BookTuber Tuesday – V.E. Schwab: ‘In Search of Doors,’ Pembroke Tolkien Lecture 2018

Which is why it’s disheartening, if I’m being generous, and maddening, if I’m being honest, to see so many new stories conforming to such old conceits. To see so many contemporary fantasy authors subscribing to antiquated models, either because of nostalgia, or the ease of well-worn roads, or, more likely, because they still feel adequately represented by them.

What a waste. The most beautiful part of writing fantasy is the freedom, not from rules—because we all know that good stories need good worlds, and good worlds, whether they’re rooted in fantasy, sci-fi, or realism, require solid scaffolding—no, not from rules, but from the exact details of the present we inhabit.

We have the opportunity to subvert the established tropes, to redefine power, to conceive of social landscapes and climates perpendicular to the ones in which we live. Fantasy allows us to explore the strengths and weaknesses of our own world through the lens of another. To draw a concept from its natural framework, its classic, well-worn context, and examine the underbelly of the idea. To restructure, and re-center. Fantasy affords the luxury of close examination—of the self, and of society—laid within a framework of escapism. It can be a commentary, a conversation, and it can simply be a refuge.

Good Fantasy operates within this seeming paradox.

It allows the writer, and by extension the reader, to use fictional and fantastical analogs to examine the dilemmas of the real world.

But it also allows the reader to escape from it. To discover a space where things are stranger, different, more.

In my opinion, there is no such thing as pure Fantasy.

Fantasy, like all stories, has its roots in reality—it grows from that soil. Stories are born from “what if…”, and that is a question that will always be rooted in the known. “What if…” by its nature is a distillation of “What if things were different?” And that question depends on a foundation of what we want them to be different from. In that sense, all fantasy is in conversation with a reality we recognize. It is a contrast, a counterpoint, and in my opinion the best fantasies are those which acknowledge and engage with that reality in some way.

Perhaps that means we see the world we are leaving—we board the train to Hogwarts, we step through the wardrobe—or perhaps we simply acknowledge the foundations on which our story is born and from which we are departing.

I’m not advocating for fantasy as an overt metaphor. The questions and counterpoints need not be the driving force of the narrative—as with Le Guin’s Left Hand of Darkness—but that question, “what if…?”, is strongest when it challenges the world we already know, and finds a way to pivot from it. To ask more interesting questions. To tell new stories.”

[Via]

Year Roundup: 2016

Father time. Comin’ to reap yo ass, 2016.

So, despite the shitpile that was 2016, we’ll give you some of the highlights from the CIRCO blog.

We started our Epic Catalog tag in 2016, which contains all our lists and will be an ongoing thing.

The #BLAThoughtOfTheDay ranged from J.K. Rowling conspiracy theories to superhero reboots.

Our favorite BookTuber Tuesday posts this year was this one and this one.

Gabbler’s favorite GABBLER RECOMMENDS was this piece by Che Gossett and this one by Elizabeth King.

Also notable events of 2016:

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child came out and BLA had feelings about it.

Maria Bamford’s TV show Lady Dynamite came out and it was good. 

Elena Ferrante’s true identity was exposed by an asshole.

BLA wrote an essay on the representation of gods in stories and has some things to say about the American Gods adaptation being made.

Gabbler wrote an essay in response to Hugh Howey’s “Like Unto Children.”

But besides all that, fuck you 2016.

#BLAThoughtOfTheDay – J.K. Rowling is crying for help

I choose to believe that Fantastic Beasts was more cry for help than actual story. That is the only way I can go on living.

June, July, August, September Roundup: Dear Hades, keep your wife.

So, the monthly roundup isn’t so monthly anymore…

In June, we posted about how authors shouldn’t guilt trip readers and about Theodora Goss on why she writes.  One of June’s BookTuber Tuesday posts covered an interesting discussion on Book Packagers, and a GABBLER RECOMMENDS included Maria Bamford’s Lady Dynamite. 

In July, we started the EPIC CATALOG category on the blog. Check out all the lists we have categorized so far. That month, we posted about a film written by AI and what not to do with a nom de plume.  Also, why we need to consider how ghostwriting/ghostwriters harm our culture.

August led to BLA’s rants on The Cursed Child and this post about how multiple versions of a book might sway opinion of it. Gabbler RECOMMENDED this RadioLab podcast about why Homer never mentions the color blue (not just because he’s never sad; seriously, listen to it!).

In September we celebrated the anniversary of THE AUTOMATION by hosting a giveaway. If you didn’t win, that’s OK, you can read it for free or download it as an ebook on Goodreads.  A #BLAThoughtOfTheDay included this post on why we need to talk about Lionel Shriver. And, to end with, we really recommend reading this opinion piece by Amy Hungerford on why you might not want to read ALL THE BOOKS.

Here’s to the next season when we’ll eventually get to our monthly roundup!

BookTuber Tuesday – Disappointment with Harry Potter & the Cursed Child

“I could have written something better.”

Check out other book vlogs we’ve featured here.

Have a book vlog video you want us to check out? Submit a link below in the comments and it could make the CIRCO blog.

[“BLA and GB Gabbler” (really just a pen name – singular) are the Editor and Narrator behind THE AUTOMATION, vol. 1 of the Circo del Herrero series. They are on facebook, twitter, tumblr, goodreads, and Vulcan’s shit list.]

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