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Jen Miller

Reading The Sword of Shannara: Chapters 21-25

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 Phil--

Hey, we have a girl! Last time I was just complaining about the complete dearth of female characters, and now we have one. Sure, she’s a princess who needed to be rescued, but she has a name and says things, so we’re moving in the right direction, right? I am interested to learn how exactly Palance came to think that Balinor stole her from him, since that seems like it will do a lot to begin to bring some of the narrative threads developed in this section together into one glorious climax.

Speaking of multiple narrative threads: in our last set of letters, you had commented about how you got more interested in the story during those chapters--that happened for me during these chapters. One big reason was that I really enjoyed the multiple storylines that were developed here, and I agree that this has helped a lot to move the novel away from Tolkien’s influence and into a creative space of its own.

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The Last Unicorn Come to Life

The Last UnicornPeter S. Beagle's The Last Unicorn is one of the great works of fantasy literature.  It is a beautiful, haunting story of loneliness, and love, and finding one's place in the world.  Like Neil Gaiman's Stardust, it is a fairy tale for both children and adults, and it is a story that is as magical today as when it was first publishd over 40 years ago.

So when I learned that it had been adapted as a graphic novel, I immediately found a copy and read it.

It was beautiful.  Astonishingly beautiful.

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Our Fantastic Week Ahead: August 1

Happy August!  We hope everyone is enjoying summer, staying cool, and finding a few moments of relaxation now and then.

We'd like to start the week off by congratulating the nominees for the World Fantasy Awards--the complete list of nominees can be found here.  In particular, we would like to congratulate Peter S. Beagle and Angélica Gorodischer on their World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement Awards!

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Fantastically Fun Fridays: July 29, 2011

As our Hugo Week draws to a close, we'd like to again remind you that you can still vote for your choices for the Hugos-membership information for Renovation is available here, and you have until July 31, 2011 (Sunday) to vote.  As Kat's post earlier this week mentioned, you have the power to shape the direction of the fantasy and science fiction genres with your votes and your nominations, and we'd encourage you to become an active participant in the process.

We also hope that you enjoyed our coverage of the Hugo-nominated novels, and that you take the time to vote for your favorite in our own poll.  Let's see if we can successfully predict the winner in the Best Novel category!

Here are some other things we found floating around the Internet this week...

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Hugo Week: Lois McMaster Bujold's Cryoburn

CryoburnI went into Cryoburn blind.  Bujold's novel is the latest installment in the adventures of Miles Vorkosigan, a hero introduced over two decades ago in The Warrior's Apprentice (1986) and who has appeared in over a dozen other novels.  And I'd never read any of them.

And I'll be honest--this made the novel frustrating for me to read at times, particularly the beginning.  I cheated a bit and looked up Miles Vorkosigan on Wikipedia, and looked at his chronology in the back of the book, both of which helped me keep characters straight and have some idea of where Miles was coming from, but I still didn't have the same emotional investment in the characters that a long-time Vorkosigan saga fan would have.  The hardcover version novel also came with a CD containing all the earlier works in the Vorkosigan saga, which I'm sure would be a huge bonus for many Bujold fans, but when I saw the CD, I was hoping for something more transmedial--something that blended genres and enhanced the medium of the novel with an interactive tour of the Vorkosigan universe, perhaps.

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