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Kat Howard

All you have to do is write it

Captain NemoBefore I began writing, I thought the hardest part of being a writer was coming up with the ideas. I didn't realized that all the work - turning the idea into something interesting for other people, thinking about character, and theme, and plot, oh, and actually writing it, all came after.

So I was particularly intrigued by the concept of Captain Nemo: The Fantastic Adventures of a Dark Genius, the latest novel from Kevin J. Anderson. In Anderson's book, André Nemo is a real person, and a friend of Jules Verne's. And all of the extraordinary adventure tales Verne writes are based on the actual adventures Nemo lives.

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Teaching in Breach

The City and The CityWhen I began the semester, it was Catherynne M. Valente’s book about a sexually transmitted city, Palimpsest, that I was worried about teaching. Well, worried is maybe too strong of a word, but there are some texts that require tighter classroom management than others, and I was prepared for Palimpsest to be one of those. Still, after explicating all the quaint sexual punning in The Canterbury Tales and teaching a law school seminar on the speech clause of the first amendment that included a lecture on the constitutional necessity of wearing g-strings and pasties while dancing nude, I was sure I could handle it. More importantly, the book was too perfect for the course – The Fantastic as Place – to leave it off the syllabus out of cowardice.

Palimpsest, as it turned out, wasn’t a problem. No, the book that almost broke my class was China Miéville’s The City and the City.

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Midweek Fiction: Holly Black, "The Dog King"

Holly Black is an absolutely tremendous writer. I've loved her fiction since reading Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale, and she is also the creative force behind The Spiderwick Chronicles,  and the Eisner-nominated Good Neighbors series of graphic novels (which I also highly recommend). She has also edited a number of anthologies, including Welcome to Bordertown.

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Midweek Fiction: Neil Gaiman, "The Guardian"

I introduced Neil Gaiman once, at the Fantasy Matters conference, as it happens. After agonizing for a terrifically painful amount of time over how best to do this, I realized the best thing to do would be to make the introduction as short as possible, leaving out all the glorious things written, all the well-deserved awards won. So, gentle readers, I give you: Neil Gaiman.

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How do you know when the girl is imaginary?

Imaginary GirlsThe first thing I did upon finishing Nova Ren Suma's extraordinary book, Imaginary Girls, was to flip back to the beginning and read it again. Though I reread a lot, the one other time I have done so immediately is with Gene Wolfe's Peace. This is fitting, perhaps, as it is Wolfe's definition of good literature - "that which can be read by an educated reader, and reread with increased pleasure" - that came into my mind as I was reading Imaginary Girls.

Upon finishing again, my thoughts turned from the sublime to the practical. I thought, "Huh. I wonder where they are going to shelve this." I can see Imaginary Girls being described both as "the realistic book all genre readers should pick up" and "the work of the fantastic guaranteed to appeal to all readers of realistic fiction." I can see where both those descriptions are accurate, and both contain the important part - everyone should read this book. 

Suma herself describes it as magical realism. I don't disagree, but I am going to talk about Imaginary Girls specifically in terms of the fantastic. I'll try to keep the spoilers to a minimum, but to talk about this book, I need to talk about how it ends.

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