PSA on the rants

While I do plan to keep on posting as often as I can, they may be slower in coming. I'm currently trying to assemble qualifying lists for my written and oral exams for an English Ph.D., which means that I need to read 75 nineteenth-century British books and 75 books on my topical list (mainly, what happened to the representation of the human body via nature in the wake of Darwin) between now and early February/late January. I don't plan to abandon the rants altogether, but if I can't post every week, this is why.
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    determined determined

Loose ends rant

This is another one where I had difficulty deciding on the title for the rant. By “loose ends,” I mean not just the usual subplots or themes and concepts that might drift about in the wind at the end of a novel, but those things you want to leave untied. I like those stories best that seem to go on beyond the end, the characters who live after you let them walk off the page, those plots with reverberations that don’t just stop with a bump. So this discusses, as I see it—always as I see it, because there are exceptions for each of these if the book is written well enough—some ways of judging what loose ends might work to enhance your story and which will just muddle it.

See? Not a good titleCollapse )

There’s always a risk to take with loose ends. But that’s true of every single story that reaches for more than mediocrity.

Variations on a theme of ecological fantasy

This is mostly another, “Here is a list of ideas I think are really cool!” entries, and it doesn’t go into that much detail on any one of them. Just thinking about writing these gets me all bouncy. These are not prescriptions, these are Shiny.

Some patternsCollapse )

And now that I have chattered on and on and on, in at least partial incoherence—I’m sorry; this touches on my major interest as an English academic as well as one of my major interests in fantasy—I’ll give it a rest.

Non-complex fantasy

A few people have asked for a rant on…non-complex fantasy.

I dislike this name. But I have stared at it for a while now, and there doesn’t seem to be any better replacement for it. “Simplistic” fantasy is an insult, and “light” fantasy usually implies some element of humor that’s not always there. A book can be a good read without delving into the most Byzantine themes ever and without having a joke every three pages. That’s the kind of book I’m talking about here.

(I will note that it isn’t the kind of book I usually enjoy, since temperamentally I’m inclined towards fantasy that makes me strain my intellect to keep up with the ideas being presented and smashes me into an emotional wreck by the end. I don’t always find it, but the books I love do it, and the ones I like the most come closer to it than not. So this rant may have hidden biases).

Non-complex fantasyCollapse )

Still not sure about the name of this rant, but the only other term I’ve thought of is “mindless,” and that would result in extreme sarcasm against the whole idea, so non-complex it remains.

On alien species and worlds and keeping them alien

So, back in that poll I did lo these many months ago, heartofmarkness asked about creating alien races/worlds and keeping them alien—not making them so anthropomorphic they lose that edge of alienness. And thinking about that produced this. “This” is once again more an essay-like collection of tips and advice which might work. Alienness, like humor, is so often subjective that I’d hesitate to say, “This will make a character seem inhuman/a world different from Earth every time and to every reader.”

Inhuman/unhuman: when it’s a good thingCollapse )

I did plan to write a rant at some stage about making fantasy less anthropocentric, but this seems to cover half the points I would have raised there.