Love “Game of Thrones?” Thank “unfashionable” Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, who went against the grain and conquered pop culture (via Instapaper.)

“The Inklings were different. They clung by their fingernails to the past, to old languages and old books and old-school habits and values. They could be cranky geezers — beer drinkers who wore tweed, refused to admit women to their ranks and recited Anglo-Saxon poetry for fun. They expected to be ever-more marginalized and sneered at, although they did fight like hell to keep Oxford from updating its syllabus to included such new-fangled entertainments as Victorian novels. Still, they assumed that they’d lose eventually. They were so unfashionable! So how did they end up taking over popular culture?”

“Yet Tolkien, and to a lesser degree Lewis, arguably have a bigger foothold in the early 21st-century imagination than Carroll, Wilde or some fictional police inspector. Why should that be? Surely one of the best explanations so far has been advanced by the academic and Tolkien scholar T.A. Shippey, who believes that Tolkien drew forth the long-submerged mythic past of the Anglophone world by means of his deep, historical knowledge of the English language.”

“The standard sophisticated take on this fantasy is that it’s childish and escapist, that it posits a past that never existed. And that’s true — Tolkien, who regarded the modern, industrialized world as a hellscape ravened by soulless machines (he hated cars), happily copped to the escapism bit. “Why should a man be scorned if, finding himself in prison, he tries to get out and go home?” he retorted.”

“Is it any wonder, then, that it isn’t the modernists, those poets of disintegration and speed and fleeting solitary experience, that readers keep returning to, but these fusty holdouts and abstainers, the guys who said, “We’d prefer not to”? Being Christian was just one of their ways of putting on the brakes, and it’s far from obligatory — let alone the central secret to their appeal. None of us gets to live in the Shire, but we haven’t lost our appetite for the kind to stories that are told there. Those stories are still the ones that feel the most like home.”

Love “Game of Thrones?” Thank “unfashionable” Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, who went against the grain and conquered pop culture

May 31, 2015 at 04:08PM

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My Introduction to Lore: The Legend of Zelda.

Recently I read this article by Phil Owen on io9 titled I Care About Star Wars Because It Introduced Me To ‘Lore.’  In it he says:

“For me and many other fans, Star Wars is not a series of movies but a setting, a place. And Star Wars was the first property I enjoyed growing up where should I want more stories in its settings I could always have them. And it wasn’t a case of, as it is in many game franchises praised for having lots of lore, characters in a book telling us about past events or info in a codex — nearly all the lore was in books or comics somewhere.”

And I thought, “yeah, Star Wars was definitely the first time I cared about the world of a property beyond its main storyline. That was until I received this in the mail:

Master Sword, yo.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past Graphic Novel by Shotaro Ishinomori.

This is a graphic novel, a reprint of a comic that was both printed in Nintendo Power then collected into a paperback in the 90’s. I found the paperback version shortly before The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time came out.

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G. Willow Wilson’s Fantastic Observation on Genre Fiction and Tropes.

“Genre–whether it’s action/adventure, romance, scifi, fantasy, or superheroes–largely differentiates itself from “mainstream literature” by its heavy reliance on tropes. The lone survivor in a post-apocalyptic landscape. The reluctant paladin called to defend his or her homeland. The white knight. The savior-sacrifice, who must pay the ultimate price to keep the darkness at bay. Good genre books and films succeed because the authors or artists have manipulated these tropes in a particularly skillful way, either by subverting them or unpacking them or, occasionally, pointing right at them. Some of the most stunning works of SF/F produced in the past couple of decades–those that have shifted the cultural conversation–have been those that rely the most heavily on tropes, on what we think we know about a certain genre, and which then proceed to show us, almost by slight-of-hand, what we have overlooked. The Walking Dead. Gravity. District 9. The superb Children of Men. What is masterful about each of these is that the creators exhibited no embarrassment whatsoever about their pulpy source material–instead, they dug deep into the ‘how’ and the ‘why’ and the ‘who’ and used tropes we might have considered all played out (the astronaut in trouble, the zombie apocalypse) to illustrate profoundly heartbreaking things about the human condition. That is, perhaps, genre in a nutshell: it is cliche turned on its head.”

Dr. Lepore’s Lament

May 14, 2015 at 03:03PM

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Bendis On Iceman’s Outing, Says “I’m Not Done With This Story Yet” – Comic Book Resources via Instapaper.

“This story isn’t something that’s coming out of the blue, either. Over the years there’s been a lot of hints that Bobby might not be entirely honest with himself about his sexuality.

Yes! That’s the funniest conversation online. We have some people going, “What on Earth are you talking about? Where did this come from?” Then there are other people who weren’t surprised at all. Already on Tumblr, and I’m not going to repost them until later in the week, people have posted a road map of panels of things that Bobby has done over the last 50 years that prove the point that I thought was obvious, and many others did too.

It’s funny that we have so many people who saw it as coming out of left field, and so many people who weren’t surprised at all. But with sex and politics, people are going to see what they want to see.”

Bendis On Iceman’s Outing, Says “I’m Not Done With This Story Yet” – Comic Book Resources

May 8, 2015 at 10:45AM

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“Why Being A Debut Author Isn’t Exactly A Dream Come True” via Instapaper

“For most writers, publishing a book is the achievement of a lifetime dream and only the most tasteless of people would talk negatively about it”

“The reality, I’m afraid, is more like you’re sitting alone, post-carnival, on a cigarette-butt encrusted patch of grass typing your own name into Bing, but other than that you’re feeling super-duper lucky. Everything is great!”

“This plan of yours couldn’t have come at a better time. Your book has been out for two weeks now and you have a lot of questions. For example, did everyone else get the memo that from this point forward every time you read from your hardcover, you’re also trying to sell it? Hey! Selling a hardcover is tough! Twenty-six dollars is a lot of money. Hell, you haven’t ever spent that much on a dry-aged steak! But wait, what’s that? One of your new debut author friends sold all the books at her last reading? In a town she doesn’t even live in? Eighty copies total? Wow, that is so great!”

Why Being A Debut Author Isn’t Exactly A Dream Come True

May 6, 2015 at 03:54PM

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How to Write About Characters Who Are Smarter Than You

“Doyle’s great discovery is that intelligence is not about the accumulation of data — it’s about deciding what that data means. Holmes has the same tools at his disposal that you do; he almost never possesses information that you don’t. It’s only that he looks at the shared information and sees things that you never could. An analogy might be found in the poker game Texas Hold ’Em, for any reader who plays (I play a lot.) The trick of the game is in some sense that you’re not playing your opponent’s cards — you’re playing the community cards. The real game isn’t in what she knows that you don’t, or what you know that she doesn’t. It’s in what you both know, but you simply deploy to greater affect.”

How to Write About Characters Who Are Smarter Than You

May 3, 2015 at 01:15PM

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