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Friday Five: 5 Shakespearean Takes on Cthulhu (or Vice Versa)

Shakespeare vs Cthulhu

Imagine if it had been William Shakespeare, England’s greatest playwright, who had discovered the truth about the Great Old Ones and the cosmic entity we know as Cthulhu, rather than the American horror writer H P Lovecraft. Imagine if Stratford’s favourite son had been the one to learn of the dangers of seeking after forbidden knowledge and of the war waged between the Elder Gods in the Outer Darkness, and had passed on that message, to those with eyes to see it, through his plays and poetry… Welcome to the world of Shakespeare vs Cthulhu!

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Weirdness Rodeo: Boardgames, Funk, Amazon

Joshua Haunschild
Badlands National Park / Joshua Haunschild

Are board games getting worse? A data analysis of board game ratings shows that the market is absolutely flooded, but 'peak quality' may have passed us by:

The number of extra-special gems released each year is slightly increasing, but it’s plateauing. Truly great games represent a smaller and smaller part of the year’s releases.

Sites like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo are mainly responsible for the surge in (questionable quality) board game releases. Without needing to convince a publisher of a game’s worth, any chump can get his name on a box by convincing a few hundred people to throw $10 their way.

Although the volume of board games (a predicted 6,000 in 2016) pales in comparison to other publishing endeavours (music, books, etc), it does make for a useful microcosm of the changes in the market. There are still diamonds in the rough, but as the rough becomes more accessible and less filtered, the ratio of diamond-to-rough falls. That's understandable - what's more worrisome is that the raw number of diamonds has been falling since 2012... 

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Readers of Gor: Outlaw of Gor

Outlaw of Gor

In which Silvia Moreno-Garcia of Ka-Na-Da and Molly Tanzer of Ko-Lo-Ra-Do discuss Silvia's re-read and Molly's first read of the first four of John Norman's famous (notorious?) Gor series.

Silvia: Tal, Molly Tanzer of Ko-Lo-Ra-Do. Well, when last we saw our hero Tarl Cabot (what kind of name is that? I still can’t say his damn name) he had returned to Earth. But not for long! Soon he’s back in the world of Gor, where men are manly men and women are very pretty but like not threatening, like you totally could ask that chick out and she’d give you her phone number instead the number of a local deli shop. It’s obvious something has gone terribly wrong in Gor and now Tarl is a, gasp, Outlaw of Gor!

Okay, so I think part of the problem with this book on a technical level is that the first person point of view is just super annoying. Tarl is supposed to be writing all this shit down and it’s like for fuck’s sake, I’m bored. I’m so bored. Write funner, or something. Bad narrator.  

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DGLA: Criteria and Intro!

David Gemmell Legend Award - Axes

We're (almost) up and running! As is tradition, I want to set out my list of Special Judging Criteria for this year's reading.

(For newcomers: I read and review the DGLA finalists every year. Here are 2015, 2014,2013, 2012.)

For 2016, after much deliberation, I'm not going to tackle all the finalists. I'll be sticking to the Morningstar titles:

I'll add links as they appear.

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Gail Carriger on "The Traveling Writer: A Tip Sheet"

Gail Carriger - Imprudence

I started attending conventions as a fangirl long before I was a professional writer. I knew what to expect and when I got my first Guest of Honor invitation I was over the moon. I still get a little thrill at the very idea that someone wants me to attend a convention... as a guest!

But it's not the same thing. Whether heading out on a book tour or invited as a guest to a small local sci-fi convention, attending programming at a larger conference, or visiting one of those monster book festivals or comicons there are some things I think a professional writer should always keep in mind. 

So here, for your amusement (and perhaps education) are my highly subjective... Tips for the Traveling Writer

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#SPFBO - First Round Wrap-up

Spfbo banner4

Well, the first round is complete!

Over the course of... some period of time... I checked out 30 self-published fantasy books for #SPFBO, reading the first 3 chapters of each. 

Based on that (results and mini-reviews here), I earmarked six for detailed perusal:

The links all go to the complete reviews. If you're just joining now (hi!), there's some template action going on, as I evaluated all six against some wibbly criteria. 

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Sophie Mayer on Gwyneth Jones’ Bold as Love (2001)

Bold As Love

At the end of this year, three hundred years of history would be undone. The Act of Union would be dissolved… In London the law and order crisis was going to keep Parliament from its summer recess; that, and the struggle to make the process of dissolution look organised. Meanwhile, the Counterculturals had gathered in Hyde Park, at Glastonbury, at all the traditional sites around the country, and, notably, here at Reading. It was supposed to be a peaceful two-week rock festival. The media people were hoping for trouble, and doing their best to whip it up… But Fiorinda didn’t care about any of that. She had come to Reading following a rumour, on a mission half of longing, half of vengeance.

Gwyneth Jones’ 2002 Arthur C. Clarke Award-winning novel Bold as Love opens some time around now or the near future, in Dissolution Summer, as England prepares to go it alone, dismissed by the wealthy Celtic nations. It might be fifteen years old, but Bold as Love is the most uncanny and necessary read for exactly this moment, as we face up to the latent divide in British politics that the EU referendum has brought to the surface. In Jones’ England, crisis is the new normal. Climate change and economic collapse are causing riots across Europe, and England will soon be further isolated by a devastating internet virus, and face the arrival of hundreds of thousands of refugees crossing the North Sea, D-Day in reverse.

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The Long Way to a Small, American Paperback

1430789787438713122

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet is out in the US in paperback today!

My opinion of this book is pretty well-documented by this point (tldr; one of my favourite books of all time, and the sort of joyous science fiction that makes you believe in a better future), but just in case you need further encouragement:

Here's the Guardian story on how this kickstarted debut novel became one of Hodder & Stoughton's summer blockbusters.

And here are some the awards that have recognised it: Baileys, Arthur C. Clarke, The Kitschies, Tiptree, BFS, BSFA.

And here are some reviews:

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