Paris Adrift, One of Us Is Lying, All the Crooked Saints and More

Six recent reads across time, space, and genres: Maggie Stiefvater's All The Crooked Saints, E.J. Swift's Paris Adrift, Georgette Heyer's The Talisman Ring, Jason Rekulak's The Impossible Fortress, Eva Ibbotson's The Dragonfly Pool, and Karen McManus' One of Us is Lying.

I'd say I loved them all unequivocally, but, well, then I'd be lying too.

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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 [UPDATE: Nyah.]. 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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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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He Said/She Said: Star Trek, Reboots, Discovery and The Final Frontier

Star Trek Discovery

In He Said / She Said, we're too lazy to write things properly, so we interview one another. A bit like a podcast, but with much worse production quality. 

Jared: Star Trek is something we talk about every now and then (including a whole theme week in 2009!), but even then, we've only ever scratched the surface. I mean, there's a lot of Trek: TOS, TNG, DS9, Voyager, Enterprise (which I had completely forgotten ever existed), Discovery, a whopping 13 films, and a vast ecosystem of merchandise, books, games and other spin-offs. 

From this whirling mass... which is your Star Trek? When someone (like me) says 'let's talk Star Trek', what comes to mind?

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A Field Guide to Mary Stewart's Romantic Suspenses

My Brother Michael

Stewart introduced a different kind of heroine for a newly emerging womanhood. It was her 'anti-namby-pamby' reaction, as she called it, to the "silly heroine" of the conventional contemporary thriller who "is told not to open the door to anybody and immediately opens it to the first person who comes along". Instead, Stewart's stories were narrated by poised, smart, highly educated young women who drove fast cars and knew how to fight their corner. (Guardian)

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Fandom, Metalheads, Goodreads and Tactility

Roadside service sign (1955) (via Space Age Museum)
Roadside service sign (1955) (via Space Age Museum)

A touching story

Professor Fiona Candlin has been trying to figure out why we keep putting our grubby little fingers on things in museums:

Touching, Candlin says, is "part of a much bigger, more imaginative encounter with things—trying to somehow make contact with the past." And there are countless ways of facilitating this type of contact, it seems. Recently, she says, a former head of conservation at the British Museum told her about a visitor who came into the Egyptian sculpture gallery and left tins of cat food as an offering for the lion-headed goddess Sekhmet. (Atlas Obscura)

As always, it all comes back to books. Physical books are less convenient, less accessible, less easily purchased, and more expensive. So why do they exist at all? The inertia of tradition can only carry the presence of physical books so far.

Studies Candlin's show that tactility has a deeply, perhaps neurologically, rooted appeal. Can publishers of physical books rely on this mysterious force? Or is there something they can do to build on it?

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Eartha Kitt, Yzma's Skin Care, and "Snuff Out the Light"

Yzma

"Snuff Out the Light" is a deleted song from Disney's finest movie, The Emperor's New Groove. You'll undoubtedly remember that Groove was oddly... ungroovy. There's a feisty Tom Jones number to introduce Kuzco and a gruelling Sting number over the credits, but, well, that's it. Unless you count this. All in all, kind of a waste of Eartha Kitt. 

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