If you don’t know how to fill in the rest of that quote, shame on you. Yes, I’m being horribly judgmental but I am an avowed Star Wars fan and that quote is one of the biggies. It’s right up there with “Use the Force, Luke!” and “I’ve got a very bad feeling about this.” I think it’s fair to say that having at least a few Star Wars quotes in your repertoire of witty comebacks is a geek essential.
I could write this whole post about Star Wars quotes alone, but that would mean ignoring some of my favorites from elsewhere in the geekverse. There’s Star Trek, and Firefly, and The Terminator, and Monty Python, and, and, and…. actually I could probably write a book. I don’t have the time today, though, given Christmas presents like Star Wars: The Old Republic and Lego Mindstorms demanding my attention. So instead, here are just a few of my favorites. Not afraid you won’t know them all? You will be, you WILL be….
“Use the Force, Luke!”
Really, if you don’t know this one, then how on earth did you even find this blog? I should not need to tell you this but it’s from Star Wars: A New Hope because it’s the biggest, most important quote in all of geek history with endless potential for use in daily conversation. Co-worker can’t get his file cabinet open? Struggling to get the lid of a jar of pickles? Can’t quite reach the genuine replica lightsaber on your mantle? All these moments are perfect opportunities to break out this quote.
“The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one.”
No one could forget Spock uttering this phrase as he was overcome by radiation after saving the Enterprise in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Then there’s the slow slide down the glass as he collapses to the floor and dies. Wait, I need a minute. This quote encompasses the essence of all that is Star Trek. The Federation is not about power and privilege, but about making the galaxy a better place and sacrificing for the common good. Use this one to con your friends into doing anything, from seeing a movie they don’t want to see to giving you the last piece of pizza because you need it more. Try it, you’ll see.
“I aim to misbehave.”
A bit newer on the scene, but still an essential geek quote spoken by Captain Malcolm Reynolds on the short-lived Firefly television series. Unlike Spock or Obi-Wan’s lines, there’s no depth of meaning behind this one. It’s a simple statement of the intent to have fun, cause trouble, and wreak a certain amount of gleeful havoc. Hey, New Year’s Eve is just a few days away, a moment designed for this quote if ever there was one.
If you ask Gollum, this line refers to The One Ring in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, but you can use it to refer to just about anything. It might be something amazing like a shiny new car or something you intend to take before your friends get the chance–like the last piece of pizza. If you want it, then it’s your precious. The key here is that you not only can but must use a creepy, scratchy Gollum-like voice to deliver this line.
“Have fun storming the castle!”
This is one of those movies that, if you watch it once, you can’t help but find yourself quoting forever. The Princess Bride is chock full of memorable quotes, but this is one easy to sneak into conversations. Send your kids off to school or your husband off to work with this cheery wish. Or, your co-workers on their way to what is sure to be a long, boring meeting or evening commute home.
This is by no means an all-inclusive list, like I said, that would require a book, but these are certainly my favorite and easiest-to-use quotes. If you know them all, 10 Geek Points to you! (And if you’re still wondering about that first one, watch the clip below.)
More importantly, what would you add as essential quotes for every geek to master?
The second issue of PrinceLess sees our brave heroine, Princess Adrienne, embarking on a quest to save her sisters from their tower prisons. We also learn that it’s not just the girls in the kingdom who are being forced to live their lives the way the King wants, their own wishes be darned.
Now that Princess Adrienne has escaped her prison, she and her trusty dragon, Sparky, are on their way to the castle to save the youngest of the sisters, Apple, who is still safely tucked in her bed at home. Unfortunately, the King has already sent her off–and not even Adrienne’s brother, Devin, knows where she’s been hidden.
Meanwhile, Devin has been facing his own troubles at home. The King demands a brawny, heroic heir, and just in case no one saves his daughters, he plans to turn his son into the kind of heir he’s always wanted, even if it’s not at all the person that Devin wants to become.
Watch Adrienne try to save her littlest sister and see her embarrassing brush with death in the second issue of PrinceLess. This four-issue comic about a princess determined to break the mold and decide her own fate has become a favorite of mine. My two girls loved it from issue one for it’s quirky heroine, and I love it for its positive message that girls don’t need to wait to be saved by a knight in shining armor.
You can check out PrinceLess digitally at Graphicly or at your local comic retailer!
Behold, a beautiful princess is trapped in a tower guarded by a fierce dragon and only the bravest knight in the land can save her from her terrible fate. Oh, woe is the helpless maiden!
Yeah, that’s not this story.
This comic, which is the first in a series of four, is all about a maiden who is trapped in a tower, but is completely done with it all. Her parents put her up there in the hopes that a strong, young prince would happen along and save her, thus providing the kingdom with a worthy heir. But our heroine, Princess Adrienne, needs no rescuing and has other ideas about how royalty should treat their children. The story and whimsical style will appeal to both adults and kids and Princess Adrienne’s trusty dragon will have everyone longing for one of their own.
Written by Jeremy Whitley and published by Action Lab Comics, this light-hearted comic addresses the stereotype of helpless maidens that drives most women nuts today. It’s great to see Princess Adrienne, who starts off as just a little girl, question the way of things and then grow up to find herself trapped exactly where she feared. Even her would-be hero, Prince Wilcome, fails her when he’s defeated by her dragon and forced to face the King’s wrath.
But, in the grand tradition of the epic tales we all grew up on, Princess Adrienne becomes her own hero, overcoming the obstacles her parents have thrown in her path to rescue herself. Now she’s got her mind set on shaking things up and saving her sisters, too. But what will become of the poor hapless Prince Wilcome?
We get a little peek at his life, how he was trained in the ways of epic maiden-saving, dragon-slaying, and hair-coiffing. But now nothing has gone according to his plan and Princess Adrienne’s father has thrown him in a dungeon. Who will save the prince that’s supposed to be doing the saving?
Not only is this story fun and engaging, Princess Adrienne is a great role model for girls. She does not expect to be saved by some Prince, and in fact, really never wanted a prince to save her in the first place. She fights to take charge of her own destiny and is a wonderful lesson in never giving up or surrendering your fate.
Check out the first issue of PrinceLess digitally at Graphicly or at your local comic retailer!
There are few things true geeks like more than a genuine debate about who or what is the best of something. Who’s the best Star Trek captain? (Kirk) Who’s the best Doctor? (David Tennant) So it’s really no surprise that when Once Upon a Time and Grimm, two very similar shows, debuted this fall people immediately started to argue over which was better and which would manage to escape cancellation.
I started off firmly in the Grimm camp. It’s so reminiscent of Buffy that it felt a bit like going back to a high school reunion. Everyone is the same, but slightly different. In this case, the effects were a bit better but they still had that somewhat cheesy, not quite scary look of the Buffy baddies. It made me want to say “Awww!” every time a demon showed his true colors.
But the biggest similarity between Grimm and Buffy is the story itself. Instead of a slayer, you have a Grimm. Instead of a teenage girl, you have a cop. Those might seem like big differences, but the stories of the shows run so closely it’s like they’re in parallel universes that almost touch but not quite.
Once Upon a Time, however, is a bit different. Like Grimm, the characters from the world of make-believe are real and living here with us but this is not their home. They all think they’re human, and that’s how they’re living, but only because they’ve all been transported here by the Evil Queen and lost their memories in the process.
Our heroine, she’s one of them, only she’s been living outside their little town. This makes her the most human of the lot and she holds the key to putting everything back to rights. The only problem is that there’s just one little boy who knows the truth and neither our heroine nor anyone else believes his story.
This show isn’t a weekly battle with a new bad guy, it’s an ongoing struggle to put an entire world, the world of fantasy and fairytale, back in its rightful place. And although no one knows who they really are, the evil or good that formed them has carried over into their human lives. Snow White is a gentle, naive teacher. The Evil Queen is nasty and controlling and even has a tree full of lovely red apples in her backyard.
The story of Once Upon a Time unfolds in our world and theirs, through a series of flashbacks to the time before the Evil Queen cast her spell. We see how Snow White and Prince Charming met and it’s full of exactly what you’d expect, but at the same time it’s a surprise. The prince defeats trolls with a shiny sword and shoots arrows like he’s Robin Hood, but his princess isn’t cowering in fear. It’s the story we all know, but not quite the way we know it.
So, despite starting off loving Grimm, I’ve found myself sucked in to the world of Once Upon a Time. I don’t how their stories will end. I can’t imagine how it’s all going to come together and I find myself rooting for the good guys and against evil just like I did reading about them as a kid. Despite revolving around characters we’ve all know since childhood, Once Upon a Time manages to tell a new story. Whether it leads us to the dwarfs and the safety of their cottage or into the darkest parts of the forest is hard to tell, but I can’t wait to find out.
One of my son’s favorite books is something you may never have heard of if you grew up with the “Star Spangled Banner” instead of “God Save The Queen”. It’s called The Tiger Who Came to Tea and was written by Judith Kerr in 1968. It is a delicious tale of how, one night, a friendly tiger called on Sophie and her mummy and proceeded to eat everything in their cupboards. By the end of the evening, Sophie could not have her bath because the tiger had drunk all the water, and then there was no dinner for Daddy when he got home from work, 1968 remember. It is charming, and I want the mother’s boots.
Lately I’ve been pondering it through the eyes of someone who didn’t live through the culture of the sixties. Certainly you have a stay at home mother, a pleasant young girl and a respectable working father, but you could read it another way. Sophie’s mummy could be high and inventing the imaginary Tiger for her daughter, who is wondering why there’s no food and why she hasn’t bathed in days. Daddy taking them out to a cafe could be a trip to the local sanatorium. I’m not saying it is, but there is a certain gleam in mother’s eye, and some of the language could be re-interpreted.
However, such wild thoughts as occasionally cross my mind do not stop me from loving the book as I did in my childhood, and relishing every time my son asks “Tiger? Tiger?” Oh to be in England this December when The Warwick Arts Center is presenting the West End stage production from Wednesday 30 November to Saturday 31 December. If you can’t get there either, I encourage you to check out the trailer below and the book itself, it’s a delightful first foray into fantasy for the young reader.
When I saw the advertisements around my humble town of Shreveport, Louisiana for a production of Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr. Fox, I thought to myself, “Oh, a puppet show. That’s nice; another way to enjoy the story, besides just watching the movie.” After actually experiencing it a few days ago with my husband and 11-year-old son, Sammy, I quickly realized that my previous thoughts on the matter were glaring understatements and didn’t do the production justice at all. In the words of the well-traveled Sammy, “This is the best thing I have ever been to in my entire life; it’s even better than Legoland!” That’s a serious comparison coming from a boy who for three years, before actually spending a day at Legoland, saved up every single free pass to the theme park that came with a new Lego set, even after they had expired.
After buying our tickets online, I did a little research about the production and the people behind the making of Fantastic Mr. Fox. I found out that it is the brain-child of three totally cool guys (in my personal opinion). Arthur Mintz, who had previously worked on Disney’s James and the Giant Peach, came up with the idea of adapting the story of Mr. Fox’s adventures into such a cool, interactive experience. He got together with pals Jacques and Rene Duffourc, who agreed to help make it all happen. It wasn’t long before Hi-YAH! Productions was started. Fantastic Mr. Fox opened in New Orleans, in late 2010, to rave reviews and eventually sold-out shows. It had to be extended several times due to its immense popularity.
William Joyce, creator of the PBS animated series George Shrinks and the hit Disney cartoon Roly Polie Olie, calls Shreveport his home and is on the Advisory Board for a local art, theater and music exhibition center, not to mention all around amazing place, in our downtown called artspace. I got to chat with Jacques Duffourc after the show, and he told me that Mr. Joyce made them “an offer that they couldn’t refuse” to bring Fox to artspace in Shreveport. Even with a list of demands, like needing to cut holes in walls and take up space on several floors of the building, Jaques told me that artspace has been wonderful and that they couldn’t have pulled it all off without the support they’ve gotten from everyone involved. I have to admit that I am glad it all worked out: I’m about to tell you a little bit about the show, without spoiling it, because if you are lucky, you may be within driving distance. If not, Jacques seems pretty confident that Fox is on it’s way up; several agencies from New York and Los Angeles have shown interest in the production, so it could be headed your way sometime soon, after a hoped-for blessing from the Roald Dahl estate.
We first entered downstairs, to a normal looking basement-type of room, decorated with the artwork of children who had drawn their own “wanted” posters for Mr. Fox. A television played a loop of a short preview of what was to come. It wasn’t long before Jacques greeted everyone and lead the audience of about 25 kids and adults (the maximum per show is 30) to an elevator that we we all rode up one floor, ten at a time, to a seating area where the show would begin. The first thing I noticed was the curtain; it was sewn together with bits of fabric and various clothing; most recognizable was a pair of khaki-colored corduroy jeans. “Neato!” I said, pointing them out to Sammy. The curtain parted and the very exuberant narrator, wearing two different-colored Chuck Taylor All Star tennis shoes, began telling us a little of the back story of Mr. Fox, the main character. He imparted a few gags that the kids got quite a kick out of, but I won’t ruin it here, in case you are ever an audience member. One in particular got praise from Sammy, considering that the narrator that night happened to be one of his older classmates from kung fu class, a young man named Caleb, and he gave a little extra attention to my son, who was sitting on the front row.
The audience didn’t sit long; we were soon given headlamps and adults were offered knee pads (which I later wished I had taken advantage of) so that we could literally crawl into the story book! Our head lamps lit the path as we found our way through dark tunnels, pieced together quite creatively from pieces of cardboard boxes, and came out into the first of many wonderful sets, called “Over the Hill.” Being inside the set like that, crawling around and sitting on the cardboard-covered floors, looking around in wonder at all of the great detail and artistry that went into making it all so wonderful and elaborate, made me feel like I was a kid again. I was back in my own bedroom, an eight-year-old little girl, playing house inside of a shelter that I had carefully built with the sheets and blankets confiscated from all of the beds in my home. It was magical, without a doubt.
We moved into different sets, by means of more tunnels, a ladder and even slides. Some parents opted to take the “back way,” and I even did that a time or two, to save my knees a little grief and to get to see what the outside of the set looked like. It was amazing! Overtaking the stairwell and several floors of the building were the tunnels and slides, covered in up-cycled cardboard that had been torn apart and pieced back together again. Jacques later told me, after the show, of the “cardboard parties” they hosted in order to build the set, inviting volunteers to come and piece it all together, with the promise of a little food or drink in exchange.
The audience never sat back and just “watched a puppet show.” We were actually in the show. The puppeteers were in the sets with us; they wore clothes that blended into the background and although it was obvious they were there, after awhile, you just didn’t notice or care that they were. At times throughout the show, the narrator encouraged us to shout, to yell, to tell the characters what they should do. We all formed a bond and were very comfortable with one another; we were are in this experience together and we were having a great time! A few of the younger kids got a little frightened at moments, like when scenes went dark or a rather large puppet would come into a scene unexpectedly. The show is recommended for ages four and up due to the “athletic nature of the performance and crawling and sliding required,” but I think that is a good age to judge its appropriateness by also, considering the few screams and whimpers I heard from the under-four crowd when a few thematic elements got underway. It seemed so real at times that a few toddlers wanted to leave, but to me, that just shows the high quality of the production itself. I also noticed that towards the end, some of those same kiddos showed a little more bravery and were no worse for the wear. When I asked him what one of the most rewarding parts of putting on the performance was, Jacques told me that for him, it was watching the transformation of the children, going from unsure and a little bit frightened, to brave and ready to take on whatever the next tunnel would bring. I would have to agree with him on that; after reassuring a few kids that it was all going to be just fine, I noticed them later cheering and exclaiming about how much they loved it and wanted to come back.
In today’s day and age, our children are over loaded with digital devices and electronic entertainment. It’s rare to find a kid who doesn’t own an iPod, iPhone, Nintendo DSi or other hand-held device that keeps them from ever having a dull moment. Even in taking our children out of the home for entertainment, we all usually just sit and watch, depending on someone or something else to dance, sing or make bright colors interesting enough to take us away from something else that could possibly be even more interesting and engaging. It is truly refreshing to be a part of an event — yes, I will call it an event, because it is not just a “show” in my opinion — that makes the audience feel like they are right there in the story, and the only way they will find out more is to get on their hands and knees and crawl to the next scene. Instead of just absorbing moving images on a screen, we were participants and we had to be engaged. The children got to touch, jump, slide, climb, crawl and even at one point, snack, right there in the performance.
Parents in today’s society, as a whole, seem to have gotten away from letting kids really have fun. We’ve all heard of “helicopter parents,” the kind that constantly hover over their children, fearful that something bad may happen to them if they don’t watch over them all the time. Kids need to just be kids; they need to jump, run, crawl, slide and get dirty sometimes. I did it when I was a kid and I seemed to have turned out okay (for the most part!). How else can children learn to rely on themselves and figure things out on their own, if their parents are always making every little decision for them? Fantastic Mr. Fox at artspace is a wonderful example of good ideas, creative interactive theater, great fun, and a great way for kids (and parents) to let go and have a good old-fashioned fun time, while leaving the television and video games systems at home for a night. I truly hope that a lot of GeekMom readers are within driving distance; it is well worth whatever number of hours away you have to travel to see it. It is only showing until the end of November, and there are plenty of other great things to do in the area, so it would be well worth it to make a day, or even a weekend out of it.
Burden of Blood by Wenona Hulsey is a fast paced modern fantasy. Police officer Nicole Keenan is just trying to lead a normal life in a small southern town despite the fact that she can hear other people’s thoughts. But events sweep her into a dangerous adventure that puts her loved one’s in harms way along with revealing her true identity.
I’m a big fan of modern fantasy, which is what I would consider this book to be. Magical things happening right in our world along with magical creatures such as faeries. So I was pretty excited to be able to read this book.
It did take me a little to get into it, but once the action picked up it was a very easy and entertaining read. The end surprised me a little, but it wasn’t really a bad one. The character of Nicole is really well written, as she is pulled in different directions and makes discoveries about her past and her powers.
All in all, I really enjoyed Burden of Blood and would highly recommend it to anyone who is a fan of fantasy. This book is available in eBook format for the Kindle and the Nook.
Note: I received a copy of this book for review purposes.
I had every reason in the world not to read Harry Potter. I just wasn’t going to do it. Oh, people told me I ought to. “You like hobbits! You like magic! You like elves!” But I didn’t see the point. I had my beloved books. And by the time the craze was really hitting, I was in college. College kids have no need for silly books about schools of magic, for goodness’ sake. I was an English major. I had literature to read.
So how was it that I ended up walking to the library one afternoon and, instead of getting books and journals to study, I picked up Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone? I’m not sure. I was fully prepared to hate it. To loathe it. To laugh and point and mock. To call up my Harry Potter fan friends and ask them why exactly they thought I, a serious student of the English Language, would ever stoop to read such drivel.
But I didn’t do any of those things. Instead, I kept reading. And reading. And reading. The next morning (since I stayed up all night reading the first book) I marched over to the library to get the next one. Then the third. The fourth, that wasn’t available. I had to get it from a friend. I dropped by her dorm room, kind of strung out, begging for the book and then bobbing my head, thanking her profusely when she handed it over. Ah, that smooth dust jacket. I can still remember.
So, suffice it to say, the books hooked me. They hooked me like books hadn’t in a long time. At that point in my life I really needed something like Harry Potter. Something to remind me of the simplicity of good story-telling, about magic and whimsy. Sure, Rowling commits some serious crimes against adverbs. She takes a great deal from medieval mythology and legend; her Latin isn’t exactly polished.
But you know what? None of that mattered when I was reading. Because for that week during midterms, during which I should have been studying, I was transported somewhere else. I really wanted to enroll at Hogwarts. I was a kid again. Worrying about grades and dorm-room drama, all that just melted away for a time. Continue reading GeekMom Rewind: The Reluctant Harry Potter Fan Looks Back
Could you narrow your favorite science fiction and fantasy books down to just ten? In an effort to compile the top-100 titles in this combined genre, NPR is hosting an online poll. Nominations took place last month and garnered more than 5,000 responses. NPR narrowed the field down to just a few hundred and invites the public to chime in with votes for their top ten picks. They don’t specify a closing date for voting, but promise to release results by about August 11, 2011.
I was surprised to see Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series in the mix. They’re a great read, but I wouldn’t have put them in this genre. I was happy to see the Temeraire series included here (recommended years ago by fellow homeschooler Chris O’Donnell) but noticed a glaring omission: A Wrinkle in Time.
Is there a title on the list that surprised you? Or one you think is missing?
I started reading The Dresden Files books by Jim Butcher somewhere around the time book five was released. It was all because the covers on the shelf of my local bookstore looked interesting. Sure, you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover but sometimes that’s all you have to go on and you take a chance. So, I picked up the first book in the series, Storm Front, and carried it home in hopes it would prove to be at least okay. Two days later, I was back at the bookstore and bought the next book, and the next, and the next until I’d read them all and had a new name on my list of favorite authors.
The stories center around Chicago’s resident Wizard Private Investigator, Harry Dresden. This guy ain’t Gandalf. I suppose he could be if he manages to live long enough, but in Harry’s line of work it’s doubtful he’ll live to see the next sunrise much less the next century. He’s got power and smarts and a desire to help people, but the man creates enemies at an astounding rate. His habit of taunting them like a twelve-year-old on a playground makes it even worse.
He’s fought vampires, faeries, necromancers, wizards, ghosts, and all manner of unidentifiable beastie. He doesn’t do it with a pointy wizard’s hat and a cloak, but with determination and a coat that’s been spelled to make it just a little bit more difficult for the bad guys to turn him to ash. Most of the time, it works out pretty well for him, but he’s always a little worse for the wear both physically and emotionally by the end.
I am not usually a fan of Fantasy novels. Even with Urban Fantasy, they get bogged down in too much detail for my liking. I want action. Sure, give me some background history and lore, but do not give me eighty-two pages of the stuff at once. Butcher gives just enough history to let you know what you need to know and then gets right back to the business of trying to get Harry killed. And Harry gets back to the business of trying to help Chicago’s underdogs survive despite the obvious advantages of the evil bad guys.
At their core, all The Dresden Files books are about Good vs. Evil. Harry fights the evil with magic, snark and a healthy dose of humor that geeks will love. In the current book (no spoilers) there are references to multiple superheroes, Star Trek, Star Wars, and The Princess Bride. Yeah, not only is Harry a talented, good-hearted wizard, he’s an absolute nerd underneath it all.
Although most mortals aren’t ready to understand and accept that the creatures of myth and legend are real, Harry still spends his time trying to keep those creatures from hurting us. He throws himself into the middle of the fight, even when it makes him look like a madman or a criminal depending on your point of view. And in his spare time, to get away from it all, he plays DnD with a bunch of young werewolves and fights fake dragons and vampires. I told you. Nerd.
Mr. Butcher has created such a fully-fleshed out and intriguing universe that the guys at Evil Hat Productions worked with him to create The Dresden Files RPG so we could all pretend to be Harry Dresden. I have both volumes of the RPG and as a fan of the series found them wonderful additional reading material. They even won the 2011 Origins Award for Best Role Playing Game and Best Role Playing Game Supplement.
If you’re already a fan of the series, then you’ll find yourself right at home in the latest installment, Ghost Story, as Harry is up to his old tricks. He’s getting in way over his head, trying to save friends from peril and breaking the rules along the way. The familiar cast of characters is all there, trying to deal with the consequences of the last book. This one is a team effort from beginning to end and will surprise you. I had more then one “No way!” moment as secrets were revealed, mysteries solved and destinies discovered. Sort of.
You’ll get to see Harry sling magic and try to save the day, but, in typical fashion, even when he wins there’s still something lost. It’s not all about brute force. This book packs an emotional wallop that brings the action to a standstill as you, along with Harry, realize what exactly has happened to the ones he loves.
If you’ve never read the series, then you’re in for a real treat. The rest of us have 453 pages of ghosts, wizards, fireballs, slimy monsters, wise-cracks, sci-fi references and lovable snark. You’ve got 13 whole books!
Self-Made Scoundrel by Tristan Tarwater is the prequel to Thieves at Heart, which focuses on the character of Derk. This books covers why he becomes a thief and the various adventures he gets into.
Derk is a very complex character from the beginning of the book. He is born into a well-to-do family, but he is not comfortable in the life of wealth, power and privilege. He is drawn to the seedy side of life, and even fakes his own death in order to escape the life he was born in.
The book follows Derk through a series of adventures that shows how he grows as a character. He experiences heart ache, loss, and has to come to grips with the choices he has made in life, for good or ill.
My only issue is that in some cases the action is skipped ahead, and I would have liked to seen what had happened during those parts of the adventure that were skipped over. Overall, I really enjoyed this book, and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys fantasy books that have a gritty side with great character development.
It has been buzzing all over the web that Borders is going to be closing the rest of their stores and liquidating all of their assets. I’ve read that the reasoning for the closing Borders not being able to enter into the eReader market and the downswing in the economy. The market for books is changing because of eBooks and Borders Kobo eReader hasn’t gotten nearly as much press as the Kindle or Nook. Honestly, I didn’t even know that Borders had an eReader until I was looking at their website to write this post.
For me, this news makes me a little sad. When I was younger, I’d spend hours in Borders browsing all the shelves upon shelves of books. I’ve always adored reading, so I’ve been a fan of the big book stores because their selection of fantasy and sci-fi books were always much better than smaller bookstores I frequented. This made me very happy, and I would always have a hard time deciding what book to bring home with me.
I do enjoy eBooks, but the move from traditional books to eBooks feels like the end of an era. When I was growing up, my dad had many bookshelves in our basement with lovely, geeky books. When I was in high school, I literally read my way all the way through his library. While I do have a lot of paper books, I’ve found that I’m buying more and more books for my Kindle. I like the idea of always having a portable, little library with me. But I do still love my built in bookshelves (a big reason I wanted to buy our house) filled to the brim with well loved books.
The closing down of Borders feels almost like the closing down of traditional books. I know there will be more stories to read, but the book industry is really changing right now. I wonder if any of the other big book retailers will have the same fate as Borders.
As I write this, I am just getting home from the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 midnight showing. While there will be many reviews of the movie itself, I thought I’d talk about my experience at my local theater’s midnight premiere.
A local radio station had an event that started at 9:30 pm that included a trivia contest along with a costume contest. So I aimed for getting there around the time the event was going to start.
Now, this wasn’t the original plan, as my husband works 2nd shift. Originally I was going to drive like a crazy person to the theater after my husband got home from work at 11:30 pm. My wonderful husband was kind enough to take a half day off of work. I got my toddler to bed, got dressed in my costume and took off for the theater.
My costume is an old one, so I was very excited yesterday when I found that the skirt still fit. I didn’t think to try the rest on and that was a bit of a mistake. I found that when I got dressed tonight, my white shirt was very tight. So I added the grey sweater, and I was very warm. But it was still a lot of fun to show up in costume.
Most people at the theater were dressed up. There were quite a few Lunas and Bellatrixes, along with a guy who was dressed as a pirate, but had put a lightening scar on his forehead. It was very crowded in the theater so I didn’t really participate in most of the activities. I said hi to a friend of mine, and then I got in line. I was able to watch the trivia and the Harry Potter Filk band (I’m not sure what their name was, but lots of people knew the words to their songs) from my vantage point in line.
The theater wasn’t very well organized as far as the lines when, and they took a while to open the theaters up. And when it came time to let people in the theater, they only opened a few. Because I had been in line, I got into the first 3D theater they opened. I managed to nab a great seat, and then headed back out for snacks. After getting seated, I got to watch the antics of my fellow Potter fans.
There were a lot of young people who had a lot of fun running around and playing wizards. One of the Bellatrixes ran up and down the stairs of the theater, yelling “Cruico.” The lady who was sitting next to me remarked to her daughter that they didn’t have the spells right, as she thought they were saying “Curse you!” I thought that as amusing.
Finally, the movie started. I won’t say much about the movie itself, but I thought it was amazing. I already want to go see it again. It was great in 3D and I’m glad I picked that version to see. The audience reactions to the movie made it an even more enjoyable time for me.
My midnight movie experience was a lot of fun. I love being able to have any excuse to dress up in a costume, and I have loved watching all of these movies. It was a little sad that it was the last time, but I’m especially glad that I was able to experience it at midnight for the last time.
Did you go to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 at a midnight showing?
It has been announced that Starz has canceled Camelot after just one season. The series was Starz’s version of the well-known Arthurian legend that had many people excited at the beginning, but got some mixed reviews as the season went on.
Our own GeekMom Corrina called the series “A good try” after watching the entire season, but Starz didn’t cite ratings as the reason for the cancellation.
According to a statement released by Starz stated that it was due to production challenges that they opted not to green light a 2nd season.
GeekMom Melissa Wiley recently wondered about the “mysterious new website” coming soon from author J.K. Rowling called Pottermore.com. Wonder no more, Melissa. The Wall Street Journal reports that Rowling has created a “Harry Potter universe” for her fans that will include an online store offering – among other things – the Harry Potter series available as e-books for the first time ever.
Whether fans are reading the book in print or on a screen, a bigger draw may be the chance to join one of Hogwart’s four houses and explore the first Harry Potter book virtually. Me? I’m anxious to read some of the extra material that Rowling promises to share at Pottermore, including the story behind Professor McGonagall.
The Human is the first book of the War of the Seasons series by Janine K. Spendlove. This book is an engaging fantasy novel that follows a young girl named Story as she journeys to a strange new world and the quest she embarks on to save it.
I love fantasy books, and the ones that involve someone from our world going to a fantasy world are some of my favorites. I think this may have something to do with the fact that I would love to find myself magically transported to a magical world.
The Human is this type of book as it follows 17 year old Story as she finds herself in the world, Ailionora, after falling in a cave while spelunking. She gets drawn into this strange, new world finding that she is in the middle of an ancient feud that exists between the elves and faeries of Ailionora.
Story is quickly joined by an elf named Eirnin. This book, in part, revolves around the relationship between these two characters as Eirnin helps Story along her way, teaching her about Ailionora as they go.
This is a tale that has many levels. On the onset, it seems like most fantasy novels, but it does have a deeper layer as Story tries to discover who she is, what her strengths are and how to deal with extreme loss. I enjoyed this book immensely and I look forward to being able to read the next book in this series.
The Human is now available for pre-order, and will be launching at Origins Game Fair, June 22nd-26th, 2011. It will also be available in eBook formats, such as for the Kindle and Nook.
Note: I received a copy of this book for review purposes.
Choose Your Own Adventure books were a staple of my childhood, as they were some of my favorite books to read. Now there is different series of these books catering to different ages of readers. I got the chance recently to read several Choose Your Own Adventure books, and they really are as good, or better, than I remember from when I was a kid.
The first one was Owl Tree by R.A. Montgomery. This is a book in the Dragonlark series which is geared toward ages 5 to 8. This is the story of you and your friend who discover a tree covered in owls. These owls lead you on different adventures such as seeing into the future or going to a kingdom. It was fairly entertaining but it was definitely geared towards younger kids.
The second book was Journey Under The Sea by R.A. Montgomery. This book was part of the classic series which is geared toward ages 7 to 14. I’m very familiar with the classic series but I hadn’t ever read this particular story. The basis of this story is being in the sea and possibly finding the lost world of Atlantis. It was interesting, though not my favorite of the Choose Your Own Adventure series. With this book, it can appeal to older kids and for some adults as well.
The final book I read was The Golden Path Volume One: Into the Hollow Earthby Anson Montgomery. This book is geared towards ages 10 and up but can definitely be enjoyed by adults as well. The story takes place in an alternative Earth where you and your two friends are kicked out of school, and then you find out that your scientist parents are missing. The story takes you on an adventure with your friends as you try to find your parents along with what they were working on. At first I wasn’t sure it was a Choose Your Own Adventure book, because it took a little while to get to the choices. Once I got into it , it was very good. The only issue I had is that it is the first book of a series, and some of your choices can lead you to a point where you have to have the next book to go on.
I was very happy to see all the new choices of books in the Choose Your Own Adventure genre, and I can’t wait until my daughter is a little older so I can introduce her to these books.
Note: I received these 3 books for review purposes.
That’s great news. But now, there’s perhaps room for other fantasy series on TV.
I mean great series like HBO’s, with good actors, good production and, well, a good budget, too. Many fantasy series are better suited to TV series than to movies. Basically, they need time to explore the universe, deepen characters, and develop the plot, which has often worldwide issues. But they also need money. Cheap dragons would look ridiculous. It seems they can now find it: TV series have become masterworks, involving great directors, great actors and often more inventiveness than movies.
So here’s the next question: which fantasy (books) series would be fit for TV? Which ones would you like to see?
1. Zelazny’s Chronicles of Amber
Pro: I’m a big fan! More seriously: great characters, strong and deep, with a lead character you follow throughout the series; a plot involving politics, magic, family rivalries, romance and some epic battles; secrets gradually unfolded… All ingredients for a good series.
Cons: Very diverse settings, from our own Earth to the magical “First City” of Amber that’s supposed to be the origin and model of all worlds. Quite a challenge. Filming Shadow-walking (the way characters travel through parallel worlds) would probably be challenging, too.
2. Weis & Hickman’s Dragonlance
Pro: Great characters one would really love to see on screen (even if I suppose Raistlin would steal the show), epic setting, battles, romance, inner conflicts, comic reliefs. Actually it could have been written for TV!
Cons: OK, that’s not great literature. I completely agree. But it wasn’t meant to be. And I’m not sure great literature and great TV series are always made of the same stuff. Oh, and the dragons have to be really, really good if one want the audience to buy it.
3. Eddings’ Belgariad
Pro: Again, great characters offering great opportunities for actors (who would steal the show? Belgarath? Polgara? Silk?) with a classical quest storyline and a young hero uncovering his powers and secrets, perfect for an audience to identify with. Fewer fantasy creatures, less incredible places, which would make it easier to film, I suppose.
Cons: Again, not great literature. And the plot is very, very classical. Anyway I think it would work.
4. Jack Vance’s Lyonesse
Pro : More original, more faery-like than the previous ones. Interesting atmospheres, sometimes melancholic, sometimes funny, that could appeal to a wide audience.
Cons: Its flaws come from its qualities: that would be hard to find the right tone, the right atmosphere. There’s not a single lead character, but A Game of Thrones doesn’t have one either. Neither has Dragonlance. Also, it’s shorter than the other series; that would probably do for a mini-series.
But there are many other possibilities, such as:
Fritz Leiber’s Lankhmar. I haven’t read it, but it features two wonderful lead characters and the supernatural part is not too spectacular, so that would probably turn well on TV screen.
Robin Hobb’s Farseer Trilogy. I’m not a big fan, but that could be better as TV series than as books. Plus, as she wrote many books in the same universe, one would have stuff for many seasons !
Jordan’s Wheel of Time. I know, that’s a big favorite. Readers suggest more than 40 different casts for its characters on Casting Game. And that seems to have been written for TV, actually. So why didn’t I put it on my list? Firstly, because it’s unfinished, which is a big problem since there are so many loose ends. Secondly (and you’ll hate me) because I really dislike it. I read it all, years ago. It could have been good. Some characters show real potential, especially female ones. But the books have no rhythm at all (nothing happens for hundreds of pages), no dramatic tension, so I cannot imagine it as TV series (especially compared to A Game of Thrones).
What would be your choices? Which fantasy series would you really like to see on TV?
Fanaticon is a local, free comic books, science-fiction, fantasy, pop culture convention that takes place in Asheville, NC on May 21, 2011. This is the 2nd year for this one day convention.
I moved to Asheville back in 2005 with my husband (then-fiance) and we immediately fell in love with the area. One of the great things about Asheville is that it is only a 2 hour drive to Charlotte and only a 3 hour drive to Atlanta.
I’ve loved going to cons since my anime con days up when I lived in Michigan. I love wearing costumes, going to panels, hanging out with other geeks and occasionally meeting famous people.
I was excited to be able to be close enough to attend Dragon*Con, but it does take up time and travel to get there, because it’s 3 hours away. So, last year when it was announced that Asheville was going to get their own con and it was going to be free, I was very excited.
The first Fanaticon was very well attended and it was so well organized for a first year convention. It was a great time last year so I’m looking forward to attending again this year.
One of the things I’m looking forward to most this year is they have added a kid’s fun zone area with arts and crafts, among other activities. I know that my daughter will have a lot of fun with it.
Beyond that, it is great to connect with local geeks and of course, dress up in a fun costume! I’m really looking forward to attending this year.
Fanaticon 2 takes place on Saturday, May 21 in downtown Asheville from 10 am to 5 pm.
Imagine your kid is too young to care about the weather outside.
Imagine (s)he’s so young (s)he won’t even notice it’s snowing, except if you stick his/her tiny nose to the window and point the strange white falling things, exclaiming loudly “Look! It’s snowing!” (or “Regarde! Il neige!” if your geekling is supposed to understand French better than English, such as mine.)
Then you don’t care about Cabin Fever (yet), do you ?
But being a young parent is a seemingly endless Cabin Fever for you, if not for the baby!
Especially if you’ used to be a gamer. Even worse if you used to be a RPG player.
For let us put things clear:
– your spawn is too young for most games (don’t even talk about RPGs, even if Rebecca pointed some RPGs for/with kids, (s)he’s unfortunately not old enough, even for those)
– even if you’re very lucky parents (nice baby, sleeping the night at an early age, grandparents living nearby, and so on), you won’t be able to go out and play RPG as often as you’d like too.
We are lucky parents. We managed 3 RPG sessions in almost 6 months and actually are quite proud of ourselves.
So, how will you stand this long RPG-less cabin fever?
Here are a few ideas.
If/when you’re alone (or if your Significant Other isn’t that much interested in such games):
“You are in the wizards tower. If you go down the clear, well-lit passage that certainly doesn’t contain inescapable death-traps of any sort, turn to paragraph 278 you gullible fool. If you go through the door with the cheerful music behind it, turn to paragraph 40 and be prepared to throw the book against the wall in frustration.”
But there’s also something new and really cool. The same Chris pointed us to different adventure gamebooks: the Fable Lands series. They appear to be classics for certain categories of (English-speaking) RPG geeks, but I hadn’t heard about them before.
The first four books are available on Amazon. I bought and tried the first one, The War Torn Kingdom, and I enjoyed the experience. The really great thing it that the game is defined to remember your past quests and accomplishments from a book to another.
The first book is also available as an iPad App. Fabled Lands Blog announces they actually plan to write a real RPG… you may hope your kid will then be old enough to let you play (a little) more often.
– while you’re at it, you may opt for multiple-choices games designed for mobile use, such as the wonderful, fun and mature Choice of Games issues. You’ll enjoy the med-fan Choice of the Dragon (“Play as a fire-breathing dragon who sleeps on gold and kidnaps princesses for fun.”), the Anne Rice atmosphere in Choice of the Vampire (“Begin your two-hundred year journey as a vampire in New Orleans, 1815; choose whether you will seek love, power or redemption as you negotiate the growing-pains of the young Republic.”), the wonderful and original Choice of Broadsides (“swashbuckling naval adventure, in the spirit of C. S. Forester’s Hornblower or Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin books, with a dash of Jane Austen.”) and the incredible Tudor-with-magic Choice of Romance (“Play as a young courtier who catches the monarch’s eye.
Will you find true love? Gain a crown? Lose your head? A text-based multiple-choice game of romance, deception and court intrigue.”)
All these games offer great gender issues, allowing you to play a female captain in matriarchal Navy courting elegant stay-at-home men, if you like, or to seduce the Queen as a female courtier and use magic to produce an heir.
All are available for free on the web or as mobile versions.
They even offer you to develop games using their ChoiceScript programming language. I’d love to write such a game… if only I had time… in which I’m sent back to the newborn’s parenting issue.
If/when there’s two of you, as your Significant Other is as frustrated as you are about your lack of RPG activities :
– you may of course plan and play solo RPGs, but there’s a serious problem here. One of you shall be Game Master and design a whole solo adventure. Well, you probably won’t have time (and energy) enough to do that. Neither will your Significant Other.
If you know about (great) published solo adventures for RPG, please let me know! That’s really hard to find.
– you may decide to play boardgames for a while, in a RPG-like way to partly dismiss your frustration.
There’s another problem here.
If you want a boardgame to be RPG-friendly, set in a (geek) universe you like, you might find some.
If you want it to be playable (I mean really playable and enjoyable) for 2 players, that’s already far more difficult.
But if you also want it to be cooperative, then you’ll find yourself facing the same problem as we did.
BoardgameGeek tried to list cooperative boardgames and found that most are not completely co-op as they featured a GameMaster and/or a traitor… which means they’re not co-op (or not playable) at all if you’re only two.
I love cooperative games. That’s one of the things I actually enjoy in RPGs.
Plus, when I’m playing in couple, I don’t like being put against him. You might enjoy compete your Significant Other, I don’t blame you in the slightest way. I can do it when I have to.
One of the great things about Arkham Horror: it’s much more open-minded than Lovecraft’s original stories. Many cool female Investigators and non-Caucasian ones are featured. Disclaimer: some of them come from the extensions.
But anytime I play Dungeon Master at Descent (a great AD&D-like boardgame that perfectly fills the first two issues of the list), I found myself apologizing because I killed his poor adventurers (again)!
As fun as Mansions of Madness sounds, and even if we’ll buy it anyway, it will bring the same problem: one of the players has to be the Game Master.
I found only one game that completely fills the bill, but that’s a great one. Arkham Horror (and its many worthy extensions) is a wonderful boardgame set in H.P. Lovecraft’s world, like the Call of Cthulhu RPG. It may easily be played at 2 (even if you have to pick 2 Investigators each, if you wanna have a chance to win), it has the greatest re-playability I ever experienced in a boardgame (at least if you use the extensions) and it’s completely cooperative: you play against the game with no need of a Game Master.
The game is clearly thought to be enjoyed by RPG-players: the many Investigators have backgrounds, special abilities (and even Personal Issues if you choose to play this extension), the Monsters get an “atmosphere” line to be read aloud, the encounters features iconic characters of Lovecraft’s world, and so on.
I highly recommend it.
But I’d love to find a few more games answering my 3-points list. Do you know any others ?
The admiring amazement towards these flowing ideas that flit around your brain when reading a book, almost overwhelming, about one per second, ideas which all could be developed into full stories of wonder.
Except they aren’t. They’re just grace notes, elements of the wonderful BookWorld’s backstory, even footnotes. After all, footnotes are something like Fforde’s imagined BookWorld’s GSM.
That was a feeling I got previously only with one author, Terry Pratchett, and I found it again in Jasper Fforde’s books, especially in this 6th book of the Thursday Next series.
Everyone of us know that it’s quite difficult to write series which stay good, interesting, original. Especially when they’re as original as Thursday Next’s adventures. Jasper Fforde manages it in a very unusual way for this book: the narrator isn’t Thursday anymore. At least, not our Thursday, but the written “peace-and-love” Thursday we met in Book 5.
This change has many consequences, all stimulating.
Firstly, as Jasper Fforde said, she doesn’t have the same personality as Thursday (the real one, I mean. Confusing? Well, confusion’s important. You’ll see.) She’s fresher, in some ways, and so is the book.
Oddly, I preferred Thursday when she was still unsure and afraid of the Bookworld. Where everything was dangerous and perplexing and death, disaster, danger and mayhem lurked at every corner. The Thursday we saw in First Among Sequels felt a bit too superhuman and a bit world-weary so I wanted to get back to a Thursday who had more problems than experience. The written Thursday fits the bill perfectly.
Secondly, she’s a BookWorld’s native. And that brings a very different perspective on both Book- and Real-Worlds.
We see a lot more of the BookWorld, and you know what ? It happens to be new, too, since it’s remade in a more geographical form at the opening of the book.
I loved the new BookWorld, its landscapes, its toponyms, its borders (and all the new plots borders can create). And of course, I loved the map. As a Fantasy fan, I nurse a soft spot for every book beginning with a map.
But we also get a far larger view of the BookWorld, beyond Fiction’s borders. What about Biography ? Is it really boring ? And in Photography are B&W and Color still at war ? What about Knitting Books ? They also have a place in the BookWorld (and the present book).
We come to understand, from an insider’s point of view, what it is to be a character, more or less 3-dimensional (depends of your writer’s skills), to play the same scenes again and again ; to cultivate your hobbies between the readings ; what it is to live in a world where everything has a purpose, where nothing’s meaningless.
And by way of consequence, we learn to see our own (real?) world with fresh eyes.
A world where “Nothing was assumed; everything had to be actually done”. A world with strange meaningless coincidences. A world whose tiniest bits become wonders, through the eyes of a BookWorld’s character. As I happen to be a new mother, I wondered if that could be compared to a baby’s perspective of the new world (s)he discovers.
Many writers tried to depict this “familiar strangeness”. That’s almost a Science Fiction stereotype. Fforde manages it brilliantly, especially in the end of chapter 25.
There’s more. There’s always more, with Jasper Fforde.
As a literature teacher, I especially enjoy the way he uses literary concepts and makes them understandable, useful for the plot and even funny. The importance of description. The ambiguity of genre borders. The subtle, smart way he uses metafiction and archetypes. And, especially in this book, the figures of speech.
The act of reading is depicted in its whole complexity and subtlety, including all types of readers (“Dippers, Skimmers and Last-Chapter-Firsters”) as well as the modern theories about active readership. The “Feedback Loop” is a wonderful way to explain it :
Most books are finished by the readers itself. […] As soon as the readers get going, the Feedback Loop will start back washing some of their interpretations into the book itself.
In GeekMom’s interview Jasper Fforde talked about the role of reading in contemporary world. But he happens to be quite optimistic in this book, as he hints that “increased media exposure” increases the active readership, too.
The most recent issues of our own “book world” are also questioned: fan-fiction, e-books, and so on.
Hey, there’s even a special island for “Books Only Students Read”. He knows how to make teachers laugh!
That’s Jasper Fforde’s own magic: he manages to be in the same time funny and serious. Not in the way mimes are (yeah, mimes are featured in the book, too). In the way you might use serious issues to weave funny scenes, or funny concepts to explore deeper themes. In the way you might make Fan-Fiction an island near Vanity, full of flat versions of famous characters, and in the same time remind us that it’s first and foremost a celebration.
As literature itself might be, in some glorious sunny days.
Release date: March 8, or February 22, if you’re a lucky Brit.
If you’re a Thursday’s fan, you’ve probably ordered your own copy weeks ago and had no need of my review.
If I convinced you to do it, I’m incredibly glad. You may stop reading now, to be sure you’ll discover all the wonderful tiny bits by yourself.
But if you’re still uncertain, there are a few more reasons to make you love this Thursday Next issue. One for each type of Geek you might be. They’re not strictly speaking spoilers, only a few hints or lines.
If you’re a Steampunk Geek : Book 6’s introducing a new character you’ll love, Sprockett. Jasper Fforde himself admits
there is a certain degree of ‘Steampunkishness’ that creeps into my books.
If you’re a Computer Geek : What about “Creating directories: irony” ?
If you’re a Robot Geek (Asimov type):
Do you know “the second law of domestic robotics” ?
If you’re a Science Geek : Interested in Dark Reading Matter and the Large Metaphor Collider ?
If you’re a Harry Potter Geek, you’ll remember he appeared as a guest star in Book 5. Well, he dosn’t in Book 6. But Nancy Potter does. Don’t ask.
If you’re a Star Wars Geek: There’s a line or two of SW parody, I’m sure you’ll find it. Classic trilogy, of course. Chapter 30.
If you’re a Fantasy Geek, you probably already ordered your copy and shouldn’t be reading any more, you cheater. But which one of you ever dreamed about taking a train at Le Guin Central and halting at Gaiman Junction ?
And if you’re a Chocolate Addict Geek ? Well, believe me, they also are. They meaning everyone in the BookWorld.
Impatiently waiting for your copy?
And if you haven’t read any of Fforde’s books? Beginning with this one won’t do the trick. You’ll have to make all your way through the series, beginning with The Eyre Affair. Let me say I envy you, for you’re about to enter a whole new world of literary wonder and fun.
I received a free copy of this book in order to review it.
I am a voracious reader and am always on the look out for new books that I can read. I tend to gravitate toward the same kinds of books however, and am trying to expand my horizons beyond historical ficiton, vampire novels, and Harry Potter.
A friend of mine recently recommended the Divine series by P.C. Cast. I enjoy P.C.’s House of Night Series immensely so I thought this would be a safe bet. I borrowed the books and started reading. Once I started them, I was reading long hours into the night. Which of course came back to bite me in the end, but it was worth it. The novels tell a great story.
The series consists of four books, one of which is a prequel/short story entitled Divine Beginnings. I haven’t read this one and haven’t been able to find a printed copy. It seems to be only available as an ebook. The other books in the series, Divine by Mistake, Divine by Choice, and Divine by Blood, tell the story of a school teacher from Oklahoma named Shannon Parker. An unusual antique catches her eye at an auction, she purchases it, and before she gets home she has been transported to another realm named Partholon. Our world is a mirror of Partholon. There is a doppelganger of everyone, though they by no means have the same personalities. Partholon is replete with goddesses andgods, centaurs, nymphs, and other magical creatures both good and bad.
Divine by Mistake tells the story of how Shannon is switched with her double from Partholon named Rhiannon, who happens to be the Goddess Incarnate of Epona. Shannon is suddenly thrust into being the spiritual leader of her people and into a country on the brink of an invasion. She must deal with the threat to her new people and fulfill a handfast ceremony with a local shaman, who just happens to be a centaur.
In Divine by Choice, the next story in the saga, Shannon suddenly finds herself transported back to Oklahoma and being helped by Clint, who is the spitting image of her husband in Partholon. She comes to realize that Rhiannon is still there and up to no good. She and Clint must come together to stop Rhiannon and send Shannon back to Partholon.
Divine by Blood tells the story of Morrigan Parker, an orphan being raised by her grandparents. What she doesn’t know is that she is the daughter of Rhiannon, the former Goddess Incarnate. In this tale, Morrigan comes into her own powers while she is looking for a place to fit in and has to decide who she will follow Epona or the dark God Pryderi.
All three novels were heavy on the fantasy but also told excellent stories with well developed and intricate characters. This was a great fantasy read and made me anxious to try more from this genre.
As a new mum and a compulsive reader, I’m beginning to feel concerned about the lack of cool moms “role models” in literature, especially geeky literature like fantasy, comic books and so on.
Are you feeling the same?
Even in books I love, even with authors who build great female characters, I find very few strong characters of mothers. It appears that other people (even men) are feeling the same, since they spent some Mother’s Days trying to uncover such characters.
Of course “matriarch” isn’t a synonym of “mother”, and the writer includes Adversarial Aunts and Rigid Regals. Their examples come from classical literature, not especially geeky books, but are quite easy to transpose: Cersei Lannister from G. R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire would be a mix of Rigid Regal and Manipulative Meddler.
Anyway, which of you Geek Moms want to identify with “Absolute Angels” mothers or “Ruthless Ravagers” types? The very names confirm the problem. A few days earlier, Geek Dad had offered its own list of “Top 10 Mothers in Science Fiction and Fantasy”.Some of them are really cool, of course, like Cordelia Vorkosigan and Helen Parr from The Incredibles.
But I strongly disagree with a few others.
Martha Kent. Padme Amidala? Please!
Even GeekDad author Matt Blum sounds sometimes embarrassed with his own choices:
“yes, we know, she never actually had the opportunity to be a mother to Luke and Leia. And she did spend most of Episode III sitting at home being pregnant and spouting mind-numbingly bad dialogue.”
(Actually she gets one single good line in Episode III : “So this is how liberty dies… with thunderous applause.”) And what about Mrs Weasley? I know she gets her kickass scene against Bellatrix at the end, and I enjoyed it, but that’s only one moment in seven books!
As movies have their Bechdel Test, let’s have a GeekMom Test for books and comic books we love.
To pass the test, female characters who happen to become mothers shall :
1. be and remain main characters. They DON’T quickly fade into the background, even less conveniently die in childbirth or a few years later.
That’s why delightful Dunizel in Tanith Lee’s Tales From The Flat Earth doesn’t qualify.
2. share (at least part-time) the life of their children. They DON’T leave their children in the care of some nanny type, only to remember them from time to time. That would be too easy! In which are they even mothers if they do that?
3. still have issues of their own. They DON’T care only about their children, becoming a “Molly Weasley” type or a figure meaningful only for the wonderful offspring she gave the world.
That’s why Lady Jessica Atreides in the Dune series doesn’t qualify.
One might notice a common variant to item 3 : if something happens to their children, they become another archetype, the Fury who’ll do anything to save/avenge her child (Kill Bill‘s Bride, or Lyta Hall in The Sandman). And once they succeed? End of story.
That’s all very well, but what about real moms? Characters being in the same time mothers and independent persons, trying to conciliate all these concerns, which is one of the major challenges in motherhood?
Here’s the few ones I found, in addition to the ones already listed by GeekDad.
1. the wonderful Thursday Next in Jasper Ffforde’s novels.
She’s the best GeekMom Role Model I found. She kicks ass, even in her fifties. She’s a literary geek who sometimes hunts vampires and meets the Cheshire Cat. Her father’s in Time Travel, her uncle is the ultimate science geek (I highly recommend the Entroposcope, very easy to craft and very handy for any GeekMom careful of Entropy Level in her house). Her husband is a stay-at-home writer, and her kids are perfect geeklings (Friday seems to be the “tedious teenage cliché: grunting, sighing at any request, and staying in bed until past midday” but is much much more ; Tuesday is a mathematical genius, who solved Fermat’s Last Theorem at the age of 9). Another thing I love about her is that she’s not the typically “young and beautiful mother”. She married and had children in her thirties and she’s never said to be especially gorgeous.
2. Catelyn Stark in G. R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire. She’s the loving and realistic mother of five very different children, and manages to be in the same time a wife, a lady with a political mind and sometimes a warleader. She inspires admiration and loyalty, even to other women with no boon to the family (like Brienne, another great female character, but not a mother).
3. Phedre, Melisande and Ysandre… almost every character from Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel series.
The main character Phedre chooses to become an adoptive mother and loses none of her brains, neither her sex-appeal nor her adventuring tendencies. Ysandre is a queen, with many enemies, a surprising loving marriage and two daughters: that’s a lot to manage and she does it brilliantly!
Melisande is the series’ recurring villain, and that would almost be enough to qualify. Though item 2’s dubious in her case, motherhood changes very subtly her character, far from any stereotype.
4. Miranda Belmonte d’Alvede from Guy Gavriel Kay’s The Lions of al-Rassan.
I’m not sure Miranda’s a main character or not. But she’s a concerned mother of teenage twin boys, the high-born wife of the Captain modeled after El Cid, she’s got a sharp tongue, a fighting side and a quite funny bondage love scene. She had to be there!
What about you?
Do you agree with the lack of cool mom’s models?
Could you propose characters who fill the 3 criteria?
Comment accordingly in the GeekMom forums! Comments have been disabled on this post to allow for further discussion.
I have two boys. I didn’t have to worry (like some of my friends with daughters did) that reading or watching movies about princesses saved from peril by handsome princesses would inspire a “rescue me” attitude. Even so, I did want my boys to grow up knowing that women are just as capable as men. We watched Disney princess fare without qualms, but I also made sure to include plenty of opportunities for them to meet strong female characters in books and movies (and of course, in real life!).
In The Enchanted Forest Chronicles, author Patricia C. Wrede offers up a perfect combination of adventure, magic, and feisty princess. In the first book of the series, Dealing with Dragons, we meet Princess Cimorene who is not at all interested in towing the princess line. No lady-like embroidery and arranged marriages for her, thank you very much. She wants to learn to fence and speak Latin, both of which are frowned upon activities for princesses.
While other princesses in the kingdom fret over being captured by dragons, Princess Cimorene leaves her mundane royal life behind and runs away to the Enchanted Forest where she takes up with the dragon Kazul. Cimorene endears herself to Kazul by making a most coveted dish – cherries jubilee – and proceeds to create an anti-flammable potion to withstand the dangers of living with fire breathing beasts. As Kazul’s princess she discovers unscrupulous wizards plotting against the dragons, learns about magic, and spends enough time turning away the persistent princes who have come to rescue her that she finally posts a sign warning potential suitors to stay away.
Princess Cimorene is exactly the kind of female character that I have tried to expose my boys to over the years: confident, smart, feisty, and kind. Her willingness to stand up for what she believes in, whether it be following her own life choices or going to great lengths to help her dragon friends is admirable, and coupled with the humor and adventure in the books, probably one of the reasons we loved the series so much. We read the entire series aloud several times when my boys were early elementary age, and my eldest read the entire series again when he began reading on his own. (I daresay, it’s about time for me to read it again!)
Pokemon fever has hit our household, as it can in even the best of families. For those readers who have been in solitary confinement for the last decade, Pokemon is a collectible card game with hundreds of little creatures that “evolve” from one bodily form to the next. The word “evolution” gets tossed around early and often.
And now, into the wrestling ring with my 10-year-old:
Mom: How much do you love Pokemon?
Son: A lot. Two kilothinks.* They have cool pictures and you can do a lot of things with them. I really get addicted to these kinds of games, and a lot of the kids in my class like Pokemon too.
Mom: What do you think about evolution? What is it?
Son: Evolution is when a creature’s body adapts to the environment surrounding it in a slow period of time. One creature might have a baby that was more adapted to its environment. So that creature would survive long enough to have babies. And its babies would either have better adaptability than that creature or worse adaptability. Through the years, every species would evolve to have whatever the first one had.
Mom: And what is evolution in Pokemon?
Son: When one of the creatures changes to be more powerful. It’s sort of the same concept except without the environment, and it happens in two snaps of a finger.
Mom: Is Pokemon evolution teaching kids about biological evolution?
Son: I don’t think so. Biological evolution is when a creature adapts to its surroundings, while Pokemon evolution is when a creature adapts to nothing in particular so that it can knock out other creatures.
Mom: There’s another big difference I’m thinking of too.
Mom: Pokemon evolution happens to individuals and real evolution happens to populations.
Son: Oh, RIGHT! Write that down!
There you have it folks. Straight from the next generation: Pokemon evolution has nothing to do with biological evolution!
Pokemon is SMACKED DOWN!
* A “think” is a unit of measure expressing how much mental energy or excitement something generates. Pokemon = 2 kilothinks. New book about monsters = 5 thinks. Cleaning out the cat litter = 1.5 microthinks.
Readers, I’ve got something explosive to say. OK, here goes (nervous throat-clearing sound):
I just don’t like Harry Potter.
I don’t loathe Harry Potter, I just don’t see the magnificence and originality that others do. The first book left me cold, and even my boys lost interest at around book three.
There, I’ve said it. Please don’t yell at me or arrest me. I’m just speaking out for a tiny, overwhelmed minority in America. We Potterphobes cower in our closets.
So why am I posting on our Harry Potter week? Just to be a downer? To be the critic everyone hates? No! My job here is to recommend an alternative series, good for Potterphobes as well as Potterphiles who are ready for fresh material.
And my recommendation is – drumroll, please — the Underland Chronicles by Suzanne Collins. My older son and I picked up the first book a couple of years ago when I was still reading aloud to him. We buzzed through the next four books with the urgency of addicts. Like Harry Potter, the protagonist of this series is a boy with a mysterious destiny who moves between the real world and an equally real alternate world. But the resemblance ends there.
Gregor is a smart and troubled 11-year-old New York kid who inadvertently discovers the Underland, a human civilization living in enormous caverns deep beneath the city. There, humans uneasily co-exist with species of rats, bats, spiders, mice, cockroaches, and other creatures, all grown to enormous size. These creatures are also highly intelligent, armed to the teeth, and as flawed and unpredictable as humans. It’s a blazingly original landscape. Shifting alliances and misunderstandings propagate the plots, and we watch as Gregor navigates. He’s decent. And conflicted. It’s awesome.
The books thrum with themes of war and peace. One plot closely parallels Hitler’s rise to power and the Holocaust. Gregor is strategically placed to answer some of those old philosophical chestnuts you toss around in college: “It’s 1939. You have a loaded gun and a clear shot at Hitler. What do you do?” Or, more to the point, what would Gregor do? (WWGD?) These questions sparked lively discussions with my son, for which I’ll always be grateful to Suzanne Collins.
So if you liked Harry Potter — or even if you didn’t – you might give Gregor a try. Oh, and when you do, let me know what you think of Ripred, a vicious and brilliant rat with traitorous tendencies. We adore him.
Ethan Gilsdorf is the celebrated geek author of the very awesome book, Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks. It’s the sort of book that, if you’re a lifelong geek like me, you can’t put down. The book chronicles Ethan’s life as a young geek, his escape from his roots, and then his return. From Tolkien to tabletop roleplaying, from Boston to New Zealand, the book is a pitch-perfect account of one geek’s journey in a very, very wide world.
So, in celebration this great book going paperback, I asked Ethan to do an interview for us here at GeekMom. And since he’s done quite a few interviews, I didn’t want it to be the same dull questions as usual. So we delved a little deeper into the depths of geekdom to tease out some unusual answers.
Hark! There is more, indeed.
In addition to the interview, Ethan is also giving away 5 signed copies of his book Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks to our readers.
How do you win this coveted book, you ask? Ethan, among other things, is also a poet. So I thought it’d be cool if you could give us a verse or two. Be it a free verse, a limerick, a sonnet, a haiku, or a villanelle, on the geeky subject of your choosing (think “An Ode to Harry Potter” or the “Ballad of Bilbo”). Just put your entries in the comments below and we’ll choose the best five entries by Friday!
GeekMom: You’re playing D&D. Your first character choice? Ethan Gilsdorf: First, a caveat: I come from the dark ages of AD&D, back when we covered our holy texts (the Monster Manual, et al) with brown shopping bag paper and we didn’t have funky classes like Avenger, Invoker, or College Professor, or races like Minotaur, Shardmind, or SpongeBob. No siree! We walked to wizard school through 3 feet of snow and we didn’t have d20s, only d2s and d3s. But to the question: I have always preferred the sneakier, tree-huggier classes like ranger or thief. As far as races, I go hobbit (ooops, silly me, I mean “halfling”) or half-elf. I guess I have a schizophrenic Aragorn … no … Bilbo! fetish. I like the idea of stealth rather than brawn, and I really dig the dark-and-stormy loner types with haunted bloodlines.
GM: The Hobbit movie. Is it going to happen? Your thoughts on PJ vs. Del Toro, and what is in store for the franchise? EG: The news on this darned movie changes daily. Now that GDT is out, at least those who worried he’d Hellboy it up too much or front-load it with too much action and creatures and special effects, should be breathing a sigh of relief. GDT is a wonderful director, don’t get me wrong. But there’s some solace in knowing that PJ will be at the helm (at least that’s the last news) and the visual and directorial style will be consistent with LOTR. Now the bigger question is whether The Hobbit will be filmed in New Zealand or not, due to, first, labor/union issues, and now tax break issues, and whether Warner Bros. will want to make a film in a country where the actors threatened to strike. There have been huge rallies in NZ to keep the film there. As I write this, Warners is reportedly headed to NZ to meet with PJ’s company Wingnut Films to move the production offshore. (Weirdly, Facebook pulled a “Keep the Hobbit film shoot in New Zealand” page after it got 10,000 fans — is Facebook in cahoots with Time/Warner?). Tempers are flaring and folks are upset. It’s unfortunate, but since everyone involved stands to make a crapload of money, the film will get made, if not in NZ then the UK or Eastern Europe. (Editor’s note: the film will officially be made in NZ.)
GM:Do you think giving your child a geeky name (Zelda, Frodo, Superman) is a good thing, or a bad thing? Are parents setting their kids up for a geeky upbringing, or will this overt geek indoctrination end up backfiring? EG: Will naming your spawn Arwen, Neo, Buffy or Leia condemn them to endless torment? I doubt it. There’s already a trend for crazy non-geek mash-up names that seem equally ridiculous, i.e., Breckin? Chance? Maxigan? Attica? Not much goofier than Samwise. Besides, by the time your babies are in high school, Lord of the Rings will be required reading, and they’ll be able to study French, Latin and Na’vi.
GM:What are your geeky black holes? Any fandoms or pastimes you just aren’t into/don’t get/wish you could like but don’t? (Me: Dr. Who, for instance) EG: One problem is I don’t watch TV as much as I used to, so I’ve missed a lot of the recent shows like Battlestar Galactica and Lost (I know, it’s embarrassing to admit! They’re on my list to get on DVD!). And in terms of gaming, I don’t own Xbox or Wii, so I don’t have much first-person experience with the most ground-breaking games likeBioShock or Gears of War. What can I say? My hand-eye was always pathetic (although I’m pretty good at old-school arcade games like Galaga and Robotron 2084). I never got into anime or manga, either (but weirdly loved “Star Blazers” as a kid). Like you, I never connected with Dr. Who, despite it airing each night on PBS between Julia Child and MacNeil/Lehrer. Those BBC special effects were just too cheesy a kid who was spoiled on ILM-quality effects. I’m too old for Joss Whedon fandom and wish I had gotten into Magic: The Gathering. But I do my best to keep up and make sure my black holes aren’t too deep. Lately, I’ve been diving into steampunk for an article I’m writing for the Boston Globe. I even attended a steampunk LARP. That was a hoot.
GM: Gilsdorf. Seems like the name has some geeky undertones. I think Gil-Galad, and dwarf. Were you just predestined? EG: On my book tour, I’ve gotten a zillion comments from people asking me if my name is real. Yep, I say, my parents actually named me this tongue-twister “Ethan Gilsdorf.”. People wonder if it’s Elvish. Or Elvis. At the time, the name Ethan was about as rare as orc teeth. Friends in high school called me Nahte Frodslig.
My husband brought home a dark red cardboard box that was no bigger than a schoolbook. When I found out the little rat warrior miniatures in the box weren’t for any Dungeons and Dragons story line we were playing, but instead were for a wargame called Warhammer, I quickly lost interest in what my husband was doing…until he started getting into my polymer clay to make unique bases for each miniature, and into my paints and paintbrushes to bring out the detail of the characters. Then, I started thinking, maybe this game is for me.
Warhammer is a miniatures war game that is (from my observations) predominately played by 25-50 year old males. Thankfully, I was not terribly nervous about joining an escalation tournament in a local league. It’s sad there aren’t as many women as men playing this game. There are so many reasons to play!
7 reasons as a wife, mom, or woman that you should play Warhammer:
Strategy – As a mom, it is always important to not let your strategic skills drop to a non-adult level.
Spacial reasoning – Use game play as an opportunity to hone your interior decorating skills. If you can deploy and march your miniatures army effectively, imagine how efficiently you could arrange your living space or pack luggage.
Spirited debate – Even with a four year old I feel like I am constantly arguing with a teenager. There is a fine line between arguing and debating, but one game of Warhammer normally contains at least one rules debate.
Adult time – Let’s be honest: it’s fun to play games with the kids, but how many games of Candyland can you take?
Carnage – After a long day, you just want to go ‘Office Space’ on something – ANYTHING! What better way than with dice and fantasy creatures!
Date – Chances are, if you are starting to play Warhammer as a mom, you know someone else who plays it as well. If the person you know is your husband, make it a date night! If you are lacking a significant other to play with, there are a good number of nice single guys who play (and would probably think it’s totally HOT that a single girl plays or wants to learn).
Art – Okay, even if you aren’t for imagined blood and carnage, there is an artistic side to this game. You pick your army, you assemble them and you paint them. If you don’t like what a member of your unit looks like, find what you like and create it. You are given complete artistic license over what your army looks like.
I should probably point out that Warhammer Fantasy is a different game from Warhammer 40,000. Warhammer 40,000, or 40k, is a futuristic space-themed game that attracts a younger crowd than Fantasy (‘tween and teen age boys are much more likely to play 40k), but I choose to play a game that I can share company with a (generally) more age appropriate crowd, at least in my area.
I looked at all of the armies and chose to play a Lizardmen army. What army will you choose?