Wednesday, January 31, 2007

How we divvied up The Empire of Ice Cream

  • "The Annals of Eelin-Ok": Tiffany
  • "Jupiter's Skull": Kate
  • "A Night in the Tropics": Adam
  • "The Empire of Ice Cream": Tara
  • "The Beautiful Gelreesh": Brian
  • "Boatman's Holiday": Keith
  • "Botch Town": Nick Beadle
  • "A Man of Light": Joel
  • "The Green Word": Megan
  • "Giant Land": Jae
  • "Coffins on the River": Zach
  • "Summer Afternoon": Lauren
  • "The Weight of Words": Elizabeth
  • "The Trentino Kid": Nick Adam

    Nick, notice I assigned you a story in absentia.

    As always, launching the discussion on this blog, before class, is welcome.
  • We believe

    The survey of American belief I keep talking about is the latest Baylor Religion Survey, released in 2006, which the researchers call "the most extensive and sensitive study of religion ever conducted." The complete report is downloadable for free at the website. It reveals, among countless other interesting things, the percentage of Americans who believe in a variety of paranormal phenomena:

  • That ancient advanced civilizations, like Atlantis, once existed, 41 percent.
  • That places can be haunted, 37 percent.
  • That it is possible to influence the physical world through the mind alone, 28 percent.
  • That some UFOs are probably spaceships from other worlds, 25 percent.
  • That creatures like Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster will one day be discovered, 18 percent.

    In fact, belief in Atlantis (41 percent) and belief in hauntings (37 percent) are both more widespread than belief in an authoritarian God (31 percent), while belief in UFOs (25 percent) is more widespread than belief in a benevolent God (23 percent).

    My question: If you believe in, for example, haunted houses, then do you read a haunted-house story as fantasy? Or as something else?
  • another jab

    While we were discussing Monstrous Regiment today and looking at all of the aspects that religion played in the story we mentioned that Vimes offered different Gods to Polly for her people to worship instead of Nuggan who is indeed probably and abomination himself. Did anyone else notice that two of the Gods that Vimes suggested were a Crocidile God and the Potato Church?? I can only imagine those Gods being ridiculous as well from the names he gave them. Any thoughts??

    Typical Mass Produced Literature.

    This was my first Terry Pratchett book, and I must say, I was a little dissappointed. I have heard a lot about this author...everyone seems to like him, but I found him to be quite generic. His humor was indeed a delight, but for the most part, the book was nothing special. It read as if he pumped it out in a couple of days...The only thing that saves this book was the satirical element. Other than that, his story telling is somewhat boring. NOTHING REALLY HAPPENED. It droned on and on and on. He could have told a much better story in fewer pages. Plus, making Jackrum a woman at the end REALLY made me angry. Don't ask me just seemed like a cop out.

    Gods and Godlike figures

    I believe I have come up with a topic for my paper: Gods and Godlike figures in fantasy and mythology. Of course, this also applies to Monstrous Regiment. I think the dead god Nuggan was a really good touch to such a satirical book. Gods in fantasy tend to be such big, powerful beings that mere mortals cringe before them. Nuggan, on the other hand, is such a puny, abominable being that you can't help but laugh at him. I mean, who outlaws the color blue?

    Tuesday, January 30, 2007

    I was thinking more about Monstrous Regiment and how it's very much a satire of war, gender, and religion and even the fantasy genre itself. The purpose of satire is generally to make fun of something in order to bring people's attention to it and correct it, and Monstrous Regiment, while it's not overtly preachy--as it shouldn't be--it does raise questions though most readers are likely casual enough that they'll only read it for the laughs at the superficial jokes.

    Obviously, Monstrous Regiment lambasts stupid wars and the nationalism that tends to drive them--the Borogravians attack everyone just because they see the world in terms of Us and Them. It also raises the issue of gender, as by the end of the book pretty much every capable character has turned out to be a woman in disguise. The only main character who isn't a woman is Blouse, and I have issues with his capability, so it's a moot point. ;)

    And of course, there's Nuggan and his Nugganite law, a stupid religion hung up on the law and the proclamations of abomination handed down from above. Jigsaw puzzles, the color blue--the list of abominations unto Nuggan gets progressively more ridiculous until the people are forced to break them just to go on living their lives, and made to feel guilty for doing so.

    And it also pokes a good deal of fun at the cliche fantasy ideas--as somebody else mentioned, they weren't sure about reading it because the back cover threatened just another girl dressing as a boy to do the forbidden, but Pratchett takes that idea and turns it on its head, making it new and interesting again in Monstrous Regiment.

    Old story, new spin

    I have to admit, I was a little hesitant when I read the blurb on the back of Monstrous Regiment; quite frankly, the "girl-dressing-up-as-a-boy-to-do-something-she's-not-allowed-to story's been done to death. However, I have to admit, I really liked the way Pratchett told it. Actually, it reminded me quite a bit of the rather tongue-in-cheek humor that's characteristic of Piers Anthony, one of my favorite fantasy/sci-fi writers. I especially liked all of the sarcastic little footnotes.

    Also, I really liked the whole "folk song" angle and how he worked them into "new" plot lines, even if it did remind me all too much of my sister's evil cat (she named him after "Sweet Polly Oliver," but we end up calling him Polly more than we call him Oliver). I'm halfway tempted to look up the three or four songs he mentioned that I've never heard of.


    monstrous regiment goes in phases for me...i'll be really into it for twenty to thirty pages at a time but then i feel like it will drag for quite sometime after that while the next conflict is being resolved. as i approach the end though i'm very curious as to how it will conclude and while i agree with all the others that this story is not woven as smoothly, i still feel that the plot is leading up to a surprising end that will hopefully seal my approval of this book (not that my approval really matters in the grand scheme of things because obviously this is a very well written novel, i just really don't want to be disappointed by the ending). hope i'm not the only one struggling with my attention span as i read, haha...

    Monday, January 29, 2007

    More on the importance of names

    While we were talking about the importance of True Names in class last week -- an important theme in Kelly Link and in Neil Gaiman -- we might have mentioned the Sacred Name Movement in Christianity: the various churches that emphasize the authority of the Old Testament, the observance of Jewish festivals and the correct name of the divine.

    This is on my mind because while driving through Bethel, Pa., yesterday, I passed radio station WMLK, the broadcasting arm of the Assemblies of Yahweh. This church's Statement of Doctrine reads, in part:
    We affirm that it is necessary and most important to our salvation that we accept the revealed, personal Name of our Heavenly Father YAHWEH and the Name of His Son, our Savior YAHSHUA the MESSIAH. We affirm also that the most accurate transliteration of these Names from the Hebrew into the English is by the spellings employed above, Exodus 3:14-15; Psalm 68:4; Psalm 83:18; Isaiah 42:8; Isaiah 52:6; Acts 4:12.
    This is an ancient debate, but the Assemblies of Yahweh is, as churches go, brand new. It was founded by Jacob O. Meyer in 1969, the year men first walked on the Moon.

    Saturday, January 27, 2007

    Pan's Labyrinth...real? Or tragic fascination?

    I, like a couple of other people I see, saw Pan's Labyrinth last night. It was amazing! Kind of like if Quentin Tarantino directed the Chroni(what?!)cles of Narnia, and the children spent most of their time in England, not in Narnia. It was truly one of the most beautiful, and most beautifully sad, movies I have seen in a really long time. I felt for every character. I cried (I admit it...tried to hold it back). Everything about the fantasy world was perfectly woven into the real life struggle that was going on in Spain. The fantasy, albeit quite scary, was Ofelia's hope and escape from the horrible life in which she was living. However, it made you question at the end, was it real? Or was it just the little girl's imagination? Her escape from the horrors of her real life?

    p.s. I don't think I've ever hated a character so much as I did the Captain. He was pure evil.

    Friday, January 26, 2007

    Night at the Movies

    Well, I went to the movies last night originally to see another scary movie but decided on more of a fantasy movie instead. I had heard good reviews about Pan's Labyrinth and with this class in mind I decided to give it a try. Overall the movie was good. I didn't enjoy the storyline that didn't include the fantastic elements of the princess finding her way back to the king of the underworld (not the bad underworld) because it was all about war and quite gruesome at parts. However, there was a faun (pan) that I liked although he looked really frightening. The faun goes on a spiel about not having a name for the young girl Ofelia to call him which reminded me of the discussion about names in class this week. There was definately the fight against good and evil in the real world--with Ofelia's new father being the villian that I thought was rather well played. Just thought I would see if anyone else had seen this movie and thoughts on it.. Oh, and it was all in Spanish with sub-titles which surprisingly didn't take too much away from the story.

    I'm torn

    I can't decide what to think about monstrous regiment. I am entertained when I read it, but I think Joel is definitely right when he says that the storytelling is not quite as smooth as the other books we have read. I also don't like the it the Igor or Carbundum (if thats how you spell it I don't have my book with me) because I can't read what he's saying much of the time because of his lisp. All in all, through 100 pages I like this novel, and one thing that I do find better in this one are the awesome jokes that come in and out of the story.

    Monstrous Hilarity

    I was at the Doctor today, so of course that gave me plenty of time to read. I got about 130 pages in, and I have to say this is the most enjoyable book, to me, so far. The words are not spun quite as talentedly or as fancy as Magic or Coraline, but the story is very, very entertaining; or at least the first 130 pages have been.

    Thursday, January 25, 2007

    Possible gatherings for the end of Feb.

    Seeing as I'm rather biased in this subject, I think we should do the class and dinner on Friday. I have class Monday. I think this should be the official tally for the decision. Once again, though, I'm biased.

    Wednesday, January 24, 2007

    New review of Magic for Beginners

    In her review of Link's Magic for Beginners in the January 2007 New York Review of Science Fiction, Ursula Pflug says the stories "are divided between those about pretty normal people to whom strange things happen, and out-and-out fairy tales." She writes that the fairy tales, including "The Faery Handbag" and "Catskin," display Link "out-grimming even the Brothers Grimm."

    Pflug compares "The Great Divorce" to Tim Burton's movie Corpse Bride, also about a man who is married to a dead woman, and she cites the true-life case of Christelle Demichel, who in 2004, with the permission of the president of France, married her dead boyfriend, killed by a drunk driver. "I'm not sure who is stealing ideas from whom, here," Pflug writes.

    Pflug also compares the multiple stories spun in "Lull" to the thousand and one tales of the legendary Persian queen Scheherazade. And of the title story, Pflug writes:
    Very few authors writing for the adult market today care about youngsters just for themselves, finding them worthy enough to follow around and describe with wit and intelligence and compassion. Maybe Link has a little brother whom she watches, notebook in hand, as Gordon Strangler Mars, the writer dad in "Magic for Beginners," watches his son.

    My name is Legion; for we are many....

    Here is an interesting wikipedia article about the demon Legion I mentioned today in class in correlation to the rats' song. I vaugely remembered the biblical story, so I looked it up and it is pretty cool.

    Speaking of cats

    T.S. Eliot's poem "The Naming of Cats," invoked in class today, can be found all over the Web, for example here.

    We invoked it, of course, because of the cat in Gaiman's Coraline:
    The cat yawned slowly, carefully, revealing a mouth and tongue of astounding pinkness. "Cats don't have names," it said.

    "No?" said Coraline.

    "No," said the cat. "Now, you people have names. That's because you don't know who you are. We know who we are, so we don't need names."
    And in discussing cats as guides -- however problematic they may be -- in fantasy fiction (Coraline, Link's "Catskin," Stephen King's Pet Sematary, etc.), we forgot to mention the most famous, and most problematic, of all:
    "In THAT direction," the Cat said, waving its right paw round, "lives a Hatter: and in THAT direction," waving the other paw, "lives a March Hare. Visit either you like: they're both mad."

    "But I don't want to go among mad people," Alice remarked.

    "Oh, you can't help that," said the Cat: "we're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad."

    "How do you know I'm mad?" said Alice.

    "You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn't have come here."

    In case you were wondering...

    The definition for "beldam" (what the entity that captures Coraline is referred to throughout the book):

    An old woman, especially one who is considered ugly
    Hrm, so does this mean that the other mother was some sort of supernatural old maid? Was she a love-starved lady with a few, ahem, glaring eccentricities? If so, that makes her a much more tragic being, instead of a just awful one.

    Button eyes? Sharp teeth? A sentient hand and a penchant for masochism and mutilation?

    How's a dame like that never find a fella and have some kids?


    Tuesday, January 23, 2007

    thoughts on coraline

    so i just finished coraline, and honestly i wasn't expecting to like it all that much but i was pleasantly surprised with how much i did get into it...however, i'm thinking i've missed some deeper meaning (i agree that there's definitely some significance to the name confusion, i did catch that part) and that i just stayed on the surface of this story so i'll be interested in class to explore more about the complexities of coraline that i haven't realized yet


    I'm going to go ahead and assume that everyone's finished reading Coraline. If not...oh, well.

    Anyway, as someone whose name gets mispronounced a lot, I was particularly interested in the Coraline/Caroline thing. Do you guys think that there was anything specific behind that, or was it just a detail to fill it out more? I mean, surely it was significant that everyone pronounced it wrong in the beginning, but when she went through the door, everyone got it right, and then after she came back, it stuck with people when she corrected them.

    There also seems to be a lot of emphasis put on names in general, from the cat who has no name, to the children who have forgotten theirs, etc. Any thoughts?

    Monday, January 22, 2007

    Another question for those finished with Coraline

    Don't open this until you are done!

    Sunday, January 21, 2007

    Hey, late introduction post

    Hello everyone, I'm Brian.

    I know I'm a good week late on this but I had forgotten my login for the blog and just now got everything working. Anyway, I'm a sophomore with enough credits to be either a second semester junior or maybe a senior. I'm majoring through New College with depth studies in Computer Science and Film Studies hoping to go into video game developement.

    I am, obviously, a big fantasy fan. I love Neil Gaiman, he is my favoirte living author of any genre. His work on The Sandman was just brilliant and I have read American Gods something like 6 times and once promised my friend at UT a Wookie life debt to go track down my copy I had left in my house in Houston and get in signed when Gaiman when he came through Austin promoting Anansi Boys.

    I also like the fantasy classics, Tolkien, Lovecraft. I used to like Jordan before about book 5 of the Wheel of time series when he figured out he could write thousands of pages where nothing happens and get people to buy his books. I also love Frank Herbert's Dune series and Michael Moorecock's Elric Saga. A recent book/movie I've come across that I enjoyed was Night Watch a Russian novel about vampires and supernatural agents who attempt to keep the forces of light and darkness in balance. Also, David Lynch movies are great for fantasy, Eraserhead is one of my all time favorites. Terry Gilliam is another great fantasy film maker.

    Anyway, I apologize for my tardiness here and look forward to some great discussions.

    Friday, January 19, 2007


    Do not read until you've finished Coraline.

    Thursday, January 18, 2007

    Pan's Labryinth

    Tomorrow night at the Cobb this movie will be on. I've heard really good things about it. Roger Ebert said it was "a fairy tale for adults". A guy in my Creative Writing class said it was Chronicles of Narnia meets Seven. It looks very cool. Just thought I'd share a good thing.

    The Ausable Chasm

    Here's the Ausable Chasm website, for those interested in visiting. The chasm is in the borderlands (the U.S.-Canadian border, that is).

    on today...

    i was thinking about all the conflict in "the hortlak"... we mentioned eric vs. batu as well as eric and batu's relationships with charley...however i think that the most powerful source of conflict in this story is INSIDE eric, his personal conflict. throughout "the hortlak" eric struggles with several issues: whether to leave the convenience store, whether to tell charley his true feelings, what to do about batu and his pajamas, etc...i'm probably stating the obvious here but it was just something we hadn't mentioned in class so i thought i'd throw it out there

    Wednesday, January 17, 2007


    So, what was everybody's favorite and/or least favorite story?
    My favorite was Stone Animals, but I really like Magic for Beginners a lot too.
    My least favorite was "The Great Divorce". For me it wasn't as memorabe as the others.

    thought on Stone Animals

    So out of all of the stories I too, liked Stone Animals probally the best out of Kelly Link's book. I was thinking that maybe the war that was approached at the end of the story maybe have been about the family trying to kill the rabbits ?? Reference to Catherine calling the exterminator was mentioned several times... and he was supposed to be coming soon.

    Initial thoughts.

    This thread contains spoilers for the next two books, so don't read until you've read the books. This list so far contains Coraline and Monstrous Regiment.



    Hi, y'all. I am Jae, as of this semester a junior, intending to major in English and political science. I think. XD I'm familiar with the cornerstones of fantasy--Lord of the Rings, Narnia, Harry Potter, His Dark Materials, etc.--and have read a number of other books within the genre whose titles escape me now that I'm on the spot.

    That said, I'm not sure that I could readily define fantasy, but, as the saying goes, I know it when I see it. Having slogged through Magic for Beginners at last, I feel confident in declaring that Kelly Link is not it. The only two stories within Magic for Beginners that I found remotely palatable were the Faery Handbag, which was disjointed but in a way I could actually handle and enjoy, and Stone Animals, which I actually really did like right up until the ending, which I abhored. Overall, I'd classify the book as drifting more towards absurdism and downright insanity and disjointedness than anything fantastic (in both senses of the word). I can handle unlikely events; I can handle and even enjoy things that are impossible in the real world. I have nothing against zombies. But Link's writing seemed random for the sheer sake of it, plotless, unrelatable, with characters to whom I felt absolutely no connection--and whatever genre that might fall under, it's not something that I care to read.

    Since everybody's making TV references...

    Small in "Catskin" reminded me of an dark version of Buster from Arrested Development. Granted, without as much cat slaughter and talking cats (unless I missed an episode).

    For the uninitiated, here's the abridged what's-wrong-with-Buster episode from Season 1, courtesy of YouTube:

    Tuesday, January 16, 2007

    Magic for Beginners

    I just finished up the first book, and by far my favorite story was magic for beginners. I had just finished that story before the season premier of 24, and the way the characters watched The Library religiously reminded me alot of when my friends and I get together to watch 24 (and Lost once it comes back). I thought it was awesome how Jeremy was so determined to make what he saw on the show come to life, and the characters seemed much more realistic than the characters in the other stories. I definitely think Fox is dead though, because many shows have been ruined by the writers copping out and making beloved dead characters come back to life, hopefully whoever was writing The Library will not make that mistake.
    Heylo everyone, I'm Lauren. I'm a sophomore majoring in psychology and minoring in Human Development. I absolutely love reading, especially bookshelf is full of Mercedes Lackey, Jacqueline Carey, Christopher Paolini, Tolkien, Rowling, Anne McCaffrey, and the list goes on and on (and on).

    I think the term fantasy is actually widely overused as just a blanket description for writing that doesn't fit under any other category. I mean, if we're using fantasy just to describe something that couldn't happen in real life, pretty much all fiction would need to be reclassified. Sure there's nothing otherworldly or make believe in that genre, but I know that I personally have read certain fiction books which made me go, uh yeah, I'm sure that happened - The Da Vinci Code is a perfect example. To me, though, fantasy encompasses a little more than suspension of reality. There is this air about the story that suggests some sort of kinship to your life, but it's clear that this is something you could never come close to touching. It's fantasy precisely because it's not part of your everyday world.

    So personally, I don't think weird 900 numbers, cult TV shows, and random conversations about cannons deserve the title of fantasy, or at least not good fantasy. Everyone, of course, is entitled to disagree with me, but that's my personal opinion on this first book.

    Monday, January 15, 2007

    Intro thing

    Hey guys, I'm Tara.

    I'm either a first semester junior or a second semester sophomore, depending on how you count it, and I'm a bio major and Italian/Blount undergraduate minor. I really like the fantasy genre, though I'm pretty much stuck on "pure fantasy" or "high fantasy," and I've actually written two of my own (not published, of course). Some of my favorite fantasy writers are David Eddings, Jacqueline Carey, Melanie Rawn, Piers Anthony, Jennifer Fallon, Sara Douglass...and I'm going to stop there, because this list could get pretty long.

    As for what defines fantasy, I think it's all in the setting. A fantasy story is one in which the characters' environment is completely controlled by the author, whether it's the real world modified or a completely created one. In everything else, the writer is pretty much constrained by natural law or history. As soon as you step outside those bounds, you step into fantasy.

    That being said, I don't think fantasy novels have to include magical or supernatural aspects, and I'm not fond of the idea that they have to be illogical. In fact, I think a novel is more solid when it provides a logical explaination for what's going on.

    Sunday, January 14, 2007

    Resources on electronic games

    I encourage those of you interested in electronic fantasy games (console games, online multiplayer games, handheld games, etc.) to talk about them on this blog and to write about them in papers for this class, as long as the papers draw upon one or more critical works about electronic games and somehow address one or more texts on our syllabus as well. For example, The Library, the ultimate cult TV show depicted in Link's story "Magic for Beginners," would be very interesting to discuss in terms of Henry Jenkins' theories about fans as "poachers" -- though in the case of The Library, who is poaching whom?

    Some resources:

    Here's the website of Game Studies: The International Journal of Computer Game Research.

    The Digiplay Initiative's online Games Research Bibliography includes 2,100 items so far. Click "Resources" in the toolbar at the top of the page, then "Quick Search," etc.

    Henry Jenkins, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has written such books as From Barbie to Mortal Kombat: Gender and Computer Games, Textual Poachers: Television Fans and Participatory Culture and Fans, Bloggers and Gamers: Exploring Participatory Culture. His blog is at He summarizes the main themes of his work here. And here's an online article by Jenkins, "Transmedia Storytelling: Moving Characters from Books to Films to Video Games Can Make Them Stronger and More Compelling."

    Gameology is another blog for people serious about game criticism and game theory.

    The Serious Game Index includes links to games designed to help people think about social and scientific problems. For much more info on such things, visit the blogs of the Serious Games Initiative and of Games for Change.

    These online syllabi for MIT courses on electronic games include links to a number of interesting online articles:
  • Game Design and Theory
  • Computer Games and Simulations for Investigation and Education

    The new book Reading The Lord of the Rings: New Writings on Tolkien's Classic, edited by Robert Eaglestone, includes a chapter on LOTR games.

    James Paul Gee's books include Why Video Games Are Good for Your Soul and What Video Games Have To Teach Us About Learning and Literacy.

    Other books of interest include:
  • The Video Game Theory Reader, edited by Mark J. P. Wolf and Bernard Perron
  • The Medium of the Video Game, edited by Mark J. P. Wolf
  • ScreenPlay: Cinema/Videogames/Interfaces, by Tanya Krzywinska and Geoff King

    And here's an article by Anne-Marie Schleiner with an irresistible title: Does Lara Croft Wear Fake Polygons?

    (For the links and suggestions, thanks to colleagues on the listserv of the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts: Madeline Ashby, Gabe Chouinard, Jim Flannery, Stefan Hall, Kestrell, John Martin, Robin Reid, Don Riggs and Keli Rylance.)
  • Catskins

    I haven't finished the book yet, but so far Catskins has been the darkest of the stories for me. At first I thought it was more in line with my idea of what a typical fantasy story consists of. There were witches and a quest of sorts. But of course, that's not how it turned out exactly. It wasn't my favorite of the stories (I think that title belongs to Stone Animals as of now), but it was pretty interesting. The cat massacre at the begining was a bit disturbing and Small seemed to be suffering from some intense odepial desires toward the end. I give it a marginal thumbs up. So, how did you all like it?

    Jumping on this bandwagon.

    Hi, everyone, I'm Elizabeth...or Lizzie...or really whatever. Just not Katherine, but I guess I'll answer to that too. My parents didn't make this easy for me. I'm a junior majoring in Telecommunication and Film following the broadcast news sequence, and my minor is in English...and I'm going to be honest here, I like my minor better. My literature classes are my favourite. Hopefully this one will not dissappoint. I've read a lot of fantasy literature in the past few years. This is basically due to the fact that after I started reading Harry Potter in 8th grade everyone in my family decided, "Hey, Lizzie likes fantasy..." and thus I have received fantasy-esque books for every present giving occasion there was after that. However, I will say, the ones I receive do tend to be on the "normal" end of the spectrum, if I can say that. On the other hand, the book we started for this week, Magic for Beginners, is probably one of the weirdest fantasy books I've ever read. Kelly Link is so ambiguous. It almost makes me mad...I want her to explain everything, reveal everything in the end, and she doesn't, and although that frustrates me, I like it at the same time. She really does seem to seamlessly weave the realms of reality and fantasy together without difficulty, it is captivating.

    Saturday, January 13, 2007

    I guess I'll introduce myself as well

    hey everyone,
    my name is nick adam (with no s...people get that confused alot). i'm a broadcast major and work at the tv and radio station on campus. i love sports and i want to be a sports broadcaster when i get out of school (and while i am in school). along with loving sports, i have grown quite fond of reading since getting into college, and i am really pumped about this class because i am a huge fan of harry potter and this will give me something else to read until book seven comes out. i have read a few other fantasy books like the lord of the rings and fahrenheit 451 (i hope i spelled fahrenheit right, thats a tough word). anyway, i'm also taking a class devoted to dostoevsky, so if anyone has read any of his stuff let me know if it is good or if i need to pick up another english! so anyway, i'll see you all wednesday.

    Stone Animals

    I read stone animals and catskin yesterday and I really liked the end of stone animals...I'm not sure why everything was haunted or why Henry and Catherine were so indifferent towards everyone...but the last line about the war was pretty cool...any ideas on who the war is between and why Henry has decided it has begun. Maybe he was just talking about the war against the rabbits because the exterminator is coming by...but I thought it was probably something deeper than that.

    Friday, January 12, 2007

    All that fantasy jazz.

    For consistency's sake: I'm Nick Beadle, a lingering senior in journalism, political science and running campus media.

    I have tubs of fantasy texts at the house. Mostly comic books, but also prose by Ray Bradbury and Neil Gaiman (among others). My DVD collection, while meager, spots me Lost and Donnie Darko, too.

    I admit that a lot of what I read straddles that unseen portal between science fiction, but I'll be damned if portal bears on tropical islands (insert "Inconvenient Truth" joke here) and farmboy demigods powered by the sun tan ain't fantasy. So while I've never been a fan of the fly-around-on-a-broom-and-hit-the-ancient-monster-of-utter-darkness
    -to-save-the-day-in-three-more-books stuff, I think I have a nice handle on the genre.

    I have read most of Gaiman's stuff (big fan of Sandman, American Gods and their conceptual children) except for his children's books (until next week), a few of his short stories and Good Omens with Terry Pratchett. I think Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes is one of the better meldings of SF and fantasy, granted one I haven't re-read since 9th grade. I have at least seen the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, and I have been forced to read little excerpts of the books by my 16-year-old brother and an ex-girlfriend or two.

    I was that kid who hung out by the supermarket newstand while his parents shopped, so I know a fair bit of the contradictions and spiderwebs of Marvel and DC's comic book continuity from the late 80s and the "Dark Ages" of early 90s on. When I procrastinate, I tend to go looking for the backstory to some of the quick and out characters that popped up when the superhero market was oversaturated in the mid-90s, and with a good bit of successthanks to Wikipedia and sites like this detailed history of The Flash.

    May Odin grant mercy to Bloodaxe and Thunderstrike.

    When I think of fantasy...

    Hello everyone, I'm Zach, blah blah blah. I'm a somphmore English major and I'm thinkig about picking up a minor is Creative Writing.
    When I think of fantasy, images of wizards, dragons, faries and other other-worldly, supernatural beings immedately pop into mind. I think several fantasy stories probably overlap into other generes, so I guess a lot of works could qualify for fantasy that don't come to mind. Some fantasy stories that I am familiar with are;
    His Dark Materials trilogy
    Harry Potter series
    Lord of the Rings series
    The Princess and the Goblins
    The Neverending Story
    The Talisman
    The Last Unicorn


    hey everyone,
    my name is kate and i'm a freshman majoring in nursing. while i am familiar with the obvious harry potter, chronicles of narnia, disney movies, etc., i have not read many of the books we talked about in class wednesday. honestly, i am new to this genre (as well as blogging, it took me a while to figure out how to even post this, as sad as that is), and, in actuality, fantasy has never been my favorite type of reading, which is why i feel this class should be an eye-opening experience for me that will hopefully expand my literary horizons. as far as a working definition of fantasy, i believe it is a genre involving imaginary, impossible ideas generally including magic, the supernatural, and more things of that nature. my definition is certainly a work in progress, and i am interested to explore more about fantasy as this class starts and as i start reading magic for beginners...

    Thursday, January 11, 2007

    Another Intro

    Hey everyone, I'm Joel.

    I am a Senior in Metallurgical & Materials Engineering (I make swords, axes, superalloys, and nano-computers haha.) I like fantasy, but I haven't been much of a reader since I got to college ( does that to you.) I have of course read some of the basics, like The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, the Silmarillion (my personal favorite), and Wicked (if that counts,) and I am a fan of Spritied Away as well as the slightly-darker Princess Mononoke.

    I think that a fantasy tale is defined by two special aspects:

    1. An un-natural world with unexplainable magic that often involves swords, and that defies our current knowledge of science in a steady manner.

    2. An overlying sense of a Greater Evil and a Lesser Good. Evil in these stories is usually all powerful and very identifeable, and good is shown as somewhat of an underdog and an unknown (at least at first.)

    The Hortlak

    I thought I would follow the suggestion of starting a discussion about the book here.

    At first the story really made me concerned, but as I read it I started to think that it was really entertaining and interesting. I thought the idea of the pajamas was a really neat addition to the story. I think having clothing that could incidentally mirror reality was a really cool idea. Did anyone else get the desire to have pajamas that could change depending on the situation?

    Introducing Myself

    Hi everyone! My name is Tiffiny Harris. I am a second semester Junior and my studies are Communicative Disorders (major) and Biology (minor.) I used to read all of the time before I started college and actually had to start studying for class and reading chapters in textbooks. I haven't read much fantasy besides Stephen King's books. Of course I've seen all of the Harry Potter, Chronicles of Narnia, all of the Disney movies, and Lord of the Rings movies like we talked about in class, but that is about it. As for taking a stab at the fantasy genre, I thought that it mostly displays feats that are not possible in our natural world of scientific fact. Most fantasy includes elements such as magic, mythical creatures, and supernatural events. Almost always there is a good versus evil storyline attached that the reader is able to relate to. I look forward to actually being able to read things not in a textbook and learning more about the fantasy genre in literature.

    Video Games?

    I think that video games are increasingly becoming a larger party of the fantasy genre. In a way, they are more enjoyable than either a book or movie because of their interactivity and your ability to add to the story. Some of the noteable ones that I own and play are...

    • The Final Fantasy Series (Perfect tale of Magic & Swords)
    • Zelda (Another timeless tale of Magic & Swords, and probably my favorite fantasy tale)
    • Warcraft (One of the most popular games on earth where you get to choose Magic OR Sword OR a combination of both, and that over 10 million people currently play)
    • Devil May Cry (A More modern Fantasy, involving Magic & Gun)
    • Fable (Another customizable fantast tale)
    Does anyone else feel that video games are becoming more and more important in the fantasy genre? And what games do you folks think exemplify the fantasy genre?

    From Link to links

    Please use the links you'll find in the right-hand margin of this blog. Years of my life were spent collecting them. (I'm not exaggerating.) The world of fantasy writers, publishers, scholars and enthusiasts -- which overlaps significantly with the world of science fiction writers, publishers, scholars and enthusiasts -- is well represented online, and these links will help you start to navigate it.

    As you're blogging this semester, please share with us any other useful links you find, especially links pertaining to writers, novels, stories and films under discussion in class.

    A taker for the title story?

    I didn't write down a volunteer to lead our discussion of "Magic for Beginners," the title story in the Kelly Link collection (and, indeed, the title story of our class this semester). Do we have a volunteer, other than the folks listed below? If no one has stepped up by Sunday night the 14th, I'll just anoint someone via e-mail.

    Here's how we divvied up the others.

  • "The Faery Handbag": Joel Bundy
  • "The Hortlak": Keith Weber
  • "The Cannon": Nick Beadle
  • "Stone Animals": Megan Cooper
  • "Catskin": Zach Glenn
  • "Some Zombie Contingency Plans": Nick Adam
  • "The Great Divorce": Jae Easley
  • "Lull": Lauren Hayes

    Needless to add, I expect everyone to have read every story, and to be ready to talk about every story. These folks are just tasked with getting us started on each story -- with observations, questions, alarming bursts of insight, etc.

    In fact, you needn't wait for class to get us started. You could start the conversation on this blog! How cool is that?
  • Travels in time

    By now, y'all have noticed that the wrong class time was on the syllabus I distributed Jan. 11, but I've fixed it on the online version, below. See you next Wednesday at 2 p.m. Central.