When it comes to series I love, I love reading any kind of scholarly (or even pseudo-scholarly) discourse and discussion on it. George R R Martin’s “A...moreWhen it comes to series I love, I love reading any kind of scholarly (or even pseudo-scholarly) discourse and discussion on it. George R R Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” has long warranted at least one kind of anthology with essays about the series, and I’m happy to say that Ben Bella books has really done fans a solid by releasing this gem of a book. “Beyond the Wall” isn’t just useful for fans, but for aspiring authors, as well (regardless if you’re writing fantasy or contemporary). Whether you’re a casual or a die hard fan of the series, or if you’re just getting into “ASOIAF”, “Beyond the Wall” is definitely a must read for you.
There are quite a few awesome essays in this book – covering everything from magic to politics, sexism and sexual violence to religion, how fantasy series compare, and more. The authors for each essay make the language of their work very easy to access so that you don’t have to be in academia to understand what they’re saying or the argument they’re making. They lay out their points very clearly, and use the text of the book (and interviews with the author) to back up what they’re saying. Reading something like this is a joy because of the ease in which you can just dive in and really kind of get into the conversation about some of the long-argued areas (both controversial and not) that the fans have been talking about for the last 15 years.
I think, though, my favorite essays are the ones by Alyssa Rosenberg (“On Men & Monsters” – on the controversial ‘rape culture’ within ‘ASOIAF’), Susan Vaught (“The Brutal Cost of Redemption in Westeros” – on how ‘ASOIAF’ can be seen as a series of tales of redemption and moral ambiguity), Myke Cole (“Art Imitates War” – on PTSD within the series), Jesse Scoble (“A Sword Without a Hilt” – on magic within the series), and Ned Vizzini (“Beyond the Ghetto” – how GRRM’s work transcends genres). These five essays are my favorite because each author really hits the nail on the head for all of their arguments, and gives some really brilliant examples within their discourse from the actual text. If you’re just going to skim a few essays from this anthology, make it these five – they cover all of the hotly contested areas of the series, as well as go into places I hadn’t even thought about in terms of symbolism, foreshadowing, and how time flows within the books. If you’re a fan, you really need to read this book as it’ll definitely illuminate things you had brewing in your head or things you’d noticed subconsciously when reading.
I really hope this is just the first of many books to come on this series, if we’re going to get more of the same brilliant essays that we were given in this book. We all know that there are a lot more arguments to make about and within the “ASOIAF” series, so here’s hoping that this is just the first one. And bravo to Ben Bella books for releasing it first – they tend to release some absolutely awesome essay collections on some of my favorite TV shows and books with high-quality academic-type of discourse on each topic.
“Beyond the Wall” is now available from Ben Bella books in North America, so be sure to check it out! It was an absolute treat to read, and perfect for that in between TV season and book wait for the series.
(posted to goodreads, shelfari, and birthofanewwitch.wordpress.com)(less)
This was a fun bunch of stories, but I was kind of disappointed. Some of the pieces used for this anthologies have been around for awhile, and I was k...moreThis was a fun bunch of stories, but I was kind of disappointed. Some of the pieces used for this anthologies have been around for awhile, and I was kind of hoping for totally brand new stories from everyone all around. Don't get me wrong - I loved these entries (especially the beginning of "Rot & Ruin" by Jonathan Maberry.
What was definitely the strength of this anthology was the sheer amount of variation there were between the entries. Some were very emotionally touching, some were funny, some had a dystopia-like living situation going on, and some were all of the above all in one story. I really enjoyed Kelly Link's contribution to this one, and loved the idea of her character keeping track of time with whatever picture is on the cover of her notebook (in this case, flaming motorcycles) - I thought that was incredibly clever, and it's definitely one of my favorites within this anthology.
But I do admit, as I said before, I do wish this had been something entirely new, and not just stories collected within the last two decades of YA lit. While I understand that YA lit has now grown to approximately 25% of the literary market, and gathering these stories is a great way of showing how YA has expanded in the last twenty years, I just wanted a completely shiny new anthology whose pieces I hadn't seen somewhere else had already been used.
But since the sheer amount of variation (and quite frankly, some of the best of the best) in the stories used really won me over, this is why it gets a four out of five.
If you're looking to get into zombie lit, or you're looking to get into YA lit through some delicious zombies, I highly suggest you try out this anthology. It's a great way to get into the Halloween mood, but it's also a great way to see how far we've come in terms of YA lit in such a short time. Just don't read it at night alone, or you might have a few nightmares (like I did). Or do so anyway, and enjoy those nightmares. Either way, give this anthology a try - it's definitely a fun read for all.
(posted to goodreads, shelfari, and witchoftheatregoing.wordpress.com)(less)
Ah, I know whenever I’m feeling down that Lovecraftian mythology will be there for me to pick me up out of my slump and scare the living hell out of m...moreAh, I know whenever I’m feeling down that Lovecraftian mythology will be there for me to pick me up out of my slump and scare the living hell out of me. Yeah, this anthology is that good – it made me feel better when I was cranky, and then it proceeded to give me nightmares. The feel-good anthology of the year? Definitely. But only if you like tentacles.
But out of all of the stories in here, the first by Caitlin R. Kiernan was my favorite. I’ve always loved her writing, and I kind of wish that this had been a longer novella and not just a short story. She wrapped it up really nicely at the end, but still, I would definitely sit down and read 200+ pages of that story in an expanded novel format. The end was especially good, and sent chills up my spine (which is hard to do). All of the stories were great, and it’s hard to say which was “the best” out of all of them – but I did enjoy Kiernan’s tale the most out of the entire lot, if I had to choose.
These are all really great tales by some of fantasy’s (and urban fantasy) current masters, and they all deserve a read. This was a wonderful escapist read, and I highly suggest it to all sci-fi/fantasy fans. This anthology just isn’t full of the Chthulu mythos itself, but full of nuclear wars, cold wars, espionage, creepy families, dystopias, other planets, and the like. It’s a very varied mix of different tales all using Lovecraft together in ways that I haven’t seen before, which is what makes this anthology so great. There was traditional fantasy, urban fantasy, hard sci-fi, cyberpunk, alternate histories – every possible sub-genre to fantasy and sci-fi that’s out there? It was in this anthology in some form or another, all using Lovecraft as jumping off point to get their tales going. There really is something for everyone who enjoys sci-fi and fantasy in this anthology. Stross’ story, for example, was awesome – using the cold war, the CIA, and Chthulu all in one story. Sound insane? It was. And I was sad to see the story end so soon. Really, the stories in these anthologies all could have been developed into novels – they caught my attention that deeply.
If you enjoy Lovecraft, do him a solid and pick up this anthology, as all the authors pay proper tribute to him in their stories. I, for one, welcome our new underwater alien overlords, and support them. Won’t you join us?
(posted to goodreads, shelfari, and witchoftheatregoing.wordpress.com)(less)
I don't quite know how to feel about this piece. For a short, it's good. But it felt like there was far too much telling and not enough showing. I kno...moreI don't quite know how to feel about this piece. For a short, it's good. But it felt like there was far too much telling and not enough showing. I know that with scientific stuff it's kind of hard to show instead of tell, but I felt like there wasn't enough effort put into the showing and instead was excited with telling instead.
Had this been a proposal for a longer novel, I think I could have stood with the amount of tell over show. Hell, I'd absolutely love to see a full-length novel with these characters and this concept. It's a solid read, but it could have used a little more visualization and a little less text to it.
Still, give it a read and see what you think. I like it as a short, but I think I would have liked it more as a longer novel/novella.
(posted to librarything, goodreads, and shelfari)(less)
Perfect for what everyone is calling the "twitter generation", this book both made me laugh and cry in its simplicity when one's memoirs had to be tru...morePerfect for what everyone is calling the "twitter generation", this book both made me laugh and cry in its simplicity when one's memoirs had to be truncated down to six words and only six words. I've tried doing this as an exercise myself and it's very difficult to get one's life down in six words, so I do have to give props to the various authors who managed to do it.
This book is both inspiring and self-deprecating, perfect for today's recent high school or college graduate. Would definitely make a nice gift to that age group!