SPFBO2017: The Finalists Reviewed (All of 'em!)

11304423085_ee8df18686_oWe're participating in the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off. You can learn more about what this means (and how the finalists are doing) here. And follow the various stages of our process here.

I think I'm going to follow up in a week or two with a wibbly 'WHAT I LEARNED' post, and talk about my SPFBO experience(s) a bit more as a whole. It has been a lot of fun, very enlightening - I've read a lots that covered the whole spectrum of quality - and learned a fair amount about what I think constitutes 'good'. Which is no bad thing. And, unlike previous judging or slush-reading experiences, I can wang about this all I want. So, in the next couple weeks, I might take advantage of that.

But, for now, here are this year's ten finalists, in no particular order, with my - somewhat arbitrary - scores. Thanks again for all the writers, readers, judges and administrator (singular!) for participating, and please check out the other judges for other perspectives!

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'I wish I could've been in Alien': An interview with Mark Hamill (1980)

Trash Compactor[He hates the word 'genre', loves Alien and makes poop jokes. This 1980 interview between Empire Strikes Back-era Mark Hamill and Starburst reaffirms why we love the guy so much. -- PK]

Star-wars-episode-v-the-empire-strikes-back-lgI asked him if being a fan of the genre meant that working on the Star Wars films was a real pleasure for him.

Yeah, it really is. I've done a lot of work on different television shows that I wouldn't allow to be beamed into my house but they were just jobs I did as an actor. But luckily for me I love to work in this — I hate the word genre — but genre.

But wasn't he getting tired of devoting so much of his career to the Star Wars movies. After all, it had started for him back in 1976. Wasn't he just a little weary of the whole thing now?

No, not at all - really! First of all I think in Empire the story is just beginning to emerge. They laid the groundwork in the first one but now we can develop the story and the characters. Star Wars was very emotional but it was a much more visually orientated experience. I mean, for instance, the exalted feeling you get when we blow up the Death Star is a very mechanical manipulation of the emotions but in Empire we have to rely on the character revelations as the emotional climax.

There was a kid at the media screening here of Empire who was just in tears at the end of it and he was saying to me. It's not true, it's not true . . . you lost! And I was saying to him that I didn't lose. It was a moral victory! It was a moral victory that Luke didn't join with Darth Vader.

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Mary Stewart, Storyteller; Possible Wizard

Thunder on the Right

To my mind there are really only two kinds of novels, badly written and well written. Beyond that, you cannot categorize… ‘Storyteller’ is an old and honorable title and I’d like to lay claim to it.

Mary Stewart (1916 - 2014) is a British novelist, known for her significant contributions to multiple genres. She was of the most prominent - and critically-acclaimed - creators of the romantic thriller. Stewart then went on to write the Merlin trilogy, a best-selling blend of history and fantasy.

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Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Star Wars - The Last Jedi

I promised myself I’d keep this review spoiler-free. Though frankly, at this point I’m not even sure why; if the opening weekend box-office take is anything to go by, pretty much everyone in the Western world has seen this film. Hell, I bet even those aliens buzzing fighter pilots over the Pacific have seen it.

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