Ep. 9 – Ursula Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea

Tired of the whiz-banging razzamatazz of Fantasy in the modern world, we decided to cast our eyes back a ways to the unassuming adventures of Ged, a man alone amongst the deep waters of Earthsea, lost in contemplation and touched by a strange darkness.

In this episode we take to talking Magic, Taoism and the world of Ursula Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea. We happily find Ged a necessary bore but wonder why on Earthsea he doesn’t just settle down and fish his days away like we all dream we can. Still, too many wizards make staves a-clash is what they say.

Be forewarned, we leave no rock unnamed and no spoiler unspoiled.

And if you’re reading along or just hate surprises, next episode we’ll be reading from Ken Liu’s highly praised and debut novel The Grace of Kings.

Links: a hi-res map of Earthsea, a racist depiction of Earthsea, oh look another one, and just one more for fun , Harlan Ellison sounds like a bit of a jerk and yes I know he’s litigious af

Why Can’t We All Just Get Along? Believable Violence In Fantasy

One thing I’ve brought up in the podcast before is what is believable in a story and what’s not. Obviously in Fantasy there is a level of disbelief suspended so that the reader can enjoy fanciful tales of mages hurling lightning at each other’s trolls. It’s a given that the reader will go along with certain things so that they can enjoy the rest of it.

But what exactly should a Fantasy author ‘make up’ and what should they get right? Fantasy is going towards darker, more ‘realistic’ tones, where readers feel that the world’s environment is something more of a truthful depiction of ‘that time.’ Fantasy, after all, exists as a genre in a pan-medieval world that we’ve all agreed is the accepted Fantasy environment. There’s castles and knights and peasants, ploughs and saddles, crossbows, steel, parchment and all the rest of it which we all more or less know came from a period between 1000 and 1600 AD.

But I would say that this is an agreed-upon Fantasy version and not exactly drawn from history.

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Ep. 8 – Mark Lawrence’s The Prince of Thorns

This week we take a tipple from the cup of Mark Lawrence’s Prince of Thorns, the first book in his Broken Empire series. Come and bare silent witness to our camaraderie.

We go over and over Lawrence’s treatment of evil protagonists and find it lacking. We love the idea of an unmitigated badass to follow around, stuffing our mouths with anachronistic food stuffs as we watch the carnage unfold. We just don’t want to be stuck with a 14-year-old who keeps telling us about everything they did.

Warning – the road ahead is dark and dirty and full of spoilers.

Next episode’s novel will be Ursula Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea.

Links: Mark’s Twitter, also a post on his website that isn’t as cool as ours, a review of thorns (be sure to read the comments)

Fucking-As-Structure in Erotic Fanfic

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Now let’s get off on the right foot. I love me some erotica, some smut, some writing just to get you off. Whatever literary category it’s deemed to fall into. From Anaïs Nin to Sacher-Masoch to Sylvia Day, it’s all good fun. Especially when it’s fanfiction. That is, the suggested coupling between Galadriel and Gimli. The anatomical difficulties and challenges in blowing a wookie.

However I don’t like when one genre attempts to emulate the other. Anaïs Nin wrote in order to get herself and her cool French friends off. They’re stories of threesomes written in lyrical phrases designed to be both stylistically and thematically sexy at the same time; they were masturbatory in more ways than one. Pauline Réage, pseudonymous author of Story of O, wrote because her lover at the time said that women can’t write erotica. Sacher-Masoch wrote for different reasons completely.

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Ep. 7 – R.A. Salvatore’s The Crystal Shard

Tonight both our tavern and episode are jam-packed with changes and adventure – we welcome fan-fiction erotica historian Russ to the show to talk about the swashbuckling, genre-defining Crystal Shard by R.A. Salvatore. Dan talks about the collective nouns for goodly folk, and Mark offers gravelly insight into the evilest figure of the whole book – King Bruenor Battleaxe.

We talk about the challenges in translating DnD character sheets into stories, the difficulties in brewing tundra mead, racial attributes, stereotypes and why Cattie-Brie shouldn’t talk like a dwarf.

This episode contains spoilers.

Next episode’s book is Mark Lawrence’s debut novel Prince of Thorns.

Links: A frost-bitten outro, Erotic Fan Fic, Salvatore Interview, Gene Wolf – Fifth Head of Cerberus, Raunig – Dividuum: Machinic Capitalism & Molecular Revolution

Ep. 6 – Jim Butcher’s Storm Front

Harry is a wizard, a lover, a fighter, a private eye and a dick.

This week we wet our beaks with Storm Front, the first in Jim Butcher’s long-running urban fantasy series The Dresden Files. In this episode we get talking about pulp, crime, magic and take a good, hard look at the inner workings of Jim’s mind.

This episode contains spoilers.

Next episode – prepare for the pure, uncut and unadulterated fantasy of R. A. Salvatore’s The Crystal Shard, a classic of the Forgotten Realms stable.

Links: Magical outro song

Ep. 5 – N. K. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season

Come with us now as we toast to N. K. Jeminin’s The Fifth Season, a departure from our regular fare. Modern and challenging, blending genres and influences, turning traditional fantasy on its head.

As always spoilers abound.

Links: Outro song

Ep. 4 – Scott Lynch’s The Lies of Locke Lamora

We couldn’t say enough good things about this novel so we got friend of the show and talented designer Matt in to help us out, who in exchange for making our show design look as wonderful as it did, was in no way contractually obliged to come on and talk about a book that he wanted to.

There aren’t many books that out-perform Scott Lynch’s The Lies of Locke Lamora in any way you care to name, or at least that’s the view we’re putting forward. We do try our very best to offer a counter-argument in what we imagined are the book’s softer elements, but could find little wanting.

We discuss modern language in the Fantasy genre, the Heist in all its glory, why you never see comedy in the genre, and a whole bunch on turtles.

Oh, so many spoilers, so be warned.

Links: Outro song ‘The Gentlemen Bastard Life’ was made with a tavern full o’ drunks

Ep. 3 – Patrick Rothfuss’ The Wise Man’s Fear

Come! Sit! Order your own damn ale! Mark and Daniel discuss Fantasy author’s shining light Patrick Rothfuss and his second novel in the Kingkiller’s Chronicle, The Wise Man’s Fear.

Much talk about why Fantasy authors can’t write cool, why Denna gets the short straw, and cover the Best Spring Break Ever.

We would like to take this opportunity to say we won’t be talking about what we’re going to be doing in upcoming podcasts or on outro tracks – we promised The Princess Bride, we delivered Rothfuss. We planned for Sting, but we went back to synthpop as usual.

This episode contains spoilers.

Links: A song that isn’t the outro, another song that also isn’t the outro

Ep. 2 – Joe Abercrombie’s The Blade Itself

In this week’s tavern cavort Daniel and Mark are back to follow up their stunning debut, which brought pleasure to very nearly dozens, to tackle Joe Abercrombie’s The Blade Itself.

Despite this book being very popular for its modern take on the genre, we found it problematic, both in the story itself and what it represents moving forward for the fantasy genre. Nonetheless, we did our best to understand the appeal of Abercrombie’s work.

Also Daniel starts to say “the something itself” quite early and doesn’t let up.

This episode contains spoilers.

Links: Outro Song: Northern Boy, Northern Girl