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Jen Miller

Hey, That's Not Fantasy, Revisited: Thoughts on Songs of Love and Death

Songs of Love and DeathA few months ago, I wrote an article on Audrey Niffenegger's The Time Traveler's Wife in which I suggested that perhaps the novel wasn't fantasy literature.  This post inspired a number of comments, as well as a guest post by Ken Schneyer in which he explores the nature and limitations of genre definitions.  All of this was very interesting to me, and the question of how I define fantasy literature has been something that has been percolating in the back of my mind since then.

These questions came back to the surface when I picked up Songs of Love and Death, a collection of stories edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois.  All of the stories engage both the supernatural, as well as the theme of love and romance, and this cross-genre focus made it an excellent volume to think about the nature of the fantasy genre.

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Our Fantastic Week Ahead: August 22

We'd like to start today by offering our our congratulations to all the Hugo and Campbell Award winners!  You can find a complete list of the winners here, but we'd like to single out two winners for special congratulations, as we've recently featured them here on Fantasy Matters.

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Fantastically Fun Fridays: August 19, 2011

Happy Friday everyone!  First of all, as many of you already know, WorldCon is going on as we speak--we hope lots of you are there, having a wonderful time.  And for those of you who aren't there, the Hugo Awards ceremony, which takes place on Saturday evening, will be broadcast via streaming video on the internet, and updates will be posted on Twitter as well.  Here are the details on how you can take part in the fun from the comfort of your own couch!

In other WorldCon related news, George R. R. Martin was planning on bringing two signed Game of Thrones scripts with him to the convention to be auctioned off for charity, but they appear to have been stolen on their way to him.  Details about the situation can be found on his blog, and he's asking for help in getting them returned to him.

Here are some of the more lighthearted things we found around the tubes this week:

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Reading The Sword of Shannara: Chapters 26-30

The Sword of ShannaraJen Miller and Phil Ilten have been reading The Sword of Shannara together and sharing their thoughts by writing back and forth. Find earlier installments of our discussion here; we'd encourage you to add to our conversation in the comments!


Dear Jen--

Some of my predictions turned out to be correct! I was momentarily worried about my Eventine theory when Flick entered the tent, but it turns out I had nothing to fear. Unfortunately my other two predictions were only partially correct, or perhaps totally incorrect. While Palance has been mortally wounded by Stenmin and would appear to be at death’s door, the cause was not what I expected. I also had thought that Balinor and friends would escape through secret passages, but it looks like Stenmin did instead. However, I did feel rather confident that secret passages of some sort would be involved; what kind of castle doesn’t have secret passages?

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The Magic of the Theater: A Review of Barbara Ashford's Spellcast

SpellcastAnyone who has gone to a good theater production knows that the stage contains a magic of its own.  I'm not necessarily talking about just Broadway shows or those on London's West End, although these often do contain magic.  No, I'm talking about any production that takes on a life of its own, where the script is just the beginning, and where the members of the audience become active players in the drama.  It can happen anywhere, from New York to New Prague, from Tony-winning shows to those performed by grade school children.  There is something about the stage, the lights, the curtain, the costumes and makeup, and most importantly, the idea of make-believe that has the potential to imbue any theatrical production with magic.

Which is why Barbara Ashford's novel Spellcast makes so much sense.  Spellcast tells the story of Maggie Graham, a thirty-something who loses her job at the beginning of the novel and decides to head to Vermont to figure out what to do with her life.  As she's driving she is inexplicably drawn to a small town called Dale, and once she's there, she finds herself auditioning for a summer theater company.  She gets parts in all three of that summer's productions--Brigadoon, a new play entitled The Sea-Wife, and Carousel--and soon finds herself immersed in a world that seems a bit too good to be real.

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