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Tag Archives: urban fantasy

First, the kitty, because I know that Kelly likes them (and is owned by one).

Second, the reasons why I bought Three Days to Dead:

  1. I heard about it on Kelly’s Blog and decided to support a fellow writer,
  2. Wanted to expand my U/F scope beyond The Dresden Files.
  3. It had an interesting premise

Third, the review.

First and foremost, it is an fast and furious ride which is over before you can even blink. From the moment you say GO! it doesn’t stop, it even barely slows down. The characters are engaging, in fact, the author manages to create a well balanced female lead that is tough yet vulnerable without being either bitchy or whiny.  You feel for Evangeline Stone from the get go and those feelings are enhanced by what she has gone through. Not only that, the romantic subplot meshes seamlessly with the main story instead of hobbling it.

And special mention goes to the tact and skill in handling a particular scene. In the hands of another author it would have either a) averted all together, or b) given way to much information. Instead we get just enough to imagine the horrors alluded too without needing to vomit afterward.

The downside(s)?

The end was a bit too quick for me, I almost missed it and it was too neatly wrapped up, which smelled of deux machina and so did the coincidences (which are lamp shaded in the books several times). Also, the background seems a bit generic, the variations on archetypes were interesting (specially the goblins) but not enough to make them stand out from the norm. But no worries, no major info dumping occurs either, so the action flows without any major interruptions.

One last thing, which is a critique of the book, but not of its content.

The cover.

You can read my full argument against cliche covers (with bullet points) if you fallow the link above, but suffice it to say that had I know specifically looked for it, I would probably would never had bought this book just by looking at the cover. It’s interesting on its own, but fails to stand out among the rests of the offerings in the shelf. I know that as a first time author, Ms, Meding doesn’t have a lot of control over such things, but this book deserves better.

Overall, it is a good solid piece of Urban Fantasy, well crafted and above all else, entertaining. Well worth the money. I’m looking forward to the next installment.

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Querying still in effect.

In other news, I’m 3-3 on SuD Alpha stage. Now, granted two of the people that read it are friends of mine, but they are also consumers of speculative fiction, which means they are the target audience for the book. Now all I got to do is type up the second part and start the second draft/re-write/revision, which considering that this book doesn’t require as many changes as the first, it should be easier.

Things that I need to work on:

  • Grammar: Always.
  • World Building: Vampires are out, Nephilim are in. Also, clarify some background points without drowning the story in exposition.
  • Work on the MC: He comes out as a bit cold and uncaring. He is stoic, but he needs to work on his empathy. Mind you being a veteran of three wars can zap that out of you, but still….
  • Plot flow problems: Minor ones, but ones that if they are not fixed will cause some major Wall Banger moments.

And whatever else pops up as a I go over it again. But for now I’ll take the good news, thank you very  much!

——

Oh boy, I’m going straight to Hell, hand me that hand basket, okay, thanks!

Which just show you that writing about religion is hard. That’s why most speculative fiction writers, especially in the fantasy genre/sub-genres avoid it, at least when it comes to Abrahamic religions (it seems Wicca and other forms or paganism are fair game).

The reasons are multiple:

  • The writer doesn’t want to offend anyone.
  • The writer doesn’t want his book to be a dissertation on his religious beliefs.
  • The writer fears that he will get it wrong.
  • Most writers, even if they are agnostic or atheist still come from a religious background (mostly the above Abrahamic religions or sects/cults there in) and unconsciously anthropomorphize the Supreme Deity (God with a capital G for those keeping score t home).

My problem is that, considering the modern concept of what is God (yes, the capital G-man) makes him (or it) to be omniscient and omnipotent, ergo any but the most vague descriptions of the Almighty himself (does not include discussions on the theological/historical/social aspects of religion by the way) will fit the bill. If you turn Him into a character, then he is not longer, well, Him but a lesser copy, thus not worthy of having the title, unless you’re writing in the post-modern tradition of the “Jerk-God” (yes, with a capital…oh never mind).

So what is a writer to do?

  1. Polytheism: Although many fantasy stories are written in a High Middle Ages milieu (knights, stone castles, feudalism) the write creates a cosmology full of gods and goddesses. Most of these act like a combination of Anglo-Saxon, Nordic, or Greco-Roman pantheons, although it is not uncommon for these deities to have “churches”, “clerics” and other attributes of modern Christian (especially Catholicism) sects. Common in D&D and works inspired by it and previous authors, such as Robert E. Howard.
  2. Henotheism/Molotraism: Other gods exist but the story/characters focus on worshiping one above the others, either because it is the patron deity of a city, culture or nation or simply the belief that others are not worthy of worship. Does not preclude the existence of other deities, only the preference/worthiness of these vis-a-vis the chief deity. May be a step toward monotheism. In Urban Fantasy (American Gods by Neil Gaiman or DC Vertigo’s Lucifer) it serves as an explanation of why the old gods have faded from the world but not disappeared completely.  Also serves to establish that all myths are true.
  3. Distant God:  Deux Ex Machina, God is in the machine or at least he is IT, everything, the All or the supreme architect. He exists but for some reason he is either preoccupied with running the universe or he is everyone/everything and can not be reduced to one person/thing. Basically a cop out by the writer, as in “yeah, it’s there, I just don’t want to talk about it”. The world now belongs to Man and does not need a powerful deity mucking about and interfering with free will.
  4. The Absent/Uncaring/Malicious Deity: God has either moved on with creation, doesn’t care what happens to its creation or set up the whole thing as a great cosmic joke. Mostly a take that against organized religion (think Dogma or for that matter, anything by the late, great George Carlin). Many of these stories pit humanity against demons or the Devil, and the most it can expect from the Powers That Be are a few angels here or there and they may not be good guys or may not even know where their boss is. Supernatural is a great example of this.
  5. Christianity by Allegory: This comes in two forms, Christianity (or the chosen Abrahamic tradition) By Any Other Name or a Thickly Veiled Allegory with symbolic stand-ins for modern religion of the writers choice. The first is common in many computer RPGs like World of Warcraft. You have priest, churches, paladins and priests, and the worship a stand in for God (called The Light or some such). The second may use elements of other mythos or modern analogs to retell biblical stories or the like. C.S. Lewis was a master of this. Yes, the Lion was Jesus.

So, there you have it. Pick your poison. And if you end downstairs before I do, please save me a seat!

And to make sure I get there in style, here is a double dose of Eddie Izzard:

 

All-Hallows Eve.

I’m not a big fan of Halloween. I don’t hate it, but like St. Valentine’s I consider it an over hyped holiday. I think one of the reasons why I am not particularly fond of this day is the insistence on fear. I don’t like scary movies. I don’t go to the theater or play a game to be scared.  Fear is an unpleasant emotion I could do without unless absolutely necessary.

That doesn’t mean I avoid stories of things that go bump in the night.

Oh no….

But I like my stories where the hero(s) get to bump back.

Less horror and more urban fantasy. For every vampire a vampire slayer, for every demon a demon hunter.

I liked Jaws, and Aliens. Not only were they proper horror movies (never show the monster in the trailer) but the heroes get to fight back. They are not reduced to screaming, running piles of human flesh waiting for their killer to strike them down at their whim. They fight back. They win the day. At a cost, but they win.

Rippley blasted the nasty xenomorph through an airlock.

The shark got blown to smithereens with a well place rifle shot.

Fake blood and gore cheapens real life horrors. Reality is far scarier than anything dreamed up by Hollywood, and far more shocking.

Give the heroes a chance to win and win their bitter-sweet day in the sun.

Commune with the spirits of the dead, draw comfort from those that have come before and confront those that stand between you and your future.

Now that is a story I can sink my teeth into.

And now for some music from Orbital:

 

Write what you know….

Or write what you like.

But what if I’m not comfortable with what I know or like?

I like fantasy and I know a bit about Medieval European history, so it seemed like a good idea.

Except I was not comfortable with it.

I love reading it and playing fantasy theme games (computer and tabletop).

But my real comfort zone exists somewhere between Today and Some Time in the Future.

With guns, politics, intrigue and travel (I like to put my characters on the road as soon as possible).

Doesn’t require a lot of world building or language manipulation (Ye Olde English gives me a headache).

So for now fantasy remains distant, while urban fantasy and science fiction are comfortable and easy.

So what (or where) is your comfort zone?