Tate Britain, the redoubtable art museum, opened an exhibit about the 19th century painter John Martin on 21 September, 2011. Tantalizingly titled “John Martin: Apocalypse”, the exhibition was intended to bring this mostly forgotten painter, a flash-in-the-pan during his own lifetime, to the attention of a modern audience by associating his gigantic, Biblical paintings with an emerging cultural fascination with the end of the world.
Dodo Ink are a new publisher of fiction set up in 2015 by the novelist Sam Mills, book blogger Thom Cuell and myself, with a mission to publish innovative, risk-taking, imaginative and experimental fiction.
We had each had experiences that lead us to believe that there was an audience for novels that didn’t fit neatly onto mainstream publisher’s lists: Thom, on The Workshy Fop, as a champion of fiction from indie publishers; myself, having worked in the industry for several years and seen an ever-increasing focus on acquiring highly commercial properties, at the expense of what is termed the ‘midlist’, authors who are popular enough to command a steady readership and remain profitable to publish, but often not deemed commercial enough to them the tailored sales, marketing and PR attention that could help them develop their careers creatively and commercially. Sam, as a novelist and writer, experienced this first-hand when trying to help her friend Tom Tomaszewski secure a book deal or agent for his novel, The Eleventh Letter, which was deemed interesting, accomplished and original, but not commercial enough in today’s publishing climate.
All right, let’s get the ritual caveat out of the way: the Cersei Lannister we’re looking at today is the version from George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, as opposed to HBO’s Game of Thrones. Admittedly, this distinction gets a little messy now that the show has overtaken the books. I’m going to shamelessly take advantage of that by using the show as a sort of bonus reel of material, but in cases where the two sources diverge, the books will always trump. Clear? Good. On with the fun.
And Cersei is loads of fun – if you consider murder, treason, incest, and child-maiming fun. Yes indeed, Cersei’s list of crimes is long, and she shows no sign of slowing down. But for all the ghastliness of her deeds, she’s one of the subtlest, most textured, and in many ways the most believable villains I’ve come across. Not because of what she does, but why she does it.
It’s still not believable, still inconceivable, still a complete and utter shock to his fans worldwide. I haven't been able to write about him, but so many have, and so well. A great many people have started disclosing their personal stories about him - or so they claim, since some of these seem to be of the People magazine variety.
But the real ones, the authentic Prince stories are always, always a treat to hear. Even when he was alive, hearing a Prince story from someone - Matt Thorne, who wrote the seminal book on Prince music a few years ago and was flown in to Paisley Park only to have the great man listen to thanks but not talk, Kevin Smith’s long winded story about being hired to make music videos for Prince that never saw the light of day, the husband of a man I met at a Frankenstein symposium in Hermance telling me Ingrid Chavez left him for Prince… no matter what, or told by whom, stories about Prince have always, always made my day.
And so I can’t help but immediately fall in love with journalist Mobeen Azhar’s new book, Prince: Stories From the Purple Underground.
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!
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...
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.
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 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.
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