I blogged previously about the news that Iain Banks‘ Transition was going to be released as a podcast through iTunes. I recently downloaded and started listening to this. It comes in 7 episodes so far, each of about 15-20 minutes long. Although according to the press release there will be 23 episodes in total.
What the press release doesn’t say is that actually this isn’t the full book, but an abridged version. This of course makes perfect sense, why would the publisher give the whole audio book away. However, I think I’m going to keep listening. The story is well narrated and very intriguing. Banks uses a number of different narrators to tell his story, which after listening to two and half episodes is still rather enigmatic, but very intriguing. What I like about it so far is the fact that he doesn’t feel the need to insult the reader’s (listener’s) intelligence by explaining everything. We find out more about the characters and the setting as the story progresses. In particular there are two characters who are operating in a world that is not our own, but we have to piece together ourselves what is going on rather than being given an information dump to explain it to us.
The book also seems to be dealing with some interesting themes. It starts by comparing two incidents, 9/11 and the fall of the Berlin wall. It’s very much, I think, going to be a book about the world we live in now, despite the speculative elements. This is the kind of fiction that is both challenging and important. I can’t understand why Iain doesn’t get further in prizes like the Booker. Surely his kind of fiction which examines our society is more relevant than the books that seem to fill this short-list, which apparently with only one exception are all basically historical novels.
Wow, what you can say about this news of a find of gold coins and artifacts that apparently is over three times the size of that found at Sutton Hoo. Whoever left these behind, and presumably it’s the hoard or grave-site of an important warrior/noble of Mercia, must have been one well wealthy so and so.
The hoard has been dated to the 7th century, which made me think of a rather well known king of Mercia called Penda. Penda might have a role in the novel I’m researching at the moment called Hell has its Demons, so this news is really interesting and one that I’m going to keep an eye on.
I have updated the pages I have on Magic in the Middle Ages. Some of these have been re-ordered, but I have also added new content, including excerpts from some primary sources. In particular I would recommend checking out the Peter Lombard page, he had quite a bit to say about the nature of angels and demons.
I am adding content as I get a chance whilst researching background for my novel Hell has its Demons. Hope some of you find this information useful!
The new WordPress version of my site allows me to create menus and pages that are separate from the blog – so I have created a menu header for My Current Projects and I’m putting some information about Hell has its Demons in that place. So far there is a synopsis and a character history of Jake, one of the novel’s main characters. I’ll be adding some background and character information as I progress with the planning and writing of the novel.
I just finished reading Susanna Clarke’s short-story collection Ladies of Grace Adieu. I really was most impressed by these stories. A couple of them featured characters from her bestselling novel Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, but I think I probably preferred the stories that didn’t. For me I think the stand-out tale was “Mr Simonelli or the Fairy Widower”. This piece really brought out Clarke’s vision of faery as a sinister and evil place, but with a wonderful tone of humour easing the reader along.
I would love to be able to replicate what Clarke does in my own fiction – which is sort of similar in that it takes a historical setting as it’s starting point and then brings in fantasy elements from the literature of the period.
I was wondering which short fiction markets are fantasy writers’ favourites and why?
My favourites tend to be based on positive good experience with editors in the past – i.e. they give some more than form feedback when rejecting my work – and/or because I feel comfortable with the content of the publication.
So for instance Black Gate is good because I like a lot of the stories published there and tend to read most of them, and also the editors are polite and friendly in their communication. Their fiction tends to be well written but not afraid to be good genre fantasy with magic, wizards and swords involved.