I hear Oz is lovely this time of year

TatooineAs anyone who has seen my house can tell you, I'm a big fan of minimalist/vintage-style travel posters.  I have one with a giraffe advertising South Africa in my living room, one with a train advertising the Black Forest Railroad, and, as of this past Christmas, three in my dining room suggesting that I visit Tatoonine, Hoth, and Endor.

That's right.  I have Star Wars travel posters.

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The Stuff that Makes the Man: Examining Alternatives to the Warrior Hero in Fantasy

In this essay, Kate Meyers examines the limitations of the warrior-hero ideal in fantasy literature, and argues that works such as Diana Wynne Jones' Howl's Moving Castle not only create heroic opportunities for both male and female protagonists, but also provide a way of expanding how we think of the hero in classic works such as The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.


King Arthur. Superman. Achilles. Hercules. When we think of heroes, we think of men like these who fight for what they believe in. In The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell studies the stories of heroes such as these, arguing that they can provide the symbols “that carry the human spirit forward” (11). Campbell treats the hero as a universal, symbolic manifestation of the rite of passage, wherein a person undergoes a transformative ritual that is vital to their full integration into society (40, 10). As such, the hero can also function as a symbol of what his or her culture values. The hero as warrior has become a particularly common motif in modern fantasy literature—often to the exclusion of other types of heroism. This is problematic, as it excludes protagonists with traits such as communication and compassion from the role of hero. Consistently coding the hero as warrior, when the warrior archetype embodies traits that are highly exclusionary to a significant portion of the readership, sends the message that only men, or at least only people possessing stereotypically “masculine” traits, are capable of heroism and the rite of Howl's Moving Castlepassage it symbolizes. This essay seeks to reevaluate the situation of the hero in fantasy by using Diana Wynne Jones’s Howl’s Moving Castle as representative of an alternative type of hero, one who has both “masculine” and “feminine” qualities and is still able to complete the hero’s journey. Then, by taking Jones's characterization of the hero and using it to look at older works seemingly dominated by the warrior hero archetype, such as The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, we can synthesize different criteria for fantasy heroism that makes it possible for people of both genders to complete their rite of passage.

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Traveling Back Across the Border

Welcome to BordertownBordertown is a shared world, created by Terri Windling and the other authors who set stories there in the four anthologies and three novels published between 1986 and 1998. It's a place that exists on the border between the Elflands and the World, a half-magical city that became, like so many other cities, a refuge to those desperate to get away from who and what they were before. It was a well-loved shared world, and its influence on writers and readers of the fantastic cannot be overstated. Urban Fantasy, for example, would probably still exist today without Bordertown, but certainly not in its current shape.

And then the Border closed. For thirteen years, no new word crossed the Border.

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What to read next??

Well, I'm in a bit of a pickle: I am going to finish my current book in a couple days and I don't currently have another fantasy/scifi book on my 'to-read' list.  I'm looking for suggestions.  Here are some details :

  • My favorite books of all time are The Dark Tower series by Stephen King
  • I've read The Lord of the Rings through 4 times.  I love them as well.
  • I have a personality flaw - I won't read a series before it's complete, so the Kingkiller Chronicles is out until book 3 is complete
  • Recently I've read The Fionavar Tapestry and really enjoyed it.  I also read The Lies of Locke Lamora (before I realized it was in a sequence... arg...) which I enjoyed, but thought was a bit too grisly for my taste.

Comments are shut down on this post -- please comment on this forum.  I appreciate your input!

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Tarantino's Got the Right Idea; Or, Why Fantasy Matters

Quentin TarantinoLast week, I was reading about Quentin Tarantino's latest project--a film called Django Unchained, which, according to a commenter over at Hollywood Elsewhere, tells the story of a freed slave named Django who works with a bounty hunter to find and free his wife.  What is interesting about this movie to me is the form that it's going to take--something that has the action and adventure of a "spaghetti Western," but that takes place in the time and space of the Civil War and that Tarantino would call a "Southern." 

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