Book Analysis/review: “Law of the Wolves” and “Mortu and Kyrus in the White City.”

I mentioned in a previous post, and here they are, Schuyler Hernstrom’s latest two works, “The law of the Wolves,” a short story fable, and “Morty and Kyrus in the White City,” a sword & bikery novella with future installment already in-the-making, or at least planned out.

I’ll start with The Law of the Wolves, which is the shortest one, and one that won’t require me to sperg too much. Also, if you are a stingy asshat who can’t bother buying two books at 1$ each, I’d recommend this one first. Simpler, straightforward, shorter, and in a style underrepresented these days.

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The Seven Quests/Motivations and why we can’t have nice things

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.)

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Reading the Hugos (2018) Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience™

I’ll use this story as an example of the dilemma any prospective writer who aspires to a reputation among the Noble People will encounter. You can write a good story, one that will stand on its own merits, capable of being read by people from all around the world, but at the cost of (probably) being ignored, or you can add a layer of fashionable dogma that will impoverish your story, restrict its appeal, and reduce its longevity, but with the possible reward of social approval or a nomination.

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Reading the Hugos (2018): Introductory remarks

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.

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These foking fockers focking focked language again: on swearing and fiction.

Today is the Lord’s Day so I won’t engage in any posting of wicked and evil news for it is known that all journalists are servants of one devil or another, and reading their shrieking incantations for too long is a sure path to damnation and mental retardation. Instead, I’ll write about swearing in writing and the word fuck.

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Reading the Hugos: That Game We Played During the War, by Carrie Vaughn

That game we played during the war is one of the finalists for the Best Short Story category for this year Hugo Awards.

Recently after the war between the nations of Enith and Gaant ended —the Gaanthians being telepaths—, Calla, an Enithian nurse, goes to the nation of Gaant to see the wounded Major Vaark Lan, a Ganthian she had met during the war. Their relationship is slowly revealed, but the crux of it is that both had been each others’ prisoners during the war. Calla had been Lan’s nurse when he had been captured and, later, she had been a Gaantian prisoner under Lan’s supervision. During those two imprisonments, a peculiar bond between them was born, including the pastime of playing an odd version of chess.

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Reading the Hugos: Seasons of Glass and Iron, by Amal El-Mohtar

Seasons of Glass and Iron, first published on Uncanny Magazine (coincidentally, in the same issue that published Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies) by Amal El–Mohtar, is a Hugo finalist for the Best Short Story category (2017)

This short story shares similar themes and features with the other Hugo finalists already reviewed. The plot is an amalgam of two fairy tales, The Enchanted Pig and The Princess on the Glass Hill, adapted and reinterpreted through a feminist lens. And by feminist, I mean that there isn’t a single worthy man in the whole story and every evil thing mentioned there has been brought about by manly males doing man-things. Sure, there may exist good men —somewhere— perhaps in a distant and even more magical land, and the story explicitly mentions “bad men” so one can infer there may be good ones somewhere, but they are nowhere to be seen.

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