Thursday, 15 August 2019

Five Quick Thoughts

1) So the rest of the fantasy world is at WorldCon and for some stupid reason I'm not. Yay my life decisions! So while they all have fun, I'm here thinking my thoughts about this and that. And one of those thoughts is that I've started watching The Boys. I'm not sure how much I like it and whether I'll stick with it (although my wife likes it which means I probably do).

Now, there's a lot of things to like about it. But I think there's some flaws, one of them being I don't like any of the characters enough to tolerate them being giant douchecanoes. A more integral flaw maybe though is that it's whole premise - that making a person a superhero is a good way to make them a super-pillock - is a pretty common one now. What does The Boys say that hasn't been said before? What's its fresh angle? Just dialling the nastiness up a few notches doesn't work for me.

2) Speaking of TV, some of the The Wheel of Time's casting choices have been announced to a certain degree of controversy. Now I've no particular interest in addressing that - unless people have a burning desire to hear my opinion - but I did slope around my usual haunts to see what people said after reading it. And found pretty much nothing.

And that might be a far bigger issue than any amount of casting.

Wheel of Time's going to be an extraordinarily difficult story to adapt. It's gigantic, it sprawls, and it's full of little quirks that maybe don't make it the mass market friendly thing either. And it's going to be expensive too. And worse of all, there's not really any ingrained "Gotcha!" moment early on. It's so slow compared to some of today's stories. All of it points to a project that's probably going to need a fair bit of fan hype to get it off the ground. And there could be huge amounts - Wheel of Time has one hell of a fanbase after all. But I'm not seeing it happening.

3) Onto books! I've been trying to see what the fuss is about some of the big name YA authors recently and when it comes to Cassandra Clare, I found a lot of reason to make a fuss and a revelation of sorts into why YA commands such a big adult audience. Clare's big gift as an author is the ability to capture what makes inter-personal relationships special and convey them to her audience. I'm not saying she's bad at anything else (although I did hate the ending of Lord of Shadows with surprising passion) but that's her big gift. And because she's concentrating mainly on people - young changing people - and not trying to reinvent the wheel, there's no clutter in the way. Which is, on reflection, a big strength of YA - and the Epic Fantasies I read as a kid that might well be classified as YA today. And why I still find those books stack up so well against so much of what we see today. 

4) Speaking of stuff that sticks, I'm currently doing a re-read of Order of the Stick. It's probably one of the best fantasy comics out there, printed or web; it may just be one of the best fantasy stories out there period. Apart from being laugh out funny and hugely epic, it's one of the subtler and stronger examinations of the nature of good and evil, and the unthinking tribalisms baked fairly deep into fantasy, out there. Whether it's watching a goblin cleric argue with a paladin, or adventurers trying to come to terms with brushes with divine, or even just a bloodthirsty monster slowly learning a sense of empathy - Order of the Stick pushes hard on every story loving button I have. 

5) Last but not least - MD Presley has one of the more unique giveaways I've seen in the SFFosphere going in with his Fantasy Jewelry Giveaway. It's a pretty cool idea given that his first book is called The Woven Ring, and a very good way of drawing attention to the fact that said book (which has been reviewed on the blog) is at a very cheap price all through August. So click and enter.

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