Sunday Status Update: July 14, 2013

This week, we hear from Pug the Magician in an open letter against his persecutors.

fantasy and science fiction book reviews Pug: This week I was surprised and disappointed to learn that, once again, my peers in the magical community seem to find it impossible to look past simple appearances. I had looked for more discernment from magicians, but apparently all sorts of childish cretins are studying the arcane arts these days. One would think that my achievements would accord me a degree of respect. As it seems otherwise, let me be adult about this and say that yes, thank you, I am aware that “Pug” also refers to a breed of small, dopey-looking dogs. I also know that “Milamber” is generally considered a “cooler” name (or at least “not so noxiously awful” as some of  you chose to put it). However, Pug is the name with which I was born, and it is the one I choose to use. I’ll thank you to respect my wishes and stop badgering me over the issue. Also, please stop sending me the dog calendars. Especially the ones with my face superimposed over the dogs’. Those are creepy.

fantasy and science fiction book reviews Kat: I’ve been catching up with Miles Vorkosigan this week. I knocked off Brothers in ArmsMirror Dance, and Cetaganda. There is some debate about which order these books should be read and I now find myself wishing I had followed the author’s advice and started reading them in order of internal chronology rather than publication order or by the order presented in the Baen omnibus editions. I will do that for the rest of the books. Before I started reading this series a few weeks ago, it had been years since I’d read Lois McMaster Bujold, but now I’m remembering why I enjoy her stories so much. She’s got a great imagination, creates wonderful characters, and has a perfect sense of comedic timing.

fantasy and science fiction book reviews Marion: I have finally settled down to read The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch. Once I got past the expectation of a Scottish castle and a kilt (just kidding, I did read the reviews,) I am thoroughly enjoying this vividly realized caper-fantasy. I am also finishing up the reading for the writers conference I am attending at the end of the month. In previous years, I have been the only science fiction or fantasy writer in my group and had to fight for respect; this year in addition to my science fiction offering we have a straight up Big Planet novel, an urban fantasy with scientific grace notes, a techno-thriller and an historical piece set in the end days of the Roman empire, with a character who communicates with animals. It feels like home!

fantasy and science fiction book reviews Terry: I’ve spent the small portion of the week I could wrench away from work reading The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch (a reread) and Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones (a first read). Both are so good that I’ve been wrenching away more time than I ought!

fantasy and science fiction book reviews Tim: This week, I proceeded with my LEGEND OF DRIZZT reread, moving through The Crystal Shard and Streams of Silver before work caught up with me and slowed my pace. I’m preparing reviews. Also, following my pleasant time reading Robert Holdstock‘s Lavondyss, I picked up one of his other novels, Where Time Winds Blow. I’ve only just started it, so there’s not much to say on content, but I just have to gush over the cover a little bit: Ron Walotski’s jacket art couldn’t be more “golden age sci/fi.” It gives me nerdy joy.

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TIM SCHEIDLER, who's been with us since June 2011, holds a Master's Degree in Popular Literature from Trinity College Dublin. Tim enjoys many authors, but particularly loves J.R.R. Tolkien, Robin Hobb, George R.R. Martin, Neil Gaiman, and Susanna Clarke. When he’s not reading, Tim enjoys traveling, playing music, writing in any shape or form, and pretending he's an athlete.

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  1. Tizz /

    Marion, I hope you’ll report back on your writers’ conference! The participants sound interesting — I’ve been trying to guess who they are and what the books might be!

  2. Brad Hawley /

    This week’s been so busy, I didn’t get my update in on time. Not only that, but I didn’t get to post my review of Ron Marz’s WITCHBLADE. In that review, I talk about the frequent failure of presenting fully-realized female characters in both comics and the pulp tradition (from which so much contemporary SFF originates). WITCHBLADE exaggerates this issue by the clear conflict between the writing and the art. So, even if you aren’t interested in comics or WITCHBLADE, please check out my review this Friday: I hope you find it to be relevant to discussions of feminism and SFF in general.

    This week I read Maltese Falcon and started The Big Sleep (both for my Crime Fiction course), and I found just enough time to read another ELRIC story. In comics, I read a few Harvey Pekar stories, a few Hawkeye issues, and a few old R. Crumb “Mr. Natural” stories. I also randomly found a great HAWKMAN comic. It’s a single issue written by Ed Brubaker about HAWKMAN’s past. It is written in the P.I. mode with references to THE MALTESE FALCON. It was merely a coincidence that I found it the same day I was teaching the novel!

    Tbat’s about it.

  3. N Ferreiro /

    If you thought Marz´s run had this problem, I wonder what you thought about what came before.

  4. Brad Hawley /

    Oh, my, I didn’t convey my point very well. I apologize. I LOVE Ron Marz’s run on Witchblade and Artifacts. I thought that his writing Sara as such a strong female character really shows how wonderful that character is. I think her origin story and the entire set-up of the series is absolutely brilliant (which the original writers came up with, correct?). I think the pin-up art contrasts greatly with his writing and that it’s the CONTRAST between Marz’s writing and the art that makes for such an interesting study. I really like it when he works with an artist who doesn’t draw Sara as a pin-up model (whether she’s dressed as a cop or as the Witchblade). When that happens, I think we get the type of visual and writing match we got in Buffy with Sarah Michelle Gellar dressed modestly and written by the brilliant Whedon.

    On a side note: I’m not a prude. I do find much of the pin-up art well-done and much of it is absolutely beautiful I think. I just think that what it represents in our culture as part of the pulp tradition and its pervasiveness is the real problem. Intellectually, I’m a feminist. But, I’m a guy who grew up in this culture. So I often look at the comic and think: “Damn, She’s Hot!” I just like to think about why I have that response (other than the, um, you know, physical ones, which please nobody explain) and what the implications are of creating art like that so steadily in our culture.

    Thanks for your message N.F. I hope my answer here is clearer. Are you also a Witchblade fan?(I’m going back and reading the old stuff, too, by the way)

    • N Ferreiro /

      I´m indeed a fan of Marz´s run (and now Seely). I wasn´t of what came before though, story just run in circles (IMHO), and wasn´t a fan of the art, both by the witchblade bikini and because almost all females looked hot by having gone through surgery, rather than natural. Only went back because I loved Marz´s Scion in Crossgen, so I gave it a chance, and now I follow all the series (I´m really behind with The Darkness though).

  5. Brad Hawley /

    For the most part, in my reviews of comics, I only take the time to write about the ones I love. Life’s too short for me to tell you about the comics I don’t like. However, at times I’m interested in certain odd aspects that bother me in comics that I still love (in other words, cultural criticism seems important to me at times). All the comics I review are in the 4-5 star range (out of 5 stars). I’ll be doing a series of columns in the next three weeks: I’ve written one on Marz’s first volume of Witchblade, one on his second volume, and one on Garth Ennis’s first volume of The Darkness.

  6. Kat–I think Mirror Dance is probably the best of Vorkosigan Saga,in part because of how she uses the title as a theme and also because it really explores the psychology of the clone character Mark.

  7. Tizz, one participant is named Mary Burns and it looks like she independently published a novel called “J: The Woman Who Wrote the Bible.” I had not heard of it before. The others (except for one) are unpublished… or would the polite term be “pre-published?”

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