Tolkien's Footsteps

Well, I’ve made quite enough sidelong references to the Grand Old Man of fantasy fiction that I thought I should meet him head on at some point (1) : JRR Tolkien, professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford, friend of CS Lewis (2) and “father of modern fantasy” as he has been called.
 
There are few enough readers of fantasy who have […]

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Hammer and Sickle

Some more Empire backstory
The slaves found their voice.
This was five hundred and thirty-seven years before the main action in Empire (1), and we know this because the main action in Empire takes place in the year 537. The slaves had never had a calendar, while they lived under the boot of their masters. Their masters’ calendar was […]

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An Early Present from Santa Claws

Oh to have a reputation.
 
Specifically, a full half-dozen people have sent me links to the same news story, linked herewith: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/7104421.stm
 
The obvious thought, when confronted with this, is, “slow news day.” Had the story broken a day later, then the football (1) would have squeezed it out entirely. Like the fossilisation process itself, a news story about fossils (3) […]

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The Call to Arms

After the writing and the re-writing,
After the striving, and the despicable cost of postage,
After the rejections and the resubmissions,
After all of these things, and so ad infinitum,
And if your gods favour you,
You may hear the Call.
 
The Call should, if there was any poetry or justice in this world, come to you in the sound of a great […]

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You take the High Road and I'll take the Low Road

…And I’ll be in Narnia before ye.
 
You often hear the terms “High Fantasy” and “Low Fantasy” bandied around as the two major divisions within the fantasy genre. As discussed, dividing the corpus of literature can be a snobbish business, even in (1) a genre that is itself persecuted.
 
The most generally accepted definition of High Fantasy is that […]

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Dark Days

All this was prehistory. The unspoken pact with the monster insects that ensured humanity’s survival, and the subsequent development of the Art, is all lost to the mists of time. Not even the longest memories, not even the most complete records, bear witness.
What is certain is that, having chosen a side, mankind collaborated in the final […]

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Based on a True Story

I’ve already gone on about the tyranny of the Mainstream State, that exiles all those that fail to conform to its rigorous aesthetic to the gulag of genre fiction. However, like all good despotic regimes, “mainstream fiction” is based on hypocrisy and lies. (1)
 
There are two ways of looking at this:
 
First, the scholarly:
 
Where did “fiction” start? The […]

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Writing Outside the Box

There is a key division in fantasy (1) writing to do with the scale and scope of the world that the author is intent on creating. This is not just about the size of the map, but more to do with what happens just beyond the map’s edge, off the page. What happens? Well, in some […]

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Another go on the Merry-go-round

So, what would be the point of submitting the same book again? I myself have tended to drift on to new work following each round of rejections, but I know that other people continue to cut and prune their magnum opus for resubmission at a later date. There is a hidden calendar involved, and it is worth keeping tabs […]

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The Waiting Game

Suddenly… nothing happened. But it happened suddenly. (1)
 
You’ve dispatched your sample chapters to agents and/or publishers. Now what?
 
Well, very little. Wait for the little rejection slips to come fluttering to your door. As mentioned, even that can take some time. When you finally strike gold you’ll know about it but,before then, you’ll live in an agony […]

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