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Archive for January, 2013

A three-way discussion of Roger Zelazny’s Lord of Light, in which the fit really hits the Shan (tee hee hee). Download the Podcast Marie’s Blog Source of the incidental music

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Dreaming of Souvlaki

 

Unlike many people I know, I tend to recall my dreams every morning more often than not. That might be why it’s so hard for me to ascribe any hidden meaning to them. A dream where you’re chased by a giant monster made out of ravioli and cheese curds defies any attempts at decoding. Our society does, however, link creativity to dreaming, especially among writers.

“What inspired you to write this story?”

“Well, I had this dream…”

Dreams might provide an image or a character; rarely do they provide a story. At best, they seem to only tip off the creative process. At least, that’s what I’m gleaning from interviews and personal experience. I can’t say that dreams have inspired anything I’ve written, because my dreams lack any kind of coherent narrative. They have plenty of incoherent ones, sure, but in terms of story the best my subconscious comes up with is a vignette that might have a beginning but rarely has an end.

So, my dreams have failed to inspire stories. However, they’ve been inspirational in other ways.

One of my weirder nocturnal visions came after I was listening to a great many author interviews at work. My dreams are usually populated by people I know, so it was a bit unusual when this particular dream started with Gene Wolfe pulling up in a Model T Ford and driving me to his place, where Neil Gaiman was on the deck grilling souvlaki. I have no idea where this was supposed to be taking place, I assume it’s the same place with the recurring library of absolute perfection that I seem to go back to often. Then we sat down to have dinner and didn’t talk about writing at all.

This dream patently has no meaning, but I still woke up feeling pretty awesome about it. And it did make me want to write. So there’s that.

I don’t think it bears any relation to the other dream I had of meeting Terri Windling in a coffee shop except that it was probably in the same town with the incredible library. The whole adventure and excitement part of dreams seems to have drained away since I became a teenager and I’m far more likely to have dreams like the ones I’ve just described—I can’t even remember the last time I had a dream where I was swinging a sword around and rescuing princesses but that library keeps on coming back. In some ways, these ones are just as entertaining, and a great deal more comforting.

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One advantage to knowing another language is having access to literature outside the Anglosphere. You might remember my adventures in Polish fantastyka[1], which has given me a rather different take on fantasy and science fiction against what’s current in academic criticism of the genre. I wish I were better with languages than I am, since there’s vast, untapped seas of story that I can’t access because stories just don’t often jump across the language divide. Or else, they do, but only in one direction.

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I’m sure I didn’t coin the term “footnote mining”, though I hadn’t heard it before starting my MA last year and I seem to be the only one here who uses the word as a Thing. Maybe it isn’t common parlance, but it’s apt.

Footnote mining goes like this: you have a paper to write. The surest way to writing a good, well-documented essay is to find one recent, solid book or article on the topic of interest (or a related one), then to follow the footnotes to the original sources, which will likely lead you a few books deep as you follow those footnotes and citations until there aren’t any to follow anymore. It’s like chipping away at stone for mithril, only in a library.

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In a recent episode of Folding Ideas, the paper-built host discusses the problems faced by film adaptations using the Sci-Fi channel’s adaptation of Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea series as an example of an adaptation gone horribly awry.  I’ve decided to steal my title from that episode. There’s no argument that Sci-Fi’s Earthsea is an abomination unto man, but thinking on that particular travesty makes me wonder whether book adaptations are really worth it all. That question came to a head when I (finally) watched The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey last night and spent most of the running time completely baffled by the choices Peter Jackson & co. made. This touches on a conversation I’ve repeatedly had with a good friend of mine every time we wander onto the topic of the latest book-to-film, most often HBO’s Game of Thrones series.

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What, THIS scenario again?

And we complete our saga, by talking about Nazis, trench warfare, and the stupidity of some reptilian space invaders.

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Alasdair’s Ferretbrain Contributor Page

Source of the incidental music

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And off we go, into the wild blue yonder…

Today I’m joined by a special guest, Alasdair Czyrnyj.  Join us as we take to the skies on the back of a hydrogen-filled whale to discuss the perils of the steampunk genre.

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Alasdair’s Ferretbrain Contributor Page

Source of our Theme Song

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