Yesterday, I saw the recent Stratford Festival production of Camelot at the Festival Theatre. Clicking on the link below or the picture above or link below will take you to a real review of the show that I agree completely with, so I’ll just skip to my personal comments.

For some reason, the whole King Arthur legend has always left me cold. It’s an odd thing, because while I love historical fiction, enjoy fantasy, and devour period pieces whenever I get the chance- I just can’t get into the whole King Arthur mythos or story. Even this play, which I greatly appreciated, still didn’t make me like the idea of the King Arthur legend that has entranced so many any more than I did before. (Although I’ll confess the ending did leave me a little misty-eyed, but that I credit more to the actors than the story.)

I guess perhaps it’s the un-reality of it all. The whole thing seems more like children playing at a game than a real piece of historical or fictional drama. The inclusion of magic with Merlin and Morgan le Fey makes it even worse, as we have a bunch of children playing with swords and a couple magic-users manipulating them. It never feels like a real story about real people, and I find no-one in this tale with whom I can connect emotionally.

Then again, maybe I just haven’t read or seen the right version.

TheRecord – Stratford Festival: Camelot delivers magic.

Webcomic worth checking out- The Meek

The Meek is a graphic novel about Angora, an inexperienced young girl who has been sent on a quest to save the world. War looms on the horizon, and at its helm is the Emperor of the North and his hellish adviser. The two countries are overwhelmed with as much terror, crime, disease and revolution as they are with those who wish to create peace. Armed with only her instincts and an unexplainable power, she must experience and judge the world—and decide once and for all if it is truly worth saving.”

A unique and gorgeous Fantasy webcomic that’s just finished its third volume. Go read it!


R. Scott Bakker Talks about Writing Fantasy, Writers, and Canadian Lit.

Fantasy Author R. Scott Bakker (and fellow Londoner) lectured recently at Fanshawe College as part of Fanshawe’s Arts and Letters program, and unfortunately I missed it due to other commitments. (Darn that need to pay the bills!)  Luckily for me, they put it up on Youtube, so I could catch it later, and so can you. Enjoy!

Qin’s Moon 秦时明月

I just stumbled across this series today on the Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove site, and watched the first episodes. It’s a computer animated WuXia TV series from China set during the Qin Dynasty (210 BC) about a spunky orphan who has come under the protection/tutelage of the Emperor’s (former) greatest swordsman.

The animation in the first season is a weird combination between gorgeous and weak (it’s almost better to think of it as an animated comic book than an animated TV series) and the writing also seems to jump between almost profound and somewhat lowbrow. Whoever wrote this knew the limitations of the form they were planning it in, and they show some real skill in working around the limited animation at times. (Although it does look like the animation gets much better with each successive season.)

Overall in tone I’d compare it to The Clone Wars, although since it seems to have started around the same time I’d say that was a co-incidence instead of the Chinese animators following in CW’s footsteps.

The first three seasons are available on Youtube, or on the fansubber’s site for direct download. Either way, it’s probably worth a look if you’re a fan of fantasy or martial arts action. I will probably keep watching it for a bit just to see where it goes, but I’m still deciding if I like it or not.

Peter Dinklage gets his just reward!

In honor of Peter Dinklage getting the award for Best Supporting Actor in a Drama, I present Tyrion’s finest moment!

Well done, Peter!

Game of thrones – Tyrion Lannister slapping Joffrey Baratheon – Juego de Tronos – YouTube.

Fantasy Author R. Scott Bakker to Speak at Fanshawe on Thursday, Sept. 22

 Letters and Arts at Fanshawe College presents

R. Scott Bakker

Fantasy in a Modern Age

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Room D1060 at 2:00 p.m.


What is the future of book publishing in Canada, globally? R. Scott Bakker knows the score. A frequent guest at conventions, a fan favourite, a dedicated blogger (Three-Pound Brain), and professor of creative writing, R. Scott Bakker is the author of The Prince of Nothing Epic Fantasy Trilogy followed by The Aspect Emperor Series. His fifth fantasy novel has recently been released: The White Luck Warrior! Hear him read from his new work and respond to questions: is fantasy the secular scripture of the new age? Free to the Fanshawe community and the public!

ART by STOWE: DND for 8 year olds

Illustrator James Stowe was asked to run D&D for his son’s 8th birthday party, so he simplified it and produced what have to be the coolest character sheets ever! Go check the others out. The makers of D&D should be hiring this guy!

  • Barbarian Character Sheet

ART by STOWE: DND for 8 year olds.

What Children Fear

I had an interesting conversation with my friend MadUnkieG yesterday that I thought I’d share.

We were talking about young adult books and how they age- for example, he said the Corey Doctorow’s Little Brother is already out of date because since it was written and published (2 years ago) there have been so many changes in social networking and how we think about security and computers. I conceded he may in fact be right about Science Fiction, but  I countered, however, that Fantasy books fare better than science fiction by dint of being timeless and not set in our world.

That’s when he said something really interesting, he said that Fantasy books age just as badly, but do so in a different way. He claimed that Fantasy books oriented toward youths are usually about children and young people facing their fears and dealing with those fears. They act as a sort of safe exposure to things the young people must deal with as they get older, and most things in young people’s novels are metaphors (intentional or not) for the children’s own lives.

Now this I could see and agree with, but it’s what followed that I found really interesting. He said that the reason young people’s fiction goes out of date is because while some fears are universal and perpetual (fear of the dark, fear of being abandoned, fear of fitting in, etc) there are fears that change as society changes. He said that while former generations (Baby Boomers to Gen-X) were most afraid of monsters that were out to hurt them, that’s not what the current generation is most afraid of- the current generation is in fact afraid of being overwhelmed by the world around them.

In other words, young people today find the world around them even more complex and intimidating than the previous generations did, and it scares the hell out of them. They’re inundated by information and messages, and don’t know how to handle it all and find their place in the world as previous generations did. This is something that older youth novels don’t tend to reflect, because they’re usually about simplification (Fantasy worlds tend to be idealized simple places where good and evil are clear.) not about dealing with hard complex realities.

He felt that there were few Fantasy novels that addressed that, since most were written in the older mode, but that Terry Prachett’s young adult works tended to be some of the best in this area. (Which given how detailed and layered the Discworld setting is, is not a surprising thing to consider at all!)

I am still pondering the implications of what he said (how books become dated, and what children fear today) and I’m not sure how one would incorporate those into writing a young adult book. There’s not much you can do about a book becoming dated, it will naturally happen with the passage of time, but you can try to stick to universal concepts as a way of minimizing the drift. As for what modern young people fear, that’s about knowing what’s in the heads of your audience and working with it- a good idea in any time.