessentially modern.Continue reading “A short note on the literary offenses of modern writing”
The Spring issue of the All-New Cirsova Magazine of Thrilling Adventure and Daring Suspense is out now!
The big star of the spring issue, of course, is the brand-new Tarzan story Young Tarzan and the Mysterious She, by Edgar Rice Burroughs and Michael Tierney. Based on a fragment […]
There’s a piece of forgotten literary history there (the Tarzan story) and just the cover of the magazine is probably worth the price, but I also have a story there, “The Elephant Idol,” so you might want to check it out. And by might I mean should. How many times have you read a story with a blind protagonist and not a single visual reference or visual descriptions in the entire text?
For those interested in background, creative work, the initial inspiration for the story was a not-so-subtle scene situation from the video game Thief (Gold,) the map The Song of the Caverns, to be precise, which is about the thieving protagonist getting into an opera house through a cavern (and I was aware that Cirsova’s editor is a great Thief fan, so this was
a great way to subconsciously manipulate him into buying it something I guessed he might enjoy.)
I know not exactly from where, although I believe it came as I was thinking about what makes a first-person narration truly tick or not and about the descriptive excesses of some modern writing, but I got the fancy idea of writing a story with a blind protagonist, almost as a challenge. It was a risky and experimental move because I chose to write it in third-person, with a free yet at the same time limited narrator tied to the character’s senses, but I believe it worked well in the end. That’s something for the readers to decide, though.
I honestly had no idea of where the story would lead from there, and at first my idea was to make it somewhat humorous, but as usually happens in my writing, it evolved into horror as everything is thrown into The Warp, which is probably for the better and it also gave me the option to play around with the peculiar situation of a character whose handicap, at least at first, actually helps him because it shields him from what is going on around him.
You can pick out a skilled painter or draftsman because they keep their eyes on the canvas or paper without having to constantly check every line they draw by comparing it to the model or original image, or having to look up, again and again, pictures of what they have to draw on google images. They trust their instincts and skill, and their lines are precise, and they have developed the necessary muscle memory that allows them to be skillful artists.
All the arts have that, a combination of skill, knowledge, and automatism that baffles the uninitiated. It’s mostly years of experience and practice. Well, I said all the arts, except writing apparently. There doesn’t seem to be a writing equivalent for that process of learning the fundamentals that other arts have, like painting has color, tone, and values, while draftsmanship is mostly line, shadow, and perspective.
I don’t feel like writing a story today so I’ll make a post on writing. This post will pull together different issues I have hinted or referenced in other posts, focusing on what I believe has become a serious problem in fiction literature, especially what is known as ‘genre writing’: the death of the narrator. I blame what is known as Deep Point of View, although perhaps a new term would be needed for what I will talk about, perhaps Character-Only Narrative, but Deep POV will have to do because nobody would know what I’m talking about if I start talking about CON.
Among all the lists that tell you exactly how many “types of story” exist, I like this one about the Seven Quests. No, I don’t mean the famous The Seven Basic Plots but this one in this more obscure, plain, and unsourced website: Love, Money, Power, Glory, Revenge, Survival, and Self. I don’t know the source behind it, and I don’t think it’s an exhaustive list —I can think of two other important motivations— but it’s useful, simple, and surprisingly powerful.
What I like about that list is that it actually focuses on human emotions and motivations, not abstract Jungian narratives like “Killing the Monster.” After all, what does that even mean? Killing it, sure,… but for what? Because you want to loot his treasure, revenge, or simple survival? It changes the story quite a lot whether the motivation of our hero is one or the other, and it also highlights the pitfalls of each motivation, its dark side if you will (Love -> Jealousy, Money -> Greed, Power/Glory -> Arrogance & Wrath, Revenge -> Obsession & Moral downfall, Survival ->? (this one is morally neutral as I will explain later.)
The 2018 Hugo nominees have been announced. Ahh, the most prestigious Award in the most marvelous genres of fiction! Science, Fantasy, the marvel of cutting-edge technology, future societies, mystery, wonder, and… No, not really. This is the Hugos we are talking about. You won’t find much of that there.
Going in somewhat blind and not knowing what to expect, a year ago I reviewed the 2017 short-story finalists, and with one or two exceptions, they were all pretty bad, and hardly science fiction or fantasy at all. I don’t expect much of a difference this year, but I have skimmed the stories and, well, there may be a glimmer of hope, but, really, don’t get your hopes up — the bar was set too low anyway.
One of the most known quotes from the horror writer H. P. Lovecraft is
The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown. These facts few psychologists will dispute, and their admitted truth must establish for all time the genuineness and dignity of the weirdly horrible tale as a literary form.
from his Supernatural Horror in Literature (1927.) Many people recognize it, and it’s a thought attributed to him even though the next sentence states he thought it was (or wanted to present it as such) common knowledge: “These facts few psychologists will dispute.” He didn’t believe he was discovering anything new.
In any event, I believe I may have stumbled upon Lovecraft’s inspiration for his famous statement.