Review: Kushiel’s Dart

Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey

As you may have gathered from the fact that I press The Sundering onto any fantasy fan I encounter, I love Jacqueline Carey. But while I started with her brilliant deconstruction of The Lord of the Rings, Carey is most known for the Kushiel’s Legacy series and its companion trilogy. Kushiel’s Dart (and then the rest of the series!) was the logical step from The Sundering, but a problem cropped up—you see, it is apparently so good people have stolen all the copies from my local library at school. I could only get it at my local library at home, and as the end of summer crept up on me, I made sure to pick it up and read it before I went back to school. And, of course, I devoured it.

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The Literary Horizon: Swastika Night, Farthing

Alternate history is a particular favorite of mine—I love the idea of how just one event can change the course of the world, and seeing that changed world. On top of that, contrasting it against our world usually brings up some very interesting issues. Today, we’re looking at two alternate history novels that take Nazi domination as their divergence point from our own history.
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The Sunday Salon: Alternate Current Events

For the past week, I’ve been encountering a very strange sight at my local grocery store. (We are not the best food planners, my mother and I, so we’re constantly dashing over to pick up bread or apples or milk—good thing it’s five minutes from the house!) Perusing the magazine racks in search of the Entertainment Weekly containing the The Hobbit photos, I came across an issue of Newsweek with a very strange photo: Princess Diana as an elegant woman in her fifties, striding alongside Kate Middleton. It turned out to accompany an article entitled “Diana at 50” by Tina Brown. While others might be first struck with the tastelessness of it, I was first struck by the fact that, however it got there, a piece of alternate history was front and center on a grocery store newsrack in a small town, being presented as journalism. How incalculably… odd.

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The Literary Horizon: Ada, or Ardor, Heart of Iron

Beyond being forced to read Anna Karenina once summer (I retain little to this day, my usual method of coping with things I have to do against my will), I’ve encountered Russia very seldom in my fictional travels. But a surefire way to get me interested in a subject is to approach it through the lens of speculative fiction, which is the reason for today’s selections from my reading list—speculative fiction by Russians and set in Russia… or at least exploring it, in the first case.

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Review: Batman: Holy Terror

Batman: Holy Terror by Alan Brennert and Norm Breyfogle

Comics are, let’s be honest, hard to just jump into. I had to wait for Gotham City Sirens to make my first nervous foray into the current state of Gotham, but I’m glad I did. (The other titles I follow are non-superheroes.) I also happen to love alternate history, especially when it comes to exploring the minute choices that make us what we are. That’s probably why I’m so drawn to DC’s Elseworlds imprint—they’re not only one-shots you can just pick up without committing yourself to years and decades of back story, but they take familiar heroes and place them in different circumstances. I picked up Batman: Holy Terror (irrationally terrified I’d be put on some sort of watch list for putting such a title on hold) on the recommendation of MGK, whose blog you should really follow if you like comics at all.

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The Literary Horizon: Batman: Holy Terror, Blue Beetle: Shellshocked

Having recently listed basically the bulk of my graphic novel collection on eBay, I’m quite in the mood for some graphic novels—DC, of course. I’m a DC girl, through and through; while I like Marvel’s films, there’s something too snarky and winking about it for me in the comics. I’m mostly an aficionado of Batman and the whole Batfamily, but I think it’s time to try something different. To that end, the very first Elseworlds graphic novel and the first installment in Jaime Reyes’ stint as the Blue Beetle ought to do quite nicely.

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Review: Camera Obscura

Camera Obscura by Lavie Tidhar

I feel I tend to neglect smaller presses when it comes to my reading list. I’m skittish when it comes to new books; I have a hard time wandering through a library or a bookstore and picking up something on the spot. I need to do research; I need to know what people whose opinions I trust think of it. Not that this saves me from reading bad books, but it does prevent some of the worst offenders from crossing my desk. But this reserve must be neatly folded away when I’m dealing with NetGalley; I just have to suck it up and reach a hand in. Hence Camera Obscura, which caught my attention because its protagonist is Milady de Winter from The Three Musketeers.

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The Sunday Salon: Rant — Literary Fiction

And now for something a little different—a video rant about “literary fiction” and “genre fiction” (both literally meaningless labels). Emo!Ten, our cardboard cut-out of the Tenth Doctor (he survived a near collision between Sasha, the small Honda Civic, and a MARTA bus; his sadness attracts disaster), looms over my shoulder, Demora Pasha’s fan is really loud, and our window of dramatic lighting, well, lights dramatically.

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The Sunday Salon: What Makes a Fandom?

But it had—crucially, to my theory of what makes great mass art—the powerful quality of being open-ended, vague at its borders. Onto its simple template of horses and apes and humans, of quest and pursuit across a simplified landscape, a kid could easily project himself and the world he lived in. In its very incompleteness, born of lack of budget, the loose picaresque structure, and even of cancellation itself, it hinted at things beyond its own borders. There was room for you and your imagination in the narrative map of the show. (80)

Michael Chabon, Manhood for Amateurs

Let’s get my Chabon fangirling out of the way at the top—aren’t we so lucky that one of the best writers I’ve ever witnessed is part of fandom and one of us? It totally makes up for that time Diana Gabaldon called us all white slavers. (As to why white slavery is worse than, say, black slavery, I haven’t the foggiest.) This quote comes from an essay in Manhood for Amateurs (I stupidly didn’t write down essay titles in my commonplace book) where Chabon discusses a show he and his friends watched as a child and expanded upon once it was cancelled. I remember immediately writing down “so this explains Firefly” in my notes upon reading it. Nobody quite knows what makes a fandom; for every Star Trek and The Lord of the Rings, whose fandoms probably outrank some countries by population, there’s a plaintive cry of “Where’s the fandom for this?” in anonymous posts. There’s no correlation to length of the work—the entirety of Firefly, whose fandom is still going strong, runs 749 minutes or 12 hours and 48 minutes, short enough that my campus hosts an annual marathon of it through one night. Even genre isn’t an indicator; contemporary fiction shows like How I Met Your Mother and House have fairly strong fandoms. Everyone comes to fandom for a different reason, but I think Chabon has hit upon something extremely important here.

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Review: Firebirds

Firebirds edited by Sharyn November

As I mentioned in its review, So Long Been Dreaming was the second short story collection I’d ever read. The first? This anthology, back in middle school–it was on the first shelf to the left in my middle school’s library, and I was taken in by the gorgeous cover. (Not much has changed, apparently.) After encountering Firebirds Rising and Firebirds Soaring at the library near my college, I was feeling a bit nostalgic for it–but I couldn’t find it in either of my library systems. So I consulted eBay, where I found some remainder copies for five dollars a pop. The week before Narnia Week, I settled in to see if I would be as impressed as I was when I was a wee lass–but things certainly have changed.

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