A Link Stampede

I got the links like Jagger, I got the links like Jagger, I got the Li-i-i-i-inks like Jagger.

-Apparently fantasy literature lacks in imagination. At least that is what this guy at Black Gate is lamenting; elves, orcs and medieval European settings being all that encompasses fantasy these days. Or, as blogosphere comment extraordinaire Paul points out (paraphrasing here because he says it nicer than I would have), perhaps people should actually read recent fantasy before making statements of this type.   Sure there is still a range of faux-Europe fantasies, and occasionally I see a random elf or orc, but if fantasy isn’t at a high point of diversified settings right now I don’t know what to call it.

Sure, the coverage and promotion of the more diversified settings in fantasy may be lacking, but if you are finding nothing but Tolkien knockoffs then you are flat out not looking hard enough (or at all).

-Mark Lawrence writes some great books and is something of a social media wizard; no one has been more interactive and responsive to their respective fan base than him and I have little doubt it is a big part of his success (that and writing very compelling books). So I am not real sure what the point of this post is. It starts off looking like a celebration of a milestone then takes a tangent into a grudge list. Apparently the ‘thinly scattered’ criticisms complaining about lack of female characters in his very first book have stuck in his mind for three years? He doesn’t have to write females into his book if he doesn’t want to and nobody is forcing anyone to read his books if he doesn’t. (That no one is forcing him to read every criticism is not addressed).

He is right, he can write any story he wants. And he is also right, his books past Prince of Thorns have been more representative of half of the human population. But the post felt like a blatant appeal to the worse of his fan base; the anti-PC ,#gamergate, “let men be men” crowd. And intentional or not when responding to his critics on various forms of social media he is pointing the hoards to begin an onslaught against the unsuspecting .

Mark has always treated with me respect (though I doubt he knows who I am).  He gave our blog some coverage on our reviews and has answered questions on various forums quickly.  I know this small post will reach him eventually and maybe he will let me know I got it all wrong.  But I don’t think this was a shining moment.

This one is a bit older but quite a gem. Fantasy is boring him because he is looking for a very specific type of book and don’t get your icky agenda all over my fantasy. For this I can only point out that Canadian rock band Rush knows the truth of the matter; “If you choose not to decide you still have made a choice.”

What is really being complained about here is an agenda that doesn’t fit a particular comfort level; i.e. the standard one that has formed the base of commercial fantasy for some time. But is following an agenda just as much as a setting that explores diversity, gender issues, or any other hot topic. It just shows an agenda where the status quo is preferred. And if that is what a person wants to read, so be it. But please call it like it is.

-On a more positive note one of the best things about the new year is finding out what books are coming out soon. Nobody puts a more comprehensive list together than A Fantastical Librarian though the UK only releases always hurt a little). Here is the first list.

– Finally, you should already know Alix from The Other Side of Rain. She is a fantastic voice who writes some of the most entertaining reviews around. She also has a short story out in Shimmer. I am not going to get in the habit of reviewing single short stories but please know it is fucking beautiful. Go read it.

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