Fantasy Feed

Fiction: "I Decided That Things Had Become Too Complicated" by William Curnow

I decided things had become too complicated - art by Jade Klara
I decided that things had become too complicated.

Understand, I did not want anything that followed from that. Like everyone else, I wanted only to be left alone, to get on with things. I was not someone who would push themselves forward. I was happy to stay in the background, to live a simple life, but I couldn't ignore facts.

Continue reading "Fiction: "I Decided That Things Had Become Too Complicated" by William Curnow" »


KJ Parker's Two of Swords x The Easy Way Out

Two of SwordsFrom K.J. Parker's Two of Swords (Episode 9):

"You want to know a secret? Writing what you call good music is easy, piece of cake. You're writing for intelligent, educated people who are prepared to meet you halfway. It's the army songs and the romantic ballads that made me sweat blood."

"I don't believe you."

"Because they're simple and accessible? You don't know anything about writing music. Simple and accessible is the hardest thing there is. It's like designing a clock mechanism with only two moving parts. It's working with both hands tied behind your back. You're limited to a simple melodic line, which has to conform to strict form. You've got the voice and one instrument and that's it, no orchestra, no counterpoint, nothing.... And that's why I earn good money. Because I can give people what they want. Not just the smart ones. Everybody."

"All right," she said grudgingly. "If money is all that matters -"

"It's the only reliable way of keeping score," he said. "A thousand cultured folk will tell you they love your symphony, but can you believe them? But if a hundred thousand poor people decide they can afford two stuivers to hear you sing, that probably means you're actually getting something right."

----

Continue reading "KJ Parker's Two of Swords x The Easy Way Out" »


Extract: "The Girl on the Liar's Throne" by Den Patrick

The Girl on the Liar's Throne

A Rescue from Darkness

The girl sat alone, burdened by forgetfulness and incomprehension. That she was a prisoner was not in question, but the reasons were lost to her, just as she in turn was lost to the darkness. The ever-present silence weighed heavily on her slender shoulders, at once oppressive and maddening. How long had she been here? How would she escape? Questions needed answers, answers lost in a mind that failed to recall the subtle and the obvious. What was her name? Why was she here? 

Continue reading "Extract: "The Girl on the Liar's Throne" by Den Patrick" »


The Doors of Stone: Howlers vs The World

Name-of-the-wind-586x900A month or so ago, this exchange happened during a reddit AMA:

Reddit user vlatheimpaler:

Have you been surprised that there's such a strong interest in watching you play Fallout 4 instead of extra writing spent towards Doors of Stone? I figured it would be 50/50, or maybe skewed a little bit towards writing, but I was surprised that Fallout 4 wins every single day.

Patrick Rothfuss:

I think it shows pretty clearly that people who howl for book three aren't as interested in donating money to make the world a better place.

The context, in a nutshell, is that as part of Patrick Rothfuss’ annual (and very generous) fundraising for Worldbuilders, he let people pay to choose whether or not he would play Fallout 4 or spend extra time writing his next book.

There was a mild (and probably justified) kerfuffle about Rothfuss’s tone in this response, but then, the dude’s also raised $1m+ for charity this year. Let’s allow him a brief moment of crankiness. 

In the past, I've looked into the hypothesis that 'readers are better people', and found it (to my surprise), demonstrably (and gratifyingly) true. So in the interest of testing another hypothesis, let's look into this one: "Are the people demanding Doors of Stone less likely to donate money to make the world a better place?"

QUICK, TO THE MATHMOBILE!

Continue reading "The Doors of Stone: Howlers vs The World" »


Review Round-up: Tedric, A Strange Discovery, Scientific Romances

TedricThree old science fiction stories, liberated from the vaults of Project Gutenberg. Includes E.E. Doc Smith's "Tedric", Charles Dake's A Strange Discovery (his sequel to Poe's Arthur Gordon Pym) and C.H. Hinton's Scientific Romances. They're all... flawed... but very interesting.

"Tedric" (1953) and "Lord Tedric" (1954) by E.E. Doc Smith

"Tedric" is good ol' fashioned sword and sorcery novelette, bracketed by some science fictional wand-waving. Professors from the SPACEFUTURE see the Darkest Timeline coming about and, accordingly, fiddle about in the past to find a way of preventing it. Their roving time-eye lands on Tedric - an ironworker in a quasi-fantasy realm who is disgruntled with the whole 'human sacrifice' ethos of the reigning theocracy. The friendly professors pass Tedric the secrets of steelworking and the ironworker (6'4" and 200+ pounds of man-muscle) builds himself an Iron Steel Man suit and a big sword. A one man revolution ensues. 

Continue reading "Review Round-up: Tedric, A Strange Discovery, Scientific Romances" »


"A defense of historical fiction" by Jonathan Nield

Charles_Landseer_Cromwell_Battle_of_Naseby

Most of us, I suppose, at one time or another have experienced a thrill of interest when some prominent personage, whom we knew well by repute, came before us in the flesh. We watched his manner, and noted all those shades of expression which in another's countenance we should have passed by unheeded. Well, it seems to me that, parallel with this experience, is that which we gain, when, reading some first-rank romance, we encounter in its pages a figure with which History has made us more or less familiar.

Continue reading ""A defense of historical fiction" by Jonathan Nield" »


Fiction: "Mephisto the Unruly" by George Sandison

Mephisto - Emma CoshThe fever dreams of Mephisto the Unruly were potent. They worked slowly at first, dragging slow, bright streaks of colour across the stained walls, but once they started to take physical form they would not be restrained.

As Mephisto shivered under the blankets, his temperature achieving untold heights, he watched the drawers of his cabinet slide open and bunches of gaudy flowers blossom from the fresh beds. Swirling smoke dragons coiled around the lampshade in silence but the great white rabbit in the corner said nothing. Occasionally it would doff its hat in a semblance of respect.

Mephisto knew on some level he was sick, but there seemed little point in challenging it. His staff would bring him soup and hot water with chunks of lemon and ginger steeping and that satisfied what little appetite he had. The rabbit in the corner absolutely wasn’t real, he understood that, but it still kept him company.

Continue reading "Fiction: "Mephisto the Unruly" by George Sandison" »


Review Round-up: Flamesong, Sledgehammer and The Gameshouse

Gameshouse - PK

Three recent reads - a vintage fantasy, a terrific new trilogy and a particularly heavy-handed crime thriller.

Claire North's Gameshouse trilogy (2015), with apologies, as I did my frothing fanboy thing on Twitter, but, these are simply brilliant. The trilogy is comprised of three novelettes (novellas? long shorts? maxistories? minibooks?), each with a different narrator, setting and - wonderfully - tense. All three feature players in the enigmatic Gameshouse - a location/organisation for those that gamble, and gamble to win. The outer room is for the games we all know and love. The inner room is for the real players, the ones that manipulate lives and nations. 

Continue reading "Review Round-up: Flamesong, Sledgehammer and The Gameshouse" »


Fiction: "The Choreography of Masks" by David Pomerico

Masks - Banner - Jeffrey Alan Love

The candles mix with the floodlights, and down the road she sees the reflections off the tinted masks and plexiglass shields. She knows that only eyes like hers, eyes that are actually here, can catch that fiery gaze of the faceless men – there’s been a media blackout for days, cutting off the world from what is happening tonight. It was standard now, to deny real-time access to events as they unfolded, controlling the story and keeping it theirs. Yet another mask.

Continue reading "Fiction: "The Choreography of Masks" by David Pomerico" »