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Posts Tagged ‘spice and wolf’

It’s been a long year, hasn’t it? But despite that, I don’t feel like I’ve personally done much of note with all that time. The house I started building this summer had to go on hold for the winter months, unfinished; I’m still working the same job; and I made a single short story sale this year – an important one for me, but I can’t yet announce where. I also learned, once again, that the tortured publication history of Zeppelins are What Dreams are Made of will remain tortured, after signing a contract with another publisher we got the sad news this year that the Book Smugglers will cease publishing ebooks/print books for 2019, so those novellas are back in the trunk. I’m still deep into art and illustration, but despite seeing steady improvement I’m far away from where I want to be and I expect I’m cursed to feel this way no matter how much drawing and painting I do.

Here’s what took my mind off turning 30 that let me wring some enjoyment out of troublesome times.

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spice-and-wolf-vol-19-light-novel

I read Spring Log II almost immediately after finishing Wolf and Parchment. Volume 19 of Spice and Wolf continues the gentler peak into the day-to-day life of a married couple that we saw in Spring Log I: another collection of short stories and novellas that run in more-or-less chronological order after a short flashback to an earlier time. Isuna Hasekura has come into his own with short fiction with these last two volumes, choosing character-focused pieces that explore close relationships and emotional states, quite the change from some of the clumsier offerings in the Side Colours volumes of the main Spice and Wolf series. Notably, a good chunk of this book comes comfortably from the wolf goddess Holo’s point of view rather than that of her husband Lawrence, a perspective largely absent from the novels in the series proper. (more…)

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Another smattering of thoughts for the month, as I just couldn’t come up with topics that quite warranted an article of their own. Up today: Pornokitsch, the Hugos, and Wolf and Parchment.

End of an era

1qdtdbod_400x400Pornokitsch shut down at the end of March and will not be posting new content. It’s a bit unusual to talk about a favourite website these days, but Pornokitsch was mine. They posted articles regularly on science fiction, fantasy, pop culture ephemera, cheesy music, historical oddities, old pulp paperbacks, and the occasional short story. It was a diverse mix fueled by the passions of the editors Jared Shurin and Anne Perry and their countless contributors from across the sff world. (more…)

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I always feel some trepidation when an author returns to a series after many years with a new installment—even when the book is good, it tends to miss something from the original, some spark that drove that series along. So, the news that Isuna Hasekura would release more Spice and Wolf came with some mixed feelings; Spice and Wolf was very much the comfort read I needed at the time I discovered it, but with seventeen books and a satisfying conclusion do we really need more? (more…)

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One charge often lobbed against secondary-world fantasy novels is that they don’t dwell on the economics of their imagined landscapes. What currency do the people use? Who grows the food? Who manufactured that cloak? The complaint strikes me as a little silly; most realist and historical novels I’ve read are similarly disinterested in these questions if they’re not directly tied to the narrative. I don’t see why the switch to an imaginary place suddenly makes the absence of economic matters a sin. The romantic tradition that influenced fantasy literature involves narratives that don’t, by and large, make economics a primary focus. Maybe our society frowns upon literary creations that seem overtly escapist when they don’t factor in the primary ideologies that run it–in North America, capitalism and economics; similarly, in post-Soviet Eastern Europe, the spectre of Marxism. Or maybe the capitalist focus of our society makes dealing with those issues in fantasy seem like a path to being taken seriously in a genre that still isn’t very respected.

Which isn’t to say that narratives where economics play a huge part are boring or unsuitable for fantasy. I spent this summer reading the Spice & Wolf series by Isuna Hasekura, a 17-book series out of Japan that centres heavily on economics. Hasekura takes the high medieval setting of most western fantasy and makes the stories all about the nuts-and-bolts of trade and commerce that those stories usually elide. (more…)

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