He lived long, and we prospered: RIP Leonard Nimoy.

The world would not be what it is today without Star Trek. The sometimes confronting, sometimes deeply moving, sometimes tragically cheesy ’60s SF show – that wouldn’t have happened without Lucille Ball – transformed so many lives in so many different ways. And probably it wouldn’t have had that amazing impact without the extraordinary character of Mr Spock – and the man who played him, Leonard Nimoy.

83 is a venerable age. And in his 83 years, Nimoy had an impact upon the world at large, upon the hearts and minds and imaginations of countless thousands of people. He was a unique individual whose contributions will live long after those of us who remember him living are gone.

And somewhere in the universe, Spock and Bones McCoy are happily quarrelling again …

 

Spotlight on … Phillip Reeve

I believe that some of the very best speculative fiction can be found on the shelves of the Young Adult section in bookshops and libraries. A case in point is the marvellous work of British author Phillip Reeve, in his Mortal Engines Quartet. If you were to ask me what speculative fiction books we should be shoving into eager readers’ hands, these books would come first. Rumour has it that Peter Jackson is interested in adapting the books for film, but after The Hobbit trilogy, who knows? Handled by the right people I’d certainly love to see this story on the big screen.

Here’s why …

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Thoughts on writing, from me and Sarah Hoyt

Writing is a tough gig. It’s full of doubt, uncertainty and rejection. It takes courage, persistence and a willingness to be humble when you’re told your work needs work. The biggest barrier to success is when a writer clings to the sad belief that they’re some kind of special snowflake being denied their destiny of greatness by [insert convenient excuse here].

Guess what? Nobody is owed a publishing contract. Not for any reason, be it gender or age or ethnicity or eye colour or any external measure. And more often than not, work is rejected because it isn’t good enough, not because there’s some vast conspiracy to keep the author down because of [insert convenient excuse here].

Yes, sometimes other factors come into play. Various kinds of discrimination.  But that’s life. Some decisions suck. Some people suck. Things aren’t always fair. Problem is, get too cosy with that worldview and you will absolutely end up standing in your own way – especially since discrimination isn’t as pervasive and monolithic as some people believe.

Anyhow, that’s what I think. And here’s what Sarah Hoyt thinks, a writer who works in both traditional and non-traditional publishing modes. I think she talks a lot of sense.

Bottom line? The job of a writer is to tell the very best story in the very best style of which he or she is capable. That involves much self-criticism and the seeking of honest feedback on the work and the willingness to rewrite and rewrite until you’ve done your job. After that, you send the work out into the world and cross your fingers that someone thinks it’s a good fit for their publishing house. Or you publish it yourself, and hope the reading public thinks it’s a good fit for their enjoyment.

Beyond that? Nothing. Readers don’t owe writers a damn thing. And getting angry because readers don’t like the ‘right kind of books’ i.e. ‘the books I am writing’, and scolding them, and sneering at the books and writers that they do enjoy? That’s juvenile and counterproductive. It’s arrogant and elitist and frankly pathetic. Writers write. We don’t get to decide what readers want to read. But if we’re lucky, we find ourselves standing on that patch of ground where what we’re writing is what they want to read.

Spotlight on … Banshee

So, to celebrate the launch of Banshee‘s third season (in the US. With luck it will come to Foxtel. Otherwise I’ll have to wait for the dvd release. Sigh.) this blog post is about the show so far … just in case you’ve missed it, or passed on it. Hopefully after my burblings you’ll give it a go, because even though on the surface it might look like mindless high-violence tits-and-arse action, in fact the show is an interesting meditation on a whole lot of things.

But to be fair there is also sex and violence. Interest piqued? Then do read on …

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A sudden pause …

Sometimes I think the universe hates me. Just as I was crawling out from under a whole pile of crap and back to writing, I managed to herniate 2 discs in my neck. In the New Adventures Karen Has Had, that meant an MRI. Wow. Now I know I could probably survive 20 mins of torture. The noise the machine makes is actually really interesting. It started sounding like a kind of urban percussive classical music piece. But the position I had to maintain revved the ole neck up something severe. Sob. Whimper.

I have Serious Drugs. I have a chair I can sit in without screwing the neck or the back. I have an appointment with a specialist, who please God will tell me he can fix me without surgery. If I can get the pain to settle down, I might even have some writing because not doing that is starting to send me mad.

So, yeah. Not the news I wanted to share.

Spotlight on … Dominion

So by now you shouldn’t be surprised to hear I’ll give any fantasy/supernatural film or drama a go. Of late, the only time I showed reticence was with Guardians of the Galaxy. Didn’t see it at the movies, but have just watched it on a borrowed blu-ray. My instinct after the trailer was pretty spot-on with that one: not entirely my thing. Very well done, but I’m not really the target demographic. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it – I think the work on Groot is astonishing, and on the racoon. (I really really want a pet racoon!) But it’s just a bit too rompish for me. I much prefer the darker, grittier style of Marvel storytelling as shown in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Guardians is just a bit too popcorn for my angst-loving heart. But like I say – entirely entertaining.

Which preamble leads me to nattering today about a SyFy channel offering: Dominion.

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Talking Grimdark …

The term ‘grimdark’ was coined a while ago to label darker, grittier kinds of fantasy fiction. Some of the authors known for this kind of storytelling are Joe Abercrombie, Richard Morgan, George RR Martin, Mark Lawrence — and me, apparently! Well, not the Mage books so much, but I’d agree that the Godspeaker trilogy isn’t what you’d call a carefree romp in a sunlit meadow.

Anyhow, there are some discussions being had about this particular sub-genre and its current state. Mark Lawrence asked me if I’d like to weigh in, and I did, along with a host of thoughtful writers.

You can read the conversation here. My thanks to Mark for asking me to join in!

Secrets of the Castle

Some of you might recall that I visited the amazing Guedelon project while on my research trip to France last year. I posted photos, which you can see if you scroll back through the entries in this blog.

Well, now you can visit it too, vicariously – via a new dvd release called Secrets of the Castle. The series was recently shown on the BBC in the UK, which is why dvds are so wonderful. I’d never have seen it without the release.

It’s rather odd watching this series, for me, because I was there so recently and the memories are amazingly vivid. I mean, those two geese in the opening sequence of episode one? The little buggers chased me! I know it’s them because this program was made last year. The status of the build that you see is pretty much identical to where it was when I was there.

I tell you, French geese are not to be trifled with!

Anyhow, if you have any interest in things medieval or castle-ish, this is a great dvd to get hold of. If you’re not in the UK you’ll need a multi-zone dvd player (Pioneer and Laser come to mind, plus older LG models).

I bought mine from Amazon UK.

Let’s hear it for Glenda Larke!

One of the most creative and innovative writers in the fantasy genre today is Australian author Glenda Larke. For those of you who want to see a story not based on medieval Europe, Glenda is the writer for you. And even if you do love the medieval backdrop (as I do, obviously!) she is still the writer for you. Glenda has led probably the most astonishing and unique life I ever heard of, and all of that amazing experience finds its way into her books.

The Daggers’s Path, the second book in her Forsaken Lands trilogy, is out on sale now. Below is the lovely cover. Here is a link to her blogsite where she talks some more about the story. Stay tuned for a guest blog post, as soon as she’s got a moment to herself!

Daggers Path

 

I count myself privileged to be Glenda’s friend, but that’s not why I’m celebrating the release of her new book. It’s a great story – and great stories should always be celebrated!