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And I feel similarly about Tolkien in the context of the fantasy genre. But if you want to understand how the genre developed and came to be as it is today, it would be foolish to ignore him. In that moment, that was what I wanted: simple morality where good eventually triumphs, and I was happy to lose myself in the Middle Earth when the myriad complexities of the world I lived in felt overwhelmingly cruel.

It might not have. No one can know.

And maybe what we owe him is equal parts honor and a kick in the pants, for both the good and the ill in his work. But suggesting we owe him nothing strikes me as either incredibly naive or willfully childish. Should you read Tolkien? What do you hope to get out of it? Enjoying a thing need not be the same as studying it, and studying the thing itself is not the same as studying its history. It does, though, lead me to the following consideration:.

Understanding how the past failed the present can help the present choose how to shape the future. But a survey course in fantasy literature? It should look at alternate influences, and it should look at subgenres, and it should look at those works which have grand merits on their own yet did not spawn a legacy of imitations in the way that the tentpoles did.

That list is going to be different for everyone. But the wonderful thing is, it need never be a finished list.


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As readers, we can always keep doing better, reading more broadly, exposing ourselves to new influences. So when it comes to the idea of Tolkien and fantasy canon and all of that, what I really come down to, I guess, is this: Build your own canon. I have been woefully neglectful of this blog over the past six months! Call it a hibernation. What have I been up to? Hardcovers are shiny and impressive, but mass market paperbacks have always been my dear friends.


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  • You can see a video of me unboxing my author copies and talking a little bit about why I think mass markets are so great, especially for genre books, over on Facebook. Enter anyway! The WordPress platform offers a lot more flexibility in display and formatting, which would be useful. I promise to be a more dedicated blogger as we move into the sunny seasons. As promised! Do yourself a favor and check some of these out! We are also one month out from my 33rd birthday. So this seems like an awesome excuse to say….

    Totally doable, I think! Why do I want this? It would help make my birthday super-awesome. But by all means, purchase from your favorite local indie store before dropping that review on the Big A. Now go encourage someone else to read it and leave a review. Go forth and review! Io Saturnalia , friends! Like this: Like Loading One of my favorite scenes is the doggerel poetry game that Autronius Felix plays with Urbanus, a character who is designed as sort of a mix between Catullus and Ovid: They then move on to skewering particular targets — political opponents of the Popularists.

    Your sons can read a book with a female protagonist. I promise. So I said I wanted to blog more, and Twitter has, this week, given me an opportunity. Colde clengez adoun, cloudez vplyften,. Bryddez busken to bylde, and bremlych syngen. And blossumez bolne to blowe. Happy spring! Roar in particular is someone whose feels I feel. A gripping good read.

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    I love the way that Lackey explores magic in so many different ways, and here, she envisions a post-apocalyptic world where magic has re-emerged — and with it, all the mythic monsters from legends across the globe. I listened to this one on audio and am looking forward to enjoying the rest of the series. I particularly love that Miller is willing to explore heroines outside of the stereotypical debutante mold — reminiscent of Madeline Hunter and Lisa Kleypas. Tyrant , by Stephen Greenblatt : Greenblatt delivers a searing indictment of the Trump regime and all those who enabled its rise — without once directly making mention of modern politics.

    The commentary is certainly there, though, for those with eyes to see. The Poppy War , by R. Kuang : Enthralling but brutal. This is a tough read, but well worth it.

    Books by Tim Morgan (Author of Life After Growth)

    The Belles , by Dhonielle Clayton : Pretty in pink with a lot of potential. And this book is gorgeously rendered with full Rococo splendor. The world-building brings up a lot of interesting and innovative uses of magic, as well as exploring the political and cultural implications of a world that has allowed itself to become so terribly reliant on the magic of a very few individuals.

    The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs , by Steve Brusatte : This was a delightful return to paleontology for someone who was once a dinosaur-obsessed kid. And yes, he does come down very firmly on that point — not that birds evolved from dinosaurs, but that birds are literally dinosaurs, if a specific and somewhat odd subset of them, the way that marsupials are a specific and somewhat odd subset of mammals.

    Overall, this book reminded me of what joy there is in studying and imagining these creatures who once owned our world. The language is gorgeous and inundating. And Circe herself is a magnificent character, so very real and understandable. Her loneliness is palpable.


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    • I ached with her through so much of this story. But her strength is formidable as well, and her vengeance glorious.

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      I listened to this on audio, and it was magnificent. License to Quill , by Jacopo della Quercia : This book was utterly bonkers, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. Also Medicis, because why not? I think Billy Shakes would approve. The world is full and detailed: Silasta feels like a real city, with shades of Rome, London, or Tenochtitlan, yet entirely itself.

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      Jovan and Kalina are compelling protagonists, each with glorious strengths and touching vulnerabilities. I greatly enjoyed this and look forward to continuing the series! James has written a dark and captivating tale with strong characters and a fascinating central struggle. Heroine Complex , by Sarah Kuhn : Imaginative and exciting! I recommend this whole series for the full effect.

      Elanna is a heroine to really — dare I say it? It lacks the epic scope and moral complexity of MoA. This book has strong characters and a very clear, straightforward story. I look forward to the next installment. Cinder , by Marissa Meyer : There are a lot of fairy tale retellings out there, but the Lunar Chronicles series has, for my money, the most inventive and compelling reworking of familiar themes. And a mechanic.

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      Her glass slipper is a cybernetic foot. Amazon Storybuilder is a cloudbased writing tool from Amazon Studios that can be used to create stories for Movies or TV. Amazon Storybuilder uses notecards to represent a single beat or event in a story, just as screenwriters have for years used actual physical notecards to represent story beats on corkboards around the world.

      This is a companion tool that Amazon released with Storywriter, and then never told anyone about. You could use it to lay out a story on virtual corkboards, and it too is shutting down at the end if June.