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Voices in Fantasy Literature, Part III

Voices in Fantasy Literature, Part III

Sir_Hereward_and_Mister_Fitz_by_Garth_Nix_200_294This is the third installment in a series of posts highlighting fantasy short fiction (here are Part I and Part II).

Over the course of the last eight years, I’ve read or listened to a lot of short fiction and the variety out there is astonishing. And I love to try to introduce new readers to some of the stuff that impressed me. This week, the three stories I picked were by Garth Nix, Nancy Hightower, and Daniel Abraham.

“Hereward and Mr Fitz Go To War Again,” by Garth Nix, appeared originally in Jim Baen’s Universe,  then in Podcastle (where I heard it), and then in a collection by Subterranean Press (ebook available here). This is one of three Sir Hereward and Mister Fitz stories I heard and I absolutely fell in love with the weird swashbuckling world Nix created.

Hereward is a knight, artillerist, and swordsman, as able with gunpowder as with the blade. Fitz is an animated wooden puppet and dangerous sorcerer, whose sorcery is structured around sewing and knitting, with his accouterments being needles, thread, and sometimes a portable sewing desk. Their job is to enforce a treaty against rogue gods that is so old that some of the nations to the treaty no longer exist.

This is pure buddy picture story, a grand adventures against old gods. Loads of fun and the Sir Hereward and Mister Fitz stories are now available as an ebook, so no reason not to check it out.

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Fantasy and the economy

Fantasy and the economy

One of the more interesting aspects of the intriguing would-be science of socionomics is its concept of art and entertainment themes as an approximate measure of social mood.  This is a sophisticated variant of the well-known inverse relationship between skirt lengths and stock prices which postulates lighter themes being more popular in expansionary times and darker themes dominating during economic contractions.

As the news of massive frauds and corporate failures filled this week’s headlines, I found myself wondering if perhaps the socionomics concept can reasonably be applied to genres and sub-genres as well as themes.  There’s little doubt that the existence of Black Gate notwithstanding, the adventure fantasy has fallen upon relatively hard times; while many SF/F authors readily acknowledge their debt to Jules Verne, Robert E. Howard, and Edgar Rice Burroughs, relatively few truly consider themselves to be writing in that tradition today.  Even the spiritually related Western genre of which Louis Lamour was once king sells but a small fraction of the numbers it used to command.

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