Some Things.

I’ve had the Alt Fiction schedule through (first draft anyway) – this is 25-26 June 2011 at the Derby Quad. I’ll put up a dedicated post to it, but the schedule looks interesting enough that I will hopefully be in the audience for most of it, and I have a couple of nice panels myself – one on “is there fantasy after Tolkien?” – one wonders by now if it should be “is there fantasy after after Tolkien”.

Point the second: Last Monday was China Mieville’s launch party for his phenomenal new book Embassytown, which comes highly recommended. Mr M is doing his usual trick of writing something brilliant and at the same time covering completely new ground – in this case a proper piece of very thoughtful hard SF.

Thirdly, my dear lord but Neil Gaiman’s Doctor Who episode was good! “The Doctor’s Wife” is right up there with the best episodes they’ve ever done – Paul Cornell’s “Human Nature” for example, or Moffat’s “Blink”

Finally, for now, and on a wholly more sombre note: at the end of March this year, Dianne Wynne Jones died. Objectively, she was one of the most influential fantasy authors, her beautifully written, highly original and easily accessible work becoming the gateway into the genre for countless young readers. Subjectively, she was perhaps the very strongest influence shaping my own appreciation of fantasy when I was a teenager. Her writing taught me a great deal of what stories could do, and how to effortless move past the barriers that seemed to limit fantasy fiction. I have most of her books still on my shelves, and still re-read them. My favourite, “Power of Three” was my very first encounter with the idea of relative standards of good and evil, the moral ambiguity that is perhaps one of the biggest memes in current fantasy writing.

She leaves the genre and the literary world a good deal poorer in her passing.

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