Sorry for the lack of blogging these past two weeks, but I have not just been insanely busy ever since the summer holidays began, but I also caught a nasty summer flu bug last week and have been pretty sick.
There’ll be more light blogging over the next few days, since I’ll be away on translation business and don’t know whether I’ll have internet access.
But for now, here is a linkdump of interesting links I found lately:
First of all, Mercy Mission has spent a few days on an Amazon.com category bestseller list, which probably won’t impress those indie writers who obsess over hitting the overall Kindle store top 100. But for me, this is a really big success.
At Amazing Stories, G.W. Thomas points out that J.R.R. Tolkien and Robert E. Howard and consequentially the subgenres they founded, epic/high fantasy and sword & sorcery, are a lot closer to each other than they’re often made out to be. I’m inclined to agree, since the difference between Tolkien and Howard is more one of tone and style than subject matter. And IMO it’s more helpful to distinguish between secondary world fantasy (with high fantasy, sword and sorcery, new weird, etc… just flavours) and contemporary world (i.e. urban) fantasy.
CPD Harris has a great post about revolutions in fantasy. I recently mentioned that I’m a sucker for revolution stories in SF, but of course revolutions work just as well in fantasy.
At Apex Magazine, Sarah Kuhn has a great post about the problem of asking whether female (and male) characters are good role models, because role models are personal and there is no “one size fits all” approach. And indeed, two of the SFF characters Sarah Kuhn lists as her own role models are characters I have never much cared for (and in one case flat-out disliked).
Hal Duncan discusses whether Ernie and Bert can be read as a gay couple (Love the New Yorker cover BTW). Now personally, I always viewed Ernie and Bert as brothers living together, when I was a kid. But viewing them as gay is as valid as my reading. And Hal Duncan is correct that the Children’s Television Workshop is hypocritical when they state that puppets have no sexual orientation, even though Kermit and Miss Piggy obviously have one. Why not let it open for anybody to decide for themselves just what Ernie’s and Bert’s relationship is?
Besides, children’s television can be a powerful force for acceptance. As a child, I saw a registry clerk forced at gunpoint to marry a sheep and a grandfather clock (in truth an enchanted princess and her equally enchanted boyfriend) on TV, because “They love each other and that’s all that matters.” I have no idea whether that was intended as a pro-gay-marriage statement or not (most likely not, considering we are talking about a Czech TV show from the 1970s here. On the other hand, that show was extremely clever and full of social criticism smuggled past Communist censors). But when gay marriage opponents started coming up with the “But marriage has always been defined as a union between a man and a woman” argument, my response was inevitably, “No, for me marriage has always been a union between two people who love each other. Gender doesn’t matter.” I’m pretty sure I can trace this view directly to the story of the sheep and the grandfather clock that enchanted me so as a child.
At the Boston Globe, Benjamin Zimmer has an interesting article about mob slang, which is popping up in the witness statements during the trial of mob boss James Bulger (whose name always irritates me, because the mob boss shares his name with the three-year-old victim of a spectacular murder in England twenty years ago, so I always do a double-take whenever I hear the name).
Marihuana legalization is not really a topic I’m invested in, but this made me smile: In the city of Göttingen, pro-legalization activists have disseminated hemp seeds. As a result, there are marihuana plants growing in parks and gardens all over Göttingen, even in front of the local police station, and the Göttingen parks department is busily combating this plague of marihuana plants by uprooting and composting them.